Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Do you know what insecurity is......

A few years back, I was good friends with an older gentleman who used the phrase "do you know what insecurity is...."  and then he would follow up with a statement highlighting the situation he was facing and how others around him reacted.  For example, he was once in the car with someone who took exception to a statement he had made.  That person proceeded to call long distance back east, waiting on hold several minutes to get his answer which when given supported my older gentleman friend.

So today, though, that phrase popped in my brain, mid-run.  You see, today I went for another run, a short 3 mile run, and quickly realized that I have really lost a lot of conditioning over the last month and that I am really going to have to reestablish my base. While there was no calf pain to speak of, I could tell my legs were tired.  I don't like that.

It also didn't help that I was running slow at a 10:30 pace a very flat course that my PR is at 7:21.  It also didn't help that I was being passed by runners a month ago I was blazing by.

So do you know what insecurity is?  It is realizing that I need to get up to speed really fast to meet my end of April "A" race while taking it easy so I don't get injured. 

Oh well, I know I will be back in shape soon, I just wish I didn't have to go back to rebuilding.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Finally I can Run!

So it has been exactly 27 days from the day I strained my calf and twenty days since I had an inch and a half toothpick break off in my foot.   In reality, the toothpick and sickness probably worked to my benefit because it really forced me to rest and not run at all.

I am now having to readjust my training schedule. My coach (who is also my running partner, best friend, and my wife) is keeping me to a practical schedule to start off with, knowing that if she didn't have me promise to keep to some limits, that I would be back running 25 miles this week and injuring myself again.  We have some big plans this year (a couple of ultra distances and two or three marathons), and while I know I am behind on my schedule, revising and being reasonable is better than not achieving my goals for the year. 

So yesterday, I was able to get my first run in to test the calf out.  My wife had me promise to turn around at the two mile mark which I religiously did. She had me run with my daughter who would fake a side pain every half mile or so to keep my pace down.  I took it easy with a 10:30 pace on a very flat course  The great news was that, while my legs felt tired, there was no pain.
Ok, turn around at AT&T Park!

Today I was back to running the Embarcadero.  Again, I was kept to a 3 mile limit, which I extended only a little bit to 3.3 miles.  It was a beautiful day for a run, sunny and in the low 50's.  There weren't many people on the course, which was nice and I kept to a strict out and back from work (which is in Levi Plaza) to AT&T Park.  To keep my pace down, I made sure I stayed with my heart rate between 137 to 141 bpm, with the the discipline that Dr. Maffetone would be proud of!  The pace was a little up from yesterday at 10:15.    I know I am going to have to reestablish my aerobic levels so I am not going to even think about my 8:30 road run target yet.  
Filbert Street Steps you will be mine!

The run went good, even though I could definitely feel some rust in my legs.  That said, no pain and my legs felt strong!! 

So the rest of the week, I am limiting my mileage.  I will also reintroduce beginning tomorrow my bicycling to work routine to better build on my aerobic threshold.  So now I am back on track and looking forward to the rest of the year hopefully injury free.

While I was injured though, I have done a lot of research, to feed my runner fix.  So I will occasionally be including videos that I have found online.

 This time, Common Mistakes in Trail Running by Scott Jurek!

Video Source: YouTube

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Using a Heartmonitor to Mitigate Over-training

I’ve lately begun running with a heart monitor to see where I am from an aerobic/anaerobic standpoint.  Being analytical by nature, I have always been interested in trying to improve my speed as well as while working on a balanced training regimen.

I am now learning, though, that I am not balanced between the two.  For example, I do cycle between home and work and log and average of 16 miles a day.  With the exception of a couple decent hills on the way home, it is pretty flat.  When I run during lunch, I have found using the heart monitor, I run an average 9:12 pace and an average 133 beats per minute, well within an my optimum aerobic range.  So it was a bit of a surprise when I came across some of the warning signs that I had been over-training aerobically.   I came across the Soc-Doc website which discussed aerobically over-training. The Soc-Doc outlines these signs in his blog here.

So when I look back to July and September, the months when I had huge insomnia and anxiety issues, were preceded by huge mile increases in June and August. That, combined with the added stress of getting used to a new job in a new industry, was a deadly combination.

Aerobic over-training is different from anaerobic over-training.  According to the Soc-Doc, when you over-train aerobically, you increase your cortisol (the stress hormone).  The affect causes the above warning signs.  Anaerobic over-training affects how your body metabolizes glycogen.  This affects how your muscles are feed and rebuild which causes things to break, like tissue and ligaments.

Took a wrong turn, need balance here!

Compare this to a couple of runner friends I have.  They are the ones that do very little if any training.  While running for years, when training for a marathon, they are haphazard in when and how long they run.  Their longest long run may be 12 to 15 miles.  Now you know why it is frustrating to my wife and I when they run a sub-4 marathon.  However, their lack of training comes with a cost.  They tend to catch every bug that comes around and are very injury prone.  They typify anaerobic over-training.

Really balanced training requires balance in both anaerobic and aerobic work. 

To improve your endurance, long runs (not at race day speed) are important; this requires building up your cardiovascular system through the long hours of Aerobic exercise. Using a heart monitor will help you slow down and keep within a healthy range so that you are maximizing the oxygen you are receiving while economizing your glycogen.  Typically you want to be between 70% and 80% of your maximum heart rate..

Speed work is also very important to build up your V02Max as well as increase your lactic threshold and adding speed work also helps to improve the efficiency of your run. This can be done in many ways: 
This is just part of the over 400 Filbert Street Steps
  • Running hills or steps. (love the hills and of course the Filbert St. steps!)
  • Sprinting 20 or 30 seconds, with 60 to 90 seconds of recovery, 4 or 5 times. 
  • Running Yasso 800
  • Or other high intensity intervals, plyometric exercises. 
However, this is where a heart monitor really comes in handy.  To properly know if you are running anaerobically and to best test your V02Max you need to sustain running at 80% to 90% of your maximum heart rate for 20 seconds to 2 minutes.

To calculate my maximum heart rate, I used the following trusty calculation: 220 minus my age.  While it is pretty easy to calculate your thresholds, I found the following calculator helpful in getting my exact range.  

Now I will say, I am still getting used to the heart monitor.  Tricks like making sure the sensors are wet (by licking them I might add) at the start of the run, where to place the monitor so I don’t feel it when I run, etc. have been challenging.  However, I am learning a lot.  I also can better understand as my pace increases if I am keeping the balance or beginning to over-train.  Hopefully I can use this information to really fine-tune my running going forward and reduce my efficiency.

That said, while I am not a doctor, sports medicine specialist, or even a trainer, the above information I have found useful and am now adding to my training regimen.  I highly recommend anyone reading this to do their own research and  if have questions to contact their health care professional.

So do you use a heart monitor when you train?  And when did you realize you had over-trained?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Love this Story on So Many Levels.

Really, when you watch the above video you really want to examine what are your motivations for running and why it is important to find an activity that you can do with the ones you love.

Sophie and Emma have been asking to do triathlons for the last couple of years.  After watching this, I believe this is the year!

Awesome story!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What is your "Why"?

I run because I love the trails and nature!

I have been reading a lot of blogs and comment posts lately and what I found, and I guess took for granted, is that everyone’s "Why" is different. We all can have many reasons why we run.  And these “whys will change over time, meaning that the type of running we do will change over time.  Some of the reasons I have found are:

  • ·         Speed
  • ·         Distance
  • ·         Test your limits
  • ·         Keep healthy
  • ·         Love the trails and nature
  • ·         Love competition
  • ·         Constantly raising the bar

Why do you run?

As I have stated in the past, I wasn’t always a runner.  In fact, I had bought into the argument that running isn’t good for your body.  It damages your knees, causes irreversible damage to your heart, it is addictive, etc.  This was primarily due my upbringing.  So I focused on bicycling to stay fit. 

The only time I enjoyed running was when I was a sophomore at Stadium High School.  We would be given a choice of running the track or running the trails below the school and of course I would pick the trails.  I really enjoyed running on the soft but technical terrain through the Douglas Fir overlooking Commencement Bay in Tacoma.  There was something peaceful about it.  I would also try to run from my house, along the streets, but I didn’t have the same motivation.  My “Why” back then was that I loved running because I could be in and see nature.
I run because it is something that I enjoy with my wife.

More recent in life, my wife and I started running for health.  We were both overweight, and chose running as something we could do together.  We would also include our children, either in running short distances, riding bikes, etc.  So our running was done as a family.  It was a great way to keep balance as well as to reach our goals.  In fact, our why for running marathons and trail runs is to keep focus on our “whys” for running, being healthy and activities with the family.

However, to balance out our running, we have really begun to focus back on the trails.  We love being out there, running the creeks, seeing a bobcat, tarantula, or snake every once and awhile, pushing our limits on the hills and distances.  In fact we kind of get bored running our long runs on the road.  So our additional “Why” is just the enjoyment of the wilderness.

It is funny though how one person may feel their why trumps all other reasons.  For example, recently I posted a question on LinkedIn asking “ Are trail runners really runners?”  I then post a link to the blog post of the same name.  While the premise of the question was to answer the question that if a trail runner walks some of the hills do they fit in the definition of a runner.  As any reasonable person would answer, most people said yes, a trail runner or any runner for that matter who walks a portion of a run no matter for how much is a runner.
Another Reason I run: It is a family activity!

However, when the argument broke down, it was due to the interpretation of the question filtered by runners “why”.  For example, one commenter stated that anyone who runs over an 8:30 pace wouldn’t be called a runner, and someone suggested the threshold should be at 16 minutes.  Their reason for running was more for the competition and for speed and they felt that their reason trumped everyone else’s reason.

It is interesting that we can forget our most important “whys” for running.   On a recent podcast on Trail Runner Nation,  one of the interviewee’s  (ashruns100s) who has run a few hundred mile races suggested that she had lost her “why” for doing these races and she was ready to do something else.  This has been also expressed by Sarah Lavender Smith and Footfeathers.

However, with further examination, we all have a why.  After her podcast, ashruns100s did a self examination and provided further explanation of what her "why"is as well as discussing the need for a "why."

On the flips side, when you visit the different runner’s blogs or read about different endeavors, you can found out their reason for running.  For example, if you go to Leor Pantilat’s blog, you can easily see that his love of nature and photography trumps competition as the focus of his reason for running.  Or how Dean Karnazes desire to push the limits of his body is his why.

So at the end of it all, we all have our own reasons for running: whether distance or speed, trail or road, etc.  The greatest challenge we have as runners is remembering our why and nurturing it.   

So what is your “why” for running?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Toothpicks are for Food not Feet!!

Well, just when I thought I was coming around on my calf injury, I step on a toothpick,  breaking it off in my foot.  OUCH!!!

I guess, at some point our son must have dropped one of the toothpicks we put in his meatballs for dinner next to a table in the living room.  The toothpick ended up pointing directly up in the carpet waiting for my unsuspecting foot. 

When I stepped on it I felt this searing paint right under the big tow joint.  I looked down puzzled to find a broken toothpick.  I quickly realized that about almost half the toothpick was missing, then realized that it was still in my foot.  But the problems was that, other than what looked a broken bone pushing up the skin and a puncture wound, there was no sign of the toothpick.  There was a brief moment where I thought it was kind of cool and the sudden realization that the toothpick was in my foot and that I wouldn't be the one getting it out. Then the anger hit that this again would cut into more of my training time. 

So it meant a trip to the ER.  Being a bit stubborn, I walked into the ER on the side of my foot.  This is the same leg that I had suffered the calf strain, so I found myself realizing that the strain hadn't healed and that my calf also started hurting.  The doc numbed my foot, and with a small incision, found the toothpick and pulled it out.  And it only required two stitches to sow it up.  I even got antibiotics and a tetanus shot for good measure.
About 1.5" of the toothpick ended up in my foot!

As my wife and another good friend of mine pointed out, the positive side of this injury is that it forces me to let my calf heal.  Oh well.

What freak injury prevented you from running?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Even the Best Laid Plans.....

So, as I stated a couple of posts back, my wife and I have some serious goals for this year that include a 50K and two marathons.  Of course we will throw in several 10k's, half-marathons, and 30K's.  So I had set up my training schedule for the first event, a 50K at the end of April, and was on target the first week of training.  However, as stated in my last post, I felt a pop in my calf crossing a creek.

The good news is that it is a mild calf strain and that I should be up and running next week (it is still a little noticeable when I stretch).  The bad news is that we have been having great weather and we are expected to be in the 60's a couple of times this week. 
Today, the Embarcadero looked liked the SF Marathon!

So I headed out today for lunch and am sitting on a dock off the Embarcadero and getting jealous of the people running by.  However, I realized something, there are a lot more runners than usual.  Even more interesting is that there is a greater diversity in fitness levels in the runners than usual.  I mean, compared to most trails I run in the Bay Area, I sometimes get intimidated by some of the runners at lunch even when I am maxing out at my 8:30 to 9:30 pace.

So the above phrase came to mind.  It is a derivative of the phrase " the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry" from Of Mice and Men.  I think it is so interesting that beginning in January there are a lot of runners. Then, after a few weeks, it flattens out and you go back to seeing the same stalwarts either training for something just running because of the love of it.

It is kind of the same way Thanksgiving morning.  Have you ever run on that day, other than a Turkey Trot?  There are so many families out exercising, burning off some calories, in the anticipation of the beginning of the holiday feasting season.  

I think it goes back to why you run.  For my wife and I, first and foremost, it is to keep us healthy.  We do not want to slip back into bad habits.  We sign-up for two or three big events so we are always training for something.  To keep it from being a chore, we mix it up with a lot of trail and road runs, go exploring on the different trail systems in the Bay Area (we are blessed with thousands of miles of trails) and make sure we include the kids, running also or riding their bikes.

However, I think sometimes when you have the wrong goal in front of you running becomes a means to an ends.  If Your goal is to run your a marathon this year, whats next?  You need to loose a few pounds.  When you reach that goal, will you stop running and go back to old habits?

I am definitely looking forward to getting back to my running schedule next week.  And definitely we will be attaining our goals for this year.  But I do recognize that, in no time, I too could be one of those runners, if I do not keep focus on those goals.

So  what do you do when your plans go awry?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Pop Went the Calf Muscle......

Well, as mentioned in a previous post, I have lofty goals for this year both in my nutrition, training, and race schedule (a 50K and two marathons).  The first up is the 50K in April which, as of this week, gives 16 weeks to completely train as well as be in my optimum racing weight.

Taking advantage of the day off with my wife,  we had decided to take a nice run out of Castle Rock Regional Park in Walnut Creek.  We had mapped out an eight mile course, not too strenuous,  with a fair amount of elevation gain.  We knew we would get our feet wet since the creeks are running a nice clip.  I also knew it would be cold out, no problem there. 

That said, my calf was a little tender though from a workout I had done a couple of weeks ago.  I thought it wouldn't be a problem though since I had been running on it for the last week and a half.  I did have a little concern about them hitting the cold water, but not great enough to stop a rare run with my wife.

So we started out pretty strong, everything felt fine.  If you have ever run out of Castle Rock, you know there is some technical work about a mile in; however, no problem there.  About 1.5 miles in you come to the first creek, the water was ankle deep.  It was a little shock to my legs, but again nothing noticeable to my legs. 

Then we got to the second creek.The first couple of steps were pretty shallow, so I trotted through just fine; however, I noticed that the last step would be kind of deep.  So I pushed off with my right leg.  That is when I felt a pop...sort as if a stone had been thrown at my calf.  That was when the pain began.  I thought I could walk it out, but it was pretty intense.

My wife had me sit in the stream, which was great; however, my whole leg stiffened up.  I figured that this wasn't a good thing with a 2 mile walk / limp back to the car.  So we got going back to the car.  I hated the hike back.  I really was disappointed that I wouldn't finish  the run with my wife.  And then really upset to realize how my training schedule is now up in the air until it heals.

When we got back home, I did everything I was supposed to do: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE). You actually can find a lot of information on this.  I found this site most useful.  Doing my research I found that I am closer to a stage one strain than a stage two strain which is great.  I also feel a lot better today, able to walk on it with very little pain; however, still wearing the compression sleeve.  

A couple of years back, my wife actually ran on this type of strain; which I do not recommend.  It took her a year to heal properly.

So looks like my grand training program will have to wait a bit.  Hopefully I will be back up and running soon!
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