Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Wall

During a run a couple weeks ago a friend who recently completed her first half marathon asked me about "The Wall".  What is the wall? Have you hit it? How do you get through it?  I tried to explain what I thought "The Wall" was and I realized something. There are actually three walls. One is at the top of the list of greatest rock albums ever. The other two are just as well known in endurance sports but not nearly as popular.

Scientifically Speaking
The wall by technical definition is a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifest itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy.  While most of us experience some version of this at some point while exerting maximum effort, I do not believe most of us truly hit an impassible physical wall. Physical pain and discomfort? Yes. Impossible to conquer? No.

I think this video accurately demonstrates what "The Wall" is (physically). Certainly famous I would say among endurance athletes, in 1997 at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Sian Welch and Wendy Ingraham have given it all they have and their bodies are totally depleted of all energy as they crawl to the finish line in a courageous battle for 4th and 5th place.

Reality Check
Endurance sports hurt, plain and simple. Nothing scientific here, just reality. Run long enough and hard enough and it hurts. The wall for most of us is brought on by physical pain and/or other discomfort within our bodies. The intensity or severity of this however is most often all in our minds in my opinion. That is not to say the pain is not there, it is. What I am saying is, it's how we interpret the pain and deal with it that is within our control. This is our reality check. Give into it, or embrace it.

As the pain grows and the self doubt creeps in, you have hit the wall. Perhaps more specifically you have entered the point in time when rationalizations and decisions determine the outcome of your adventure.  Hitting the wall is a mental state where we need a bit of a reality check. A time to determine what is really going on and a chance to make choices.  For me "The Wall" is defined by the thoughts and questions that go through my mind to remind me it is decision time.  Decision time is when we need to decide if we want to continue to suffer.  Here are many of my thoughts when I begin to struggle:

  • What the fuck was I thinking!
  • Is my foot broken? It must be because anything that hurts this bad must be broken.
  • I wish I could just sit down for 2 minutes.
  • I am such an idiot.
  • How the hell am I going to do this?
  • I am not feeling so hot.
  • Oh please don't let this happen, just keep going......

The wheels are coming off and it's time to embrace the pain. I think this quote from the movie "The Runner" says it best.

"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Faces of Cancer

This past week after learning a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with colon cancer, Tani and I decided to start an album on our Facebook page called Faces of Cancer. We invited anyone and everyone to share their pictures and stories of cancer and are extending the same invite now. I posted the first picture of my father who is a prostate cancer survivor (at left). You are welcome to share your pictures and stories on our Just A Mile To Go Facebook page or simply follow along as we continue our Journey For A Cure.  Email us your pictures and stories on FB or at  Peace and Have A Great Day! E

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It's Better To Give

Strong at mile 10!
She did it!!! Tani kicked some ass today at the NYC Half. Her third run at that distance, her first road half and her fastest by far. After all the hard work and anxiousness about achieving her goal of 2hrs 11 min, Tani nailed it with a 2:08. I continue to maintain my amazement at her accomplishments as a full time Mom, Partner and Athlete.

Pre-race huggin
As someone who is usually on the other side of the ropes, supported and cheered on by others, especially Tani, today was beyond words. I was nervous and excited.  I was of course hopeful that my wife would accomplish what she set out to do. However, I was more focused on not letting her down. I wanted to be sure I was at each place I said I would be and remind her how proud I am of her and that she was looking strong. The thought of not being there if she was struggling ate me up. I wanted to be at her side reminding her she could do it. I don't think she needed me because Tani was strong the whole way, but it felt damn good to be there for her.

If there is ever a running tip I can give, its go out and support your friends and family when they are pushing themselves and achieving new goals. I know you will never forget it, and I'll bet they wont either. Peace

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Running Moms Rock

Crossing the finish line with Isla!
When you see a woman running with a jogger, sometimes a double wide or rushing to the gym with babys in tow to get to a yoga class, what do you think. I think, "Unbelievable"! No way in hell could I pull all that off, running, parenting, shopping, and all the other stay at home Mom responsibilities which are endless.
About 9 weeks ago Tani asked me to put together a training schedule for her as she got into the NYC Half Marathon.  This will be Tani's 3rd half, but first on the road. She is a trail junkie! After running 2:44 at The North Face's mud fest last June and a 2:24 after going down with a busted up ankle at Pain to Paine, she has set a goal of 2:11 this time. With just 2 weeks left before the race on St. Patrick's Day I thought I would share the schedule I put together for her, and perhaps it is one that can work for others.

First it is important to understand the following which needed to be taken into account.
  1. Tani is a full time stay at home Mom. Yup, she does it the old fashioned way, with no help. What this means is she needs to fit her training in between the needs and responsibilities of every day family life. Anyone out there who has seen a rockin Mom at work knows exactly what I mean.
  2. She has other interests as well, yoga, kick boxing and boot camp classes she was not willing to give up. This limits her availability to run to 3 days per week.
  3. During the week she only has about 90 minutes max of actual workout time which she must squeeze in while our daughter is in nursery school or during the 2 hr time limit at the gym's nursery. Weekends have been interesting as well with us both trying to get our long runs in.
In typical Tani fashion, she has managed to make it happen, and I am certain she is going to kick some butt come March 17th. So here it is. A half marathon training program for a full time Mom. Just 3 run days and no more than 21 miles in a week.  Just remember no runner with a family can do it on their own. Gotta help each other out!!!  Peace

11 weeks (8 miles)
F- 4 miles easy
S- 4 miles easy

10 weeks (14 miles)
M- 4 miles hills
F- 4 miles easy
S- 5 miles easy
All runs were schedule for Mon, Fri, Sat but of course you gotta go with the flow when life gets in the way!

9 weeks (15 miles)
4 miles speed
5 miles easy
6 miles w/3 at race pace

8 weeks (17 miles)
5 miles hills
5 miles easy
7 miles with 4 miles at race pace

7 weeks (18 miles)
5 miles speed
5 miles race pace
8 miles easy

6 weeks (19 miles)
5 miles hills
9 miles with 5 miles at race pace
5 miles easy

5 weeks (20 miles)
5 miles hills
10 miles easy
5 miles at race pace

4 weeks (21 miles)
5 miles speed
5 miles easy
11 miles with 7 miles at race pace

3 weeks (17 miles)
4 miles easy
5 miles hills
8 miles easy

2 weeks (21 miles)
5 miles speed
11 miles with 7 miles at race pace
5 miles easy

1 week (20.1 miles)
4 miles easy
3 miles easy
Race Day 13.1 Hard

Saturday, March 2, 2013

EricG's Running Tips #40 ALWAYS Tell Someone Where You Are!

127 Hours, the biographical survival drama about Aaron Ralston is as extreme an example as you can get without death. Ralston, who ended up amputating his own arm to free himself from a canyon he was trapped in for  more than 5 days most certainly would have died if he had not been able to free himself. Why? Because no one knew where he went on his adventure or when he was expected to return.  If you are heading out for a short 3 mile run or a 6 hour bike ride or run let someone know your planned route and approximately when you think you will return. It only takes two seconds and that way if something unfortunate happens and you are unable to help yourself, at least someone will know where to look and when to begin worrying.

Either the night before or the morning of my runs I tell Tani what my plan is. If I am running multiple roads and trails I may even leave a note. Below is what I left on our kitchen chalk board this morning.

Be safe out there. Peace
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