Friday, September 28, 2012

Pelvic Alignment

As time goes on and I become older, I've started to noticed a lot more aches and pains.  It seems like all of the muscles in my lower body are constantly tight.  My hamstrings feel like wire, when I sit on my heels, my quads feel really tight and while I used to stay relatively injury-free, I've been struggling to stay healthy over the past year.

Back in the day, people would just treat an injury. If your knee was hurt, you'd be told to strengthen your quads (especially your VMO, which you actually can't individually train). If your achilles was injured, you focused on the calves.  Research now shows that the muscles in the lower body all work together.  Weak/underactive glutes can result in achilles tendonitis.  A tight psoas can result in a gimpy knee.  When people thought they were treating the "disease" they were actually only treating a symptom.

I believe a lot of my aches are due to weak glutes and tight muscles around my hips.  The following is a good link that discusses pelvic alignment and shows some good stretches to loosen things up and get all of your muscles working together more efficiently.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 17th-23rd Training

Monday: 4.5 miles (6:54); 10.5 miles (7:04)

Tuesday: 6 miles (7:04); 1.6 miles (6:34). Plan was 1/2 mile warmup and then a 12 mile medium progression.  A little over a mile into it, my heel was killing me, so I stopped.

Wednesday: No Running

Thursday: No Running

Friday:  No Running

Saturday: No Running

Sunday: 3 miles (6:57); 6.3 miles (6:50)

Week Total= 31.9 miles.  My heel hurt on the 2nd run.  On the days off, I spent a lot of time massaging my calf/soleus.  When my issue first flared up, I found a killer knot underneath the bottom of my calf.  After using a rolling pin, lacrosse ball and PVC pipe on it, it loosened up a good bit.  As the week went on, it seemed to drop a couple down a couple of inches a day.  Yesterday, it was in between my calf muscle and heel.  I'm hoping the knot is the main thing causing my pain, so it gets wiped out.  I'm pretty certain the underlying cause is a muscle imbalance, so I HAVE to be consistent with my stretching and strength stuff.  My feet strike in different ways and on my hurt foot, I have pretty poor dorsiflexion, which could have played a role in the injury.  I also am wondering if running several miles on grass over the past week or two impacted anything.  The grass was really soft, with bad footing, so something could have become twisted, etc.  

Netflix Movie Monday

About six months ago, my wife and I dropped cable. With a kid, a mortgage and other things in life, we couldn't justify spending so much money on something that we didn't use a whole lot.  We ended up buying an antenna and a subscription to Hulu Plus.  The antenna works really well and we get a ton of channels in HD.  Hulu Plus is also great because they have all the season of a ton of shoes that I love and shows that I'm growing to love.

This summer, we also added Netflix. I haven't spent much time watching it because I wasn't as familar with the movies that they offered.  Lately, my summer running buddy, Vance Pounders and I have been sharing different movies, and I'm starting to find Netflix's movie collection is much better than I anticipated.

Each week, until I run out of movies or get bored typing this up, I'll share a different movie that I
feel is blog worthy.  I'll review some of the lesser known movies and as always, I'm always up for tips and suggestions. 

I decided to start with one of the best-worst movies I've ever seen.  I was scrolling through the Netflix selection Saturday night around 1am (well, technically, Sunday morning, I guess) and came upon Troll 2.  It's not associated with Troll or Troll 3 in any fashion at all.  The director named it that to make it sound more marketable. I plugged it into and saw that it was reviewed by critics at 0%.  I then Googled it and saw that the director spoke very little English, the film crew spoke no English, and the actors thought they were just going to be extras and had to wear their own clothes in the movie.  During one scene, the producer had to nail one of those actor's shoes to the ground (his own, purchased shoes).  Sounded like a winner to me!

The movie is about a family who visits a town called Nilbog (which is goblin, backwards).  The son's dead grandfather warns him about the town and tells him it's full of real-life trolls who turned people into plants and eat them.  Of course the boy is terrified and his family doesn't believe him.  I'll attack some pictures and the trailer, but if you want any more details, you'll have to watch the movie.  At least you can't say my selections get worse every week, because frankly, you can't get any worse than this pic.

I know what you are thinking, but no, that's not real CGI

How did he not win a Grammy?

And now for the trailer....

Delayed Again

Last fall, I was hoping to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials. My plan was to pursue it at the Chicago Marathon but coaching took a lot more time than I was expecting and even though it was several months prior, my body still was feeling the effects of the Country Music Marathon. I decided to take some downtime and chase the time at the Rocket City Marathon.  I was nailing my workouts and felt like I was in 2:17-2:18 marathon shape but I got sick two days before the race and was not able to toe the line.

This fall, I was planning to chase 2:15 at the Columbus Marathon.  Again, training was going really well and I felt like my goal was attainable.  I felt like I was having some symptoms of low iron, so I went in for a test.  At the same time, an achilles/heel issue flared up. After getting my blood test, I went for a 12-13 mile progression run, but had to end it about 1.5 miles into it due to pain.  The next morning, I got my blood test results and saw that my iron was the lowest I've ever seen it.  With these two issues flaring up, I decided to take a mini-break from running and look into a December Marathon.  I'm frustrated that something messed up my fall marathon plans again, but fortunately, two things happened at once, so hopefully I can take care of them at the same time.

If I don't take iron pills, it's only a matter of time before I crash and burn.  I usually will get my iron checked 3-4 times a year but I haven't gotten it looked at in nearly five months.  I guess the additional mileage and intensity I was placing upon myself, combined with training in a really hot environment placed an additional demand for iron that I wasn't meeting. Over the past few days, I've started to develop two main symptoms that I typically have when my iron is low: dead legs and lack of motivation.

Last week, my legs felt abnormally fatigued.  I ran my fastest ever marathon workout and ran a really strong moderate long run on Sunday but anytime I would try to run fast, my legs would not respond. Running stuff at marathon pace and slower wasn't an issue but I had a lot of trouble getting my legs to move at 10k pace and faster.

The other main symptom I have with low iron is lack of motivation.  Training is very hard physically and mentally.  Fortunately, I'm usually motivated to get the work in and look at each workout as a challenge that needs to be conquered.  Lately, I just haven't had that motivation. I still got the work done to the best of my ability because I understand what needs to be done regardless of whether I want to run or not.  Goals and life don't take time-outs, so you shouldn't either.  Arthur Lydiard said it best when “it's just a matter of understanding what's necessary and discipline yourself to do it.” I had the discipline but the passion was fading.  I still had plans on running my butt off at the marathon but I wasn't really looking forward to it and didn't spend much time visualizing it, like I normally do during my training.  I don't know why this is a symptom of low iron but my motivation is always low when my iron is.

If all I had was an iron issue, I would stick to progression runs and light fartleks for a couple of weeks before transitioning into more structure training.  However, the injury issue is a literal pain. I can't tell if it's insertional tendonitis or retrocalcaneal bursitis. The pain is down in my heel, hurts a lot in the morning and after I run but I can't find a tender spot. Tendonitis can heal pretty slowly because the blood supply is so poor, but hopefully I can bounce back from this and resume normal training within two weeks.

I'm frustrated that I have to change my plans but maybe it's a good thing. I'll be able to get in a half marathon or two and have more time to train and work on some things that I feel I was lacking in my training.  Hopefully this will be the only two bumps in the road until my chosen marathon.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Importance of Off-Season Rest

An article was recently published in the Wall Street Journal that discussed the importance of rest after a long racing season.  The article focused mainly on Bernard Lagat, but also featured U.S. Olympians Leo Manzano and Matt Centrowitz as well.  When people think of professional runners, they think they are always training hard, never lazy and don't ever really get out of shape.  This article shows that even world-class Olympic Medalists need a break.

In running, you can't always be in shape.  Well, technically, you can always be reasonably fit, but by taking breaks and periodizing your training, you will always run BETTER. Your lows may be lower, but your peaks will be much higher.  If you are also training hard and doing the same thing, your body stops adapting. What the body craves is variety and new types of stimulus. Not to mention, training hard is physically and mentally exhausting and by taking time off, you let your body repair itself, you can focus on other things in life, and you wipe away your mental slate so you can start hungry and chase new goals.

I like to get pretty out of shape in the off-season for all of the benefits listed above.  It's also more motivating because I get faster as the training season wears on, rather than trying to keep my ahead above the water year-round.  In a way, it relates to my teaching career.  I start the year off fresh, am in "peak shape" towards the end of the school year, and get a break before starting fresh again.  I much prefer that over sitting in a never-ending cubicle, doing the same thing over and over again. 

While I really enjoyed this article, I think you should realize the three athletes it wrote about are currently speed-based middle distance runners. Their body adapts to lower volume, higher intensity work and they supplement their running with a lot of other things as well.  I've also read where Lagat doesn't count his cool-downs or anything slower than 6:00 pace in his mileage total.  That could easily add an extra 10-20 miles for the week, which could place him at 80 or more miles in six days of running. 

Rest is how your body adapts to stress and lets your nervous system recover.  But you also must realize rest is NEEDED as a result of consistent, hard training. Rather than reading this article and coming away with the idea that it's great to take time off, I think you should come away realizing that you should train hard enough that rest is required.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 10-16 Training

Monday: 8 miles (6:54); 7.8 miles with 4xhill blasts (7:13)

Tuesday: 4 miles (7:21); 17.6 miles with 4x5k@16:22, 16:23, 16:09, 15:56 with 1k jog recoverys@6:06 average.  Really good first marathon interval session. Last year, I ran 16:30, 16:28, 16:28, 16:25 with the recovery jog in 6:11 average, despite the weather being about 15 degrees cooler.  The first two felt really controlled and relaxed.  On the third, I decided to drop it down to 5:15s, which took more focus, but wasn't too hard.  It was almost pitch black on the last one, so I didn't check my watch very much.  The first mile was a strong 5:07 and I came back with a 5:04. I started struggling the last 1k and covered the last mile in 5:14. After this session, I really feel 5:10-5:15 pace will be very attainable soon.

Wednesday: 5.6 miles (6:56); 9.6 miles (6:53)

Thursday: 5.6 miles (6:51); 12.2 miles (6:57)

Friday: 5.3 miles (7:00); 7.1 miles with strides (7:03)

Saturday: 10.8 miles with a bombed workout.  Frustrating day. Original plan was to run the Vandy XC race this morning. My directions were wrong and Old Hickory was way backed up because of the high school cross country meet. There was no way I was going to make it before the race, so I turned around and was completely frustrated, mad and stressed out. My next plan was 6x1mile on the track at HHS, but there was a band competition there. I then turned around and drove to SCHS but there was a Pee Wee football game there. I then decided to try a fartlek of 2:00 on/1:00 off, but I wasn't feeling good, so I changed it to 2:00 rest after the first surge. I felt like crap on the second surge, so I bagged it. My hip flexors had no power and I was so mentally drained from all the uncertainty of the day. This screws up my workouts a bit, but I'll figure something out. Since in America, we don't like to take responsibility and put the blame on the government, Al Qaeda and other people who hate America because of its freedom, the Illuminati, global warming, McDonald's, genetics, etc. I figure I need to put the blame on someone for missing the race. My top candidates:

1. UT-Martin. If their guys would have raced instead of running a planned tempo run, I would have watched their race. I would have still gotten lost, but I would have been there in time for my race.

2. Garmin. If your rebate wasn't due today, I wouldn't have spent 20-30 minutes looking for my old box.

3. The directions to Vaughn's Gap given for people running in the Belmont Opener. They had me get off on the wrong exit 74, which resulted in me going 15-20 minutes in the wrong direction. I still would have been pushing it time wise, but would have made it before the gun.

4. The Southeastern Conference. If you would have decided to host this year's conference cross country championships in another fine state like Mississippi, Alabama or Louisiana, there wouldn't have been so many entries, and I would have been in the good race. I would have taken the race more seriously and would have planned on getting there 1-1.5 hours before the gun, instead of 45-50 minutes.

5. The TSSAA. A coach posted one time that anytime someone puts an article of clothing on that says TSSAA, their IQ is immediately lowered several points. They advertise a hotel for several months as being the "host hotel" for the State Championships, despite the fact that the hotel was closed, they make up rules on the fly and threaten to DQ people for said "rules," you'll get three different answers from three different people for the same question if you call them to ask them a question about off-season "conditioning" and the list goes on. People have stressed the need for years to find a new State Meet venue because of the terrible traffic back-up that happens every year. They had the Tennessee Classic today, which is like the pre-season State Meet. Three miles before the turn, traffic was at a complete stand-still. Before that, I was going to get to the race 10-15 minutes before the gun. That traffic killed it. Find a new venue!

6. Women. Most of the people driving to the high school meet were women drivers. If they would have been men, I maybe could have made it; 4.5 miles (7:18)

Sunday: 1 mile warm-up, 18 miles (5:34), .4 cool-down.  Plan was 18 miles at faster than what I ran 16 miles at last time (5:42).  Got rolling a little quicker than last time, so I just had to maintain rather than slowly progress the pace.  The pace was relaxed but I felt a bit flat at around halfway.  At 14 miles, I was getting pretty thirsty and stopped for a quick water break.  I was going to finish up the last 1/2 mile a little bit quicker but my legs were getting pretty tired, even though I felt strong aerobically.  Not a bad session and ran this on the usual empty stomach, with no fuel during the run; 3 miles (7:58)

Week Total= 120.9 miles.  I was really happy with Tuesday's workout and was hoping to beat my old college cross country PR (24:35) at the Vanderbilt race, so it was frustrating not to make it.  I also realized that it was my only "real" planned race before the marathon.  But for the marathon, lead-up races aren't as important, especially if you get in your marathon-specific workouts.  I would have rather had the 8k race/22 mile long run stimulus than the 18 mile moderate run but life is about adjustment and I'll modify things to make it work out.  My achilles has been getting pretty sore lately, so hopefully that goes away.

World's Biggest Arms

There's a new owner of the  world's biggest arms.  Twenty-four year old Egyptian, Moustafa Ismail, measures up at 31 inches for his arms.  I read that he even moved his family to the United States so he could have access to better gym equipment.  He credits his genetics and work ethic for the reason for his success.  What he forgot to give the real glory to is Synthol. 

Popeye, without the forearms

In honor of Moustafa and all of his other Synthol enhanced brothers around the world, I'm leaving a post giving glory to "genetics and hard work."

No caption needed

The former king, until his arms exploded
What Went Wrong - Synthol Victims photo
Looks like he forgot the breast implants to go along with the arms

What Went Wrong - Synthol Victims photo
How do these guys buy shirts?

What Went Wrong - Synthol Victims photo
The real life Marshmallow Man

What Went Wrong - Synthol Victims photo
And they say you lose muscle mass when you age...

Coming soon to the women's 800m

Jabba the Hutt?
I think I have a bigger chest than this guy

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 3rd-9th Training

Monday: 13.8 miles with 5k race in 15:29. My goal was to break 15:00.  I felt really flat and my legs just wouldn't go faster, even though I felt like I was crawling.  Splits were: 4:49, 5:03, 5:36 (1.1 miles). I ran harder than tempo effort, but maybe a little slower than 10k effort. Frustrating day at the office; 6.3 miles (7:22)

Tuesday: 9 miles (6:47); 6 miles (7:21)

Wednesday: 4 miles (7:01); 17.6 miles with 10x1 mile in 5:04 average with 1:00 rest. I got started a little bit later than I wanted because of a thunderstorm.  Got to the track around 8:00pm and ran in the dark.  Goal was to start at around 5:20 and work to sub 5:10 if I could. Because I've been a little weak lately, I didn't want to have to dig too deeply.  Ran the first two in 5:16, 5:15 and felt nice and relaxed.  "Accidentally" ran a 5:08, then 5:06, 5:04. The pace increase was natural and not forced and on the 6th I broke 5:00 and hovered around there until the end.  I felt nice and smooth, but struggled a little on the last one.  Really motivating workout because it was super muggy, dark and it was just me and the track. What a different two days make

Thursday: 4 miles (6:53); 9.4 miles (6:46); 3.4 miles (7:39). Ran three times because Mary had parent night at school. Life is about adaptation.

Friday: 5.5 miles (7:05); 8.5 miles (7:19)

Saturday: 20.1 miles (6:25) with 7x2:00 fast at the start of each mile.  I was going to run this in the morning but it was pouring rain.  My legs felt like crap yesterday, so I figured the extra 12 hours rest would be good.  Ran a little under eight miles solo and then met Connor Kamm.  We jogged a few miles warm-up and then went to work.  Took our time to get rolling and averaged: 5:12, 5:08, 5:03, 4:48, 4:35, 4:42, and 4:28 pace for the surges. Aerobically, they were very easy but I would have trouble turning over the first 15-20 seconds of each one, before finding my rhythm. I threw in the surges because my wheels haven't had much turnover work, and I figured the pace increases would help burn off some carbohydrates faster, so my glycogen would get a little low.  Good long run and was happy to have some company.  This was the first time I've had anyone run with me on a long run in a long time.

Sunday: 8.1 miles (7:10); 6.1 miles (7:45)

Week Total=118 miles.  Was going to shoot for over 120, but I was getting a little worn out towards the end of the week and recognized that I was adding mileage "just because" rather than having a point to it. I was hoping to be around 125-130 by now, but 118 was good for this week because of the two low volume weeks before this.  Jumping much higher than what I did would be too much pounding on my body, when it wouldn't be ready for it.  The week started off crappy, and I was glad to finish up on a solid note.  I'm not sure if I'll be ready in six weeks and I'm debating switching to the New York Marathon.

Monday, September 3, 2012

August 27th-September 2nd Training

Monday: No Running.  Still pretty sick.  Didn't get out of bed until about 5pm but my fever dropped under 100 in the early afternoon.

Tuesday: 5.4 miles (7:04)

Wednesday: 4.6 miles (7:03); 9.6 miles (6:55)

Thursday: 4.6 miles (6:56); 3.1 miles  (7:14)

Friday: 5 miles (6:57); 10.6 miles (6:41)

Saturday: 12 miles (6:18) with 33 minute fartlek.  Ran a couple of miles warm-up and then 10x90s on/off at 5:20/6:20 (miscounted and did 11). Ended up running sub 5:15/6:10 and felt pretty good.  On the way back, I was going to attack some hills but my legs were shot on the first one.  Was looking to get a little bit of moderate type running without taxing myself; 6.1 miles (7:18)

Sunday: 9.2 miles (7:02); 4.5 miles  (7:23)

Week Total= 74.7 miles. Crappy week.  The doctor told me I have an ear infection in my ears and I've been super congested and worn down all week.  I noticed that I get a flushed feeling every time I run and sweat a ton more than usual.  This is the second week in a row of low volume training and I was originally planning on knocking out about 120 this week and starting my marathon-specific cycle.  I've also put on some pounds over the last couple of weeks, so I need to be more discipline with the fork but I'm sure it'll melt off when I get back in the triple digits. Frustrated because things were going so well before this.  If I can't get rolling soon, I may do a different marathon.

Franklin Classic 5k

I ran the Franklin Classic a couple of years ago.  Going into it, my goal was to run under 33 minutes so I could get free entry into the Rocket City Marathon.  I really enjoyed the beauty of the course and ran much faster than expected, clocking a 32:14.  While it's not a really fast course, it still is my favorite 10k course that I've run.

I was going to run the 10k/5k double for a good marathon workout but Mary banned me from it.  She has banned me winning a race in a costume or winning both races if a "double" opportunity exists, because it looks cocky.  I'm not a fan of cockiness and I like to keep the wife happy, so I had to choose one.  Running the 10k as a tempo run would have been more ideal but that also meant a very early wake-up time.  Since I enjoy my sleep, I opted to sleep in and run a hardish 5k at around 10k effort and sneak under 15:00.

I wasn't really sure what to expect because I've been out of commission since the Hood to Coast relay with a double ear infection.  My body has been really run-down and I haven't been able to get in any solid training.  However, I wanted to break the 15 barrier, so I was going to run a little harder than I planned, if needed.

While the weather was pretty ideal when I ran this race a couple of years ago, it was muggy for this year's edition with a 145 degree misery factor (temperature+dew point, since the humidity doesn't mean much when you run).  But with the race being just a 5k, I didn't feel it would affect me more than 10-15s or so.

On the line, I saw Jacob Carrigan and Scott Bennett.  Other than those two guys, I didn't notice anyone who could potentially push the pace. However, there were a few high school kids and of course those guys always like to start out way over their head and then back-off once the pain starts to settle in.

After the gun went off and I finally got past the high school kids, I was alone.  I was hoping to run the first mile in around 4:45-4:50 and I went through in 4:49.  It was in range, but I felt really off.  My breathing wasn't bad, I just couldn't get my legs moving at all.  Normally, my legs and breathing can find that powerful sweet-spot where they work in-sync, but this morning, they felt like there were in two different places.

I tried to grit down bit and stay under 4:50 but my second mile was only a 5:03.  The second mile did include some short climbing, but I didn't expect to drop off that much.  I tried to pick it up again but I knew I wouldn't be able to pop out a mid 4:30 mile to close it out, so I tried to run hard without overdoing it.  The third mile had a nice, gradual downhill and I thought I would be able to make up some time before the short uphill.  I was expecting to run somewhere in the 15:15-15:20 range, so I was really surprised when I saw the clock towards the end of the race.  I ended up crossing the line in 15:29, with my last 1.1 miles at 5:05 pace.

Definitely a tough day at the office because I ran a faster pace than this for my nearly 20 miles of Hood to Coast running.  Maybe the sickness is still lingering and I don't have my strength back yet. If anything, this shows I need to work on my speed a little more than I anticipated.

Editors note: Two weeks after this, my iron levels were in the tank, so I felt this may have also played a large role.  When my iron is low, my endurance goes down, but my speed at 10k and under completely plummets.