Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I spent yesterday evening at RunSafe, which I promise to do a post about sometime soon. It will probably take me a few days to write it, though, so in the mean time, let's talk about what I did last week.

This weekend was awesome because our alliterative dinner club had our "O" dinner:

Old Fashioneds

Oaxacan Old Fashioneds

Olive tapenade three ways, with olive loaf crostini

Orvieto Classico x 3

Ono ceviche

Octopus ceviche

Soup f(l)ight: Oxtail, Onion (French), & Ogwissimin

Optimus cab blend & O Bastardo port for dessert

Osso Bucco

Osso Bucco, orzo, & Optimus

Orgeat creme brulee

(Homemade) oreos & olive oil ice cream

The damage...


Have I mentioned I love my friends? Because I do. Almost as much as I love food & wine.


Like I said in a previous post, I haven't done true, honest base training in a looooong time, and my last experiment with low heart rate training nearly drove me insane because running so slowly was so uncomfortable biomechanically and so frustrating psychologically. For those reasons, I fully expected to find myself fighting off a deep & abiding hatred of Operation: All Ur Base Training within the first week.

That hasn't happened, though. Whether it's because I'm a more experienced runner or just a wiser, more mature person in general now, I've developed a completely different outlook on the whole thing. Yes, my first few runs where I slowed everything down definitely felt a little strange physically and kind of weird in terms of form, and yes, I had some of those same, "This is sooooo easy. Does this even count as exercise?" thoughts.

As I've kept with it, though, instead of continuing to struggle to keep my pace super easy and my heart rate low, it's gotten significantly easier. In two weeks, I've gone from running a 9:42 pace & thinking, "OMG seriously, I CANNOT POSSIBLY run any slower than this" to averaging in the 10:20's & 10:30's (& even seeing the occasional 11:00 split) and thinking, "You know, this actually feels pretty good." For the most part that has corresponded to average heart rates in the low 150's & even high 140's sometimes, which I honestly did not think would ever happen.

Of course, the thing about working on the aerobic stuff is that you actually can run too slow and end up just wasting your time, so I've been trying to pay close attention to my effort level and be sure that my breathing and effort level stay in a place that does actually feel like doing work, even if it's significantly less work than I'm used to. I had really thought that getting down into the mid-tens might flirt with that wow-this-really-feels-like-nothing zone, but it turns out that the slower I go, the more the decrease in effort seems to taper off.

Eg: Running at 5K pace is incredibly hard for more than a very short amount of time. Slowing down by 1:00/mile feels way, WAY easier--as in, I can run maybe ~5-6x as far. Slowing down by another 1:00/mile feels somewhat easier, but the change is less dramatic. Slow down by yet another minute per mile, and it's maybe a little easier, but not by all that much. So running slower and slower does feel easier, but the more I slow down, the less I feel the change.

You know what, I communicate best in math. It's like this:

Please excuse the weird axis scaling as I was just
not willing to spend more than three minutes on this.

I kind of feel like maybe I got so used to the moderate discomfort of running 8:00-8:15's that my brain decided, "Oh, this is what making an effort feels like," so when I first slowed way down, I felt like I was barely doing anything. Over a couple of weeks, though, I've gotten re-sensitized to it, so that I actually can feel the aerobic work I'm doing at a 10:00-10:30 pace. Yes, it's much more comfortable, but it also does still feel like actual running and putting forth quantifiable effort.

WEEK OF 9/30-10/5

    * 28 miles, all easy
    * 2 x 45:00 strength workouts, plus some extra push-ups/crunches here & there

Monday: a.m. strength work / p.m. karate

Tuesday: 6 easy

    I was supposed to do 6 x 0:30 hill sprints Tuesday, but it was hot as the devil's balls & I was just not feeling it.

Wednesday: a.m. strength work / p.m. "karate"

    I did go to karate but I felt so exhausted & out of it that I barely did anything. Not sure why.

Thursday: a.m. strength work / p.m. 6 easy

    Decided the best way to fix the exhaustion was to sleep an extra hour. Still hot => I continued to wimp on the intervals for the rest of the week. :P

Friday: a.m. strength work / p.m. 6 easy

    Thursday night I got a grand total of about 3 hours of sleep, which, since I did not trust myself to drive a car on the freeway, translated into working at home for the day & also no 7 a.m. strength work. I did do the run, but given that it was STILL 85+ (and this was after delaying as long as possible to let the temperature drop), it was still not particularly pleasant.

Saturday Rest / crazy "O" dinner party

Sunday: 10 long

    Yes, it was only ten miles, but time-wise it was an hour & forty-eight minutes. Since this is normally what it would take me to run 12 miles, it actually kinda-sorta felt like a "real" long run. It also felt pretty good, though, so I think next week I'm ready to bump it up to two hours.


  1. First of all: YUM. Or should I say, "YUM-O".

    Second: I totally agree with your feelings on slowing down, except for me, I felt that way about 12:00 miles. Now I can warm-up at that speed (or really, around 11:30-11:40) and feel like I'm actually warming up. Running slowly has also made me realize that I haven't been bending my knees, like, at all. I've always known that I've had an issue with kicking my foot back and up, but only recently have I discovered that I've been dragging my foot along mostly because I'm not bending the knee joint. I'm not sure if it'll help now that I'm focusing on bending my knees, but I thought it was interesting regardless.

  2. What a great dinner idea. I didn't even know it was possible to unearth so many wines that begin with O. Tell me at least a couple of those things were organic (extra O points). If you added in Asian foods things might get even more complicated - like or luak (Taiwanese oyster omelette), okonomiyaki (those cook-it-yourself Japanese pancakes)... and of course a lot messier flavour-wise. Now I must know - have you guys just been doing a two-year series of monthly dinners? and also: What will you do at Q?

    1. The Optimus, we've been buying/drinking for years, so thankfully had a couple of vintages old enough to drink! The port we already had prior to planning the dinner, so that was also lucky. As for the white, we find that the internet is an excellent resource. (And apparently, you can get some pretty good Orvieto for a reasonable price!)

      I think Q will be awesome. Quail, quinoa, quiche, quesadillas with queso, gin & tonics (with quinine!) come to mind, and if the internet is to be believed, there's some wine varietal called quagliano. (Honestly, the hardest part about letters like 's' and 'b' is narrowing down the options--we actually separated 'c' and 'ch' because there was just too much of both!)

  3. Love your dinner concept! How often/how long have you been doing this to get to O?! I'm now trying to talk my husband into doing this...

    1. We were actually just trying to remember this on Saturday. I think we're close to 2.5 years now. So far we've done maybe 10 or so, so still plenty of letters to go. :)

  4. very fanciful meal, but you have typed "osso bucco" but is "osso buco" means punched bones

    1. Lol, so I did. Oops. It's kind of funny, though, so maybe I'll just leave it!

  5. That chart's pretty accurate. Sometimes, slow running is torrrrture to me.

    1. It's always been that way for me, but this time, somehow, I've been able to embrace it! For me, it helps to think of my runs in terms of time--ie, I'm only running six miles, but at my low HR pace, that's over an hour. Since I'd normally have to run 8 miles to get in 65 minutes of running, it's like a sweet bonus!

  6. Well remind me never to invite you for dinner because the Husband's home-made pizza, apple crumble and the Western States movie will not compare!! Wow your friends are classy!

    The slow running is interesting. I ran SLOW yesterday which ended up at 11.12 min miles and I kind of struggled mentally with it although the physical reality was rather nice! Matt F in his book points out that we've got so used to running at moderate effort that our brains think that Moderate Effort IS Easy Effort so we need to retrain them what easy really is, and that makes a lot of sense. I have a new e-book to help me while away the time!

    1. Hey, I never said I don't love me some homemade pizza & crumble!

      Also, neat to hear MF agrees with my theory. ;)

  7. I've read so much about MAF training and how good it is at building an aerobic base. And I admire anyone who can stick it out. I've tried and always give up after one run - maybe two. Let's just say I have no discipline and leave it at that.

    1. Yeah, this is the first time I've been consistent about it. I don't know if would be helpful to you at all but I found that doing my runs by time instead of mileage made it a little easier, because it made it easier not to think about my pace.

  8. I'm definitely keeping an eye on this heart rate thing. I'm still curious but I'd like you to experiment first!