Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cranking up the volume

US bank is quickly approaching--as of this posting 4 weeks and 2 days away, almost to the hour, from when i will be on the staircase!  I was worried--how would i really respond? What if i don't even do as well as last year?  How do i know what my training will actually do?

I looked at it this way: the staircase is 1680 steps. My goal is 12 minutes.  That neatly breaks down to 140 steps a minute.  So, if i can do 140 steps a minute for 12 minutes, i will hit my goal.  If i can do that on the stairmaster, even though it's not exactly the same, i'll at least have a nice confidence boost.

I designed a plan.  On a saturday i went to the gym and did a "solid effort" workout to try to hit 140 steps a minute.  Not flat out, suffering until i feel i might die, but tough.  I managed to mostly do it, slowing the machine to 80 steps a minute for 2 48 second intervals.  So that was my baseline.  I had 5 weeks to work up to my goal, with one week at the end to taper, or entirely rest.

I decided my plan was to do 12@140 every workout with 2 rest intervals the first week, 1 the second week, then hopefully none the remaining weeks.  I would do this Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

The first monday felt pretty good.  I shortened the rest intervals from 48 to 24 seconds, just because i felt like i didn't need the longer rest.  Wednesday, the time for rest came, but i didn't need it.  I soldered on, taking a rest at 8 because i could, and i wanted to make sure i didn't crash and finished the 12 minute.  Friday, i never felt the need for a rest.  12 minutes at 140--i was worried about hitting it, and got it the first week.  Boo-yah!

The second week was a bit rocky, i had a super busy weekend and had run the day before, so i took one break.  Wednesday, i went to a different gym that has a weird stairmaster.  But friday i had a great workout and 12@140 seemed not too bad.

Saturday i did a trail run, and sunday a bodysculpt class.  Even with all that, this monday was the first official day i was supposed to do a no-rest workout, which i'd already been doing, so i decided to up the ante: 12:15 at 141--inching up duration and speed.  Hit it!  Tuesday i ran a 5k training run, and did it in 22:40, which would have been a huge PR not too long ago.  So i hopped on the stairmaster with a goal of 12:30 at 142--tough, but i got it.

This much intense volume would have been far too much for me not too long ago. To what do i attribute my ability to handle it now?  Part of it is just my adaptation over the years, but a lot of the improvement has to go to my diet.  I've cut out not just fish, eggs, and dairy, but also most processed foods.  Protein bars and powders are mostly gone, replaced with legumes, grains, fruits and as many greens as i can comfortably eat.  My fat and protein intakes are down, and my carb intake is way up.  The carbs are there to fuel my intense workouts, and you just don't need *that* much fat and protein.  If one of my long hard weeks were to create a pound of muscle ( they won't ), a pound of muscle contains, at a very high bound, 100 grams of protein--in reality it is less than that.  But even with this upper bound, that 100 grams of protein spread over a week is a surplus of 14 grams a day.  So if you are putting on a pound of muscle a week, you need 14 surplus grams of protein a day, which just isn't much!  A cup of legumes provides that easily, a serving of quinoa, a small/moderate salad.

In any case, thursday is going to be a needed rest day--i want to do my 12:45 at 143 easily friday.  I'm going to get more serious about using sunday as a rest day too.  After this i have three more training weeks, and with my current progression i'll end up doing 15@152 as my last hard workout before the race.  It seems impossible now, but i hope that with perfect diet and precise training, i can do it! 152 steps/min in the race would get me low 11's which i know is not realistic--real stairs are 100% different than the stairmaster.  But it's fun to dream. :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

I'm pretty sure last week i had a cold, which makes me feel a little better about my crappy 5k.  All my stair workouts last week were super tough, and i was feeling super not-confident about US bank happening in only 7 weeks, so saturday i went to the gym on a mission: to come as close to simulating US bank on the stairclimber as possible.  With the number of steps and my goal of 12 minutes, i'd need to climb at a pace of 140 steps a minute.

I ended up coming close, 140 steps a minute for 12 minutes with 2 24 second "rests" at 80 steps a minute.  With that as a baseline workout, i decided i would do this workout 3 times a week, monday, wednesday, friday.  The first week with 2 rests, the next week with 1, the remaining weeks with no rest, perhaps adding in a few intervals after a little rest.  Then the last week, skip monday and wednesday with the race being friday.  

MWF evenings, do a c2 yoga, and a sculpt as time & energy permits.  sunday would be full rest ( to get ready for the week ).  Tuesday and Thursday would be active rest, no hard workouts, maybe an easy jog, easy yoga. Saturday would be a longer easy cardio workout, maybe a long run.

So all my stair workouts would be done on quite a bit of rest, as they're my core workout.

Today i did my first climb, and after a long tiring workout, i needed 36 second breaks instead of 24.  That was OK, but i got the workout in.  Even though it was a crazy weekend and morning, i kept that deal with myself, which felt really good!

Since the workout was hard today, i am going to get adequate rest, not likely doing sculpt tonight or anything too strenuous tomorrow.

Here's wishing good luck to everyone else training for a stair race!!!

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Well, i had a 5K today. I felt pretty good heading into it, did a light workout thursday, took off friday ( not even yoga ) and went to the race feeling pretty good.

Right at the start i had to zigzag around a bunch of people but in maybe 30-40 seconds i was clear of the kids and slower folk who had lined up at the start.  The first mile my legs felt really stiff.  Not sure what the issue was, but maybe i should have warmed up.  But i still think i made the first mile in decent time, having run away from most of the pack.  What that time was, i have no idea, because i failed to start my run tracker so i was getting no splits. The trail began to get hilly, and i began to feel a stitch in my side--crap! At bout 1.5 miles, a fairly fast guy passed me, too fast for me to latch on to. Then at 2, a woman passed me, and i decided to try to stick with her.  I managed to stay close until the last 1/3 mile or so, where she got away.  I had to slow up a few times to work out the stitch in my side.

I rounded the corner, and saw the clock read 22:55.  I sprinted for the line, but couldn't come in under 23.  I think my time ended up being 23:05.  I was pretty bummed, because i'd run a 22:45 in practice earlier in the week, and had actually expected to do better than that.

I'm not entirely sure where i want to go with my training.  I have plans for a trail 5.5 mile race, but that's not a big deal, and stair race season is coming up, which is.  Part of me thinks that if i could cut serious time off my 5k, it'd be a great cardio workout i could roll out of bed and do 3-4 mornings a week, and i could continue to do my stairs & yoga in the evening. It'd also be a great thing to do on vacation.  Lots of hotels don't have gyms, few have stairclimbers, but all are on some sort of road.