Effort-Based Training…

A wise old Jedi Grand Master once said, “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” Yoda, while experienced in the ways of the Force, probably never tried his three-fingered hand at distance running. I’ve come to learn that sometimes, trying is just as important as doing. Sometimes, the effort is just as meaningful as the outcome. Sometimes, you can accomplish things even if you don’t succeed at them.

This translates to running in many ways, but in particular it connects to the system I employ as a coach, and the type of training I do with coach Marc Pelerin. 



A sample day, week or month of my training plan won’t be teeming with numbers and paces; rather, it will say things like BRP (basic run pace) or “Threshold Effort” or, only recently as we add speed into the mix, “ALL OUT” for sprints at the end of workouts. While those “types” of runs do suggest certain paces or time equivalents, I’ve come to learn that with any training plan, the athlete and the coach need to have some flexibility. Rarely have I had to skip something as scheduled…in fact, I’ve only taken 4 days off from running TOTAL since 6/17/2013 – two on purpose in July 2014 (after over 400 consecutive days and prior to the start of my new plan); one due to a migraine on 12/25/14 (Christmas, of all days) and one very recently on 2/6/15 simply because I just couldn’t/didn’t get a run in during a busy day. I can usually rebound quickly from one day to the next! 

 Why am I able to run so often, run pretty steady and serious mileage (50+ mpw on average) and PR so frequently? Because I have learned that training based on effort, not pace works for me. I’m not that “fancy” about it either. No heart rate monitor to guide me; just feel. If you do have a good GPS watch with HRM, the new ones (Especially the Garmins) “learn” you and give you a 5-zone training effect measurement after your runs. What a world we live in! Personally, I look at training as having 5 gears, like a manual transmission – which I don’t know how to drive, but I’ve played a LOT of video games…so I know how & when to shift gears, at least, I understand how it works…

1st and 5th gear – Not used very often. Think about it – as a runner, how often are you idling or coasting? How often do you “redline”? To paraphrase Jimmy Eat World, it just takes some time, in the middle everything will be just fine. Stay “in the middle” kids…just try your best…try everything you can… 

2nd gear – this is the easy-feeling stuff. I would define “easy” as “Just like it sounds. Easy. Easy effort, easy breathing, feel good before, during and after. Whether it is a run, x-train or OYO day, easy means easy. That doesn’t mean slow, either. It means easy.” (This would be somewhere around 60-75% effort if you had to estimate it) 

3rd gear is probably where I live and breathe. This is anywhere from BRP to medium efforts, tempos, etc. Something like  “‘just hard enough to make it worth the effort’ – or ‘nothing you can’t recover from in about a day.’ Your body is just the right amount of tired after; your breathing is ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ during the run and the end comes right when you want it to. You’re not laboring to finish but you’re happy it’s over.” (A good number to think of is 65-85% effort for these days) 

4th gear is saved for “special occasions” and you do this when you have to or when you need to. 4th gear isn’t always “hard” but it is always “hard enough.” “These are hard efforts, with required paces and specific instructions. A hard effort hurts (at least a little) and you are happy when it’s over – you might even have to fight through that last mile, rep, or minute. These might take 24-36 hours to recover from; even 48 hours sometimes; any more than that and you went too hard.” (This is like 85-95% – if you can measure that) 

What don’t you see? Numbers really below 50% or above 95%. C’mon. How slow would a runner have to be going to be giving 50% effort? I’m not a math teacher, but I’d think for someone who runs 8:00 per mile normally, 50% effort would be 12:00 per mile, right? You’d fall over. And when I run 95-100% effort, I have to stop at the end. That’s an all out 100m or 200m sprint for me. Me no likey. Those hurt. As mentioned before, if there are five gears, or “training zones” here’s how they break down (according to Garmin, at least – as a proud @NJGarminRunner I’m using their system as my example!)



So why effort, not time? Simple, silly! I don’t want to “overreach” nor do I really want to make “minor” gains, though I know a PR by a second is still a PR” – I want to maintain, improve or HIGHLY improve from day-to-day. Aside from all that “muscle memory” mumbo-jumbo, there’s only so much to gain from forcing your body to work at a level harder than it is comfortable working at. Doing reps in the gym to the point of failure is a technique, for sure. It’s a coaching style for some. Not for me. That’s when injuries happen. 

Back to the car analogy, if you drive your car with the “pedal to the metal” all the time, sure you’ll go fast BUT you’ll also burn out your engine pretty quickly AND pretty significantly. I don’t want to do that.

Think about it this way – especially if I’m your coach – The more recovery time it takes after a run or workout, the longer it will take to do the next one. And the next one. And the next one. If you have a limited schedule and can only run 2 days a week, awesome. You can wreck your body on Wednesday, take two days off to recover, try to jog on Saturday to see how your legs feel, destroy a long run Sunday, take Monday off because you ran yourself into the ground the day before and then hopefully you can do an easy run Tuesday again before the next workout. (If you aren’t fluent in sarcasm – I am; I teach high schoolers – that was not a real suggestion. But people do train that way!) 

So what do I do? I run easy when it says to run easy. Does that mean I always run slowly? No. Some days, an easy run is 7:15 pace and I am floating with every step. Some days, it feels hard to run 8:30 pace. I always TRY to make sure the effort matches the requirements for the day. Of course, there are days you have to dig in your heels and suck it up. Some days, coach says to do 400s at 5K pace and you suck it up and it hurts. Some days, he says 1000s at Threshold effort, and you know you are giving it a good attempt, and your body is working at 90% effort but your times are off. Those are the days you are happy you trust yourself enough to know that working harder just to run a little faster would put you in debt. (There are also a few “tricks” I have learned to balance effort, pace and time. But you’ll have to wait for those…or “hire” me as a coach. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and you can make any workout benefit you if you plan it properly. Even when you are tired!)  

Bottom line? Running is an investment, not a gamble. There’s always a risk factor involved BUT you want to control the amount of risks you take. Will you do a rep too fast sometimes? Of course. Will you kick too early in a race? I can almost guarantee it. But what I can truly guarantee you is that if you learn from the process, you’ll get stronger over time; you’ll sustain your peak longer (or keep climbing and never look back) and you’ll be able to train better and more consistently. And you can take THAT to the bank!

@CoachDeCarlo

As 2015 gets rolling, I’ve started my own training, started reading about the training of others, and helping those I work with start their training off on the right foot. I’ve started to think of what the future holds for all of us as runners, but in particular I’ve started to get excited about really coaching some people – and excitement I’m hesitant to fully admit to because the last time I got this excited about training/coaching people it didn’t end the way I wanted it to…but it’s a new year & a fresh start and, well, here we go!

I love the little crew we are putting together. As an admitted pro wrestling fan, I’ve always loved the various “factions” that have developed over time. But “faction” sounds like a bunch of troublemakers or co-conspirators working together behind the scenes to do some kind of dastardly deed. Then I remember that they also call these types of groups “stables” where there are a number of goal-oriented, like-minded individuals working together for a common cause. “Stable” is a much better term for us. A stable. A bunch of workhorses and thoroughbreds collectively pulling the weight of training, life, friendship, love, teamwork, success, triumph & tragedy. Interchangeable but equally important cogs in a machine. A family.

This stable, this family, this crew is very important to me. Their success, their improvement, their health, their well-being, their friendship – these things all matter to me. They matter to me because people matter to me. Whether it is my commitment to them or their commitment to training, they matter. Not what team they run for – we run and train with people from all kinds of teams & clubs, including those who fly solo – but why they run, who they are and what they want to achieve. They are important to me because they are reciprocating the care and trust I have for them.

This winter/spring we have some big goals. Reasonable ones, but big goals. To train smarter, not harder. To work together to achieve our goals and to pull each other along when we are dragging/push each other to bigger, better and greater things. To run races indoors (Monmouth, Toms River, NYC & NC, among other places) and to hit the roads in throughout March, April & May with halves & fulls seemingly every weekend. But to get to the change of seasons fully warmed up so we can set the running world on fire this summer, before putting the icing on the cake this fall.

You want a spot? Let’s saddle up and ride!

A moment of your time…

Thank you, Aysha for this link to the story below. I want to take this time, on my birthday, to finally get something off my chest personally and publicly, so I can make the next year of my life better than the last one!

This past year, or at least the majority of 2014, has been filled with drama, heartache, turmoil, sadness, stress and disappointment. I had a long, scathing, melodramatic post written up about this which I figured it best NOT to publish but the long story short is that what happened to us with our former club back in January tore a hole in our hearts. I share the blame for the what, but I can’t forgive or understand the why behind it. I do know that what happened, and where we are now, has been a long and winding road but one that has led me, certainly, and I think I can say it has led us to a somewhat better place, but not a totally happy one – yet. And here’s what I want to say about it, without naming names or picking at old scabs.

I’m 38 today. If you’ve ever seen the movie “I Love You, Man” I’m Paul Rudd’s hapless Peter Klaven. I have found that my old friends are drifting away, and that as I get older it is harder and harder to make new ones. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t go out drinking or partying with the boys. Maybe it’s that I’m pretty much the minority at my age in my workplace. Maybe it’s that my old friends have new lives and new people in my life have their own friends. Maybe it’s geographic, familial, professional. Maybe it’s being a runner, which most people don’t relate to. Maybe it’s just me. Whatever the case may be, a few years ago I made a huge move in my personal life and decided to let some new people in; to trust them in the hopes that new friendships would spring from something as silly as a running club. I also put myself on the line to coach others, to help them improve and because I grew to care about them as people. I joined the club as a runner about 6 months after signing on as a coach because my wife was on the team and I thought it would be a cool thing for us to race for the same club. I also thought, incredibly, that a few people in particular were or could be my friends and I trusted them with my heart.

As time went on, though, I began to see clearly that things weren’t as they seemed. I voiced my concerns. I opened my mouth, or sometimes used my words when things didn’t sit right with me. The people who I thought I could be friends with chided me for having an opinion and the ones who were affected by the things that I was speaking out against seemed to understand why I was upset. Until winter of last year, when my opinions and my actions were no longer welcome, and the people I had sacrificed for – hindsight being 20/20, against my better judgement – no longed needed or wanted us around. So, after a few years of my life, I was not only right back where I started, but I was emotionally exhausted because people I thought were my friends or could have been weren’t AND those whose interests I had in mind didn’t all “have my back” when push came to shove. So I have spent the better part of 2014 trying to figure out who my real friends are, and who I need to let go.

Recently, I came to three conclusions:

I have very few real friends, and I bet if you all looked really closely at your own lives, your friend lists and followers and your contacts in your phone, you’d realize the same thing. I bet you are just too scared to do it. How many “connections” or “friends” or “followers” have you ever even met in real life? Have you ever grabbed a bite to eat with, looked in the eye, or talked to with actual words? I realized that there were too many that I wasn’t “friends” with, so I made a very bold decision in the past few months – to purge hundreds of so-called “friends” and to try to figure out who the real ones were. I also made another decision – to be selfish, at least in the one area I could control – my own running. I got myself a coach and I’ve been a dedicated and diligent runner for the past few months, because he is writing a plan for me – a personal plan with my goals in mind, not a general plan that is cookie-cutter/formatted for hundreds of people. I then made the decision to focus on helping my wife’s training progress, too and I think we have both benefited. The time I save on my own training plan can be spent on hers, and on the plans of those who I am lucky enough to coach – those who have our backs and those I can still trust. I’m not coaching anyone else for free; I’m not giving people test plans or samples. I’ll coach my real friends and my teammates, or I’ll coach people who I can trust and/or who pay me. That’s that!

I’ve found that it doesn’t matter how old you are – some of the youngest friends we have have been the strongest; some of the ones we’ve known the longest have been the biggest disappointments and some of the older ones who should know better just aren’t strong enough to see things for what they are. Some are waiting for the right moment to “make a move” and for some, the moment has passed. Some are still figuring things out, and hopefully some will eventually come around! Thankfully, I am strong enough – we are strong enough now – to realize all of this, and we are getting stronger every day!

One thing that helped, but probably hurt some people too was cutting them out of our lives, whether on social media or socially. And since things aren’t what they were, or what they were supposed to be, the people who were part of that old life needed to be let go of. People I trusted and was fiercely loyal to didn’t repay that trust, or haven’t yet and probably won’t. If you can’t reciprocate, I can’t waste my time or energy on you – it’s a losing investment. Even if things aren’t black & white – there is too much gray right now for us to wait for you. We will be here if and when things change, but we aren’t changing, due to what was done. Things broke; but we didn’t break them with some of the people that we had to let go of. Even if it’s because we simply don’t agree, well, it’s a pretty big thing to not agree on – right and wrong – so that needed to change, as far as who we are still friends with today. Maybe we tried too hard to fix things that people didn’t want fixed, or to right wrongs that others simply “deal” with, rather than try to fix themselves. Maybe it was time because people consistently doubted us and made us question our own worth – and no one should be treated that way. And maybe neither party benefited in any way from the relationship. If it’s not even mutual, it’s not worth the time or effort. Our old friends, and the ones we’ve since reconnected with and our new friends seem to be on the up-and-up. I hope, because we can’t get hurt again.

What do we do now? We put one foot in front of the other, which for me is both therapeutic and redemptive. I de-stress when I get out there and run, and I show the world what I can be when I cross that finish line. For my wife, it’s been a long journey to where she is now – don’t forget that she wasn’t removed as a coach, like I was but she was essentially kicked off of the team, for being associated with me or just for being too much trouble/not worth the effort and if anyone is worth it, it’s her. She and I have worked out a system of what she needs and how to set it up. She’ll shock the world sometime soon with a time that people never thought she could run – well, most people, at least. We have each other’s backs; some of you took a quiet stand by distancing yourselves from others, if not following us directly – which was greatly appreciated. A few of you truly care and went “all-in” with us, despite your own fears and the possible (or actual) “repercussions” for your choices. We will never forget that and owe you everything for that! If you’re somewhere in between, that’s a terrible place to be! Decide, with conviction, what you want, who you are and what you are all about – and be unapologetic about your needs! We may not agree, but we will understand and let you go!

If you need a reality check, read the article Aysha shared with me, which couldn’t have been better timed. These are things I needed to be more cognizant of and this helped me know not only that where I am now is “okay” (even if not ideal) and that we will be fine – with or without some people. Because the right ones are here now, and the ones who should be will be if they are really supposed to be in our lives. You know who you are!

http://elitedaily.com/life/motivation/8-important-reasons-let-go-people-longer-play-important-part-life/650186/

So far, so good!

It’s been a pretty good fall so far. Training has gone well, no injuries thus far (don’t worry – I just knocked on the nearest piece of wood I could find!) and some solid training overall. I opened up my training with a time trial, running the Washington’s Crossing (PA) 15k back in August, about two weeks into my plan from Coach Marc, just to see where I was at. It was a evening race in August and though it wasn’t unbearable, it was about 80 at the start and about 40% humidity…just bad enough to be uncomfortable. Had hoped to run about 57:30, get a cheap PR at a weird distance and cruise it in. Struggled a little the last 5k with virtually no kick, but had a baseline.

A few races followed – hopped in the Garfield YMCA 5k for fun and helped the GHS XC kids win the “team” division (& got the overall “W” in 18:18 on another brutal day, with 84% humidity at the start!) then ran a little XC for Garmin at the USATFNJ 5K Championships and pulled a LIFETIME (including high school) XC PR out of nowhere, running 17:41! Totally bombed my attempt at tempoing the Liberty Half Marathon, crashing and burning the last 5k (again – see August’s 15k) and worried that a trend was happening. Jumped in ONE MORE race to close out September, because it was local & I wanted redemption, and won the Oktoberfest 5k (in September lol) in 18:11…so in a month, I improved 7 seconds. Definitely a rough month.

Battled through October, training hard but with some ups and downs – including a miserable two-week stretch in which I had about three bad workouts over a 12 day span, including a somewhat inadvertent near-Marathon in Chicago where I put in over 24 miles being a fan & over 45 miles in a three-day span before I finally rebounded and crushed a workout on 10/22 – my first good one since 10/7 – and all seemed back on track, just in time for my only race of the month, the Swamp Devil 15K, which was really just a tuneup for my half (and my last Cat. III race of the year) but ended up being one of my best races ever, a huge PR and a 3rd place finish. Back in the groove, baby!

On to November. Destroyed a tempo last week, averaging sub-6 pace, which I believe is a new record for me, and then hopped in the Giralda Farms 10k to claim some Cat. II points and get in a little competitive test for my goal race. The race was pretty tough – challenging course with several rolling segments and a downhill start that instantly threw pacing out the window. But I was feeling it, man and save for one tough hill in the middle and a relatively complacent finish, this was a shockingly good race. I ripped the first three miles (averaged 5:40 pace and actually PRd for 5k en route before a long climb until just after 4 three me way off my game. Rebounded to average 5:50 pace for the last 2.25 and a finishing time of 36:30 – a modest PR of 17 seconds but a good indication of where I’m at. I had a range of 5:45-5:55 I expected to be in and hold, and I was right at 5:50 pace for the overall effort. Happy with that.

This weekend is the big test. The race I’ve had circled on my calendar for a year. The runBucks.com Delaware Canal Half Marathon, back at Washington’s Crossing Park. A beautiful, relatively flat, scenic out and back course on the D&R Canal towpath, I’ve been looking forward to this race for a while. So many goals, so many ways I can be happy with this so here’s the skinny:

My PR? 1:22:54, from way back in 2009 at the RnR Las Vegas Half Marathon. That is the baseline, must-do goal. With 15 halves under my belt and only one sub-1:23 I know there are no guarantees. My 2nd best? 1:23:32, Unite 1/2 2010, and my 3rd best is last year’s effort on this course, 1:24:05. So I gotta be in that range…

NYC 2015? Auto qualifier for my AG is a 1:23 half. I’m a planner, and only plan on ever running another marathon IF and only IF I know about it well in advance AND feel I can run fast. Not waiting for a lottery or hoping it clicks on race day. But a guaranteed entry COULD sway my decision.

My “realistic” goal? Training indicates anywhere from 1:20:30-1:21:45. I’d be happy to be in that range, get a new PR, auto-qualify, etc.

My “dream” goal? Sub 1:20. I feel as though that’s a relatively legitimate time, but probably not realistic at this point. That’s 6:05 pace for the 13.1. I’ve never done that, but I did average 6:00 pace for 15k…if I go out the right way, not like a dumbass…maybe I’ll negative split and not f-f-f-f-fade away

Then, you can find me on 11/23 running a 5-miler in CT; 11/27 Turkey Trotting SOMEWHERE; 11/30 trying to win some dinero in Little Falls, 12/6 trying to PR at the Big Chill (join #theRidgewoodProject – let me know if you want in on our team!), and MAYBE – just maybe, if I’m feeling up to it and my teammates are down, USATF Club XC Nationals at Lehigh on 12/13/14.

#fastFall

Swamp Devil 15k

This was a great race. If a bit more competitive, if a bit better attended, if laid out just a bit better, this course and race could be awesome. Very low-key, no frills event – basically just got a t-shirt and some snacks after. Plaque for 1st overall; medals for AG awards. No $, no gift certs, not much happening after. But it was a Category 3 race, which, for USATFNJ Grand Prix Scoring, was missing from my resume. So we made the trip to the Swamp Devil 15K at the Lord Stirling School in Basking Ridge for a weird 12 PM start. Looking at the map, this course could have been laid out to avoid at least two of the 180s without changing the roads needed to be closed at all. Weird that they wouldn’t just do that. Anyhoo…got to share this day with my lovely wife, Meghan who ran a nice time as her 1st “test” back after Chicago, and she ran a solid, well-paced and very smart race (as per her usual) and is ready to get back to work on the rest of the fall.  Most of our teammates were running the USATFNJ 8K, but thankfully they are understanding and put no pressure on us to race, so we got to fill out our scorecards today.

After doing my 3 mile warmup (racing on Sundays usually means finding a way to make the LR mileage work, too) and my usual pre-race drills and a stride out, the race started pretty quietly with a “go” from the starter and a nice downhill stretch for 1/4 mile or so. I checked my pace and breathing early and I felt great today. I was pushing a bit too much when it flattened out, so rather than battle the leaders I settled into a groove and actually ran with music (bought some old Oakley Thump shades on Ebay – the built-in MP3 player AND attached headphones are awesome! No wires, no armband!) to help me zone out & focus in. I just took things one step at a time, and tried to get into a rhythm. It worked except for the course layout, which featured THREE 180 degree turnarounds, which are total momentum killers. Regardless, I came though 5 miles just shy of my road PR for that distance (29:22 vs PR of 29:05) and actually PRd for 10k based on my watch/pacing, hitting 36:30 at that point (PR of 36:47 this past spring). The only thing left to do was finish it out. Added a solid cooldown to get over 15 miles for the day. Can’t forget to go to church on Sundays…

The final 5k (plus a little extra) was rough because it was essentially just a long straightaway with 4 little climbs, and an uphill/rise for the last 1/4 mile or so (reverse of the opening 1/4 mile or so) PLUS a major – and I mean MAJOR – headwind. I don’t complain & I don’t make excuses BUT this made it hard to even stay in a rhythm, let alone maintain pace or kick. So I just tried to maintain good form. Ultimately this was a PR by over 2:00 (I ran 58:13 in April for 15k) and you don’t get these huge PRs often. It feels good to get a positive outcome after a few rough weeks of training and some failed workouts and attempts at quality tuneups.

Some #s to crunch:

Garmin watch – 9.39 miles/55:58/5:57 pace

Official race results – 15k/55:58.706:00 pace

Coolrunning.com pace calculator – 5:57 pace for 9.39 miles – 55:33.9 for the actual 15k.

55:58 according to McMillan = 1:20:32 1/2 marathon (6:09/mile)

55:58 using VDOT calculator = 1:21:43 1/2 marathon (6:14 pace)

55:33 according to McMillan = 1:19:56 1/2 marathon (6:06/mile)

55:33 using VDOT calculator = 1:20:30 1/2 marathon (6:09/mile)

All of this bodes well – my fastest mile Sunday was mile 5 (5:47.6) & my slowest mile was mile 9 (6:14 with the headwind) so it looks like if I can start slightly conservative at the Delaware Canal 1/2, say NOT sub 6’s like a doofus, and get into a groove by the turnaround, a PR (sub 1:22:54) is in the cards. The sub 1:20 just doesn’t seem to be there – yet – but it’s coming.

Thanks, Coach Marc Pelerin for the guidance, the flexibility and the plan. Distance running is an investment and I didn’t go to the bank except for the final mile or so on Sunday. There’s plenty in the account right now and I’ll use a day or two for recovery before I start depositing some more quality miles. I’m hoping NOT to cash out on 11/15 so I can make a few more withdrawals the last month of the racing season. Then, on to track and dreams of a National championship!

Race results here:

http://compuscore.com/event/3546

Garmin Connect data here:

http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/620710464

More on coach Marc Pelerin here:

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The best-laid plans…

Or, as more accurately quoted…

“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!” – John Steinbeck

Well, Coach Marc and I had a plan laid out for the recent Newport Liberty Half-Marathon, or, as some people have called it, “Satan’s Half Marathon,” the “10th Circle of Hell,” and the “Most Unnecessary Grand Prix Race EVER!” The plan called for a progessive effort, because I wanted to test my fitness level as I prep for the Delaware Canal Half-Marathon in November, hosted by the good people at RunBucks.com – check out their series! I was to go our conservative for the 1st three (which I felt like I did), the pick it up from 4-8 and then try to “kill it” (i.e. get to previous PR pace or faster) for the last 5.1 ish. Here’s what DID happen…

“Words can’t describe the frustration I had with this run. Yes it was humid, yes the course isn’t exactly clean, smooth or fast (I don’t believe for a second that this is a PR course) and yes, I went out a little faster BUT those last three miles were bull&8%$! 1st three miles (goal was 6:50 pace) – 6:37, 6:31, 6:42. Felt slow and easy/under control. Conversational and fluffy. If anything, I felt off stride trying to run so “slow” Miles 4-8 (goal was 6:30 pace) – 6:33, 6:30, 6:29, 6:21, 6:22. Really felt okay. May have surged once or twice – when Paul stopped to pee and when I could see some ex-“teammates” (and maybe ex-friends at this point) ahead and wanted to reel them in. But didn’t feel out of sync – actually felt light on my feet. I did start noticing the blisters forming on my forefoot areas from the Newton lugs (which otherwise felt GREAT) and the too-thin socks. Miles 9-13.1 (goal was 6:15 pace and to close hard) – NOPE. 6:25, 6:40, 7:10, 7:10, 8:01. Honestly, I considered cutting the course, walking and/or dropping out at this point (lol really/notreally) because it wasn’t getting easier AND I was getting slower. I could have dealt with “this is hard, but I’m maintaining” but I couldn’t even muster that…I’m better than this. I basically lost 4 minutes the last 3 miles. I’d have been ecstatic with a 1:25 today…”

Newport

(details at http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/596101370)

 

Racing weight

This is going to be the least scientifically accurate blog post ever, but I have been working my way back into shape for over a year now. There were miles to run and pounds to lose and it took a looooooooong time to accomplish the latter. While I’ve been “in shape” enough to run some good times, I’ve been inconsistent as far as how I feel on a daily basis. Lately, I’m starting to notice that some very small changes have led to some noticeable differences. Here’s what I’ve been doing:

1) Dietary changes and tracking calories. With the MyFitnessPal app and some advice from Kelly P., I decided to cut down on sugar and carbs and lean more towards a protein/paleo-ish diet. It shocked me after a few weeks of tracking my meals to see exactly how much of my diet was “bad” for me. The biggest change I made was to cut out the “bad carbs” such as white bread, rolls, bagels, etc. AND to cut back on all the pasta. I lived under the illusion that runners just needed to eat pasta to run fast. Not! When I’ve been at my best (post-HS at least) I’ve been under 150 and I have gotten under that number recently. I’m not looking to lose weight, really, but to be the right weight. I’m close…I read somewhere that a “good” male runner carries 2 pounds per inch of height give or take a few in either direction…at about 5’8″ that means I SHOULD weigh in the neighborhood of 140 at most, but not to the point of making myself sick (or weak) so don’t worry!

2) Strength & Speed. Coach has strides in the plan and I try to do them when scheduled. On a sluggish day, it forces me to spin my wheels. On a good run, it helps to sharpen up a bit when tired from a run. In either case, it feels good to “go fast” and strides offer the chance to both do that AND work on my form. The strength part has always been on the back burner but with some guidance from Coach Marc and some tinkering on my own I came up with a routine that’s kind of a circuit that is working like a charm. It only takes about 15 minutes to do, and not much more than some floor space and handweights. After 6 weeks, I can really see the changes (and feel them too) on my runs and in the mirror. I haven’t had abs in a long time…but they’re coming back! I’m not actually sure I ever had them at all so this is nice!

3) Cross-training & stuff. I don’t do enough of either BUT I have been doing a bit more on the stationary bike (to get the blood flowing or shake things out more than for a “workout”) and I do loosen up more before runs and do good things like plyos and drills before a workout and rolling out, etc. after – especially since I kind of only have one “window” to run in during the day, so I need to maximize that time. If you are like me and can’t run twice a day or your schedule limits what you can do – and how often – then stuff like this might be just the ticket for you! Believe me – it doesn’t replace running BUT it’s a nice supplement!

It doesn’t take much to see improvements. It takes small changes and a desire to change things – and to stick to that goal for long enough for them to take effect. You’ll be glad you did!