Wednesday, November 28, 2012



Fun rainbow box in the park right now...
Most people didn't hear, but Governor Hickenlooper proclaimed November 26 as Telemark Ski Day in Colorado. I wrote up a short piece on it for Free Heel Granola. The Governor invited the US Telemark team to attend the announcement. I think it is pretty cool - pays tribute to the roots of winter sports and how much they mean to Colorado's economy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Week in Review, Running Helps Sleep, and More on Altitude Training

Week in Review, Running Helps Sleep, and More on Altitude Training

Monday: 2 hours cross-country. Skied up Elk Creek and then along the water board road. Snow was thin, but manageable. Nice day of cross-training.

Tuesday: Telemark skiing at the resort. Nothing is open, so mostly just doing laps, practicing switch and playing in the park.

Wednesday: Longish run - 2:17, 1,300' gain, 15 miles. Givelo/Creekside/Fools Creek/Creekside/Northwest/back. Felt great all the way until about 1:45, then started to get tired and my pace slowed. First longish run in some time.

Thursday: More tele skiing at the resort.

Friday: Off - 6 hours walking and standing.

Saturday: 6 hours walking and standing. Interval/fartlek workout at night. 5x:30, 12x1:00-1:30. Really starting to enjoy these speed workouts. I run them at night, which makes them pretty fun. 8 miles, :58 minutes.

Sunday: 6 hours walking and standing. Mellow run with ~8 miles, 1,200' gain, :56 minutes.

A fun week, with some good cross-training mixed in. There is no snow, so it has been hard to mix in the cross-country, but on the other hand, running has still been good. However, the trails still have snow, especially the higher ones, so it has been a challenge to run anything that is longer then 5ish miles (without making it an out-and-back). We really need snow, as the drought conditions continue to get worse. However, the sunsets continue to be spectacular every night (see below).

Two new studies have been published. The first is some good news about running in general, and specifically running in adolescents. The study looked at whether daily running in the morning helps adolescents and their sleep patterns. Turns out it does. In the group of kids that did daily running, within 3 weeks the authors found that slow-wave sleep increased while sleep onset latency decreased. Slow-wave sleep is critical in the developing brain, as this is the time when the body recovers from the days activities, but also when short-term memories are consolidated into long-term memories. That is, the actual final process in learning takes place during slow-wave sleep. So in young kids, fostering components that help with slow-wave sleep helps them learn, as everything they "learned" during the day must be consolidated from the day's short-term memory into the longer-term memory.

The other study looked at the benefits of altitude training. Although there have been many studies on this, and the science on altitude training is still out, there are some results that point to its benefits if done correctly. The most recent study looked at whether a pre-season altitude camp would improve time-trial performance and haemoglobin mass in elite athletes. After 19 days, the authors found that most players gained benefits, and that after four weeks of returning to a lower altitude, benefits still persisted.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend And Night Running

Weekend and Night Running

Friday: Off - 6 hours walking and standing

Saturday: 6 hours walking and standing. Interval workout at night. Started my first speed training this week. Since there is no track in the valley, I basically did fartleks on the St. Louis road in the dark. Started with a 10 minute warmup, then 4 x :30 seconds sprint, 10 x 1:00-1:30 sprints, then 3 mile cool down. Total of around 8 miles in 56:29. I wanted to do 4x30, 4x1:00, and 4x2:00 but since it was dark out I couldn't really time myself so I went on perceived time, which ended up being more between 1:00 and 1:30 with a couple near 2:00. Really enjoyed the workout, and plan on doing a speed workout once a week since I obviously need it. Ran the entire thing in stealth mode, except for the last 3 mile cool down which was on the Northwest trail.

Sunday: 6 hours walking and standing. Another night run, this time up Zoom, then along the waterboard road to Elk Creek and back down. ~8.5 miles, 1,400' gain, 58:16. Lots of snow on Zoom, with no tracks, so it was a fun slog run up. Once on the waterboard road, the running was smoother, but everything is snow covered, which slowed things down some. Felt surprisingly good after 3 days of standing and walking and last nights workout. Trying to figure out a good long run for this winter, which will be hard because of the snow...

Really enjoy running at night. An entirely different experience, which lots more "mystery" in the run. I wear a Tikka headlamp, but try and run as much in stealth mode as possible for skills development.
 Just a bit of light at the start of the run, enough for stealth mode.
Only a sliver of a moon for light by the end - it gets real dark out in the valley at night!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Floaty 180s

Floaty 180s

I love doing big floaty 180s in the Park. Right now there is a fun one over a spine/rail that you can tap when landing switch. I need to up the photo quality on my camera, however, as the resolution is not very good. The cross-country has helped me find my tele edges and has allowed me to feel pretty comfortable so far this season. Night running training starts this weekend - should be fun!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winter Running

Winter Running

The winter season is in full swing here in the valley. Both Winter Park and Fraser have their holiday lights up, snow is on the ground, and the resort opened today. Depending on how much snow we get, it will be interesting to see how well I am able to keep up the running over the winter. The plan, as mentioned prior, is to get in as much telemark and cross-country skiing as possible to keep up a solid fitness. However, I plan on running still a couple times a week. I did the standard 8 mile Creekside/Fools/Flume loop the other day, which normally takes me between :54 and 1:08 (:54 is my PR, :58 is my average, and 1:08 is my slowest), and it took me 1:08 to complete. With anywhere from 3" to 10" of snow on the trail, my time was significantly slowed despite feeling really good. However, snow running does require more work, and also works the legs slightly differently (almost like running on the beach, with more calf muscle use), so a slower time is expected. Either way, it will be interesting to see what I can pull together. Today we skied around 20,000' at the resort. 20,000' of lunges gets a nice burn in the quads going, that is for sure.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The History of Telemark Skiing in North America - Old Photos Of Ski-Runners

The History of Telemark Skiing In North America - Old Photos of Ski-Runners

I wrote up a small article on the history of telemark skiing in North America based on Vivian Caulfeild's 1914 book “How to Ski and How Not To" for the webzine Free Heel Granola. The book is the third book to be published in English on skiing. The other two that were published slightly earlier also contain a bunch of old cool photos, which I have extracted and published below. Telemark skiing has come a long, long way since these early pioneers. However, what I like about these old photos is that just like running, although the technology has radically changed over the last 100 years, the technique and style are still pretty much the same. Also, I really like that early on skiing, and specifically telemark skiing was referred to as "ski-running" and a skier was a "ski-runner." You see, 100 years ago skiing was not just about going downhill. It was about “running” across hills, climbing snow-covered mountains, exploring powder filled valleys, and enjoying peaceful winter days in the woods. The downhill aspect of our sport was only one component; the uphill was just as important. A good skier was a “runner” who could handle the most difficult terrain and snow conditions, both on the downhill as well as the uphill. In the spirit of these early ski-runners, I went out this morning and skied 8 miles, 1,200' gain in 1:15. Still plenty of rocks out, but stuff is slowly getting covered - let the ski-running season begin!

E.C. Richardson's "Ski-Running" (1905) 

W.R. Rickmer's "Ski-ing for Beginners and Mountaineers" (1910)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Winter Has Hit - Cross-Country Skiing

Winter Has Hit - Cross-Country Skiing

Well, this last storm really finally delivered the goods. Everything got pretty covered, with between 8" and 12" on all the trails. We decided to go out and try some cross-country skiing in the new snow. The plan this winter is to try and do a lot of cross-country skiing to keep up the endurance fitness. If one can sustain a good kick-and-glide over a distance, that should help keep a solid endurance fitness level over the winter that will transition nicely back into running. Similarly, it is a good form of cross-training which will be nice. Went up on the Deadhorse climb and skied 7 miles with 1,200' gain. Pretty fun to be out in the woods getting a nice, low impact cardio workout when it is 13 degrees out and dumping.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Week Summary and Energy Drinks

Week Summary and Energy Drinks

Monday and Tuesday: here.

Wednesday: Creekside/Fools/Flume - 7.5 miles, ~500', 1:08 - Still recovering. Amazing how slow this recovery is. The race day effort really got to me, which is good. Shows I tried.

Thursday: Elk/D2/WTB/D4/D2/Elk - ~9.5, 1,500', 1:21 - Feeling better. Ran some familiar trails, found two more "secret" trails. Not sure where they go.

Friday: Off, 6 hours standing and walking.

Saturday: 6 hours standing and walking. Treadmill 15/15 challenge. After work, it was dark and snowing, so I decided to try another 15/15 challenge. My legs were not feeling it, but it was still fun. 15 minutes at 15 incline - got 1.2 miles again. Didn't have the motivation to try a second time.

Still slowly recovering from Sunday's race. The more I reflect on my performance, the happier I am. I think averaging 7:45 pace over 10.4 miles with some hills is fairly good, especially since I don't train speed. However, the effort has made my recovery a bit longer then normal.

A new study was just published on energy drinks. The study is kinda interesting, in that the authors looked at whether energy drinks (red bull, Monster, etc.) contained any active components other then caffeine that might boost performance (both cognitive and physical). After conducting a literature search and doing a meta-analysis, the authors found that no, energy drinks do not contain any active components (taurine, guaraná, ginseng, glucuronolactone, B-vitamins, etc.) in amounts that enhance mental or physical performance. The only ingredient that boosts performance - with some scientific evidence - found in energy drinks is caffeine. Personally, I like to get my caffeine from coffee or tea, without the added sugar found in energy drinks. If I want sugar, such as on long runs, I prefer Sprite or some other lemon lime soda.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Skiing At Eldorado Springs

Skiing At Eldorado Springs

I'm excited to be writing for a new publication - Free Heel Granola - on the many exciting aspects of telemark skiing. Most of my writing has been in the field of academics, and I am excited to try my hand at writing about the sports I do on a daily basis. I love telemark skiing, and find it a perfect compliment to mountain running in the winter. Now, on to the title of this post. I ran across an old booklet on the Rocky Mountain Ski Club of Denver published in 1920 that has information on a ski hill at Eldorado Springs. I grew up in Boulder and know about the ski cut at Chautauqua, but didn't know there was also one at Eldo. Looking at the picture, I can't place it. I assume it is somewhere up the old Mesa Trail/Shadow Canyon trail. If anyone knows, I would love to find out.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Recovery and Interval Training

Recovery and Interval Training

Slow recovery from Sunday's race. Since I don't do much speed training/running, the race really made me sore. I have plenty of energy, but my legs don't want to do much more then a shuffle.

Monday: Recovery run up Elk Creek. 5 miles, 500' - 45 minutes.

Tuesday: More recover running around on animal trails off of D2. ~6 miles, 1,000' - 1:08.

Sunday's race showed me that I need to do some speed work. Interestingly, a new study was published recently that makes the same argument. Entitled "Running Interval Training and Estimated Plasma Volume Variation" the study looked at whether interval training increased plasma volume in runners. After 7 weeks of training, doing intervals three times per week, those that did do intervals had a significant increase in plasma volume. This increase in plasma volume the authors believe contributed to the observed increase of aerobic fitness (maximal aerobic power and maximal aerobic speed) among those runners who did intervals, versus those that maintained their regular training. So, speed work - interval training - leads to an increase of aerobic fitness. This is well known already in terms of lactate threshold, but here is more evidence (in terms of increased plasma volume) in support of adding interval training to your running. After Sunday's race, I clearly need to do this. I just need to figure out a fun way to do so - perhaps fartleks of some kind? There is no track up here in the valley, and I don't think I could get myself to consistently do workouts if there was. However, there are plenty of miles of trails, so adding in a once a week fartlek training (instead of just hills), may be beneficial.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bear Creek 10 Spot

Bear Creek 10 Spot

Fast! That about sums up the Bear Creek 10 Spot race. Yesterday was the 4th annual race, and boy was it fast. Held right outside of Morrison, the race is 10.4 miles (two laps) on a fairly flat course of trails and dirt roads. I've never run a race this short, nor this flat, but with the goal of getting more race experience, I figured it would be a fun time. Now, I don't do much, if any, speed work. I try and push myself on certain loops up in the valley, but otherwise, I train for longer events. So, when the gun went off, I knew right away that I had no chance of placing anywhere in the top 20. The lead group took off at a full on sprint, and the guy that won ran an average of 6:02 pace! Pretty darn fast. After the first couple hundred yards, I was in 29th place, and I kept that place almost until the end, where I finished in 1:20:27 good for 32 overall (out of 116). My average pace was 7:45, which may be the fastest I've ever run at that distance.

A couple of interesting observations. One, within literally a few hundred yards my overall place in the race was decided. I never passed anyone, and no one passed me. I find it very interesting that my overall place was already decided from the beginning. Of course, if I had crashed and burned, I would have dropped back, but again, this shows to me just how important the start is. I've also noticed this in the ultras that I ran, in that I was basically in the place I finished right from the start.

Also, the race was impacting. By that I mean both Tara and I noticed that after the race it felt like we had run on pavement, not trails. The trails at Bear Creek are fairly hard, Front Range compacted mud/dirt. The surface may have played a part, but also the speed at which I ran also made the race impacting. As I said, I don't do speed, and running all out for 10 miles really hard puts a big impact on one's knees, feet, etc.

All in all, a great race. It is fun to run these faster races with the speedsters of the Front Range, simply because you get to toe the line with some really fast people, but also because it really pushes you as a runner. Obviously, I'll never place good at these races unless I spend some time training speed, but I still think I learned so many lessons - lessons that I am still processing - that when it comes to the longer races next summer, I'll be much better at them. If you are looking for a fast 10 mile trail race to do in the fall, and you want to see how you will stack up with some of the faster runners in the Denver area, I definitely recommend this race.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dehydration And Endurance Performance

Dehydration and Endurance Performance

Dehydration is a constant concern among endurance athletes, and runners are no exception. A lot has been written and discussed about how much water must one drink to prevent dehydration, and after numerous scientific studies and Dr. Noak's recent book Waterlogged, there still seems to be no clear-cut answer. However, some consensus does seem to be forming, as a new study backs up Dr. Noak's general conclusion - drink to thirst. As the authors conclude: During exercise lasting longer than 1 hour, in which fluid is readily available, drinking according to the dictates of thirst maximizes endurance performance. In athletes whose thirst sensation is untrustworthy or when external factors such as psychological stress or repeated food intake may blunt thirst sensation, it is recommended to program fluid intake to maintain exercise-induced body weight loss around 2% to 3%.

So, as in many things with running, listening to one's body and the messages it is telling you are essential. Learning just how much water you need - and not another runner - is key. Now if I could just pin down my calorie intake for the longer races, I might be set. That is proving to be much harder then my fluids.