Yesterday afternoon, I ran home under a great big blue sky of spring Alaska sun. It was 50F and there was just enough breeze to remind you’re just a few degrees off the Arctic Circle. I will say, this was exactly the type of run I looked forward to around Dec 21st, as I pulled on layer over layer and prepared for yet another run into the inky darkness with only my headlamp for company.


I also spent the first mile yesterday hobbling like a geriatric. There just is never a smartphone video camera around when you need it; I would have loved to capture that first mile. Honestly, I had to smile despite the morbidity residing in my quads. It didn’t get a whole lot better, either. Any stop or sudden deceleration was plain old painful. On top of it all, the fuel tank was a little low. 6.5 in the morning + 10.0 home in the afternoon = need for lots of calories. About a mile from home, the magnificent Tordrillo Range spilling sunshine and cloud break off my right shoulder, I stopped, stretched my tight calves, and honestly considered calling Jen for a ride home. By the time I made it through the door, all I could think about was food. I sat down in the pantry, ate half a bag of crappy snack mix, two handfuls of almonds, some kind of Japanese energy squeezy-thing and followed it up with a recovery shake. Gross.

If this sounds heinous to you and makes you wonder why I do this day after day, you’re getting it. The fact is, anyone who only has good things to say about running either a) runs less than he/she claims or b) is attempting to sell you something. Like fish oil. Or the “only running app you’ll ever need.”

Kneeling on the altar of the Great Truth Machine

The truth of it all: like John L. Parker put it in Once a Runner, running is “all joy and woe.” There are days when everything clicks and output is which despite effort being low, and those are the rare treasures. Everything else is the true substance of running, and it might hurt, but boy it hurts so good. Yesterday was just another reminder of why I love to run. It sucked starting a ten miler understanding that it was going to be a long, slow sufferfest. But man, it was awesome to be out there enjoying the vernal sunlight and to know that the more I hurt today, the stronger I become tomorrow.

I’m interested in what you think – leave a comment with a story about your most heinous/awesome run.

7 for 7: Training

Ahhhh. The training. I love it, I hate it, I love it and hate it all at the same time. I love it for what it provides, but I hate it for the suffering it inflicts.

My take on training starts pretty simply: do it. Training is what gets us from here to there. It’s the one thing you can control in the process, really. You can’t control how you feel, your luck, or the genetic coding your parents passed along. Training is the one thing that not doing guarantees failure.

My second foundation for training is consistency. In his classic novel Once A Runner, John L. Parker Jr’s character Quenton Cassidy talks about a concept called “The Trial of Miles, Miles of Trials.” I think it accurately depicts the concept and importance of consistency. The miles required to achieve the goal, the sum itself is a challenge and opportunity for victory. In the same way, each one of those miles is its own little challenge and victory once completed. It’s a day in/day out  commitment to put numbers in the mileage box of your training log, and watch as those numbers add up over weeks, months, even years depending on what you are trying to achieve.

Consistency is also perhaps the most difficult aspect of training to achieve, especially with life’s standard infringements. Work demands are my primary enemy when it comes to consistency. Having spent about six of the past twelve months on the road, I understand first hand the difficulty of staying on schedule.

My last, equally important approach to training is the importance of quality work. Quality work is what you might think of as “sprints,” but you might want to re-categorize as “anything harder than just going out for a jog/run.” This, combined with regular old running is what makes a program, and achieving goals requires both. Track intervals, fartleks, hill repeats, sustained moderate/hard runs…it’s all deadly.

Beyond the foundational tenets of doing the training, doing it consistently, and doing the quality work, there is the issue of methodology. I think of methodology as how you put it all together into a cohesive training program. There are many, many ways to train. From the ubiquitous cookie-cutter programs available on any online running website, to systems devised and led by individual coaches; there are simply a ton of options. I can find it a bit overwhelming, to tell you the truth.

I currently train predominantly off Coach Jack Daniels’ (I know, cool name, right?) methods. His book, Daniels Running Formula, 


 is starting to fall apart from me paging through it constantly. It’s in-depth as well as simple, and includes recommended training plans for runners of all abilities and distances. I also inject some of Michele’s workouts, which she took from Alan Storey. Unfortunately I don’t have any resources for him, which is unfortunate due to the fact that he’s got some killer hard workouts.

 There are several others out there I trust. Mark Twight’s stuff on is pretty much my sole resource for strength these days.

Chatting with Coach Jay at the 2010 Chicago Marathon Expo

He tells me that he’s working a research project on strength for endurance athletes, which I eagerly await. Additionally, Coach Jay Johnson,, has some wonderful stuff both on his website and in the podcast videos on with regards to building a strong body capable of handling the toll running can take.

Lest I totally geek out, I’m not going to get into the details of my training right now, since I could go on forever. I will say that I’m currently focusing on trying to run 16:30 for 5k by the end of Jan. As such, my training is focused heavily on shorter, faster intervals with some sprinklings of the moderate sustained work. I will also say that I stay very flexible due to my travel schedule.

Here’s a depiction of the four weeks of training done prior to this week:

Training Snapshot for 1 Nov - 28 Nov

As you can see, I do 2-3 quality sessions a week, usually Tue/Thu/Sat in order to give me some recovery in between. I’m running higher mileage volume and long runs than is typical for most 5k programs, but I’m doing that to see how I react to sustained higher mileage.

Alright, that’s it for today. Like I said, if I get going into the science stuff, you’ll be here (and bored) all day. Check out some of the links for more information if you’re interested. Hope you found all this informative…in the future I will probably post some of my own recommended training plans.