Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Anatomy Of A Difficult Run & The Will To Prepare

 The alarm went off, as usual, at 6 am.   Typically, I’m already awake.  Often, I’m already up.  Today it woke me.  It happens.  I wasn’t alarmed.  I normally don’t feel like heading right out the door.  I like to take some time to wake up.   Today, my usual routine didn’t take me to my that  feeling of ‘alright I’m ready, let’s go’ that I am accustomed to.    Nevertheless, I headed out the door.

There was no pep.  Okay, I thought, it’s going to be one of those days that takes a while to get warmed up.  Not a chance.   I just couldn’t get away from the feeling of ‘I’m tired’.   Thoughts of turning around early crossed my mind.  It’s easy to find a reason to quit.  I kept telling myself to hang in there.  This, too, will pass.  It did but it was a struggle.

The many thousands of miles I’ve run paid dividends.  I actually did feel a bit better for a few miles after my turnaround, thanks to a cool breeze.  I managed to finish all 13.5 miles.  It took me about 20 minutes longer than usual.   I was thoroughly wasted.   But I survived. 

I’m thinking that it helped me prepare mentally for the end of the upcoming marathon.  I’m going to be pretty wasted during the last few miles.  Proper preparation is essential.   Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant said it well: It’s not the will to win that matters…everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” 



I woke up this morning feeling less than stellar.  I had my mini breakfast and checked my e-mail all the usual stuff hoping to perk up.  I had a full bottle of tea for the caffeine.  Nothing.  Still felt low energy. 

Maybe it was time for a day off.  I’m an advocate of listening to the body.  Still, I am reluctant to do nothing.  My next thought was I’ll just warm up and stretch.  Nothing seemed to boost my enthusiasm.  I stretched out my warm-up and stretched out my stretching. I nearly called it quits but I thought maybe I’ll just do a short routine. 
Well, each set got a little easier.  I made it through the workout.  Never felt the best but I did feel better by the end.  I’m still a bit lower energy than usual but I got my workout in.  Persistence paid off.

Wednesday’s a travel day and I’ll do nothing physically stressful so I’ll have time to recover.  Everyone has a best day and a worst day of every week, month and year.   Today was mine but I persisted and got in a workout. 

Here’s hoping I feel great in the morning and my run goes well.  If not, well maybe I’ll go easy or short.  But, then again, maybe it’ll be a great run.   Even my easy days are pretty good by most people’s standards.  Persistence.  I did well today.

Milestones & Heavy Breathing

SUNDAY, JUNE 27, 2010

Milestones & Heavy Breathing

I don’t usually run 2 days in a row.  Being on the road presents its challenges.  Unable ride my bike I decided to go for a short run just to satisfy my need to exercise.   While deciding, I added up my mileage since I’ve been out of town and realized that I was very close to 100 miles for the last 15 days.  That was the clincher.

I was at 93.5 miles since my arrival and 6.5 (you can see where this is leading) miles puts me at 100!  So, I mapped out a 7 miler (always a little extra) and headed out the door. 

Sunday’s are nice because of the lighter traffic here in California. I was clipping along pretty nicely just before my turnaround when a runner went racing by me going the other way.  It got me thinking about my post yesterday and my thoughts on breathing hard.   I really hadn’t done much really fast running that pushed my breathing for a while.  Since I was going only 7 miles and already half-way through that I figured it was time for some speed work.  The runner who had passed me was still in sight so I thought I’d see if I could make up some ground or at least keep him in sight (he was going fast!). 

I shifted into high gear and turned on the afterburners.  He was going too fast…. for him not me.  He ran out of gas (I think) and I caught him rather quickly.  Maybe he was just running a short distance.  I don’t want to create an impression of superiority.  He didn’t know I was trying to catch him. 

I had momentum and I wanted to keep it.   I pushed to the end and got some good speed work in.  A great workout really.  All because of a milestone.   Another good reason to keep track of mileage.   I’ll rest the legs tomorrow and be ready for a nice long run on Tuesday.   Training is progressing nicely.

Marathon Training – 13.5 miles, Again!

Another training day, another 13.5 mile training run.  Sound boring?  Sound like a lot of time alone with your thoughts?   Sound like a lot of time to be breathing hard?  Sound like a lot of pounding the pavement that might cause injury?  Sound like a lot of time in pain or suffering? Well, maybe.

Boring doesn’t happen to me because I’ve learned to relax and let my mind wander. It’s almost like daydreaming.  On long runs I sometimes lose track of the miles and then I’ll sort of ‘wake up’ and realize I’ve gone several miles.   Fitness and a nice easy pace helps make this happen.  Thinking about how many more miles I have left to run will prevent it from happening.  On of the main reasons I like to run long runs is that it keeps me from thinking about finishing.  I just settle into a nice pace and think about something pleasant.  A lot of time alone with my thoughts has always suited me.  I like sightseeing and people watching. 

Breathing hard isn’t much of an issue because on long runs I don’t push my aerobic capacity except for during interval training.  Another reason I like long runs.  Maybe I’m just lazy!

Pain & suffering isn’t as much an issue as the unfamiliar might suspect.  Proper pacing is important.  Running the right distance helps as well.    The beginning of my runs are often a bit uncomfortable until I get into my rhythm.  15 – 20 minutes is usually enough.  Then I start to feel pretty good.   If I’m doing maintenance runs that’s my usual practice: get comfy and enjoy.  If I’m training for a specific race as I am now then I plan on being pretty uncomfortable in order to build both the physical and mental aspects of  speed and endurance.

Pavement pounding might cause injury if you try to do too much too soon.  I make changes gradually. I take glucosamine just-in-case but I really think the body will get stronger if training is done properly.

 I do have aches and pains but they’re pretty manageable.  Considering the miles I run it’s not too bad.  It’s all worth it for how good I feel about myself for what I’ve accomplished.   I’ve run nearly 100 miles in the last 2 weeks, so, I’m a tad sore today but I know by morning I’ll be fine.   Besides, I alway have an Advil at my disposal if needed.  Not today.  I think a margarita is in the plan for the evening anyhow!  Can’t mix the two. 

Of course, the good really offsets the little discomforts:   my aches and pains remind me of what I have and can do that few others are willing or able to do.  I love being fit!

Routine Friday

FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2010

Routine Friday

I had a nice discussion about exercise & fitness that included a discussion about workout times with the head football coach of a large California High School today.  He likes to do his workout later in the day.  I like to do mine early in the morning.   The key question was why.  The answer was in two parts.  1st,  there are fewer (rarely any) interruptions early in the morning.  2nd, fewer interruptions means it’s easier to keep to my routine.

I love routines.  It’s routines that keep me from missing workouts.  Routines keep me from having to decide whether I’m going to something that needs to be done.  Routines make me more efficient.  Routines take away excuses.

My summertime Friday morning routine goes like this:

  • Get up 6am 
  • Bathroom visit
  • Light breakfast (mixed berries, Activia Light, & FiberOne)
  • 45 minutes for e-mail catch-up, read the paper, back to the bathroom.
  • Warm-ups and then intense resistance training workout for 90 minutes.  (following a routine that changes about every 6 weeks)
  • Shower & dress
  • Big breakfast (4 egg scramble with veggies and tofu)
Now I’m ready for my day.  I’m in high gear.  I’m feeling great.
I don’t think about it.  I just do it.  Are there days that my enthusiasm is not quite as high?  Sure.  That’s why I love routines.  There are no options.  Invariably I get feeling better as I go.  I’m always glad I did it when I’m done.  I feel the pump when I’m showering and I feel good about myself.  I get dressed and the clothes fit.  The right size clothes:  30 inch waist.  No need for a baggy shirt to cover up a big gut.  
Fitness is its own reward.  My routine gives me that.   It works so well that when ski season starts this winter, I’ll get up at 4:30 to do it.  
Routines:  powerful

My Dogs Are Barking

 I had a nice 13.5 mile training run this morning.  I was surprised at how strong my finish was, considering the mileage I’ve run in the last 12 days.  

However, my son-in-law invited me to play golf.  Since I love to play golf it was impossible to resist.  Why I decided to carry by clubs instead of renting a pull cart, I can’t answer.  Senior moment, I suppose.  Anyway, my legs have come through once again. I managed to post 8 over par (despite playing with some guys who knew nothing of golf course etiquette)  but, my dogs are barking!!    
I admit to taking an Advil.  It’ll be interesting to see how my run goes on Saturday.  

Nicely recovered, nice workout, nice day

Nicely recovered, nice workout, nice day
I was pleased to find no ill effects from my long, hard run yesterday.  It’s a good indicator of my conditioning.  

The Best Laid Plans: Marathon Training – Building Endurance

TUESDAY, JUNE 22, 2010

The Best Laid Plans: Marathon Training – Building Endurance

The best laid plans indeed.  I mapped out my planned run for this morning on ‘Map My Run’ planning on adding one mile to what I’ve been running for a 13 mile run.  I’ve been running an out and back route and planned on going a bit farther out then turning onto a side street and running through a neighborhood that was shown on the map.  What I hadn’t expected was a gated community! 

So I went a little further out then turned around and headed back.  I found a side street that looked promising and turned in.  It worked out fine.  I made my way around the neighborhood and back to main drag.  I felt really good and cranked up the pace a tad.  I felt pretty darn good all the way just a bit tired at the end as my fuel level got low.  I need to be fatigued at the end so I can get accustomed to maintaining pace right to the finish.  

After my shower and breakfast, I got back on ‘Map My Run’  and measured what I actually ran:  13.5 miles!  It’s 2 hours later as I write this and I’m pretty happy about my run today and the progress I’ve made. 

14 weeks and 5 days to go.

Back To Normal

Back To Normal

The pain in my neck is no longer a pain in the neck.  So, I had a nice workout this morning.  I don’t have my weights with me but I did pretty much everything else.  Push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, leg-up / reverse crunches, all my stretches all accomplished without pain.   I’m really glad I took Friday off because I’m really glad to be pain free again. 

It’s impossible to describe how good these workouts make me feel.  Physically, the pump is so good.  The blood flow to the muscles feels almost sexual.  It’s just wonderful.  I never tire of it.  Psychologically is just as good  The feeling of well being is so satisfying.  Such a big reward for so small an investment.  Add to that the health benefits and it’s over the top.   I hope I can do this ’til I’m a 100.

Coping & Attitude

Being on the road continues to present challenges.  Today, for me, it was a lesson about the importance of attitude and the importance learning to cope with adversity.

My usual routine is to run 3 days a week, do my resistance training 3 days a week and ride my bike for a couple of hours on the odd day, usually Sunday.   I had a great week running this week.  Resistance training has been less than optimal because I don’t have my weights but I like taking a couple of weeks off a couple times a year to rest the muscles.  I really believe this helps, physically & mentally.   I felt really good yesterday and was planning my usual 2 day rest before hitting the road again.  But, when I got up this morning I was at a loss as to what to do.  I am so habitual about exercising when I get up (this is a really good thing!) it has become an essential part of my life.

So, I decided to go for an easy run; jogging really.   I thought it would burn some calories and satisfy my psychological needs.   Off I went figuring I’d be a bit sluggish after the high mileage week. 

Sure enough, just as I planned, I was sluggish.  It was alright for awhile because jogging doesn’t require much hard breathing.  But, it also didn’t take too long to realize how much more work it is to just jog.  Too much up and down and not enough forward momentum.  In addition, there is no core or torso utilization which helps with speed without making the legs work any harder.   Most of all, the springiness I feel in my stride that comes from pushing off my toes isn’t there.   In short, I don’t like it.  Perhaps most of all  because it takes too much time!  But it’s hard to change pace when you’re feeling sluggish. Time for an attitude change.

It took me about 5 minutes of deliberate effort to get back into my ‘real’ running stride but, boy, was it worth it.  Nice finish.   5 extra miles.   A lesson in attitude.  A few hundred calories burned. 

I’ll do a resistance & stretching workout tomorrow.  I’ll run on Tuesday after 2 days of leg rest.

I’m glad I ran today.