Sunday, May 31, 2009

Highest Week in Singles, Ever!

Hey guys-

I'm working on something really big with the Jackalopes right now- it will take me another week or so to really hammer it out, but keep checking back here for updates. I promise, it's gonna be pretty goddamn awesome.

This was a great week of training for me- I hit 73 in 7 runs, my highest total ever. I started feeling a little sluggish towards the end of the week, probably because I had only run over 60min at a time a handful of times before this and this week featured only one run under 60min (a 58:30 9-miler than included a 5k tempo section). I'm feeling really good, though, aside from being a little tired.

Though I am vehemently anti-concrete plans, this is my general idea for myself for the next 4 weeks: (keep in mind this is the opposite of set in stone- it's more like light pencil on sketch paper. . . or maybe just vague scratchings in the sand)

Next week: add in doubles, hit 70-75 or so, do a tempo and a session of easy mile repeats- this is kind of a break week for me to relax a little after the high-volume singles

Then go 80 or so but take a day off, then go 85-90, and by the end of June/first week of July hit 100. I'd like to hold 100 for a few weeks, but I'm racing a ten-miler on July 24th, so we'll see how much I back off from the volume for that. Basically, by the end of August, I want to be totally accustomed to 90-100 mile weeks.

Expect a Jackalope update soon!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Calling All Jackalopes

Ladies and gentleman-

The winds of change have swept across the internet and blown off the Hat of Secrecy from its perch atop the Bald Spot of Glory. No longer can I keep secret the most important thing in the history of mankind: THE FLYING JACKALOPE TRACK CLUB.

What is the Flying Jackalope Track Club, you ask? Once closed to the general public, the Jackalopes are a secretive organization of distance runners scattered throughout the country (though originating in the Northeast). The only proof of the Club's existence is a few notes on dyestat signatures- which, of course, is enough only to fuel massive rumors and widespread speculation about the true nature of the club.

Now, for the first time ever, the Flying Jackalope Track Club is accepting applications from the population at large. Once, membership in the Club was limited to a select few who unknowingly earned the right to be invited to our facebook group. Now, anyone who emails myself, Head Coach-For-Life, Agent, and Co-Founder, or Geoff Trethewey, Head Trainer, Equipment Manager, and Co-Founder, with a brief resume is welcome to call themselves a Jackalope.

Think you have what it takes? Here's some more information:

The Flying Jackalope Track Club is the brainchild of Craig MacPherson and Geoff Trethewey and is committed to the development of runners at a grass roots level.

Becoming a Jackalope and adopting the mantle of the horns is more than just donning a sweet-ass uniform for road races and unattached competitions. It's more than getting more girls than any group of skeletal, awkward boys should have any business getting. It's even more than an excellent feel for hyperbole and ironically irrelevant humor. No, being a Jackalope is much more than the sum of these things

Being a Jackalope is about unleashing the mythical jackalope within you; it's about recognizing that you can run like the wind and still mess stuff up with your baller horns.

Jackalopes are devoted to three core values: 1) a commitment to running and self-improvement, no matter the level at which a Jackalope competes, 2) an abiding love for the sport of running that manifests itself in numerous acts of charity and good will, and, most importantly, 3) the ability to TAKE A FUCKING JOKE and not be a lame, bland runner who shits on everyone and takes himself way too seriously. Unfortunately, this last value discounts many avid letsrun posters from joining. However, a true Jackalope is not daunted by the fact that without the acerbic, cynical, and unrealistic letsrunners behind the club, it has little chance to thrive and will in fact probably be bashed mercilessly. Jackalopes DO NOT tolerate the following: 1) whining 2) unnecessary bashing 3) being a bitch 4) being a moron and 5) not being able to take a joke.

This is not a club out to make money in any way. Any gear (uniforms, etc) will be offered strictly at COST- we will not make a penny off our brothers and sisters of the Horn. We make a point to publish the cost of anything (again, uniforms or any other gear) to our members and include how we calculate shipping to ensure no member is taken advantage of.

Interested applicants: please send me an email at with a resume that should include omething you have done personally to serve/enhance the sport in the last six months (volunteered at a meet, helped out a HS team, worked for Flotrack, etc). If you were paid to do it, it still counts. Be creative, be funny, be irreverent. Also, I should point out that if Geoff or myself know you, an email that says "Craig, don't be a dick- let me in and tell me how much a uniform costs" will suffice. There is no cost to join, save perhaps small bits of your own dignity (all in the name of good fun, though!)

Until then, good running, everyone!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

2nd Week of Summer

Hey guys- I had a pretty good week of training- 56 miles, one 4-mile tempo in 20:40, one session of mile repeats (3xmile in 5min with 800jog) at 10k effort, and one moderate-long run of 11 miles today over hills with the last 5 miles around 6:15 pace.

This blog entry will be pretty short- I'm on my way to Marblehead, MA for a barbecue with some friends of mine who attend Hofstra. Also, anyone interesting in the minutia of my day-to-day training can find it here:

I'm feeling really good- next week I should hit around 70 in singles with a hillier tempo and a session of sprint work on the track with full rest. After that I'll be ready to start doubling and getting into the meat of my training.

I'm really looking forward to that 10-miler I'm doing at the end of July. I'm going to be in really good shape by then, and absolutely monstrous shape by the time we start XC practice. I'm excited to be running again, finally! The tricky part now is holding myself back-- after all, D1 Regionals isn't for another six months! It's almost scary to consider the jump I have the opportunity to make, as long as I keep things simple, consistent, and fun.

Have a good week, everybody!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hey kitty kitty, Come On Out of that Bag

Ok, since all I did was easy runs this week, I won't bore anyone with a week's worth of "6 miles easy, felt crappy" comments. Summary: 46 miles of not feeling great because I took an entire week off.

However, this weekend was a pretty important weekend for me. On Friday, I traveled to Boston- specifically, to a house on Ashford St just down the road from the BU indoor track. I signed a one-year lease on a room there and spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with Eric Ashe, Ken Halthom, and James Weider-- my future teammates. I have decided to transfer to Boston University for the fall and will be running for the Terriers. I've kept my plans off the blog on purpose, because until everything was final, I didn't want to make a fuss. It's been an extremely difficult last six months as I weighed my options and decided where I would be attending school in the fall. The success I had in the winter made it especially difficult and the troubles I had in the spring made the fact that it would be my final season running for Keene even more bittersweet, since I would not be going out with a bang.

While my reasons for leaving Keene are many, complicated, and ultimately the right ones, I don't really want to go into them here. However, I can unequivocally state what the reason for leaving was not.

I did not leave Keene because of Peter Thomas. Aside from getting along with him great over the last two years, Pete is a great coach and, more significantly, a great man. He gets the most out of his athletes and I still believe that if he was had half the budget of a Vin Lananna or a Jason Dunn, he would be an extremely competitive college coach. I realize that the timing of my departure from Keene suggests otherwise, but my decision to leave Keene was weighed well before all of the troubles of my spring season. Pete did not make me low-iron, Pete did not hurt my hamstring or hip; my troubles this past season were unrelated to coaching. Yes, the difficulties I had this spring a strain on us- as they would any coach/athlete pairing. But I want to make it absolutely, positively clear that I did not choose to leave Keene because of dissatisfaction with the coaching. Anyone looking for good coaching and a competitive experience at the DIII level should consider Keene- just because it was ultimately not a good fit for me doesn't mean anything.

That being said, I am really looking forward to working with my new teammates in the fall. I've begun what will hopefully be the longest base-period of my life, and by the end of it I hope to have accumulated 10 weeks over 80 miles and 5 weeks over 100. The upcoming hiatus from racing will be the longest break I have taken from racing since I had pneumonia in my senior year of high school. This new school, new city, new coach, and new team means I am getting a completely fresh start with running. It's exciting and a little frightening at the same time.

So, I guess this is my farewell blog to Keene, to Division III, and to the last two years. What is there to say? So long, it's been real-- best of luck to everyone.

Have a nice week, everyone.


PS: I think I'm moving my log to I'll still post training here regularly, but I might leave the specifics to logarun and include a summary+analysis on the blog itself. I have no plans to discontinue the blog, however. Consider this an expansion :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Building a Base

Well, it's getting to that time of year again. I thought I'd share my ideas on base-building; I should warn you, though, I don't delieve in coloring my ideas with fancy scientific terms. I know the science behind my ideas, I know they're grounded in experience, results, and research. However, I will leave the science aspect of things out of this article for the most part. If you'd like to know it, shoot me an email or something. Now, on to the base-building:
Like most of us, my idea of "base building" is colored by my first experience with it; namely, my high school track coach, Kevin McGrath, and the instructions he gave me prior to my first ever "base-training" during the summer before my junior year. Up until that point, I laughed at the idea of running during the off season (which was strictly for frisbee and hiking). In typical McGrath style, he told me everything I needed to know to get started in a few abrupt sentences. "Hey, McGrath- what should I do to get ready for a good XC season next fall?" I asked after track season was over.
"Run every day at a decent pace--not too fast not too slow. Once a week, do a shorter, fast run. 'Couple days later, do your long run-- just a couple miles more than normal. After all the other runs, do strides. Situps and pushups a couple times a week are fine."
"That's it?" I asked, sure at the time that it had to be more complicated than that.
"Did I stutter? Jesus Christ, are you deaf too, 4-eyes?"
This is often the way training instructions went with Kevin. I'm not complaining; I was just as cruel to him. It's how we communicate.
Anyway, for a runner with only a few years of experience (high schoolers and new runners) that's pretty much all you need to know about base training. For a developing runner, just getting out there and running most every day is going to bring improvements. You don't need to get more complicated than that. However, most high school kids (I was not one of these) try to race all the time in the summer. Running up-tempo if you feel good is a good thing, but you shouldn't being doing anything really intense in the summer. For a developing high schooler who might race 5k at most, the effort-level that corresponds with "marathon pace" doesn't really mean much, but that's about the effort level we're looking for on the summer tempos. Basically, better to err on the slow side than err on the fast side. During a summer tempo, you should be under control-- running quick but more importantly RELAXED. Again, for high schoolers who develop quickly (making their 5k PRs from XC irrelevant) a good rule of thumb is to add 1:00 to your mile PR and do 3-4 mile tempos NO FASTER than that pace. Since almost all high schoolers run the mile, it's a good frame of reference. Your typical 4:30 high school miler for a summer tempo run might do a two mile warmup, then 3 miles going 5:45, 5:40, 5:30, then jogging a two mile cool down. The rest of the week is just reasonably easy running with a good set of strides after. Maybe once a week throw on your spikes and do your strides at the track, just to keep used to it. Just keep it relaxed and be honest with yourself. If you're a high schooler or have less than 3-4 years experience training year round, you can stop here. That's about all you need to know to build a good base for XC.
Now, if you've been in the game a little longer, you need something a little (but not that much!) more advanced. This is because 1) you're not growing as much anymore, and you won't necessarily improve as much year to year just from maturation and 2) after a while, the same stimulus doesn't provoke the same stress/adaptation response, so you have to switch it up a little. A great start for all moderately experienced runners is George Malley's Summer of Malmo plan/philosophy. ( A lot of my own ideas for training in general and summer training in particular are lifted unapologetically from Malmo's posts on letsrun. More important than Malmo's specific instructions are his ideas: being CONSISTENT and RELAXED when you're training hard. Yes, the summer is the time to intelligently push the envelope with mileage. But doing one week of 90 miles then taking three days off and having a 40 mile week is not as good as two 70 mile weeks in a row.
In general, I am against rigid structure in the summer. There's little reason to go and take what should be an enjoyable, relaxing training season with no immediate racing goals and turn it into some inflexible, rigid schedule. I think in general, if you train entirely by feel, you end up training a little better than usual. However, because most of us are inexperienced with training by feel, we screw up- we do four workouts in a week or three tempos in a row because we "feel good" then eat serious shit by the end of the summer. So, like all things, we must compromise between structure and ab libbing. Here are the 3 key days in a base-period's week: 1) the tempo run, 3-7 miles 2) the longer repeats/fartlek OR pure sprint work 3) the long run. Fill in the rest of the days with easy runs and a good set of strides. You also might find it helpful to replace strides one day with 5-15 steep hill sprints ala Canova, Hudson, Jenkins, et alia. For serious college runners doing 60+ a week, I recommend doubles as much as you can handle. Everyone is different though- some people prefer singles, and that's fine too. However, doubling is a better way to get in more mileage and recover better than just running once a day. In the summer, I like to try to get in one run before the sun's been up too long and my other one at sundown to avoid the worst heat of the day. Work around your schedule. Here's how two weeks in the middle of summer (once you've built up your mileage and quality over the course of a few weeks) might look for a runner with 4-5 years experience, running 70+ miles a week:

1- 2 easy runs, strides
2- hilly tempo (3-8 miles at 1-1:30min/mile slower than mile PR)
3- 2 easy runs, strides
4- 2 easy runs, hill sprints (PM run can be mod if you feel good)
5- longer repeats/fartlek (ex- 5xmile around threshold pace, 2min rest or 10x3min on, 1 min off), etc
6-1 easy run
7- Hilly Long Run- 15-20% of weekly mileage. Run steady towards the end if you feel good.
8- 2 easy runs, strides
9- flat tempo 3-8 miles, same effort- if you did a short tempo the week before, go longer this time.
10- 2 easy runs, strides
11- 2 easy runs (PM mod if you feel good), hill sprints or OFF (take a day off per month; it won't kill you)
12- pure sprint work (ex- warmup, 5-10x60-150 meters nearly flat out with FULL REST. If you have a GENTLE downhill to use, that can help. Focus on GOOD FORM and RELAX)
13- 1 easy run, hill sprints if you took Thursday off
14- Hilly Long Run- same as last week.

There you go. It's a balanced approach with a fair bit of quality, but nothing crazy and plenty of rest in between hard efforts. While in the season you might push it a little more, in the summer, if you don't feel 100% ready to do a tempo or something, just push it back a day- who cares? It's the summer! If it's Tuesday and you have a tempo scheduled but you can only do it at noon and it's 103 degrees in the shade, who cares if you push it back to a more convenient day? Don't be rigid, don't be inflexible. Don't get caught up in hitting mileage figures- the only different between 59 and 60 miles is in your head. The schedule I typed up is just an example. It should be changed to accomodate your situation. If you ever have any doubts during the summer, I have the same answer for you: err on the side of caution. Better to do 10mpw week less and be healthy, better to do 15 sec/mile slower on your tempos and be fresh, etc. It's important to remember the extra stuff too- do your drills, stretch, drink a lot of water, do your core work, etc. Summer is a good time to do all the "nitty gritty."

That's pretty much it, I would think. Base training is really a very simple concept, but sometimes it's helpful to have things spelled out. As always, feel free to ask any questions you might have. And remember- don't waste good time. The run executed today is better than a carefully planned sequence of runs intending to start tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Test Results

Good news! I don't have anemia or mono! My iron stores might be low (I haven't see the test result yet, but the doc just called me to give me a summary) but more likely than not, the shitty rundown feeling I've dealt with was most likely just a combo of good ol' overtraining and too much racing in a short period of time finally catching up with me. With a nice layoff, I should be good to go in a week or two. I'm thrilled to find out it was nothing serious- we've all overreached from time to time.

Since I have infinite more time to sit around when I'm home, I'll probably be a little more prolific with the blog. Rather than just posting my log every week, I plan on branching out a little. Since outdoor is winding down for college guys and will be over soon enough for the high schoolers, my next post will contain most views on base-training and the components of a successful one.

Good luck to everyone competing this weekend!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Decisions and Revisions

Well, the decision is perhaps a month late, but I have finally decided to pull the plug on my outdoor season. It's been one thing after another and frankly, I don't see the point of trying to compete half-healthy and half-fit. After gimping along on my bad hamstring, I developed a bad tightness/soreness in my left hip. In addition to being tight enough to restrict the range of motion in my left leg, it feels like shards of glass are rubbing against each other deep in the joint. I've dealt with an issue like this on and off since my senior year of high school; however, it's never been quite this bad.

Basically, I'm sick of trying to limp through 45 mile weeks and hoping I can salvage a decent 1500 off of talent and grit. A very wise person reminded me on Saturday that "we do this because it is fun." Well, running is no fun when you can't run pain free. It's no fun when you can't train or when you're warming up for a race going "three weeks til my break, three weeks til my break." So I'm trying to take a long-term look at things here and just be sensible. I've moved out of my dorm and back home for the summer; it's been a very difficult weekend.

However, I'm sure I can count on a few bored, anonymous letsrun posters to talk all kinds of trash and keep me cheered up. The more poisonous they get, the more absurd I find this hobby of ours and can look at myself from an outsider's perspective and laugh at both the situation and myself. During my break from running (I'm thinking at least a week, maybe more if my hip doesn't feel better) I intend on staying up too late watching crappy movies, goofing off with my little brother, and cheering on my teammates and friends as they finish up their own seasons.

Before I sign off- how bout that Stanford meet, eh? Makes a guy sorry he's too hurt to walk around the mall with his sister, much less be out there trying to make up some ground on all those fast guys out west.

Have a great week, everyone-- I'll be sitting at home, enjoying a break after a too-long year. Thanks, as always, to all those random people who come up to me at meets and say hi- you guys are what makes this blog worth writing!

(apologies for the long-windedness. . .)