Monday, October 26, 2009

20 Miler

I ran 20 miles in 3:21:45 (10:05 avg. pace) on Saturday. Here's how it went:

Arrived at Lake Junaluska at 8:00 a.m. ready to go. However, my fully charged Garmin (pbtn) wouldn't turn on. Nooooo! I headed home, since I had no other watch and no way to even tell what 20 miles was without Garmin. I remembered this happening once before and the "fix" was to press 2 of Garmin's buttons together at the same time to "reset". But which two? I tried different combinations in the car on the way home, and just 2 exits down trhe frewway, Garmin came to life! So back to the Lake I went...

So, now it's nearly 8:30. It's about 68 degrees and balmy. I wondered if it was gonna get much hotter. Now that Garmin was working, I set my workout up using Workouts/ Advanced. I set the 20-miler up this way:

2 Miles @ 10:30 pace
7 Miles @ 10:16 pace
8 Miles @ 10:05 pace
3 Miles @ 9:51 pace

I planned to throw in 30 second surges @ 10K pace every 2-3 minutes in the last 3 miles. Why? Because Ritz says so, that's why! In the latest issue of Running Times Magazine, he says that doing this actually helps you recover faster from a long run.

Here's how I felt:

Miles 1-2. No sweat. Had to keep slowing myself down with walks.

Miles 3-9. Still cruising. Had to watch Garmin carefully to keep it at 10:16. Around mile 7-8, though, I was thinking an increase to 10:05? Seems kinda fast...

Miles 8-17. Keeping 10:05 pace pretty well until about mile 15. Feet hurting, low back started hurting (telling me form/ biomechanics is playing a role). Really, really not looking forward to the last 3 miles.Really, really thinking I was stupid for not bringing more than 1 bottle of Gatorade.

I am DYING of thirst, here! Looking for hoses, mud puddles, anything liquid!

Miles 18, 19, 20. After mile 17, I stopped at the car and changed shoes and put my orthotics in. Felt immensely better, but the aching in my back had set in and nothing was going to alleviate it at this point. The first surge was really hard. Had no idea if I was surging at true 10K pace, but it felt that fast to me. Lots of negative thoughts. JUST LIKE IN A MARATHON. I noted this and tried to come up with a successful counter to use in the marathon. Didn't have too much success with this, other than pretending to be Ritz. The girl version of Ritz. Duh!

Tough run. Slept 12 hours to recover.

Week 17: Training Update

This is the first week of the "Peak Period" of training, and it was not a smooth week. I had less than stellar performances in my Interval and Tempo workouts due to the ongoing foot/shoe issues I'm having. I seem to have settled on the fact that whilein the long run (pardon the pun!) I believe adding a lot of barefoot running will help me stay healthy, in the short run (again with the puns!) I feel best in a minimal shoe using my orthotics. This is not the way I wanted to go, but I am not ready to lose any more training time due to experimentation.

So there you have it. I'm sticking with orthotics and the Adidas AdiZero CS for now. I may try the Mizuno Musha for the race. We'll see.

Anyways, here's the numbers:

Total weekly mileage: 68 miles
Average Intensity Factor: .890
Total Hours: 13:20
Long run: 20 miles
Miles run on trail/ dirt: Approx. 10
Average weight: who knows
% body fat: hopefully still 16%
Average hrs. of sleep: 7.0

As always, the goal is to stay healthy while covering the miles. However, in week 18 I'm really going to focus on hitting my targets in all key workouts. Not doing that this week has affected my confidence.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wimberly Townsend 10K Race Report

I got up at 4:00 a.m. for this race. Ugh! It was a long, long drive, made even longer by the fact Leopold slept the entire time, and so by the time we arrived, I was feeling pretty out of it. And it was COLD! I had a hard time warming up. I noticed that even though I had my usual pre-race jitters, I just didn't feel as sharp and focused as I did for my last race, which was local. This makes me think I should consider spending the night for my 1/2 Marathon race.

So, here's the start of the race. All 20 of us! I mean, I suspected this would be a small race, but 20 people? Really? It seems the race is put on by the Knoxville Track Club, and perhaps they forgot to tell others about it, because all I saw were Track Club people. This was definitely a different experience.

So after a few minutes of waiting, we set off. Immediately a group of 4 took off at about 6:00 pace, never to be seen again (at least not until the awards ceremony). I settled in to my first mile, trying to slow myself down to end up with a 7:55 first mile per my race plan. However, I hit the 1-mile marker at 7:50. I continued to try to slow it down, but hit miles 2 and 3 in 7:50 and 7:52 respectively.

After that, I had no problem slowing down. Only problems with speeding up. Any time I may have "gained" in miles 1-3 was completely lost (and more) on miles 4-6, as witnessed by these pathetic split times: Mile 4 in 7:53, mile 5 in 7:58 (ouch), and mile 6 in 8:11 (Yikes!). I did, however, manage to kick it in for the final .2 at 7:36 pace (the audience effect!), and finished in 49:13.

Here's me, happy to be done, and happier still to have some hot coffee!

It has been forever since I ran a 10K, so the whole PR thing was pretty much guaranteed. I looked back at my time trial for 10K leading up to my last marathon and saw I ran it in 52:02. So 49:13 is almost a 3 minute PR. So, that's nice...

What I learned:

1. Learn to get disciplined on those early miles and slow down.
2. Don't drive 3 hours to a race that you care about.

What's Up Next:

11/14 1/2 Marathon Time Trial (race). Is a sub 1:49 in the cards for me???? We'll see. Stay tuned...

Week 16: Training Update

This was a mileage cut back week that culminated in a 10K race on Saturday. Race results: 49:13 (7:55 average pace), 6th place overall (no trophy or medal!).

Here are the numbers:

Total weekly mileage: 30.5 miles
Average Intensity Factor: .905
Total Hours: 6.5
Long run: 10K Race
Miles run on trail/ dirt: Approx. 6
Average weight: Who knows
% body fat: 16% I hope
Average hrs. of sleep: 7.0

This was a strange week, with the mysterious time-sucking foot troubles and all. I bailed out of some workouts and took 1 unscheduled day off because of the foot. Overall, though, I had my 3 key workouts (including the race) so i don't feel too badly. Also, I found my orthotics,so I'm hoping my foot issue will resolve itself shortly. And just in time! MAJOR mileage coming up in the next few weeks.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Funny: Mock Motivational Posters

Remember motivational posters? You know the ones— black background, beautiful photo, startlingly obnoxious "motivational" text?

In 1988, offices all over the world were decorated at random with these pieces of crap. I was always struck by just how attractively they managed to be condescending, and in some cases insulting. (Fairness dictates that I admit that some of them I've seen are actually pretty cool, but those are exceptions to the rule.)

Like what's up with this one?

Aren't they really saying, "Don't worry. It's possible you'll only be a loser a little while longer?"

I'm not the only one who feels this way about these motivational posters, either. All over the web, you can find mock motivational posters. There's even a web app at that generates the necessary graphics for you; all you have to do is supply the photo and the text. It is here, and it makes me happy. Hence, I am now able to present to you my very own motivational poster, featuring Leopold! I hope you enjoy it:

PS – Big Huge Labs has a niftly litle motivator creator, too.

So go ahead! Skip the delusions that motivational posters induce and head straight for the disappointments that these deliver:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

18 Mile Progression Run

Yet another excellent Progression Run on Saturday. What's up with this? It's almost as if Progression Runs are my specialty now or something. I can't even remember the last bad Progression Run I had. Oh. Now I've gone and done it. I've most certainly cursed the next one, haven't I?

But more about my run. I ran the first 9 miles at 10:43 base pace (actually, a little slower than my base pace, but who's counting?). The last 9 miles were run at:

Mile 10 - 10:20
Mile 11 - 10:00
Mile 12 - 9:45
Mile 13 - 9:30
Mile 14 - 9:15
Mile 15 - 9:00
Mile 16 - 8:45
Mile 17 - 8:17

Wait for it....wait....wait...and

Mile 18 - 7:45

Yes, I was very pleased with myself.

Evil Shoes, Foot Pain, and a Curious Cure

Besides my quickie Dathan Ritzenhein post yesterday (and yes, I just used "quickie" and "Datahan Ritzenhein" in the same sentence!)I've been far too busy this week dealing with a biomechanical mileage-threatening crisis to write a post. Things are looking up, though.

It all started with the purchase of the evil new shoes. "The Adidas Boston". Like destiny calling my name. Custom ordered by FootRx just for moi. They look so innocent and, well, cool, don't they? That's just what they want you to think. But with just the right glasses (and by glasses I mean Photoshop) you can see their devil horns and evil intentions.

Well, I made a rookie mistake. Destiny and cool color scheme be damned, I knew these shoes were not a good fit the moment I slipped them on for the first time. But that was just too disappointing. I wanted them.

So I convinced myself I'd better at least try them out, you know, just to make sure. A few days and 40 miles later, I was forced to take 2 days off from running (gasp! A first this year!) because my legs hurt so bad. Plus, I could no longer take the shoes back such as they were. Long story short, FootRX took them back (thanks, Aaron!)and gave me a pair of my old Glides.

So, I'm doing my very first run in my new Glides, and I'm experimenting with the placement of the met pad on the right foot. The evil old shoes have intensified the pain I've been having on the 3rd and 4th met heads (that's the ball of the foot for those people with perfect feet who probably don't run) so it's a little tricky to get it right. It ended up under my big toe, and this set off a whole new set of "problems".

This part of the story is actually already documented. Since I'm far too lazy not to take advantage of this, here is my post to The Runner's Clinic (Neil Chasen, PT)about the whole situation in it's entirety. (BTW, I highly recommend the Sports Reaction Center website).

Posted by PW on October 13, 19109 at 17:36:40:

I’ve been suffering from mild pain/ discomfort around the 3rd and 4th metatarsal heads on my right foot. This seems to have flared up after my last marathon in May, and it has never really died down. I get some relief, but not total relief, by placing a met pad behind the metatarsal heads.
Before I go further, perhaps some background info would help. I'm female, age 42, marathon runner. I have a neutral foot, and I tend to be able to handle high mileage (80-90 mpw). I have bilateral bunions that don’t hurt. I’ve had orthotics in the past, but no longer wear them. I wear a minimalist shoe for shorter runs (Nike Free 5.0)and a more cushioned shoe for long runs (Adidas Supernova Glide). I don’t appear to pronate at all on the right foot, but slightly on the left foot. The wear pattern on the bottom of the left shoe shows a circular pattern under the big toe. Finally, I had a tibial stress fracture on the right side last year.

OK,here's my situation: Recently, I was experimenting with placement of the met pad on the right foot. I don’t know what made me think to do this, other than it just felt like a good idea, but I placed the met pad directly under the first metatarsal head (directly under the big toe on the ball of the foot).

I immediately noticed 2 things: First, my posture while running was greatly improved. I felt as if my right and left sides were balanced for the first time, and I had a sense that my arms were able to swing freely and evenly for the first time. It felt really good. Second, I felt as if my right foot was finally able to act as a lever upon push off, and I instantly felt I could run at the same pace using less energy (which translates to running faster). Oh! I also completely got rid of the met pain by doing this!

I feel as if I’ve stumbled on to something very useful, but I am a little afraid to mess my biomechanics as I’m just educated enough to know that when you do this you affect the whole chain from the ground up. I’d hate to end up with an injury further on up the chain!

Anyways, I was just wondering if you could provide any input as to why it would proprioceptively fee so good for me to raise up the 1st metatarsal head? Should I continue to do this, and if so, with what material? It seems like the harder the material the better.

In closing, it seems like I have a lot of "biomechanical clues", but I need help interpreting them. I hope you can shed some light!

Thanks in advance-


PW You are exactly right – there are many biomechanical clues in your report to me. All of the clues point at orthotics as a solution for her problem. The orthotics I recommended to you are based on the “evidence offered” is a device with a forefoot post. I deduced from this email that you have a forefoot dysfunction that can be resolved with a forefoot post (the met pad under the first ray).

The other clue is the wear pattern (the circular pattern under the big toe) also suggests that the foot is spinning before pushing off. this sometimes occurs when there is dysfunction in the foot that also points to a fore foot post as a solution.

The third clue is the tibial stress fracture. This usually occurs because the tibia is attenuating forces in an unusual fashion such that a fracture occurred.

With respect to biomechanics, my mantra is “Structure Governs Function”. If the Tibia is being overloaded AND the foot is spinning, AND a first ray post improves efficiency, THEN there is a biomechanical deficit that would be resolved with an orthotic device with a forefoot post.

The etiology of this dysfunction begins with embryonic growth and development. In the 8 week old fetus you can see the legs sprouting out of the trunk with the soles of the feet rotated so that they point “up”. As time passes, the hips rotate so that the soles of the feet are “down”. Depending on how much they correct to the right orientation (too little or too much), the feet end up with more or less pronation to begin with.

Remember that the foot has two jobs in life: First to be a mobile adapter, and second to be a rigid lever. In order for the foot to operate in this fashion, there is a mechanical effect called the Windlass effect which causes the foot to transform from the mobile adapter as it hits the ground, into a rigid lever for propulsion. The way this happens is that the ligaments and joint capsules bring the bones together as the heel comes off the ground and the plantar fascia along with the deeper structures allow the foot to become rigid enough to push you off into your next step. So the foot travels through space and the joints are all loose allowing the foot to adapt to the surface, and as your body comes over the foot, the windlass effect causes the foot to become more rigid and propulsion occurs.

In the event one has a forefoot that is in a supinated position relative to the rest of the leg and foot, in order for that forefoot to get on the ground, it has to travel further in space, and this takes time too. Since the talus follows the calcaneus, and since the tibia follows the talus, this latent time period and longer journey of the forefoot causes the motion to be increased at the knee (frontal plane) , and even at the hip (transverse plane). In order to run, this process is often short circuited, and the foot, instead of transitioning on to the first ray so you can push off with the big toes, instead, the foot spins on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th metatarsal heads and the foot rolls over the inside of the big toe (leading to bunion deformities of the big toes).

The long and short of it is that the foot with a forefoot deformity is an excellent candidate for orthotics with a forefoot post.

In my blog at, you will find the blog The Case for Barefoot Running where I make the case for forefoot striking. Where someone has a forefoot dysfunction however, orthotics in shoes are preferable to barefoot running.

You can also read more about forefoot varus in my post on the subject from December 2008.


ORN [Obligatory Running Note]: Track workout yesterday morning, followed by a 6 mile recovery run in the evening. 4 x 1000 meters @ 7:36 pace (4:42 target) with 3 minutes active recovery. Felt very good. Here's the splits to prove it: 4:42, 4:43, 4:37, 4:28.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stalker Alert: Ritz In The News Again

Ritz has been on FIRE since August, when he finished sixth in the 10,000 meters at the world championships and followed that up with a U.S. record in the 5,000.

He's back in the news today for running 60:00 flat at the World Half Marathon Championships yesterday. (Note: 60 minutes for 13.1 miles is 4:34.8 minutes per mile).

IAAF World 1/2 Marathon

Since I am apparently what's known as a Ritzenhein stalker....I mean SUPER FAN...I just happen to know that before August, he spent time training at 8,200 feet at a cabin in the Rocky Mountains, then came back to Portland for some hard workouts which included a 10-mile run at a pace that exceeded the current U.S. record for the distance.

Talk about a pay off. How totally inspirational.

Hmm. This pic could only be improved with me in it. Photoshop, anyone?