Changing Pace and a Good Hill Workout

I'm familiar with the cycle. A period of good, long training, successful races, goals met, then a plateau, sometimes a long one, months, and then the rut. It's nice to be able to recognize it and know that the world isn't ending, and that I'm not backsliding into a sedentary life. Change is good.

My change doesn't involve picking up a new sport; I still have no desire to get back on the bike or in the pool. The change this time is the type of training. I'm focusing on some shorter races, some 5Ks and 10Ks. I'd really like to run a sub-40 10K before I turn 40 in February. I've come close to that before, hit 40 minutes and change a couple of times, but have never broken the 40 minute barrier. So, I'm switching up my training.

I'm not running less, but I am replacing a couple of the weekly longer runs with more quality runs, mixing in some track work, some tempo runs, and some hill repeats. The mileage still hovers between 40 and 50 miles per week, but the workouts give me more variety, and for now, they are a lot more fun than the long runs. I'm trying to avoid the trap of only increasing distance at the expense of speed. I have found myself not wanting to train for and run shorter races because it almost felt like taking a step backwards from the ever-increasing volume and race distances of ultras.

Early morning track work at Cal State

I've been heading down to the Cal State San Marcos track for some interval training, and that has been fun. It's been awhile since I've run fast and done form drills. Steve Scott (the greatest American miler) is the women's cross country coach down there and I have never felt as self-conscious about my form as I was last week when Steve and his team were stretching and doing core work on the side of the track while I was doing intervals. I also talked to an older woman who holds the American record for the 5K and half marathon in her age group. She was so nice, and we talked for awhile about her races and running. She told me she was 76 and I asked her what her secret was for running so fast that late in life (I can't remember if that's how I put it; I hope I used a little more tact). She told me that she started running 5 years ago. So, there you go. That's the secret.

I'll share today's hill workout because it was simple, and it was fun making it up, and it kicked my ass.

  1. Easy jog for 2 miles.
  2. Find a long (about 1 1/2 mile), moderately steep hill.
  3. Run hard for 3 minutes up the hill.
  4. Turn around and recover for 2 minutes downhill (I walked for a minute, then jogged a minute).
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you reach the top of the hill (for me, this was 5 intervals).
  6. Cool down.

That's it. Let me know if you try the workout and what you think about it.

Thanks for reading.

Grand Canyon Run

Ultra runners and potential aficionados,

Sante and I will go back again to the Grand Canyon this year. 42 miles, 11k feet gain. And one of the most beautiful trails on earth.

The plan is Saturday Nov 3. Drive out from SoCal Friday afternoon Nov 2; drive back Sunday Nov 4. You're invited.

I's be open to go to Zion and do the classic Zion traverse (48 miles). But since Sante really wants to get back on r2r2r, Grand Canyon's the plan currently. And I am not complaining, it's the best run I've ever done; this will be my 3rd go. Maybe we can save Zion for next spring.

Hope some of you can join. Spread the word as needed.


May 22nd, 2012
It hurts to know that I will never get another one of these emails from Ben, but am forever grateful that I was included in this one. My hope is that this will be the beginning of an annual tradition, a Zoom Loco Field Trip that will bring together friends who want to experience amazing places around the world and to push beyond what they think is possible, held in memory of Ben, honoring his spirit of adventure, his ability to bring together a diverse group of people, and his love of being a participant in nature, rather than a mere tourist.

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