Monday, February 28, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #9 Do What Works For You

Decisions Decisions!  We are faced with many choices including, scheduling, training techniques, nutrition and so on. As I am reminded often we are all different. Just because something works for one person, does not mean it will work for you.  It doesn't mean it won't either. I am just saying we all need to figure out what works for each of us and go with it.  I have read countless books and subscribed to many magazines, I read blogs, train with many different people and seek advise from all types of runners. The great thing about the running community is there is so much information out there you can certainly find your most effective methods. It can also be overwhelming.

In my opinion the key to finding what works is to step outside your comfort zone and give new things a shot. Recently I decided to do just that.  I hear about elite runners putting in 150 to 200 miles a week and very well accomplished friends of mine like Tony Portera will run 6 or 7 days a week including doubles twice a week at peak training.  Coming in to this year with a busy schedule planned I thought it would be a good time to increase my running, not just mileage but also the number of days.  As I posted a couple of days ago sharing my Umstead training, my routine consists of four days running, two days cross training and one rest day.  This training schedule has been working for me the past two years. I have been ready for each new adventure and relatively injury free.

The adjustment I made was only slight but the impact was obvious.  What I did was add 5 mile runs prior to hitting the gym on my cross training days.  That's just 2 short runs a week.  I had hoped this additional mileage would make me stronger and continue to improve my endurance.  To the contrary for me.  The increased running actually brought on new issues including hip pain, increased toe pain (remember hallux rigidus), overall tiredness and soreness. So in the end, I am always extremely impressed, even jealous that these incredible amounts of running work for others. It just does not work for me.  But I am glad I tried, because now I know what works for me.  What works for you?


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Training for Umstead 100, Again

First 100 Miler 2010
With the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run just 5 weeks away I am approaching the peak of my training.  I am excited about this year's run as it is the site of my first 100 miler almost one year ago. There will be many friends running and one of my pacers from last year Melina has agreed to come out again and pace my 7th loop. I am expecting the high point to be when my brother in law Iman is there to pace me on my last 12.5 mile loop. Iman has been adopted a new life style the past 2 years and will be Fit At Fifty. He is well on his way having lost 60 pounds and now training to pace me.  I look forward to pacing him at the Marine Corps Marathon in October (his first).

I think I have got my training fairly well dialed in at this point and I thought I would share in general my routine.

Rest - Is there a better way to start off the week.

7-12 miles - Typically with hill repeats.

1.25 hours of cross training

7-12 miles - Typically a tempo run

1.25 hours of cross training

Saturday and Sunday
Long Runs - Ranging from 15 to 50 miles each with most long runs being in the mid 20s.

The 2 days of cross training has become a very important part of my preparation.  When I run more than 4 days a week on a consistent basis, I tend to end up injured or just plain sore all the time and that inhibits my ability to get in quality runs.  Quality is more important than quantity in my book.

Within my cross training routine I have come up with a series of different workouts that keep me aerobic while building strength and improving endurance.  I will be specific about these different workouts during another post, but basically I do these workouts as circuits with no rest between each exercise so I keep my heart rate up the entire time.  The variety of exercises include but are not limited to: jump rope, jumping jacks, squat thrusts, several varieties of planks, sit ups and crunches, wall sits, push ups, step ups, side lunges, standing curl, standing fly, standing row, standing chest fly, standing shoulder press, suicides, leg raises (variety), hip flexors, elliptical and bike.  You will notice that unless the exercise requires a prone position I am standing.  Although I have never been coached or trained by a professional, my feeling is that since I am training to be on my feet for many many hours I should train the same way.

You will not hear me talk much about nutrition because this is not where I focus my efforts accept during an event.  I am sure its not for everyone but I eat what I want and when I want.  What I do focus on is quantity.  I try not to have too much of anything, although many may disagree when it comes to beer:)  You gotta live right!


Monday, February 21, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #8 Goal Reassessment

This is a topic that has come to play a very important role in my life, personally as well as in my running.  Some may look at goal reassessment as a way to justify failure.  I think it's a way to turn an unsuccessful moment into one with a positive impact.  I certainly believe it is extremely important to learn from our mistakes that put us in reassessment territory.  I am also firmly committed to simultaneously creating a positive memory that we can look back on and feel good about.

I may not look happy, but I am. Finished!
Case in point, this past year at the Javelina Jundred my goal was a sub 24 hour finish.  I rode a roller coaster that day as I went from my original goal to perhaps a sub 22, to getting my ass kicked and lying on my back for several hours wondering if I could even get up again.  In the end I finished in well over 27 hours.  Perhaps an abysmal failure in the eyes of many but a great success in mine as I achieved my new goal of finishing.  I learned a great deal that day and I can honestly say I feel better about that experience than I do about any other when things went well and I achieved my original goal.  Most importantly I will always carry with me the memory that I did not quit.

These are the experiences that will help continue to motiviate you.  Never lose sight of your goals, and set ones that are difficult yet achievable.  If you need to reset a goal on the fly, do it and continue to move forward towards achievement, fulfillment and success.


Monday, February 14, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #7 Change It Up

Running by its very nature is repetative.  One foot in front of the other, over and over again.  People ask me all the time how I handle the boredom.  Of course I don't consider running boring but that answer will not help anyone get past a hurdle and possibly find enjoyment in the sport.  And I must admit as much as I love it, I do feel the need to add a little spice every now and then.  Look at it this way.  If you never change the tires on your car you will eventually have a flat and that will be the end of your driving.  Consider bordem your clue to Change It Up.  Anyone would get bored just going out and running the same way at the same time in the same place day after day.

Here are a number of things I do to add variation into my running routine.
  • Run in different places.  Choose different routes and terrain.  Sometimes simply running the opposite direction in your local park is enough but it's also refreshing to hit a completely different spot when you can.
  • Run when you are on vaction or a business trip.
  • Run a race.  Even if its not something you trained for use it as a training run.  It can be a lot of fun just to get out there and run with others.
  • Change up your workouts.  There are so many different types of running work outs you can do which will keep it intersting and are good for improving your fitness level.  Examples are, hill repeats, speed work, tempo runs and long runs.  Within these different runs are also variations so they are not the same each time.  Change up the length and/or number of hill repeats, change up the duration and/or intensity of speed intervals or tempo runs and so on.
  • Turn it into a game.  No different really then when you were a kid and would countdown in your driveway for that last second shot.  Imagine you are in a race and closing the gap on your nearest competitor or time goal.
  • Get that new shoe, shirt or other running gear you have been wanting.  It's always fun getting new toys.
  • Run with friends or find local running groups and make new ones.
  • Drag your family into it and run or hike with them.  Our family ran our first race together last year which was a blast.  Looking forward to the next one in May.
  • Run with music.  Run without music.  I have had some of my most memorable runs without the iPod especially out on the trails far from the crowded streets and local parks.
  • RUN FOR A CAUSE.  There is no question that running for the benefit of others will inspire you.  Knowing that what you are doing is benefiting others will most certainly make running more enjoyable.  It does for me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Morning Run

I am often asked how I get up and run so early in the morning, waking up at 4:15am on average.  The how is simple, I set the alarm and when it goes off, I actually get up.

I think the question should be, Why?.  The answer to that question is what makes the how so much easier for me.

Imagine when you wake, and all are still asleep, not only in your home, but basically everywhere around you.  You quietly put on the gear you laid out the night before to save time and tip toe down the stairs.  A quick and quiet snack as you start to debate going back to bed.  Quickly shoes on, bottle filled and out the door before the urge to crawl back into you know where with you know who over comes you.

It is cold, dark and so quiet every sound you make is deafening including the turning of the key as the lock to your front door loudly slams shut.  Heading down the road you slowly find your groove as the spot from your headlamp lights the way.  The sound of your breathing echoes rhythmically around you.  As you inhale the fresh morning air it feels like fresh tracks on the mountain as you are the first to breath that air today.  Your body warms as your heart rate rises and levels to where you feel perfectly alive.  Thoughts of the day past flow into those of the day to come.  And then when you turn around to head home you see this. 

Your heart beats faster.  You feel its' beautifully powerful energy as the sun begins to light up the day.  You have seen it before but every time it feels as if it were the first.  Your pace quickens, the rest of those around you are beginning to rise and before you know it you are home.  Your mind is clear, the day has begun.  You are energized, happy, alive and then you see this.

My Angel
It does'nt get better than this!
Go run before the sun comes up.  You will see the day in a whole new light.


Monday, February 7, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #6 That $%#& Hurts! What Now?

According to this article in Healthy Living which my wife brought to my attention the five most common running injuries are, Ilotibial Band Syndrome, Shin Splints,  Runner's Knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome), Achilles Tendinitis and Plantar Faciitis.  If that's so then why the hell do I always have trouble with my hamstring.  Anyway, the point is we all suffer through different injuries at one time or another and I know when I am not feeling near or at my best I often struggle with the decision to run, rest or cross train.  As runners and maybe even more so for ultra runners we have trained ourselves to push through anything.  So it makes sense that if we are feeling pain just push through it during training too and it will eventually go away right?    I have never applied much science to my running.  I have learned what tends to work for me (always subject to change) through trial and error but by no means do I suggest this for all.

I feel like I have become overly sensitive to things going on with my body, or rather more in tune.  Therefore I feel every little annoying tweak or twinge. Yes I know you should stop if you are injured but how do you know without going to a doctor, which I try to avoid at all costs (probably because I know they will tell me to stop running).

So what I do is take note of those little aches as they arise and if they improve, stay constant or get worse throughout a run.  Its not the obvious injuries that are the problem.  If I am hurt so bad that running is extremely painful or seems impossible I stop.  But what if its just super annoying.  My hamstring is a perfect example.  It has had this constant dull feeling for a couple weeks now.  Almost like its on the verge of bad but I figured I would keep running and just take it easy.  If I don't stress it out it will heal while I am running.  WRONG!  It has not gotten better or worse but it is preventing me from training the way I want to be.  So I wasted 2 weeks with mediocre training and have now remanded myself to the gym this week.

Of course I always suggest, although I never do it, unless I am in real pain seeking the advice of a doctor.  I guess my message here is if you think its an injury it probably is and you are better off taking care of it now rather than trying to run through it. In the end pushing through could result in poor training which will lead to the rest you should have taken in the first place, or worse.  You could end up injuring yourself long term.  Imagine weeks or months without running!  Talk about painful.

On another note the article referenced above has suggestions for exercises to prevent the "5 most common running injuries".  Enjoy


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Empire State Building Run-Up Powered by MMRF

Nearly 100 Runners for MMRF
This week was the 34th annual Empire State Building Run-Up Powered by MMRF.  I had the pleasure to volunteer which I love to do for my charity of choice.  I have run this event twice, but as always it was as much fun and certainly more rewarding to watch and help out.  The MMRF runners raised over $250,000, a kick ass start to another year of working our way towards a cure.  Congrats to all the runners for their fundraising efforts and athletic achievement.

Great job done as always by Alicia and Jane who run the Endurance Program for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.  They have a knack for pushing the limits at each event and always coming through with incredible results.  My hat goes off to them again. Peace
Mary Whittenberg & Kathy Giusti
Kathy (Founder MMRF) braves the cold
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