Monday, April 21, 2014

April 14th-20th Training

Monday: 3 miles (6:34); 6.3 miles (7:13)

Tuesday: 7 miles (6:44)

Wednesday: 4 miles (6:37); 10.5 miles with 9.04 mile moderate progression. Ran to Gallatin and Rd.x2 and then up-and-down Bison Way, which I figured would be at least nine miles.  Goal was three miles in 18:30, 17:15, 16:00.  Ended up running 18:08, 16:56, 15:47, with an extra 10s of running at the end. Normally I will struggle a bit on the faster portion at this point of the season but it felt really smooth.  I'm more fit than I thought.

Thursday: 7 miles (6:32)

Friday: 3.7 miles (6:58); 11 miles with 10 miles at medium effort. Goal was to start around 6:00 pace and work down to 5:30ish.  Averaged 5:36 and felt smooth for most of the way, except for getting really thirsty the last mile or so, which made me work a little bit harder.

Saturday: 9.1 miles (6:49)

Sunday: 13.4 miles (6:04). Was going to run 15 miles but left a few minutes late and was already pressed for time.  I was then going to make-up for it and run an easy 3-4 miles in the evening but I was feeling too lazy.

Week Total: 75 miles.  Felt much better this week, than last.  While I can tell I lost some of my motor, my basic endurance is still good.  This week, I'll run about 90 miles and take it pretty easy most of the week because I may be a complete idiot on Saturday.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Every Second Counts

Every year I fill out an NCAA bracket.  I don't watch basketball during the season but I'm too analytical of a person to blindly fill one out.  But then again, I don't put a ton of research into it.  I'll just go to and look at each team's page.  I look at how they have played against other good teams and how they are now playing.  Like in a race, you give more of a focus to the people who are closing hard, not dying badly. In my bracket, I had Florida beating Louisville in the National Championship with Michigan State and Arizona being the other Final Four teams. I will brag that I had Kentucky over Wichita State, which most people thought was a shocker.  Kentucky is way too talented and had been through a lot of battles.  Wichita State was undefeated but they had played a bunch of Nancy schools.  Calm seas don't make good sailors. And I had Kansas exiting early since they lost their best player and have been playing like garbage since then.  But even with all my "research", I got whooped by a bunch of women at my work.  And my friend's wife had the Kentucky Wildcats and the Connecticut Huskies playing in the Finals with Connecticut winning. Is she an ESPN basketball analyst?  Nope. She chose her picks by "cutest" mascot.

But there were a ton of close games and if some of those games went the other way, maybe I would have been sitting pretty at the end of the tournament and enjoying the winnings of my $12 bracket pot.  

At the end of the close games, people talk about how exciting the game was to watch and how "clutch" some of the players were and how missed free throws and turnovers in the last few minutes cost the team the victory. And at the end of these close games, the players show an intense focus and play harder, the crowd is on the edge of their seats and you're only a few minutes away from seeing someone crying in the audience, who will forever live-on as an internet gif.  

But I never understand why people put a lot of focus into what happens towards the end of the game.  What about all the mistakes people make in the middle when the pressure isn't there?  Two missed foul shots hurt you just as much eight minutes into the first half as they do with eight seconds left in the game. They didn't lose the game at the end, they most likely "lost" it long before then.

And when someone has an amazing play at the end of the game, you hear about their clutch performance. What really is a clutch performer?  Someone who is able to perform to their potential when the pressure is on or when they feel more is on the line?  Someone shouldn't need external influences to affect them for the better or worse.  A true champion can call upon their skills whenever they want or need to.

Now what's all this rambling about?  Running is the same way.  In a race, every second counts.  Especially in the shorter distances, most people's fastest miles are the first and last with a lag in the middle.  It's easy to start off strong when you're motivated and fresh.  And it's easy to finish hard when you smell the finish line, have people cheering you on and know the race is almost over.  But during the middle, it can be lonely and difficult to keep on pressing forward.  But during those times, the second hand on the watch moves just as quickly.  Taking a mental time-out during this time may help you finish harder, but your finishing time will be slower.  High school cross country runners are the guiltiest of all when it comes to this.  Those guys shoot out like animals, put on the brakes for a mile or two and then finish looking like Usain Bolt.

So what can you do to fix this? Well, people usually race how they train, so practice it during your harder workout days.  Start out controlled and ease into the session.  Once you shake the rust off and find your sweet-spot, mentally focus on the middle intervals and take them one at a time.  When I do 10 reps of something, I use the first 3-4 to get a feel for the effort at hand.  By 5-6, it starts to get pretty tiring but if I can focus until the end of the 7th repetition, I only have three more left to go.  And even though I'm tired and hurting at this point, making yourself push through the last three isn't as mentally tough because you know the end is near.

In races, it's the same story.  It's very easy to go out way too fast, especially in the first minute or two of a race.  And one of the most mentally tough things in racing is when you start to die too early and your miles get slower and slower.  It's much harder to fight when each mile split makes you feel worse about yourself. But when you are clicking off the splits or better yet, accelerating, each mile is a huge confidence booster and serves as positive reinforcement to keep pressing forward.  And the longer the race, the more important being patient early on is.  

While I'm a pure gas tank runner and feel like I'm sprinting the entire time in anything under a 10k, with the longer stuff, I break the race into portions.  In the first portion of the race, I try not to think about anything.  I ignore my competitors and don't consciously make any moves.  If someone passes me, they pass me.  If someone is going too slow, I pass them.  I do my own thing and save my mental and physical energy for later.  Towards the middle of the race, I start to consciously pick people off.  I try to find people a few seconds ahead, who I can tell are slowing down and then slowly reel them in.  I've learned that at this point, if you're not passing people, you're most likely slowing down.  Then towards the end, I finish with whatever I have left.  So by going out smart, I run a better time, get the mental boost of passing people throughout the race and get the positive reinforcement of good mile splits.  Win, win, win.


So the next time you're in a workout or race, constantly keep focused on your current effort.  Mentally stay dialed in the entire time.The next time you race that rival who always leaves you the last mile of the race may already be left in your dust before the last mile even begins.

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 7th-13th Training

Monday: No running

Tuesday: 1.1 miles (7:13); 2.6 miles (6:58)

Wednesday: 3 miles (6:43)

Thursday: 5 miles (6:31); 4.2 miles (6:40)

Friday: 8 miles (6:36)

Saturday: 9.1 miles (6:33)

Sunday: 6.8 miles (6:49)

Week Total: 39.8 miles.  I had a little more planned but I got pretty lazy with some second runs.  It's hard to go from no running, to running again.  But at least my hip doesn't hurt when I run anymore.  I'll have some random twinges when I'm walking around but mostly, the pain is still gone despite the fact that my left butt is still swollen.  I'll probably add a moderate run or two this weekend and run around 70 miles or so.  Glad to be somewhat back at it.

I also get bonus points for not being too far off Mo's time.  I predicated he would run 2:07:30. He has way too much horsepower and burns way too much fuel.  The dude ran 3:28 for 1500m less than a year ago...And the men's marathon is also the most competitive event in distance running right now.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lessons Learned from an Injured Runner

Since being on the disabled list, I've learned a lot of things.  Some are obvious, while others will hopefully make me a better runner in the future.  But here's what I've learned about being injured, in no particular order.

1.  You have a ton more free time. Well, technically I wouldn't call it free time, since there's always stuff to do.  But freeing up 2-3 hours a day gives you much more time to do stuff you need to do (cleaning and yard work), stuff you want to do (spend time with my family) and catch up on new TV shows you just started, such as The Sopranos, which may sneak into my top 5 all-time TV dramas.

2. You have to watch what you eat. Man, this is my biggest struggle.  When I'm running a lot, I just eat whatever.  Eating is a habit/hobby because I constantly snack throughout the day, whether I'm hungry or not. Food is fuel, right? Yeah, I get grief from some coworkers, being in I'm a school with only two male teachers and over 50 ladies and hear about how they wish they had my metabolism.  Rather than say, "you could if you ran over 100 miles a week", I just tell them I have to fuel the furnace.  But right now, the furnace is broken. I'm literally burning 1/2 as much calories a day than I was when I was running. But I still find myself in the constantly snacking habit, which has resulted in a few gained pounds and I went from having some abs slowly sneaking their way in to having them jiggle.  Since I should curb that as quickly as possible, I need to have the willpower to shut it down.  But being I'm a fat man in a skinny man's body, it's tough.  So I've resorted to eating more filling things like non-fried chicken and those things people call vegetables.  Maybe in the big picture, my injury will work out for the greater good because it will force me to eater cleaner, which will hopefully carryover to when I start running again. But I definitely learned that it's very hard to not gain weight when you're not exercising.  Two thousand calories isn't much food!

3. I'm pretty lazy. Sorry, no cross training for me.  If I tried, it would probably hurt my hip but even if it didn't, I just don't have that much motivation to head to the gym and sweat away on the elliptical machine.  Maybe one of those fancy ElliptiGO things would be fun but I'm not doing my cardio indoors.

4. Out of site, out of mind. In college, I would freak out while I was injured.  I constantly worried about how much fitness I was losing, how I would get back in shape, etc.  Now, I don't care as much.  Yeah, I felt like I was a couple months away from being in sub 63 half-marathon shape and taking some big scalps at the 25k Championships in May.  And since I'm a few months away from turning 33, I don't have very many peak spring racing seasons left. But life goes on and when training hard and running big races are temporarily out of the picture, I lose a lot of focus.  When I'm training hard, I'm training hard. Most of the time, I don't want to head out the door twice a day.  It's mentally draining and there's other things I'd rather be doing.  But I make myself because I understand each run has a purpose and if I slack off, my goals won't be met.  I live a busy life, so when running isn't a priority, I forget about it. Right now, I don't have much motivation to resume training and when I do, I'll start back over and build for the fall.  And this time, I won't race my marathon with a moronic race strategy.

Monday, April 7, 2014

March 231st-April 6th Training

Monday-Wednesday: No running. After Monday, I had less of an old man limp.

Thursday: 4 miles (6:51). Butt/hip didn't hurt but my hamstings hurt at the attachment by my butt.

Friday-Sunday: No running. Friday, I was limping like an old man again and Saturday and Sunday, I was still in some pain.

Week Total: 4 miles. Lowest mileage week since May 2011.  This is really starting to bug me and I think the Spring season is about done. It hurts when I have to balance on one foot or do anything that uses the extensors in my butt (and it's still pretty swollen). It's frustrating because I wanted to run well at the US 10 mile and 25k championships. After Gate River, I really thought I was going to be in sub 48 shape this past weekend, so it was tough seeing everyone else duke it out at Cherry Blossom.  I was really impressed with Tim Young's sub 48. That dude is running really well this year.  And congrats to Newton teammate, Tyler McCandless, who qualified for the US 12k (assuming they have it again) Championships with his 8th place finish.  Hopefully I will be joining him, Stephen Pifer and Fernando Cabada, there if I can qualify at the 20k this September (we also had Jeremy Freed qualify as a Newton runner but that chump is working for Nike now) . Wade Oliver also ran really well.  We were shooting for at least sub 61:00 with 60:00 as a huge goal but he ended up running 58:45.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March 24th-30th Training

Monday: 9.6 miles (6:51); 5.4 miles (7:05)

Tuesday: 10.1 miles (6:33); 6.1 miles with 4xhill blasts (6:58)

Wednesday: 1 mile (7:40). Was going to do one of my favorite long speed workouts: 4800m, 4000m, 3200m but my hip was absolutely killing me.

Thursday: 3.3 miles (6:47). Went to the doctor and he said it was Greater trochanter pain syndrome.  He injected some Lidocaine in the area I thought it hurt in, and he wanted me to run a little bit to make sure he injected in the right spot. I guess it was because the run didn't hurt at all.  But he also found some calcification around a tendon and stabbed it to death with a needle 50 times or so.  I was getting more sore as the day went on and at night, couldn't walk at all. And I know I can be whiny, but this absolutely killed.

Friday: No runnin. Just limping.

Saturday: No running. Same as above, Slightly less limping though.

Sunday: No running. Still gimping.

Week Total: 30.4 miles. Game over for this season. Hopefully I can run soon.