Friday, July 29, 2016

Summer's Top 5 reasons for more running

1-Warmup time is shorter
2-People are getting fitter and wearing less, the eye candy improves!
3-Jumping into some water after a hot run feel like being born again (the non-religious way)
4-A cold beer has deeper meaning after a hot run, riding the Runner's High and catching a buzz from your favorite summer brew...pure heaven. This week's selection: Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro!
5-You get to run with the sunset at 8pm just as the temps are as good as it's going to get.

Yeah, it's hot out there, but bring an insulated bottle for after or carry during if you need it. You'll survive. Have fun, be safe, see ya' out there!

Some guys I run with. Somehow I ended up being the only man to start this run with a shirt, it ended up wrapped around my hand for the last 2-3miles.
Image result for left hand milk stout nitro
The good stuff, when I'm done running, we shall become one!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Bernard Lagat: Defying age or just breaking new ground?

Image result for bernard lagat 2016 trials
Hmm, final lap 52 high...and he's 41? What do you think? (Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)

Has anyone been paying attention lately? The guy wins the U.S.Olympic trials 5000m race with a closing lap under 53 seconds. He is 41. He is one of the all time greats, but still it is simply stunning . There are a lot of skeptics out there that are quick to judge. I will admit, it is very hard to believe it is all on the up and up. I just watched a video of a Golden League 1500m race from 2001 featuring none other than Hicham El Guerrouj. The race had a rabbit, who seemed to more or less do nothing to help the pace from 1100m-1200m . The 3rd lap was 56, they closed in 54. Guerrouj wins by a narrow margin, .12 off his WORLD record of 3:26:00. They ran the 2nd and 3rd fastest times ever recorded on that night. Since that race, only Absel Kiprop has come close, running 3:26.69

Fifteen years later, Lagat beats a lot of very good athletes in a 5000m race, catapulting from 6th to 1st with a 52high last lap. A faster final lap in a race more than 3x longer than one of the fastest 1500m races ever run. Even if the 2016 OT 5000m race started in absurdly slow pace, the disparity of which I speak is still clear from my perspective. When you factor that Lagat has continued to perform at his current age, you might make a case to say he is the best 1500-5000m man ever!

I want to believe that it is possible to continue to develop past your late 30's into your early 40's for some top rate performances. I am just not sure what is probable here. I know of one fellow who has run lifetime PB's and he's 41-42 right now, it's incredible, but he wasn't training at or near the level that Lagat has for his entire career. It isn't a fair comparison.

Perhaps very few coaches and athletes have known how to adapt training methods for older athletes for enough years with willing and able subjects available. Still, performances in track and field have certainly been put into question and not since yesterday either. Cheaters are just getting to be more clever as testing methods are improved.

You might be thinking, "Hey Mike, don't pick on Bernard, what about Meb or that Australian guy, he's 40 too!?" Well those guys are marathoners, and that is a whole different story.

Truly, I want to see Bernard Lagat come through with no funny business in his testing samples. It would be amazing. Longer careers for track and field athletes would possibly mean that kids could grow up believing a "Hall of Fame" career in this sport is possible, the kind where you see a 20year span of excellent performance year after year. Maybe Track & Field could be like baseball in that way. In another generation will it be common place to see guys contending for Olympic teams past the age of 40 against people half their age? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

What do you think? Let's hear it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Your Foot has three arches: treat them equally

It is true. Three. Lateral, Transverse and Medial. Most people are concerned with their medial arch. Those of us who work in running shop either hear from a customer or have fallen into the habit of saying "You have a high/medium arch" or "Your arch is low", "Your arch is flat" "Your foot doesn't have an arch". Any of these ignore that there are two other arches that can be imbalanced or needing support if pain exists.

The Medial arch is the one where most people experience the majority of pain or think the root of their problems in the rest of their legs/feet are stemming from.  We shouldn't ignore that the lateral arch, while difficult to support shouldn't be entirely ignored.  The Transverse arch is the one just behind the metatarsal bones or ball of your foot.  My meaning is not to drag us into a line of thought that helps sell insoles, I hold no stock in those anyway!

For general well being and certainly, enjoyment of running, realize you should roll and massage all three of these parts of your foot. But don't ignore your body's signals indicating that more support to any part of the foot is needed. As we age, continually forcing your foot into unnatural positions will cause a worsening of pain in the feet and toes.

So, sometimes, one of those insoles with the "funny bump" in the middle of your foot...can actually benefit you more than you think. I am  not a proponent of orthotics that elevate the heel, I believe this creates a greater challenge for overall foot balance. Support and protect all three arches, it will make a difference.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The 120th Boston Marathon: My 6th

I haven't felt like there is much to say lately, nothing worth reading anyway.
"How ya' doin'?" "How ya' been?"...
These are the two hardest questions for me to answer lately. Can I even say "I'm injured.", just smirk and say thanks when someone expresses some empathy? The worst kind of injuries are the ones that seem to just linger or morph in a way that leaves you still able to run, albeit slower and shorter distances than you'd like.
I'm trying to figure it all out. Medical treatment isn't in the cards for me currently, considering all things financial. I know I can't complain too much, lots of people have worse circumstances than I do. But running well makes me happy, so I am a lot less happy.  That's it, that's what's real. 

It took me a while to decide if I wanted to do a write up about my 6th time racing the Boston marathon. I just felt less and less motivated as the days went by afterward and I am simply floundering in its wake. Yeah, it's July now and I'm running some easy miles and riding my bike some. No racing, no workouts. The cycling has been a fun change from everyday running. After these photos there is a bit more, so don't go quitting on me just yet, read on.
Fancy trinket of which I am quite proud

People feeling out the last 100m by the finish line on Boylston St

Me letting out everything that was left in the tank heading to the finish. As you can see, I had some company creep up on me. It was on the telly, proper famous now I is.

Walking away from the finish line post race, exhausted. To my left, good pal, Geraint Davies.

The GF and I doing the tourist photo op thing.

 My performance was better than average, but could have been so much more. I know there are still great races in me, but damn it; I need to get healthier to make them happen.  The winner of the race was 2:12:xx, this race has had top finisher 5-9mins faster. I'll tell myself, it was a hot day and I didn't execute entirely that well and was stricken by a classic pit stop around mile 9, certainly costing me 2mins. If I can speculate a 8min faster time than the 2:42:18 that I finished with, it exactly matches my PB. I still believe in myself, there is still plenty of time to achieve my lifetime goal in marathoning. It isn't that far away.

The race itself went like this:
I lightly jogged up to the starting corrals with teammates and friends, had my last visit to the Porta-john (before the race), and went into the 2nd corral where I was assigned. It was too warm already, we thought we would have low 60's, it was already 70.  Standing among the hundreds of other great runners in that corral I found a few who were simply beaming with excitement about being there and knowing that they were about to embark upon their goal of "running the Boston Marathon". I wished luck to anyone that surrounded me where I stood. The jets flew over as the national anthem was sung and applauded. Volunteers dropped the ropes separating the corrals and we walked forward about 10m to blend into the back of the 1st corral.

The race was started and we were off! I moved to the edge of the road when possible to find open ground to run; having decided that keeping pace with Will Appman would be a fine idea...if I could just find him in the thick of the 1st mile. Luckily, I caught him after about 1/2 of a mile and we stuck to 5:48-5:52 per mile. Jeremy Klapper ran along with us for about 5k, deciding to back off once the downhills were completed; ultimately finishing ahead of us both in 2:38. My GI tract was not on board with running 26.2 miles non-stop, so I bid Will a farewell and stopped for about 2mins at a Porta-john around mile 8-9.  This was a bit of a downer, I had trained a lot with Will this past winter and had hoped to run much of the race with him to shared success. Ultimately, Will ran a 2:40.

After I got back on the road, I simply struggled to maintain a sub 6 pace. I was in the low 6's and feeling decent. I was passing people, but I just couldn't go any faster. Running past Wellesley College was a fun experience as always, kisses for luck, why not?! I worked up the hills the best I could and held back from speeding down past Boston College. But sure enough, the higher than normal temps just started to hurt me too much. The Newton Hills were nasty as ever, I passed teammate Tim Seeley, and that was a double bummer. I could tell he was having a terrible time by that point (near mile 18 I believe), I caught and passed him with suddenness. We expected him to be our lead man, I've been in his shoes, it's a hard thing to finish a marathon when the wheels are coming off. Credit to him, he finished it up. I have to say that Tim trained better than any of us, and his consistent excellence in training motivated me to stay honest in training and not slack. After climbing all the Newton hills my pace faded a bit, the last 2 miles were verging on ugly, last mile in 6:53. Once I had calculated a sub 2:40 was not salvageable, I was definitely less motivated.

Yet, I saw some friends along the way at Cleveland Circle and the crowds just before turning on Boylston St were so thick with screaming fans, you just can't NOT run faster. I turned it on, gave what was left when I knew it meant I wouldn't collapse before finishing. So, now, this is the first time I have managed to run this race 3 consecutive years, hoping to keep the streak going. I was glad it was over, very happy to have another shiny medal to add to the collection. Later, I celebrated with my girlfriend, Anna, Will, Jeremy, various friends and everyone's supporters. Anna and I bumped around town to see some old historical stuff, got some Cannoli and just enjoyed the sunny spring day.

I hope this can inspire you, the moment you read this, that is drives you a bit; gets you to step outside when you are procrastinating for too long or feeling tired or sore. There are going to be good days and bad days, right?

Coming soon: Attempts at rehab for mysterious un-diagnosed injuries and prepping for XC!

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!