Thursday, July 28, 2011
Many times I have started to write a blog about how fast I used to be when I ran track and cross-country back in high school. Many times I've thought about posting my specific PR times. Many times I've thought about comparing my current PR times to my old PR times. But you know what? Every time I start to do it, I stop and discard it. Why? Because it doesn't matter. Speed. It doesn't matter. All it is, is vanity.
Why is it vanity? Because I'm not doing this for competition. Sure, maybe if I could work myself up to Olympic speeds and make some money at it, THEN it would matter. But - spoiler alert - I've NEVER run that fast. I'm running for health reasons. Running in races to complete different distances are merely goals to achieve to keep me on the straight and narrow path to good health. I don't need to complete half marathons or 10k's or 5k's to be healthy. I could just run around the neighborhood. I could just WALK around the neighborhood. Does it really matter if I finished my five miles in 60 minutes, 55 minutes, 50 minutes, or 45 minutes? NO. In fact, based on calorie calculations, I will usually burn more calories if I run slower! The slower you run, the more inefficient running is and the higher the rate will be that you burn calories.
So, you ask, why am I trying to run faster? Vanity. As a challenge. As a motivation technique to keep myself running.
When my wife comes home from running I don't ask her how fast she ran. I ask her how far she ran.
If you're just starting to run, and you think you're slow, it doesn't matter. No matter how fast or slow you run, there will ALWAYS be someone faster than you. There can only be ONE world record holder. Does it matter that person X is running faster than you? Only if they're trying to kill you! Otherwise, it doesn't matter! Run YOUR speed. Run YOUR race. Run for YOUR health.
Your speed doesn't matter, but YOU matter. Run for yourself. Run for your own health. And then you can thank yourself later.
YOU can do it. Make it happen.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Well, it looks like I had good reason to be excited about working out in the evenings for the first time in a long time.
Yesterday, I left work at 5 and headed to the gym for what is usually my Monday morning 5 mile run. I have been thinking that if I really want to continue to improve I should start upping my mid-week mileage as well as my weekend LSD mileage. So, I decided to run 6 miles instead of 5 this week.
I changed into my gym clothes at work, so when I arrived at the gym I was ready to go. I walked two laps for a warm-up, took a quick drink from the water fountain, then was off running for my 33 laps.
I felt like I was running a little faster than usual, but there were a couple other runners that were definitely faster than me, so I knew I wasn't too fast. The laps seemed to go by pretty quick and before I knew it I was finishing my first mile and clicked off my watch and took a look. 8:45. Not bad. Not fast enough to match my fastest 5k, but definitely close to it.
One mistake I always have made is running too slow. I worry that if I keep up my current pace that I won't be able to finish at the same pace, so I will worry myself into a slower pace. Then, when I finish, I usually feel like I could've run faster. Of course, that nagging voice popped into my head and I told myself to ignore it. This is a tempo run and I need to push myself.
As I finished my second mile I was still feeling good and was surprised to see I had sped up to finish it in 8:34. This started to make me even more nervous. Could I really finish all 6 miles at this speed? I felt really good, so I tried to push the thought away until later. I just hoped I didn't tire and end up finishing the last two miles really slow.
I could've sworn I slowed down a little on my third mile, but at the same time I was consciously starting to use more energy to try to keep my same pace and that sometimes makes me speed up. And sure enough, it did this time, too, as I finished my third mile in 8:02! holy cow! I'm running negative splits, but can I really keep speeding up anymore without tiring?
This is when my mind took over and slowed me down, subconsciously. When I finished my fourth mile I clocked it in at 8:44. I didn't feel any more tired than before and was disappointed that I had slowed down, so I made sure I sped up a little. I was worried I would tire myself out by trying to speed back up on my fifth mile, but I told myself that this was really just a 5 mile run, so this was really my last mile and that the 6th mile would just be gravy. Somehow that worked.
Then, in the middle of the second lap on my fifth mile, a girl who was walking with her head down decided to pass a group of slightly slower walkers (the indoor track is only two thin lanes wide which makes passing a little tight and scary at times) and forced me to practically jog in place behind her while I waited for her to go around them so I could pass her. I sped up to try to catch back up on those lost seconds. When I finished mile five, I checked my watch and I had sped back up and finished it in 8:30. Awesome. Just one more mile to go!
For my sixth mile my legs were definitely tiring, but I pushed myself to slowly speed up and then to really speed up on my final lap. I finished my sixth mile in 7:54, and then ran an extra lap while speeding up even more to extend my run out to 10k distance. I hit 1:10 for my final lap. Not quite a sprint, but definitely sub-6 minute mile pace.
Then I walked my 3 cool down laps and walked happily out to my car thinking about how fastI just ran.
I knew I usually felt stronger when I used to run in the evenings and this really settled it, in my mind. After a day of fueling and hydrating, I am *definitely* stronger in the evenings. Too bad most races are scheduled for the morning. This does bode very well for my next half, which as I've mentioned before is at midnight.
So, back to what I learned on Saturday; eating too soon before a run is bad. Eating properly before a run is very good!
In the end, here are my final run stats.
Total distance: 6.2 miles
Total Time: 51:44 (by far my fastest 10k time!)
First 3 mile split: 25:21
Second 3 mile split: 25:08 (faster than my first 3 miles!)
Average pace: 8:20 min/mile
If I can train at these paces and have this much energy left, I should be able to run a sub-24 minute 5k. I have been worried that I haven't been improving. Maybe I really am improving. Now I need to take this out to the streets and see how it translates. Of course, next week is the beginning of my taper for my half, so it may be a while before we see how it really translates. I can't wait!
Monday, July 25, 2011
This week I am on my own, so I am changing my up exercise routine to give myself some extra sleep. I am so excited that I decided to blog about it. As I was trying to think of a title for this blog, I thought to myself, why the heck am I so excited about this?
More sleep! That's, why. :)
I usually wake up between 4:45-5am four times a week to get my runs in so I have time to make it to work and then can come straight home after work and have time to eat dinner with my wife and spend the evenings with my daughter before her bedtime rolls around at 8.
Well, this week they are off on a nice vacation of their own and I am fending for myself. This means that my evenings are now open for some exercise time. So, now, instead of going to bed between 10 and 11 and then waking up just 6 hours later to run, I can get a full 8 hours of sleep in, and then use the time after work to head to the gym to get my runs in. This also means that I won't have to time my workouts to allow me to get to work on time, so I will have more time for extra mileage, or even some extra strength training.
The only snag would be that I be busy on Saturday and Sunday and won't be able to get my long run in, so I am switching up my schedule to allow me to get it in on Friday evening, instead. I would usually never have time to do that, but since my afternoons are open, I will have time to get off work a little early and still have plenty of time for a 12 mile run, even if it will mean running 66 laps around an indoor track.
In the past I used to do all my running in the evenings and I usually felt stronger as I had all day to fuel and hydrate. We will see if that still holds true after a year of early morning running. It will be a good test for my upcoming race which is at midnight!
But, what I am looking forward to the most this week is the extra sleep.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
I learned a lot today, most of it bad. So, where do I begin?
I'll start with some back story (like I usually do). So, I've been running early in the morning all my runs for over a year, now, because after my daughter was born i didn't have time to make it to the gym to run indoors and it's hot during the days in the summer until well after the sun goes down. All things considered, running in the mornings was THE solution to finding a time when I could run and still have time for my job(s) and my family.
So, today my wife and my daughter went out of town. My wife has also been training for a half marathon, so I recently switched my long weekend run from Sunday to Saturday. I didn't have time to run early this morning since I needed to help her get ready and packed and out the door this morning, so I needed to move my run from morning to either afternoon or evening. This wasn't a problem since I would have plenty of time to run at the gym since I would be by myself with no plans for the rest of the day.
Normally, I would just go run at the gym, but running 10 miles around an indoor track equals 55 laps and the idea of running that far on a treadmill was not even considered. I hadn't run in the heat of the day at all, this summer. Morning temperatures have averaged between 75 and 85 for most of my morning runs, so far, and I am usually back at the house before the thermometer hits 90.
So, I don't know why I thought that running in the heat of the evening would be a good idea. I think I wanted a challenge. So I could say that I did it. Not really the best of ideas. I probably should have run a few shorter runs in the heat over the course of a couple of weeks to acclimate myself, first, instead of jumping in for a 10 miler. But, regardless, the idea came up, and I ran with it - literally.
6pm is usually the hottest time of the day, and sunset is just before 8, so I knew I needed to leave after 6pm when it had cooled off a degree or two, but not too late, so I didn't run the whole time in the dark. I also needed to have some food and make sure I was hydrated before I ran, but I didn't want to eat or drink anything too close to my run to keep my stomach from being upset.
I ended up wasting time and not eating until between 5:45 and 6. I had just a quesadilla and some water, but felt like I hadn't eaten enough, so I grabbed a tortilla and a banana. As I was eating the banana I started to feel like maybe I had eaten too much and that wasn't a good feeling. I hoped I could wait long enough for my food to settle. I waffled back and forth on whether I should leave at 6:30, or wait until closer to 7 and decided 6:45 was probably best.
At 6:45 I was running around the house trying to get my camelbak ready and trying to find my sunglasses. I ended up leaving the house closer to 7. It was still 101 degrees, but at least it was 15% humidity. I had my camelbak filled nearly to the brim, so I was packing close to 65 ounces of 1/3 powerade - 2/3 water mix. The ice in my camelbak was already melted by the time I walked around the block to my starting point.
My race in 3 weeks starts with 6 miles of steady uphill climbing, so I wanted to get in a run with some hills. I had mapped out a 10 mile run last night with what looked like some decent hills to train on. I also originally planned to run it in the morning, not at night. But, for whatever reason, I decided I would do it, anyway. So, running 10 miles with hills in the heat. Should be a great challenge. Fabulous idea.
I started off and the sloshing sound from my camelbak made me immediately realized I hadn't bled all the air out when I filled it. Rookie mistake. I stopped and quickly bled out as much as I could, but it wasn't enough to completely quash the sloshing. Oh well. I had to keep going.
I started back up again, realizing that I hadn't stopped my watch, properly (I had hit the lap button instead of that stop/pause button). Getting an accurate time was the least of my worries. Not more than 50 feet later I found I had a nice painful cramp in my stomach from eating too recently. Great. I took a swig from my camelbak and it made me feel worse.
So, my plan of taking a pull from my camelbak every mile or half mile wasn't going to work out until my stomach felt better. I tried to keep testing it out with a sip here and there over the first few miles while hoping the cramp would go away. I could feel it slowly subsiding, but it was definitely slowing me down.
When I hit the steepest part of my run around mile 4, the cramp was still there, but wasn't as bad and I felt pretty good up the hill. As I hit 5 miles, the sun was down and the cramp was gone, but the combination of the heat, my lack of drinking because of the cramp, and the hills we taking it's toll. I had wanted to test myself against the hills and test myself against the heat, but the stomach cramp ended up taking more out of me than either of them.
The rest of my run I tried to make sure I was staying hydrated, but not drinking enough to bring back the cramp. With 1.3 miles left, my wife called to tell me good night and I walked for a couple minutes while talking to her. Once we were done, I went back to it and finished off my run.
So, wow, I screwed up a lot today. But, that's what training runs are for. So we can learn and so we don't mess up our races! I sure learned a lot.
1) Don't eat too close to running.
2) Don't eat too much before running.
3) Get acclimated to the heat before running in it instead of jumping in a running 10 miles.
4) Don't mix hill training and running in the heat when you haven't been doing either of them.
5) Don't forget to bleed the air out of the camelbak before leaving the house.
6) Poor eating is worse than hills or heat.
7) The heat right before and after sunset is still just as hot as it is a 6pm (in Las Vegas).
8) If my running schedule changes, I need to coordinate my eating and my running better.
On the positive side, I didn't get dehydrated, and I still managed to keep my time under 11 minute/mile pace, even with the time spent walking and talking to my wife (i didn't pause my watch at all). Hopefully the hill work will pay off. Lately, I seem to be getting slower, but I think that is mostly because I've been sick. We will see if my runs improve this week now that I'm feeling better. And the race being run at midnight with temps in the 60's should definitely help, as well!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
When I think about my goal to run faster, I often get discouraged because it isn't happening as soon as I would like. It's a lot of hard work. Some days I feel the energy to work hard, but other days I am tired and just don't feel like putting in the effort. I think back to my high school running days and just how fast I was during my senior year. I know how to push myself, now. I know how to train properly and put in the work and the effort to improve myself. Why is it taking so long?
Then, I think back just a little further. How long did it take me to get that fast? Four years. FOUR years. The start of my training for my first half marathon was when I really began to get serious about running and that was just one year ago. Before that, I was just running to lose weight and never ran more than the occasional 4 or 5 miles.
So, if I've really only been seriously training for one year, why should I expect results any faster? After all, I am in about the same place as I was during my freshman year. I am also only running 3 or 4 days a week rather than 5 or 6. I don't have a coach. I don't have a team to run with.
And yet, I am still improving and I am running further than I ever have in my life *including high school*.
It will come, but it will not come all at once. I have to put in the effort. I have to put in the training. I have to *Make It Happen*.
Patience. It's a virtue.
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