Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Social and Networking Icons

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The post is for placing a few icons on the site for later use. Instead of training today, I'm working on my blog. This has begun to be a regular occurrence!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

How to know what distance to run.

As a runner, it is sometimes difficult to admit defeat. Being beat at something sucks and so we will, at times, look for the path of least resistance. Once you realize that is what you've done, it can hurt even more than being beaten by another runner because you've beaten them to it.

These days I've been putting a lot of thought into the distances I have ran in the past and the distances I hope to run this year. I love the marathon. The mystique of that long run is just the kind of thing that most runners, no matter the experience level, think about doing some day. To conquer that distance is to do what few runners have done before. It is an honorable goal and a task that takes a good bit of dedication and also mental fortitude.

I've ran the marathon. It was fun. I didn't train much for it but ended up with a 3:30 time. I know I could do better. With a lot of training I could do a lot better. But looking back, I remember why I didn't train too much for the race. It wasn't on my race schedule and I flipped a coin with friends to see if I would do the 1/2 or full marathon. Not smart.

However, there was a reason I hadn't trained. I was having a lot of fun running the shorter races. 18 minutes of pain and suffering is something I love. I like to feel my lungs burn and my legs turn over a very rapid pace. The short distance is something that I like doing, and it might actually be something I'm better at. The problem is I just haven't put in enough consistent training to really know.

So, this year I plan on doing things a little differently. I've reworked my race schedule and have taken most of the longer distance races off and replaced them with 5k and 10k races. I have a feeling the type of training involved will not only fit into my busy schedule of work and getting married, but it will also be a lot of fun.

There are a couple of key races this year and I hope to run them faster than I did last year. My training is only just beginning but by spring I should be back where I need to be.

By coming to terms with the distances I enjoy running I think I have made a pretty big breakthrough in my training and racing. This year could be the first year I actually enjoy what I'm doing, stay healthy, and finish without wishing I had a few more months to prepare. I might still get beaten, but it will be by the other runners ahead of me and not my self.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Running for the Runner's High - Fact of Fiction?

A couple of days ago I mentioned something about the Runner's High. There are many debates as to if the euphoric feeling of the "Runner's High" is actually fact of fiction. Scientifically I'm not too sure what is really going on in your body when this happens so I read a couple of studies on the "myth" and I finally came across a valid German study that reported it was in fact a TRUE event.

The Germans used PET scans combined with a chemical that reveals endorphins on the brain. They then compared runners' brains before and after runs. The end result was that the PET scans revealed the endorphins being created during the runs and they were attaching themselves to areas of the brain that are associated with emotions. Pretty cool.

Science aside, I believe the Runner's High to be real. I've felt it and know of other athletes who have shared the same experience. We all know that exercise in general can impact your mood and over all demeanor. Those endorphin boosts are what I love about staying active and although I get a boost pretty much every time I'm training or racing, I've only felt the "Runner's High" a couple of times. It takes the endorphin rush to a different level all together.

So, the next time you're on that long run and you feel like you could push the pace and go twice as far, pay attention to what you're feeling. You just might be high.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Should you run on sore, cramping legs?

Training and racing can cause strange things to happen to your body. Things like cramps and soreness are normal, but when you legs turn to stone and you've got new soreness in places you didn't realize contained muscle, your mental state about getting back out and running can be shaken up a bit. Here are a couple of things to consider before throwing in the towel.

Haunting leg spasms
I wouldn't worry about those darn leg spasms. Going out too fast can definitely cause them to creep up on you. If you are pushing the pace for too long you can over use those muscles which is a classic case for spasms to hop on board a set of perfectly trained legs. Another couple of reasons could be fluid related or low levels of potassium and calcium.

Extreme weather (hot or cold) coupled with an increase in effort can impact the fluid ratio that you need, meaning drink more if you're going to put the hammer down.

Those sore quads
The spasm thing while running is strange, but really isn't that big of a deal. Your quads being sore are likely a byproduct of the extreme contractions your legs were going through coupled with the over compensation you applied to your stride to keep your legs turning over and not morphing into solid rock. Just think of it like if you were lifting weights and contracting your muscles. There is usually soreness afterwards if lifting weights is not something you are accustomed to. In this situation, you're not accustomed to your legs flexing on their own and becoming as hard as bricks. Even one or two tight contractions of the quad can cause this soreness.

So, in summary. Sore quads? Take some ibuprofen and keep on running. You'll be fine.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Running for fun: The foundation of running

I’m a firm believer that running a race “for fun” and running a race “for time” are separate but related components. I think that first and foremost a runner should want to run the race because he or she enjoys running the race regardless of time. It would be miserable to suffer that distance (or any distance) simply because we were interested in what the clock said. Not until we are healthy and in good training form, should the clock come into play.

Running For Time
Running "for time"will often take the experience to another level of enjoyment, however, when we run the race for time and miss our goal, it is important to have a solid mental foundation of running “for fun” so we don’t wallow in our own self pity or even worse, ditch running altogether.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

How a runner should train and race when sick

I have trained (and raced) sick. I think the trick is that you just want to be careful when the sickness moves down to your chest (congestion) from your head (stuffy nose) because you can exacerbate the issue by taxing your body with a run … especially a marathon! So go see a doctor (if you haven’t already) and get some good drugs to knock it out.

There are thousands of runners who have ran marathons or IRONMAN distance races while sick. If you think ahead and train/race smart, I don't think there will be much issue. When training, I would just keep your pace slow and easy. I would lay off tempo and speed workouts until the last week before the race but keep the distances based on the schedule so you keep mileage and time on your legs (just run EZ). If you must get in some speed, short efforts at race pace will help with your muscle memory and form before getting out on the course.

When you get out there on race day, I would follow your race plan, run at the pace you had planned on, and FEEL where you need to be on that day rather than making up your mind to be slow weeks in advance. The important thing is to be true to yourself and listen to what your body is trying to tell you. I mean, if you need to walk... it's OK, just walk.

I would say the biggest challenge when trying to run when feeling under the weather is largely mental. As you know, endurance sports can play tricks on your psychological stability and coming off a sickness in addition to two weeks of rest will wreak havoc on your psyche. When you hit mile 20 or 21 you will start thinking about how all the bad things that have been out of your control have held you back. So, you’ve got to mentally prepare for that in advance so you don’t end up convincing yourself to walk off the course. You might be thinking there is no way that could happen, but you will be dealing with an oxygen starved brain and muscles that are craving rest not to mention that 800lb gorilla that hopped up on your back… it can happen.

As long as there is no chance of you catching pneumonia, I say go for it. Your training will pay off. Taking time off when your sick is okay, you won't lose too much training with 2 to 4 weeks off.

I once flipped a coin to run either the ½ or full marathon in Austin. I lost the coin toss and ran the marathon with 15 miles as my longest run. By mile 20 or 21 my legs were in full spasm and when running down the finish shoot I couldn't bend them because they were locked. I finished in 3:30 but before the melt down I was on pace for 3:07. At the end, I was hobbling the final 2 miles near 10:00/mile pace but I would not let my brain (or better judgment) convince me to quit.

So see your doctor and make sure running won't kill you. If the doctor gives you the "all clear", get back to training and have fun at your next race.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How to finish your run STRONG

One of the best feelings I've had as a runner is finishing a training run or race with power. I've also felt the "Runner's High" at times, but I believe that feeling to be when you are fresh at mile 10 and can put in another 10 miles with ease. The "Runner's High" is more elusive and mysterious because it just shows up, but finishing strong is strategic and calculated and can show up at will. That is what makes "finishing strong" so cool. It is up to you and your body to determine when, how hard, and how long you will suffer.

Here are a couple of brief steps to keep in mind when planning on finishing your race strong.

1) Tell yourself you are going to run like hell for the last 400 meters
2) Tell yourself again, because you might not have heard yourself correctly
3) Put together a race plan that includes a goal finish time
4) Run the first half of the race at about 5 seconds slower than mile pace
5) Run second half of the race at about 5 seconds faster than goal mile pace
6) Pick a distance you would like to start your kick from 100-400 meters is good
7) Run like hell
8) Tell yourself 1/2 way into your kick that you will not quit
9) Run like hell and finish with pride

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

101 Healthy Things To Do in 2009

We are a few days into the New Year and I've already read a myriad of recent blogs related to 101 things to do in 2009. They all have the traditional: lose weight, stop smoking, quit eating McDonald's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner items but none of them are 100% based on things that are simply fit and healthy. Sure, reading a Charles Dickens novel has it's place among 2009 goals, but will that get you through your next marathon or century bike ride?

So, hoping to fill an obvious void, I decided to throw together a quick list of cool things to do in 2009 if you are a swimmer, cyclist, or runner. Most items on this list are those that can be done more than once throughout the year so feel free to try it out and repeat as needed. Your body will thank you!!! Enjoy

101 Fit and Healthy Things to do in 2009
01) Run a 5k
02) Run a 10k
03) Run a 1/2 Marathon
04) Run a Marathon
05) Run a Sprint Triathlon
06) Run an Olympic Distance Triathlon
07) Run a 1/2 Ironman
08) Participate in a group training run
09) Swim at least 1 mile non-stop
10) Join a local running club
11) Join a local triathlon club
12) Ride your bike 100 miles in one day
13) Take a yoga class
14) Take a spin class
15) See a nutritionist
16) Consult a training coach
17) Get your body fat tested
18) Get a stress test done
19) Get a physical
20) Subscribe to a running or health magazine
21) Swim an open water swim
22) Ride your bike to work
23) Workout at lunch, eat lunch at your desk
24) Run a trail race in the woods
25) Encourage a "non runner" to run a 5k
26) Tell your coworkers that you're a runner
27) Tell a stranger that you're a runner
28) Buy a race photo from your next event
29) Get fit by a professional on your bike
30) Buy and/or use a heart rate monitor
31) Map your favorite run to share with others
32) Invite a neighbor to go for a walk or run
33) Keep a training diary
34) Run a race for time
35) Run a race for fun
36) Keep current training goal by your bed
37) Stretch after every workout
38) Read an inspirational workout quote once a week
39) Come up with your own inspirational workout quote
40) Go to the Dr. at the first sign of a chest cold
41) Drink more water
42) Detox for at least a week
43) Stop drinking coffee for a week and switch with tea
44) Eat breakfast every day for at least a week
45) Achieve a healthy level of body fat percentage
46) Find a running partner in another state to email regularly
47) Run with a dog
48) Run with your significant other
49) Read a book on running
50) Clear your sinus with a Netti Pot
51) Run in the morning before work
52) Go for a night run (with lights and reflective gear!)
53) Ride a bike to a lunch destination with friends
54) Ride your bike for charity
55) Participate in a charity race/fun run
56) Run a race or ride in a state other than where you live
57) Make your own home made smoothies for a week
58) Buy your next pair of running shoes from a specialty store
59) Learn to patch a flat on your bike the right way
60) Help a fellow rider fix a flat tire on his/her bike
61) Wear sunscreen year round
62) Set a personal record on your favorite training run
63) Set a personal record at your favorite race
64) Pay for a friends race registration to get them started
65) Bake your own energy bars
66) Eat 2-3 servings of fish for at least one week per month
67) Learn what portion control means for you
68) Get 30 minutes a day of activity when not working out
69) Control your sodium intake. Know what you need.
70) Increase your antioxidant rich foods
71) Floss your teeth to fight off bacteria
72) Strength train at least 10 minutes per day
73) Wipe down your exercise equipment at the gym after use
74) Set realistic weight loss (or gain) goals
75) Donate your old running shoes to charity
76) Know when to change your old running shoes out for new ones
77) Take an ice bath after your long runs
78) Shave your legs before any distance triathlon
79) Share a swim lane with a weaker swimmer than you
80) Share a swim lane with a stronger swimmer than you
81) Swim, Bike, and Run in morning at the gym
82) Swim 1 mile before a 1 hour spin class
83) Run 3 miles after a 1 hour spin class
84) Cut your toe nails before long runs
85) Run at conversational pace with friends and talk
86) Run without a stop watch at least once a week
87) Run without an HR monitor at least once a week
88) Run with your favorite music
89) Run without music and listen to yourself breath
90) Practice breathing from both sides during the swim
91) Tape up your workout schedule in your office
92) Volunteer at a local fun run/race
93) Look both ways before crossing the street
94) Cross train
95) Count your calories not your carbs
96) Get more sleep
97) Regulate your alcohol intake
98) Quit smoking if you are a smoker!
99) Motivate yourself to stay healthy!
100) Believe in yourself to stay healty!
101) Blog about your healthy lifestyle

Monday, January 5, 2009

On The Run Blog - 2009

I've been thinking about the direction I want to take this blog. It has been syndicated by a couple of different online sources which is really pretty cool. In addition to that, I've received a good bit of communication from various readers who would like to see more content on a regular basis.

That being the case, I am going to make an effort to post more this year. Maybe not every day, or every other day, or weekly. Just more. This is not a New Year's Resolution to add to my failure list. Instead, it is more of an attempt to get more information out of my head and onto this blog while continuing to keep up with my training and racing the way I have for the past couple of years.

Yeah, that sounds good.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Runners and Resolutions - 2009

It's that time of year again. Yep, time to put pen to paper and set a few goals that I will likely fail at achieving. Its become a regular occurance. Each year I put together a bullet proof training plan, schedule my yearly race schedule, and then out of nowhere comes a freight train of obsticles to derail me from my success.

This year will be different. Instead of the yearly focus and monthly screw ups, I think I'll give my training and racing a monthly focus with a yearly goal of screwing up... less. I'm not planning on failing, just being realistic. No one is perfect, and I'm quite confident that I fall into that catagory.

So, this year is the year I do it right. My resolution is clear. I will have fun, train hard, race fast, and won't freak out if my plan goes to hell.

Happy New Year

  Sunday run in the rain.