How it works

The point of this blog is to generate challenges to provide my life with adventure, personal growth, and to meet people in interesting ways. In order to do this, I need challenges. I expect it to take anywhere from a week to two months for me to complete my challenges, whether because I am preparing for some one-time event at the end of "training," because the opportunity to complete the challenge isn't a daily thing, or that is how long I need to do something.

To submit a challenge to me, reply to any post. While challenges can be as simple as "Do _____ while ______ing," but I would also appreciate more information, such as a suggestion of how long I have to complete my challenge, approximate costs if I have to buy all of the equipment involved, anything else that seems useful. After evaluating the entries, I will post about a few of them, and the ones with the best responses will be added to a poll to vote.

While I do reserve the privilege to decline challenges I do not see to be in line with the spirit of my adventure, I will give serious consideration to all submissions.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Simplified Novice Training Plan

Given that the request was made by a fellow runner in the Ragnar Relay, I will assume at least a basic idea of athletic training exists. This plan is to refine that training, or even provide a stepping stone to  move on to more advanced plans yet. To gain an idea of whether this plan outline is for you, you should be able to maintain a ten minute mile pace for six miles.

As I will explain shortly, this will also mean you should be starting from being able to run about 30 miles per week for the seven day plan and 25 miles per week for the six day plan. The full plan will eventually require about two hours of moderate to hard training per day.

If you find this plan to not cover where you have already reached and require something more advanced, I would suggest finding a coach or doing some research yourself. Arthur Lydiard's book on running would be a good next step to start at. This plan is based both loosely and indirectly on his training plan, which is a seminal work on modern running philosophy. Most heavily, it is generalizing what my coaches had me doing in High School Track and College Cross Country and Track to train for running distance races.

First thing is to find a regular time when you can easily schedule your runs. This will help you keep track of when you are cheating the plan and provide some regularity to help you get through the workout.

Second, have a realistic goal to work for. This may be as simple as finishing a race of significant distance or improving on a previous time. This goal should have a date associated with it, such as the day a specific race is being run. While races are ultimately disruptive of short term training, they still have long term benefits if you have goals beyond running one race. At the very least, have set dates for time trials.

Third, try to find someone at about your level to run with. They will help keep you accountable and provide motivation to press on through the harder workouts.

The basic outline of the structure of a week is as follows (for the six training day plan, eliminate Day 2:
Day 1: Long Run
This should be about 1/5th of your week's mileage and should take about an hour at first. Thus for a 30 mile week, this should be six miles at ten min/mi pace. If you can run faster at an easy pace, you should be making an effort to be doing more distance in that hour. As you increase your weekly mileage, this should fluctuate between a 1 hr run and a 2 hr run. Once it takes 2 hr to meet 1/5th of your mileage, the rules change.
Mileage: 6+

Day 2: Medium Run
This should be a run that is about 30-50 minutes of vigorous running.  You should be breathing hard, but not raggedly. At this pace, you should be able to hold a broken conversation with another runner (another reason a partner is handy). Keeping with the minimum mileage, this should be about a 5 mile run for the 10 minute mile runner. Faster runners will naturally hit a longer distance, but this should not be under 4 miles on a normal week.This day will help step you down to the speed workout from your long run day, but can be rolled up in the long run day for a 6 day training week.
Mileage: 4-8

Day 3: Speed Workout
There are a few ways to go about speed workouts, but for the this one, a better choice is to use a Threshold, Long Interval (these will be a little more advanced), or Fartlek style workout. I will explain more about specific workouts later. At least a mile of this day's total should be warm-up/cool down. At least a half mile of each.
Mileage: 3-7

Day 4: Medium Run
Similar to Day 2, this day is to both increase mileage for the week and allow for some recovery after the speed workout. If you have trouble doing a similar run to day 2, you did your speed workout too hard and will have to adjust how hard you go in the next week. Active recovery will go much farther for training than a total rest day while this plan directly applies.
Mileage: 4-8

Day 5: Speed Workout
Again, this is another speed workout. The same types of training apply here as on Day 3, but this is a good time for shorter speed workouts as well. Intervals can get as short as 200m, but should not be shorter or all out since that will cost part of what the mileage is for and stunt your training, however the week of "The Big Race" that rule can be fudged a little for Tapering.
Mileage: 3-6

Day 6: Recovery day
This day is to emphasize recovering from your hard workouts from the rest of the week. It should be at an easy pace to maintain for a much longer distance, but slightly faster than the pace of the long run (once you have tuned your speed workouts). The emphasis of this day is Active Recovery.
Mileage: 3-5

Day 7: Hill Workout
While this will ideally be a run through hilly terrain and perhaps even trails, it can be supplimented with hill intervals, weight training, resistance training, or other speed workouts, but remember they are not a substitute for a good hill workout. They are patchwork to fill the gap. Any serious road race will have a few hills and you will not be as prepared for them from alternative workouts.
Please note that I will not be covering alternatives here that are not already part of other sections of this outline, as my experience and knowledge in these areas is lacking by comparison.
Mileage: 4-8

While it can be seen by the numbers that this plan can be dropped to a 27 mile training week, I advise against that as the smaller numbers are actually supposed to be tied with the harder speed workouts. The main emphasis on the training is for the mileage until around 40 miles a week is attained. From the ground up, this should take no less than 3 weeks to reach by following the idea that your weekly mileage should only increase by about 10% per week until around 60 miles a week. At that point, it is again my suggestion to seek more tailored training plans that are specific to your running style, target race distance, and running community (fellow trainees and coaches).

The Long Term Component
Over the course of about a month, you will notice that the shorter runs will become easier. If you are following the plan aggressively and increasing your mileage weekly, you should be running something like 35% farther per week. Don't worry if you have not increased that fast, it is quite demanding and more in line with training in season for running. If you still consider yourself to be a recreational runner rather than a competitive runner, you can be increasing your mileage every couple weeks instead.
As you approach your race deadline, you will increase your mileage to a point and then decrease it shortly before your race (Tapering). This will allow your body to recover and make more visible use of your training.  Depending on your time frame, you may want to be training through a race to get better results for a future race. In that case, simply treat the race day as a speed workout and include it in your expected mileage (this requires a little planning ahead).

Increasing Mileage
As I have already made mention, you should only be increasing your mileage gradually. This is to prevent injury. The 10% per week rule was the guideline from my college coach, since we were more free to track our own week, in the effort to make us more independent runners. As I have mentioned, this is a more aggressive rate of climb for those seeking to be competitive. On average, you should be increasing your mileage, but you should be hitting 10% on a cycle of some length. After 3 weeks/cycles, you should decrease your mileage to what it was at 1-2 weeks/cycles ago. This will both allow your body to recover a little, increase how much you can do in training, and decrease the likelihood of burning-out. At the competative level, many coaches will look at this climb in terms of half a year. For Cross Country and Track, this means the Summer/Cross_Country half and the Indoor/Outdoor Track half. The shortest I would advise would be 3 months on the competitive rate of increase to see useful results. Just keep in mind that the longer you let the cycles get, the slower you will see results, until such a point where you would not even notice them if they are there.

Since it is getting late and I have work tomorrow, I shall continue this in a second post, where I will cover
-Speed Workouts
-Getting Off Track
-Adding Mileage (as in where)

Monday, August 22, 2011

In Person Challenge

While I was at the Ragnar Relay, I was given a challenge in person as a request for a basic training framework. As I have started it offline in a notepad on my home laptop, I will be getting back to that this evening.  It should be up by tomorrow morning.

I will also be posting about my experience with the relay soon.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ragnar Relay

Tomorrow, I face the start of the Ragnar Relay. What is that you ask?
It is a race series run through out the USA with each race being a relay over a couple hundred miles, on unprotected roads in the open countryside. Each of the 12 runners has three legs with varying distances anywhere from 3 miles to 9 miles. My race starts in Winona, MN and finishes in St Paul, MN. My team is split up between two vans. As it turns out, I will be in a van with five women...

Good ration, but sticky situation. Over twenty-four hours of probable girl-talk. That may turn out to be the REAL endurance challenge.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nerdy Me

So I have a few friends that are really into Minecraft (and a few that are highly opposed to it). One of them decided it was sufficiently worth trying that he paid for my copy (so I could play online instead of the free single player account). At first I kind of just dinked around digging a really long tunnel and looking for stuff. This past weekend, he had me join him on a special server: Pandemonium.

Here's the scoop
The basics: normally you can break most blocks (the whole terrain is blocks of something and you can break all of them except the bedrock) on the surface by hand and you can then place them to build things. Monsters only spawn at night, in caves or unfortunately well shaded areas and burn in the day. When you die, you just click a button and you're back to playing, minus what you were carrying.

On this server: you start in a giant desert. Ok, lots of sand. Well, you can't actually pick up the sand because the server has a mod (modification for the less tech savvy) that makes many blocks not drop resources if they are not broken with tools. Even then, they don't always drop resources. So start the game and there is nothing to work with. Well, then there's the matter that some of the monsters stay around during the day without burning. And there's more of them than normal. In addition, they randomly spawn near you (which normally doesn't happen since they have to be outside a radius around you to spawn). To make matters worse, zombies now break many kinds of blocks to get at you.

My friend told me most players don't last more than a half hour without dying until they can get some kind of base set up. At least he told me that before hand. But if you die on this server, that's it for the night. You get a fifteen hour ban, since it's a hardcore server. In many cases this means restarting since you lose everything you had on you. I have heard that there is an area past the desert if you find the right dungeon to venture into.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Challenge 2-3 Progress

As for setting up my blog, I think that is well underway. I have completed the guidelines for challenging me and it is possible to vote for my next challenge to undertake.  I have edited my layout to the point where it is not simply text on a page.

On the other hand, I am kind of failing at gaining followers. At this point, only 5 people have even visited. I guess part of the problem could have to do with not doing any "advertizing." I am trying to avoid simply telling people I know about it since they are already interacting with me regularly. I need to find ways to leave a link here places...

Challenges Requested 1

In the interest of not just polling visitors on things I already want to do, I could use some challenges. If you are just passing through, leave a request anyway. It will mix things up a bit. For now, I will make a poll of things I already have in mind.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Challenge 2

So far I have been looking into some of the customization available through the default editor. Now, I think what I may need to do is just hammer out what I want to have available.

I need a brief description of what it is I'm doing here.
I ought to describe myself a little: make this a little more personal.
I need to write a terse, but description of what I am looking for regarding challenges.
I need a few challenges to stew over so I can do the next part...
Add the "best" recent challenges to a poll for the next cycle.
-I think this one depends on me doing the third item.


Monday, August 8, 2011

The Beginning

I was sitting in my room one night imagining how I could convince myself to more aggressively pursue self-improvement projects. (Since when is last night "one night?" It seemed funnier to leave) An idea struck me: get my friends and strangers to help me. How would I do that when most of them are hundreds of miles away? The Internet, duh. Where on the Internet? Facebook? Only my FB Friends would be even remotely likely to do anything with it...boring. Google+? Too new, it isn't heavily adopted enough yet and I would have to make a special circle for my followers. Twitter? I would need to get people to start following me first. Solution: a blog.

My initial thought had been to simply buy my own domain and build a website from the ground up. It could be the first challenge. Then I could have a bunch of really cool content, like a submission page to help format submissions, challenge archive, a "current standings" board, a forum, etc. That seemed like exactly the sort of thing I was having trouble getting done, but I put it on the back burner.

Today at work, it occurred to me to check if a similar thing had been done, since I had only checked in on the domain name I wanted. I had to tweek my search (since I had my project on the mind), but I found on Google. After reading his initial post, I discovered something to the effect of what I wanted to do was in Wired Magazine a few years ago now.

Not so original, but still worth while. Here it begins. I am accepting challenges of anything that would improve my life, be a manageable adventure, help me meet new people, who knows. The main thing is that I can reasonably accomplish most tasks in a time frame of about a week to two months. I will explain more about how I plan to accept challenges soon.

Challenge 1: Start the blog.

Challenge 2: Get the blog up and running
Run Time: 2 weeks
Deadline: August  22
In Progress

Challenge 3: Gather a following of >10 people
Run Time: 1 month
Deadline September 8th
Let the games begin.