Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dream Again

As my family and I are finishing our packing, preparing to head down to Raleigh, North Carolina tomorrow for the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run, my mind as always is spinning.  However, this time I am not completely thinking of my own run.  I am instead so very excited for the many others this weekend who I know are embarking on their first attempt at completing the 100 mile distance.  Last year was my first attempt and not a day has gone by since, that I don't remember the feeling I had after completing the run.  As my wife can attest, when she asked me how I was feeling, I simply could not speak as emotions ran through me.  Nothing could have prepared me for the change in my life that was coming as I have been more positive in all aspects of my life.

I am reminded of my childhood when dreams were my world and anything was possible.  The image of The Little Engine That Could comes to mind.  This book teaches children the value of optimism of and hard work, something for me that life had slowly dampened as so much began to seem unattainable.  The last few years of running experiences with incredible support from family and friends has brought me back to those days of dreaming.  Surround yourself with positive people, believe in yourself, think outside the box and you can feel like a kid again.

To all those who are about to go outside the box this weekend at Umstead or anywhere else; When you think you can't, you can.  When don't want to anymore, you will.

Peace

Monday, March 28, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #13 Plan Ahead

After many months of training, race day is upon you. What seemed like an eternity when you first decided to run that race has now been reduced to just a few short days.  Your mind starts racing as panic sets in.  What will I wear? What will I drink? How will I get there? When should I get there? There are so many things to think about and prepare for.  We all work so hard preparing our minds and body for that big day.  Don't let all that energy and training turn what should be a great stress free, fun experience into a panic filled pre-race ordeal.  Start thinking about all of the things you will need during the months prior.  I am not a list maker but it's a good idea.

As my next race is just days away and I begin my pre-race routine for this weekend, here are the things that come to mind.  I have been thinking about them all for months so I find it easier to actually put it all together now, when I need to.

The Course

How and when am I getting there? If possible I like to arrive no more than an hour before a race. It gives me plenty of time to get my gear set up where I want it and take care of any last minute items.  Anything longer and I feel like I am just standing around waiting for no reason.

What is the course like? If it’s a new race I always study the course online to understand it.  If I have been there before I will likely still refresh my memory. It's helpful to have an idea where substantial climbs are, where aid stations are located and how far apart they are.

Pace


Have a race plan.  You should know how you plan to make it to the finish line.  Things may change during the race that you can't control but if you go in without a strategy you are already out of control.

Weather

Always check the weather.  Do it frequently for the week leading up to the race to make sure you are prepared mentally and strategically for any shift.

Nutrition

What is available at aid stations? I like to know if I can live with what they have or do I need to bring my own.

What will my nutrition plan be? Each time I run an ultra I realize more and more how important it is to have a nutrition plan. It is so much easier to be successful if I already know what I am going to have at specific points in the race.  When I wing it I end up forgetting to take salt or keep up on my calories, or if I decide I need something I can't find what I need.

Gear

What am I going to wear?  I have my favorite pair of shoes and socks. I always have multiple pairs of both at the ready before and during the race. The rest of my clothes will likely be determined by weather. I prepare for any possible changes but will check the night before and lay out what I am wearing then, while packing additional clothes for potential changes in weather.

Be sure to have whatever gear ready and charged if needed such as water bottles or hydration packs, head lamps, hats, sunglasses, anti-chaffing creams, nipple guards (I just like saying that),  ipods, cell phones, gels, powders, salt etc...

Bibs

This may seem small but If you have your bib the night before the race, put it on your shorts, shirt or wherever you like it. One less thing to do in the morning.  Oh yeah, remember pins or buy a belt.

Crew
 
Be sure you know where your crew/friends/family will be and let them know approximately when you will arrive.  Make sure they know what you will need so they are ready and organized when you get there.  It's good for them to be prepared in advance too.
 
Post Race
 
Be sure you have a ride home.  If possible have clean dry cloths at the finish.

Most of all, plan on having a great time and enjoy the experience you have worked so hard for.

I am sure there is much more out there I am not thinking of right now so please share what you do to make sure you are ready come race day.

Peace

Friday, March 25, 2011

Umstead 100 - Take 2

With the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run just 1 week away I have begun my usual journey of reflection over the last several months of training.  This year's run has special meaning as all my runs do but this was my first 100 miler (original post, subsequent post) so I am particularly excited to go back.  I am also looking forward to another incredible experience as I will run and suffer with the inspiration of so many that I carry with me.  Plus I have the added benefit of having my brother in law pace me on my last 12.5 mile loop. 

Here is the training comparison from my very 1st 100 miler at Umstead last year and what will be my 2nd Umstead and 4th 100 miler at the 2011 race on Saturday, April 2nd.


As always, thanks to my beautiful wife for all her support of my efforts.  She puts up with early alarms nearly every day, hours of wondering and hoping I am OK and of course the dreaded stink parade of nasty cloths and gear.  Thank babe.  You are the best and I love you.

Peace

Monday, March 21, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #12 Post Run Care

What we do after our run is just as important as what we do during.  I am not going to get in to the science of it all because I actually don't know what the hell I am talking about and no matter how many times I try to read about the subject it overwhelms and bores me to no end.  Plus the only thing I care about is if it works, not neccesssarily how (I'm shallow like that).  What I do know, the pieces I have taking from some of the reading I did years ago in Advanced Marathoning and Ultramarathon Man work for me.  Here is the 3/4 step Post Run Care routine that works for me.

STRETCH/ROLL: Stretching and rolling not only makes me feel better post run/workout, it also reduces certain issues I have had, particularly IT trouble.  I stretch for 10-15 minutes with the primary focus on my hamstrings, ITs and glutes.  I also stretch, quad, calf and lower back but with time constraints I need to focus where issues occur.  I then roll on a foam roller for several minutes on my ITs.  The foam roller has been my greatest ally since I first had IT pain.

REFUEL/HYDRATE: Regardless of what we take in during any workout or run it is necessary to eat and drink following.  After my typical weekday sessions I will usually drink a Hammer Recoverite mix to replenish what I have used up and drink plenty of water. I actually hydrate all day, not only immediately following.  After weekend sessions which are significantly longer runs I will immediately drink the Recoverite and when I get home I (or more often my wife because she is the best) will cook up a nice breakfast consisting of eggs, potatoes and breakfast meat.  I try to get these calories in within one hour of finishing as "the experts" say its when our bodies are most starved and able to benefit most from the calories.  After longer runs it takes couple of hours to get fully rehydrated so I make a concsious effort to drink water continuously until I have made it to the bathroom a couple of times and the color is light.

ICE BATH: Oh the pain.  Possibly one of the most underutilized tools we have because it simply sucks.  The dreaded ice bath is always uncomfortable, takes your breath away and almost always painful. I however am a believer. As we all know the result of pain is often a benefit and I am certain it holds true in this instance. I only do this after extended runs of 2 hours or more.  Simply fill the tub with water and ice up over your waist and sit for 10 to 15 minutes.  In the winter I don't even use ice because the water is already so cold (my rule is if it takes away your breath its cold enough).  A little trick to avoid the pain that comes with diving right in to freezing cold water is to immerse yourself in cold water first and after a minute or two start adding ice.  I started the ice bath routine a couple of years ago and it has definitely made a difference in my recovery after long runs.

If none of this works I just kick back with a tasty IPA.

Peace

Friday, March 18, 2011

60lbs, 2 Years, New Lifestyle

My brother in law Iman has told me many times that I inspired him to get fit. It feels great to hear, but whatever the inspiration, that was simply a moment in time that got the ball rolling. Beyond that it was all him. Let me tell you something about Iman, this dude knows how to do it right.  Inspiration or not, he has worked for nearly 2 years to change his life. No crash diets or crazy work out routines to try and hit some ridiculous goal that is practically impossible to maintain.  He has slowly and methodically plotted his course with a great sense of reality and commitment to lifestyle.

To back track a little to "The Moment", it was I believe in the summer of 2009.  During a conversation Iman mentioned something about running and I simply said I would run with him any time.  Well fast forward to this past weekend and it finally happened.  After losing 60 pounds during the first part of his new life we ran 9 miles together and had a blast.  We will run again in 2 weeks when he comes to North Carolina to pace my final 12.5 miles at the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run.  I can assure you I will need his steady pace and ever lasting sense of humor.

Check out his story at Fit at Fifty. I am sure you will find him to be realistic about his goals, honest about his results and as much as this pains me to say, somewhat intelligent. This is not a lifestyle that lacks one ounce of flavor I might add.  Good food? Yup.  Beer? Hells yeah. Can you say moderation?  Just like a smart runner, he is pacing himself, and setting achievable goals that he can maintain for extremely long periods of time, like forever.  Maybe he has created something new.  The Ultra Lifestyle.

Peace

video

video

Monday, March 14, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #11 Cross Train

I have certainly developed strong opinions about what works for me now that I have several years of consistent running under my belt.  That does not mean I don't try new things but I always seem to end up right back in my routine.  As I mentioned in a recent post on my current training for the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run (less than 3 weeks away now) I cross train two days each week while running four and resting one.

I am a firm believer in cross training for a number of reasons.
  1. It breaks up the monotony of running every day.
  2. It allows me to continue to build strength and endurance while taking a break from the beating running puts on my body.
  3. Focus on other areas of fitness - core, hips, core, arms, core, etc. has one hundred percent made me a stronger runner. Did I mention core strength? I am not saying I am the ab wonder by any stretch but core strength is a key ingredient to strong distance running in my opinion.
Many of the specific exercises I do are listed in the post mentioned above. Which exercise shown below do you think is more difficult?  My version was done around 4am in New Orleans after a full day of cross training on Bourbon Street:)

Here are a couple of articles I found about the general benefits of cross training/conditioning.

Here is an article from Runners World with a bunch of cross training workouts.

Some time in the next few weeks I will post one or two examples of the cross training workouts I do.  Please feel free to share your cross training exercises/workouts.  Would love to hear them.

Peace

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Today, I Just Don't Feel Like It

Ever have one of those mornings when you just don't feel like getting up to run?  No matter how much we profess our love of running there is going to be a time when you're just not feeling it.  The excuses are endless and likely range from I don't feel like getting up this early today, I am too exhausted or I am sooooo hungover.  Well this morning I had all three of these to some degree.  I have been working hard, training hard, sleeping little and had one too many IPA's last night.  When the alarm went off at 4am I reached over without opening an eye and shut it off.  No snooze, no reset for later, just off.  I was going to sleep until my daughter woke up and then just go to work.

As I lay there preparing to enter REM ASAP, many thoughts of justification and tough love ran through my head.

It's no big deal, it's only one run.
I deserve a rest, I have been training hard.
Only two weeks of hard training before Umstead, get off your ass?
I will run after work (last time I did that was some time in early 2010).
It won't effect my race.
Maybe it wont effect my race but this is not who I am. 
I may burn the candle at both ends but that is no excuse, I made a commitment.
And that last thought was it. I made a commitment. Not to just anyone, but to myself.  If I can let myself down, I suppose I could let anyone down.  No way that's about to happen.  I was up, dressed, fed and out the door in 15 minutes.  Exhausted and a bit hungover but proud.  Proud of following through on my commitment even though it would have been much easier to lay there.  Today's run was especially good.  Not long, not particularly challenging but about as encouraging as it can get.

When you feel like you just can't get up that day, or just don't want to, convince yourself otherwise.  You may end up in the middle of a very special run and if you are anything like me you will feel pretty damn good all day.  I promise I will be up tomorrow.

Peace

Monday, March 7, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #10 NEVER!!!

Never, ever take off your shirt in public while sporting nipple guards!
A couple of weeks ago after a long indoor run on the track and treadmill I was changing in the locker room when I realized I was walking around with them on.  I could not stop laughing at myself.  Peace

Friday, March 4, 2011

Great Falls Great Run

This past Saturday I ran at the site of my first 50 miler in McLean, VA.  Great Falls National Park has a variety of terrain and scenery that will entertain you throughout.  Enjoy the pictures and music and be sure to go out and run there if you are in the DC area.  Peace

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