Thursday, December 30, 2010

The break continues

3D model of an influenza virus.Image via Wikipedia
Mug shot of Mr. Flu Cell
Got in to see the doc yesterday. It's either the flu or laryngitis (or both). And it's the reason I've now gone a complete week without running an inch. I did, however, wake up this morning feeling a slight (very slight) bit better, so maybe I've turned the corner on this thing.

I wrote last week that I don't let it bother me when I miss a run. Well, missing a week of runs does bother me. But I'm trying to stay positive. The mere fact that it bothers me to miss a week of running shows how far I've come over the past year. Because a year ago, missing a week of running was the norm; now it bugs me.

Also, on another positive note, I have already exceeded my total mileage goal for 2010. So maybe I'm due for a break, right?

Anyway, so I'm hoping that I have turned the corner on this thing, and that I'll be back out on the street pounding the pavement soon - maybe today.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Break

cloudyImage by Gilbert R. via Flickr
The past several days have been somewhat of an unscheduled break from running. Last week I wrote about how I was feeling slow during my runs - like my energy level was declining. Whatever was causing that decline finally came on full force last Friday morning. I've had zero energy, cloudy/congested head, etc. I go to see the Dr tomorrow a.m. Hopefully this will pass soon.

On a brighter note, I got a sweet deal on some new Asics 2150's. They are on clearance right now because the new 2160's just came out. My old 2150's have been great, so I'm pretty happy about getting such a good deal on these new ones. I also got some cool reflective gear for Christmas - a lightweight vest and a knit cap that has a reflective band. I run at night most of the time. A good reflective vest is long overdue.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Catching up

A forest trail running along the top of an esk...Image via Wikipedia
Just a random nice picture.
Not really related to this post.
It's been about a week since I've written about my running, so this is a quick catch-up of what I've been up to for the past week.

Last week:
Monday was a scheduled rest day.

Tuesday and Thursday were the same - Yoga meltdown followed by an easy 3-miler ... or I should say a 3 mile run at my "easy" pace. I really should start calling it something else, because it's not always easy, especially right after the yoga meltdown workout.

Wednesday was 6x400m intervals. This was my first time back to the track in several weeks, so I wasn't sure what to expect. By the second interval I was doubting whether I had it in me to finish all six. But I took it one interval at a time, and did much better than I expected. My goal was 1:45 to 1:50 per interval. My splits were 1:50, 1:49, 1:46, 1:44, 1:43, 1:39 - right on target!

Friday was another scheduled rest day.

Saturday was a 4 mile run at easy pace. This one was a bit of a struggle. My energy level was pretty low, I think I was getting a touch of whatever it was that was making the rounds in our family last week. But I still managed to average a 9:19 pace, just a bit faster than the 9:30 goal.

Sunday was *supposed* to be a 6 mile run at an easy pace. It didn't happen. I just really wasn't feeling well, and I knew I just didn't have it in me. I don't like to miss a run, but I've learned to just let it go and move on. I'm not a professional athlete, and it's not like I'm training for the Olympics here. Things happen, and sometimes runs get missed. I just move on to the next workout on the list. In the big scheme of things, one run won't matter that much.

This week:
Monday was a scheduled rest day.

Tuesday (last night) - yoga meltdown, then 3 mile run at easy pace. The yoga meltdown is still very challenging for me. But last night I detected just a hint of progress. I think it may be getting just a bit easier to keep up. But running after that workout, even at an "easy" pace, is still not easy. I have not looked closely at last night's run yet, but I think I averaged about a 9:15 pace. My Garmin kept reporting some crazy paces during my run, making it hard to know how I was actually doing. The pace would swing from 8:30 to 10 to various paces in between while I felt like I was keeping a pretty steady pace. I'm used to the instant pace being a bit behind and inaccurate, but it's not usually that erratic.

That catches me up to today. Tonight I have a tempo run on the schedule. Good times.


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Friday, December 17, 2010

Foto Friday

I started here - Aug. '09:

Then I spent the past 12 months doing this:

And now 75lbs lighter - Dec. '10:


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Garmin gremlins

GremlinImage by clumsy_juggler via Flickr
The mischievous little creature kind of Gremlin,
not the car kind of Gremlin.
It seems that the gremlins have been busy around our house this past month. We've had plumbing issues, a broken cabinet door, a broken garage door, and now my Garmin 305 is acting up as well. My Garmin is one of my most, if not the most, favorite pieces of running gear. So I've been very anxious to get it working again.

My Garmin problems started a few days ago, when I couldn't get it to turn on as I was heading out for a run. This has actually happened once before, so I knew to do a soft reset (hold lap + mode, then press power and all three for a few seconds), and like last time, it came back to life. Then after my run, my Garmin decided that it was no longer on speaking terms with my computer, and refused to upload any data. Plus, I haven't been able to start up my Garmin without doing a soft reset.

So over the past few days, I've done some google research and tried a variety of things to resolve my Garmin issues. I've cleaned the contacts, updated drivers, cleared some of the history, cleared all of the history, etc. Clearing the history helped some. After clearing the history, I was able to upload some data. The time and distance info would show up, but not any of the map data, and also the pace/elevation charts don't appear either.

As a last resort, I did a hard reset, which wipes everything and sets it back to factory settings. I found conflicting information about how exactly to do a factory reset, but this is what actually worked:

1. If the unit is on, do a soft reset (hold lap + mode) to force the unit to power off.
2. Hold down Enter + Mode for a couple of seconds, then quickly press and release the power button while continuing to hold the Enter and Mode buttons for a few more seconds.
3. After releasing the Enter and Mode buttons, your Garmin should power up and go through the start-up screens as if it's a new device.

This procedure really does wipe everything, so be prepared to lose data and settings if you do this. I had already either uploaded or manually entered all of my runs, so I wasn't concerned about losing history. I also wrote down the fields I had set up on each of my screens, so tonight I'll need to set those up again.

I'll find out after tonight's workout if this fixed the problem. However, I was able to start my Garmin without a soft reset, so that's a good sign.


Since doing the factory reset on my Garmin, I've taken it out for two runs and I'm happy to report that all of the problems have gone away! The factory reset seems to have fixed everything.


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Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting back into 5k mode

I love PR (public relations)Image by DoktorSpinn via Flickr

I'm now officially full-on into 5k training mode. Let the fun begin!

My first workout of the new training program was a 3mi fast run on Saturday. I decided ahead of time on an 8min/mile pace for my fast runs*. This meant completing Saturday's run in 24 minutes. Not an easy task for me, but not impossible either. I'd call it a good challenge - and it didn't disappoint.

I felt pretty good starting out. I checked my pace frequently, trying to get my pace just right. It felt good to be out running such a strong pace - much faster than the 9.5-11min long-run miles I've become accustomed to during the 1/2 marathon training.

Then I got to about the 1/2 mile mark.

And the pain began...this was really going to be a challenge.

I did what I normally do in these situations - I turned up my music in an effort to distance my mind from the pain. That worked pretty well for a while.

Then I got to about the 3/4 mile mark.

Self-doubt started to kick in. I haven't been running fast in a while - had I lost some ability since my 5k PR last October? Have the many long, slow runs robbed me of some ability to go fast on the shorter runs?

I decided I would slow down. Not right away - but up the trail just a bit. The plan had changed - instead of doing three 8min miles, I would use this as an opportunity to see how far I could go at that pace.

So I went another 1/4 mile and finished mile 1.  Time: 7:42. Whew! I was ahead of my goal! So I decided I could back off just a bit and try to hang for at least another half mile. At least make it half-way. Then I could back off and feel good about at least getting to the half way point at my new fast goal pace.

This mind trick kept me going to the 1.5 mile point, then to the 1.75 mile point, then to the 2 mile point... mile 2 time: 8:06. I was slipping just a bit, but still pretty close, and overall still ahead of my target time.

With a mile to go now, I was beginning to feel like I might be able to hang on and finish this run on target. If not, I could at least get really close. This line of reasoning got me through to mile 2.5. Still on pace. Then I got to a pretty good hill. I managed to work my way up the challenging grade at target pace, but I was really hurting at the top.

Fortunately, my effort was rewarded by an equally steep downhill, but it was short-lived.

By mile 2.7 I was really feeling it and really wondering how I managed that sub-25 min 5k last October. Then I hit the wall at mile 2.75. I had to back off. Had to. So I stopped my Garmin and walked for about half a minute. That was all I needed. I decided I could do this last 1/4 mile, I couldn't quit this close to finish. So I started the Garmin again and headed to mile 3... mile 3 time: 8:00 - right on target (well, not counting the short break).

So Saturday's run looked like this**:
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 23:48
Ave Pace: 7:55

My second workout was on Sunday.

This session, my long runs are on Sundays. This Sunday was 5 miles. I decided on a 9:30 pace for my long runs*.

I've also decided to really focus more on core/strength training this time around. For now, I'm doing Jillian Michael's "Yoga Meltdown." This is not traditional yoga - it's a combination of aerobic and static exercises, and it's very challenging for me right now. The great thing about it is that it doesn't require any equipment, and it includes alot of core and upper leg work, which is just what I'm wanting to focus on.  I'm doing this workout before my long and easy runs - which means on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

So Sunday would include JM Yoga and then a 5 mile run. I don't really have as much to say about Sunday's workout. The yoga was challenging, but my wife Melody did the yoga workout with me, so it was nice to have a workout partner. By the end of the yoga, I was wondering if I had enough left to complete the 5 mile run. But once I got out on the road, I felt fine and had no problem completing the run.

So Sunday's run looked like this:
Distance: 5 miles
Time: 46:38
Ave Pace: 9:18

That catches me up to today, which is a rest day. I can tell from this weekend's two workouts that I have a challenging six weeks ahead of me!

* The paces were selected with the help of the McMillan running calculator using my last 5k race time.

** If you add in the 20-30 second break, the overall pace slips to about 8:05 - still about on target... unless you also consider that I had my Garmin stopped during the walking bit, so the distance I walked was not part of the 3 miles, so overall distance was more than 3 miles, so... so it's really a bit complicated to figure it all out. I'll just keep it imprecise and say I managed about an 8min pace :)


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Friday, December 10, 2010

Photo Friday

It seems like "photo Friday" is a popular blog topic, so I'm giving it a shot this week.

My favorite part of every race...

is seeing my family after the run...

especially my kids, who are always so proud of their dad, and curious about the race.

It's good to be a runner, but it's great to be a Dad.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Training and Race Schedule Updates

Oscar, running fastImage by soylentgreen23 via Flickr
I've finally settled on a couple of races for early 2011. I'll be doing two 5k's - one on Jan. 22, and another on March 26. This means it's time to get back into some speed training. I've been mostly focusing on endurance the past couple of months, so it will be interesting to see where I'm at with the speed workouts. I'm guessing that I've got some painful workouts in my near future!

I finally updated my calendar on my training schedule page. It now shows my workouts between now and my next race on January 22. My training schedule is based on Hal Higdon's intermediate 5k training program.

I also added a new page for listing my 2011 race schedule. Right now it's a work in progress. I've got a couple of races that are locked in, and several that I'm considering. I'm thinking I'd like to run between 7 and 9 races next year, including at least two half marathons. I'm also strongly leaning towards running my first full marathon next December.  If you know of a great race in the north Texas area that's not on my list, let me know about it!

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Team World Vision

I learned a bit more about Team World Vision at the expo last weekend. I had heard of them before because of Ryan Hall's involvement with their program. I've been meaning to look further into it, so I was glad to see their booth at the expo. What I learned is that you can run one of several races around the country, and use that race as an opportunity to raise money for World Vision. They use the money to help provide clean drinking water in Africa. I checked out their website, and I learned that the clean water program is actually only one of many things that World Vision does to help those in need around the world.

So I've decided to get involved with Team World Vision and do at least one fundraiser race for them next year. There are two races that are local - a half marathon in October, and White Rock Marathon next December. I'm thinking I'll do at least the half in October, and maybe White Rock again next December too.

If you can't make one of their listed races, no problem. You can use any race as an opportunity to raise money for World Vision. You just sign up through their "Choose your own event" page, and they set up a free fundraising page for you. 

It's good to run for personal achievements like improved fitness and reaching new time and distance goals. But it really adds so much of a deeper meaning to running when you are doing it to raise money for great causes like this.

If you are at all interested, check out their program at their Team World Vision website (

Also, consider helping me with my fund raising efforts by making a donation to World Vision via my Team World Vision page at


What next?

2010 bib collection
Yesterday's half marathon marks the 6th and final race for me for 2010. My races this year included three 5k's, two 10k's, and a half marathon. I have great memories of all of these races, and I would gladly do any of them again.

So now, with the 2010 race schedule complete, I'm beginning to think more seriously about what to do next. One big reason for this is that my half marathon training program is now complete, so I need a plan for this week! Actually I'm planning to take it easy this week - probably do a few easy 3-5 mile runs. That will give me time to recover from the HM, and time to figure out my next training plan.

One option is to simply do a repeat of this year. It would be fun to re-do each of these races and see how I can improve on the same race, same day. But I think I want to try some new races, so I won't just do complete repeat of this year.

The one race that is a sure thing is Joe's run in March. Joe's run was my first ever race. So I plan on making it an annual tradition to run the Joe's run 5k. They also have a 10k, but I think I'll stick with the 5k event for this one. Aside from that one race, I'm not really decided on whether to repeat any of the other races. There's a good chance that I'll also re-do the Buffalo Boogie. That was a great local event that the kids really enjoyed. I'm also likely to do the Komen 5k again. It's a great cause and an amazing event.

So my mission this week is to put together a training plan for the next 2-3 months. Since Joe's 5k is the next for-sure race, I'm thinking I'll get back into some 5k training - which means more speed work! I may run a 5k in January, sort of as a practice for Joe's run in March, and to keep from having too big of a break between races. If I go too long without a race, my motivation starts to sink. So for 2011, I plan to keep a race on the calendar at least once every two months.

Oh - and there's also that little decision yet to be made about whether to run a full 26.2 next year...


Sunday, December 5, 2010

White Rock Half Marathon

Today I ran my first ever half marathon...

...and I got this cool medal to show for it.

The experience was amazing. I can't wait to do another one.
The day started kind of rough. It's never easy to get up and out of the house before 6AM with three kids. Plus, it was very cold outside - about 35 degrees with wind (the one time the weather forecaster was right, darnit). The race was scheduled to begin at 8AM. We planned to leave by 5:30, actually left some time after 6. At 7:40, when I was supposed to be lining up in my starting corral, I was instead stuck in some major traffic. We finally got within about a mile of the starting line at about 7:55 or so, and so I bailed out of the car and jogged to the start along with several other late arrivers. Fortunately, the race was running late. I ended up having plenty of time to hit the port-o-johns and find my starting corral. I was in starting wave "J" and my wave didn't end up actually starting until about 8:45. So all the stress about running late was for nothing. Plus, the jog to the starting line ended up being a decent warm-up, and so I wasn't too cold waiting for the start.

Waiting in the starting corral was actually kind of fun. There was alot of energy and excitement, and mixed emotions of runners around me, many of whom were first-timers like me. Some were running their first half marathon like me, and others were running their first full marathon. People were really anxious to get going, but were mostly joking about it rather than complaining, which was nice. I guess people were just feeling too excited to complain.

When we finally got up to the starting line, we heard the countdown we had heard many times by then, and then we were off! The first few miles were pretty typical of an early part of a race. Alot of people jockeying for position, and I was focusing on trying to get warmed up and into a groove. And then, miles 4-10 just seemed to tick off more quickly than I could believe. The water stations were every 1.5 miles (and were well-stocked and run by friendly people). It was funny how it seemed like they kept coming up so fast. I would see one and think that they must have worked an extra one in, then I would check my Garmin and be surprised to see that another 1.5 miles had actually already passed. Then the last few miles seemed to drag on. I think because by that point I was more focused on finishing than just running. Finally with about 2 miles to go we merged with the full marathon route (we split from them I think around mile 8), and then mile 13.1 - the finish line! The area around the finish line was really packed with spectators, and there were several giant video screens and music and noise - it was really overwhelming, especially when combined with the emotions of completing the run. It was an experience I just can't describe.

One cool thing  was that at one point near mile 11 I heard a police motorcycle coming up from behind me, pulsing his siren. He passed, and was being followed by another motorcycle that had a rear-facing passenger with a big video camera. Behind them was a woman marathoner running a really fast pace. I'm guessing she may have been the lead female runner. It was kind of cool to be running near such an elite runner, even if only for a moment as she made quick work of passing me and the others around me.

One of the things that struck me about this race was the amount of spectators. I'm used to seeing alot of spectators around the start/finish area, and occasionally I may see some here and there along the course. But this course was pretty well covered from start to finish with spectators. Some stretches were lighter than others, and some spots had some pretty good crowds. But I don't remember ever being in an area where there weren't people watching and cheering us on. That makes such a huge difference, especially when I see kids. It really gives me a boost and lifts my spirits to see people encouraging us on. I wonder if most of them realize how much runners appreciate them. I also love it when I see a kid reaching out for a high-five. I always try to get over and oblige. I gave about a half-dozen of them today.

So looking back, I think I will definitely do another half. I'm not sure about doing a full marathon, but I suspect I probably will at some point. I realize now that it's not so much the race itself that's the challenge - it's the weeks and months of training that allow you to finish the race that is the challenge. And while the weekly long runs might sometimes seem like a grind, it is so worth it on race day to be able to go out and spend a couple of hours with several thousand others on a nice run for a good cause and having a great time.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

The night before

The race shirt and bib
Just a few thoughts the night before my first half marathon.

This might be the most relaxed I've been before a race. I think it's because my recent leg/knee pains caused me to back off my training the past couple of weeks, so I've also backed off my goals for this race. I was thinking of trying to come in under 2 hours, but I doubt that I have the stamina for that right now. So I'm really just going into this race tomorrow with the idea of taking it easy and just enjoying it. No matter what, it's an automatic PR, right?

But, I do still have a few time goals in mind:

Easiest goal: 2:24:00 - I feel like I should be fully capable of finishing under 2:24, which is about an 11min pace.

Mid-level goal: 2:17:00 - About where I expect to finish, with an average of about a 10:30 pace.

Hardest goal: 2:11:00 - Averaging 10min/mile - a good effort for a race that I'm planning to take easy.

Another positive is that my leg pain has just about gone away. I got to talk to a sports medicine doctor at the expo today. He seemed to think it was tendonitis and gave me some good tips for stretching and strength exercises, and recommended post-run stretching (4-5min) and icing (no more than 15 min). He also thought my new shoes might be the culprit. It's disappointing, because I really like those shoes.

The only thing causing some anxiety at the moment is the weather forecast for tomorrow morning - 35 degrees and 10-15mph winds, making it feel like 30 degrees. It's hard to dress for this temperature range. I know I'll be freezing at the start and sweating by mile 4. My plan is to layer - two shirts, short sleeve under long sleeve, and a zip-up sweat shirt hoodie as a third layer that I can ditch along the run if I get too hot. I'll also have long compression pants under shorts, a knit cap, and gloves. I'll probably be out of the gloves and hat by mile 8. The gloves are too nice to ditch, so they'll go in pockets. The hat might get ditched, so I'll pick one that I don't mind parting with.

So that 's it for now. Being at the expo today really got me mentally ready to run. Can't wait to run this thing tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Getting lost and some top-5 lists

Last night I went out for a 5mi run. I headed out on a 5mi course that I've run several times lately. It's a nice course because there are alot of turns, which I think helps break the run up and makes it less mentally taxing. It just seems easier than a 2.5mi straight run out-and-back. The only problem with a course like this is that there's a greater risk of missing a turn - which happened last night. The result was that I got lost discovered a new 5.5mi course!

Despite my plan to take it slow, I actually averaged a fairly quick (for me) pace last night with an average pace of 9:39min/mile. To put that into perspective, here are my five fastest paces for runs I've done over the past year according to my dailymile page:

1. 07:48 min/mi on 10/16 (my 5k PR race)
2. 08:31 min/mi on 11/03
3. 08:40 min/mi on 10/29
4. 08:50 min/mi on 11/09
5. 09:15 min/mi on 10/22

In other words, I didn't take it slow last night. The run was pain-free, but I have some soreness in my left calf today. Not terrible, but I wish it wasn't there. I think I'm going to try a compression sleeve for my knee and see if that helps.

One possible reason for the leg pain could be this - my five longest runs are now all over 10 miles, and most of them were within the past 8 weeks:

1. 11.12mi on 11/20
2. 11.02mi on 10/09
3. 10.18mi on 10/02
4. 10.02mi on 09/04
5. 10.01mi on 11/05

Being a new runner, meaning that before last December I hadn't done much running for the previous 14 years, I guess it's fair to expect some fatigue at this point. Plus, even when I was running consistently back in the early/mid 90's, I never ran further than about 5 miles. I shouldn't expect HM training to be easy, and it also gives me a whole new level of respect for people who have managed to complete the full 26.2.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Saturday's long run and this week's training plan

Saturday morning I went out for my second 11mi long run of my half-marathon training plan. For the first couple of miles, this was one of those runs that felt akward, like I was really forcing things. I just felt sluggish. Finally, a few miles in I started to get into a groove, at least physically. Mentally, I was still battling. For whatever reason, I just wasn't feeling up for the long run. So I just grinded through it. At the half-way point, I decided to break the rest of the run into 1.5 mile increments, equal to the distance between water stations on my upcoming HM course, so that for the rest of the run I would drink some gatorade every 1.5 miles. I think focusing on the smaller increments rather than the whole distance helped alot.

The good news is that I didn't have any knee pain during Saturday's run. Yesterday there was some mild pain, but it's gone today.

So the plan for this week is as follows:
Today: 5mi easy run
Tomorrow: 3mi easy run
Wednesday: 5mi easy run
Thursday: eat turkey and nap rest
Friday: either cross-training or 5mi easy run
Saturday: long run (10-12 mi) - distance tbd depending on how this week goes.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Last night's run

Checking the calendar, I now have two weeks and two days until my first half marathon. This week and next week are supposed to be my final two weeks of real training, with the final week leading up to the race being a bit of a taper. But that plan was interrupted this week with onset of some mild pain in my left leg. I took Tuesday and Wednesday off from running this week to get some extra rest, and then went for a 5 mile run last night at a very easy pace. I'll take today off, and then do my scheduled long run (11 miles) on Saturday.

Overall, I'm encouraged by last night's run. Most of the run was pain-free. I had some tightness in my left leg for the first mile or so, but then it loosened up and was fine the rest of the way. Today the pain has returned, but it's very mild. It's just enough to be a minor annoyance. But it's a reminder that I'm not 100%.

So looking at my training plan for next week, I'm thinking I may back off the speed work planned for next week and just focus on getting in some easy miles to keep my endurance up. I guess I could think of it as extending the taper period.

As for my goals for the HM, since this will be my first HM, my primary goal is still just to finish. As for time goals...those are still TBD. A sub-2 hour time would be great. But I think I may back off from that goal and instead shoot for a 2:10 or 2:15...just take it easy and enjoy the experience.

Have a great Friday!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rest time is almost over

I've now taken a couple of evenings off, and the knee is feeling much better. The pain is totally gone. I did do some walking yesterday and today during my lunch hour, about 1.5 miles each time. Yesterday I could feel a twinge of pain/tightness, but today was completely pain-free. So my plan is to go out for about a 3mi easy run tonight and see how it goes.

On another note, last weekend my wife ran her second ever 5k. The kids and I were there to cheer her on. As she rounded the final corner, my oldest daughter jumped in and ran the last 50 yards or so with her. It was really cool. And as an added bonus, apparently a race photographer captured the moment:


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dallas White Rock Half Marathon Course

Looks like they have finally settled on the (unofficial) course for the HM I'm running in a few weeks: | View Dallas White Rock Half Marathon Course in Dallas, Texas


Taking some unscheduled rest time

Over the past few days I've noticed some pain near my left knee, on the inner side of my leg. It's fairly mild, and there's no swelling. I suspect it's either an MCL sprain or PAT (Pes Anserinus Tendinitis). At this point I don't think it really matters which it is, because the treatment for both is to get some rest (and ice, compress, etc.).

With my first HM only a couple of weeks away, I feel like the best thing for me to do is to get to the starting line without injury. Missing a few runs this week might affect my performance a little bit, but I don't feel like it will make a huge difference at this point. I feel confident that I can at least cover the distance, and my primary goal for this first HM is just to finish. I can't do that if I try to push through and turn this minor condition into a more serious injury by continuing to run on it... least that's what I'm going to keep telling myself, because it's hard to take a break from running, especially with a race coming up.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Easy run, interrupted

Last night I headed out for a 5 mile run, which was supposed to be run at an easy pace. The weather was great when I left my house - partly cloudy, still, and a comfortable 55 degrees. My plan was to do an out-and-back route that I've run a few times. Heading out things were feeling pretty good. I was keeping my heart rate around 65-70% max and maintaining about a 9:30 pace, which is pretty quick for me for that heart rate. When I got to
Lightning is a highly visible form of energy t...
the turn-around point, about 2.5 miles from home, I noticed some lightning in the distance. You can see pretty far from where I was, and I didn't hear the thunder, so I felt like I was okay. Just to be safe, I turned my music way down so I could hear if the lightning got closer. About a mile from home it did. The distant lightning was suddenly very close, and it seemed like I was seeing it all around me. The thunder was pretty loud at this point, and pretty close to the flashes of light - so I knew it was too close for me to be out running. Also about this time it started raining - and I mean it was pouring. I was running through a residential area at this point - alot of tall houses and trees - so I didn't really feel like there was a good place to stop. From what I understand, the thing to do is to get into an open area away from trees, etc., and curl up in a ball on the ground. Well, the only open area would have been the middle of the street. So I decided to just get home and out of the storm asap. I picked up my pace averaging about an 8:20 pace the last 1.1 miles. A few minutes later, the storm passed. It was just bad luck that I happened to be out running during the 10 minutes or so that it stormed. It's just one of the hazards of running in this part of the country - these quick, violent thunder storms sometimes just pop up out of nowhere. I got caught out in one without a plan - bad move. I'll need to plan for this sort of thing so I can deal with it better next time it happens - because it probably will.

Have you ever got caught out running in a storm? How did you handle the situation?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

First 15k

Today I ran my first 15k. My HM training schedule called for a 15k race this weekend. But, I could not find one to run, except for a 15k trail race. I passed on that, because I don't have much trail running experience and I don't want to risk twisting an ankle this close to my HM. So I did the alternative of running a time trial. I managed to run it in 1 hr, 26 min, which is about an average of a 9:18 pace. I chose a challenging course full of hills, with a couple of pretty challenging ones. I think this was a tougher course than the HM course I'll run in a few weeks. So I'm happy with the result. I'm thinking it would be great to run my first HM in under 2 hrs, which means running about a 9 min pace. Today showed me that it may be possible for me, since I usually run a bit faster on race day and I'll be running a faster course. We'll see. Anyway, I'm counting today as my 15k PR. Since it's not a common race distance, it may be a PR that stands for a while.

PS - something else to be happy about today's run - my time at the 10k mark was 57:32, which beats my 10k PR by about 15 seconds :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New shoes

Ordered these yesterday:

New Balance MR905, in the new orange color.

These are light-weight and the pair I tried on felt great. Can't wait to get these and take them out for a spin. If they live up to my expectations, these will be my shoes for my HM coming up in December.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New name, new look

I decided to change things up around here a little bit. I changed the name to The Quiet Runner, which is a pretty good description for me. I also changed the theme. No good reason, just felt like a change.

Training for my first HM is going well. I've been hitting my training goals for each workout, and I've been consistent with making sure not to skip runs. The biggest hole in my routine right now is that I feel like I'm lacking in the core strengthening area. So far I've just been doing a random mix of pushups, planks, squats, and other arm and ab exercises. I really need to find a good core strengthening workout plan that I can use for my Sunday and Wednesday strength & stretching sessions.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Proper Warm Up

It turns out that I may have been preparing for my runs all wrong for all of these years (if you include my years of running back in the early 90's). The linked article suggests that pre-run stretching is unnecessary, and should be replaced by gradually increasing movement of your body, e.g., start with walking and work up to a slow jog over a period of several minutes. Save stretching for post-run (or during a run).

Q & A: Proper Warm Up and Foot Pain |

How do you prepare for a run?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thinking about a new name

I'm thinking about changing the name of this blog. I'm not very creative (hey - how about "the uncreative runner"?), so I'm taking suggestions. If I had something cool to give away, I'd offer a prize, but I can't think of a good prize at the moment.

Hope everyone is having a great friday!

Go Rangers!Texas Rangers (baseball)Image via Wikipedia

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Updating some goals

Even though it's only October, I'm already thinking about my goals for 2011. I like having PR goals for 5k and 10, and I've now hit my 2010 goals for both. Plus, unless I run a race on a whim, I've run my last 5k and my last 10k for 2010. The only race I've got left on the schedule for 2010 is the Dallas White Rock half marathon. Since it will be my first HM, I'm pretty focused on it.

So, for 5k and 10k, I've been thinking about where to set my goals for 2011 for the past few days. My goals for 2010 were sub-25min for the 5k, and sub-60min for the 10k. There was no magic formula for coming up with these goals, they were picked because they were nice round numbers that would also push me to improve.

To be honest, I've found that one of the most difficult aspects of running is predicting rate of improvement. I really don't know how much improvement to expect over, say, a 12-month period. So this uncertainty makes it hard to set goals. So, rather than trying to predict how much I will improve, I set a target on how much I would like to improve, and make a best guess on whether it's realistic.

Thinking about 5k and 10k PR goals for 2011 has led me to the following numbers that I seem to keep coming back to: sub-22min 5k and sub-50min 10k. So those are the goals for 2011 that I've settled on, at least for now. The sub-22min goal for the 5k was chosen because (1) it's a good improvement over my current 5k PR of 24:22, and (2) it gets me to the point where I can start being age-group competitive in local races. The sub-50min goal for the 10k was also chosen because it would be a good improvement over my current 10k PR of 57:47, and it's a nice round number.

Other goals for 2011 so far include running my first full marathon, and I will also set a PR goal for the half marathon at some point after completing my first HM in December. I'm also thinking about where to set mileage goals for 2011 and about other more creative goals I might set.

I'd love to hear about goals others are setting for next year, and how they go about deciding where to set the bar for their different goals.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Komen 5k Race Report

Yesterday I ran in the Susan G. Komen 5k. This was the coolest race I have participated in so far. There were about 25,000 runners and walkers, and about $1million raised for cancer research, which is awesome! The race was amazingly well organized considering the number of participants. I had no problem parking and it was a fairly short walk to the event area. They had mailed my race packet, so I had no lines to wait in on race day.

My expectations were pretty low in terms of personal performance for this race for a few reasons. One, I had heard that the size of the crowd made it difficult to run. Two, I hadn't been training specifically for a 5k - I've been focusing on a 1/2 marathon coming up in December, which means I haven't been doing alot of speed work the past few weeks. Three, the day before I started getting that sinking feeling that usually signals the onset of some kind or cold or flu. So I was going into this race with an open mind, resigned to being satisfied just to be a part of such a great fund raising effort for such an important cause.

Saturday morning I arrived at the race site about 6:30, which was an hour and a half before race time of 8am. There was already a sizable crowd in the vendors area, but noone near the starting line. I headed over to the starting corral and did some stretching and light running to get warmed up. Soon a few other runners started appearing, and by 7am a good number of runners were gathering near the starting line. So I spent the next hour chatting with other runners about the typical runners topics - races, training, etc. The time flew by, and soon it was time for the National Athem (this was the first time I'd seen this done at a race), followed by a count down and then we were off!

Since I was so close to the starting line, I had no problem taking off at a good pace, and I found that the crowd thinned out pretty quickly. I was feeling good, so I decided to go ahead and try to break 25 minutes for the first time - which meant keeping about an 8min/mile pace. By 1/4 mile in, it could have been any race in terms of the size of the crowd around me. At about 1/2 mile in I checked my pace - 7:15 - which was way too fast, so I thought I'd better back off a bit. So I eased back to about 7:50. At the 1 mile mark, they had a clock (cool!) that said I think about 7:47 (also cool - I was ahead of my goal of 8min/mile). Mile 2 was fairly eventful - alot of spectators (we ran through a residential area), a few turns, few groups of cheerleaders, a water station where I accidentally spilled water on someone (I didn't get a good grip on the cup they were handing me - sorry!),  so there were enough distractions to make the second mile go by pretty fast.  The clock at mile 2 said 15:something - cool, still maintaining a sub-8min pace.

Then came the pain - mile 3!

As good as I felt during miles 1 and 2, mile 3 was a grind! I'll start by mentioning that I was wearing my heart rate monitor - great move! Seriously - if I hadn't had the confidence my heart rate info provided, I never would have been able to grind through the pain of mile 3 without slowing my pace. Everything hurt - my legs, my arms, I was t-i-r-e-d! My hr was hovering around 93-95%. I knew this was actually a good range for a 5k, so I just took it a step at a time, just kept going. Half way through the third mile (around mile 2.6) I was greeted by a hill - great, just what I needed - an extra challenge! I increased my arm swing and pushed on. Then came the stench - some horrible smell - imagine running by a sewage plant or landfill - I suddenly thought this might be the first time I throw up during a race. I checked my pace - still around 7:50. I was now at about mile mark 2.75. I thought to myself - forget this! just imagine running a 400 - you do them all the time, just grind through a 400.

Finally I could see the starting line, which meant that the finish line was about .1 mile away. I don't remember seeing a clock at the 3 mile mark, but I may have missed it because by that point I was back near the start and the crowd was huge! I was surprised to see that there were still people just starting the race. I took a right, then a quick left and the finish line was in sight. At this point, I could see the time was close 24 minutes, and I decided that no amount of pain was going to keep me from missing this chance to finally break 25.

That last .1 was a blur, but before I knew it I was crossing the finish line and the clock said 24:24. I couldn't believe it. I felt close to tears thinking about all the training I've gone through over the past 10 months, starting from barely being able to run for 5 minutes, and here I was finishing a 5k in just over 24 minutes. It felt great to know that all of my hard work was paying off and that I was actually making progress.

Here's a snapshot of my official results:

So, overall it was a great experience. It's fun to set a new record, and especially sweet when it's part of something that is raising money and awareness for such an important cause.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Racing up stairs

Went for a walk during lunch today and found this flyer:

It's for a race up the stairs of a 53 story building. I'm thinking about giving it a shot.

I wonder what the equivalent running distance would be?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Two For One

Just noticed something pretty cool. I actually set two PRs during my 10k race a couple of weeks ago. My 10k time of 57:47 was a new PR. So I was going back and checking my splits from that race, and I noticed that my time at the half-way point (at 5k) was 28:12, which beats my 5k PR of 28:54 set back in May.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Quick Hits

• Ran a 10k last Saturday in the rain and set a new PR

• Travelled to Seattle last week for work. Had some great seafood but didn't get in a run.

• With that 10k behind me, I'm now focusing my running on prepping for my first half marathon coming up in December

• I'm running the Dallas Komen 5k in a couple of weeks, but I've been told that it is hard to actually run because of the size of the crowd

• This is my first post from my iPhone. Hopefully this will make it easier to post more frequently.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Fast Facts

It's been over a week since my last post. Things have been pretty busy, and I still don't feel like I have time to write much, but I would like to make a quick list of some things that have been going on in my running world over the past couple of weeks.

- First I have to say how proud I am of my wife, who ran her first 5k last Saturday! She has really been working hard and she did a great job.

- Last Saturday I completed my first 10 mile run. Each time I reach a new milestone like this, it gives me confidence that I can be ready for my first half marathon coming up in December.

- I've set new PR's for my 5k and 10k over the past two weeks :) I'm calling them unofficial since they were training runs. I've got a 10k coming up on Sept 25, and a 5k on Oct 16. Can't wait.

- I got a new Nathan hydration belt (Speed 2R Auto-Cant), found it on Amazon for $25! I used it during my 10mi run last Saturday. Two thumbs up! I'll admit that it bothered me for the first half mile or so, but then I got used to the feel of it and by mid run forgot it was even there.

- Over the past couple of weeks, I've started trying to eat something during my long runs. Two weeks ago it was strawberry-banana GU, last saturday it was rasberry Hammer Gel. The Gu tasted better, but the Hammer gel gave me more of an energy boost. I've got a stash of other miscellaneous things to try (gels, Clif shots, jelly beans). The goal is to sort out some likes/dislikes in time for my half marathon in December.

That's it for now. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Poll Q - Do you wear a HR monitor while racing?

Was surprised to read a blog entry recently where the author mentioned that the hr monitor provided some confidence to push beyond their comfort level and set a new PR. It never occurred to me to wear a hr monitor during a race - just seems too restrictive for racing. I like it for training, but I don't know about racing. And I can't recall ever seeing one during a race, but I also don't recall ever looking for one either. So now I'm curious - just how common is it to wear a hr monitor during a race? Comment/vote in the poll, and let me know what you think.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

New unofficial 10k PR

Went running with the Lake Grapevine Runners and Walkers this morning for my long run. The weather was amazing - in the upper 60's at the start. It felt great compared to the 90's I've been running in over the past several weeks. They have  a nice course that runs along Lake Grapevine. It's a 4-mile out and back full of small rolling hills. They had several water/gatorade stops set up along the way. I stopped a few times during my run for a drink, which is something I don't usually do.

Despite my stops, I somehow managed to finish the first 10k of the run in 1:03:53, crushing my official 10k PR (set July 4) by over 11 minutes!

I finished the 9 mile run in 1:35.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Training Update

Just checking in with a quick update on the past few days. Saturday morning I continued my recent streak of setting distance PR's with my long runs by completing my first ever 9 mile run. Overall, the run went great. Somewhere around mile 8.4-8.5 I started feeling some soreness in my patellar tendons. It wasn't severe, maybe a 3 or 4 on a scale of 1-10. I've felt that before, back when I was training for my first 10k during my first few 6 mile runs. Eventually it went away. I believe it's just tired muscles that aren't used to the new distances. The pain went away within a few minutes of completing my run. So, at this point I don't think it's anything to be too concerned about.

Sunday evening was my regular day-after-a-long-run recovery run, nothing really notable about it. It's the run that I didn't do last week because of our trip to a water park. Looking back now and comparing the two experiences, I do believe that the day at the water park was far more exhausting.

Monday was rest day, and tonight was 400m intervals. I did 4 intervals, but should have done 5. I didn't check my schedule before I left, so I didn't realize that this was the week that I go up from 4 to 5. As usual, I started with about a 1 mile warmup run, then did the 400m intervals (splits: 96s, 101s, 103s, 102s - good for me!), with 2 minutes of walking between each one, then finished with about a 1 mile cooldown run. I was actually able to run these on a track tonight. This is the only type of workout that I like to do on a track, and when I do intervals, I really prefer the track. The track I use has a great running surface, and it's nice to see where the 400m will end instead of having to check my Garmin (which is difficult when I'm running at my intervals pace). As an added bonus, a cold front blew in today, so the weather was a comfortable 76 degrees. Very nice compared to the upper 90's and 100 degree weather we've been having.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mid-week training update

So, sometimes life happens, and runs get missed. It's a fact of life, especially when you aren't a professional athlete. That's pretty much the theme for this week so far.

Sunday night was supposed to be a 3-4 mile recovery run. I spent about 9 hours on Sunday at a water park with the family, and didn't get home until about 10:30pm. By that time, I was too tired from the whole water park experience, and I wasn't very excited about running so late at night, so I decided to call it a "cross-training day" and pass on the run. Judging from the way I felt Monday morning, I think it was a fair substitute.

Monday is one of my two rest days. After missing the run on Sunday, I was tempted to run on Monday. But, I decided to just stick to my schedule (besides, I think I needed some rest after Sunday's water park experience).

Tuesday night the schedule called for intervals...but Tuesday was also our 14th wedding anniversary, so we went out to dinner. Before I knew it, the dinner plans were way behind schedule. I should also mention that school started this week, so I'm getting up an hour earlier so I can drive our exchange student to school. That means that I've also shifted my evening schedule back an hour. Long story short - the Tuesday run just didn't happen.

Last night I was determined to run, and I did. I actually had a great run. It's amazing how well you can run after a few days off. I did a 5 mile run last night, which included some pretty good hills. I kept an easy pace, keeping my heart rate in my easy zone. The cool thing is that (1) I still felt strong enough at the end of the run to have kept going, and (2) my easy pace last night was good enough that I could have easily beat my 10k PR by about 3 minutes or more!

So, while I have missed a couple of runs this week, I'm not going to let it bother me. Missed miles are gone and you can't get them back. A great run last night renewed my confidence that I'm still in good shape and making progress despite missing a couple of runs. Plus, a break every now and then is probably a good thing.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New Sony Walkman

So finally, after weeks of problems with my ipod shuffle, I decided to give up on the ipod and try something new. I've been reading alot of good reviews about the Sony wireless walkman (NWZ-W252), so I decided to give it a try.

The main two things that attracted me to this device were that (1) it is water (sweat) resistant, and (2) there are no dangling wires.

I picked it up friday night, and had it ready to go for my Saturday morning 8 mile run. Setup was easy. I was a bit concerned because I use a Mac, and the packaging said that Windows was required. Well, it turns out that you can simply plug this into a Mac and transfer music via USB back and forth with no problems. I think that the only downside is that I can't use the software that came with it, but I don't think I'm missing very much.

It also charges its batteries using the USB. The charging is fast - only a few minutes of charging will provide 90 minutes of playback time. It will fully charge in 1.5 hours, which will provide 11 hours of playback time.

There are three sizes of earbuds. I decided to go with the medium size, which fit firmly in my ears. I was surprised at how well the earpieces stayed in place and didn't move at all while I was running. From the looks of it, I expected them to bounce around, but they were very stable with no noticable bouncing at all.

The music sounded great - better than my ipod, especially the bass. The controls were also very easy to understand and use. And, despite all of the sweating I did over the course of 8 miles, I had no problems, which was so great after weeks of frustrations with the ipod shutting down due to moisture.

I do have a couple of minor cons to mention. First is that the insides of my ears (where the earbuds go) were slightly sore at the end of my run. Not bad, but noticeable. I think I'll try the small earbuds next time. Second, they aren't the coolest looking things - I got some weird looks. I imagine people thinking I was running with one of those bluetooth things in each of my ears. Well, I'm not exactly a pretty sight when I run, so I'm not too concerned about it, but I do think than an over-the-ear design would be an improvement.

So, overall I'm very pleased with this mp3 player. Running with no wires hanging down was great, as was actually completing my entire run without having my music player quit on me. I'm guessing that Sony has more engineers that are actual runners than does Apple, because this mp3 player is definitely better suited for running than my ipod shuffle.
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's Official

I just registered for my first half marathon. It will be in Dallas on December 5 (Dallas White Rock Marathon).

I've been thinking about it for weeks, and finally decided to go for it. My long runs have been going well, so I feel confident that I can be ready. My long runs are up to 8 miles, so I should have no problem adding another 5.1 by December, right?

I can feel the anxiety slowly settling in already...

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I'm Hungry

Mass food production02Image via Wikipedia
That's kind of been the theme of the past few days - suddenly I have this huge appetite. Over the weekend was the worst, because I'm at home and have easy access to snack food. During the week it's easier because I'm at work, and I don't keep snack food around my office. I just bring a day's ration each day - usually a mid-morning snack, a small lunch, and a mid-afternoon snack. But being at home is challenging, even though I usually stay pretty busy.

In order to keep from putting on unwanted extra weight, I'm trying to find things I can snack on when my appetite is really surging that won't pack too many calories. I try to go for fruit, yogurt, or some of these triscuit cracked pepper crackers my wife found - they are excellent with some chedder.

In the mean time, I'm keeping an eye on my weight, and it seems to be stable. So I'm not sure what to think about the increased appetite. I have been running more miles than usual, so I'm thinking that may have something to do with it. Especially since it seems like the hardest day to eat right is Saturday after my long run.

Okay, so enough about food. Here's a mid-week training summary. Yesterday my intervals went pretty well. It was one of those days when I just wasn't feeling up to getting out and running. I was tired from being up late working the night before. I decided just to go do as much as I could. The first couple of intervals went okay, but I was really feeling tired and wanted to quit after two. But I decided to go ahead and do the third and then skip the fourth. Number 3 went well, but again - I was really tired. Anyway, I decided to go ahead and do the last one. I didn't feel like I could even run the entire 400m, but I decided I would just go as far as I could before I absolutely had to stop. I cranked up my music and ran the whole 400m, and even managed to set a new 400m interval training PR. It's funny how often I perform really well when I feel like I'm not going to perform well.

Tonight was an easy run and my second session of hill sprints. The run went well. I'm struggling with timing the hill sprints so that I run 8 seconds instead of 6 or 7 or 9. It's hard to watch a stop watch and sprint, so I've been trying to count 1-1000, 2-1000, etc. Apparently I'm not very accurate that way!

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Training Week in Review

Just wrapping up another great week of training. I feel like the past two weeks have just been excellent, despite the extreme heat we've had this past week.

My speed work is coming along nicely - I've been consistently hitting close to 100 seconds on my 400's, and I've been making the full 20 minutes on my tempo runs without a break.

My long runs of 7.5 miles last week and 8 miles this week were both all-time PR's for distance. Drinking some high-carb sports drink about 20min before my long runs has made a huge difference. I no longer hit a wall at 5-6 miles. These past two long runs have really boosted my confidence that I will be ready for my first 13.1 in December.

So that's about it for this week's training in review. Aside from training, things have been busy as we prepare for an exchange student who will be spending the next 10 months with us. Also, I'm almost through "Ultra Marathon Man" - what an inspiring book!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A few new running books

Half Price Books in downtown Berkeley, California.Image via Wikipedia
Last night I had some free time so I paid a visit to one of my favorite places: Half Price Books.

I was specifically looking for some running-related books. As usual, I found more books than I had money to buy, so I had to narrow my choices down.

Here are the three books I finally settled on:

"Running Within" by Jerry Lynch and Warren Scott

Says it's a guide to mastering the body-mind-spirit connection for ultimate training and racing. I'm hoping to get some good tips on how to train for the mental aspect of running.


"Complete Book of Running & Fitness" by Fred Lebow and Gloria Averbuch

This looks like a good general guide to running. It covers several aspects of running, including tips for racing, nutrition, drills, etc. It's not really the kind of book I would read cover to cover, but more like a mini encyclopedia of running with some stuff I'll scan, other stuff I'll read more closely. I'm excited to try some of the different running drills, to kind of add some variety to my training routine.

"Ultra Marathon Man" by Dean Karnazes

Okay, this one was a complete no-brainer. I was really excited to find this one! I've been a fan of Dean Karnazes since I saw the documentary about his 50 marathons/50 days/50 states endurance challenge. I was amazed and inspired by his accomplishments, and I've been wanting to get this book. I already started it, and I can tell I'm going to get through this one pretty quickly because it's hard to put down. I'd really like to know how someone holds a pizza and a cheesecake in one hand and eats with the other while running!

So that's my new running-book collection. My first three running books.

What running books do you have that you would recommend?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Better late than never

So tonight I ran the long run I had scheduled for Saturday morning. The Saturday morning run didn't happen thanks to a very late night at a high school reunion Friday night. Anyway, the temps were crazy high, about 104 when I started at 7:30pm. I went and ran some trails that include some shady stretches, so I could escape the direct sun for at least some of the run.

I tried something new with my long run tonight. I drank a Gatorade G1 about 20 min before my run. I usually do my long runs on Saturday morning, and I usually hit the wall about an hour into my long runs. I think it's because I haven't been eating or drinking anything before my run. So today about 20 min before my run I drank a G1 sports drink (it also comes in a gel). It was kind of thicker than regular gatorade, and much sweeter. But it wasn't bad. The first 4 miles went about as usual - felt good, kept my pace steady, no problems. At about mile 5, which was about an hour into my run, I could really feel a second wind coming on. My last couple of miles were much stronger than usual. So, I think I've just found my new pre-run fuel. (ps - this is just a review based on my person experience - I wasn't asked or paid to do a review).

I also gave the ipod shuffle a try (after trying and trying to fix it) - and I'm sad to report that it didn't hold up. It lasted about an hour before it started getting static and acting up. I think it was moisture getting into the ipod itself instead of into the buttons on the headphone wires, because the tape on the headphone wires seems to still be sealed pretty well. I turned the ipod off for a while, then moved it from my waistband to my sleeve. I turned it back on and it would play music, but the headphone buttons wouldn't work. Those sony wireless headphones are starting to look better and better.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hill Sprints

Some quick hits from an interesting article in Running Times by Brad Hudson about hill sprints.

Thanks to the Morning Runner for pointing out this article in her blog, where she also discusses a book called Run Faster by Brad Hudson.

Why do hill sprints?
"Well, these brief, maximal-intensity efforts against gravity offer two key benefits. First, they strengthen all of the running muscles, making you much less injury-prone. They also increase the power and efficiency of your stride, enabling you to cover more ground with each stride with less energy in races. These are significant benefits from a training method that takes little time and is fun to do."

Getting started:
"Your first session, performed after completing an easy run, should consist of just one or two 8-second sprints on a steep gradient of approximately 6 to 8 percent."

Moving forward:
"First, increase the number of 8-second sprints you perform by one or two per session per week. Once you're doing 8 to 10 sprints, you may move to 10-second sprints and a slightly steeper hill. After a few more weeks, you may advance to 12-second sprints on a 10 percent gradient, if you feel the need to increase your stride power."
"Most runners will achieve as much strength and power improvement as they can get by doing 10 to 12 hill sprints of 10 to 12 seconds each, twice a week. Once you have reached this level and have stopped gaining strength and power, you can cut back to one set of six to 10 hill sprints per week. This level of maximal power training will suffice to maintain your gains through the remainder of your training cycle."

Recovery between sets:
"Always allow yourself the opportunity to recover fully between individual sprints within a session. In other words, rest long enough so that you are able to cover just as much distance in the next sprint as you did in the previous one. Simply walking back down the hill you just ran up should do the trick, but if you need more time, take it. Some of the runners I coach like to walk down the first part of the hill backwards. Doing so helps to stretch the Achilles tendons and calves."
"When doing hill sprints, resist the temptation to turn the session into a regular hill workout. As I've explained, hill sprints are solely a muscular-strength workout. Trying to make it "harder" or "more of a workout" by quickly jogging down the hill or otherwise cutting the recovery defeats the purpose of hill sprints, because doing so will reduce the intensity of your sprints."

How to work it into your training schedule:
"This might sound odd, but I recommend scheduling your hill sprints for the day before your hardest sessions, such as a track workout or tempo run. Precede the hill sprints with your normal recovery day easy run, and follow it with a short jog of a mile or less."

Good stuff. Looks like I need to find some hills to work into my Wednesday night recovery runs.

Have a great Friday!

Tonight's tempo; My ipod gorilla shuffle

Tonight's tempo run

My tempo run went pretty well tonight. I kept my pace around 9:20 and my hr right around the middle of zone 4 (about 85% max hr) for a full 20 minutes without a break. So that's a big improvement over my past two attempts at tempo runs.  Overall, this has been a great week of training, so I'm feeling great about my training right now.

About the only eventful thing about tonight's run was yet another close call with a driver that wasn't paying attention. This time it was a guy in a truck turning on to the road I was crossing. He stopped just a couple of feet from me. That's the last time I run at night in a blue shirt - I'm sticking with white, and maybe getting some flashing lights and an air horn.

Looking at my hr chart for tonight's run, the first 10min are my warm-up, 10-30 min is my tempo, and 30-end is my cool-down. My tempo range is between 161 and 171 bpm. (I can pinpoint where my close call with the truck happened - blue circle).

More ipod shuffle stuff

So, this is yet another chapter in my ongoing attempt to get my new ipod shuffle to work with my sweatiness. (see earlier posts here and here to catch up).

So this time I pulled out the big guns: gorilla tape.

Gorilla tape is kind of like duct tape on steroids. It looks alot like duct tape, but it's harder to tear and it has a thicker layer of adhesive than regular duct tape.

I kept the duct tape I applied (described here) earlier. I added the gorilla tape over the ends of the duct tape. The gorilla tape folds over onto itself and around the wire, completely sealing the ends of the duct tape. As I wrote in my last post, the ends of the duct tape weren't sticking very well to the headphone wires, and when subjected to moisture (sweat) the ends of the duct tape started to separate. Also, the edge of the duct tape was sharp and irritating on my neck. The gorilla tape seals the ends of the duct tape, and also adds a slight fold to the sharp edge of the duct tape, pretty much eliminating the irritating edge.

Well, I'm happy to report that the gorilla tape seems to have done the trick. So far I've done a 2-mile easy run and tonight's tempo run with this tape job, and the tape is holding up well. Also, I've had no problems with my ipod malfunctioning. It isn't pretty, but it works (plus, nothing else about me is pretty when I'm running, so it fits in well). So, so far, so good. Saturday's 7 miler should be a good test.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Intervals; More Ipod Shuffle stuff

Tuesday Intevals

Ran intervals tonight. Started with a run up to the high school track, but it was busy with some track practice so I headed over to my alternate spot. It's a nice 1/4 mile stretch of walking paths. The only bad part is that you have to cross a road, so there's always a risk that my interval may be interrupted by a car. Fortunately, the road is not very busy, so it's not usually a problem.

Really happy with my splits tonight: 1:39, 1:44, 1:46, and 1:44. That first one was my first ever sub-100 second 400m training interval! In fact, before tonight my interval workout pr for the 400 was 1:46, so tonight I beat that 3 out of 4 times! Not bad, not bad at all.

Ipod Shuffle, Part II

This is a follow-up to my last post about my attempt to fix my ipod shuffle.

So I've had a couple of runs now with my duct-tape fix. I'm happy to report that the ipod didn't quit on me during either run. But, there is some room for improvement on my "fix."

Two problems: 1 - the edge of the duct tape makes a nice, sharp edge that scrapes across my neck while I run, which is annoying; and 2 - the duct tape is separating from the wire, leaving a gap that could allow moisture to get to the switch.

So, I'm planning to re-do the tape job in a way that eliminates the sharp edge, and find some way to reinforce the area where the tape wraps around the wire. Maybe some better tape...but is there better tape that duct tape?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Trying to fix the ipod shuffle

Several weeks ago my wife got me an ipod shuffle. I was really excited because I thought it would be great for running.

I ran for many years without any music (unless you count the cadence we sang in the Army). When I started running again last December, I would listen to music on my iphone. However, as my runs got longer and I got sweatier, I began to get concerned about the wear and tear on my iphone. So I decided to look for something new.

The ipod shuffle seemed like the perfect choice. Not only was it compact, but I could easily transfer my iphone music to my new ipod using my mac without having to mess with file conversions, new software, etc.

Unfortunately, the ipod shuffle has been a bit of a disappointment. The ipod shuffle is very sensitive to moisture, which makes it a poor choice for running. The problem seems to be with the headphones. The ipod controls are on a switch that is built into the headphone wires. The problems are well-documented across the internet (just try googling something like "ipod shuffle sweat"). Apparently if that switch gets just a bit of moisture, the ipod starts to mess up or just shuts down - which is what's been happening with mine.

The possible fixes range from duct tape to "get a different music player." I decided to try the duct tape solution.

I can't remember where I saw this, or I would gladly give credit. But basically the idea is to cover the switch with duct tape. You have to keep the tape loose enough around the switch so that it can still be pressed and spring back. Other than that, it's pretty straight-forward. Just create a (mostly) water-tight seal around the switch with the duct tape.

I'll give this a try during my run tonight and I'll report back on how it works. I'm hopeful it will do the trick, because the options only get more expensive from here.