Thursday, November 04, 2010
No sooner did I run a 5k PR last week, then I went out and broke it, today, in my typical style - by running a longer distance - Four miles.
Let me explain. Back in high school (gah!) I alternated between running half miles (800 meters), miles (1600 meters), and two-miles (3200 meters). I was not a top runner, by any means, but I look back at my race times with a very envious eye. I am always disappointed that I never broke 5 minutes in the mile (5:07), but I would be grateful, now, to get anywhere close to seven. One of the oddities of my track career is that I ran my fastest 1600 meter time while running a 3200 meter race, twice. In fact, I begged my coach to let me run the 3200 in league finals of my senior year just so I could try to beat my 1600 meter time (I made it, but missed breaking 5 minutes by 8 seconds and promptly dropped out of the race, uninjured - one of a list of my running regrets. My coach then refused, of course, to let me use it as my official 1600 PR.).
Part of the problem was that I was not very good at pacing myself. Since I was usually last - or close to it - in every race, I had to force myself not to start out fast with all the top runners. Sure, I could sprint with or faster than the top runners for the first hundred meters or two, but that wasn't the point of the race. I had to force myself to slow down and run my own pace, which I was not very good at. You don't want to start out slow and look like you're giving up before the race has even started. No, you go out strong and try to look awesome by running just behind the leaders, and then tire out and fall back and that way the crowd knows that you may not be the best, but you gave it your best shot.
However, that's not how you run a PR race. You have to pace yourself for all four laps. After starting out too fast, the third lap of every 1600 meter race (four laps) become my stumbling block. I would run the first lap strong, then slowly tail off and coast with that momentum for the second lap. However, then I would hit the third lap which was that lap in the middle of nowhere between my strong first two laps and kicking it in on the last lap. It was the lap where I was tired and knew that when it was finished, I still had one more remaining. My momentum was gone. I had dropped back (usually all by myself with no one to pace off of) and my motivation was sapped. My energy was low and I wanted to make sure I had enough oomph left for the kick on the last lap. In two separate races I had another runner say "stick with me," but as always I had used up too much energy on the first lap (and didn't have the mental strength to really push myself, but that's a whole different post) and fell back, as usual.
From what I can tell, that was why my best 1600 meter times came during the 3200 meter races. For starters, it was twice the distance, so that meant the leaders ran slower. They were now starting out at a pace that was closer to the pace I needed for my 1600 PR and one that didn't drain all my energy right off the bat. So, despite running a slower first lap, I was now at a pace I was better able to maintain, and was able to conserve enough energy to better push through that dreaded third lap (even though I now had to run eight laps).
So, back to this morning. My training schedule called for a four mile run. My Wednesday runs are supposed to be short, easy runs, so I make either my Tuesday or Thursday runs a tempo run. I really never know ahead of time just how hard I am going to run on these days, often deciding mid-run just how hard I want to push myself. Today, I started out quick, but not too quick, and within the first quarter mile decided I was going to push myself and see if I couldn't do the whole four miles at 5k pace.
I started taking my mile split times on my watch sometime in the last month or so and they are very interesting, to say the least. One thing I have found is that my first mile tends to be the slowest (probably as I make up my mind just how fast I want to run). Today was no different. As I finished my first quarter mile and turned north, I thought to myself that I hoped to run today's four miles in under 40 minutes - possibly under 38 minutes, but I set no other goals. It's been breezy almost every morning, now, and I ran my first two miles into a headwind, but pushed myself through it even though I figured it would negatively impact the last half of my run. I wondered to myself if my three mile time would be anywhere close to my 5k PR time, but I am not that optimistic of a person and promptly threw that thought out of my mind.
On my third mile I began to tire, but knowing my own tendencies, I forced myself to push through it and told myself that I would just have to run my last mile on whatever I had left in the tank. In a lot of my workouts, I don't run all out and usually have enough energy to run negative splits. Once I hit the start of mile four, I wasn't sure I had that much left, but I kept pushing myself (this pushing myself thing, is definitely new) to try and at least keep the same pace. I could really tell I was pushing myself when I could tell my form was starting to go and had to really focus on my form and stride length for most of the last mile). Finally I hit the last block and tried to run it as fast as my legs and whatever energy I had left would carry me.
I hit the manhole and that marks my finish line and hit my stopwatch and as I slowed down, I glanced at my watch and my eyes went wide as I saw "34:36" very clearly and probably would have yelled loudly in excitement if I hadn't been panting and tired and out of breath. When I looked back at my mile splits, they looked like this: 9:08, 8:44 (17:52), 8:09 (26:02), 8:34 (34:36). Not only did I almost run all negative splits and nearly run an 8 minute flat mile (when i mapped out my run, later, it turned out i hit my watch 5 to 10 seconds too early for that split, but this is my story), I also clearly broke my 5k and four mile PR's. That's almost a minute faster for the 5k, and four minutes for the whole four miles.
So, even though my legs are a little more sore than usually, today, I am definitely a happy man. And when I weighed myself after I ran (I love weighing myself right after a hard run), I was at my lowest weight that I can remember since college. I'll see tomorrow morning just how much of that was water weight, but it certainly made my morning that much sweeter. I'm definitely going to run a little extra for my long run on Sunday, and I may actually, finally be getting excited for my half marathon which is now almost exactly a month away!
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Stuck in a rut? Having trouble getting motivated to eat healthy or workout? Is life getting you down? Are circumstances keeping you away from the gym or away from healthy eating?
Take control. Re-prioritize. Re-organize. Get past the reasons and the excuses. Take action.
Make it happen.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
So, last night I planned out this morning's run route. I used the map tracker and plotted out a nice 9.15 mile loop. I still had my running shirt and long sleeve shirt sitting out unused from Thursday. All I had to do was wake up at 6, have some water and a Nature Valley bar, and the be on my way at 6:30.
It all went off as planned. I was up 5 minutes before my alarm went off, so I was able to disable it so it didn't wake the baby, or my wife. I got up, dressed, pulled up my route on my PC so my wife would know where I went if anything went wrong, and then headed out the door.
It was chilly and a little breezy as expected. I started the GPS on my phone and then my watch and off I went. I ran into the wind heading out, but that meant I would be running with the wind on my way back. I started out a little breathless, but that soon passed. The first 3 miles went by smoothly and quickly which was a nice surprise. I felt like I wasn't pushing myself, just running with a nice, slow, manageable pace. Seemed like that one day off sure made a big difference.
As my loop turned and headed back in the direction of the house, I knew I had a couple more turns and a few more miles, but my legs were chugging right along. At around the 6 mile mark my legs got that cartoon locomotive feeling like they are turning in circles and perfectly in stride and I have all the energy in the world to keep it up, forever.
Finally, after a few more big blocks, I hit the homestretch. I pushed myself and picked up the pace to practice the last half-quarter mile and then sprinted the last block, running only on my toes before hitting the end and stopping my watch as I slowed down for my cool down walk. I gasped and did a little internal jump for joy when I saw that my watch read 1:30 almost on the dot. I had just run 9.1 miles in 90 minutes for a pace under 10 min/mile! I was excited. I had felt like I wasn't running that fast and had plenty more energy to spare.
Then I decided to check the GPS on my phone. My planned route showed as 9.1 miles, but the route that I had just run was showing at 8.66 miles. I was not happy. I pulled up both of the routes and sure enough. I had planned to run back across Farm Rd, but instead I had run across the street below it. which chopped off a half mile from my run.
The consolation is that I still ran 8.6 miles. And I still felt good and if I had kept my pace up for another half mile, I would have at least still stayed well under 11 min/mile pace. Looks like I will have to run 9.6 miles next Sunday to make up for my little blunder.
5 more weeks to go until it's race time!
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Fall has finally reached Las Vegas and while I prepared myself to run in cooler weather, I was not prepared for this morning, or the realization of just how much my body has adapted to the warmer weather.
Over the past couple weeks it has been cloudy with rain on a number of days and lows in the mid to low 60's and occasionally the upper 50's. I have bought a couple long-sleeve compression shirts that I wear under my short-sleeve running shirts and some thin $1 knit gloves. They've been doing the trick on the cooler mornings and on Sunday when it was 61, I had to take off my gloves in the middle of my long run to cool myself off.
Today, however, I was not prepared for just how cold 47 degrees, 20% humidity and breezy would feel. When I stepped out the door I was immediately hit by initial chill and then the cold breeze. I wasn't waiting around to turn into an ice sculpture, so I quickly started my watch and took off, hoping that running would warm me up. I was glad I wore my sweatband because it at least kept part of my head warm. As I left "the sub" (the subdivision) I found I was running with shorter, compact strides in the hope of keeping my legs warm which didn't, in fact, help keep me any warmer, but did help me run faster and easier. I was planning on running an easy run, today, after having sore knees on Monday, but because I was cold, I continued running faster because I wanted to get back home!
As my run progressed, I warmed up, some, but never enough and I continually picked up my pace. Since I was running almost exactly 3.1 miles, I soon had visions of running a 24 minute 5k time and blowing away my 27 minute PR. I ran faster and faster and finally sprinted the last block before hitting my stop watch. I was happy to see I broke my 27 minute PR, but disappointed to see that I only ran 26:49 - not exactly matching my visions of 24 or 25 minutes - though I did have plenty of extra energy left, so I knew that if i had planned to do a fast 5k from the very beginning, I probably would have at least broken 26 minutes.
After I finished, I did a brisk cool down walk (which was also faster than usual). I tried to wring the sweat out of my sweat band, but instead of the usual cups of sweat pouring out, I got only a few drops. So it wasn't just my imagination! My body really was cold and barely even needed to sweat! When I got back home I kept my gloves on for 10-15 minutes until I took a long hot shower to try and warm myself up. Looks like I may need to break out my heavier long sleeve shirts for running in November, though I sure enjoyed the fast run!
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Monday, October 25, 2010
When I ran in high school (there that is again), I had knee pain. Not long after I started running I was prescribed orthotics which I wore for all four years. My doctor said that after high school I wouldn't need them unless I continued to do significant running. I haven't done significant running for over 15 years since high school, until now.
Fortunately, I have been blessed with little to no knee pain since I began running, again. When I went to a specialty running store to be fitted for new running shoes a couple weeks ago, they video taped me running to check how I landed. My left leg looks fine, but I am a little bit bowlegged and my right foot over-pronates just a bit - but not enough to get me out of a neutral shoe, in their opinion.
If I do get a sore knee, it is usually the right knee, of course. And it doesn't help that I tore a disc in my back a few years ago and since then have had issues with restless leg in my right leg with some tightness in my thigh and groin, and soreness and a need to point the joints in my knee and ankle. A couple of times I have finished a run with sore knees, but I have iced them after and nothing has lingered.
With my new shoes, so far I have felt great, until today. I do my long runs on Sunday and take Monday off from running and instead do some stretching and strength exercises. However, due to a big meeting for work on Tuesday, I don't have time to run before or after work, so i switched my Monday and Tuesday workouts. I am paying for that, today, with sore legs and right knee pain. I don't usually do another run the day after my long run, so my body definitely isn't used this, and of course my knee is the first one to pipe up with a complaint. On occasion, I've thought of doing double workouts (morning and afternoon runs), but haven't worked up the motivation to do it, yet, and i don't want to mess up my half marathon training with over training. I'm not sure if this is a sign that I need to do more or less frequent training.
Anyway, I am looking forward to icing my knee, tonight, and getting some rest, tomorrow (even though too much of it will be a car driving to and from my meeting). Wednesday will be a 3 mile run, so hopefully the rest and a short run will be my quick ticket back to healthy legs.
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