MAF thoughts

I’ve spent over a month working out at my Max Aerobic Function heart rate of 137 bpm. Things are progressing pretty good. Some thoughts so far, and how this training compares to what I’ve done in the past:- Running at a low heart rate and in the aerobic zone means I’m not killing myself during workouts. I’ve increased my weekly mileage easily without injury. Previous years I would stress my body with full on tempo runs and not be able to increase mileage due to being utterly exhausted for a few days. It was not uncommon for me to do 2-3 runs a week at full effort, about 12 miles, and the other days I would use to just recover.

– My delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) has all but gone away. I have some soreness, especially after the longer runs, but my body recovers almost overnight now. Soon I’ll be able to run every day without stressing my system. I could probably do this now, just being careful.

– I’m not craving carbohydrates like I used to. With low aerobic training you teach your body to burn more fat in relation to carbohydrates. I was running almost exclusively anaerobic, burning all of my glycogen stores. No wonder I was eating a whole bowl of pasta every night. Now I can run for hours without eating, craving food or bonking.

– I’m enjoying running more, these slow workouts are very relaxing. I’ve always run to relieve stress, but turns out running slow is much better for stress relief. I’m more aware of my surroundings, and sweating much less than I used to.

I’ll include a possible negative as well. Running at a slower pace means having a different form than race pace. All my training is now slightly over 9:00 minute mile pace, while my race pace is under 8:00 minute miles. (The shorter the distance the faster the pace of course) this means I’m doing no training of my body at race pace. This seems to not be an issue yet, I’ll see how things progress over time. It’s possible that my MAF will eventually coincide with my race pace, at least on the longer runs.


numb but happy

 Taking a couple days off from running to let my body heal a little before a race on Sunday. The Whitestone 30k is a tune up race, sort of a test run to see how my fitness is going before the Marathon in a little over a month. The slow base building has been going smoothly, MAF, max aerobic function, is down to just over 9 minute miles. I can keep this pace up for long periods with my mouth closed. I’ve done zero speed work or tempo work for the last couple of months, just relying on the occasional race to get my adrenaline going. My goal for the 30k is to get a few minutes under 2:30:00 and to negative split. First half I’ll be going out at 8 minute mile pace, the second half I hope to squeeze it down to 7:45. At least that’s the plan.

I have a new overarching goal. To do everything I can to keep running
until the day I die. I want to stay fit past 80, past 90, past whatever. I want to make sure I’m training the right way, not stressing my body
beyond tolerance, not burning out. I still have shorter term time goals,
age group goals, but this main goal of staying fit for life takes

(re-posting from G+ running community)

augmented reality H.U.D.

Google Glass is on its way so I saw it fitting to re-post this blog entry I made 3 years ago

I’ve been wondering what an augmented reality HUD interface for runners
would look like, so I went and tossed together this mock-up. Augmented Reality
(AR) layers data on top of the existing world in real time. Science
fiction authors have written extensively about it for decades and
fighter pilots have been using HUD interfaces for years, so there’s
nothing really unique about it. Also patents on this technology were
made years ago in anticipation of it going mainstream in the near
future. In the last couple of years this technology has been trickling
down to the average consumer in the form of iPhone and Droid
applications.Being a tech nerd this would be another toy to play with.
But there are some real benefits to this interface as well.

All the data
from my runs, everything from heart rate to pace to cadence, is
displayed and stored on my Garmin watch. I glance down at the watch
roughly every quarter mile just to make sure I’m within certain training
parameters. So about every 2 minutes I’m looking at the watch, and if I
need to look at a different parameter, I have to push buttons as well.
So out of convenience I want all the relevant data to be displayed at
all times. When I get home, I load the data into a program that displays
everything into graphs. This data can be manipulated and compared to
other workout sessions. These features are great, but again, it would be
nice to be able to do this in real time.This is essentially Biofeedback.
All functions deemed relevant to performance would be displayed in real
time, allowing for a higher awareness and better control of these
functions. This would increase performance levels much faster than when
training without this real time input. For elite runners, this makes
perfect sense. They have been using Biofeedback for years, but this AR
version would bring it out of the lab/treadmills and out into the
field. I would suspect that Garmin and other tech companies are already
working on this, so a product such as runners sun-glasses with embedded
data is just a couple of years away. Shrinking it down into a pleasing
form factor would be key. This would not be for everyone, but could be
very useful for some.

goals and philosophy

June 2016:

Running. There’s not that much to say about it. It’s not everyone’s thing and that’s fine. For me though it’s just part of who I am. It’s part of what I do. I lurk on here and write things related to running on a random basis. I try not to be too self absorbed. Sometimes I write a ton. Other times I go silent for months.I’m mainly a loner with my running. It clears my head. The last few years I’ve opened up to running in packs. It’s fun in a different way.

(keeping older posts to see how naive and/or cocky I was in the past.)
February 2013:

After decades of running at my own pace, I’ve recently been smitten by racing and by seeing how far and fast this body can go. After a few races and ultra distances finishing above average I think its time to get smart about the whole running thing.

Not wanting to set myself up for failure, I’ve made achievable goals for the moment. I’m taking this time as a learning process, as discovery. So, for now I’m content with just getting faster times. I have a soft goal of reaching a sub 3:00 hour marathon in the next year or so. Beyond that, I’d like to run more 50km and 50 milers more successfully. There’s a lot of room for improvement, these are exciting times for me, because at the moment there is no limit. We’ll see what happens when I reach it. I’m somewhat looking forward to the plateaus ahead.

List of things that are somewhat relevant:

I’m a vegan 
I sustain myself on a purely plant based diet. I’ve been veggie since the mid 90’s, so don’t worry, I won’t be collapsing anytime soon. My main reasons are contributing (however little) to animal well fare, the environment, and my health.

I’m a minimalist runner
20 years I ran and struggled with pain and tendonitis. 20 years of “experts” telling me to wear more supportive shoes, more cushioned shoes. I was miserable running without knowing why. Finally a few years ago I started to jog a little barefoot and I never looked back. My form improved, my cadence increased, my ankles strengthened. I still wear shoes for the protection (I run a lot on single track trails) but they are as minimal as possible. And I still sometimes take my shoes off completely to remind myself of the natural running form.


wear patterns

I trudged along Norris Dam for my weekend long run today. It was a mix of jogging and walking. The freezing cold wind off the lake made for a less inviting experience. I was planning on upwards of 20 miles, but got back to the car after 11 miles pretty relieved. I only met one biker out on the trail, I guess everyone else knew better than to brave the cold.Below is an image of the wear patterns from the soles of my shoes. With most shoes it can be hard to get a clear reading on the pattern, but these soles have tiny little nubs that make it easy. I was interested to see if there were any anomalies or imbalance issues. Some observations:

– most of the wear indicates I’m landing on the balls of my feet towards the outside. These are minimal shoes, so it makes sense I’m landing with more of the forefoot. The slight over pronation falls in line with my history.

– there is still some wear on the heel. I think my foot is striking down here secondarily, not sure. So I hit the ball of the foot first, then the ankle pivots down onto the heel before pivoting back onto the toes for the push off. If this is the case, I’m wasting some energy. Another possibility is I’m landing more on the heels on down hills. This would make sense, I tend to lean back and just let the gravity do its work, landing with the heels acts as a breaking maneuver to prevent going too fast.

– overall I don’t see any red flags, looks pretty benign. I’m not so sure how effective this test is. It’s sort of like reading tea leaves. I’m at least happy that the pattern is very evenly distributed, and also very similar on both feet. I may come back to this in a few months when I’ve put more miles on these soles.



6 miles on the treadmill, always a measure of last resort running indoors. Still stiff from the race this weekend. Was keeping my heart rate in my MAF range of mid 130s. Kept my mouth closed for parts of the run and was focused on running form. I find the treadmill useful for small form issues. For instance I check my cadence a few times during a run pretty easily by counting steps and keeping an eye on the treadmill clock. No need to look at my watch. I have a fairly consistent cadence of 175, give or take a few steps. I’ve read that 180 is typical for elite runners, but I’m comfortable with where I’m at now. Might bring it up sometime later if I think it could improve my overall performance. I’ve observed that my cadence will drift over time as well. It’s tough to keep the correct form going when fatigue sets in. So an hour or an hour and a half into a run, my cadence will be in the lower 170s and I’ll have to mentally refocus my stride. I also find that running on the trails forces me to have a higher turnover no matter how tired I am. It’s mainly on flat easier terrain and roads that some of these form issues start popping up.

straw plains half marathon – race report

So that was tough. A half marathon on a crisp sunny day on back roads of Knoxville. I got caught up at the start, so was behind just about everyone, first two miles I basically was weaving through a couple hundred people. I was shooting for a 7:30 pace, but was pushing to make up the deficit from the start and payed for it at the end. My paces were between 7:10 about halfway in, and up to 8:20 for the last mile. Oh, and the first mile was 9:00, yikes. Final time was 1:41, outside of my goal, but still satisfied.Main take always:
After all the trail running I’ve been doing over the years I can’t say I’m really enjoying running on asphalt. There were several moments where I was pounding the white line of a long flat country road thinking I’d rather be up in the woods. The main focus for the spring is the marathon, so I need to tough it out, but after that its almost all trails for me.

My MAF, slow base building workouts seem to be having an effect. I never pushed my lungs and heart beyond the breaking point like I used to, but still managed a decent pace. I did bonk at mile 12, probably due to fuel shortage, but also maybe due to an unsustainable pace. I thought I could get away with it, but the body started stalling at the 1hr25min mark. Very stiff and sore muscles.

This was a test race to see how well I’ll be doing in the Knoxville marathon. Looks like I’m on course to do a 3:30. There’s still 8 weeks left, so it’s not impossible to shave off a few more minutes. I have a couple more longer races ahead that will give me a clearer picture.

My knees that have been acting up did not bother me during the race. I’ll have to keep a vigilant eye on them though, may scale back the miles and do some stationary bike instead. They are doing ok really, I’ve just learned to be careful and not push things too far like I used to. Running through the pain is a recipe for disaster. I mainly blame the road miles, the monotony and sameness of the movements seems to be creating strength imbalances in my muscles. May report on this further.


Green smoothie rest day

No running today. Have to rest just a little before my weekend long run. Drinking my “Hulk” smoothie. A couple of cups of kale, two grape fruits, a large pinch of flax seeds, and plenty of fresh ginger. Packs a punch and keeps me going for hours.

ouchie knees

The increase of road mileage seems to be taking its tole on my knees. I knew this would come eventually, just hoped I could get past 40 miles per week without some stress pain setting in. It’s odd how the same amount of miles on the trails has little effect on my body. Perhaps it’s not odd at all. The surface is more forgiving. I’ll have to periodically check my pain and transition more of my miles back onto the trails.Ran about 5 miles today in the woods on some bike paths. Still keeping my heart rate below my MAF score of 137 bpm. Had to walk some of the steeper hills to keep my heart rate from racing. After a few ultra runs I’ve learned some patients with slowing down. I have a road half marathon this week, have no idea how it will go, I’ve been doing this low intensity training for three weeks and have barely broken a sweat doing it. It will be exciting to see if my body can get into running each mile a couple of minutes faster. 1:40 seems a reasonable goal, but won’t beat myself up over something slower.

slow down, burn fat, get faster, huh?

I’ve been intrigued by various low heart rate training methods lately. In so doing I’ve tried to understand more about how the body utilizes fuel and how different paces effect overall fitness. I’ve been guilty over the years (completely unknowingly) of working out far too hard and fast thinking this was the only way to get faster race times. The no pain, no gain approach to working out. It makes sense for most of us that in order to run fast you need to run fast all the time. What these low intensity training methods show though is that you can gain speed by slowing down. Pretty unintuitive to most of us who have little knowledge about how the body works. Distance running is almost exclusively an aerobic activity, so we should be spending most of our training in the aerobic zone. I’m no expert by a long shot, so I went ahead and put some concepts into visual form. There’s much more to this than displayed here, but its a start. I’ve been doing low intensity training exclusively for the last couple of weeks, and there are some observations I’ll be sharing as time goes on. Thanks for stopping by.