Category Archives: athlete

2019 Hyner Training Run

In 2018 a group of my friends were all registered for the Hyner Trail Challenge in PA. I was not registered for the race, but had heard my friends talk about it. I was interested in the event and I wanted to see what the hype was all about. So I joined them for a group training run at Hyner to run 14 miles of the 16 mile course. It was really not the best day for a long hard run and certainly not the best day to be encountering the challenges of Hyner for the first time.

Now this year I am registered for the Hyner Trail Challenge. Once again myself and a couple of friends are making the trip down to PA for a training rung on 14 miles of the Hyner Course. It was a fairly typical cold winter day for our region, but it was made to feel even more frigid after enjoying multiple days of warmer weather including two days of 60 degree weather the previous two days. Then the floor dropped out of those temps and 24 hours later we were back to subzero temps in the morning with a high of mid 30’s. Luckily at least we had sunshine today.

Climbing up Humble Hill is no joke. The exertion level is high no matter what pace you are going. Despite the exertion raising body temps and the nice sun shining above the wind combined with the chilling temps to make it feel quite cold especially on the last quarter of the climb. It is cold and difficult but the view from the top makes it all worth it. It was still pretty windy and cold at the lookout point so it is not easy to stick around too long, but I hung out long enough to capture a few photos.

After that climb you switchback down the side of the mountain into the valley and you encounter the first of what will be many stream crossings. We stopped here to eat something quickly and drink some water. It was also a great spot to take some photos. I had brought my small Nikon camera with me and decided to get that out again and immediately proceeded to drop it on the rocks damaging the lens. Now that camera was out of commission for the rest of the trip after only about 3 miles. Not what I had in mind.

The next section is relatively flat but littered with so many stream crossings that you cannot really keep track. The freezing cold water from the snow melt doesn’t help either. Being that it was  a training run and not a race we decided to pick out way across the streams and try to keep our feet dry-ish as much as possible, but this is simply is not possible in places. You have to take on that freezing cold water. By the end of the stream crossings your feet are numb.

After the stream crossings you start another ascent. If you thought climbing meant no more water, you’d be wrong. On this climb you essentially climb up a stream bed as the water pours down the hillside and over your feet. After another descent you climb again and eventually reach SOB and whose name is well deserved. Then you reach the most moderate section of the entire course. There is some times spent at a relatively flat section on top of the mountain and then you have a long not too steep decent back into the valley. 

The most interesting aspect of this training run was the snow. Last year we ran in February. No snow. This year we are running in mid-march, nearing spring and there was quite a significant amount of snow especially on the second half of the course. I was hoping the snow would be melted. I am really hoping that the snow is melted by race day. It made the course interesting and was great for photos, but it did make for some slower going if for no other reason that just to be careful and make sure you had good footing.

Like many runners I use Strava to track my runs. One of the features I do really enjoy on Strava is the segments. When you run in an area where there are a lot of segments that have been created it allows you to pretty easily see how your performance has changed, hopefully for the better from run to run. There are a lot of segments that have been created for Hyner. I was happy to see that Strava had notified me of 12 achievements. Many of these achievements were 2nd best times on a segment which in this case doesn’t mean anything since it was only the second time I have run here. But there were several segments where I had PRs meaning that I ran better than last year. This was really good news to me because we really felt like we were taking it easier and not pushing too hard on this training run. So the fact that our perceived effort level was lower but we were actually faster on a lot of segments indicates to me that our physical conditioning has improved from our training over the past year. Hopefully this will translate to a nice strong run at the race in just over a month. 

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Ultra Training: Speed

Training for my first 50 mile race continues. I have several races built in as more serious training runs essentially prior to my 50 mile race. I “planned” other races into my training before I reach my date with a 50 miler, but I will admit most of them were not particularly strategic. They are more that I just want to run that race. 

I am a little under a month away from the first race of my race season. My first race is a road half marathon. It will probably be my only half marathon and possibly my only road race. This will be the third time I run this particular half marathon, Skunk Cabbage Half. I have enjoyed this race in the past and I ran a PR there last year and achieved my goal of my first sub 2 hr half marathon. This year I would like to PR again. PR’s at half marathons have really been my only time goals at races these days. To that end I have been trying to be much more consistent and attentive to doing speed work during my training plan. I had speed wok on my training plan last year but I would not say I took a very good approach to it. Most of my gains in speed have simply come due to consistent running not by any specific strategy.

So far during this year’s training I have seen significant improvements in my speed at the 10k distance. I never really thought of this distance as on I could show much improvement in as I did not feel I had the stamina to run hard that long. I have generally focused on running longer and farther not necessarily faster over the last several years. My runs have been long but relatively slow. Earlier in the year on a cold wintry day I found myself running hard for my entire run because I was simply freezing cold and running hard was the easiest way to stay warm and also get done faster and get home and get warmed up. On that run I ended up running a 10k PR. Then I started incorporating speed work into my training plan. I decided to use fartlek’s as my speed work because I am not well versed in speed work, as in I basically no nothing about speed work, and fartlek’s seemed easiest to understand and easiest to implement. I decided to run 1 minute fast 1 minute rest fartlek’s for 4 of my miles on either 6 or 7 mile runs with a warm up mile in the beginning and at least 1 mile cool down at the end. Since I started that routine I have achieved multiple PRs at the 10k distance. Also depending on which running app you subscribe to Garmin or Strava I either PR’d or ran my second fastest time at the 5k distance on my most recent speed work, with the difference in times between the two apps being only 1 second.

To be clear I am not a particularly fast runner. I am very much a middle of the pack runner if not back middle of the pack depending on the race.  But it is very nice to see these added benefits of speed work really showing up in measurable visible ways on my training apps. It really helps me to stay motivated and keeps my drive up to stick with these hard speed workouts. I have never really done much speed work and these are definitely some of the hardest workouts I have ever done. It is really easy to stop doing something hard if you don’t feel like you are getting results. I am glad to be seeing these results or I would be very tempted to give up on the speed work.

I am looking forward to seeing how this new emphasis on speed work translates to my first race of my season at my only race with a time goal at this point. Hopefully it results in another half marathon PR.

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In the Beginning: 50 Mile Training

I am half way through week 4 of my training plan with one short run and my first 16 mile run of the plan left for the week. Trying not to stress about the numbers during training this year as my goal race is a long way off and little differences won’t have an impact. I’ve only had one run where I really did not feel like running. Otherwise training has been going pretty well. I am trying to keep a little strength training and yoga in the mix with running.

Recently it has been frigid here in upstate NY and I’d prefer not to run on the treadmill but have been forced to several times already.

It’s been so cold lately that my brain tricked me into thinking 18 degrees seemed relatively warm and I should run outside. It was still crazy cold. I was running harder than I should be for a training run just to get warm and stay warm and ended up setting a 10k PR. That was not the plan. Despite the cold my Boco Gear hat and gloves kept my head and hands warm, however the rest of me could have used another layer. My neck especially could have used more coverage. Luckily its supposed to warm up to above freezing the next few days.

Regular training runs have been going pretty well. Long runs have been fine. I even added in my first round of speed work just for something different and to help me through a treadmill run, which I always dread. Today I ran harder for longer than I have in a while and the run felt pretty good. I probably could have even gone a little faster. Aside from being cold everything was clicking pretty good. Especially since this fast run was not planned at all I will definitely call this last run a small victory on the way to 50 miles.

Best of all I have been fortunate to share many miles with a variety of friends.

2018 Running goals in review

It’s the time of year where we take a moment to look back on the year that has passed. 2018 brought on a lot of new things for me in running. The goals I had set for myself were the following:

  1. Run a trail marathon
  2. Run my first ultra
  3. Increase my mileage from 2017 – 2018
  4. Run a sub 24 Minute 5k
  5. Run a sub 2 hour half marathon
  6. Learn more about running
  7. Learn more about proper running training

Overall I would say my 2018 year in running was pretty successful. I completed 6 out of 7 goals. The only goal I did not accomplish was running a sub 24 minute 5k. I ran several of what I would call test runs on my own to see how realistic this goal was for me and I performed pretty well. I think this is still a goal that is within my reach, but I just never committed to running an official 5k where I could really put it on the line and go for it all out. To be honest this goal probably was the least important of the goals on my list. It was also a goal that was probably in direct contrast to most of my other top goals, running a short fast race as opposed to running longer races and mostly trying to just survive longer races rather than trying to get faster. I still want to accomplish this but I might need to target a specific race first and commit to training for speed for a specific time frame to really get it done. This is just another thing that I have never really done

My only other speed goal was to run a sub 2 hr half marathon. I was already pretty well on pace for this going into 2018, but I had never really run a race with a time goal in mind and I had no idea how to really approach the event. It turned out ok though and I succeeded in running under 2 hours. I think I will be returning there in 2019 and trying to further push down my PR and I’m hoping now that I have some experience doing that I will be even more successful.

Another goal that I had that is more about distance than speed is to run more miles in 2018 than I did in 2017. In 2017 I ran a little over 1,000 miles. This year I am at 1,425 currently. I don’t think I will break 1,500 this year, so that may be a 2019 goal.

The two goals that were the highest priority for me were about pushing my endurance to run longer distances than I ever thought I would. My goal was to finish a trail marathon and then a trail 50k. I never thought I would want to do either of these things, but when you fall in with the wrong crowd you find yourself swept up in this sense of adventure and desire to see what you can do. I successfully completed both the trail marathon and the trail 50k I had targeted. When I signed up for these races I thought I would likely be one and done for both especially for 2018 if not for ever. Little did I know I would end up running my second 50k later in 2018. Those pesky friends can get you to do anything. It is funny that initially I thought this would be all I would do at distance, but now I am already registered one long race and have more and longer races on my tentative schedule. I’ll talk more about those when I talk about my 2019 goals.

My other two goals were more about learning and knowledge than anything else. I wanted to learn more about the art and science of running and how to perform better. I feel like I learned so much about this topic. I have learned mostly from listening to experienced runners and coaches talking on podcasts. I still know relatively little but I have gained so much and there is always more to learn.I also wanted to learn more about proper training. I learned these lessons first hand as I trained for a race using a training plan for the first time ever. My friend and much more experienced runner put together a training plan for me to follow for my first 50k. It was both scary and amazing. I learned that you can really accomplish a lot when you take it a little more seriously and actually work strategically to accomplish your goals. I credit this training with allowing me to smash my goals including my half marathon PR, completing both my long races, and increasing my yearly mileage. I think the most important thing I learned is how much better you feel when you train properly.I might have completed my goals without the structured training but I would not have felt so good in doing so. I pushed myself harder and faster than ever before at a half marathon and I felt physically better post race than ever before. This is obviously a direct result of being properly trained. I ran my first ever 50k and it was tough. I expected to be completely destroyed and immobile for days, but instead I ran an 8k with my wife the very next day. I would never have thought that this could happen. This is only made possible by being smart and well trained. I could not have accomplished these things without the support of my friends.  

This Run Almost Didn’t Happen

Training for an ultra marathon has been a lot of work. The first race I’ve ever done any official training plan and I picked a doosey. The have been challenges along the way, but today was a big one.

Today was the closest I have come to not running at all on a day that my training plan has me scheduled for a run. I was mentally exhausted after a long day at work. I was hungry. I was tired. I just needed to eat and sit for a minute.

I nuked some rice and beans and ate it quickly. Then I just wanted to sit back and close my eyes for a minute. My eyes were burning and my brain was buzzing. Just closing my eyes would help everything settle down.

As soon as sat back my loving dogs swarmed me. Three of my dogs laid on anf around me. Theu snuggled up with me and nearly put me to sleep. After about an hour I was able to pry myself off the couch and change into running clothes.

I got in the treadmill and started running. I needed some motivation for running and REI Presents: How To Run 100 Miles https://youtu.be/iC7Lh4opLsc was spot on.

#1. It Helps To Have A Friend Along

#2. It’s Going To Be A Struggle At Times

#3. You Have To Put In The Work

#4. Eventually You Have To Start The Race

#5. Commit

#6. You Have To Keep Moving

This might have been the perfect movie to watch durring a struggle of a training run.

Then I watched some Jam Jam and some Ginger Runner. They helped get me through.

Today was supposed to be speedwork but after 2 miles at 10 minute miles I tried to speed up to 8 minute mile pace for 1 mile but I just didn’t have it. I was too sore and tired from yesterday’s workout. At about 2.5 miles the combination of the big TV, the space heater, and the treadmill managed to blow a fuse. So I had to get off the treadmill and reset the breaker. It took every ounce of willpower to get back on the treadmill.

The next 4.5 miles were a mental challenge. Being on the treadmill where I can literally stop any time I want with no negative consequences is a real challenge to keep going when it gets tough. Boy did I want to stop. With one mile left I was literally chanting out loud to myself “One more mile.” Over and over until I was done. But I did get it done.

It’s not always easy but it is always worth it.

2018 Running Goals

My running goals generally revolve around types of runs I want to try and increasing distance. I think in 2018 there will be more goals involving increasing distances, but I think I also want to set some different types of goals. Some goals I have already talked about in past posts but some of them will be newer.

  1. Run a trail marathon
  2. Run my first ultra
  3. Increase my mileage from 2017 – 2018
  4. Run a sub 24 Minute 5k
  5. Run a sub 2 hour half marathon
  6. Learn more about running
  7. Learn more about proper running training

STRC New Years Day 5 Miler_January 01, 2018_421
STRC New Years Day 5 Miler

My first Trail marathon and ultra are already on the calendar. I will be running Sehgahunda Trail Marathon and Worlds End 50k. I am super excited about these races. These are sure to push my limits and help me explore ho I am as a person and as a runner. I will be running these races with some of my friends which makes it even better. Training for these races began 1/1/18 and it is something totally new for me. I have never followed an official training plan. This should have me more prepared for these races than any other I have run previously.

After my training throughout 2017 I feel like a sub two hour half marathon is within my reach. I ran at least on half marathon distance run almost every month. Now that I am starting 50k training the training plan has me running a half marathon distance long run almost every week. Seems like this should help me even more even though the long runs will not be focused on speed at all. I have a half marathon on the calendar already for 2018 at the 37th annual Skunk Cabbage Classic. The race is a bit hilly, so not necessarily a fast course but hopefully with the trail running and training I will be doing I will be able to get it done here. I am also planning to run this race with some friends so no matter what it will be fun.

STRC New Years Day 5 Miler_January 01, 2018_390
STRC New Years Day 5 Miler

My other time related goal is to run a sub 24 minute 5k. I haven’t run a 5k in years and I seldom push myself to run as hard as I can like one would in a 5k race. This is the one goal on my list I am least confident I can achieve. I am planning to take some time off running long distance post 50k to try and train myself up for a 5k in the summer. If anyone has ideas for a fun 5k to run preferably in the Finger Lakes region of NY or a good training plan to follow let m know in the comments.

My other goals amount to just becoming smarter and more well informed about running. So everyone share with me their favorite running columns to read to learn more about running and become a better runner. I’d love to see what is out their besides articles by Runners World.

Get out there and enjoy a run. Talk to you again soon.

Even When You Don’t Want To, Still Run

This year I have been focusing mostly on longer type runs. My shorter runs are usually 5-6 miles with long runs of 13 miles at least once a month, since last October. Yesterday the plan was to run 10 miles. I didn’t get there. I didn’t feel right the whole run and ended it with only 8 miles. It never feels good for me to end short of my goal.

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Today I knew I wasn’t going to have time for a very long run as I had a busy day ahead of me. So that was already weighing in the unmotivated to run side of the scale. Not to mention if I had to run I had to be out the door relatively early. No later than 8 AM. More weight to the just don’t run side of the scale. Upon waking up I checked my phone and it was confirmed that the temperature for this morning was 20 degrees. Even more weight to the side of the scale killing any desire to run.

As I got up this morning I was getting things done and literally telling myself, ” I am going to run today”. Once I had my morning chores done I started to think about what to do next. The answer was “I am going to run”. That is what I kept telling myself. I started to think about what I needed to wear and got out my cloths and dressed to run. As I was getting ready, I knew I still didn’t really feel like running and didn’t want to go out in the cold.

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I told myself I would just do a short run. I would run my standard 5k distance route that I know well right outside my house. No thinking no more decisions to make. Just to get out and run. Often when I don’t really feel like running I just go for an easy slow paced run just to get some miles. I knew it was going to be cold, so I told myself I will just run hard. If I run hard I will warm up faster and stay warm longer no matter what the weather brings. And the weather sure brought it. It was cold and windy.

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Also I didn’t take any tech with me other than my watch. No phone, no camera, no music. Anyone who has run with me much knows that is a huge deal. I went out to just run by feel and make the best of this run. I checked my watch at the very beginning just to assure myself that I was running a decent pace to start. Then I check it again when it  buzzed at mile three.

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At mile 3 I was very happy and surprised to see that I was at a much faster pace than I expected and I knew I had to push myself for those last .11 miles and maybe I would just do it. Do what? Reach one of my personal goals.

So, what exactly can happen when you go out and run? You can run one of your best runs and reach your personal goals. I have had a goal for a while know that I want to run a 5k at a sub 9 minute pace. Guess what? Today on this day I didn’t even want to run, I achieved that goal. I ran an 8:55 min/mile pace. I got out and ran. I put in that effort when I didn’t even really want to and I made it happen.This is what you can do when you do the things that you don’t really want to do. You reach your goals.

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It’s all about being there and putting in the effort. Just show up, just run. It won’t always be pretty and you won’t always feel like it, but you will be able to achieve more than you ever thought you could as long as you show up.

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