Friday, December 13, 2013

Taking an off season

It's been 5 weeks since Icebox 480, my last "goal" race of the season. After finishing 50K there, my goal was to take a true "off season". I didn't necessarily need to stop running completely, but I wanted to drop my run volume and focus on recovery and doing fun stuff. I also wanted to kick-start my winter plan to add strength work back in (stopped doing this when I broke the elbow, and continued not doing it when I was in ultra training mode), and start doing speed work. I'm happy enough going the pace I go, but I have a nagging feeling that I could be going faster. This seems like a good time to test that idea.

Here's what I've been up to since Icebox:

  • Week 1: I ran 14 miles, all slow, and did a bunch of yoga. Worked on making my left IT band better. Went to the Upper Midwest Trail Runners' awards banquet. Enjoyed the monster potluck buffet, laughed with friends, and heard hair-raising stories of the Iditarod Trail Invitational (a 350 mile race, in February, on, yup, the Iditarod Trail). No plans for that one any time soon, but wow.
  • Week 2: Ran about 21 miles, including a track workout and an incredible run at Afton in the pre-dawn 10 degrees and wind. Did my first Olympic weightlifting workout (RAWR!) and a bunch of core strength work. Ran track repeats for the first time in forever. Loved it.

Afton. The sun was barely beginning to come up as we got up to the prairie loop.

It was the first really cold weekend, and Afton Alps was making snow.
Apologies for the blurry pictures, but flash obviously wasn't going to work.

Lots of snow blowing in from the ski area.
Yes, I'm wearing two hats in this picture.

Back up to the parking lot, and into a beautiful, sunny, cold day.

  • Week 3: Ran 25 miles, including a 10K turkey trot (the Turkey Day Trail Trot at Battle Creek) and a fatass run at Afton. The turkey trot was a fun two loops through a 5K cross-country ski trail. Mostly wide trails, a couple miles of singletrack. I wanted  to negative split, and did it, running the first loop in 33:45 and the second in about 33:00. At Afton, I did about 10 miles, quite a bit faster than the week before! I had a great time running a few miles with some speedy friends who had already done one 25K loop. Even with that to slow them down, it was definitely a tempo pace for me. Fun to be up there with the front of the packers, even for a little ways! (I did catch myself thinking, "What the hell am I doing up here?!") I also did more Olympic weights and yoga.
    What am I doing in this picture?! At least my INKnBURN shirt looks good.

  • Turkey Trot pre-race. Same folks as at Afton, less clothing!
    Off to a running start!

    XC ski trails, then singletrack

    A few rolling hills through the woods
    Beginning of lap 2, and the clouds were clearing away!
    Midrace. Me: Excuse me, you've got a turkey on your head.
    Him: What?
    Me: There's a turkey on your head!
    Him: WHAT?
    Me: TURKEY!!
    Him: AAAAAAAGH!!!!!!

    • Week 4: The beginning of some seriously cold weather. Ran 25 miles, including 10 miles at Jordan's Donut Run, where the starting temperature was -11F, not including wind chill (probably more like -20 or -25 with it, by the lake). Due to timing issues, I got to Nokomis at 6:50 am and ran 2.5-ish miles, then joined up with some friends at 7:20 for a lap around Nokomis so that we could get 12K miles for the Lunch the Chicken Memorial 12Kathon. (Don't ask. Suffice it to say that Stephanie was involved again.) THEN at 8 we started the 5 mile official Donut Run route, with stops at Mel-O-Glaze and A Baker's Wife. It was definitely the coldest run I've ever done, but I was dressed for it. And it was pretty fun to do it with friends! Also, Olympic weights, strength work, yoga.
    • Beginning of the official Donut Run. Same folks again (except for Stephanie), way MORE clothing.

    Mel-O-Glaze apple fritter.
    Can you believe 50 people showed up for a run in -11 temperatures?
    I have truly found my people.
    Butter cake at A Baker's Wife. Butter. Cake.
    • Week 5 (this week): About 11 miles of running so far, planning a 3 hour run at Lebanon Hills tomorrow  morning (the longest I've run since Icebox) and a 1 hour Sunday run so will probably end up somewhere around 31 for the week. Indoor track workout yesterday, where I ran a blistering-for-me 8 min/mi pace doing 200, 400, and 600m intervals. I couldn't believe how great I felt doing this! More Olympic weights and strength work (I'm loving the muscle soreness that lasts for days afterwards). Spin class. Yoga. Having fun.
    Gotta wrap this up. More soon on deep thoughts during my "off season", things I've learned as a runner in the last year, and starting to think about plans for next year. In addition to cutting back on running, I also have had a self imposed moratorium on race planning for the last 5 weeks. It's been good to have a quiet, unstructured season and I can tell my body is responding well to the new stuff I'm trying. We'll see, but I think this is going to take me good places heading into 2014!

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