My running secret…

Life has been crazy!!!

Working 14 hours a day.  Family, church… Not much else other then running.

I promised a while ago to post my “secret” about how to run better and more efficiently.  Today, I’m keeping my promise.  I waited a while as I wanted to make sure my progress wasn’t just psychological.  I think running has a lot to do with psychology and I also think that with time, psychological effects will make themselves evident.  After time, what remains is what really helps.  What I am posting is the one thing that has made the biggest impact on my running in the past 3 years…

This isn’t a huge thing. In fact, I bet I’ve posted about this sometime in the past 3 years.  Sometimes the best and most impactful things seem the most trivial.  It just takes an event to make them come to the forefront and make an impression.

Okay… here it goes… My secrete is…

Run slowly.

Just kidding (sort of).

For the first mile of every run, pay the most attention of any other mile of your run.  The first mile is the most critical.  It is the mile that will affect all other miles.  Run loosely.  Run easy.  Run slowly.

During the first mile of each run, never let your heart beat fast.  If you end up running a 10 minute pace, or a 15 mile pace, just run slowly. Make sure your body stays loose.  Continually think about your neck, shoulders, arms and legs.  Just keep loose.  Keep your heart rate slow.  Keep it easy and slow.

That’s it.  That one thing, the first mile, has changed my running in a way nothing else has in 3 years. After that first mile, I run as fast or slow as I want.  I just keep trying to keep my shoulders and body loose and free of stress.  I keep trying to run loose and easy.

Each Saturday morning I run my long run.  Most Saturday’s I run 13 miles, but about every 3rd or 4th Saturday, I run 10 miles to give my body a break.  This last “easy” Saturday, I ran 10 miles and for the last 2 miles I ran hard.  I was able to run those miles at marathon pace (BQ marathon pace) and most miles were negative splits.  I credit my first mile with this success.  I worked hard at running slow.  I ran my first mile at a 10:16 pace.  My last mile was at a 8:15 pace.  Ahhh. Looking back, it was a great run.

Try it for yourself and let me know how it goes.  Do this consistently and you will see a change that will transform your running like nothing else you have tried.

That is it.  My “secret”.  I hope it helps.

Tom

My 2 mile run and quest for slow running

2 miles.

I ran a 2 mile run for the first time in two weeks yesterday.

My heel has been hurt.  Might be my achilles.  I stopped all running until I thought I could give it a good try and yesterday was the day.  The run went well.  Of course I paid a bit too much attention to my heel, but I had no problems.  TJ bought me new shoes that have more of a built up heel and I could really feel the support.

I honestly think this latest injury was caused by 3 things…

1) I had new shoes.  They ran great.  I won’t mention the brand here, but I loved them and felt like I could run much better then ever before in them.  Sadly, about 20 miles into wearing them, I felt a tug of pain on my heel.  Not wanting to give up on shoes after 20 miles I kept going.  I tied them differently to try and give more support.  Finally, one day the pain wasn’t feeling better. I ran one step too far and something sprang in my heel. No more running for two weeks.

2) Speed.  The need for speed.  I’m an old man (not really, but older then most of you I’m sure).  I have been on a quest to run faster and farther since I started my running career almost 3 years ago.  I’ve done well.  I’ve won my age group in many 5Ks.  I finished in the top 4 percent of my age group in my Country Music Half Marathon.  I ran half of my only marathon at an 8 minute pace (and the second half at a 12:00 pace).  Speed is fun, but for me, it causes injuries.  So I am giving up on speed and going to start running for distance.  I want to run another marathon, an ultra marathon, perhaps a 50 miler.  There are far more goals for me to achieve beyond being fast and taking chances at getting hurt.  I still hope to BQ one day, but for now, that dream is set aside.

3) Cycling.  God gave me the wisdom to buy a fairly cheap bike on Black Friday.  If it weren’t for that purchase, I’d be walking everyday because of my ankle and hating it.  So, instead I’ve been riding.  Not everyday as I’ve been out of town some and had other commitments, but several times I’ve gotten out an ridden with my kids.  Sunday was awesome.  RS and I road trails at the Mountain State Park for 6 miles.  I probably should have thought differently when I saw the sign to “Rattle Snake Ridge” and let RS talk me into going on that trail.  We made it, but it was a bit above my comfort zone.  Also, after our 6 miles with RS on the trails, I got to ride with JS for 13 miles at a small park near our home. She suffers from fibromyalgia and to be able to ride that much at one time was quite a victory.

RS at the top of Rattle Snake Ridge

RS at the top of Rattle Snake Ridge

So, all that to say, speed is out (except on the bike) and running long and slow is in.  It is a new chapter for me and will take time to get into my head (don’t run fast), but I think it is the way to go, at least for now.

Hey, maybe I can get to Boston running for a charity.  Who said I have to kill myself to reach my dreams.

Have an awesome week.

Tom

 

Season of Change

My blog, 278toBoston.com is named for a reason that most of you understand.  To be honest, it has really helped keep me in line and give me motivation over the past year or two.

I struggle in two main areas.

  1. Weight
  2. Goals

When I weighted 278 lbs, I never thought I could lose that weight.  I honestly thought I’d die of some heart related disease and everyone who got on to me about my weight would say, “See I told you so.”   I had a hard time with long term goals.  Losing 100 lbs wasn’t possible.  Running a marathon as my dad had, wasn’t possible.  Living a normal healthy life after 50 wasn’t possible.  After all, not only was I obese, but I had hip and leg problems.  In fact my legs and ankles were beginning to swell and just walking up the steps was a difficult task.

One day, on an 11 hour drive home from visiting Chicago (the “fat” pic on the side of this blog was taken that weekend), I had to drive the whole way home and couldn’t stay awake.  I almost couldn’t make it home.  I had to stop twice to sleep.  Ends up I had severe apnea.  At my sleep study I was told that I stopped breathing 110 times in an hour.

Things were not going well.

Seasons of change come and go.  I’ve learned over the years that when a season of change (a good change) comes, I need to take it and run with it or it will pass me by.  In a season of change, I went to a Dr. appointment with my Lovely Wife and that doctor helped me.  I lost weight, I began running, I lost more weight, I began racing, and finally ran a marathon last September.

To be honest, I still struggle with weight and goals.  My weight is consistent, but is about 10 – 15 lbs over where I should be.  My goal (in my blog name) of making it to Boston one day seems but a dream.  It can get so overwhelming.

Sometimes you need a sign.

As I was running a few weeks ago, I was in a new neighborhood and ran past a house with a teen boy kicking a soccer ball.  As I ran past, he waved and said hi and I returned the greeting.  I thought, “How nice! Most kids look down and ignore me as I run, but he said hi and smiled”.

A few days later I was running by the same house.  That boy has not been out since, but as I ran by I noticed his mailbox.

A sign?  I hope.  Maybe I can do this.  I just need to go with the season of change and believe:

Do I believe?

Do I believe?

Mile 25 of my 5 mile run

I had a mile to go to finish my run.

I was beat.  Totally beat.  I told myself that I would quit a half mile early.

  • It was hot – not as hot as in the middle of summer, but a hotter day then we have had lately.
  • I forgot to take my Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) before my run.  My legs were so tired and heavy.  Was this the reason?
  • I increased my mileage from 4 to 5 miles a day just this week.  Was that why I was beat?
  • I am running a hillier area and one hill is huge.  Am I just worn out?

These are the thoughts of a runner perplexed at 4 miles as to why his run is going badly.  Pace?  What pace?  I threw pace out of the window a couple miles ago.  Actually all summer I have kept my love for speed away and just tried to be consistent on the run.

I tripped.  Sort of tripped.  I literally stubbed the top of the front of my new running shoes.  I’ve never done that before, I thought to myself.  Maybe I should walk home.  I don’t want to hurt myself on a basic run.  I don’t want to be stupid.  I don’t… I can’t… I won’t…

Then the thought occurred to me.  Just a year ago I ran a marathon.  I felt worse at mile 25 of that marathon then I did now at mile 4 of my 5 mile run.  My body needs to learn.  I need to master my body.  It must submit to me if I ever want to run a marathon again, let alone qualify for Boston.  This feeling… The feeling of being spent, exhausted, tired, hot and having nothing left inside… Maybe this feeling is a gift.  Maybe this is training for mile 25.  Only a little over a mile to go and I’ll be done.  My body will learn that it has to comply with what I am doing.  Not to the point of getting hurt, but I need to teach my body, my mind and my spirit that I can run through this feeling.  I can complete the race.  I can run up that last hill and finish what I set out to do.

5.01 miles after I started, I finished.  I literally had nothing left.  It was hard to walk the rest of the way home (about 100 yards).

I finished. What a great feeling.  I had the worst run of the summer and I felt like I just completed a marathon.  I didn’t give up.  I didn’t give in.  I didn’t walk until I met my goal.

Today… who knows, maybe I’ll run 6 miles just for fun!

Have a great weekend.

Tom

Runner’s World book and tapering!

So I have a few subjects to write about…

I have never gone this long without writing on this blog.  Mainly I have been a bit worn out lately and it has been all I could do to run and watch the Boston Marathon (not disappointing).  I consider this a “blog taper”.  Sometimes I guess everyone needs to slow down and let the muscles recharge, whether the muscle is a leg or a brain.

Saturday is the Country Music Marathon in Nashville.  TJ, RS and I will all run the half and – for the most part – I am looking forward to it.  I have never run in a race with more then about 5,000 people, so going to one that is 5x that, should be… well… interesting.

We leave tomorrow at lunch, go to the expo, go to the hotel, get up at 4:00AM, get to the race at 5:30AM, and hope to be ready for the 7:00AM start.  Of course there are 40 corals, so we may not get going until 8:00, but it will give us time to prepare mentally.

On to my book article.  I mentioned last Saturday in my last post that I am in a Runner’s World book.  Actually they put me in two books, the other is called, “Runner’s World Training Journal for Beginners”.

I am putting up a scan of my section of the book.  I hope Runner’s World doesn’t mind, but if they read my blog and ask me to take it down, I will.  The chances of either are slim, but if I can be published in a Runner’s World book, then I guess anything can happen.  The book looks really great and is a great resource.  Here is the Amazon link if you are interested: http://www.amazon.com/Runners-World-Book-Running-Beginners/dp/1609615379

So here is my section.  Thanks for reading and for following my blog!

Tom

Cover

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One day…

It was 1:00 in the morning and I got out of bed to go to the bathroom.

Ouch.

I could barely walk.

There was that soreness I didn’t notice yesterday!  It felt like the day after my marathon.

Yesterday I felt pretty good.  I was a little sore, but nothing major.  I even did my five mile run and at a pretty good pace of 8:38.  I finished strong and felt good afterwards.  I was a little weak on the hills, but I chalked that up to my mountain run on Sunday.

Then last night and this morning…  I can’t walk.  I hurt from my hips down to my feet.  Talk about delayed onset.  Wow.

It is a good hurt.  It is a hurt that I know means my legs and quads got pushed and will be stronger in the end.

TJ just told me he wants to run with me during the half marathon.  So basically he will be pacing me.  That should be interesting.  He paced me on a 5K once and it really helped.

I’ll be honest.  I want to destroy my PR in my half marathon.  Another reason it will be good to have TJ with me.  He will keep me at a reasonable pace, especially in the beginning.  From what I understand the first half or so is mostly up hill and the last quarter is mostly down hill.  Not sure about the rest.

With each mountain run I am getting stronger, more confident, faster, less fragile.  I am so thankful I found this mountain and can run it each week.  It has actually given me hope that one day I will qualify for Boston….

One day.

Running in heat – and other musings

Summer…

Actually heat.

I remember last year.  When the heat got above 65 – 70 degrees, I was shot.  I had the hardest time adapting.  My pace dropped about a minute or more per mile.  I would get so frustrated and down.  The hotter it got, the slower I got.

I then found out that running in the heat is similar to running at a high altitude.  I learned to start slowly to allow my body to get used to the heat and then try picking up my pace.  I used my app to tell me my pace, not so I could make sure I was going fast enough, but to make sure I was going slow enough.  If I started to fast, I would hit a wall in a dramatic fashion and just have to stop.

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far for me.  It was above 80 degrees and sunny.

I did not start slow enough yesterday.  I ran well until about mile 3 and then had to walk a bit.  Fortunately I was able to recover pretty quickly and it didn’t affect me much.  I still ended my run with an 8:12 mile and an overall pace of 8:43.  Not bad for an old man.

I learned from last year that as the heat and humidity go up, I need to not only be careful to not over do it physically, but I need to drink more water (I drink about 96 oz in the winter and 120+ oz in the summer).

I am really interested in how apple cider vinegar (ACV) will help my summer runs.  I still feel it working for me, even an month after starting to take it.  I tried everything in the past from chia seeds, to a bagel, to energy supplements and have never felt they affected my running at all after a few weeks.  Taking 2 tbs of ACV in the morning with water (before I eat anything) and then 2 tbs in the afternoon before my run has made me feel so much better and stronger.  One day I would like to do a study on what helps most, running up a mountain road every week or ACV.  I honestly think the ACV has had a larger impact on my running since I ran the mountain about 5 times and didn’t notice a huge difference until after starting the ACV.  I also wonder if I was just missing something in my body that ACV fills.  Honestly, for me to run 5 miles in the heat and the last mile at 8:12 pace is nothing other than a miracle.  Even my hip is better – not perfect, but much better.

So that is about it for today.  My musings.

Oh, one more thing…

When I started my run yesterday I could feel that my legs were still affected from my 11 mile mountain run on Saturday.  They didn’t hurt, but had a good feeling of fatigue.  I can’t explain it, but they are getting so much stronger then ever before that I know one day, they will take me to Boston.

Keep running.

Tom

Running strength. Building a base for the future.

Well I ended up with almost 105 miles for the month after my evening run yesterday.  I can’t complain.  I felt great.

I started out my run too fast at an 8:12 pace for the first mile.  What was I thinking!  Fortunately I got 3 calls from work during my workout which gave me an excuse to rest for a few minutes each time.

All in all things are coming along well with my running.  I feel much stronger after all my mountain runs.  It is like I am a whole different runner.  I can push myself up hills in my neighborhood like never before.  I run at paces that I have never run at before except to do a speed workouts.  I just really feel good out there.

I think back to my marathon and specifically remember mile 4.  I was coming down a small but steep hill and I felt my leg give way a bit.  It was very unnerving and made me realize that even after all the training, my legs weren’t really strong enough for the 26.2 miles.  I finished with a 4:15 time, but I had to walk off and on the last 10 miles or so.

Now I feel like I am on the right track.  I am gaining leg strength.  My lungs can handle longer and faster runs.  I run mainly to feel, and have been in the 7:30 – 8:00 pace off and on lately.  Overall my pace averages around 8:30, but I honestly think I am building a base so that I can run a sub 8:00 pace for a marathon and qualify for Boston one day.

So now we start a new month.  All our apps set back to the big zero as we head out today to run.

The future is looking bright.

I love running.

Tom

My dream, my hope, my life – Thoughts from yesterday’s run

As I ran yesterday, I thought about dreams.

Not dreams as in sleep, but dreams as in aspirations, desires, goals that seem beyond reach, but something you want to attain with a desire that is beyond normal desire or hope.

Dreams are an important part of life.  Some dreams never come to pass.  They sit in front of us an become a frustration, depression or just make us angry.

I realized yesterday that I have had many dreams I wanted to attain in life and many of them I have actually achieved.  Most were within my ability to achieve if I persevered beyond normal effort.  As I ran, realized that each major phase of my life has had a dream just outside my reach that I had to really work for in order to see it come to fruition.  Many times those dreams took perseverance beyond my own ability to achieve.

I am being purposefully vague here as I don’t need to go into all those dreams.  But my thoughts went on to the fact that so many people deal with anger and depression because they don’t get to fulfill their dreams, at least in the timing that they have chosen to see them fulfilled.  Without a dream, or as the Bible says, a vision, we will perish.  Hope is essential in life.  The American Dream has kept people pursuing their lives vocation for generations.  A hope for a good life and an even better life for their children.  I think a lot of Americans have given up on achieving their Dream.

My current dream or hope or goal is to qualify and maybe one day run in the Boston Marathon.  Back before last year’s race (and tragedy) TJ would talk to me about us qualifying together.  Then, last March I made that my goal.  I hadn’t even run my first marathon yet, but my new goal would be to qualify for Boston… Then I ran my first marathon in September and that dream seemed to be pushed beyond achievement.  I ended up hurting myself after the marathon and it took months to get back to a semi normal running routine.

I still have that as my goal, my dream.  It keeps me going home each day and heading out to run in good or bad weather.  It helps me get past heel spurs and hip pain.  It makes me run up mountains in order to build my endurance and run down mountains to build my strength.  

It is my dream.  

I could give up on my dream.  It is going on 2 years since I began running and a year since I made that decision to qualify for Boston.  That is a long time.  I am getting close to 2,500 miles run, mostly in my neighborhood.  It seems like a dream that is out of reach.  But that is exactly what makes it a dream.  That is what gives me hope.  The thought of the day I achieve another dream and overcome almost impossible odds to do just that…  That is what makes life fun.

So my run ended yesterday much quicker than most.  Not because I ended it early, but because I had so distracted myself from running by dreaming about dreaming.

Keep dreaming.  If it were easy, it wouldn’t be a dream.

Tom

Running as a habit… The good and the bad

Well… taking a break yesterday didn’t go as well as I had hoped.

I got home and decided to just run/walk slowly.  You need to understand that my success in running is based on habit.  I have developed a habit of running 5 – 6 days a week over the past two years.  The good thing about habits is that they become automatic as long as you do the same thing at the same time each day (not time  like a clock, but time as at the same point in your day – i.e.: after work).   Everyday I get home from work and immediately get on my running clothes and head out to run… EVERYDAY during the week.  From the time I get home to the time I am out running it is usually about 10 minutes.  I have trained myself to do this.  It is an ingrained habit that has worked well for me…

Except…

When I need rest, it is almost impossible to stop.  I do rest by taking a day off a day a week, but usually walk on those days.  A true rest day only occurs if I am sick or the day is so busy that I cannot get my run in (usually a Saturday).

So yesterday I planned on resting, but I ran.  To be fair, I ran at a pace 1 to 2 minutes slower than normal and I walked from time to time (about a half mile of the five mile run).  So it was a resting run. 🙂

I didn’t sleep well again last night.  I’m not sure what is happening.  No stress, no pressure, no caffeine or sugar.  I fell asleep late (late for me anyway) and then kept waking up.  I woke up at 3:00AM and just waited for the alarm to go off at 4:00 (and then didn’t want to get up).  Although I feel fine, I wonder if I am not fighting some sickness or something.  It has been a strange couple of days, but at least it hasn’t been more than that.

Finally, I had a hit on my blog yesterday where someone typed into Google, “278 to Boston Boston marathon 2014”.  Ha.  That was pretty neat to see.  I assume someone wondering if I qualified yet or not.  Well this runner will have to wait until at least 2015 and I probably won’t have a real chance a qualifying till 2016.

Goals.  Habits.  Life. All is good (now if I can just get some sleep).