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Archive for the ‘training’ Category

I could blame it on my focus on getting my personal training and boot camp business up and running.

I could blame it on my studies for a nutrition certification.

I could blame it on the weird pain I’ve been suffering through in my left foot.

I’m sure if I really thought about it, I could find a lot of reasons.

But if I’m going to be honest with myself (and with you), I have to simply admit, I haven’t been motivated.

I have a half-marathon next weekend, a full marathon and a 100-miler in October.

Bay State (the marathon) was supposed to be my attempt to return to Boston.  Ghost Train (the 100-miler) was supposed to be my attempt to go sub-24 hours.

After watching my social media feed back in April, as many of you ran a glorious Boston Marathon, I got excited.  I got psyched.  I was pumped at the prospect of running a competitive (for me) marathon and getting myself back to the starting line in Hopkinton.  With the added 10 minutes allotted to me because of my impending age bracket change, I knew I had it in the bag.

I bought new shoes (Go Mebs).

I announced my plans.

I pulled out my calendar and worked my way back from October to determine my base building runs and then my Bay State specific runs.

I planned it out.

My early morning runs.

My late night runs.

I was going back to Boston…

.

.

.

…and then I wasn’t.

My calendar began to fill.  Early morning runs became a problem.  With 6AM clients, 4 to 5 days a week, I was already getting up at 4:30AM to prepare.  Late night runs became a problem for the same reason.  You can’t give your clients your best on only 4 hours of sleep.  I was studying at night.  My feet were (are) suffering from an undetermined ailment.  The list could go on and on.

Honestly though, those are just excuses.  The fact is, as excited as I initially was to run both Bay State and Ghost Train, that motivation abandoned me at the first hurdle I faced.  Perhaps I really didn’t want to run, I merely wished I could.  We make priorities in life in part because there are only 24 hours in a day.  We make choices.  Maybe it a day was 30 hours, I would have found the time…maybe…probably, the results would have been the same.

At this point, if it isn’t obvious, I will not be running Bay State in an attempt to qualify for Boston.  I may still run it, depending on my feet, but it will be simply to enjoy a long run through the town of Lowell, MA.  Ghost Train is out of the question.  Attempting to run 100 miles on zero training would be foolish.  As for Boston 13.1, which happens next weekend, I am not sure.  Like Bay State, we’ll see how the feet hold up over the next week.

 

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Eyes on the Prize

Eyes on the Prize

The TARC 100 is four, FOUR, days away.

I am worried and scared.

I worried because I’m not really worried about the race.

I’m scared because I’m not really scared about the distance.

I’m getting a bit wound up because I’m not getting wound up about the lack of sleep that is coming.

It’s a bit odd. As this race approaches, I’m pretty mellow about the whole thing. I’m convinced that JB and I are not only going to finish, but we’re going to finish with some time to spare. I suppose part of that is inexperience, a lack of knowledge of what truly lies ahead; not knowing what it is the legs and lungs and mind feel like after 75 miles, realizing that one still has to run what is essentially a full marathon.

Training hasn’t been ideal. I’ve missed a few long runs – a scheduled 50-miler and 24-miler stand out in particular.

I should be nervous…

…but I’m not…

…and that’s making me kind of, well, nervous.

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To get from here:

To here:

You must start by changing what goes here:

It may not be easy.  In fact, it may take a lot of work, but in the end, it will be well worth it.   Exercise is key, but what you fuel up with is a good 80% of the equation!  Don’t let the limitations that others would put on you stop you from becoming the Superwoman (or Superman) you know you can be.

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After my missed BQ at Sugarloaf this year it was suggested to me that maybe I could make another go at it at Smuttynose in the fall. The thinking was that with the new qualification standards for Boston, registration wouldn’t necessarily be closed as of September 30th.

I never did sign up for Smuttynose, and truly, even though there is space left, I would have no shot at training properly with only six weeks to go. I do have another marathon on already the schedule. Early November I am running New York. Conceivably, with about 11 1/2 weeks to go, I could consider running New York as a qualifier but that is a tough race to run at that pace. The truth is between studying for my CSCS certification, the girls being home from summer camp and dedicating my Sundays to training runs for the Team Up with Autism Speaks charity runners (if you haven’t signed up, please do —>– HERE –<—!!!) I haven’t had much time to train period. Early mornings are spent studying, days are spent keeping the kids active and entertained and evenings are spent cooking, dishwashing, putting everyone to bed and writing.

I know, I can hear you telling me, well, why not after everyone goes to bed?

Yesterday I wrote about finding your H-Spot – your happy zone. The place where you look at yourself in the mirror and are happy with the physical you that stares back. That H-Spot can be applied to everything. I’ve reached a place where I know I BQ’s once and came close on two other occasions. My happy place with running right now is helping others reach distances they never have before and getting the occasional personal run in.

And I’m finally okay with that.

Boston will wait. Training to qualify for Boston is on indefinite hold.

This satisfaction will not last forever. I know that eventually, I will want to get back to the pursuit of that elusive unicorn; I will want to toe the line in Hopkinton once again as a qualifier. It might be next year; it might wait until I’m 45. Whenever it is, I know I’m in a happy spot right now – plus, there is a certain satisfaction in having no fear of the 26.2 mile distance when I am running just for fun as I will be once again doing in New York.

There’s only room for so much on one’s dinner plate – and right now, I am satisfied with what’s before me.

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About a month ago I went to my 20th year college reunion (yes, I’m that old).  To kick the festivities off, a few fraternity brothers and I decided to take to the links for 18 holes of golf.  I suck at golf.  I mean, really, really suck.  I’m so bad that I tell people that I essentially get to play twice as much golf as your regular hacker for the price of admission.

Yeah, I’m bad.  I’ve got this wicked slice that essentially means I lose at least one ball off the tee on every hole.  It’s so bad that I  play to my weakness on short par-3’s.  While everyone else is pulling out 7- or 9-irons for the short shot to the green, I pull out my driver, place the ball on a tee, line up the shot…and then turn 45° to 60° to the right (I’m left handed).

Last month initially my friends looked at me like I was crazy, but when the ball flew off the tee, began to turn to the left about 50 yards out and then land mere feet from the cup, they were dumbstruck (of course, I ended up 2 putting it missing my opportunity for my first ever birdie, but that’s my golf game).

Short par-3’s – essentially my only opportunity to keep up with anybody.

But then on the last hole we were presented with a situation where we needed to hit the ball off of the tee over a deep ravine to the fairway a good 100+ yards away.  The guys I was playing with could all easily make the distance, but with my awful slice off of the tee, I was pretty convinced I had no shot – the distance was too far for me to play to my weakness.  Even if I line up at a 45° angle, the ball was not going to cover the straight distance.  So I tried to relax.  I loosened my grip and just the club swing itself.  To my (and everybody else’s) surprise, my ball went straight and long, past everyone else’s save one (and it was close).

At that moment I realized that I had played to my weaknesses too long and that if I wanted to improve as a golfer, I would have to simply get back to basics and start all over again.

***

This past week I ran twice for a grand total 6 miles.

6 miles? Isn’t that a little short for you Luau? I mean even for like one run?

Yes, it is, but I feel like these two short runs may have been the most meaningful 6 miles I’ve run in a very long time.  Those two runs were done in my bare feet, on the sidewalks and roads of my neighborhood.  Because of the hard surface and complete nakedness of my feet, I was forced to run very carefully, more specifically, more correctly.  To say that the experience was totally painless would be a blatant lie – pebbles, hot asphalt, twigs; they all hurt when you step on them just so.  But what didn’t hurt were the arches of my feet, the joints in my knees and hips, my back or my neck.  The reason?  Because I was running with proper form – I had no choice.

A few years back when I first started this running thing, I made the early adoption to the Vibram Five Finger trend.  I was so gung-ho about it that my wife got me this as my birthday cake:

Yes, that is a Vibram Five Finger KSO Cake

I would end up running several marathons in some version the VFF product line including Boston 2010.  Eventually however, I moved away from the VFF’s.  I migrated to Saucony’s minimalist shoe, the Kinvara, and immediately took 11 minutes off of my marathon PR and qualified for Boston 2011.  The Saucony, though minimal in spirit and design, still afforded me some decent protection when my form would break down in the later miles.  They allowed me to to extend my stride forward when I was tiring without causing pain to my heel.

I happily ran in them for almost 2 years, even coming close to re-qualifying for Boston under the new standards this past May.

But something has been off.  Something has been wrong.

I love my Kinvara’s but they have allowed me to play back toward my weakness, which is the heel-strike many of us have grown up into with the over-sized bricks we grew up with as children of the 80’s and 90’s.

I recently watched this (courtesy of my good friend Pete over at runblogger.com)

And then I saw this (also courtesy of Pete over at runblogger.com)

One thing became clear to me, it was time to go back to basics.  Much like I was able to improve my golf stroke by going back to basics, I plan on improving my running and running form by going back to basics and starting all over again.  The 6 miles of barefoot running I did last week brought me back to the basics of running.  Stripping away all of the technology (and as much as I love my Kinvara, they are still a thick soled shoe) at least two or three times a weeks and going naked I believe is going to make me a better runner in the long run.

I will not be as fast immediately.  I will still probably do my longer runs in either my Saucony’s or my VFF’s, but this stripping down, this completely natural running I believe is the key to making me better, stronger, and eventually, faster.

I feel like someone who has just discovered running for the very first time…again.

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On Sunday I ran for the first time since the Green Mountain Relay – almost 2 weeks to the hour.  Part of my lack of running has been a purposeful rest; part has been forced on me with the onset of mild plantar fasciitis.  The run was supposed to be the first group run for locals running Boston 13.1 with Team Up with Autism Speaks.  I had been delinquent in getting a schedule out, so this last minute group ended up being a group of one.  I contemplated going home when nobody showed up, but I knew that I needed to get some miles in.

The run was awful – 6.2 miles of tired legs and weak lungs mixed with a serving of  “why am I doing this?”  It didn’t help that at the end my feet were not happy.

How the Hell am I going to lead these group runs over the next ten weeks if I can hardly walk?

I’ve been fighting this PF now for about two, maybe three weeks.  Looking back, there were twinges well before Sugarloaf, but it really kicked in a couple of weeks ago – the intense pain getting out of bed in the morning, the discomfort walking.  I was forced to stop wearing my flip-flops.  That just about killed me – I can’t stand wearing normal shoes when I’m bopping around town; my feet tend to overheat.  About a week ago I took to going barefoot around the house.  When I would take the dogs out for their walks, I wouldn’t bother putting on shoes.  At first it was a little tough on the soles of my feet, but eventually, I got used to it.  Although the pain in the morning and after sitting idle for extended periods of time didn’t go away, moving about became less painful.

Then came Sunday’s run.  I did not have a good time.  There was nothing redeeming about that run except that I ran.  That was it.  I started to think that maybe I would just run on Sundays with the group, painting a grin on my face if I needed to.  That didn’t sound like fun at all.

***

Over the last week, several of my running friends have offered remedies for my plantar fasciitis.  Some suggested tennis balls.  Some suggested frozen water bottles.  Others suggested going to a chiropractor.  Some suggest orthodics, special shoes and socks, even taping up my feet.

I tried the frozen water bottles.  They felt good while I was rolling my feet on them, but I’m not sure how much they really helped.

One suggestion that kept nagging at though came from my buddy JB.  You may remember JB from the Vermont 50, the Super Sunday 5-miler, the Quincy Half and Sugarloaf.  He is a VFF (Vibram Five Finger) runner (he ran the Vermont 50 in Vibrams – Rock STAR!!!).  He suggested that I pull out my old VFF’s and go run until I burned the Plantar Fasciitis from my feet.

Hmmmmm…. I thought, that could be interesting.

I was hearing conflicting suggestions about how to treat PF – more support! less support! more support! less support! more support! less support!

After Sunday’s run (in Kinvara 3’s – which I do like, though not as much as the originals), I was willing to try anything.

BUT, being the kind of person who rarely half does something, I decided that if I were gonna go the less support route, it was going to be all the way.

So I put this old pair of shoes on:

The oldest pair of footwear I own.

My plan was to limit myself to two miles.  Initially, running barefoot or barefoot style can be tough on the lower calves.  I made the mistake of running three or four miles the first time I put on a pair of VFF’s and I couldn’t walk for a week.  I was nervous as to how my soles would hold up.  Would it hurt running on the sidewalk and street?  Would I be able to avoid pebbles and glass?  Would I rip up my feet?

I knew I needed to take it slowly, but amazingly, my first mile was faster than any of the miles I ran on Sunday, coming in at a comfortable 8:09.  Having reached the turnaround point of my run, I did a quick self-check – lungs? good. legs? good. feet? just fine!!!

I decided to could go another half mile before I turned around.  When I reached that half mile, I was tempted to go even further, but I knew I ran the very real risk of overdoing it.  I knew that I may have already overdone it.  So I turned around and headed for home.  As I hit two miles, I looked at my Garmin – 8:04.  Not bad at all!!!

I decided to pick up the pace just a little – to see if I could manage a sub-8:00 mile barefoot.  To my surprise, at one point, I was running close to 7:40 pace.  When I reached home, the final mile came in at 7:55.  3 miles in 24:08 – not bad for my first barefoot run ever.  Afterward, the calves felt a little tight, as did my hips.  Hopefully the stretching I did will help speed recovery so I’m not in too much pain in the morning.

As I sit here and write this, I really want to get back out and try this barefoot thing again.  Yeah, I’ve got a little bit of a hot spot on the ball of my foot, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a matter of building up the soles a little.  I’m going to force myself to take the day off tomorrow but I am determined to give this barefoot thing another go on Thursday.  Who knows, maybe by Sunday I’ll be ready to take the Team Up with Autism Speaks group on their 75 minute run without my shoes.

This could be a whole new chapter in my evolution as a runner…

I’ll keep you posted.

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It ain't just a river...

Denial is often viewed as a negative word – one that implies that someone is hiding from an apparent truth. We’ve all been there. If you are a special needs parent, you know exactly what I am talking about – that stretch of time when you kept telling youself, no, not my kid…not my child…he/she doesn’t have XYZ!!!

We’ve all been in denial about our jobs or our relationships.

Denial, typically, is not a good thing.

But I’ve found a new way of using denial in a positive way. A while back I started using the Furman FIRST training program for my upcoming marathon (3 weeks away as of the day before yesterday – YIKES!!!) and I have come to the conclusion that denial can be good.

A regular reader of this blog will know that I went through a bit of burnout throughout the second half of 2011.  Sure I ran the Vermont 50 (as in 50 miles) in September and then New York in November, but the truth is, I did both of those runs on almost no training whatsoever – we’re talking a total of 180 miles in the 12 weeks leading up to Vermont (that’s 15 miles per week for a 50 mile race!) and 120 miles in the 12 weeks leading up to New York.  That’s 10 miles per week before a marathon.  No runner can expect to do well at the 26.2 mile distance on 10 miles per week.  Like I said, I was burnt out.

The training programs I had followed required five to six days of running.  I just couldn’t get myself out of bed to do the runs.  I would skip one, thinking there’s no harm in missing a run and before I knew it, the week would have gone by and I would have maybe run once.  Staying in bed, doing laundry, cleaning dishes, preparing dinner – all of these activities were much more appealing than dragging my butt out the door for the required run of the day.

Then I switched to the Furman FIRST program.  The first thing that struck me about the program was that I was only allowed to run 3 days a week.  That’s it.  3 DAYS ONLY.  And like anything that you are told you can’t have, I suddenly wanted to run more.

The program allows for one interval based run, one tempo run and one long run.  I mix in two days of cross training, be it swimming, biking, rowing or ellipting (is that the word?).  Throughout the program (I came in on week 5 of the 16 week program) I have regained my speed and endurance.  My race times have dropped and my legs feel relatively fresh.

So with my last 20-miler done this past Sunday, let the taper begin…sorta.  Funny thing about this program, because you only run three days a week, each run is done with a lot more intensity, particularly the long runs – which are generally run at 10K Race Pace + 60 to 75 seconds per mile.  That’s a good 30 – 45 seconds faster per mile than typical programs.  So that being said, despite officially being on my taper, I still have two interval sessions (one 7 x 800m at 10K – 45 to 50 seconds and one 3 x 1600m at 10K – 35 to 40 seconds), two tempo runs (a 4-miler at 10K pace and an 8-miler at 10K + 30 to 35 second per mile) plus a 15 and 10 miler.

A lot more intense than my past tapers.

Despite the increased intensity, I’m enjoying running again.

And I credit denial for my revival.

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