Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Healthy, Beautiful, Deadly?

Running is healthy and beautiful for sure.

Last week I completed a three week buildup in my training. It's been a challenging three weeks, not only to complete my workouts but to find the time to do so. In those 3 weeks I ran 131 miles and biked 137, not to mention the strength workouts. To the non-runners this probably sounds crazy, but I have goals in front of me and I enjoy my activities. Workouts may seem like a hassle before you begin them and then there are bad workouts where a run just doesn't go well and you can't wait to be done, but I ALWAYS feel better and have a great sense of accomplishment when I am done. It's like a drug. It makes you feel better, it makes you look better and it gives you more energy, how can you lose?
Working out and training is obviously not all roses and rainbows. There are time conflicts with work and family. It takes careful planning and time management to get these things done. Secondly, there are generally some aches and pains that go along with training. Sore muscles, bruises, and a variety of other minor maladies are all part of the amateur and professional athlete's life. This year I made a couple of visits to the physical therapist, mostly due to over-training and not really knowing what I was doing. Other minor injuries this year have included ...
Bloody Shin from biking

The infamous 'bloody nipples" from shirt chaffing.

Losing a toenail.

...all minor, laughable injuries. It's just a part of the journey. As athletes we can easily be our own worst enemies while training and competing. It's all about pushing yourself to the next level. Going farther, going faster and getting leaner, meaner, and stronger. But there is a line. We have to be smart about it. Do you have a plan? Do you follow it or overdo it? We must learn to listen to our bodies, knowing when it is time to push and when it is time to recover, heal, and regroup. Backing off is no easy task. Do you know when to do it? Can you do it?
My two trips to the physical therapist were due to lack of a balance in my training. I was running harder, farther, and longer than I should have been. I was not taking proper time for recovery and I was neglecting proper strength training. Again all of this resulted in minor inconveniences for me with fairly quick and easy solutions to my injuries. I was lucky.
This last weekend somebody I went to high school with wasn't so lucky. I was on the high school wrestling team for a couple of years and the coach's son was a year ahead of me. He was an all star on the team. He went on to be a very good wrestler in college, then he went back and took over for his father, coaching at the same high school from where he graduated. His name was John Chapman. His wife is the track and cross country coach at the same high school. They were running the Bix 7 together for the second year in a row. Unfortunately at about mile 6, John, 41 years young, had a heart attack and passed away. I never really knew John very well, but it sure hits close to home. I will be 41 in September, it's scary. As an athlete you don't expect these things to happen to us because we eat well and we exercise; we are healthy. You can read about John here and here. It's a terrible tragedy.
It's been a hot and humid summer. It's easy to feel a little invincible after a good hard workout. We are not invincible, in any way.
Please, listen to your body, train smart, and be careful out there.

RIP John

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Training Update

I have not posted since the Fargo Marathon back in May, mostly because there hasn't been anything too exciting to post and I have been super busy. Since finishing Fargo I have enlisted a coach to help me with my training. Not because I have any hopes of becoming an elite athlete but because I was feeling overwhelmed with my summer training. As I have mentioned before, I am signed up to do a century ride as a fundraiser for JDRF and have plans to run the Mankato Marathon in October. I am a runner at heart but was talked into doing the ride because it is for a great cause, it is for one of the major charities that my company supports, and of course....I love a challenge. I did not even own a road bike until May so I had not clue as to how to train for a 100 mile ride while also maintain my marathon training.

The Coach
I found Coach Jeff from PRS Fit through my running buddy Jenn. Jeff trains his athletes mainly through heart rate training. I am just over one month into my training with Jeff and I can tell you that it has been a positive experience so far. He gives me enough workouts to keep me busy but not so much to cause injury. Jeff provides me with running, cycling, and strength training work outs. An interesting fact is that in the five weeks that I have been training with Jeff, I have had two complete rest days, one was during week one which was more of an evaluation week, and the second rest day was because I just could not fit a strength training workout into my day due to job responsibilities. This busy schedule fits right in with my restless personality, but it is also tempered with enough variety through the week to keep me injury free.

The Ride
Currently most of my weeks consist of 3 days running, 2 days cycling, and 2 days of strength training. Although it's not my favorite thing to do, I am enjoying the cycling. What a great way to cover much more ground than running, and it presents a unique set of challenges. My rides so far have been 1-3 hours in duration with my farthest ride being right at 40 miles and my average pace is typically about 15.5 mph. I still have a long way to go though because I am anticipating my century ride to take about 9 hours. Luckily I will have some other people to share it with. By the way, I have now raised just over $1,000 for the ride. I still have at least $2,000 to go. Thank you so much if you are one of the people that have helped donate towards my ride. If you have not yet but would like to, it is super easy, quick, safe, tax deductible, and can even be anonymous if you prefer. Just go here to donate to my ride, thank you so much for your generosity!

The Run
It has been difficult to figure out where my running performance had progressed. At this point in my training it is mostly building and maintaining a strong base. It has been a little different because the coach has us mostly run in prescribed heart rate zones for a certain duration of time. This means that you don't always know exactly how far your run will take you. Terrain, weather, and general overall well being can cause some fluctuation in distance. This is the first time in all of my years running that I really have not paid any attention and up until today, could not tell you how many miles I ran this week or last.

Last week was my first performance test since employing a coach. I ran the "Salute the Troops" 10K race. I can only remember running one other 10K, so I was a little worried about race strategy. How fast to go out, and what kind of pace that I could maintain. I was fairly confident that I could hold 7:30 for the 6.2 miles and if things were really clicking along, I might even be able to run it a bit faster. Unfortunately 80 degrees and 90% humidity do not make for ideal race conditions. I won't get into too many details other than I went out way to fast which is a common mistake. I just had a tough time judging my speed for the first mile or so. My splits were 6:55(whoa hoss!), 7:25, 7:23, 7:46, 7:53, 8:05, 1:10. Yep, that's pretty much what you would call a regressive run.

 Despite the fact that I didn't run the smartest race, I did finish in 46:36 (goal time was 46 or faster), which was good enough to be the overall winner of the race! It pays to pick the right race I guess, but it was particularly sweet because my father was there to see it. There may have only been 20 people in this race, but you know what, it still counts!!

In summary, my training seems to be going well so far. Next week will be interesting because we start to step up the mileage. As always it will be challenging trying to fit my training in while working 11-12 hour days, but, I am not sure that I would have it any other way either!

Special thank you to my wife and daughter for putting up with and supporting my passion / hobby and listening to me talk about all sorts of weird running things. And to my running / fitness friends for being just as crazy about running or working out as I can be at times.