Set Higher Standards by Ravi

Ramblings from a 30-something ultra-marathoning yogi with a day job.

Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

2012 Race Calendar

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Just posted my race calendar for 2012 on the right hand side of the site —>

6/15 2.4mi Friday Night Swim Race : This race is just a tune-up and a motivating force to get me in the pool during the spring. I’d like to swim 1:10 or so for 2.4 miles, which will be faster than my time last year.

6/23 Pacific Crest Half-Ironman : I’ll be racing at a pace above my Ironman race pace, and testing out all the planned nutrition and gear I plan to use during Ironman Canada. My goal is to beat my time (5 hrs 9 mins) from 2002 when I did this race (and IM Canada) in the same year. I was a much faster runner and swimmer then but I am a faster cyclist now (and generally more experienced racer) so I have a shot at achieving the goal.

7/26: RAMROD (152mi Bike) : OK, this isn’t a race, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and after volunteering last year I’ve guaranteed myself a spot. The 152 mile bike route circles Mt. Rainer and features 10,000 feet of climbing and some of the most beautiful scenery the world has to offer. My goal for this is to finish, and eat a TON of pizza afterwards.

8/17 2.4mi Friday Night Swim Race : My only goal for this race is to swim faster than my time in June and do a great job drafting off others. Targeting a sub 1:10 swim.

8/26 Ironman Canada : This is my “A” race for the year, my big goal. 10 years I raced here in 12 hours 09 minutes, and my goal is to beat that time and go under 12 hours. Back then…I was a much faster swimmer/runner…but poor fueling strategy left me crippled during the last half of the run. This time around, with proper pacing and fueling I have a good shot at going sub 12.

In the fall I will do at least one more triathlon and then transition to running races. Depending on how healthy I feel, I’d like to do a 50K in October/November and give The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler a go.

Me finishing Ironman Canada in 2002, age 22.

Written by Ravi Raman

April 3, 2012 at 8:13 am

Ironman CDA: Done!

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It’s done!

I really had to dig deep this time. The swim went well and I didn’t push too hard given the length of the day ahead. With almost 2,500 athletes in the water it was VERY aggressive and I was getting punched, kicked and dunked every few minutes. I came out of the water 5-10 minutes slower than expected.

The bike ride was OK, and again had to keep the pace slow to keep my knee from flaring up. I was really concerned about even being able to finish the race. After 50 miles on the bike I really didn’t think I would finish, as my knee was really hurting and I just focused on pedaling with my right (pain-free) leg.

Since there was nothing I could do about in the moment, I just stopped thinking about it and after another 20 miles it sorta became numb and the pain was just a dull ache instead of a short-stabbing pain that usually happens, totally bearable.

The run was humbling. Normally my strong suit, after having not put in many miles running or biking in the past 10 weeks on account of injury, I was only able to slowly jog the first 13 miles (around 9:30 min/mile pace) before walking/shuffling the last 13 miles. My knee didn’t cause me too much trouble during the run, my legs were just totally dead overall.

Finishing, however, made me happy and accomplished my goal!

I can’t believe that not even 6 weeks ago I wrote this, essentially giving up all hope of being able to race. At the time it was painful to walk and the thought of doing an Ironman was laughable. My lesson in all this is that sometimes listening to your body’s aches and pains and giving yourself a total rest is the right thing, and other times it’s about getting the FULL STORY on what is actually going on.

In my case, some amazing doctors, a great coach and knowledgeable friends helped me pin-point the issue, treat it and come up with a plan that had a good chance of working…and it did work!

More detailed race report to come later.

Written by Ravi Raman

June 27, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Dealing With Setbacks

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I’m dropping out of Ironman Coeur D Alene.

It’s a really tough thing to say and harder to write out. Many months of training are already in the bank. However, after attempting to ride and run over the past few days, my knee pain has returned in full force.

Walking is painful, biking is uncomfortable and running is impossible right now.

I am going to work with my coach to sort out the right racing plan for later in the summer and fall. For now, my number one priority is to get healthy and build strength and appropriate flexibility to keep my body that way.

The right thing to do is to allow 4-6wks for my knee to heal. I’ll be swimming up a storm in the meantime.

Below is a pic from the ferry as I type this post on the way to Whidbey Island. 

Posted from WordPress for Windows Phone

Written by Ravi Raman

May 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Weather Shouldn’t Stop You From Doing What You Love

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Suited up for a 30 mile bike ride on the rocket ship.

My rocket ship - 2010 Cervelo P3

Little did I know that over the course of my ~2 hour bike ride the weather would do this crazy dance:

1. Partly Sunny

2. Violent Hailstorm

3. Torrential Rain

4. Cloudy and Dry

5. Violent Hailstorm

6.Moderate Downpour

7. Light Sprinkles

10 miles into the ride, when #2 started  – I considered catching a bus and bailing on the ride. It was super painful with the hail and I wasn’t wearing sunglasses and had to ride with my head down and one hand shielding my eyes. Instead I saw a little espresso stand and waited it out for 10 minutes.

When #3 began, I headed out again, riding more slowly since the ground was full of hail ball bearings. My Gore-Tex running jacket totally saved me as it kept my core completely dry, even though my fingers and toes were quite cold. Keeping the intensity up helped to keep me warm. Had the weather started with #2 I wouldn’t have gone riding at all, but in the end I’m glad I did.

Weather doesn’t have to stop you from doing what you love, though it helps to be prepared with the right gear. My next gear purchases will be Gore-Tex cycling shoe covers and clear rain glasses.

Written by Ravi Raman

April 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm

How to Run 50 Miles: Part IV – Proper Biomechanics

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Read first: Part I, Part II, Part III

I had my running form analyzed last year to debug the cause of a nagging pain in my hip. This photo clearly shows a "hip sway" probably caused by weak glutes that comprises my hip, knee and foot movement. It also puts undue pressure on my lumbar spine. Not a good thing! I never would have known this was happening had I not had video analysis done. Obviously you should get this done by a professional, but you can also have a friend videotape you running on a treadmill and play it back in slow mo to see what is going on.

The third principle I adhere to is that bio-mechanical efficiency is absolutely key. You can fake it for shorter distances, but the longer you run (both in terms of distance and number of years) – your mechanics will either wear you out or build you up. Hopefully it is the later and not the former that happens! Small inefficiencies in form are greatly magnified over long distances.

Research shows that 2 out of 3 runners are injured at any given time. This is ridiculous. The injury may be a nagging thing like knee pain or a severe thing like a tibial stress fracture (I’ve had one!) that sidelines an athlete for months. I truly believe that we were born to run. Each and every one of us. Doesn’t matter if you are 7 feet tall or 4 feet tall. 300 pounds or 90 pounds. Humans were made to move long distances. It has been necessary for our survival and we’re finally tuned endurance machines. Somehow in the modern time we’ve  forgotten this birthright and been duped into thinking we can’t run far and need all kinds of fancy shoes and supports to be health. It isn’t true.

With the assertion that we were born to run, one would then assume that we should not see the majority of runners suffering from injuries. I know ultra marathoners that run 100+ mile weeks and seem to never get injured, they just get stronger with more training! I also know weekend warriors that are constantly injured and running with all kinds of knee braces, orthotic shoes and other sorts of crutches. Personally…I’ve suffered tons of injuries in my past 15+ years of running and racing (2 stress fractures, shin splints, hip pain, knee pain, etc.) despite not doing super high mileage and spending lots of time on soft running surfaces like trails. Why is this the case? It’s almost like some people are naturally gifted to run and others are not. This is a myth, as we are all gifted as runners.

There are some great articles written about biomechanical efficiency, and for any runner (weekend warrior to competitive athlete) they are worth the time to study. I’ve spend the past couple years re-learning how to run. It’s been a long road and taken effort, but I now enjoy running more than I ever have, and my nagging injuries are starting to heal and I’m feeling stronger than ever. In fact, after coming back to running after a year-long hiatus, I ran a marathon and two 50K trail ultra-marathons…with just a month gap between each event. Most people would think I am crazy to run distance events that close together….but  I recovered pretty quickly and never got injured, in fact I felt stronger with each race.

How did I start learning how to run? A few years ago I started running in Vibram FiveFingers a few times a week (just a mile or two) and walking around at work in Nike Free’s to strengthen my feet. I focused on landing more towards the middle of my foot and less on my heel. That was pretty much all the running I did, with most of my other exercise coming in the form of yoga and hiking. Just wearing more minimal shoes helped a lot.

Vibram FiveFinger "Sprint's"

After re-starting run training late last summer, I ditched my old training shoes that I used for most of my mileage in favor of Brook’s Green Silence shoes – that are ultra-light with a fairly low “drop” from heel to forefoot. I rotated using them with a pair of more built-up cushioned running shoes (Mizuno Waverider’s). I built up to the point where running 20+ miles on pavement in my Green Silence is no big deal! The low heel drop helped my feet to naturally land more towards my mid-foot and forefoot. From there…I progressed to track workouts and consistent awareness on landing light and keeping a higher stride cadence (as Barefoot Ted teaches!).

My advice for improving your biomechanics is to:

  1. Study: Read voraciously….spend time on youtube….read blogs…educate yourself. So many people have “seen the light” and rediscovered the joy of running over the past few years. A lot of the learning is posted online…spend some time on Bing and learn what works and what doesn’t…then do try for yourself! If you haven’t read the book “Born to Run“…do it and a lot of what I am talking about will make sense :)
  2. Diagnose: I had my form video-taped and analyzed by a sports doctor (as per the image above). This was incredibly useful! I learned that my hips were “swaying” from side to side, causing all sorts of issues with my knees and hips and feet, even through my foot strike itself was OK. The cause? A weak butt! The solution? Building a super strong ass with one-legged squats and kettlebell swings.
  3. Transition: Take your time to transition. It may be a year-long process. Start by alternating new shoes (if you decide to go the minimal route) with your regular running shoes until your feet get strong. Changing things too radically can cause injury. If you don’t practice yoga, I recommend 2-3 power yoga classes per week, it will greatly improve flexibility in your achilles tendon, hips and hamstrings. This will help you run more effectively.

Here are a two other resources that I’ve found super helpful:

How to Run: Running with Proper Biomechanics by Runblogger: Steve is one of the all-time fastest high school milers and takes a scientific approach to analyzing running mechanics. This post is a great read and you can continue reading his other posts to learn more tips about how to run well.

Pose TV: POSE is a method or learning functional movement. I’ve watched all these videos and they are incredibly helpful. In fact, the way Dr. Romanov teaches running technique is so simple, that within minutes of watching the videos I went out for a run and felt instantly faster. One of the best tips was not to focus too much on landing on your mid or fore-foot but instead focus on pulling your heel quickly up to your butt once it passes under your hips, while keeping your stride cadence high. I’m doing a POSE running clinic next week and will write up my experience then.

Happy running!

Written by Ravi Raman

February 13, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Weekly Training: Jan 31-6, 2011

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Light week of training. Felt pretty drained during the week, mostly due to work and a variety of other things going on (including getting LASIK eye surgery!). Good news is my legs feel pretty fresh and besides the bottom of my feet feeling pretty sore after runs, I am in great shape and injury free.

Monday, Jan 31. Kettlebells (:6:00) followed by short easy run (:12:00)

4 sets kettlebell swings total. 12 swings @ 16kg. 3 x 12 swings @ 24 kg.  90 seconds to complete each set.
Put on shoes and then went directly for a run around a park to test out my new Inov-8 Roclite 295 shoes. The shoes feel really good. I’m planning to use these during the Copper Canyon Ultra run next month.

Tuesday, Feb 1. Day off.

No good reason for a day off. Just got busy, woke up late, tons of work and then got to go downtown to hear Jean-Michelle Cousteau talk about the oceans, how in danger they are and his family adventures over the years (Jacque is his dad!).

Wednesday, Feb 2. Track workout (:50:00)

Ran with Eastside Runners “Group #6.” 800 warm up then 1600, 1200, 1000, 800 with an 800 jog in between each. Finished with 800 easy. I hit the pre-determined pace times for group 6 pretty much dead-on. What is funny is that I almost bailed on the run, I felt so tired at the start. After the first 1600 I was then going to stop running, but decided to keep at it. I then felt awesome and finished the workout super strong. Goes to show that a few fast laps around the track can cure a lot of problems! My splits roughly:

1600 = 6:08
1200 = 4:31
1000 = Can’t remember…pretty much the same pace as my 1200 though
800 = 2:55 roughly

Thursday, Feb 3. Kettlebells (:8:00)

5 sets of 20 swings with 53lb bell. Took roughly 90 seconds between sets.

Friday, Feb 4. Easy run (:22:00)

Easy run around Medina.

Saturday, Feb 5. Easy run and running clinic with Barefoot Ted (:25:00)

Ran in Vibram Bikila‘s. A few laps around a soft dirt track.

Sunday, Feb 6. Easy trail run (:80:00) in the afternoon and Yoga (:60:00) in the evening.

Nice and easy (wet and muddy!) fun run at Bridle Trails park with Alison. Practiced using my Amphipod waist pack and bottles with Hammergel flask. The Amphipod is so much better than a Fueltbelt. Also ran in my Inov-8 Roclite 295’s and they did incredibly well on the soft, wet and super muddy trails. Yoga was a solid hour of power vinyasa with Dora, with lots of handstands and other fun stuff.

Total training time  = 4:26:00


Excited for Copper Canyon. Also starting to realize that Ironman CDA is coming up faster than ever. I gotta get on the bike! For now…it’s time to eat.

Written by Ravi Raman

February 6, 2011 at 7:31 pm

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Weekly Training: Jan 24-30, 2011

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Using Training Peaks to track my workouts and log results. It doesn’t have the slickest UI, but it has ton of features and analysis tools baked in. Recommend anyone serious about running or triathlons to check it out. This week I wrapped up my Crossfit introduction classes. Felt progressively more tired as the week went on. Need to focus more on getting enough sleep at night. The high intensity training (albeit with very low total hourly workload/mileage) over the past couple weeks also is catching up with me.

Mon, Jan 24. Short tempo run (17:25)

Didn’t have much time between work and yoga teaching duties, so I did a super short run, with a 5 minute warm up and a 10 minute all-out effort on a fairly flat road loop near my home. I covered about 1.5 miles in the 10 minutes (6:40 pace).

Tues, Jan 25. Easy run (24:30) + Crossfit (15:00)

Easy run around Greenlake and then Crossfit class. Learned new skills: knee to elbows while hanging from a pull-up bar, rowing, front squat. The workout was a warm up then: 500m row, 4 x (5 burpees, 7 knee to elbows, 9 front squats with 45lbs), 400 meter run. My time for this workout was 8:45, which was the top time in the class by like 20-30 seconds. I was pretty far behind a bunch of strong dudes after the first rounds, but by the third round when others slowed, I just kept going at my same pace. Endurance training has some benefits!

Wed Jan 26. Track workout (57:08)

800 warm up, 6 x (400-200, jog equal distance recovery), 1200 warm down. Ran with Eastside Runners “group #6″ today. I’ve been running in group #7 for all my other track workouts so far (one notch slower than 6). My times for the intervals were right on given the target times for group 6 (1:23 for 400’s and :40 for 200’s)

  1. 400 1:25
  2. 200 :36
  3. 400 1:21
  4. 200 :39
  5. 400 1:23
  6. 200 :41
  7. 400 1:23
  8. 200 :40
  9. 400 1:23
  10. 200 :40
  11. 400 1:20
  12. 200 :36

Thurs, Jan 27.  Easy run (27:00) + Crossfit (15:00)

Easy run around Greenlake followed immediately by Crossfit where we did a 15 minute timed workout =  AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of the following in 15 minutes. I did 4 sets of the entire thing. I was pretty slow, simple due to the challenge of “double unders“! My coordination sucks right now!

Fri, Jan 28th. Drank a bunch of beers to celebrate a Microsoft team member moving on to a new adventure.

Sat, Jan 29th. Long run on roads (2:49:30, 19.5 miles)

Super rainy and cold (45-48 degrees). Ran from Bellevue to Kirkland and back (with some other detours). 19.5 total miles. A few decent climbs. Last long run before Copper Canyon! I will do a couple 90-120 minute runs on trails, but this is the last run I really consider “long” before the big dance on March 6th.

Sun, Jan 30th. AM: Hilly bike ride outside (2:09) PM: Yoga (1:00)

Bike ride through Bellevue, to Kirkland and around Finn Hill and Juanita and back. First day outdoors on the bike in many months. Took it really easy on the flats but there were plenty of climbs and those were a challenge! Went to yoga in the evening. Feel pretty tight since my yoga practice has been slacking of late.

Total training time = 8:49:34


Reading a book called Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. Lots of good stuff in here about what an idea weight is for endurance athletes and how to determine your own, and tweak your training/diet to get you there.

The irony!

Written by Ravi Raman

January 30, 2011 at 9:42 pm

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