Friday, February 28, 2014

Month in Review (February)

2/2010: 100.9 miles
2/2011: 111.3 miles
2/2012: 151.9 miles
2/2013: 137.8 miles
2/2014: 186.5 miles

Well, another month of training is in the books. I'm pleased with how it went, all things considered. My goal for February was roughly 35 miles/week, and I ended up running closer to 40 miles/week, with a 60-mile week thrown in while I was on vacation down in Florida. I very rarely run more than 50 miles/week-- even during peak training-- so that was notable. Naples, FL is flat, fast, and oxygen-rich compared to Leadville, that's for sure. Oh, and humid. Incredibly humid. I would return from early morning runs completely drenched in sweat. Running in the dry mountain air of Colorado is downright civilized in comparison!

Not Leadville.
February began with the snowshoe marathon as my first long run, and then I managed to get in another 20-mile run in Florida. (One took >5 hours, the other <3 hours. I'll let you guess which one was which.) I integrated some skate skiing into the mix early in the month, to keep things interesting. I resorted to the bike trainer 8 times-- usually when the weather was nasty or when I was recovering from a hard workout. The other statistic that jumps out at me is that I managed to run 7 runs longer than 10 miles in February. The way my training schedule tends to work is that the only run I'll run longer than 7 miles will be a 20-mile long run. I don't often run any distance between 7 and 20 miles. Just a quirk of habit, I guess. I'm sure more tempo runs around the half-marathon distance would be beneficial. I think I just naturally gravitate to hill workouts during the summer-- like the Powerlines, which is 3.5 miles up and 3.5 miles down (with 1,700 ft of vertical).

Speaking of which, the one area I wish that I was doing better in is vertical gain. Sure, I've logged plenty of miles. Last year, I didn't run more than 180 miles in a month until May. But, if we compare February of '14 to, say, April of '13, yes, I ran 10 more miles this February, but with only half the vertical gain. I find that the snow makes it tough to get in a lot of vertical around town. For plowed roads, you've got 7th St, 5th St, and Cal Gulch. All uphill, but nowhere near as steep as the trail options that are available in the summer. If you want something steeper you pretty much have to wear snowshoes and wade through thigh-deep powder. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not exactly, well... running. I'll be honest and confess that I've had "inappropriate" thoughts about giving in and joining the local gym just so I can use the treadmill. That would not only give me another pre-breakfast (too cold outside) or post-dinner (too dark outside) workout option, but could also help in the vertical department. (I know, I know... I should just suck it up and go snowshoe up a mountain.)

They say that the foundation of proper periodization is making your training look more and more like your goal race the closer to the race you get. So, I guess, I can rationalize all this by saying that now is the best time for me to be running fast(er) and flat(ter). As I get closer to Bighorn, my runs will get slower, hillier, and longer. A better match for the conditions I'll encounter during the race itself. With this in mind, I've started to experiment with incorporating a tiny bit of speedwork into some of my midweek runs. Mostly just a few short fartleks. Trying to hold a 6:30-7:00 min/mile pace for half a mile or so when the terrain is flat. (Don't laugh.) This is all very new to me. I've never tried speedwork before. Damn, it's hard. And humbling. But it's one more dynamic to keep things interesting during these winter months. Plus, if I'm not happy with my performance I can always blame it on the snow! Or the headwind ripping off of Mt. Massive. Or the altitude. Or...

The new version of the FluidFlex came out in February! I'll be ordering a few more pairs...
So, ultimately, I find myself feeling pretty confident in my early-season fitness going into March. The Salida marathon is only two weeks away, which is exciting to think about. On paper, I should be in better shape than I've ever been in at this time of year. How much better? Who knows? I'd really like to believe that another PR at Salida is possible. I've already glanced at my splits from last year's race and identified a few sections that I feel I could improve on-- mostly on the downhills. So, we'll see... 4:57:36 is the time to beat. I'd be happy with 4:45:00.

My goals for March? Pretty simple. 40 miles/week. And a long run every week. Let's hope the trails down in Buena Vista melt out soon! It's go time.

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