Saturday, December 29, 2007

Reminder: Runners Need More than Goals

I recently left a post on a fellow blogger's site: How to Take Charge. After I left the post I got to thinking that there are a lot of things we runners need. I set goals, create training plans, and I give myself these "running reminders" (every day of December) but there is more to it than that.

Goals are gateways to what we desire. And the true desire is to achieve the feelings you get when working towards those goals. Achieving the goal is the cherry on top of everything else you have been experiencing along the way.

The training plan doesn't really mean much either. It helps, but it isn't the purpose to any of this. It also is a gateway to getting us to what we want... not the goal, but the enjoyment we get in moving towards the goal.

The running reminders that I have written throughout the month of December are probably the closest thing to why we run. The goals are good and the training plans are there to help lead us to those goals, but jumping in an ice bath, running hill repeats, and crossing the threshold of heat exhaustion are the things that keep me excited about running. The pain we suffer and the scars that remain are the things that define us as runners.

Here is the post that got me rambling on:

Ingrid, thanks for stopping by my blog. I wanted to comment on this post. You raise a good point that many runners and athletes in general have been struggling with for years. There is no sure fire answer that will fit in a box, pill, or drink. I think the answer is relative to the person asking the question.

For me, I need reminders. I need goals. I need to feel the pain of a hill workout and the joy that comes with that suffering. I also need to run with my dog as well as run off the cement trail into the woods where the air is humid and thick and the ground is moist but firm.

For you, it might be this blog and your commitment to sharing with friends, family, and fellow runners like me. Whatever the answer is... it is yours and yours alone. You are a runner. You are an individual. The physical and mental challenges are simply byproducts of this thing you love to do.

Happy Miles,

Friday, December 28, 2007

Reminder: Know When to Run Sick

This reminder sounds a bit strange but it is true. When you feel like you are getting sick, it might still be OK for you to run. I refer to Runners World for most of this insane argument, but I am happy to say that you can still get some good miles in even if you are coming down with a cold. If you are bed ridden, then running is probably out of the question.

Take a read of the article and make up your own mind. I'm running.

Thank You For Your Support

Thank you for supporting my training and racing by donating a couple of bucks to satisfy my GU fix!

Best of luck to you.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Reminder: Black Toenails are Cool

Okay, well they aren't that cool... but it does give you a sense of accomplishment knowing that you put enough miles on your feet to lose a toenail. This has happened to me a few times and I've heard it can be due to your shoes being to small making your toes jam up against the front end. There must me some truth to that because I have also poked my second toe on both feet through many pairs of socks.

I get much pleasure out of wearing sandals when I have a toenail on the brink of falling off. This always gets a good rise out of my girlfriend. She thinks it is disgusting, but the cool factor of losing a toenail due to training out-weighs the fact that she is repulsed by the sight of my feet.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Reminder: Read Running Quotes

Running is a mind game and motivation can come in many forms. For me, I like to read running quotes from Running Greats. Steve Prefontaine is a great source for quotes. For example:
A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more. Nobody is going to win a 5,000 meter race after running an easy 2 miles. Not with me. If I loose forcing the pace all the way, well, at least I can live with myself.

This is the kind of thing that i like to read when I feel like running has become monotonous. It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does I usually try and Google some Prefontaine quotes.

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Reminder: Wear an HRM w/ Pace

One of my best purchases in recent years has been my Polar Heart Rate Monitor with the Footpod. I have ran in the rain, mud, heat, and sometimes streams with the footpod strapped to my laces and have yet to see a problem with the results.

I started this pace/distance tracking passion with a Garmin. About 2 years ago Jordan gave me one for my birthday and I found myself running in the middle of the night around our 3 mile track trying to see how many miles I could log. Bad idea. So, I put together a running plan that included the function of the Garmin and had a good time running sprints and long distances while using the aid of satellites to track my workouts. However, when I started running in more diverse locations in Houston including the woods, it got harder and harder to rely on those satellites to keep up with me.

So, I got the Polar HRM with footpod and haven't put he Garmin on since. Sorry, Jordan. Don't Get a Garmin. Get a Polar.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Reminder: Run off the Cement Path

This one does not need much explaination. Get off the municiple path and head for your local dirt trail. Not only will this strengthen your legs, ankles, knees, and improve your running balance, but it will also give you a reason to walk into your house caked in dirt (or mud).

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Reminder: Embrace Technology - It's a Runner's Friend

I have always kept some sort of running journal. It has been a way for me to remain accountable to myself because I HATE to see big gaps between run journal entries. With the increasing popularity of publishing your run workouts online, I decided to put up the paper and get started online.

I keep up with my training plans and distances using Google Spreadsheets and then embed them into this site (see to the right). I also track my race results and upcoming races using these same spreadsheets.

I plot my run routes using and I am able to see the elevation change, distance, and pace of my routes.

Oh, and I use Blogger for all these posts you have been reading.

Technology is good.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Reminder: Hide your Water Bottle on the Trail

Long runs suck when you carry water. I can't stand the sloshing around of a sweaty water bottle strapped to my waist or even worse... in my hand. Talk about a constant distraction that will throw off your rhythm every time. Instead, take the time to drive out a few miles into your run where you can stash a water bottle or two (depending on your distance).

Even better, get your friend to meet you a the even numbered mile markers with some Gatorade. That would be sweet.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Reminder: Running is a Simple Sport

Well, not really but in it's most simplistic form it isn't complicated. Just walking at a higher rate with a quicker pace and a bit harder breathing. There are so many things that complicate the run like VO2 Max, Interval Training, HRM Training, Diet, Supplements, the list goes on, that it is hard to get back to the root of what you are doing.

Keep it simple and realize what you are doing. Walking fast. Running. Lengthening your stride and increasing your turnover rate. Increasing your heart rate to maximize your fat burning potential while developing your oxygen intake efficiency and become a fitter, faster, runner. Oh wait... that was complicated. Just run.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reminder: Run in the heat

If there was one thing I learned when training in Texas it was that running in the heat will prepare you for the longer races that seem to linger on into the afternoons. When taking on any distance longer than 1/2 marathon you can count on the weather changing during your race. This could be rain, snow, or heat depending on where you live and the altitudes you run.

The best way to prepare for such an impact is to train in those extremes. So, instead of waking up at 6am for your three hour run... wait until 11am, take plenty of water, and prepare for the weather change that will get you race ready for heat.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Reminder: Don't Run on Empty

Today I skipped lunch and ended up eating a Lean Cuisine Fettucini Alfredo with Chicken and Vegetables at 5:00pm that had been sitting in our office freezer for about 2 years. Not good. Not only was it pretty awful tasting, it did nothing for my energy level.

This was not the perfect fuel I was looking for in order to take on my quick 4 mile run in the 40 degree weather with rain. Instead, I got out on the road and quickly felt like puking my guts out.

I could feel the 2 year old Alfredo sauce churning with each step, and the gases coming up through my lungs were constant and painful. Of course I ran through the suffering and almost tossed my late lunch in front of a bunch of Christmas Carolling kids and their parents

At least the run was good.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Reminder: Take Ice Baths

Jumping into an ice bath after a long run, hill workout, or set of sprints sounds like torture but it only feels like torture. Those activities will break down the best of us and the one sure thing that will give you faster recovery to get back out there for another solid workout is a 4lb bag of ice and a nice cold bath.

By the way, don't try this if you have a bad heart. You might die from the shock. Seriously. ;)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Reminder: Run in the Cold

Today I laced up my shoes and went for a run after work. I was tired and was on zero sleep due to a recent trip to Houston. However, I knew I needed to push through my lazy attitude to get out on the road but the 30 degree weather was making it hard for me to commit.

After a few minutes of deliberation I put on my Asics and blasted out into the dark cold night. 30 minutes later I had gone just over 4 miles, burned about 500 calories, and was ready for more!

Running in the cold is a great idea. Running in the cold without gloves is not. Wear gloves.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Reminder: Hills are your Friend

I met a guy this weekend when visiting with family in Houston. He was a runner, new to the sport, and eager to get better. I gave him a bit of advice about hill repeats and the fact that they would be the best way to give him strength as a runner. He headed for the hills the next morning. Hills are your friend. Visit them often.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Reminder: Get a Coach

One of the smartest things I did was get a coach to help me put together my training plan. I am one of those runners who like to train on his own and can usually motivate myself to get out on the road, even in the rain, so I felt that a coach would be a great way to put together a run training plan that I could use at any stage of my running career.

I was right. I have kept bits and pieces of a training plan I got more than 4 years ago and have been able to incorporate it into the various training plans I have used over the years. Get a coach. Even if you only use him/her for a little guidance for your training plan. You won't regret it!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Reminder: Get off the Couch

Okay, well the couch is not that bad, but you can't let it persuade you from getting out on the road for a run. It will sneak up at the most inconspicous times like when you are watching a Law and Order marathon on TBS. Just say no. Turn off the TV, get up off the couch, grab your shoes and go for a run. Besides, it's a Law and Order marathon... it will be on when you get back!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reminder: Use a Treadmill for Turnover Rate

About 2 years ago I put together a training routine that included the treadmill. The trick to those workouts was to count my steps during the runs to make sure my turnover rate was up around 180 steps per minute. This is something I read about in one of the 18 running magazines I subscribe to and I thought the best way to be consistent with the turnover rate was to use the treadmill. I was right. It took my 5k time to sub 18 minutes and I felt like I was floating during my long runs. Very good stuff.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Reminder: Take Suppliments in moderation

This is a topic that has been in pretty much every issue of Runners World since I started running back in the late 90's. I have found a few supplements that I am a firm believer in and I have incorporated them into my training routine. They work for me, but I can't say that they would work for everyone else.

Find what works for you (if anything) and be consistent about your use. You will see greater gains if you USE AS DIRECTED instead of using them whenever you feel like it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reminder: Run hard into the Wind

If you like hills, then you probably don't mind running when there is a nice head wind. If you don't like hills then you probably feel the opposite about the wind. Running in the wind can give you strength similar to running hills.

This is not a scientific fact but based on personal experience running in Houston where it is completely flat... I could see benefit in my long runs when I had to finish up with 5 miles against the wind on the way home. I was much more fatigued and came back stronger that next week. Wind is good.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Reminder: Pain is temporary, Quiting is forever

I trained at Oklahoma State for high school wrestling back in the late 90's. They had a T-Shirt for sale at the training camp that said, "Pain is Temporary, Pride is Forever." However, I just came across this quote from Lance Armstrong and though the Quiting to be more of an impact at this stage in my life. While your pride will get over itself, Quiting is something that will stick with you forever.

Don't give up. Don't quit.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Reminder: Run then Stretch

Something that I think about all the time is how damn tight my legs are. I can run a 5k in about 18 or 19 minutes, but I can't touch my toes. There is something wrong with that. Don't get me wrong, I stretch, however I have made the mistake of stretching before warming my legs up and ended up getting injured by something I thought would help me. So now I work my way into my run with a slow pace, then pick it up after about 5-10 minutes. Then after my run I do my stretch. Life is good, even thought I still can't touch my toes.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Reminder: Run in the Rain

It has been weeks, maybe months since we have seen rain in Atlanta. However, I remember running while in Houston in rain that most cars needed to pull over to the side of the road to wait out. I love running in the rain. Every time I get out during a good down pour I am reminded that in can rain during a race so you might as well train like you will race.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Reminder: Running should be an Addiction in Moderation

If you wake up, lace up your shoe, leave the house in 30 degree weather and run for an hour, you have issues. These aren't issues like those you see on Intervention, but everything is relative. I speak from experience and I can say I am one of the lucky ones who still can't wait to get up in the blistering cold or driving rain to get in a nice run.

There is little more that makes me feel as good as that thing that keeps calling my name. The run. I don't care about the distance. I don't care about the speed. I want to run, so I do. You could say I was addicted to running and I would say you were right. However, I do keep a training log (kind of) so I moderate this addiction by logging my runs and sticking to a somewhat sophisticated running plan.

Running: Addiction in Moderation

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Reminder: If you aren't running YOU WILL be passed.

The lack of consistancy in my training has reminded me that if you slow down, or stop... the people behind you WILL catch you. Keep moving.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Reminder: Running Sometimes Means Improvising

Tonight I got home from work and needed to walk the dog. He hadn't been out on a good long walk for a while so I threw on some jeans and my old Houston 1/2 marathon sweat shirt and headed out to the pond.

After one slow loop around the water I could tell Cooper (the dog) was looking for a little more action. So we picked up the pace and soon I was running in full stride around the pond in my jeans. It felt very strange, but the dog was into it so I said what the hell.

After two good hard loops I decided to run back upstairs to throw on some running shorts and a reflective warm top to put another 30 minutes on the road. It just made sense to make the dog walk into an impromptu training session. We both had fun and I got a good hill workout too!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Reminder: Run without your iPod

Yeah, an iPod is cool, but hearing yourself sucking for air after a long hill or when you've just pictured yourself passing that Kenyan during the last 800 meters of your long run is a great way to build confidence in your run. Music has its place, but running with it won't let you experience what the rest of your body is being subjected to. When you run in silence, your mind starts shouting at you to stop, and once again you need to listen to your stride and let it all out.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Reminder: Running Hurts

Okay, well it doesn't hurt all the time. I like the way running reminds you of your limits and dares you to push through them. Just when you think you couldn't take another step, you've gone another mile. That is what running does to you. It forces you to quit thinking with your brain and start believing in your stride.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Reminder: Finish What You Start

Finish what you start. Now that is a good reminder. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I have started a work out plan and ended up ditching it and winging it through the season. Then, after an injury or maybe a few too many days off... the entire idea of running gets ditched.

So, December will be a month of reminders. Reminders of goals and reasons why I run. January is coming soon and I need to wrap my brain around the new running plan I have put together for next year.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Reminder: Start Run Reminders in December

I have decided to make December a month of reminders. Reminders of running goals and reasons why we lace up our shoes in the rain and pound the pavement in 20 degree weather.

January is coming fast and I need to wrap my brain around the new running plan I have put together for next year.

Today's reminder, running doesn't start and stop from one training plan to the next. It is a constant in our lives. It welcomes you at any time of day and during all sorts of weather. If you take a week off, it will be there. If you take a year off, it will be there. If you have never ran before, it will be waiting for you.

  Sunday run in the rain.