10/2/2015: Morning Workout: November Project: The Quad Thrashing Continued!

Yesterday’s 9-Mile Treadmill Experience

Yesterday I ran nine miles on the treadmill at the New York Sports Club near my office in White Plains, New York. I didn’t run in the morning because I needed the extra hour and a half of sleep. Solid move. The only problem: running on the treadmill is incredibly boring. I pounded out 7:30 miles without any problems, but I would have preferred the hills of Central Park. Keeps it interesting, at least.

Today’s November Project NYC Workout

Wednesday I wrote about November Project NYC’s quad-heavy workout. I was hoping that this morning’s NP_NYC exercises would diverge from that format. Again, alas.

We met at 68th Street and Riverside Drive, a location only ten blocks from my apartment. I jogged to and from the workout. The intersection sits atop an entrance to the West Side Greenway, and sports a steep set of stairs down to the Hudson River. At the bottom of the stairs is an entrance to a field with an incredibly steep hill. You see where I’m going with this.

The Workout

We split into two groups and partnered up. Group one started at the base of the hill. While one partner planked, the other sprinted up the hill to the top, and sprinted (or slipped, slid, and rolled) to the bottom. Once at the bottom, the runner would straddle the planker and run over him. Once past the planker, the planker became the runner, and vice versa. Repeat for 10-12 minutes. The goal of the straddling, according to John, one of the Tribe leaders, was to make things as awkward as possible. He wasn’t too far off.

November Project NYC

Sliding down the hill! (Repost from November Project NYC Facebook page)

Group two started at the top of the stairs. Partner one stayed atop the stairs alternating between five dips and five pushups. Partner two ran down the stairs, lunged from the stairs to the West Side bike path (for me, about 20 lunges), bear-crawled back to the stairs, and ran up them. Switch with your partner and repeat for 10-12 minutes.

After 10-12 minutes groups one and two switched and did the other circuit.

November Project NYC

I can’t even pretend that I’m enjoying this moment. (repost from November Project NYC Facebook page)

As you can see, hill running, lunges, and stair running all engage the quads. So, once again I punished myself with short bursts of quad speed. Overall I felt good running up the hill, but the stairs (which I did during the second half) hurt. The most difficult part, though, was the dips/pushups combo. The stairs/lunges/bear crawl/stairs segment took 2-3 minutes, which is enough time to do a lot of dips and pushups. After the 20th dip, though, you no longer want to do dips and pushups. Relative strength is really important for running, though, so I can grin and fight through it. Overall, though, my legs felt better this morning than on Wednesday. Sometimes a long, easy run like the one I did on the treadmill yesterday eases the muscle soreness.

As always, the NP_NYC crew found a way to elevate the cold rainy morning into a joyous experience. High fives up and down the hill, Billy and John rolling down the hill in every direction and getting dizzy and confused in the process, Amir pushing it hard each plank and each uphill sprint: They help keep the energy and spirit high. I also like when John and Paul, the other Tribe leader, jump into the workout and push it with us. It keeps the anarchical spirit of the group alive and well. And really, everyone who #justshowsup: that’s the hardest part and most important for keeping the group going!

November Project NYC

It’s this kind of intensity that keeps NP_NYC pushing hard in the mornings! (repost from November Project NYC Facebook page)

#weekendearned.

If you’re running Grete’s Great Gallop half marathon in Central Park this weekend, kill it! If you’re like me and putting in a long run for the NYC Marathon, good luck out there. And if you’re just taking it easy, then take it easy like a prince.

Happy running, everyone!

Maffetone at Work! Also 9/22/15: Morning Run, 5:30 a.m., 6.2 Miles, Central Park Loop

I’ve written a lot of training run recaps. This morning’s will be short: I ran this morning, and it was lovely. Check out my Training Plan for updates on what I’m up to on a daily basis. I’ll be expanding that page to include the exercises I do at the gym, and welcome any and all feedback on my plan.

Now, for something far more interesting!

I have posted relentlessly about Dr. Phil Maffetone’s 180 Formula for heart rate training, and written about my experience training almost exclusively using this method for almost five months. I have discussed how I PR’d at the Percy Sutton 5k—running a 5:56 per mile pace and besting my previous 5k PR by over a minute—by performing training runs at my maximum aerobic heart rate, and doing (at most) three anaerobic workouts prior to the race. In short, Dr. Maffetone’s method has worked for me. But what about for other people?

Larisa Dannis

Larisa Dannis (reposted from Runner’s World)

Here is a great example from Runner’s World of the Maffetone Method at work. Larisa Dannis, a former recreational runner, ran the USA 50-Mile Road Championship in 5:59:11 in October of 2014, becoming only the third American woman to run 50 miles in under six hours. She will represent the United States in the IAU World 100K Championships in Doha, Qatar in November. She also came in second in the women’s race at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, and was the first female finisher from the mass start at the 2014 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:44:14, only 74 seconds shy of qualifying for the Olympic trials.

How does she train? You can probably guess! From the Runner’s World article: “Dannis trains via the Maffetone Method, doing all of her training runs and races in very specific heart rate zones. It’s an unconventional approach, but one that’s helped her transform herself from a relatively average runner to one of the best American ultrarunners in just a few years.”

The article also discusses her specific heart rate training: “Dannis wears a heart rate monitor to make sure that she’s doing all of her training runs and races in the proper heart rate zone. Over time, she’s learned what heart rate she can sustain for various distances, and uses those numbers to guide her in all of her training and racing. For example, she averaged 134 beats per minute during the Western States this year, and she knows that she needs to be in the 163-165 range during a marathon.”

Finally, “Dannis spent nearly two years building her aerobic base, aiming to not exceed a set heart rate in training. She estimates that she still does more than 90 percent of her training at an easy, aerobic pace.” She has incorporated more speedwork into her routines over time, she says, which also contributed to her excellent finishing time at the 2014 Boston Marathon.

Dannis also employs the piece of the Maffetone puzzle that I am just starting to put together: the nutrition plan. From Runner’s World: “Dannis credits the transformation in her running to three things: training via the Maffetone Method, focusing on whole-body strength (she particularly likes kettlebells), and eating a whole-foods diet high in healthy fats and high-quality protein” (emphasis added).

Such a diet contradicts the common wisdom that runners need to consume a diet high in carbohydrates before, during, and after a race. Anyone who runs road races knows what I’m talking about: carbo-loading for two-three days before a race, sucking down multiple sugar-happy gels during the race, and pounding all sorts of pancakes and other starchy treats after the race as a reward for a job well done. The idea behind the carb-heavy diet is that the body burns lots of sugars while running, so the runner needs to consume lots of sugars to stay properly fueled.

A diet high in healthy fats and protein, however, combined with the maximum aerobic heart rate training advocated by Dr. Maffetone and others, leads the body to burn more fat for fuel. Fat is a more efficient energy source than sugar, and the body creates fewer harmful byproducts at a cellular level when training aerobically and burning fat. This allows faster recovery times, more efficient training, and overall improved health.

At least, that’s the theory. As I do more research, I will expand on this topic. For now, because Dr. Maffetone’s heart rate method has worked for me, I’m willing to explore his guidance on the dietary component of endurance sports. As one running buddy once said after declaring his love for tuna melts, “I sometimes wonder just how good I could be at this sport if I nailed the nutrition component.” Some “food” for thought. Get it?! I’m such a dork.

Finally, I like Dannis’ attitude about racing. She says, “‘Running has always been a very personal endeavor for me. I find satisfaction and excitement through challenging myself rather than competing with others.”

Love it. Focus on improving and running each race better than the last. Results come in many forms.

Happy running, everyone!