Friday, October 31, 2008

Running on the Western Edge

The other day I made mention of my spiritual run along the strand in Manhatten Beach. A friend asked what does the place look like. So today, I'm adding a few photos I took this morning during my run. Enjoy. Manhatten Beach Pier

From the pier looking back to the shore

Another runner and his dog.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rule 6 - Specialize

You can do what you do. Its a simple rule, but in this day of "cross-training" a lot of people forget. You will not be a runner if you are always on the bike. You will not be a cyclist if you are only running.

Back about two years ago I was training for a triathlon. I knew that as a runner, my running was going to be my bread-n-butter part of the race, so I focused on the swimming and the biking. My running mileage for the three months going into the race totaled about 50 miles. My swimming and biking had been the major part of my focus and I had incredible numbers.

On the day of the race, I was really pumped thinking I could actually do the event (a sprint) in under an hour. As it turned out my swim came in at 12 minutes, the bike in under 30 minutes, but...the run? Don't ask? The reality was, I couldn't run. Because I hadn't trained to run, my body adapted itself to the swimming and biking. Our bodies adapt to what we require them to do...running in the tri was not there because I didn't put it there to start with.

What this experience taught me: focus on what you want to do. Not parts but the whole. If you want to run the mile race, focus on the mile race. If you want to run a marathon, focus on the marathon. If you want to do a triathlon, you have to work all three areas of the event...don't count on a natural strength in a particular area to pull you through.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Prayer and Running

This morning I ran at Manhattan Beach. It was one of those beautiful mornings. The strand was packed with people walking and running. Surfers were out on the Pacific...though the waves were not all that good for them. But there was something about the moment that caused me to think about our country, the election and the economy.

As I ran by more senior individuals, I wonder how this day would effect them. I tried to look at each individual and think about what it was that they needed to be successful today. Yea...sounds crazy, but that's prayer. It's lifting each individual up before God and asks God to bless them. Too often we get side tracked with our own business that we forget our connection to each other. Or we are so self consumed that we see others as only a problem to be tolerated.

As I ran along the strand, I past vote for Obama signs and McCain signs. I couldn't figure out any rhyme or reason for the placement of the sign. Most of the homes along the strand are very expensive. But I wondered which of these two would be our next president and I though about what each would bring good and bad to our future. It's going to be interesting...but that's prayer. Lifting up our choice to God and asking for wisdom to choice the right one.

For me running is prayer. It is a time to think about what it is that God's run was a prayer. And it was very enjoyable.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

#5 Don't race when training

Having coached High School Cross-country and Track, this rule really is fun to explain when you just handed out the schedule of meets for the next three months. You get really strange looks. So here is what happens. "Kids, this is the track meet schedule for the season. Now, we'll be participating with the rest of the team, but we're not going to race any of these runs...instead we are going to use them as when we get to the big meet, we are ready to win."

Back in High School and College, we raced every week, sometimes twice a week. I remember running at Middle Tennessee on Tuesday afternoon, then on Friday running at Lee College in Dayton, and on Saturday do a third race at Carson-Newman. Our legs were tired. Our bodies hurt and our school work suffered.

Then in 1986-88, I discovered the truth of this rule. You run races as fast tempo training runs, to get use to running on a track in front of a crowd, to teach your body to respond to competition. But if you don't win...that's’s not the goal of these meets. It is preparation for the main event...the race...the goal. When I used this with my young distant runners, they performed so much better. Actually some of them were the first to cross the finish line because they were so relaxed and didn't have any pressure on them to win. But when it came to the final race, the conference championship...they blew their competitors off the course, or track.

This year I'm planning on running my fastest time possible in a marathon, I have one goal race that is the Rock-n-Roll Marathon down in San Diego. The reason I selected this race as my goal run is that I've done the course last year, and it offers the best chances of being a very fast race for me. But in preparation for this charge at my fastest time, I'm running for training several marathons. Next month, I'm going to the Pasadena Marathon. February, I'll run two marathons in Huntington Beach and Los Angeles. April, I'm doing Big Sur with a friend. In May, I’m doing the Palos Verde Marathon, because it goes by my house. Finally, on 31 May is the Race. Each of these other marathons that I'm running will have a specific purpose to help me prepare for my goal race.

Regardless of what distance you are running. Remember to focus on one major race in any season. If the distance is short enough, and your training focused, you might even be able to run three or four more races after the goal race, but after and begin a new season to improve your running.

Rule #4 - Don't set a daily schdule

This one surprises most everyone. After all just go to Runners World's Website and you can get a daily marathon prep schedule. Look at Jeff Galloway's book, Marathon and you will find daily schedules for individuals wanting to finish, to running 4:40 to 3:30 to 2:39. So you must be looking at me and saying..."What gives?" Are all these programs...wrong?

No...not really...but yes. These daily schedules are great guides...but they are guides...and useful as guides...but you need to learn to listen to your own body. Example: Its 90 degrees and humidity is over 90% and you didn't get a good night's rest because the air conditioner wasn't working and all week you felt stressed to do your runs as schedule...and you have to go out according to the schedule and run a 20 miler. is a not let it lock you into something that could hurt you.

A few years ago, I started to take the week runs and list them on a piece of paper. During the week as my schedule permitted, I would run the workout that seemed to make sense for me on that day given everything else going on. The result was I felt so much better. Most schedules are designed with one long run, a few days off and a few normal run days. Not very complicated, unless you are going after a time and then you have additional things like 4x1 miles @ 4:30 pace...yea right. All that means is that you need to make sure you put rest days around those track workouts and long runs. But the principle is the take control of the schedule and work it according to your needs. You will be happier in the long run.

Newton also had schedules but he argued for flexibility. We need to see these wonderful schedules not as straight jackets, but rather road maps to get us from point one to the finish line. So, keep using those schedules but do so with a little grace and understanding that perfection in following the schedule doesn't equal success in the race.

Monday, October 20, 2008

You need to read:

Jeff Galloway's "Marathon: You Can Do It!" is one of the best books on running marathons, I've read to date. He takes all that science stuff and makes it readable and enjoyable. It is a must for any of you like me over the 50 year age mark. Just to let you know how easy it is to read...I read it cover to cover in about 5 hours. But I've read most of his other books so I didn't really need to think to much about what he is writing about....that doesn't sound right but...If you read his other stuff...then you don't need to read this. No...go ahead and read this, has a lot more on the run/walk method, and effects of aging.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Newton's Rule #3 for Runners

Rule #3: Train first for distance, later for speed.

My junior year in high school, I finally made the track team. (I had been trying to make the team every year since 8th grade but always cut before the season started.) In yesterday's blog I shared that in October of my junior year, I started training every day. With the help of Coach D, I started to run 5 to 7 times a week. I ran 5 to 10 miles. I ran fast and slow. I ran several road races. Then in February, I tried out for the track team and earned a spot on the distance team.

The school's track coach was the football coach, and gym teacher...typical of most southern towns. But what that really meant was the coach only knew one thing. Push and work as hard as you can. And our workouts reflected this mentality. The first day of practice we ran a 1/2 mile warm up, and then ran 4x440 yards at full speed, finally we finished the workout with 4x880 yards at full speed. The next day the work out was the same and the day after that and the day after that. You get the picture. One day of pain after the next.

Lucky for me, Coach D pulled me aside and told me Newton's 3rd rule. During my second week on the track team, I "pulled a muscle" and need to jog the practice. The next day, I ran the workout. Then that "pulled muscle" bit the next day and so I jogged for 5 miles. The next day I ran the workout. So right in front of my "track" coach, I was really doing my own workouts.

In order to race a distance such as a mile, or 5K race, or a marathon, you first need to be able to run that distance. Speed work is the sharpening edge that you bring to finish off the whole race. This past year, my goal was to be able to run a marathon. I can do that with no question in my mind. But now the question becomes how fast can I do it. So this year, my training is focused on getting my body to tolerate the pain of running a marathon faster. It will be a slow process, but it can only be done once you have the ability to run the distance.

My advice to anyone running a new distance; never aim at running a world record. Save the speed for the next race after you know you can run the distance. You will do so much better.

Friday, October 17, 2008

34 Years of Running - 28,347 miles and still going

If I had the chance to set down in heaven to talk to runners, the three I would really like to talk to would be Steve Prefontaine, George Sheehan and Arthur Newton. My guess is that most of you know who Steve Prefontaine was (US greatest distance runner who died in 1975), and a couple of you might know Dr. George Sheehan (Runner Philosopher who wrote some incredible articles on running in Runners World Magazine), but I doubt many of you would know Arthur Newton.

Arthur Newton is in my opinion the Father of Distance Running. He ran all over the world from 1922 to 1935. He won 5 Comrades Marathons, held the world best marks for 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60 and 100 miles and the 24 hour running record. He logged something like 102,735 miles...I'm only at 28,347 miles. He ran in the legendary Transcontinental Race from Los Angeles to New York in 1928.

But his influence on running is maybe the greatest of any one individual in history. Tim Noakes in his book "Lore of Running" identifies 9 Rules of Training that Newton devised from all his years of running. In the next few weeks, I'll cover them all, but today the first two in honor of my anniversary of being a "serious" runner.

Rule #1: Train year round. On October 17, 1974, I started running every day and the result was my running dramaticly improved. I know that today is the anniversary of my running...because I kept a log and kept a running total of my mileage for each day, week and month. But the key to training year round was I could improve and keep improving over a longer period of time. I remember the football/track coach tell me when I first started this year round training, that I was going to ruin myself because the body wasn't made to do that. Well, my senior year when I won 3 races, I sure did hear him taking credit for my improvement with the other coaches.

Rule #2: Start gradually and train gently. AMEN...When others tell me they hate running, I can understand. In elementary school, then junior high and if we kept running into high school, we always ran full out at top speed. If we didn't run at full speed, all the time we thought we couldn't run. And it hurts to run like that. Running easy at that time was not acceptable. When I started back in October 1974, my first run was 3 miles. I ran hard. The next day, I ran 3 miles. I ran hard. After about 2 weeks I was hurting and ready to quite...but a neighbor (Coach D) who lived down the road saw me out running. Coach D came over to invite me to in a AAU race and offer to train me...he was a real running coach. He got me to slow my runs down, change the distance, and even take a day off to rest my body. His philosophy that I still use today: "Go out easy, have fun and keep the desire to run."

I don't want this to be too long, so I'll share more of these rules of Newton in later postings. But today...go out easy, have fun and keep the desire to run.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Importance of Water

A few of my friends have started wondering if I'm human, having done so many marathons in the past year. Yes I am. Just so you realize I'm human, having accomplished my 21st Marathon this past Sunday at the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon...I crashed big time and struggled to finish in 4:32. It was a great run until about the 16th mile and then...I got super thirsty. And I couldn't get enough water. Part of that was due to my own foolishness. I past a few of the water stops thinking I had been drinking enough fluids. But once you've start dehydrating you can never get caught back up.

So remember...drink water...also mix some Gatorade in with it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dealing with Anger

I hope I'm a person who tries to see things in their entirety, from the whole of what I see to specific issues and aspects of the situation. And yet even as I write these words I understand that I'm moving from generalizations (the ideas in my mind) to specifics (the words I write), but you read from my words (the specifics) and move to generalizations (ideas). So we are out of step to begin even this conversation...and that causes more arguments and misunderstandings then I will ever know.

I have a situation with another person that has been driving me crazy this past week. The majority of our problems stems from our lack of communication. The other person has in mind one thing, and I have another...and there is the problem.

Being a counselor, I know the role communication has in creating and resolving problems...but there is another little devil in the soup. And that is anger. Anger builds walls...simply because we don't want the other person to hurt us again...and so we turn away and stop the flow of communication. It is sad, but true. Our anger never helps to solve our problems...just compounds it. So I have to deal with my anger.

First, I have to figure out what it is that is making me angry. Almost 99% of the time, it has to do with my feelings and not really with the other person...yea 1% of the time it is the other person because they really are being..... You understand? Yea, I thought so...but most of the time it’s me. I need to check my own feelings.

Second, when I have taken a moment to check myself...I typically see possible areas where I'm missed communicating my needs and desires to the other person. And once I see them...I can sometimes move forward to talk with the person again...and this time, find a solution that is beneficial to them and me.

Final point on this is that sometimes it just doesn't work. And the anger is compounded. If that's the case I move back to step one and realize the individual belongs in the 1% group and let it go at that. I'm not going to change them and we're just not going to I'll let God deal with them and press ahead on some other front. And if I really can’t deal with it anymore…I go run…