I Choose Running.

It was a beautiful, beautiful weekend here in Sacramento. I’m sorry to tell you east coast and midwest folks this but it was 75 degrees, sunny and wonderful out. Every Feb it gets nice for a weekend and we all think winter’s over (it’s not). But it’s the perfect break from the awful, awful fog that’s socked us in for months.

My long run was kind of a mess yesterday but I finished 16 miles at a decent pace. I didn’t eat enough Friday night and I just straight up ran out of fuel. Yuck. But, the amazing weather and my friends got me through. It’s kind of hard to be in a bad mood when you’re getting a tan pre-Valentine’s day. After a giant bacon avocado omelette,  potatoes and toast I felt human. Sore, but human.

That brings us to today, Super Bowl Sunday. Normally I go to yoga on Sunday nights and just love ending my weekend with a bit of namaste. But because today is the Super Bowl (more on that in a minute) and I go to church I either had to go to yoga at 7:45 AM or not at all. And going at 7:45 meant a 5:30 AM run or a noon run.

So… I woke up and hemmed and hawed for kind of awhile. I put on my yoga clothes and drove down to the studio. I got out of my car, looked around and realized that it was way too gorgeous of a morning to spend it inside a yoga studio. Are you kidding? So I went back home and ran 11 of the happiest miles I’ve run in a long time. I didn’t mean to run that long (my initial goal was 7-8) but I was so happy to be running in the sunshine that I kept extending my run by “one more mile.”

I was ridiculous out there. It was like some kind of bad movie… I kept waving and smiling at everyone I saw and found myself singing along to my ipod at times. Which is funny because my legs actually kind of hurt but my heart was so full and happy. When faced with the choice between running and yoga, running and sleep or running and sitting on my couch, I choose running.

After my run and church it was super bowl time. I’m from the same town as Aaron Rodgers and know him (well his family) decently well. To say that we’re proud of him is the understatement of the century. The whole town is going insane and he totally deserves it. Not only is he a really, really nice person but he totally exemplifies the kind of athlete everyone should aspire to be. He’s a workhorse, a great role model and has persevered for a long time to get where he is. I mean, he wasn’t even recruited out of high school.

Watching Aaron today got me thinking about my own athletic progress. Now, wanting to achieve my own goals isn’t even 1/100th of playing in the Super Bowl but while I was watching him get that MVP trophy I wondered if people realized how much time he spent in the weight room when his friends were off having fun. Or the trips he didn’t take, the parties he didn’t go to and the dissapointment he faced when his draft status dropped, he played behind Favre, wasn’t recruited, etc. But you know what he did? Kept playing. Kept believing, working hard and having patience with himself. And you know what happened? He won the super bowl. I’d like to say I knew all along he’d do this but to be  honest when he’d talk about future football success when we were younger we kind of rolled our eyes. I mean, we’re from CHICO… kids from Chico don’t go to the Super Bowl.

Anyway it was inspiring and reminded me that I just need to keep plugging away at my goals. I may not win a Super Bowl but I might win my age group 🙂

Mile Repeats

I hate mile repeats. I know they’re good for me, especially while marathon training and I know they’re really efficient but that doesn’t mean I like them.  Because I don’t! I had to juggle my schedule around this week because it was weird {I was on TV tuesday, you can watch here http://www.kcra.com/video/26695166/detail.html} so I didn’t do them unitl yesterday.

I felt slept through my alarm and felt just awful when I woke up and did all kinds of mental gymnastics and came up wtih all kinds of excuses about why I totally didn’t have to do them. But then I remembered I have a marathon on the books and sucked it up.

Shockingly I had the fastest set of 3 mile repeats I’ve ever done. All in the 7:2X range and no barfing! It didn’t even feel that bad. I was working hard, but it didn’t feel like I was going to die or anything. Pretty amazing. I know I keep saying this, and I don’t know why I’m so amazed by it, but speed work actually, you know, works.

I’m happy that training is going well and that the work is paying off. I can tell I’m working hard and pushing my body since I’m constantly on th e verge of sore and tired and can’t stop eating.

I’m also figuring out the difference between a mental limit and a physical limit. I’m finding that I’m more able to push past what I think are physical limits by really tuning in to what’s going on in my body and calming myself down. And good workouts bring confidence and confidence gives me the push to try for new heights again and again.

I’m excited to see where all this training is going and to put it into practice. The thought of PRing totally scares me if I’m honest because I know how much it’s going to hurt and the kind of effort required to get there, but at the same time I feel really confident that I’m in a place to make it happen.

Weekly Wrap Up 2

Another week, a lot of running again. I had another very solid week of training. All the work I’m doing is paying off and I’m feeling really good.

Thursday’s tempo run was the best in a long, long time. I ran 8 total with 3 at tempo, all of them were 7:4X and the last few miles were all half marathon goal pace. The best part is I felt fine.

My long run this week was a little rough. I’m having a hard time balancing running with my friends who are just barely faster than I am and running alone to run at my pace. I like that my LRs are slightly faster but I also think they’re beating me up a bit. Especially this week because we ran all rolling hills. I love running with them and it’s so fun but I need to consider my own training too.

Miles run: 55
Long Run: 16, 8:52 avg
Workouts 3/4 miles and a tempo run
Feeling mentally? Really strong and happy with my progress
Yoga? 4 days of vinyasa flow
Feeling physically? Sore but not injured
Obeying the eating rules? Ummm I fell off the wagon big time on the sugar. WAY too much chocolate. I had my reasons, but still. Need to do better. That said, I ate tons of veggies this week and did a really good job balancing nutrients.
Sleeping? Got lots!

This week promises more training fun and then I get to cut it back abit. Can’t wait for that!

Plugging right along

Another good week of training under my belt. Track workout, tempo run and long run still to come. This week I finally stopped feeling sore and started feeling good. My legs are tired on recovery and easy days to be sure, but they don’t feel super beat up like they were.

That said, I’m starting to think good runs are totally random. Why do I run like a rock star after wine and toast for dinner and terribly when I do everything right? What’s up with that? Or, why can I bust out a good track workout when warmups feel totally terrible? I don’t have any answers, but I’m thinking about it tons!

I’m starting to evaluate my time goal for Eugene. Initially it was just to PR and I’d be over the moon to do that for sure but after running faster than that pace for 14 miles last weekend and feeling really good this week I’m wondering if I’m not aiming high enough. I’m a goal person and need something kind of unreasonable to aim for to give fire to the training. A boston qualifier seems completely unreasonable but 3:45 seems possible. Not probable, but possible. I don’t know.

Yesterday’s tempo run was awesome. All my splits (3.5 miles worth} were in the 7:45 range which is an improvement for sure. The best part is that it didn’t feel particularly bad or difficult. It felt pretty good in fact. Could have something to do with the fact that it was 4:45 am and I was out of it, but still… I’m progressing.

We’re running a really hilly long run tomorrow which will be good for me I know but that doesn’t mean I’m excited…

This concludes this very unfocused post.

Weekly Wrap Up

A solid week of training. I thought I’d wrap up each week and let ya’lls know how I did with training. A little accountability and a good record of what’s up!

Miles run: 52
Long Run: 14, 12 at goal marathon pace- this was an oops btw.
Workouts 6 x 8oo, 4 miles fartlek
Feeling mentally? Really strong and happy with my progress
Yoga? 4 days of vinyasa flow
Feeling physically? Sore but not injured
Obeying the eating rules? Ummm I indulged in sugar a couple times and went a glass of wine over my limit but overall I did well. I also remembered that I can’t buy granola or I eat it constantly and it’s essentially a cookie.
Sleeping? Got lots!

I’m not sure weeks get more solid than this. I could clean up the eating a bit but I was really, really hungry this week. Like, starving. So I’ll be working on that and shooting for 55 miles including a 16-18 mile long run. YIKES. I also have 3/4 miles and a tempo run scheduled. Should be loads of fun. This week felt good though.

And about that long run? I ran with my friends and we finished the 14 miles at an 8:46 pace. Ooops. That’s pretty fast for me, especially for a long run. However, it was confidence boosting and although there may not be physical benefits, there were amazing mental benefits so I’m glad. Plus, we celebrated with breakfast! To quote one of them, “um isn’t this why we do it at all?” yes, yes it is.

Looking forward to ramping up even more this week. It’s go time!

I wonder…

I just love Lam’s “I wonder” post so in light of the fact that it’s Friday and Friday should be fun, I thought I’d write my own.

I wonder

…what’s the fastest I’ll ever run a marathon
…if I’ll always be a runner
…if I’ll ever feel totally satisfied with a race
…what life would be like if I hadn’t picked up running
…what life will be like in 5 years
…what my family REALLY thinks of the running
…what my appetite would be like if I didn’t run
…where my career will end up
…when I’ll get myself hitched
…if I’ll have kids
…if the right and left will ever get along
…what it’s like to be an elite athlete
…if I can go a whole month without eating cookies
…how long I”ll blog

In the groove

Training is going so well. I don’t want to jinx myself or exagerate or put undue pressure on my training but this week I’m really starting to feel good, reap the benefits of a few weeks of work and feel like I’m getting stronger and faster.

Tuesday I went to the track for 6x8OOs. This workout always makes me so nervous because it’s one of those workouts I’ve done a million times and is a great benchmark for fitness. And there’s no hiding. Well, all my laps were between 3:48 and 3:45 which, for me, is very decent. And the best part is that I felt relatively comfortable until my last lap!

This morning I met my people at 4:45 AM for 8 miles including 4 of fartleks. And that went well too. My top end speed is coming back and each mile was progressively faster. In fact, with this group of friends I’m usually the slow, slacker guy but this morning I was setting the pace and encouraging everyone else to keep it going. Woo hoo! I think the weeks of slogging through some not so fun miles are starting to pay off. My “easy” pace has sped up a bit too. All good signs.

All this to say… if you’re slogging through speed work it really does start to pay off. And the only way to get faster is to run faster. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it hurts and most of the time it requires a lot of effort.

I’m looking forward to racing soon. I have a race in mid-February and I can’t wait to see what I can do. I finally feel ready to race and more like my hardcore, I can get fast and do anything self. Woo hoo. I still have many, many weeks before Eugene but things are looking up!

Switching gears to neutral

About two months ago I was having terrible IT band problems. Actually, I’ve always had IT issues but I’ve been able to keep it at bay with regular stretching, ART and tons and tons of rolling. It’s not a big deal but from time to time it gets really painful. The last time I went to ART I mentioned that my team had switched from Nike to Asics and that I was running in Asics’ stability shoe. He looked at me sideways, had me do some exercises and pronounced me a neutral runner.

Over the last few years as I’ve become a more efficient runner my gait has straightened out, my feet have strengthened and I don’t need all the structure and support I used to. So, the shoes were unnaturally forcing my feet out which was causing IT issues. So… I headed over to Fleet Feet and got the Asics Cumulus. The Cumulus has a bit of support but it is certainly a neutral shoe.

The first couple of times I ran in them I could tell a difference. It felt like my strike was more square on the pavement and it just felt more natural. That said, the first couple of weeks my feet were really sore. To the point where I thought I had plantar fascitis. As I adjusted to new shoes and stride I realized that my calves were really tight which was causing the foot pain. As long as I roll my legs regularly, I’m fine.

Since I’ve switched my IT band pain is basically completely gone. They still get appropriately sore and require a bit of rolling but they no longer feel injured or forced out of their natural pattern. And my glutes are a lot looser, too. When I run fast it feels like not having structure allows my legs and feet to spring into action faster and I’m in better alignment- more square. My shoulders, hips and legs are forming that straight line you’re always told to make.

I think my transition is due to a few things. As I’ve gotten faster, my gait is more efficient and therefore requires less outside stability. I also think that doing so much yoga barefoot has strengthened both my core and my arches which is helpful when running. Like I always say, everything goes back to the core strength.

I don’t think everyone running in stability shoes should run out and switch to a netural shoe. In fact, probably most shouldn’t. However, if you’ve been running awhile or have a persistent ache or nag don’t hesitate to get re-fit or to ask a second opinion. Just like your body isn’t always the same, your feet my change too. You should always be your own biggest advocate. Yes, seek the opinion of experts but you know your own body best.

Hawaii!

Sorry for the whole week without blogging… don’t hate me, but I was in Maui and I am now extremely tan. We didn’t do a ton… lots of snorkeling and beach time and um, eating but it was a good time. After basically ignoring my family for a year it was nice to spend an uninterrupted week with them.

Running in Hawaii was kind of tough actually. After acclimating to temps in the 4os running in the 8os with high humidity on hills was pretty hard! I intentionally planned this week to be a cut back week and aimed for no more than 4o miles. This way I wouldn’t be stressed about running tons if there was something else I wanted to do and my legs would get a break.

I ended up running just about everyday I was there and had a blast. I forgot how much I enjoy rolling hills and while it was too hot, and a couple of days too rainy, to do speed work I got some great runs in. And my legs, heart and mind feel rested and refreshed. And while I’ve given myself some pretty stringent rules about eating, I let them mostly go while on vacation. And it was just fine!

Also, major props to those of you who run in heat and humidity! It actually makes it hard to breathe- I had no idea. So thick in the air!

Below are some photos from the trip. Sadly it’s now back to reality, back to crazy training and time to get serious!

Clearly not obeying my no booze rule

Just a few post run Cheerios

Probably time for a cutback week

Well, after a wonderful first half of my training week I crashed head-on into a brick wall and died a little bit. As in, ran the slowest splits I’ve seen in two years, had a horrible long run, am considering giving up running. Ok, not really but it was bad.

I started a new job this week and while I”m super excited about it, getting back in to the office routine, running really early in the morning, dealing with the cold, etc. is kicking my butt. I hate it. Plus, new jobs are mentally and emotionally draining which means I have less heart to put into my training. That said, the routine also makes it easier to commit to training. My weeks are structured, I know what’s up, how things will go…

So this morning I did my “long run” because this weekend is no good. And it was hands down the worst long run EVER. From the beginning I felt nauseated, had tight legs and felt like I wanted to die. The entire time. I cut it off at 11 miles and called it a day. Running junk miles at a really slow pace was doing me no favors and in the long run, doesn’t matter.

I keep telling myself that this is normal. I’m adjusting to a new life, a new training schedule and a new sleep pattern. Of course this is going to affect me physically. So, for now I wait and sleep and hope that next week is better. And oh yeah, next week the mileage is going waaaaaaay down. Like from 55 to 38. Don’t let me run more than 38!