Eugene Marathon training begins

Eugene MarathonI spent this past weekend putting together my training plan for the Eugene Marathon that is on April 28th. I’m a little nervous about my calf holding up, but so far it seems to be getting better ever so slowly while still doing 25 – 30 MPW. I still haven’t been able to tackle many hills or tempo/speed workouts, but that’s ok. I feel like I have a good base on my speed to hit my 4:00 marathon goal at this point.

I used one of Hal Higdon’s free training plans and modified it a bit to fit where i’m currently at, and the number of weeks until the marathon (15!). I am using the Intermediate 1 plan from Hal. I thought about jumping up to the intermediate 2, but felt like it was too many miles for where i’m currently at. Perhaps the next round I will make the jump.

One of the things I like about this plan is the back to backs on your long runs. You do a 6 or 8 mile run the day before your long run. I’m hoping this will help with the drop off I had in Portland at mile 22, my hip flexors were shot.

My basic schedule will end up being

  • Monday – Easy Longer
  • Tuesday – Easy short (Tempo/Hill depending on how I feel)
  • Wednesday – Off, Cross Train
  • Thursday – Easy longer (some at race pace of 9:00 miles)
  • Friday – Long Run
  • Saturday – Off
  • Sunday – Easy + Strength

This is essentially the same schedule I had for Portland, with the exception of strength training being added and the longer run before the longest run.

I start with 25 miles this week and will peak in about 8 weeks with 44 miles. Two 20 mile runs will be done during training, depending on how I feel I may try to stretch those to 22-24 milers.

Becoming a leaner runner

This past week or two i’ve started to see my goal weight on the scale. Which I am absolutely amazed and proud of. I’ve lost over 50 pounds in the past 5 years, and 28 of that coming in the prior 12 months. I hear folks say to not get too tied to the number and I try not to, but it’s a benchmark of general health for me and something I need to continually be aware of.

What i’ve been focusing and educating myself on more recently is how to become  leaner. I don’t know what percentage of body fat I have now (wouldn’t mind finding out) but know i’m still carrying some extra pounds around my waist that is excess fat. I would mind trading in some of that for additional muscle in other places. While keeping my overall weight about the same.

Over the past 12 months i’ve been trying to run about a 500 calorie deficit in my diet on a daily basis, this works out to be approximately 1 pound a week of weight loss. I’ve obviously not been too strict on that, but it was a good guideline that was reasonable within my lifestyle.

Changes in Food

My first priority is to start to eat more, you can’t build muscle while still in a calorie deficit. For now i’ve modified my plan to be around a 250 calorie deficit for a few weeks while I try to get some other things put in place (diet/training).

The other change i’ve made it to be more aware of how my calories are consumed. I’m adjusting my carb/fat/protein ratios so I am eating a little less fat and more protein. I’m currently at a 50% Carbs, 20% Fat, 30% Protein. Which works out to about

  • 198 Grams of Carbs
  • 35 Grams of Fat
  • 119 Grams of Protein

The two items in my diet I’m trying to focus on the most is reducing my saturated fat intake (dairy, animal products), and reducing refined sugar intake. The sugar is pretty easy, the saturated fat, not so much. I love cheese and meat.

My wife is a vegetarian and over the years she has made countless meatless dishes that you really couldn’t even tell were meatless. The fake chicken and ground beef soy products are also great alternatives when you feel like you need some substance.

I don’t plan on denying myself a nice steak every once in a while, but just trying to reduce my overall intake is what’s important to me.


This week was the first week to start the Eugene Marathon training. I will be running 5 days per week, and average about 35 miles per week and peak around 45 miles per week. My goal is to incorporate two lifting days per week.

One day will be on a day that I have an easy run (Probably Monday) and another lifting day will be when i’m off completely (Wednesday). That would still leave me with a Saturday completely off and active 6 days per week. I can live with that

The two lifting days will be split between upper body and lower body workouts. I still am researching exactly what lifts should be done. I am currently doing some lifting, but without any kind of plan or record keeping. My goal is to do as much with free weights as possible, this will help develop surrounding muscles from the main muscle you are working on at the time.

Once I get the strength training plan figure out, I will post it up.

Ultimate Core Exercise for Running

I’m alway keeping my eyes out for a different kind of core exercise that I can incorporate into my strength training workouts. I came across this video a few months ago and have been going it a few times a week since. It works your abs, back shoulders and chest in one movement. Check out the video.  Actual demonstration begins at the 2:30 mark.

You can easily adjust the difficulty of the exercise by moving the placement of the ball forwards or backwards. This can be done at home when you have a few minutes to kill and only requires a basic gym ball.

I do 3 sets of 12-15 and can feel it nearly everywhere. Give it a shot! you may be surprise at how difficult it is.

Good Form Running part deux

Footzone offers a free Good Form Running Clinic a few times a year. This is meant to be a basic 1 hour intro to GFR. Discuss the 4 basic principals (Posture, Cadence, Lean, Mid Foot), and give some suggestions on how to make it happen. They also offer a more advanced class a couple times a year that cost $25 and is put on by a local PT Professional. This is meant to go a little deeper in the theory and give you some additional exercises to get your body into a GFR position.

5d98e7ddc55a10d1d100ca418a9e17d7I attended the Good Form Running 2 class this past Tuesday and had a bit of a mixed feeling. There was a lot of anatomy discussed which I know nothing about, but it also gave a lot of the theory behind why GFR is good for you, and that helped me understand what is happening to my muscles while i’m running and what I need to focus on.

Here are my key takeaways from the class

It’s all about 180 Foot Falls a Minute

Yup, the same thing we were taught in GFR 1 applies here. Run in the magic 180 footfalls per minute and a lof of your other issues will be taken care of. You don’t have enough time to overstride, it brings your feet underneath you.

the magic 180 also will reduce your vertical displacement, which is essentially wasted movement and energy. We filmed each other running at our normal cadence, then with a metronome. The difference in vertical displacement was amazing.

I use iSmooth Run on my iphone when I run and it has a nifty feature that will overlay a metronome noise over your music while you run. You can turn it off and on throughout your run, I will typically just leave it on for a few of my runs. Can be annoying as hell, but it helps train my body and mind what 180 feels like. Over time it will become more natural.

One suggestion he had was to do 12 minute miles at 180 footfalls per minute. I tried it on the treadmill and it was hard, but really gave you the idea of what it should feel like.

Get those glutes going

Yup, we spent a lot of time talking about the Glutes and why they are so important. Most of your forward momentum should be coming from your glutes. As your plant your foot, it should be the glutes that drive you through your stride. During the class we performed several exercises that can be done throughout the day to awaken your glutes and get into the game. They included.

  • Penguin Walk
  • Squeezing Glutes while walking up Stairs
  • Kegles
  • Squats and lunges

My key takeaway from this was try to incorporate your glutes in your day to day living. You need to wake them up and get them going.

Hips Forward

I know i’m guilty of this, keeping my hips back and bending over at my hips. Most of us spend so much time hunched over sitting at a computer that our abdominal muscles are pretty weak  can not keep our hips forward very long. More core exercises! (stay tuned for a quick exercise tip on this).

Strength and Active Strength Training

Strength training is good and needed, but will do you no good if your aren’t using the proper muscles while running. Keep doing weight training, but also incorporate hills at a 7% incline or more to get the glutes firing. He said it was nearly impossible to run from the calves with a 7% or more incline.

There was a lot discussed in the 90 minute class, and something a I may retake after putting some of these key items in place. The best thing was to get a better understanding of what should be happening when I run, and spending some time running focused on form and cadence only.

Looking back, looking forward

New Years Eve is always a good time for some reflection and projecting into the future for me. I’ve never been much into the “resolutions”, those life changing dedications that will flip your world upside down tomorrow morning. For me, those types of drastic changes rarely hold because there is no plan, they are just hopes and usually are so unrealistic that I can become disenchanted and give up by the second day.

However, last year around this time I had a few things in my life that I wanted to change. I wanted to:

  • Quit Dipping Tobacco
  • Hit the 140 weight mark I set for myself in 2008 (Was 165 at the beginning of last year)
  • Start exercising again
  • Get back into school

I’m glad to say that I have been able to meet or exceed all of these goals. In the past 12 months, I have:

  • About a year off of chewing tobacco (the hardest thing I’ve done in my life)
  • Hit 140 pounds and been able to maintain that range
  • Ran over 900 miles, completed my first half and full marathon
  • Completed 27 college credits with a ~3.8 GPA

Some of my goals were pretty specific, others were more broad. This worked for me. Quitting tobacco and losing weight at the same time was pretty dang hard, you typically want to eat more when you are in nicotine withdrawal  So, instead of eating, I would exercise. It was a great combination to work on 3 things at once. Was hard mentally at times, and I became short with my family, but I knew that would be a temporary inconvenience for a lifelong freedom from tobacco.

On the college front. I never went to college out of high school, went directly to work. The past few years I have been taking classes at our local community college to slowly work on my AA degree. I had quit taking classes around 2010 and never got back into them. Bottomline was I just needed to get my ass back in school and register for a class. Enough said.

Looking forward

Looking towards 2013, it is more of the same for me. I don’t want to lose the momentum I gained in 2012 and improve where I can. For 2013 my current goals are:

  • Run a sub 4 marathon (Eugene April?)
  • Run 1500 Miles
  • Take at least 1 college class per term
  • Maintain weight around 140, but focus more on a leaner body composition
  • Take 1 or 2 family trips in the motorhome this summer

I think all of these are easily attainable, they will just require some focus, knowledge and priority in my life.

2012 was a great year for us and I feel incredibly lucky to have the people in my life that we do.

Happy New Year!