My first treadmill run…

It has been a while since I’ve written.

Life has been hectic.  I was in Louisiana for a week doing a work project.  Let me say, I only ran once while there and that was my first run ever on a treadmill.  Just sayin… I’m not a fan.  That was the Sunday I arrived.  After that, I worked 14 – 15 hours each day and just couldn’t bring myself to get up to run on that machine again.

This last week was my first full week of running since I last wrote.  The week before my trip I was able to average 7 miles a day for 6 days.  Not bad for me.  In fact the only week I ran that much in the past was during marathon training.  On top of everything it was very warm out, but I wanted to push it (time wise, not speed wise).  Last week, I felt like I had lost everything.  I was tired and it was tough outside with humidity.  TJ and I did a hill run on Monday that was harder then any other run I’ve had in a long time. The week of running was simple 2 – 5 mile runs, but it was difficult.

So the week off really messed with my running.  No exercise, not much water, and not much walking either.  Just spending all week in from of my laptop programming.

This week is a new week.  I had a relatively good run yesterday morning.  It was hot, but I did get in 5+ miles.  I’m doing my best to break the 4 mile summer barrier I hit last year during the heat.  Today is another hill run with TJ and then just normal runs.  I have another business trip though that might mess things up a bit.  Normally I wouldn’t be worried as it is only a few days, but after having a full week off of running and now a few more days off, I’m going to have to be really careful, especially with my weight.

Have an awesome week. Hopefully things slow down after this week and I’ll get back to writing.  I’ve missed blogging and keeping up with my blog running friends.  Right now it is all I can do to write.

Thanks for reading and have fun running!

Tom

Running tired? See how fast you recover!

After 4 months, I have finally finished a major project at work and on Saturday, I ran my first 5K since January.

What is interesting isn’t the 5K, but the short training I did leading up to the 5K.

I have been doing hill runs for about 3 or 4 months with my son.  We go out each week and run 6 – 7 miles of hills in a neighborhood next to ours.  These hills are big and exhausting.  Sometimes (like yesterday) I don’t know how I’m going to make it home.  All in all the runs are about 8 miles.

Rewind to last week.  With our 5K on Saturday I started to really get concerned.  I had increased my mileage a lot over the winter, but had also slowed my pace.  In fact in April of 2014 I averaged just over an 8:30 pace.  This April I was closer to 9:45.  This slow down was intentional.  I really wanted to gain mileage, build my base and stop getting hurt.  I accomplished all three!

However…

With the 5K less then a week away I was concerned that my slow pace would really mess my race up.  Monday last week I ran hills run with TJ.  Tuesday I just ran 4 miles.  I was tired to say the least.  I finished my run and noticed that I ran near a 10:00 pace.  I was so disappointed.  I wondered if my 22 minute 5K were over for good.

Then it dawned on me.  I had just finished my run.  I was breathing heavily and tired.  But in less then a minute my breathing returned to normal and my heart rate slowed right down.  Hmmm, I thought.  If I can recover in less than a minute, maybe I’m in better shape then I thought. So Wednesday I went out for another run.  I started slowly the first mile as I always do, but I ran faster then my normal first mile.  I got into the second mile and picked up my pace.  The last two miles I ran much faster with my last mile under 8:00.  I was tired and breathing heavily, but once again, as soon as I finished I recovered.  By the time I got to my car to go home, I was breathing normally.  Thursday was the same.  I ran, I recovered and I felt fine.

So the hill runs and the distance runs did what I wanted.  They build my base and gave me the ability to run hard and not get hurt and recover quickly.  I simply lacked the confidence and speed work to get me going faster for my 5K.

How’d the 5K go?  I ran it slower then my usual pace a year, but I also ran it 1:13 faster then my 5K in January.  I came in at 23:20, 2nd in my age group and 33rd overall out of 500 runners.  I’m pretty happy about that considering I had only 2 speed workouts and had gained some weight during my 4 month project.

I am going to keep doing what I am doing.  I’m going to add some speed workouts in the mix to train my body (and brain) to run faster.  I’m going to lose the 5 lbs I gained and try to bring my time down below 22:00 this year.

Hopefully this will help someone else in a similar situation.  Listen to your body and your recovery.  It may be telling you something that your brain is not!

Tom

The perfect recovery drink for runners

I’ve been running now for almost 3 years. Sometimes after a run I’m shot. Exhausted. Breathing hard. Just not feeling great.  

After my last half marathon I had this type of feeing. I pushed hard during the race as I generally try to  do. I figure that I want to look back and enjoy the results. Momentary discomfort is totally worth it when you PR or just know you did your best. There is a need to be wise and not hurt yourself, but the feeling after a hard workout or race is awesome. 

Okay. The drink. I’m sure I am not alone in knowing this, but it took years for me to figure out the best drink after a tough workout. Beer!

So after my last half marathon I wasn’t doing well. I drank Gatorade, water, chocolate milk and after 30 minutes I was still not doing well. I found myself at the beer tent and had my 1 beer that they offered. Within minutes I was back to my old self. My mind was clear and I was no longer tired in the slightest. 

I kept that experience tucked away for 8 months.  Fast forward to the recent increase in my running.  My first long run was tough. Very tough. I couldn’t get myself to relax and knew it was about to become a long day.  I was driving home and decided to get a Gatorade at a local supermarket. I was exhausted. Then I recalled my half marathon experience. I decided to try it. I went to the beer isle at 9:00 on a Saturday morning.  I ended up with the non-alcoholic beer, Odules (it was 9:00 🙂 ).  I got to the car and downed one before I even put the keys in the ignition. 

In minutes I felt awesome.  Just like my half marathon, I had a 180 turnaround and felt like I never had an issue.

I now try to keep a recovery beer with me on all workouts. I had a really hard workout this weekend while visiting my mom in PA. I ran 13 miles with 2200 ft climb and when I finished… I needed a recovery beer. I took it out of the fridge and in a minute or two my breathing went to normal, my mind cleared and I felt great. 

Once again, this may not be big news to most runners, but it t really is a miracle recovery drink.  

Beer. I knew it was good for something. 

Tom

The perfect run plan (for me)

It has been a great couple of months running… with no purpose to run.  I have no races planned, no “reason” to run.  I have, however, run more miles in the past two months then anytime in the past 18 months. 

My run plan has changed. I used to have a plan I posted on this blog each week.  That stopped after I crashed and burned post marathon.  Now my plan is simple and consistent. It works for me, so here it is (if you care 🙂 ). 

Monday: 8 mile hill run. This is about building my strength and helping my back and hip. I credit this weekly run with the reason I have been able to run so much the past 2 months. Also, Monday is the beginning of my running week and it is motivational to have an 8 mile run and a hill run out of the way first thing.

Tuesday through Thursday all depends on my run cycle. I run 2 long weeks and 1 short week and then repeat.  On my long weeks I try to get in 2 – 3 eight mile runs a week with shorter runs in between. On short mileage weeks I generally stay at 4 miles a day for the rest of the week until my long run on Saturday. 

Friday: I try to keep Friday short. Usually about 4 miles. The main reason is Saturday morning is my long run and my run Friday is late afternoon. I can still “feel” my Friday run on Saturday morning, so I try to take it easy. 

Saturday: Long run: At the moment, on my long weeks I run 13 miles on Saturday morning and short run weeks are 10 mile Saturday’s. This has been huge for me as running a 13 mile run each week has never happened for me in the past three years. It puts my 8 mile runs in perspective and really helps finish the week off on a good note. 

Sunday: This is to be a day of rest and letting my body heal for the hill run I’ll do on Monday. However, Sunday is the only day RS and I can ride trails at the state park, so generally we will do that for an hour or so Sunday morning. 

So that is my run plan. At the moment, I run 45 – 50 miles on long weeks and 30 – 35 miles on short weeks. 

Really I do have a goal. My hope is that I’ll finally developed a base to run more miles and keep injury free.  So far so good.  I’ve slowed my pace down about a minute a mile and increased my mileage by about 1/3 over the winter. I REALLY want to run another marathon this year, and though I’d love to BQ, I am not obsessing about that right now.  One day I may make it to Boston (maybe), but if I don’t have good form and a strong base, it will stay a dream and never become a reality. 

Sorry for the longer then usual post, but I’m sitting in an airplane on a trip to visit my mom. I haven’t seen her or my brothers since the day after my Marathon 18 months ago, so I am really looking forward to it. 

Be safe. Run your own plan. Get help from others, but know that running isn’t done in a cookie cutter fashion.  Fine your spot, run your plan and you will succeed. 

Tom  

Finally success running smart!

I had a successful week running last week.  For me it was amazingly successful.

I’ve been running 41 miles a week for several weeks and to prevent a crash in my running, I decided to have a low mileage week.  My goal was to run 31 miles during the week with my longest run being 6 miles.  I ended up with 30.9 (but whose counting).

By Sunday, I felt great again.  My soreness was gone and my body “felt” healed.  This is huge for me.  In the past (1.5 years ago when I used to run this kind of mileage), I would keep running the higher mileage and then after a month or so I’d get hurt or have some issue that set me back into the low 100s.

Yesterday was going to be and 8 mile run, the first run of my 45 miles week (post recovery).  I did run, but it was raining hard and getting dark as the afternoon got late.  I got a late start because of issues beyond my control and by the time I got to 6 miles, I called it a day.  It was raining so hard toward the end of the run that it was like I was in basic training in the army.  I could barely see through the rain.  It was awesome.  I had negative splits with the first mile at a 9:40 pace, down to 8:15 my last mile.  I’ve learned to start out slow and then work my speed up throughout my run.  It makes all the difference in a good run.

There was one other soul out running at the same time as me in the park.  Just us two, going opposite directions and passing each other slashing in the puddles.

So my plan was for 8 miles yesterday, but I settled for 6.  I’ll make up the other two sometime this week.  Today is an 8 mile hill run, then Wednesday 4 miles, Thursday 8, Friday 4, and Saturday 13.  Sunday will be a 10 mile bike trail ride with RS and then it all starts over next Monday.

By the way, I was reading the recap of my only marathon and all the comments from it the other day.  Oh how I want to run one again.  This time, I want to run it smartly and with strength.  No plans yet, but maybe Chicago?  That would be cool! Maybe I could see my friend at runningonhealthy.com. 🙂

Happy trails.

Tom

Something has changed with my running

Two weeks.

The past two weeks, something has changed with my running… in a good way.

It all started 3 weeks ago.  I was complaining to TJ that my legs were shot and that I wasn’t even running much.  On top of everything, my back was a mess.  My right hip was hurting and I just couldn’t figure out what to do.

He reminded me that the hill runs I used to do would really help me and I hadn’t been doing them at all lately.  So the next Monday he and I set out for a hill run in a neighborhood nearby.  It has crazy hills.  Some high, some long, but every stride in this neighborhood takes you up or down a hill.  When we finished running all the streets, we had completed 8 miles of hills (and my longest run in months).  I was shot.  I had nothing left.  BUT I finished all 8 miles.

Since then TJ, RS and I have run those hills each week.  TJ and I have run them 3 time and RS twice.  The impact has been nothing but phenomenal!  I had one of the best months in January since my marathon in September of 2013 last month.  The past two weeks I have run 41 miles each week. These two weeks combined are more then most months I’ve run since my marathon.  I feel great.  My legs are strong.  Everything is beginning to click.

Now that I have had 2 high mileage weeks, I am taking this week and cutting back about 30%.  My legs feel great, but they feel the pain of the past few weeks.  The last thing I want now is the get hurt.

So I’ll run about 30 miles this week and then I’ll add 10% to my last couple week totals and up my mileage to 45 miles next week.

The great thing, is that I am not training for anything in particular.  I was going to run a half marathon in March, but that isn’t going to happen.  In a way, this is good.  I’m running for me.  I’m running because I want to.  I’m running for the challenge and not to prepare for something.  I can take this slow and do what ever I need to get back to where I was a couple years ago.

Don’t get me wrong.  My goal is another marathon.  But this time I want the strength, the ability. the grace to run it the best I can.

I’m running.

I’m glad.

Tom

PS: My daughter has suffered greatly with Fibromyalgia.  She had to quit work, she could barely move off the couch for a year.  Now she has lost a lot of weight, is biking and getting back her life.  This last week she ran with RS and me several times off and on during our runs.  She is up to running almost 3 miles a day and is looking better then I’ve seen her in years.  I can’t say how proud and excited I am for her and how humbled I am that God has given her the grace to “come back”!

Finally, an update on running, racing, hills and bikes!

It has been a long time since I last wrote.  Honestly, I just didn’t have the time to get a post out.  Life has been rolling at a thousand miles per hour for the last month, but I did get to run a race, run most days, do a huge hill run and bike some trails.

Red Shoe Run (formally the Red Nose Run)

This was the 3rd time TJ and I ran this race for the Ronald McDonald House.  It was a great race for us.  RS joined this year for his first year running this 5K and a coworker of TJ came also.

Cool things about our race:

  • TJ came is second overall out of 340 runners of the 5K.  Wow!
  • I came in 2nd in my age group (the old guys) and 19th overall.
  • RS ran his first race in 6 months and beat his last time by 10 minutes.  He has just started taking up the running mantle again.
  • TJ’s coworker ran his first 5K.  TJ has been running with him once a week and the guy went from out of shape, to running his first 5K, first 3 mile run and best time he had ever run.  TJ was so excited to have such an impact.
  • It was 18 degrees and windy at race time.  Okay, that wasn’t cool… it was cold.  I couldn’t feel my fingers in my gloves by the time I finished.  Alabama isn’t supposed to be that cold, EVER.

It was a good race and as always the Ronald McDonald House did a great job and raised a decent amount of money.  We joined the race too late to do any fund raising, however it was a great event to be a part.

Running in general

My running is picking up a bit.  In December I hurt my heel (heel spur to be exact) and had to slow down.  It still hurts from time to time, but I can and do run each day.  I am trying my best to get out of running 4 miles.  I have been stuck in a rut since summer and need to get some distance.  Last week I ran a 5 mile and 6 mile run, so that is a beginning. Running in the cold isn’t my favorite thing to do, but it is better than the heat.  The last few days it has been between 60 – 70, so life has been quite good for running.

Hill Run

I told TJ over the weekend that I really needed a hill run.  I haven’t run hills in a long time and I could tell.  My legs have felt tired during my daily runs and my hip/back hurt much more over the weekend after I picked up my mileage last week.  He asked if I wanted to run the hills in a nearby neighborhood and I agreed.  It was insane.

We ran a total of 8 miles (my longest run in a long time) and 700 feet in elevation.  He stayed with me though and I made it through without stopping.  The day before RS and I road bikes on trails at our state park for an hour and my legs were already tired.  So the hill run wiped them out.  Toward the end of the run we ran the biggest hill around.  I almost didn’t have the strength to make it.  My breathing was labored, but my legs had nothing left.  I plowed through and made it to the top of that hill, but I’m sure I wasn’t moving very fast.  The last quarter mile I put everything into the run I had left.  I can honestly say I have never felt so tired since my marathon.

The good news is that my legs feel better today.  Yesterday, the day after the hills, my legs still felt off.  My 4 mile slow recovery run was very slow and not fun.  Today, after a good night sleep and some time between me and the hills, my legs feel better, my back is better and my hip doesn’t hurt.  I don’t like running hills,, but they are worth the pain, at least for me!

Conclusion

Life is beginning to return to normal.  My work has been insane (14 hour days at times) and as a result, life was stressful.  Work is still hectic, but I feel like I am beginning to get a handle on things.  I hope to possibly run the Shamrock Half Marathon in March (was trying for the marathon, but… NOT).  If I can stay healthy and increase my mileage, I should be label to do it.

Virginia Beach, here I come!

 

Tom

PS – My weight got up there after the holidays and injuries.  I was near 200 lbs January 5th.  Today (Jan 21) I am back to 188. I hope to continue this downward trend in my weight for about another 10 lbs.

Running with my new bike

With everything that has happened to me over the past couple of months, I decided to try to mix things up.

No, I’m not going to stop running.  In fact I hope that by the middle of March I will have completed 2 half marathons and 1 full. That might be wishful thinking, but hey, a man can dream.

Going back to Black Friday, I wondered into Dicks Sporting Goods with 2 of my kids.  There, in the back of the store were the bikes.  By that evening all three of us had new bikes.  These are by no means expensive bikes or ones that you might take a 30 mile ride on, but I really felt the need to have another avenue for my exercise and have been contemplating cycling for a while.

Yesterday I went out for my hill run and got back with tired legs and then RS and I hopped on our bikes and road a couple miles.  I didn’t want to overdo it and didn’t want to make me too sore, but it was a lot of fun and just enough to finish off what strength I had left in my legs.

My plan is to run and then bike each day for a while.  If I get hurt and cannot run, then I’ll just bike instead.  Done are the days of walking for an hour when I can’t run.  Of course walking is still an option, but now I have 3 options rather then 2.

Thanks for all the well wishes from my post from yesterday. I’m hoping and praying that I am now done with carrying stones in my body and can concentrate on moving forward again.

Tom

From 110 to 8 – why I’m thankful #WeAreThankful

I was thinking to myself during my hill run yesterday…

I’m thankful I can breath!

I’ve been running now for several years.  My Nike app says that I have run 2,993 miles.  7 more miles to a total of 3,000. Wow.

They say running can be bad for your heart.  They say that long runs can damage a heart.  I say that breathing is much more important then the alternative.  Running these 2,993 miles has change me, made my life happier, given me more freedom in life, made my family life better, reduced my heath care costs and prolonged my life by possibly 30 years.

I’m thankful I can breath!

My Grandfather died at my age.  He was my height.  He was overweight, as I was 3 years ago.  In the prime of his life, it was over.

My Mom was always concerned about my weight.  Others were also, but she had reason as I was the same stature as her dad.  Hmmm, would I live past my early 50s?

What does the title of this post mean?  I’ll tell you.

3 years ago, at the point I weighed 278 lbs, I had a sleep study done.  I knew something was wrong and the study agreed.  During that short night with a thousand wires all over me watching my every breath, I had an apnea incident (stop breathing for 10 seconds or more) on average 110 times each hour.  My oxygen level got down to 60 and within a few hours of starting the test, they stopped it, put a cpap mask on me and let me sleep the rest of the night.

I’m thankful for technology.  That sleep study saved my life, I’m sure.  Afterwards, a series of event happened (as I have recalled in this blog) where I lost 100 lbs, I started running, and everything changed.

2,997 running miles later, I had another sleep study.  This time, I wanted to see if I still needed my cpap, and if so, how bad was my apnea.

Less then 8!

That is right, I actually went from 110 apnea incidents to less then 8.  Considering less then 5 is normal, I still suffer from mild sleep apnea, but I’ll take that all day long.

I’m thankful I can breath!

Running literally saved my life, perhaps in a more dramatic fashion then others because of my genetic makeup.

I am thankful.  I am thankful to my family, friends, but most of all to God who put me on this miraculous path.

Finally, I was asked by the Outreach Coordinator of Oscar Insurance (they provide health insurance in New Jersey and New York) if I would write a post on thankfulness and participate in their #WeAreThankful campaign.  I don’t know them and they don’t know me. However, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to participate when I have been given one of the best testimonies a guy can have!

I’m still alive!

I’m thankful I can breath!

New running shoes to the rescue!

So much going on here and the blog is screaming for me to write, so here I am, putting all else behind and writing finally.

Last week, my son got the flu, I got a small version of the flu – to be honest I was over it in just a day or two.  My son is back to normal now and we continue on with life.

I finally broke down and bought me a pair of Brooks PureFlow 3 on Saturday.  I was starting to have pains where I never have pains and my heel spur was getting angry, so I thought I should buy another pair, even though my shoes had less then 200 miles on them.  I’m glad I did.

As soon as I put on my new shoes, I could feel support in the exact areas I was hurting.  Looking at my old shoes, I didn’t really see much wear, but all my hill running had taken a toll on them.  What goes up, must come down, and running down steep hills at times means a lot of pressure on my shoes.

So I ran this weekend some.  Saturday was my off day, but I wanted to try these shoes out.  I put them on and ran a quick 2 miles.  They felt great.  My last mile was at 5K pace and it was over 90 outside.

Sunday I wanted to run a long run or my mountain run, but my body wasn’t over the pain inflicted by my shoes that were wearing out.  I chose to run 5 miles in my neighborhood.  The first three were lousy.  I felt weak, my legs felt heavy and it was very humid outside.  Then at mile 4 I began to come to life.  My legs finally decided to wake up and I had a great ending to my run.  I still kept it at 5 miles for the reasons stated above, but I was satisfied with my run.

Back to work today and then my hill run this afternoon if my body feels up to it.  Looking at the weather, we will be in the 90’s until a week from wednesday when the temps finally plunge into the 70’s.  Of course that is 10 days out and there are no guarantees.

I’m still debating on the marathon in December.  I have a lot going on right now and I remember the huge amount of time and effort goes into training.  So, decisions, decisions.  I have to make my mind up soon though.  Really soon.  It was exactly a year ago I ran my first marathon with TJ.  I must say it was a rewarding experience.

Tom