Learning running lessons from the past

Running is the ultimate teacher.

If you want to do your best, then you have to learn from your friends, the help of other runners and your past mistakes.

I have run several hard races in the past.  After my first half marathon, I started having some hip problems.  After my marathon, I was out 3 months, off and on, with hip and foot issues.  I also got injured after running a 5K earlier this year.

Honestly, I don’t think it was the races that hurt me.  Looking back, I realize that I’ve pushed too hard AFTER the races to get back to training.  A few weeks after my marathon, I not only ran 10 days in a row, but also did a hard trail run a few weeks later.  That was the icing on the cake, that is my hip.  It was almost 6 months before I got back to a 100 mile month.

My last half marathon was last Saturday.  It was awesome.  I ran well and on a tough course.  I will look back and be excited for months about that race.

HOWEVER…

Tuesday, I decided to run my first run after the race.  It went well.  I ran 4 miles at an 8:21 pace.  Tuesday night I was in a lot of pain. My shoulder hurt and my hip was killing me.  Wednesday I concentrated on my shoulder as I was concerned that I pinched a nerve running.  That wasn’t the issue, it was just the way I slept.  I did however, ignore my hip pain.  It was in such pain I had to take medication to sleep.

Wednesday was the 30th of April and I was at 118 miles for the month.  I decided to run an easy 2 miles and walk the rest.  I didn’t.  I ran a fast two miles at my half marathon pace, but I did walk after that.

Yesterday I walked.  No running.

My hip is better.  No real pain.  Just a little pain while I drive which isn’t abnormal.  In fact I could have run yesterday.  I could run today.  I could run tomorrow.  I won’t.

I am going to learn from my mistakes in the past and come back slowly.  I have plenty of time until my next race.  I have a lot of mountains to run.  In fact my mountain running has been the one thing to help my hip more then anything else.  After several weeks of running my mountain on the weekend, I really had no pain left.  I think that strengthening my quads and all the muscles in my legs has taken the pressure off my hip.

So next Sunday will be my first run since my 2 miles on Wednesday.  I’ll run my mountain slowly and enjoy the run and take it easy.  I’ll play it by feel over the next few weeks as to how much I run.

I need to learn from my past.  Learn from friends.  Learn from other runners.  Learn from my mistakes.

If I don’t learn, I’ll never make my goal of qualifying for Boston.  I’ll run hurt, slow and probably have to stop.  I’d rather learn now and take it easy, then live with the pain of being stupid.

’nuff said.

Tom

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).

Boring run, but interesting sky

Running can be boring, especially for someone who refuses to listen to music and who runs alone.  One good thing is that I am always listening (for cars) and looking around and observing.

Yesterday I came across this sight.  I had to stop and take a picture.  I didn’t know if the picture would come out or not, but it did.

Take a look:

Black line in the sky

Black line in the sky

Look in the sky of this image.  There is a dark line running across it.  It is perfectly straight, goes across the whole sky and seems to even intersect the contrail from a jet.  I took two pictures and then started my run again.  As I got to the stop sign ahead, the line was gone. I looked up and it wasn’t there anymore.

There is probably some reasonable answer as to what this is, but I was fascinated by it.  I’ve seen lots of interesting things in the sky, but never a long black straight line.

Anyway, back to my boring run.

I hope to one day qualify for Boston… that is no secret.  So whether I want to or nor; whether it is cold or hot; if I am tired or sore… I run.  I have to make my goal.  Now, once I do, that will be interesting.  What next…  I think I have a few years to make to make that decision.

Today I am taking off as I have been running for 6 days straight and my hip is beginning to rebel.  Saturday morning TJ and I are going to run the Donut Dash.  @BigBigGeek is unfortunately hurt and can’t do it this year.  I guess I’ll get his share of the donuts!

Have a great weekend and when you run… look at the sky.

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