Thursday, September 3, 2015

The road back

It's obviously been a while since I've posted an update, but I'm happy to report that so far, all is progressing well. After six and a half weeks away from running, I have now been back to light jogging for just over two weeks. It has been a difficult couple of months between the crutches, the boot, and uncertainty regarding the particular injury (navicular stress reaction). Unfortunately this bone does not heal as well as others in the foot, so it's important to have a very conservative approach. I am certainly not in the clear yet, but signs are positive. As anyone who has gone through a stress fracture or reaction can attest to, coming back is not an easy or exciting experience. Having my foot in a boot for so long has brought along tightness in almost every muscle in the injured foot as it has been stationary for so long. My days still go between absolute panic and calm as I over-analyze the different tensions around the foot looking for any sign of a return of pain in the affected area. What I can say for certain is that my jogging is increasing, and no pain has returned. Next week could be a different story, so I need to remain vigilant, but right now, I am very optimistic and letting myself get excited about the Olympic Trials again. Fortunately I have more than enough time to be as conservative as possible over the next 6-8 weeks.

I was much less aggressive with cross training during this injury period than I've been in the past as the injury is the most delicate I've had. I was still able to get a nice mix of aqua jogging, biking, and rowing machine, mostly in order to stay sane through the process.

While there is nothing impressive about my first two weeks back in terms of training, I thought there may be some interest in the progression from an injury of this nature. This is very similar to my progression from my tibial stress fracture about 8 years ago. The comeback is, and will continue to be humbling, but I can say I desperately miss training, and this experience is going to provide me with the focus and motivation necessary to have my most productive marathon build-up yet. Los Angeles will be here before we know it! Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out my first two weeks below.

Week 1 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Wednesday 3 x 3 minutes jog, 3 minutes walk off 20 minutes 1.5
Thursday 4 x 3 minutes jog, 3 minutes walk off 2.5
Friday  2 x 8 minutes jog, 3 minutes walk off 20 minutes 2.5
Saturday off off
Sunday 20 minutes jog off 20 minutes 2.5
Monday 25 minutes jog off 3.5
Tuesday 28 minutes jog off 4
TOTAL 16.5
Week 2 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Wednesday off off
Thursday 30 minutes jog off 20 minutes 4
Friday  30 minutes jog off 4
Saturday 32 minutes jog off 20 minutes 4.5
Sunday off off
Monday 35 minutes jog off 20 minutes 5
Tuesday 40 minutes jog off 5.5

Friday, July 17, 2015

USA Track and Field Championships follow-up

I know it's been a few weeks since the US Track and Field Champs, but I encountered some unforeseen circumstances following the race that I wanted to resolve before writing. I'll start with a quick recap of the 10km race. Not unusually, I was somewhat pleased but not elated with my 5th place finish. It was a very competitive field, maybe the best in terms of depth and PRs that I have raced in. Looking back, there were several other athletes that could have beaten me had they not had a down race. With 200 meters to go, I was confident that I had 4th place locked up, but fellow Oklahoma State alum, Shadrack Kipchirchir, came flying by me around the last curve, and I did not have the wheels to go with him. It was fun to have two former Cowboys go 4 and 5. Admittedly, this was one of my better US 10km champs tactically speaking; I did my best to put myself in the race, moving up at each break. Although I missed the final break, I closed the best I could. Had the race been run later or the weather cooler, it could have been exciting to see how fast we could have run in a championship setting.

During the race, I began experiencing tightness on the top of my foot. The pain never became extreme, and it did not effect my race in any way. I simply noticed it. After sitting down for a few minutes after the race and standing up again, the pain became unbearable immediately and I could barely walk. Obviously I was concerned, but the swelling that surrounded it had me convinced I just aggravated a tendon. I took the next several days off, and each day it improved significantly to the point that it was nearly undetectable. I started running again, and after three days the pain returned to as bad as it had been following the race. My coach, Dave Smith, strongly advised me to get an MRI right away as he was concerned about a navicular stress fracture, which often requires surgery. The MRI didn't bring the worst news, but it certainly could have brought better news. I was diagnosed with a navicular stress reaction. Fortunately it had not progressed to a fracture, and after consulting with several doctors in the Portland area, the consensus is 4-6 weeks away from running. I was overwhelmed by the great deal of support from local coaches, doctors, and friends in aiding in my diagnosis. The running community is tight, and especially tight in Portland. It has now been nearly two weeks since my last run, and I am finishing up my recommended time on crutches, although I will still lug a boot around for a bit longer. Cross training will start on Monday and will mostly include aqua jogging, but I do plan some cycling as well. The timing could have been significantly worse. No matter how long I take to heal from here, I will have more than enough time to train exactly how I want heading into the Olympic Marathon Trials in February. I will also be able to get in a half-marathon between now and then, but I haven't chosen one yet. Had this happened in a couple of months, I would have been completely devastated.

I haven't had a serious injury in about 9 years, but I do recall the mental process that went along with it. It starts with denial heading into the MRI machine. The diagnosis then brings a strange combination of anger and sadness, and the next several days are spent wallowing in self-pity. Soon, however, I get a spark of defiance that gets me excited to hit recovery and cross training and intelligently and intensely as I can. The spark this time around came as I arrived at my in-laws' home
in the Czech Republic. I had several races planned for this European trip, so I was especially bummed out. After receiving sympathy for the last week, I greeted my father in-law, who was a 2:13 marathoner some time ago, and his first words to me were an unsympathetic "this is a normal part of the sport Ryan." And that was the end of that conversation. He's right. I do what I do knowing full well that injuries will happen at some point, and I have been fortunate to be nearly unbreakable over the years, even through marathon weeks of up to 150 miles. Nearly every elite runner has been exactly where I am now, and the best come back better than they were before. I am going to do my best to take these next few weeks to rest my entire mind and body, reflect, and prepare myself mentally for the smartest and toughest marathon training block yet.

I'll keep everyone posted. Thank you for all the support, and thanks for reading. Follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

1 Week to the USA Outdoor Track and Field Champs: Last week's training

Even though I was racing during the Portland Track Festival this past weekend, I was still fortunate enough to watch some incredible performances from the infield on both Saturday and Sunday. What a meet! We were all treated to amazing races in everything from the 600 meters (a rare outdoor distance) all the way to the 10,000 meters. Portland Track Festival put itself on the map this year as one of the best distance meets in the country. While there were many performances to get excited about, for me the most impressive had to be the men's 1500 with Evan Jager and Garrett Heath gutting out lightning fast times. Jager ran the fastest time for an American on US soil and Garrett Heath run very close to his PR at 3:34 in tough efforts for both. For those that missed it, I highly encourage you to check out the results and watch the race footage.

As for my race, I'm satisfied with the effort. I was about a second and a half off my PR in the 1500, but I cost myself that time by trying to race it like a 10km. I decided I would try to be a little aggressive and fight for position in the middle of the race, moving up and out and back, up and out and back. I raced it like an amateur, but to be fair, I still am quite amateur at that distance. My goal going in was to knock the rust off the legs, and I certainly accomplished that without digging too deep less than two weeks out from the USA Track and Field Championships. I came back and paced the men's 5000 meter race for 2km in order to add a little volume to my workout day. Coming off 10km training to these shorter distances, I feel that I'm unable to completely max my body out, and I recovered quickly, coming back for one more 10km based workout on Wednesday.

Below I've listed out the last 10 days of training, as well as the rest of the week's planned training. The volume will be cut down significantly over the next week in preparation for the 10km in Eugene on the 25th of June. While my one 10km of the year at Payton Jordan did not go as planned, all of my training before and after has been as good as it has ever been, so I can easily call that day a fluke and get ready to defend my 3rd place position next week in an attempt to qualify for the US IAAF World Track and Field team. This year's US Championships has more talent than last year, but I feel that I am under-raced and I'm confident in my training. I expect and hope the pace to be fast, and I'm willing to help make that happen if need be. There are several very fast athletes who do not have the IAAF 'A' standard heading in, which will undoubtedly lead to an honest race. That will suit me well. For those who can't make it to Eugene, you can tune in on NBC Sports and NBC. Thanks again for reading, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Week 28 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11.5 5.5 40 minutes 17
Tuesday 5 15 x 200 @ 28-29 w/200 meter jog recovery 15
Wednesday 12.5 off 40 minutes 12.5
Thursday 5 Fartlek: 3 x (3 min, 1 min) w/equal recovery jog 15
Friday 9 5 14
Saturday 7 + drills and strides off 7.5
Sunday 2 mi shakeout race PTF, 1500 + pace 2km of the 5km race 9.5
TOTAL 90.5
Week 29 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 9 5 40 minutes 14
Tuesday 5 12 17
Wednesday off 2 mile tempo (9:27), 2 mile interval (8:54), 1 mile (4:20), 800 meters (2:05), 2 x 200 (29) 12
Thursday 9 5 30 minutes 14
Friday 13-14 + drills and strides off 14
Saturday off off 0
Sunday 5 x 1km @ 2:55-3:00 w/1 minute rest + 6 x 200 @ 28-30 off 10

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Less than 3 weeks to the US Outdoor Champs: Last week's training

The US Outdoor Track and Field Championships are approaching quickly with less than 3 weeks to go, and the higher intensity track workouts are coming around just in time. Last week started off light with a 4-mile tempo on the track with some 200 meter repeats, and this was followed up by 11k of work on Saturday. The weather has been unusually warm the last few days in Portland, so Saturday was a grinder. The goal heading into the workout was 64-65 seconds per quarter on the 1k repeats, followed by 67 seconds on the 2km repeats, and I was able to hit the low end of this range for all of them in spite of the heat. This was the confidence booster I needed before sharpening up and tapering the volume over the next two weeks.

Before heading to Eugene for the US Champs, I'll be knocking off the rest of the rust at the Portland Track Festival over 1500 meters on Sunday evening. This distance is below my range, but I have consistently run around 3:42 here in years past. I'm hoping for a small PR this year, but in the end the goal is to simply get a hard, anaerobic effort 11-12 days out of the 10km that I'll be competing in at the Championships. I will be following the 1500 by pacing part of the 5,000 meters the same night in order to turn the day into a high quality workout. The Portland Track Festival has been getting deeper every year, and this year is no exception. Fans, including myself, will be treated to some of the nation's best athletes from 800 meters up to the 10,000. For those in the area, be sure to head out to Lewis and Clark on Saturday and Sunday for all the action.

I can't put out a blog this week and completely ignore the obvious news making headlines. Last week the BBC and  ProPublica released articles and a documentary with doping allegations directed at the Nike Oregon Project. Several athletes and associates with a great deal to lose, especially Steve Magness and the Gouchers, courageously spoke out against actions that they believe crossed the line in terms of legality and the spirit of the sport. While it may be too soon to jump to firm conclusions, the testimony is more than troubling. It has been a sad week for track and field. As an athlete who has been competing against Galen Rupp since high school in 2000, I, like many others, am awaiting further investigation by USADA and any other authorities that may be involved. Regardless of the outcome, I hope the credibility of the sport has not been tarnished beyond repair.

Thanks again for reading. Feel free to check out last week's training below, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Week 27 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11 + drills and strides 40 minutes 11.5
Tuesday 5 4 mi tempo @ 18:45, 6 x 200 @ 28-29 17
Wednesday 11 5 1 hour 16
Thursday 11 5 16
Friday 11 + drills and strides 5 16
Saturday Off (1k, 1k, 2k)(1k, 1k, 2k)(1k, 2k) - (2:42, 2:41, 5:34)(2:40, 2:40, 5:34)(2:39, 5:33), rest = 2 min after 1k, 3 min after 2k 14
Sunday 16.5 off 1 hour 16.5

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Less than 4 weeks to the US Outdoor Track Champs: Last week's training.

We're a week closer to the US Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, and I'm getting a little antsy looking forward at my last few weeks of training. My coach, Dave Smith, has continued to lean a bit toward strength at this point, and while I would like to get more workouts in at 10km pace, I know that I am only one or two workouts from where I want to be. Dave has always erred on the side of caution, and it's this attitude that has kept me running consistently for 10+ years. This has been the most beneficial aspect to our relationship; I want to push, Dave reigns me in. I completely trust his judgement, so as long as I am told to hold back, I am comfortable doing so. If I were coaching myself, I am sure I would be constantly surrounded by doubt and guilt over not training hard enough. There are no elite athletes with enough experience, patience, or talent that would be better off without coach, even if it is simply to prevent their competitve drive from ruining their season.

Last week consisted of a long mile repeat workout with short rest back on the grass. It ended up being an unusually warm day, so I was glad to go based on effort as opposed to trying to dial in times on the track. The 2 minute rest kept the reps under control, and I recovered quickly. We changed gears completely on Saturday and went with a workout to sharpen up and become a little more comfortable at 1500 pace as well as work on pace changes. The workout started with 3 x 200 meters at 1500 meter pace, which served more as warmup strides than anything else. I came off that in a 1km rep at 2:29 before moving on to 3 x 600 meter cutdown reps. The goal was to start the first 200 in 33-34 and progress to 30-31 and 28-29 on the final 200. The rest was 3 minutes between reps, so while the quick pace and speed changes didn't feel perfectly smooth, the workout overall did not put me into a hole.

Next up, I'll be looking at a light tempo followed by longer track repeats focused on the 10km distance. I can then start to focus on a 1500 meter tune-up race at the Portland Track Festival in just under 2 weeks from now. I may also come back and rabbit the 5km and turn the evening into a solid workout. More on the Portland Track Festival next week. Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below. Follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Week 26 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 19 off 30 minutes 19
Tuesday 9 off 9
Wednesday 5 8 x mile on XC loop starting @ 4:46 down to 4:27 w/2 min rest 18
Thursday 11 5 40 minutes 16
Friday 11 + drills and strides 5 16
Saturday 3 x 200 @ 29-30, 1km @ 2:29, 3x600 cutdowns (34, 31, 29 200 splits) 6 40 minutes 15.5
Sunday 16.5 off 16.5

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Less than 5 weeks to the US Outdoor Track Champs: Last week's training

Summer seems to be finally peaking it's head out in Portland, making it a lot easier to get out the door for some of the more daunting workouts ahead of me leading up to the 10km at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the end of June in Eugene. I've also been fortunate to have training partners for a few workouts lately. Tuesday consisted of 10 x 500 meters with short rest, and I was helped along by local Derek Scott (8:31 Steeple, 3:39 1500) through most of the reps. I haven't done this particular workout with help since college, and it made a big difference to be able to tune out for a few reps. Derek brought me through in 74 seconds for the final rep, which is as fast as I've ever closed that workout, leaving the average at 78.6. I'm just a few big track workouts away from being where I want to be in terms of fitness before the US Champs. These efforts will have to be carefully spread out, however, and I'll have plenty of lighter workouts in between. Friday was an example of this with another 4-mile tempo with 100 meter surges at 15 seconds each lap. Obviously the pace changes make the tempo more difficult, but it also makes the workout go by faster as there is something to focus on and look forward to (or dread) about every minute of running. It also puts me into a different mindset with recovery pace being 72 seconds per quarter as opposed to the overall goal pace. The overall time of the workout ends up being similar, but the experience is very different. The goal is two fold: First, continue becoming more comfortable at sub 4:00 minute mile pace. Second, preparing the body for pace changes in a championship race, which is almost always the case. It's one thing to be in shape for a 27:40 10km, but it's something completely different to be ready for hard surges or a hard finish at the same distance. Like the other competitors, I'm doing my best to balance overall fitness with race readiness over the final month.

I found out this week that Aaron Braun will be joining me in Portland for the final 10-14 days leading up to the USA Champs. He'll be coming down from altitude to get some final rust-busting sea-level training before the 10km. While we will be competitors come race-day, we both have an interest in having a fast pace set in order to hit the IAAF 'A' standard as neither of us have hit the mark this year. Hopefully the trip will be a time to focus and plan. We will likely be helping eachother keep the pace hot midway through the race, and the last couple of miles will be every man for himself. We'll battle, shake hands, and likely grab a beer. With only 3 spots open for the World Team in Beijing, it is probably that at least one of us will be very disappointed, but that's the nature of the sport.

Thanks again for reading. Feel free to check out last week's training below, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Week 25 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11.5 5.5 40 minutes 17
Tuesday 5.5 10 x 500 meters w/40 seconds rest, avg. = 78.6 16
Wednesday 14 off 14
Thursday 11 5 1 hour 16
Friday 5.5 4 mi tempo with 15 second 100 meter surges each 400 meters. Total time = 18:45, 6 x 200 @ 28-29 seconds 12
Saturday 12 off 40 minutes 17
Sunday 10 + drills and strides 6.5 17

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Less than 6 weeks to the US Outdoor Track Champs

It's safe to say that I'm fully recovered from Payton Jordan with a week of solid tempo running under my belt. I started the week conservatively with a 4-mile tempo on the track, restricting myself to 19:00 and throwing in some 200s after to get the legs moving after the 10 days of easy running. I took advantage of a visit by fellow marathoner Scott MacPherson and had some company for this one. My luck continued when I was invited to join the Dan Browne's WCAP team for a 10-mile tempo on Friday. It was refreshing to take advantage of training partners for the second time that week and switch leads every mile or two on the way to a 49:28 finish. With two tempos under my belt, I'm looking forward to getting 4 weeks of aggressive track workouts in leading up to the US Outdoor Track Championships in Eugene at the end of June.

Tonight I'll be joined by another extremely talented runner for a tough 10 x 500 meter workout at Roosevelt High School in Portland. Check in next week for the details. Thanks again for reading, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Week 24 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11.5 5.5 40 minutes 17
Tuesday 5.5 4 mile tempo @ 19:02 + 6 x 200 meters @ 29 17
Wednesday 14 off 40 minutes 14
Thursday 11 5 + drills and strides 16
Friday 10 mile tempo @ 49:28 off 18
Saturday 12 off 40 minutes 14
Sunday 5 10 + drills and strides 14