I Run Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Posted by Filed Under: Running Tips, Training

After a long deep sleep and a substantial breakfast I headed out for a morning run with exercise physiologist Mike Siemens. He’s an experienced triathlete and in 2006 he ran Boston, which is my ultimate goal. His plan is to observe my gait and give me an interval workout to improve the efficiency of my stride.

But as it turned out, I had a few problems with this plan: It was 9 a.m. In Tucson. In August.

The temperature was already 90 degrees F (I checked) and we set out on a trail that runs along the property. There’s a photo of it accompanying this column.


OK, I added the cattle skull.

Something I wasn’t immediately aware of was the elevation. Canyon Ranch sits about 3,000 feet above sea level. I live in Sacramento, California, which is – believe me – a hot weather town, but only 25 feet above sea level. So my two-mile “warmup” was more like the last 300 meters of a grueling 10K.

Mike was patient and took me through each of the drills in turn. We began with a few sets of walking lunges. We followed with some high knees, then some butt kicks, and finished off with some strides.

As you can see from the videos, these drills are not designed to make you look particularly cool, but should help put some more boost in my stride. Mike advised me to add these drills to my weekly speedwork, for which he also provided some suggestions.

Now that we knew my max heart rate was 185, he suggested an interval workout that would gradually increase sets of 2-minute runs at around 85 percent max. I would start with five repeats and work my way up to 12.

After 45 minutes I was melting, but I was still able to jog… slowly… back to the facility. Having had my body examined from all different angles, inside and out, it was time to have my head examined.

Next up: What are you running from?

About Mike Antonucci

I ran 6-minute miles when I was in the military, then tapered for 20 years. Two-time marathoner (3:43 PR), my next goal is to stay healthy enough to run another. There are literally thousands of people handing out running advice and serious tips. I prefer to focus on the humorous or odd facets of our shared obsession. Let's face it, running is funny.

  1. bex on October 13th at 12:21 am

    Nice, albeit grueling workout! Have you done it since then?

  2. Mike Antonucci on October 13th at 8:38 am

    The last episode in this series will cover how I’ve incorporated all this into my training at home and how much good it has done. Stay tuned!