While much of my life is fitness, I haven’t really felt compelled to document much of what’s been going on in my fitness life lately.
My race schedule has been quiet — although not for much longer — while my training schedule has not been. And then there’s the matter of just trying to keep up with Stephanie’s fitness schedule.
I’m almost two months into my new running program, which so far is mostly just an increase in weekly mileage plus some new speed workouts I’ve never done before.
The increased mileage has seen its impact on me through some minor soreness here and there, though I’m surviving mostly pretty well. My program, which is being administered by Ryan Hill of hillrunner.com, allows me off days from the road to train in the gym and on the stairs to prep for my stair races. The program is pretty personalized beyond just that, as it takes into account when the mileage catches up to me by allowing me “cutback weeks” for me to recoup some strength and energy and get my running strong again. The speed workouts are also tailored to me running shorter races, even if my overall mileage is increasing.
My mileage, by month:
* – my neck issues sidelined me/reduced my activity those months
** – in the time since I’ve been on the hillrunner.com program I’ve put up my two highest mileage months ever
As for gym/stair work, I’ve transitioned my training to Stephanie’s trainer, whose schedule recently opened up after she took a job at Pure Fitness — a personal training-only gym. In the past three weeks I’ve gone through her workouts, I can see why Stephanie’s raved about her. She really makes the most of the workout time: she doesn’t really allow lulls in the workouts, she explains and demonstrates things well, and she adjusts quickly based on how well or poorly I’m performing a movement. Plus, working under her is great because she’s already well-versed with stair race training. She’s also adding more weight training into my program — specifically weight training designed to help my speed and muscle endurance for both running and stair climbing.
The extra cool thing about switching to her training is it will save money in the long run. Training
can be is expensive. However, after a month of working with her on my own to get up to speed on certain lifts and exercises, Stephanie and I will be training together, which comes at a reduced per-person price. I’m hoping that having to keep up with Stephanie in the gym will also force me to step my game up.
Stephanie really is a fitness beast. She works incredibly hard and has an extreme will to succeed. Even though she runs races with me, she’s not really into running, so I can smoke her there and feel good about myself, but she’s pretty much on par with me in stairwells, and she can destroy me in the gym.
Ever since I’ve known her, she’s been a beast doing gym workouts and any sort of training she puts herself through. However, in addition to her preexisting fitness pursuits, she recently jumped into the world of CrossFit. I was aware of CrossFit before she started doing it, but now I’m fully aware of it. And it suits her. It’s super intense and it’s pretty much a competition against people every day at the gym. The more she does it, the more confused about whether I want to try it or whether I never want to try it.
But I’ll definitely keep watching her do it. And I get plenty of chances, because she’s been entering a lot of competitions, where she’s thus far been pretty successful. She took 2nd place among all women at a non-CrossFit strength competition in early June, and then followed that up with a pair of 1st place finishes at two separate CrossFit competitions this summer: the Badger State Games and the Lakeshore Games. Both wins were very impressive and came against varied fields of competition. She’s got a few other competitions coming up this fall, so it’ll be interesting to see how she does the more experience she gets against even more competitive opponents.
Al’s Run, 09/13/14:
I never really intended to run this race. It’s an 8K, which will qualify as the longest race I will have ever run in. Part of why I decided to do Al’s Run was because Stephanie and I opted against participating in the Storm The Stadium stair climb at US Cellular Field in Chicago (home of my beloved White Sox) the week beforehand, which we were hoping to use as a tune-up/training climb for our upcoming Los Angeles stair race. Having opted out of that climb, I was curious if I could join Ryan’s hillrunner.com team for Al’s Run, while also using it as my “long run” for that week (my long runs have topped out at 6 miles so far, so this will be shorter than that). I got the go-ahead, so I’m in. Now the tough part will be to fight the temptation to go all out when the start gun goes off — my goal effort is probably the midpoint between “long run” and “race.” Even if I were to go all out, I’m pretty sure I’d still be the slowest person on the team. This is a team full of legit fast people.
YMCA Stair Climb For Los Angeles, 09/19/14:
This will be mine and Stephanie’s first stair climb outside the Midwest. A lot of the bigger-name US stair climbers tend to compete in this one. It’s a big point race for both the US rankings and the world rankings. You have to apply to get into the elite start wave, which starts before all other waves while the stairwell is unoccupied. While I’m not surprised Stephanie was accepted into that wave (she’s ranked 17th in the US among all women), I am surprised that I was. Now I hope I can live up to it.
Run With Wolfes, 09/28/14:
This is the 5K that my running program’s current cycle is leading up to. Well, it “leads up to” the LA climb as well, but it’s harder to translate base built by running into stair climbing. Needless to say, this is being viewed as my target run for my training’s purposes. I was debating whether or not to even do it thanks to a venue relocation for this race. It was always a fast paved course at Oakwood Park in Menomonee Falls but now it’s being held at Menomonee Park, where the course is about half paved and half trail. Not, like, a rocky bumpy trail, but packed dirt and grass. With all this training, I had been thinking about registering for a different run in hopes of finally dipping below the 20-minute mark, but I ultimately decided I’d stick with it and just see what kind of time I can put up on a tougher course. It’s less pressure on myself that way. I also decided to take advantage of a fun new feature the race is offering this year: the ability to compete on a team. I created a team and registered Stephanie for it, too. I asked a couple people at work to join, one of which did, and I told Stephanie to throw out some invites to other fitness people she knows as well. We’ll see if anyone else joins. I’m asking around because the last race I ran that allowed team entries ended up having team awards. I had registered Stephanie and myself as a team, but to qualify for awards teams needed at least three people. And at that race, if we’d have had one more person who wasn’t even all that fast, we still would’ve taken first as a team. So I’m mostly hoping for a good time with people who are looking to run and have a good time, but if we can win something, that’d be cool, too. (But I also don’t really even know if there will be team awards, so that part of it might be pointless…)
I’m trying to focus on the positive and just keep pushing forward with my training and race preparation. And I fully trust the new “Team Josh” staff — Ryan and Chellie, my running coach and trainer, respectively; however, I’m wondering if I’m where I need to be to do well at the Los Angeles climb, which is probably the most important of my soonest upcoming races.
(Stephanie is also “Team Josh” staff — general fitness guidance and nutrition. And to tell me jokes and give me hugs and stuff.)
I feel confident I’ll be in a good position to run Run With Wolfes well, as the base I’ve built is greater than I’ve built before. That might help for the stair climb, but I’ve always noticed my problem in taller climbs to be my legs’ muscular endurance, not my aerobic base. My new gym training is definitely aimed at improving that; however, in the time leading up to the switch to Chellie’s training, though, I feel like I was neglecting my gym work. I’m trying to be productive in the gym now by working my legs more for the strength that goes beyond what simply running can provide, but I’m worried I’ve not been at it for too long. I’m sure I’ll do fine. Just gotta keep working and believing in the program.
I started a stair club. Like a running club, but for stair climbing. The goal is to recruit established Wisconsin climbers, team up, race together, and see where it goes from there (club growth, sponsors?, etc.). I’ve had this idea for a while, and it’s taken some time to get it started.
Now I’m on to this whole recruiting thing (which is basically me scouring the internet, stalker style, to find contact info for stair racers and then contacting them out of nowhere with this strange request to join some sort of weird team). I’ve contacted a handful of potential recruits and have received back only moderate interest from a couple. Better than nothing, though!