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Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Check Out Silent Sports Magazine

Posted by scott on July 7, 2009

I recently discovered Silent Sports magazine after I was asked to write an article on volunteering at the Superior Trail Races last Fall and training for the 50 mile race this year.  This is a cool Midwest-based magazine about non-motorized outdoor activities, definitely worth a look.  It’s available at REI (at least the Minnesota stores).

My article is in the July issue, which is now available, and is also online.

Silent Sports Running Feature


Posted in Training | 4 Comments »

Summer Balance Training

Posted by scott on June 18, 2009

I am starting to get addicted to balance training, and might have gone off the deep end.  I picked up a bosu first and like it, but it’s just a big too big to store where I can easily use it.  I next picked up a heavy ball and spend TV time in the evenings standing on top of it (with breaks).  It’s incredibly simplistic, but fun.  You can really feel all of the little-muscles-you-didn’t-know-you-have working together to keep you on the ball.  It’s also a great foot strengthening exercise, and a nice complement to barefoot/minimal shoe running.

So I thought with summer happening I would take the fun outside, and I picked up a unicycle and some Freeline skates.   I got good deals on Craigslist on both, because they are incredibly difficult to learn, and a lot of people throw in the towel.  I’m at the pre-natal stages of learning both, but it’s fun.  Again, I can definitely feel the micro-muscles working and this is cross-training works muscles I KNOW I don’t use at anything else.

If nothing else, I think its exciting to leave the comfort zone and try something challenging and new.  Even if these are goofball things to try, they are stretch goals for me nonetheless and will require patience and physicial training to become proficient.  And that’s its own reward.

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Superior Trail Training Weekend – Spring 2009 Races

Posted by scott on May 18, 2009

Did I ever mention that I love the Superior Hiking Trail?

I am still trying to fight my way through this lame injury that keeps dragging on, and have been desperately yet gradually trying to ramp up my mileage.  Heading up to SHT was really a stretch from where I was at with Spring training, but what a blast it was.  I drove up Friday night and pitched my tent at Temperance River in a light mist before catching the pre-race briefing for the Spring Superior Trail Races.  I had a nice chat with Zach Pierce, meeting him for the first time after trading emails.  By the time I got back towards the tent it was pouring, so I opted for a warm dinner at Bluefin, and then arrived at camp to find my tent leaking and water dripping on my sleeping bag!  Quick fix to the rain fly and I fell asleep reading More Fire (more on that in a future post).

Saturday – 25k Race

I got to Caribou Highlands in time to mingle a bit before the 50k start at 7:00am.  I met Steve Quick and Keith and chatted with each of them a bit.  The start of the 50k cracked me up and reminded me why I love the trail running and ultra scene – it’s so informal.  They momentarily delayed the start to let a guy finish tying his shoes!  The runners took off and I killed time around the lodge, officially checked in for the race, and ate in my car.  In the last few minutes before the start while warming up inside I randomly started chatting with a guy who then mentioned that he likes to run in FiveFingers, what are the odds of that.  We ended up running the first couple miles together.

Overall it was a great race.  The wind was whipping like crazy, but that was only a problem on the road at the start and finish and on the tops of the mountains.  Otherwise it was a perfect weather day, and a bit of snow even made it fun.  The hills were as difficult as I remembered, but I loved every step.  The only small issue I had was a bit of quad cramping after I had a slipped step on a root.  I took another S! cap and had no more issues.

A great run, and finished in 2:48, much better than my training run last Fall.

While hanging around the finishing line watching the 50k finishers roll in, I met Julie Berg and got to thank her for the referral to Jenna Boren for ART.  And a huge thank you to all of the volunteers, it takes a lot to put on these races.  Everyone on race day was great, and thanks especially to the crews who went up for 2 weekends before the race to clear the SHT from Spring ice storm aftermath.  Thanks everyone!  I was a volunteer last Fall, and I highly recommend it if you are not going to run an event.

Tim had to miss the race, but showed up later in the day and I sort-of crewed him running the reverse route starting and finishing at Oberg, which might just be an easier direction.  He had a great run, and was so excited starting out that he accidentally ran the Oberg Mountain loop trail – both the short and long hikes – before getting onto the real trail!  Bonus 1.8 miles.

Sunday – Crosby-Manitou to Sugarloaf

I loved the race but I was almost more looking forward to running this segment from the Fall course, which is supposed to be one of (or the?) nastiest.  This was a fantastic run, perfect weather the whole time.  The first 2-3 miles are frankly not runnable – it’s more of a power hike, where you can run about 10 feet of flat here and there before you are ascending or descending.  Here is some evidence:

SHT-Crosby-Manitou rocks

SHT-Crosby-Manitou roots

At times you can barely tell where the trail is.  The ascents and descents are amazing quad-burners:



And then after 3-4-ish miles it finally opens up into a variety of runnable terrain – boggy boardwalks, grass, pine needles.  This was a beautiful segment to explore and I’m really glad we went with this plan rather than trying to tough out the 50k on low training.  It was a great chance to see another section from Fall and fill out my awareness of what this trail brings.

Finished this 10-miler in 2:12, which I feel really good about after being sore from Saturday, low training, and the type of terrain.

Great camping, great training weekend and a lot of fun.  Some learnings from training:

  • I believe these are 2 of the toughest sections from the 50 mile.  If that’s true and I can throttle back the pace to preserve energy in these, I say bring on the 50!  I can’t wait.
  • My glute/hamstring/whatever so far has survived great from those aggresive runs.  Maybe ART is working (again more on that in a future post)?
  • I love Clif Shot Blocks and Recoverite – both freebies from the race.  I might switch to shot blocks from gels, which are not doing it for me.  Tim uses diluted honey, maybe that is worth a try.  I have never been much for recovery drinks, but like Recoverite so might experiment with that for a bit.
  • Love the new Moeben sleeves, Sunday was the first run in them.  They have a curious way of cooling you down while running and keeping you warm when you stop.  Will keep testing these.
  • Was glad to be in my 790s rather than FiveFingers.  I love the VFF for training, but am happy to have some more toe protection and be a little more style sloppy on this kind of terrain.
  • I still love a hydration pack.  It’s more to carry, but I enjoy packing the kitchen sink when I hit the trail, and it’s still the easiest way for me to drink while running.
  • NEED MORE HILL TRAINING.  Stairs do not compare at all to ascending and descending technical terrain.  I need to find a convenient source for hill training.

I don’t have any more definite race plans until the Fall races.  Would be great to get another weekend of training runs in on the SHT, but don’t know if my schedule will allow.  But I’m psyched up and committed to the 50 now, as long as my recovery keeps going in a positive direction.

More pictures from the weekend are on flickr (will be adding details later).

UPDATE: here are the GPS tracks from the weekend runs


Garmin Connect


Garmin Connect

Posted in Races, Training | 5 Comments »

Pleasure and Pain – Running with a Dog

Posted by scott on May 7, 2009

Our dog Nessie is a hard-core runner.  She absolutely loves our runs and is incredibly attuned to the slightest sign that a run might be coming up.  If I’m checking my bag before going to work the next day, she comes from anywhere in the house as soon as she hears the zipper.  Any time I touch running shoes (tidying them up in the closet, etc.), she is at my side.  Any now with our early morning long runs, any time I get up early she is following me around the house, just in case.  When a run is definitely imminent – running gear on, shoes on, GPS on – she whines and wimpers until we are out the door.

She is tons of fun on the trail.  She is constantly back and forth to be out front and then back to say hi.  She’s in and out of the woods flushing grouse and deer.  I put my old GPS on her last weekend and when I did 11.7 miles, she did 13.4.  She keeps looking back at me like she’s thinking “I can’t believe we get to do this!”

In town is still fun for her, but a bit more of a struggle for me.  She is constantly pulling me forward – it takes 3-4 miles for her to settle down into a comfortable pace.  I finally discovered that an extending leash, which I hate from a dog-training standpoint, is the most comfortable leash to hold even when she pulls.  I also try to hit trail areas early morning, when she can be off leash.

We had our biggest run-in (literally) a couple weekends ago when I painfully learned the hazards of barefoot-style running and dogs.  I was halfway into a 10-miler and things were going great in my FiveFingers when she suddenly darted in front of me.  My foot was swinging forward and I kicked her leg hard.  Fortunately for her, the VFFs meant she was OK but my foot erupted in instant pain.  I came to a full stop and shared some vocal thoughts for a few moments.  For the rest of that weekend I was sure it was broken!  Xray on Monday confirmed no fracture, so we are again on speaking terms.

The highlight for Nessie is when we get home, and she gets a raw egg (or more depending on distance).  She never lets me forget it, and follows me around the house until it’s in her dish (a polite small whine here and there to remind me).  It’s a little ritual I started after we first started running and I would get really crabby with all of her pulling.  I decided I needing to reset my attitude, so I started calling her “Coach” on the run and an egg for a treat when we got home.  I’m still kind of wondering if this is what she really likes about the run – just the egg!

Posted in FiveFingers, Training | 2 Comments »

Last of the Spring Slush Running?

Posted by scott on April 14, 2009

We had a great Spring weekend at the cabin last weekend – perfect, perfect weather.  I got out for 2 great trail runs, both turned out to be longer than planned.  So I’m recovering this week from a probably-too-aggressive increase in mileage (I am supposed to be nurturing an injury).  But it was too fun!

Saturday morning I went for what I thought was an 8 mile that turned out to be 10.5.  I went first thing in the morning and the dry parts of the trail were very firm and fast, but plenty of ice slowed me down.  Sunday I decided I would be “smart” and go later in the day when it would be warmer and not so icy.  My 5-6 mile plan turned out to be an 8 miler and it was wet, muddy, slushy, slick, snowy, icy – I think just about everything!  It was again slow and I was feeling gassed from Saturday (this was my first back to back of long runs).  Walked lots of uphills and called small inclines uphills so I could walk them.  But it was again a blast, and fun to be outside in the Spring!  Nessie loved every minute:

Nessie Puddle

Thunder Lake Trail Nessie

Thunder Lake Trail Snow

Posted in Training | 3 Comments »

Good Running Times in Cozumel

Posted by scott on March 23, 2009

Our family is just back from a week in Cozumel and we had a great time.  We were there with friends, which was great for us and great for the kids – lots of fun at the beach, snorkeling, and hanging out.  My older son and I even gave scuba a try.

I also managed to get my highest running mileage week in since taking an injury break last November – 25 miles and a long run of 9 miles.

image credit:  star5112 at flickr

image credit: star5112 at flickr

Running in Cozumel was a great time – got to run with friends whom I normally don’t run with, which was even better.  We usually just ran a service road towards town (we stayed on the North end, so this meant going South).  I convinced everyone to head North on the first day and that turned out to be a fun adventure.  Within .5 mile the road turned into dirt with tons of potholes and no evident civilization other than pickup trucks full of day labors.  Our reward at the end of 2.2 miles was a sewage treatment facility!  We turned back, and I had no more say in running routes.

I repatriated my huaraches, putting on 16 total miles in them.  This was the first time I have run in them without Injinjis.  They were great!  I’m going to love these in the summer.  It was nice to have cool feet in the hot weather, and not look quite as odd since we were near the beach (OK, I still looked very odd).

The banner run of the week was a 9 mile from our hotel (El Cozumeleno) down to Chankanab park.  This was a ton of fun – my longest run post-injury.  It was also fun to talk convince my buddy Matt mid-run that we could first turn out a 4-mile out-and-back route into a point-to-point, and then stretch the planned 8 into 9 to make a true destination run.  Good times!  Also fun to run with light gear in the heat after all this bundled up cold weather running.

Posted in Huaraches, Shoes, Training | 1 Comment »

Hill Training in Flatland

Posted by scott on March 4, 2009

I work in absolute flatland, and hill training is literally no where to be found nearby.  Its a 4 mile round trip just to arrive at a nearby park, where the very slight ups and downs can be measured in single digit steps.  I definitely need hill training for my race plans this year, so what’s my alternative?

flickr image credit:  Zach K

flickr image credit: Zach K

I hit the parking garage!

I have done both stair reps and ramp reps, I think the ramp reps are here to stay.  The stairs have only a slight rise, so not a huge quad workout unless I go doubles, which is almost too much quad.  My real goal is to be training for walking hills during ultras and getting comfortable with the transition from walk to run and vice versa, so the ramps are actually a better fit.  I have to say though, this is boring.  I really have to remind myself why I’m doing this to stick with it.  Doing the math only ate up a couple reps – 300 paces to the top, roughly 1200 feet, roughly 3 round trips up and down for a total of 1 mile.  After that, you are on your own!

The gawking crowd isn’t too bad over lunch – a handful of people coming and going, lots of cars in the ramp.  But when I did it before work the other day while the ramp was filling I swear I caused a gawker slowdown.  If they think this is weird, just wait until I show up doing this in my FiveFingers or, even worse, my huaraches!  I even plan to start eating lunch during these reps to practice eating while moving – I’m sure this will get phoned in at some point.

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Endurance Training and the 20 Minute Pushup Challenge

Posted by scott on February 23, 2009

I was inpsired by Adam‘s series of 20-minute challenge workouts to give the 20-minute pushup challenge a go.  I had been doing loose sets of 20s and25s off and on, so was curious to see how far I could go.  My first attempt got me up to 139, which I was pretty proud of.  My next attempt went up to 143 – not bad, and I had already done Fitness Yoga earlier in the day (harder on the arms than it sounds).  Then my running buddy Phil dropped the bomb – he had done 200!

That’s when I realized the problem wasn’t my arms – it was my head.

photo credit:  obo-bobolina (

photo credit: obo-bobolina (

I needed a strategy – this was an endurance test after all.  I realized that if I did 10 per minute, that would already be 200.  So I attacked my next round and did 203.  Then Jeremy drew another line in the sand by doing 230.   w000ttt!!!  This was getting fun!

So last Sunday after getting home from the lake, I set out the timer and hit the floor with the goal of doing 12-rep sets every minute.  That worked for about 9 sets, then I started dropping them back for a few.  I then worked back up to 10s and did them gradually more frequently than once per minute to catch up.  It was amazing that after just a few shorter reps I could get back up to 10s.  Total this time:  238.

I will break 240 next time I do it – just to say I can.  But the interesting activity here is not the total number, its the experience of pushing through exhaustion and breaking limits.  I never would have thought I could do 200 pushups in that amount of time… and then I did.  This is great for the upper arms, but its even better for overall endurance – physical and mental.  This is definitely going to be a core cross-training exercise for me going forward.

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Maybe I Would Like The Treadmill More If I Had One Of These?

Posted by scott on February 17, 2009

I saw this the other day on Make TV and could not resist:

Kelly’s comment:  why wouldn’t you just run?

My comment:  I want one!!!

Be sure to watch the video to see them going down stairs, riding ramps off of picnic tables, etc.

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Sore Calves and the Treadmill

Posted by scott on February 14, 2009

I have been a fair-weather winter runner and have only been going outside when the temp is in the balmy 20s and up.  So that means a lot of treadmill time, and I hate the treadmill.


photo credit: normanack

One thing that I particularly don’t like is that my calves get really sore.  I have been a sort-of Chi runner since I started running in 2007, when Jeremy threw the idea at me as kind of a gag.  And I’m now reading the POSE book and trying to mix some of that in.  But the bottom line is that trying to do any kind of “falling” or forward-leaning style on a treadmill is a challenge.

I also love running in my Vibram FiveFingers, but again the treadmill is not ideal.  I find that my calves get a lot more sore when I’m on the treadmill, even when I run with 0 incline and at the same pace as I run outdoors.  I haven’t analyzed why, but it’s odd.  I also find that the balls of my feet get more sore on the treadmill – I’m guessing this is because you can’t naturally lean or spring off your feet as easily – you are too focused on trying to keep up with the machine rather than running naturally.  Oh well.

It feels great to be running again, even if only a little and on the treadmill.  I’m up to 3 miles per run, 3-4 times per week.  It’s a far cry from the the plan I had for this week when I made my 2009 training plan last fall:

M – 6
T – 5
W – 8
Th – 6
Sat – 20

for a weekly total of 45.  I’m going to stay at about 3 miles per run this week, do stairs or the parking ramp (the office is in total flatland) on Thursday and see how it goes.

Posted in FiveFingers, Training | 1 Comment »