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Breaking Away

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Testing... testing...

Post  Mark B on Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:31 am

Uptempo Run: 4 miles at all sorts of crazy speeds at Nike World Headquarters

Weather: Mostly clear, warm, a little muggy. 67 degrees, 66% humidity. Gear: Various testers, shorts, T. Fuel: Normal breakfast and lunch. No water during.

I always look forward to dynamic testing sessions at Nike. They end up being the most intense running I do -- not because they want us to run super-fast (well, not usually), but because all the other guys they tap as dynamic testers seem to be the sort of guys who win their age divisions in local races. I push it to not be totally humiliated (I'm still slow compared to them, but at least they can see I'm not dogging it...).

I can't go into any detail about what we tested, or why, but as a workout... it was intense by my standards.

First up was a half mile lap through the Nike campus, up and down the hills they have inside "the berm" - which isolates the campus from the rest of the area. I ran fast and light but was feeling it (nothing like a little wheezing...). But, I actually led the group for much of that lap, which surprised me a little, until we got back to our starting point and the rest of the guys looked at me walking back toward the building to fill out a tester survey on the shoes.

"Didn't they say we were supposed to do TWO laps?"

"Two?" I thought. "Crap!" I'd pretty much wrung myself out on the first lap. I fell in behind and we did it all over again, this time with me trailing.

And so it went. After giving feedback on the first shoe, which takes just about enough time to cool down, we were out for two more half-mile laps at a fairly up-tempo pace. Then, back in for more writing and questions.

Then... it was time for the second part of the test. More shoes. And they wanted us to run fast in them. Four circuits of a special torture test route, uphill then downhill, with corners sharper than 90 degrees, on concrete and cobblestones. It was sort of a ladder workout. I guess. First circuit, 50% effort level. The second at 75%. The third at 85%. The fourth back at 50%. No rest period between the repeats, just turn and go - straight back up the grade.

I had no Garmin and no HR monitor with me, so I have no idea how fast I was going. Even so, can you see why I describe this as speedwork? Especially after the previous running, the second repeat was challenging and the third was very difficult. The other guys, of course, were flying.

And those repeats were even more challenging when they had us put on ANOTHER set of shoes and do it all over again.

It's always interesting, though. We even got to talk to a shoe designer about one of his creations we were testing, and I was able to give some feedback on a different shoe I've been testing at home.

In all, the workout itself was about 4 miles. Most of it done much faster than usual. My lungs are still trying to figure out what hit them. Smile

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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Mike MacLellan on Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:23 am

Pretty awesome deal you've got set up there, Mark. Interesting to see just how much testing goes into the shoes, too. And it sounds like a hell of a lot of fun.
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Kenny B. on Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:31 am

Sounds fun with the shoe testing but the run sounded pretty hard. Let your lungs decompress now!
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Diego on Thu Jun 23, 2011 11:10 am

John Kilpatrick wrote:Man, I am really getting jealous of you guys with your trails. All I have is a bunch of relatively flat and HOT roads to run on! Sounds like a blast. I wonder if I could pull off a trail run with basically no trail running training?


When I lived in Pulaski,TN I did the unthinkable. Although we had no trails either, I really wanted to run the Mountain Mist 50K(Huntsville) because I heard so many good things about it. So I ran it anyway(on not much road training either). 13 falls, several scrapes, and 6 hours later(very tough course) I had one of my most memorable experiences and best plaques ever.

So you can do it.

Jim
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Diego on Thu Jun 23, 2011 11:13 am

Wow, that Nike test run sounds cool. I'd enjoy something like that. We have a NB factory near us. Maybe I should ask them.
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Mark B on Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:43 pm

Mike MacLellan wrote:Pretty awesome deal you've got set up there, Mark. Interesting to see just how much testing goes into the shoes, too. And it sounds like a hell of a lot of fun.

Hey, Mike. It's a lot of fun. I get to be a lab rat (or is that crash test dummy?) for Nike's shoe designers three different ways: in the Nike Sport Research Lab (lots of repeats in front of high speed cameras), in dynamic testing like I did yesterday and doing long-term wear tests.

It helps to live a short drive away from Beaverton for the dynamic testing and lab work, but you don't have to be a local to take part in the long-term wear tests. And I believe Nike is accepting applicants for the program.

Go to this link NIKE Testing and fill out the form. It can take some time for them to do the screening, and for people who have been selected to get a chance to do testing, but it's free! (Note: They tend to limit the tests to guys with a shoe size of about 10 and women with a shoe size of about 8.)

Kenny B. wrote:Sounds fun with the shoe testing but the run sounded pretty hard. Let your lungs decompress now!

Thanks, Kenny. This whole wheezing on the exhale isn't exactly a great sign, but I think it probably has more to do with not having worked the high end of the VOMax than anything else.

jimd wrote:
John Kilpatrick wrote:Man, I am really getting jealous of you guys with your trails. All I have is a bunch of relatively flat and HOT roads to run on! Sounds like a blast. I wonder if I could pull off a trail run with basically no trail running training?


When I lived in Pulaski,TN I did the unthinkable. Although we had no trails either, I really wanted to run the Mountain Mist 50K(Huntsville) because I heard so many good things about it. So I ran it anyway(on not much road training either). 13 falls, several scrapes, and 6 hours later(very tough course) I had one of my most memorable experiences and best plaques ever.

So you can do it.

Jim

Heh. That sounds a little like my 25k trail race earlier this month, Jim. I didn't take any tumbles (and given the terrain, that was a very good thing) but it was definitely memorable! Next time, I'll be a little better prepared and have even more fun. Smile

jimd wrote:Wow, that Nike test run sounds cool. I'd enjoy something like that. We have a NB factory near us. Maybe I should ask them.

It never hurts to ask, Jim!

New Balance Wear Test Program

(The Google knows all!)
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Mark B on Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:15 am

Recovery Run: 2 miles

Weather: Sunny, mild, a little muggy. 53 degrees, 85% humidity. Gear: Testers, shorts, T. Fuel: Banana and coffee. Carried (but didn't need) water.

After my uptempo running Wednesday, I knew I'd have to take this morning's run easy. But I didn't know how easy until I transitioned from my walking warm-up (which felt fine) to running (which didn't). Wow! "Creaky" would be an understatement. There was no ow-ow-ow sensation, just major muscle groups rising in protest. "What are you DOING?" It almost felt like I'd never taken a running step in my life. It was a very weird sensation. Shocked

Not much to do at that point but dial it way back and see if I could clear the gunk out of my muscles. I jogged out about a mile, debated whether to keep going or turn back, and decided that a two-mile recovery run was just about right this morning. The discomfort eased up as the run progressed (good sign) but my legs remained reluctant participants all the way to the end.

Looks like I'll be doing some stretching and making sure I've replenished my glycogen stores before Sunday's longer run.
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Julie on Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:44 am

I like your idea of leaving the Garmin behind for awhile. I wish a few of my running buddies would do this but I think they're addicted. Anyway, the trail runs sound great or just a change of pace. Some time I'm going to take a break from marathons and just do another ultra or a shorter distance or something.

Testing shoes sounds fun! I hope your long run goes well this wkend.

p.s. my dad owns that movie, Breaking Away so I figured it was a reference to that.
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Kenny B. on Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:52 am

Mark B wrote:Recovery Run: 2 miles

Weather: Sunny, mild, a little muggy. 53 degrees, 85% humidity. Gear: Testers, shorts, T. Fuel: Banana and coffee. Carried (but didn't need) water.

After my uptempo running Wednesday, I knew I'd have to take this morning's run easy. But I didn't know how easy until I transitioned from my walking warm-up (which felt fine) to running (which didn't). Wow! "Creaky" would be an understatement. There was no ow-ow-ow sensation, just major muscle groups rising in protest. "What are you DOING?" It almost felt like I'd never taken a running step in my life. It was a very weird sensation. Shocked

Not much to do at that point but dial it way back and see if I could clear the gunk out of my muscles. I jogged out about a mile, debated whether to keep going or turn back, and decided that a two-mile recovery run was just about right this morning. The discomfort eased up as the run progressed (good sign) but my legs remained reluctant participants all the way to the end.

Looks like I'll be doing some stretching and making sure I've replenished my glycogen stores before Sunday's longer run.

Sounds like someone need a massage!
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Mark B on Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:47 pm

Julie wrote:I like your idea of leaving the Garmin behind for awhile. I wish a few of my running buddies would do this but I think they're addicted. Anyway, the trail runs sound great or just a change of pace. Some time I'm going to take a break from marathons and just do another ultra or a shorter distance or something.

Testing shoes sounds fun! I hope your long run goes well this wkend.

p.s. my dad owns that movie, Breaking Away so I figured it was a reference to that.

Hi Julie! It's easy to get hooked on instant feedback. It can be a useful training tool, but when it becomes a means to an end... well, you start ignoring the other reasons - the real reasons - for getting out there and running. No advancement is worth killing the simple joy of movement.

Yes, it was a reference to the movie. I'm doing the Tecumseh Trail Marathon in December, which is run near Bloomington, Indiana, where the movie is set.

Kenny B. wrote:
Mark B wrote:Recovery Run: 2 miles

Weather: Sunny, mild, a little muggy. 53 degrees, 85% humidity. Gear: Testers, shorts, T. Fuel: Banana and coffee. Carried (but didn't need) water.

After my uptempo running Wednesday, I knew I'd have to take this morning's run easy. But I didn't know how easy until I transitioned from my walking warm-up (which felt fine) to running (which didn't). Wow! "Creaky" would be an understatement. There was no ow-ow-ow sensation, just major muscle groups rising in protest. "What are you DOING?" It almost felt like I'd never taken a running step in my life. It was a very weird sensation. Shocked

Not much to do at that point but dial it way back and see if I could clear the gunk out of my muscles. I jogged out about a mile, debated whether to keep going or turn back, and decided that a two-mile recovery run was just about right this morning. The discomfort eased up as the run progressed (good sign) but my legs remained reluctant participants all the way to the end.

Looks like I'll be doing some stretching and making sure I've replenished my glycogen stores before Sunday's longer run.

Sounds like someone need a massage!

Hm... probably not. I've never found massages to be anything other than very uncomfortable -- even painful -- experiences. I think the millions of little knots in my muscles are what keep my body from falling apart....
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Mike MacLellan on Fri Jun 24, 2011 1:08 pm

Mark, sounds like our legs are doing just about the same thing as of late. It's been taking mine 1-2 miles to loosen up and even allow for the possibility of a sub-8:45 mile the past few days. Gotta love them trails...
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Alex Kubacki on Fri Jun 24, 2011 1:33 pm

I'm redudant here and late but that testing does sound cool. I do get what you're saying with your response to Julie about it becoming a means to an end.
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Kenny B. on Fri Jun 24, 2011 2:35 pm

[quote="Mark B"]
Julie wrote:

Hm... probably not. I've never found massages to be anything other than very uncomfortable -- even painful -- experiences. I think the millions of little knots in my muscles are what keep my body from falling apart....

OK! Laughing That is the craziest thing I ever heard (well not really) but what are you talking about. Who is massaging you the incredible hulk.
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Mark B on Fri Jun 24, 2011 4:31 pm

Mike MacLellan wrote:Mark, sounds like our legs are doing just about the same thing as of late. It's been taking mine 1-2 miles to loosen up and even allow for the possibility of a sub-8:45 mile the past few days. Gotta love them trails...

I am definitely working muscles in new and exciting ways, that's for sure, Mike. And that has a lot to do with why it feels so different now, even on short, easy runs on pavement. My whole stride is evolving.

Alex Kubacki wrote:I'm redudant here and late but that testing does sound cool. I do get what you're saying with your response to Julie about it becoming a means to an end.

Hey Alex! Thanks for the visit. I won't want anybody to think that I've recanted my belief in the effectiveness of low heart rate training, but doing anything - even a good thing - too much can lead to staleness. Even Phil Maffetone himself talks about that. He advocated big spells of basework interspersed with fast repeats and racing.

Kenny B. wrote:
Mark B wrote:Hm... probably not. I've never found massages to be anything other than very uncomfortable -- even painful -- experiences. I think the millions of little knots in my muscles are what keep my body from falling apart....

OK! Laughing That is the craziest thing I ever heard (well not really) but what are you talking about. Who is massaging you the incredible hulk.

You'd think, huh? Nope. I'm just one of those sensitive types, I guess. Smile

Kidding aside, I don't think I grasp the whole "hurts so good" concept. It just hurts.
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Mark B on Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:00 pm

Trail Run: About 7 miles

Weather: Sunny, cool, in the low 50s. Gear: Nike testers, shorts, T. Fuel: Oatmeal and coffee. Carried handheld with nuun.

I finally felt solid enough this weekend to get back to the trails, and it felt great.

I met up with my buddy in Portland, and we worked our way into Forest Park and up Wildwood Trail (a trail that runs for 30 miles through the park) up to Pittock Mansion, which has great views of downtown Portland and Mount Hood. We then turned around and headed the other direction on the trail, calling it done at about 7 miles.

Here's a view of a wilder part of the trail...



... while here's the reward for the big climb: A chance to explore the grounds of the Pittock Mansion above Portland.



The uphills felt very manageable - I walked less than I'd done before - and I felt much more relaxed and in control on the downhills than I did two weekends ago. It probably helps that I wasn't navigating my way around loose rocks! And that the total climb/descent was about 1,000 feet or so instead of 3,700. Smile

I could have gone much farther, but we had to wrap it up. It's nice when the run leaves you itching for more. Approval
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Kenny B. on Sun Jun 26, 2011 2:07 pm

Talk about a beautiful day. Wow. Great job. In that weather running more always feels right.
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Mike MacLellan on Sun Jun 26, 2011 2:09 pm

Nice run, Mark. But I would venture to say that the trail is more of a reward than the Mansion. Just my opinion, though Wink
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  John Kilpatrick on Sun Jun 26, 2011 2:31 pm

I was wondering if you'd stick with trail running or if it was just a phase that would pass. I don't think it is passing! Keep it safe out there - sure sounds enjoyable...

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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Seth Harrison on Sun Jun 26, 2011 3:07 pm

Beautiful looking run today Mark. You've got to love a 30 mile trail.
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Mark B on Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:09 pm

Kenny B. wrote:Talk about a beautiful day. Wow. Great job. In that weather running more always feels right.

Definitely, Kenny. But this was just the right amount for my body right now. If I'd pushed it harder, farther, on that trail, I would have enjoyed it less.

Mike MacLellan wrote:Nice run, Mark. But I would venture to say that the trail is more of a reward than the Mansion. Just my opinion, though Wink

Hi Mike. The mansion was pretty neat - and it had a great view of Portland and Mount Hood - but the real beauty was out there in the trees. As usual.

John Kilpatrick wrote:I was wondering if you'd stick with trail running or if it was just a phase that would pass. I don't think it is passing! Keep it safe out there - sure sounds enjoyable...

Well, if it's a phase, it's going to be a long one, John. I just wish I had opportunities to do it more often.

Seth Harrison wrote:Beautiful looking run today Mark. You've got to love a 30 mile trail.

Thanks, Seth. And that's just ONE of the many trails in Wildwood Park. The opportunities for variety are huge, and I've barely scratched the surface. Smile
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A blast from the past! Well, MY past, anyway....

Post  Mark B on Sun Jun 26, 2011 8:59 pm

I'd like to introduce you to an old friend of mine... the Free Run 2



Okay, so I know the shoe has been on the market for a couple of months, but it really IS an old friend.

You see, I wear tested a variant of these shoes back in the winter and spring of 2010 - more than a year before they hit market. Such is predicament of a wear tester. We get to fall in love (usually) with new features... then go back to the earlier version and wait to see which features from the prototype made it into the production model.

I snagged this pair today as replacements when my latest set of test shoes gets shipped back to Nike in a few weeks. I'd normally try to get something a little more colorful than "white/gray/wolf gray" - but it was all they had in stock. They'll dirty up nicely, I bet. I am going to keep using "key lime" 3.0s, too. But I'll be keeping those for shorter runs as I build up my foot and ankle strength.
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Tom H on Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:30 pm

Mark, I really like the Free Run 2's - I did get some rather bright green ones with bright blue shoelaces when I was up there for Eugene. I think Tim wore his in the same subdued color scheme to dinner at Eliza's. Like the Free Run, putting them on is more like putting on a sock than a shoe and the sole is very close to that of the Free Run. Enjoy!
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Glenn on Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:53 am

Great pics from the trail-run up to Pittock Mansion. Is that trail accessible from downtown? I may have to seek that one out the next time I'm in Portland!
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Mark B on Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:15 pm

Tom H wrote:Mark, I really like the Free Run 2's - I did get some rather bright green ones with bright blue shoelaces when I was up there for Eugene. I think Tim wore his in the same subdued color scheme to dinner at Eliza's. Like the Free Run, putting them on is more like putting on a sock than a shoe and the sole is very close to that of the Free Run. Enjoy!

Hey, Tom! I remember seeing those shoes (I could probably see the glow from a different time zone! jocolor ). And you're right - the bootie construction of the upper makes it very sock-like. Wendy got a pair of the Free Run 2s with a 3.0 midsole (you can order them through the Nike iD site) and she love-love-loves them.

Glenn wrote:Great pics from the trail-run up to Pittock Mansion. Is that trail accessible from downtown? I may have to seek that one out the next time I'm in Portland!

Hi, Glenn! Yes, you can get to the trail from downtown. The entrance I use is a mile or so away from the waterfront, but that's not too horribly bad. You can also take light rail up to the Oregon Zoo and get on the trail from there.
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Re: Breaking Away

Post  Joel H on Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:15 pm

Just wanted to say hi....I have only gone back to beginning of page 4 but it sounds like you are having fun at Niketown and trail running. I can't wait to catch up more.
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