Most every morning I wake up, grunt a "good morning" to my roommates and stumble my way straight to the coffee grinder. I'm no coffee connoisseur, but there's always been something about pulverizing the beans myself that adds an extra level of enjoyment to my morning pick-me-up; I live (at least from 7:31-7:34am on weekdays) for that fresh-ground-fragrance. They* say that the cup of coffee is all in the grind, not too fine, not too coarse. For me, zeroing in on that perfect grind has been a game of trial-and-error, with elements like brewing method, coffee roast and (the real culprit) caffeine-addiction-induced-mania levels each influencing the morning ritual. The reality is that I will probably never produce the perfect cup of coffee, but yet there's something about the process that keeps me coming back for more.
Have I still got you? Whew. You're probably thinking "what the heck, John, I didn't sign up for a coffee blog." No, you probably didn't. At risk of further digression to a topic on which I have no business digressing, let's segue onto the one that keeps most of you coming back. While clustered in their general theme around running, my previous blog posts to this point have danced around the nitty gritty details of my relationship to the sport as it exists on a day-to-day basis, the "Grind", if you will. I've said before that I never want to pigeon-hole myself as solely an athlete, and I pledged to myself when I started this blog that I would aim to make it more than just a glorified training log. Nevertheless, as someone whose own relationship to Strava is solely for the creeping of other athletes' daily training, I recognize that there's a subset of you out there who couldn't care less about my sentimental musings so long as I'm delivering the goods on mileage, splits, race plan etc. For all my fellow running junkies, this ones for you.
As the hot-link above will show you, I don't post my training log anywhere publicly. There's no real specific reason for this, but it ultimately comes down to my resistance of a GPS-equipped watch up to this point in my career. I tend to be pretty obsessive about the details of my training as it is (a complete refusal to stop my watch unless it's ending on a nice, clean XX:00) and I recognized early on that the added data made available to me by a GPS watch would be enough to put me over the edge. So, in lieu of bearing it all, what follows will shed some light on what my training grind (dead horse now sufficiently beaten) looks like.
If forced to identify with a certain "camp", I would say that I'm definitely a strength-based runner. I thrive off of high mileage, long aerobic workouts, and very few full rest days. Moreover, my lack of natural turnover means "strength-based" was really going to be the only option I ever had. Throughout my career I've been blessed with intelligent and thoughtful coaches who have tailored their programs to suit my strengths (and address my weaknesses) and I've gradually built up to the level of training that I do today. Currently, a typical week of training for me is around 160km (or 100 miles for the old-school/US contingents). Our group works out twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with a structured long run on Sundays and supplemental "easy" running the remaining days of the week, usually broken into a longer AM and a shorter PM double. As a steeplechaser, this framework of base mileage and running workouts is overlaid with biweekly hurdle (Tuesday-Friday) and gym (Monday-Thursday) sessions. If you're having trouble keeping track of all that in your head, join the club.
Fortunately, I love what I do and I have a lot of great people to share the experience with and keep me on track and motivated. Something I really value about CJ's workout philosophy is his emphasis on keeping a lot of different systems in play. It is rare for me to do a workout set entirely in one pace zone and most sessions combine different elements in terms of pace and surface, which helps keep things interesting and breaks up the monotony. Nevertheless, a year of training is still divisible into different blocks, each with their own primary and secondary emphasis reflecting the time of year and competition plans. After some downtime post-track season, I've been back into what I would categorize as a general aerobic block: long tempos and steady states with lots of time-based intervals off of shorter recovery.
My one and done cross country season takes place tomorrow at the Canadian National Championships in Abbotsford, which you can tune into here (Senior Men's race is 2:15pm PST). Unlike past seasons where ACXC has come on the heels of a long university season, this outing will be a bit of a dive into the unknown. I'm pleased with how the last month and a half of rebuilding has gone and I'm looking forward to testing myself on the grass against some of the very best our country has to offer. ACXC is always a great opportunity to tap back into that hardcore vein of competition; line 'em up and let it rip!
*They being former roommate and coffee snob, Tyler Dozzi. Ask him about the filtration qualities of the AeroPress, I DARE YOU.
John Eamon Gay