Running Foolishly

Today’s Run

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

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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.

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First Run in the Rain…And What’s Next…

Today’s Run

Time – 51:12
Distance – 5.1 miles
Pace – 9:54 min/mi
Elevation – 192 ft.

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If only I had a whiteboard this big…

Four runs now at sub–10:00 pace. This is becoming a thing. I didn’t want to go out this fast, and had slowed down some, but then it started to rain, so I sped up to get home quicker. The run felt ok. I felt a twinge in my right hamstring, and it’s got me nervous. Tomorrow is an off-day, so I’m hoping that will set things right. The pace felt good, I didn’t have to work too hard, and I enjoyed the run, despite the precipitation. Can’t complain today.

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Post-run

What’s Next?!

In considering what I want/should do next, I’ve got a couple of options, to be sure. I’ve thought about THE GOAL a lot since I’ve started this blog. Each run is building to that one purpose: To run Western States 100 as soon as I can get qualified safely and through the lottery successfully.

In the meantime, however, I’ve talked about other goals and ideas. Running fast miles, running fast 5K’s, running fast marathons…in essence, running fast. One thing that I’ve found which makes the most amount of change happen in the speed department is long, slow miles with occasional speed workouts built in to the plan. Running a lot, at the right pace, makes all of the difference. So, by this logic, more is better, right?

There’s a lot of science to back this up. Tim Noakes, Arthur Lydiard, and others all have written and studied the concept extensively. I’ve been researching this as much as I can to figure out what to do next.

So, here’s The Plan. While it might seem self-evident given my long-term goals, I still need to think it out and say it out loud (or at least, type it out to the world) what I’m going to do to make it real. The plan is to get to 40–50 miles a week of training in the near term (by the end of the year) with a marathon plan after Christmas that will keep my mileage high through April. Then I back down the mileage into the 30–40 miles/week range for post-marathon until June (about 6 weeks of recovery) then start back up with the building to 70–80 miles a week before the 100 miler in the fall. That’s going to be the plan, I think. I still need to hash out a few things around the training periods that will be built into this, especially in the run-up to the race late next year. We have a family vacation that we’ll be shooting for in late November or early December, so an autumn race will fit that nicely into the recovery after the run.

So, that’s The Plan.

I think…

Thinking About All the Tomorrows

Today’s Run

Time – 52:36
Distance – 4.60 miles
Pace – 11:26 min/mi
Elevation – 191 ft.

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What’s around the corner?

Kept the heart rate really low (like 130 and below) and just shuffled around for about an hour. Nothing special after the long day yesterday. Days like today are the miles that build on yesterday’s long run, and tomorrow’s potential rest day (or speed work, no decision yet), and Tuesday’s run, and Wednesday’s run, and so on. Lots of miles make legs strong, easy days build blood flow and economy, and I get the mental boost of running 4.6 miles without a single hard breath. That’s pretty crazy to think from a guy that used to look like this:

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Me and Little Buddy Before (Click HERE for After)

Considerations of the future…

The marathon is scheduled. I’ve got a plan for the 100-miler for next year. Sign-ups for 2018 will open after this year’s qualifying race in November. But I find myself thinking about what’s next.

I know that sounds crazy. “How much more do you need?” the Wife would say. This running thing happens because it has a plan. That’s how my brain works. I like the direction and THE GOAL. I’ve talked about other ideas in the works. There’s things to think about.

The picture above was from tonight’s run. It’s how I feel about running. The road is uphill to be sure, but only slightly. Certainly it is doable. But it’s also got a curve which I can’t see around yet. I’m not sure what I’ll find when I get there, or where I’ll be going next. It’s sunny up there, though.

Running brings the daylight into my life and makes me feel better about everything. It puts sunshine into the dark corners and illuminates the cobwebs so that they can be swept out of my mind.

Running is, as has been said before, a metaphor for life. This image is another metaphor. We can’t know what’s around the bend, and there’s always a bit of a hill now and then. Putting one foot in front of the other will get us where we need to go.

Plus, running lets me have cookies, which, as we all know, are KEY to getting it done…

So This Happened…

Today’s Run

Time – 2:04:45
Distance – 11.44 miles
Pace – 10:54 min/mi
Elevation – 358 ft.

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Another long run today puts the mileage above 35 for the week on Runkeeper because I did a long run on Sunday and another today (Saturday). Next week will be down because of it, but I am due to slow down for a week here soon, and if it happen next week, so be it.

The run felt great…except…I got an uncomfortable cramp in the outside of my right foot about mile 8. Had to stop and stretch for a minute, and then I was able to go again. I finished with a little bit of tenderness there, but I’ll ease off tomorrow, and then make this week a little less hectic.

Eleven and a half miles felt good. I was actually really picking up the pace at the end. I could probably run a half marathon a little faster than this pace, but I don’t need to right now.

Let the training begin…as soon as I find a plan

I’m signed up for my first marathon. It’ll be here in the spring. April 8th, to be exact. I’m excited to give the distance a try. I’m not nervous about it, though. I’ve got a 100-miler on the radar beyond Go! St. Louis, so I’m thinking that the marathon will just be a function of adding distance over the winter and building up a nutrition/fluids/recovery plan between now and then. I’ve got plenty of time to prepare for it, and I feel really comfortable at about half the distance right now. If I just keep adding and avoid injury, I should be able to finish, no issues.

In terms of speed, however, I’m wanting to make a push. I’d like to come up with a good, tough goal. I think that a 10:00/mile pace isn’t out of the question. A marathon at today’s running pace (10:54), though, is 4:45. A 10:00/mile pace is about 4:22. Breaking 4 hours is better than a 9:10/mile pace for 26.2 miles. That’s WAY faster than I run right now. But I did that kind of speed on and off for the last 2 miles of today’s run. I know I have it somewhere. I just need to find it and make it my endurance pace.

A 4:20 marathon is an even 9:55/mile pace. That’s probably the goal at this point. Now to work for it. Can I add twice the distance of my long runs and cut off a minute per mile? They say you shouldn’t add speed and distance together. I have a little over 5 months between now and then.

Time to research training plans…

Long Runs and Tired Legs…What’s Next?

Today’s Run

Time – 1:54:27
Distance – 10.32 miles
Pace – 11:05 min/mi
Elevation – 241 ft.

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Well, holy crap, that was a long way for my untested legs. I figure, based on rough estimates, that I haven’t run 10+ miles in 10 years. The funny part about it is that the first time around my pace would have been nearly the same, but I would run for about 10 minutes around 6 MPH, and then walked a minute, and done it again, over and over, until my run was completed. Today was just about all continuous running, without any walking breaks, except for a quick stop to fill up my water bottle. I even ate a Larabar while running an hour into the workout.

Crazily enough, I ran far enough and long enough to need to eat while I was running. That’s a strange feeling. In a 100-miler, however, you need to eat WAY more often (try about every 30=60 minutes until the race is completed). That’s a lot of food on the run!

And Now for the Big Question

What’s going to happen next? Where do I go from here? I know that I can run around a lot if I want to, and that I need to keep adding distance and time to my running to get into Western States-shape, but what is the follow-up to this workout and all the mileage from the last few weeks?

I think that next has to be a half-marathon, then the full 26.2, and then up from there. This will all be predicated on the successful and healthy birth of Baby Girl in December, and with enough time and sanity to train up to 26.2 mileage while helping the Wife recover and deal with Teenager and Little Buddy. I’ve got a half marathon in the bag now with the distances I’ve done and how good my legs are feeling. Time to go after the beast.

What race to sign up for is the question? This will be my first marathon ever, so I want to find something that I’ll enjoy. I can’t travel much, so that limits the game plan.

Time-wise, it will have to be in the spring. I’ll need to have some time to keep building up to it. I would like to hit early springtime, though, so that I can keep adding and working for Tunnel Hill in the fall of 2018. That will be a 2020 Western States qualifier (most likely).

So, any suggestions for a spring marathon in the central Midwest?

I Might Have Gone Too Fast

Today’s Run

Time – 1:09:10
Distance – 6.07 miles
Pace – 11:24 min/mi
Elevation – 191 ft.

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Yeah, so, I got back to running in heat. It was a little warm today, and speed was not happening. It was a struggle to get in miles, especially after the time off. I’m back to business again.

Building Base

All solid, well-built houses have a good foundation. A base, if you will. Thus the phrase “base building” in running. For those who don’t run much, the idea behind base building is to do lots of running that add aerobic capability, increase the blood vessels (and, subsequently, blood flow) to muscles in the legs, and to improve strength and stamina. In other words, running a lot makes you run a lot better.

I guess you could say that I’m in an unstructured base building phase right now. I’m running to run. The idea is to get out the door and get more work in. Run, run, run.

Minneapolis Running has a great article about some of the basic workouts of base building here. There are, according to the author Justin Kruse, three main kinds of base building workouts that a runner should add into their standard schedule of easy and long runs to improve base and fitness. They are:

  • Strides
  • Hills
  • Fartleks (no, that is not a typo)

The article talks about each in detail. Suffice it to say, these are going to get added to my schedule.

The other run I mentioned that needs to be worked out is the long run. One per week, usually on Saturday for me, is what will be best. My long runs are going to have to get significantly longer due to THE GOAL. Hollie over at FueledByLOLZ also has a good article about adding miles for base building, especially around the long run.

I’ll have to keep these in mind. Now it’s time to actually sit down and write a schedule…

I Tell Myself One Thing

Today’s Run

Time – 45:22
Distance – 4.45 miles
Pace – 10:11 min/mi
Elevation – 171 ft.

Follow up to yesterday’s off day is a hard run today. It didn’t feel very good, but I was able to go the whole time and push the pace till the end.

church-chapel-house-of-worship-religion-40783Running Hard

I don’t look like a runner when I go out. I shuffle a lot. I don’t pick up my feet very much, and my shoe soles will scrape the ground now and then. My face scruntches up and I get a weird grimace every once in a while. I don’t run fast, yet. I work hard to keep a moderate pace. I’m definitely a back of the packer. I know that I don’t have the mechanics for a 4:xx/minute mile.

My wife tells me she’s worried about me running the 100 miler when the time comes. I’ll admit that I’m a little worried, too. I’ve seen the long end of 8.5 miles so far. I know that I can do more, and I’m ready to keep working at it. It’s a long way to go to get there, though.

I’m seeing little changes along the way. The weight/body changes are unbelievable. Having always been a fat guy, it’s strange to see bumps/ridges/lines where there was always bulk. The backs of my hands have veins, tendons, and muscles. My neck has only a little bit of skin under my chin, and I can see my Adam’s Apple (no pun intended) for the first time…ever. My calves ripple when I walk.

These are all simple things to many people, and something that one could take for granted. But I had two separate heart scares in a year back in 2014. I ended up in a hospital 4 hours from home without my wife and family nearby for an atrial fibulation event, and then had another one on my birthday the same year. I was 35. I’m not supposed to get these kinds of things.

Every time I go running hard, I think about my daughter, and how I’ve promised myself I’ll walk her down the aisle of her wedding. When I see the bones of my knees, the curve of muscle in my arms, or the narrowness of my waist, I think about holding grandchildren one day. I’m working for those things.

100 milers are proof that I can be healthy enough to get there. They are not the reward, though. Life is. That’s why I keep telling myself one thing:

“I will run today.”