Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hire Me as Your Running Coach

Thinking about it, aren't you? You wonder if having a coach will make a difference. There is something that someone said to me once that resonates in my memory. It went along the lines of:

"Just because I coach other runners and know how to make a training plan, doesn't mean I will make the best decisions as the weeks go by, that's why I pay someone to coach me."

Chew on that thought. If you are an ambitious runner, looking to set new PB's in any distance from 1mile to the marathon; chances are that you have picked up some general idea of what to do to improve speed and endurance. However, it is very likely that you will shy away from areas of weakness and work your way into overuse injuries. Or it is equally likely that you will over train because "it's on my plan"

Hey, straight up, right now I have not run in a week (not counting a super slow jog for 16mins a few days ago that was effectively an aborted run) due to a flair up of my Achilles tendon. I haven't always had that discipline to swallow my pride to keep a setback from becoming a real injury. Even the most knowledgeable and seasoned veterans in the sport breakdown. I think a dentist probably lets another dentist work on his/her teeth, right?

So think, do you always do the smart thing for body regarding training? Are you really able to analyze your training objectively? Do you want some continual guidance?

I am saying all this because simply, I am good at running because I took the time to learn more about training and worked myself through it. Continual consultation along with a plan is worth paying for.  A veteran of more than 20 HM's and an upcoming 13th marathon (6x Boston) could make a difference for you. In my estimation, having done a physical task counts most of all, those are my certifications, thousands of miles and all the learning that came along with each one of them.
Training plans for a 5k race are 12 weeks, anything longer will be best set for 12-16 weeks (depending on when you start and when the upcoming race is scheduled), all plans are $10 per week, full plan paid in advance. Reach out if you're serious and ready to commit.

Monday, March 14, 2016

What Corral and Bib will I get for the Boston Marathon? Waiting on that Postcard

The weather is warming up and I am starting to wonder when the B.A.A. is going to send that lovely post card in the mail. The one that tells you what your corral and bib number are. Having run this race five times already, I have largely ignored the waiting game about it. The first time in 2007 I didn't think of it at all, until the day it was there.
"Oh, okay, 1899, corral 2, sure."
More recently in 2014, I ran a fast qualifying time to gain entry back into the 2015 race. See below, yea, seeded 202 out of thousands. Pretty cool, huh?  (sidenote of minor bragging, I walked into the 2014 Boston race with the 381 bib and finished 138th male)
Well, if you have been following along, you know I had a hernia repair surgery a month before the 2015 race. Later, in August, I tried to get a faster qualifying time and managed just a 48 seconds improvement over my post-surgery run from the spring. I know there will be a very small chance of getting into the first corral this year. Each Corral holds 1000 runners (for those who don't know what happens at larger races like this)
That post card arriving feels like another little reminder: "You are doing this", "They are glad you are coming", "You had better stay focused on your preparation", "Get excited". Somehow it feels like things are taking shape more firmly when it arrives.

Last yr's race bib, couldn't find the post card. What will this year's number be?!

So, like thousands of other qualified runners for this year's Boston Marathon, I've been training steadily and once in a while thinking "When is that post card coming?" "What will my bib # and corral assignment be?" The excitement for the journey to Boston is building. I haven't seen friends posting photos of this information yet. But I know that day is coming soon; just 35 days until we run from Hopkinton all the way to Boyleston St.

Share your thoughts about the spring race that you are counting down to. Are you thinking about it when you wake up in the morning?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Strava is fun

I have been using Strava since January 1st. I had been recommended to do so by a teammate, Josh Neyhart. Several of our other teammates also started tracking their training there recently too. With my old running journal having vanished into "virtual" thin air, I wanted to utilize another free resource.

The user experience in the App is pretty solid. I access it through my iphone 5s and haven't have any problems so far. There are some layout snags I don't like when operating from the website itself, and when I run let's say as far as 10.09 miles according to my TomTom GPS watch and Strava's data sometimes tells me I ran 9.9 (they only display tenths, not hundreths), that annoys me quite a bit. I understand the reasons with GPS measurement's challenges, but now I'm running .1 extra on most of my runs like a crazy man.

Overall, it is very useful to glance back through the past recent weeks to see trends in my overall training volume. Following and liking the training of friends and Pro Athletes is awesome!
Here are some screen shots from the App. I enjoy seeing what people are doing out there; the maps, the graphs, the paces, who's going out on big hills and crushing it like a beast!
I couldn't help but share my own stuff. Yup, bragging on a Monday. This was one of my best 20milers in a long time, I am proud of the effort. Boston training is going pretty well! Get on Strava, join the party!

Yesterday's LR, general stats and first 5mile splits

splits from 6-20, it also tracks your best efforts for a variety of distances

aaaand the segments created by the network of users!

Monday, February 15, 2016

The 2016 US Olympic Team Trials Marathon: the inspiration is cyclical

My Sunday run was a success. It wasn't perfect, I had a couple of unplanned stops to relieve myself. Those always frustrate me, but it happens, right? The surprise upside to the 2nd stop was then deciding, stay at a controlled slow pace or chase after the 3 guys I was out there with who are now almost a minute ahead of me. I didn't want to end the run solo, I gave chase...hard.
 I have probably done about 20 runs of 2hrs 30mins or more in the past ten years of marathon training. Few of them have I walked away from feeling "okay" and feeling "not beat up" the next day. But this Sunday, despite the absurd low temperatures, I ended the last 5miles of my run like a dog off the leash. Today, I felt no worse for it.
 If I told you I wasn't inspired by watching the Olympic Trials marathon race the day before, I would be a liar. Will, Jeremy, Brandon, and I were discussing the Us Olympic Trials Marathon race somewhere along the way. Then as I knew I had ground to make up, I imagined myself the 6th man in the OT race. Running a calculated faster pace to reel in my competition and get a spot on the team. After about 1.5miles I passed Jeremy and Brandon (who were left by Will who had decided to pick it up), exchanged some words of thanks and encouragement and I kept at it. Another 1.5miles later I caught Will, he was surprised and glad I had reeled him back in. 
He asked "Do you have another 3 left in you?" 
I said "Hell yea!" 
And we stuck the fast pace until we hit 22 miles. We congratulated each other on a great effort and quickly parted ways, it was still only12 degrees by that time. It was a lot of fun to finish a run that way. Most often I have been just grinding to get the last 10-15mins finished and hating it. Not today, today was like a 17mile warmup and great 5mile tempo!
In running, I can appreciate that there are a couple of levels above my head. That greatness is an inspiration that has always been in front of me, simultaneously pulling and pushing me to new achievements. I have always looked at being "far from the best" as a built in bonus, keeps the pressure of being the one who most others expect big things from.
So, what is the inspiration for those who are the champions? The best of the best? I think the ones who keep striving to win and stay at the top level are the ones who know that Victory or any achievement becomes a memory as soon as the next newspaper is printed. As soon as the next race comes, or the talk of the next championship upcoming. So, they recognize this, enjoy the day and get ready to do it again because it is a great challenge to have repeated success or just to have the chance to compete with a field of the best.
I think they can also be inspired by those that are chasing them, competitors, training partners, or just other athletes that have the common bond of making the effort to be a great as you can be. 
You need your rivals as much as you need your teammates, because without them; what would any win or medal be worth? Who would you beat to get it? Who would it matter for?
On Saturday I was amazed to see Meb Keflezighi run with all the younger challengers and beat all but one, simply inspired to see Tyler McCandless push to the front, Tyler Pennel making his surge and leading for several miles. Jared Ward's patience and strength that ultimately led him to the 3rd spot on the team. On the Women's side, Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan working together the whole way until Flanagan began to struggle. Seeing Desiree Linden's push into 3rd and then 2nd as the race wore on in its' later miles had me on the edge of my seat. I am continually impressed by Kara Goucher's drive, running hard stuck in 4th is a mental kick in the gut. She never backed down and I think we'll see her do amazing things still!
Seeing the emotion of these Athletes in triumph or failure reminds me: They are just like me, the numbers are different but we go through it just the same. Like they say, the struggle is real.  Training for years to hopefully have a shot to run with your country's best for one of three slots into the Olympic Marathon race is a dream. I can only imagine how a runner may handle it when the outcome is sour. Many vow to come back again no matter what happens out there.
All of it is an inspiration, and makes me think "one more mile today", "three seconds faster today", "run more hills you sissy". Yeah, I say Inspiration is reflexive and cyclical, it is NOT a pyramid scheme.
Hey, I was thinkin' about it, it's 1:35am now, having sufficiently emptied my brain, I bid you a good night.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

12k essential to success in long distance running

Today was my first workout of the year that I walked away feeling solidly accomplished from. Recent running has been consistent and I'm gradually putting the pieces where I want them to be. I have had a hard time plotting when I wanted "big workouts" to start for my build up for the Boston Marathon (to be my 6th, and overall my 13th). Recently losing my job has put my mind in a spin, and running often has felt like a stress break, but I haven't really drafted "a plan" other than run a little bit longer each Sunday if I feel up to it.
A lot of times, you get out there and do workouts that just feel too fast or mundane as you have run them more times than you could guess. I look at training like eating, sometimes you are hungry and want to take huge bites and devour something like a glutton. But even in those instances, if one bite is too big, it can get ugly. Going too fast on long intervals is a similar concept.
The whole workout could be going very well up to a point, and then you just get greedy. You start pushing a pace that is a little bit too fast and then you are over your Threshold. Some of us are foolish enough to stretch down from Half Marathon pace to10k pace or quicker. It's easy to let it happen, and I am pretty sure I have been guilty of this at least once. But not today! Today was brilliant, I covered 2k, 6 times, jogging 2:00-2:30 between reps (partly due to Middle Distance Runners needing to start their 200m reps without crashing into us). The slowest interval was 7:04, the fastest was 6:53.
Threshold pace shouldn't hurt that much if you are running the correct pace and taking ample recovery. Look at it like this, To run at your Threshold isn't easy running, but it has a much bigger margin for comfort and error. Small miscalculations in pace can be corrected throughout a long interval, and don't amplify as harshly when you go too fast. You may ask "Why 2k, why not 1600m, it seems long to keep going for such a while?" Because I like getting a mile split and then continuing on at the same pace, it has the hidden benefit of race day preparation. If I check my watch for "my mile", I want to imprint in my mind "good mile, keep going", over and over and over again. That is one reason, and having your head in the right place about your pacing is a damn good reason to do something.
Many inexperienced runners might be reading and asking "Wait, we run Half Marathons kinda slowly, that doesn't sound like a speed workout!" Well, don't ignore the fatigue factor kids! by the 5th and 6th interval I started to feel the pressure. For you, a similar effort might be just 2 or 3 times 2k, but try them, see what it feels like to keep on your pace for 400m longer after getting that mile split, then take your recovery of 1/3 the interval time. Total volume for these types of workouts are well explained in Daniels' Running Formula.
I had originally considered running a 7th interval, but the track had some icy spots on it, and the 6th went very well! I decided, that's it, I did work, I don't hurt right now. It's done. This workout is over. I'm a happy guy tonight.
And for your viewing pleasure: Anis runs on a relay team!
Anchoring the 4x800m B team at the Frank Colden Invitational on 2/6/16. Absolutely a rust buster, I am not a Mid-D guy! Earlier in the day I raced 3000m in 9:17, yea that was a rust buster too, working on it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sciatic Nerve Pain or Piriformis Pain

Sciatic Nerve Pain feels like maybe an alien impregnated your upper ass. You know, you wake up one day and think "Did Aliens abduct me, and implant their unborn inside my lower half? This hurts! Shooting pains down your hamstring, into your calf, your arch, etc. Oh, it's terrific when this manages to simultaneously hurt your buttock, hip flexors and groin. Marvelous mess to manage.
Why am I talking about this you wonder? Those who know me well, have heard the story. "I jumped awkwardly over a stream during a trail race, landed hard, felt the shot of pain and have never been the same since". That summarizes it, that happened in 2010. To avoid the pain entirely I am fairly sure that quitting distance running would have been in order. To hell with that!
It is incredible how much pain distance runners are willing to deal with...just so they can bring on more pain by hard racing. The workings of this mind state probably resembles a skipping record (for the kids in the crowd, research 44 and 78rpm records, ya know that old crap before digital download).

 Age telling metaphors aside, I am convinced of the following:
1)Chairs were a bad invention and most of them suck.
2)Our lives have come full circle from hard-easy-way to easy-hard because we made it too easy.
3)I am more than ever considering that training as a survivalist is probably the way to go.*

Managing this is a challenge. Periodic and repeated stimulation of the upper gluteus, hamstring and calf seem to help a bit. Stretching/Yoga also seem to help. It is difficult to tell sometimes if in fact my Piriformis muscle is the culprit of these pains, or if it is only the sciatic nerve that is affected from my the discs in the L4/L5 area
being impinged.
For certain, one of the most effective treatments overall is just digging into the my glutes with my thumb or rolling on a lacrosse ball.
I have managed to crank out some decent mileage despite the pain in recent weeks. But that my friends, will be the topic of another discussion.

*Moderately held belief in an impending Zombie Apocalypse.  ;)

Monday, September 21, 2015

2015 Newport Liberty Half Marathon Race Report

This was my 10th Newport Liberty HM, 2005-2015. Funny, I never planned to run the same race 10yrs in a row, but hey, there it is. I have placed inside the top 10 at this race 7 times.We have our ups and downs, don't we? Sometimes, the competition gets tougher, ready or not. Anyway, the weather yesterday was fairly ideal, cloudy and 72 degrees F. While it kept us cool, the wind was too strong, it definitely put a slow down on things between miles 6-10.
Shortly after the start: Far left, Steve Mennitt takes an early lead, 3 different styles of GSTC singlets on display.
 Today's splits 5:50, 5:39, 5:41, 5:36, 5:34, 5:36, 5:41, 5:51, 5:55, 6:02, 6:07, 6:01, 6:33 last 1.1 miles (5:57pace). Battling Sciatic nerve pain was a factor, time to see the Chiropractor. Maybe I haven't thrown myself into hard enough workouts yet this year. I am trying to avoid having excuses. I would prefer proper execution of a solid race strategy. Anyway, read on. Check here for Full results.
At least 7 GSTC men in this photo, we all were somewhere around 25-30th position here at about 1.75miles. Anthony Harris is looking at You!
My reaction: This didn't feel so great. Knowing I had pushed too hard too soon and was over my threshold into the wind in the middle of Liberty State Park, but let's talk about where I was in the field early versus the end. I was easily somewhere back around 30th before we had made it to 1 mile. Noticing that I had taken off too quickly, I corrected my pace within the first minute of the race. From there I was running along with a well formed pack of teammates and competitors, probably somewhere between 12-15 at times. Everyone in this clump seemed fairly content to keep it tight for the first 3.5miles...
That's when I had had enough of the little tea party. I swung a turn wide allowing me out from behind 7-8 guys and I started to move to the front. I made a push from there until we were near the 5mile mark. I felt surprisingly comfortable with the first three miles. By the 9th mile I might have been in roughly 14th or15th position, but I was clearly a pretender, fading back to 19th by races end. All in all, it was good battling with some great runners.
I proved to myself the following, I'm not at my all time best and I can't run at that pace right now. Which, is admittedly frustrating. But at least I have a better idea of where I am working from. Truth be told, I wasn't ready to race a HM. There has been little in my training this year to lead me into this.  But, I've had worse efforts and worse endings for sure.
I was impressed with the effort I saw out there today from so many people. The teamwork I witnessed and took part in was great! I still dislike the course itself, and if they change the championship race location ever, it won't break my heart. I could happily close the book on a race I have run 10 times.
Somehow, from here, I will find a way to make training happen each day until The Club National XC Championship in December. It shouldn't be impossible, I've got inspiring teammates around me!
Finishing in 1:16:05, glad this one came to its end.