Do What Feels Good

Today’s Run

Time – 1:32:45
Distance – 10.0 miles
Pace – 9:14 min/mi
Elevation – 200 ft.

Found some pot on my run…

I went out to run because the weather was warm (it was over 60 degrees Fahrenheit) and I needed to get in my longer run for the week. I knew that I only wanted to do 90 minutes or so, and I figured that it would be between 8–9 miles for a run that long. 92 minutes later, I ran 10 miles. The leg felt just a little tight, and I was definitely needing food and water by the end, but it didn’t slow me down much. Lots of wind, which didn’t help the splits, either. VERY GOOD RUN!

The other part of this is knowing when to let your legs go faster

Yesterday, I talked a lot about knowing when to slow down. I went out today and, after the first mile, I kept looking at my watching and saying, “Wow! You need to ease off. You’ll never get through 7 more miles at this pace.” Then I went and ran the next three miles sub–9:00 pace, and the three after that between 9:06 and 9:11 (mostly due to starting and stopping at cross streets and for traffic), and THEN I slowed down…to 9:30’s. And that was because I was up the big hill to home and then into the wind.

It was a great run! I felt fantastic. I’m really starting to believe that my goal pace is going to be achievable by the time I get to the marathon in April. I’m wanting to go sub–4 hour, which is going to be fast (for me). It’s also something that I’m sure will be VERY difficult to sustain over 26.2 miles, but I’m gaining confidence. I know that there’s still a few things I need to work out:

  1. Nutrition/Hydration – You can’t go 4 hours without having to refuel. You actually can’t go longer than about 90 minutes before needing to find calories usually, unless your pace is very low and you are running primarily on fat stores. This is how people can run multiple marathons a day, every day, and get across the U.S. in less than 43 days. But even those people still need to eat and drink. I’ll have to work on my strategy and get my body used to consuming on the run.
  2. Working up in distance – Right now my longest runs are about 15 miles. I should get in at least three runs of around 3-hours to get my legs used to the effort. I don’t have to run at marathon pace the whole time, but I have to work on running when tired.
  3. Running distances at pace – The corrolary to long runs are “longer” runs at goal pace. I’ll need to add more runs in the 75–90 minute range around my planned marathon pace. I have the ability to do this because it’s not so far out of my range that I’ll have to over-work to get in the mileage, but it is faster than I normally run. That being said, my “normal” runs are about 5–7 miles at a comfortable pace (9:30–10:30), which has been slowly increasing. I think that it’s possible I’ll be able to get to 9:00/mile pace as a steady run.
  4. Overall aerobic fitness – The biggest part of this is just continuing to get better at running. I know that going sub–4 hour is a goal for now; I don’t think it’s where I’m going to end up peaking. I think there’s a little more in the tank. Does that “little more” get me to a Boston-qualifying-pace (3:10 for the marathon – 7:15/mile)? We’ll have to see. In the meantime, I just want to get faster across the board, and run more medium distance races to add to my aerobic capacity and test it out. Everything that I can do to be more efficient helps with the larger goal – Western States.

Take It Easy

Today’s Run

Time – 43:32
Distance – 4.4 miles
Pace – 9:47 min/mi
Elevation – 143 ft.

Do you know the “Why?”

My leg felt much better, but I didn’t want to take too many chances with it, so I went out easy and planned to only do a short loop that’s about 4.4 miles. I did the first set of hills with no problem, but I felt a tightness on the second, bigger hills, so I walked up and then ran the last mile in. Nothing too spectacular. Just waiting around for the long run on Sunday and Baby Girl on Tuesday.

Part of this is knowing when to slow down

So much of running is knowing what days to not run, or to not run hard, or to change paces. I’m not very good at it, I will admit. The last time I did a lot of running (about 10 years ago), I had a few injuries because of my overzealous nature and my unwillingness to understand that NOT WORKING OUT isn’t the same as weakness/lack of desire/etc. I’ve had to spend a lot of time thinking about the running in a different way.

I picked up a metaphor the other day that I thought was great. Running is a book, and every day that you do something towards your running (including REST), you are adding a page to your book. On that page is the “Why” of what you were doing. The goal is to build the thickest and most meaningful book you can. The thicker the book, the stronger your running is. The more you understand about WHY you are running everyday, the more you will know about your running.

Jack Daniels says in his seminal work Daniels’ Running Formula that a runner should always be asking the question, “What is the purpose of this workout?” Even more important, though, as Daniels goes on, is the ability to answer the question!

If you don’t know the why, then that page in your book of running is meaningless, and might as well be ripped out. Your personal running book will be thick, but will have no information that is useful to you. The “Why” of running matters.

Cramps and Conditions

Today’s Run

Time – 54:49
Distance – 6.4 miles
Pace – 8:32 min/mi
Elevation – 123 ft.

Is it a cramp, or just a need for attention?  You decide.

Continuing the awesomeness that is the group run with Runwell, I got out and ran fast again. This one hurt a little bit, but that’s what the faster days are supposed to feel like, I’m told. Held pace really well, didn’t have any pain, but I did have to slow way down at mile 5 because I felt like I burned out. After a minute or so of walking, I was back at it. I’m thinking that I need to get my iron levels checked and I need to watch my water intake. Other than that, the run was good.

Cramping sucks

I’ve now been having cramps in the calves in the mornings and evenings after runs a few days a week. The chiro is telling me that it’s a calcium problem, which would make sense as I had cut out the Greek yogurt for a little while. I’ve put it back in, but looking at the foods I’m eating, I’m not see anything that looks like enough of a replacement for dairy.

Of course, I’m no doctor, which means that I only have speculation and the internet as places to go for information. Checking with a doctor is a good idea, and we should all do it. (End disclaimer)

Sources for calcium are not the simplest to come by if you don’t have milk to lean on. Green leafy vegetables like kale, foods like broccoli and almonds, and fortified orange juice are the best sources that I’m finding. There’s options through fish and other interesting items (bok choy, anyone?).

In looking at this, I’m realizing that diet is going to be the biggest thing I will have to deal with in my running. That sounds strange, but think of it this way. If you don’t have a source for good gas for your car, it doesn’t matter how much work you do on the engine, or the maintenance you schedule. The engine will eventually have issues that can’t be fixed as a part of regular maintenance.

Time for more research!

Countdown to Time Off

Today’s Run

Time – 1:01:22
Distance – 6.5 miles
Pace – 9:23 min/mi
Elevation – 153 ft.

Let the countdown begin!

Back at it again with easy miles at the start of the week. I didn’t push the pace, although I felt like I could have. I’ve got the group run tomorrow, which is usually a faster day, so today can be more relaxed. The weather was amazing, and I got to run in a t-shirt and shorts. Felt great, no issues, and I’m hoping to get in a bunch of miles this week.

T-minus 6 days…

Baby Girl is now no more than 6 days away, if she doesn’t decide to come early. This means two things:

  1. I’m super excited to meet her and help her mother start the recovery process. Pregnancy is hard (understatement of the year, I know!), and I want to get The Wife back to a more comfortable existence. This is JOB ONE.
  2. Running is going to be harder to do after Baby Girl’s birthday, and next week will definitely be one of less mileage. I’m okay with that as there will be much to do, and I’ve been working to build to this point anyway because we knew this was coming. It will be a little disappointing personally, as I really like running, but I don’t see this as a sacrifice. I WANT to have a daughter and I am so thankful that we get to continue to grow our family.

All things being equal, I’m getting to live out the saying, “May you live in interesting times.” Some say that this is a curse, but I’m holding out judgment for a while longer.

I’ll leave you with my own proverb:

“May all your runs involve no chafing.”

Running to Nowhere?

Today’s Run

Time – 1:21:38
Distance – 6.8 miles
Pace – 11:52 min/mi
Elevation – 205 ft.

Where am I going?

Today was RECOVERY DAY! Just trudging around the local trails, and keeping my heart rate below 130. I averaged a 120 bpm run by walking the uphills and keeping the pace VERY slow. It was almost silly, but my legs feel really refreshed and I’m ready for the day off tomorrow after another week above 30 miles.

Running without a destination

My running right now is without plan. I don’t start the marathon one I have until January, which means that right now I’m just out there moving around at different speeds until I feel like being done. It’s time to get it together. So, here’s the idea I have:

  • One long run per week of 90–120 minutes – Do 1.5 to 2 hours of running one day per week to get the body used to going long. This builds aerobic endurance and will be necessary later as a part of the marathon training.
    • Key Note: This run needs to be faster than the “easy” runs the rest of the week. It’s a workout. Not marathon pace fast (goal pace for the marathon is 9:06/mile), but I need to keep it in the 9:35–9:45 range.
  • One tempo run per week – This has been, and will most likely continue to be, the run with the group on Wednesdays. Staying near the front and keeping an 8:30–8:45 pace is hitting it a little hard, but I’m finding that pace to be difficultly comfortable(?) and something I can hold a simple conversation during. I’m still trying to see where my race paces are, but this is slowing becoming my 10K pace. I’m probably not supposed to run this fast this often, but all of the other easy runs are helping to ease this in. And it’s only 50–55 minutes, usually.
  • I need to add strides of 3–4 x 100 meters to a few easy days a week – Strides are VERY fast runs of 100 meters or so at near top-end speed. Not a full sprint, but a definite moving pace that is meant to remind your body how to get the legs running quickly. These are also not track repeats! It’s a drill, not a workout.
  • Fartlek twice a month (or, in other words, every other week) – This workout I’m still unsure of. I know that it’s coming in the marathon program, but I’m not sure how to work it in for myself. I need to do more research and decide.

That’s the detail. Now to make it happen.

Running Foolishly

Today’s Run

Time – 1:24:08
Distance – 8.5 miles
Pace – 9:52 min/mi
Elevation – 259 ft.

Refinement – The Pursuit of Excellence

Nothing like the longer run of the week coming the day after a harder run. Not my best idea ever, but it didn’t hurt and this run was about 30 minutes shorter than it should have been, so that works out for keeping injury/fatigue at bay. My calves still feel crampy, which the chiropractor tells me is a function of a lack of calcium. I don’t think I can eat much more Greek yogurt, so I’ll have to figure something else out. This run was good. It was cold to start, and got warm, so the pants and double shirt were not really needed, despite the fact I started running when it was 44 degrees Fahrenheit. I could have done with a few more miles to get used to running tired. I have been feeling the struggle in the 13–15 mile range, which was right around 2–2.5 hours. I need to get used to running long runs in the 2.5–3 hour range if I’m going to see the success I want in the marathon, though.

Being foolish is the way to go

Epictetus said, “If thou wouldst make progress, be content to seem foolish and void of understanding with respect to outward things. Care not to be thought to know anything. If any should make account of thee, distrust thyself.” Source: Wikiquote

In other words, improvement requires trial-and-error, failure and another attempt, and dedication to the learning of the craft through action. Epictetus spoke about those who would only learn from books as being nothing at all. They have no true understanding, only the ability to repeat someone else’s knowledge. Those who continue to improve and grow are the ones who seem to constantly be learning AND doing. That is the meaning of the second part of the quote. Those who appear to be the most knowledgable are the ones who do not recognize how little they know. They think they have reached the end.

The ones who are constantly striving to be better are the ones who will get better. Discovering your own limitations and working to overcome them will do two things:

  1. You’ll understand how little you know;
  2. You’ll work to learn what you don’t know, thereby getting better than you were.

That’s the rub. It’s all about the constant work. You’ll have to put in time every day to get better at it, whatever it is. This is the result of pursuing THE GOAL. More work. And that’s how you make a difference.

It seems disheartening to think that you’ll never be done. By Epictetus’ standard, you’ll ALWAYS be working at whatever you are trying to master. But, for those who study a craft at which they want to be the best they can be, those people know that you’ll never be done. It doesn’t end. The pursuit of excellence doesn’t have a finish line. It’s about the refinement.

The best runners in the world, for example, are constantly running. They go out nearly every day and do the workout. Haile Gebrselassie, one of the greatest runners of all time, once said that he runs every day except Sundays and Christmas. That’s A LOT of running.

He’s 44, and he still runs. “I’m retiring from competitive running, not from running. You cannot stop running, this is my life.” Source: Wikipedia

Make being foolish your life.

Hard Runs Hurt

Today’s Run

Time – 55:51
Distance – 6.1 miles
Pace – 9:09 min/mi
Elevation – 157 ft.

dedication definition
The Definition

Nothing messes with my own personal brand of OCD more than finishing a run and being .1 or .2 short of some standard distance. I was .1 mile short of a 10k today, but this was a workout with a cool down, not a specific 10k run, so I have to let that go. Warm-up, then 3 miles HARD with cool-down. I went fast and really pushed, and my legs were a little sore at the end. Had to slow WAY down at the end of the 3 miles, which wasn’t good, but there were a few more hills than I wanted to have to work with today. All in all, a good run. I did the 3 miles at better than 8:41 pace (the middle mile was 8:10 pace), so I feel really good about that. Especially considering I ran it alone. I can keep hard paces by myself.

Pain is inevitable

Lots of reading, and watching of Sage Canady on YouTube, have given me the truth that I’m going to have to accept one way or another: Running is going to hurt a lot, eventually. I can keep running at a moderate-to-slow pace and get a little faster, and avoid most injuries, and enjoy the running, but I won’t reach my goals. I’m going to have to run hard some days, and I’m going to have to risk sore muscles, cramps, and potential extra days off. It’s the price of having big goals.

The concept here is something that extends into all other parts of life, doesn’t it? You can’t be really great at something without dedicating to it. That dedication, by definition, reduces your ability to do other things. It requires sacrifice. Participation in one thing takes time from all other things.

This is something that I’ve always struggled with. I want to be good at many things, but I have only so much time to work at them all. Thus, my hobbies have shifted constantly for many years while I try something new, get to know and understand it, do it a little while, and then move on. Some things I come back to, regularly. Reading, chess, school, and writing top the list. This is not my first blog, and not my first about running, either.

As for chess, don’t ask The Wife about that; she doesn’t like my mood when I lose a few games…

I’ve done this with running before, too. But, this time, it feels a little different. It feels more like the reading, the chess, or the writing. It’s something that moves the inside of me. It makes me want to learn and understand more about myself, and not about the subject at hand. I want to change myself to meet these challenges, not just do the challenges to check off the box and say that I did it. You can’t run 100 miles without having to be different than you were when you started, physically or mentally.

And THAT’S what dedication is. A willingness to change to meet your goals and expectation. A desire to be different in order to do different things. It’s about moving yourself to be something that can accomplish your goals.

What are you dedicated to doing?