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

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

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

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”!

The Dog-spiration and running in the summer heat

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far for running.  The heat index, according to my phone, was 94 degrees.

Needless to say it was hot.

My run went well.  I’ve approached running differently this summer.  Last year I would push through.  Drag.  Run home to get water and keep trying to push.  Of course I was stupidly training for a marathon in the midday Southern summer heat.  This year I run until I am feeling hot and tired and I walk for a minute, then I continue my run.  This has helped a lot.  I am still running 4 miles a day during the week as I haven’t gotten back to a full running week yet, but even so, my pace is still doing well (for me that means I am under a 9:00 pace).

On to The Dog!

The Dog

The Dog

She is an inspiration to me.

When I get back from my run she is ready to get out back and let me throw the stick to her.  She never stops.  Even in the heat, she will pause and pant and then she just keeps going.  I make sure I don’t overheat her because she would probably not stop running after that stick until she couldn’t move anymore.

So when I am beat.  Hot.  Tired.  I come in for my run, I know she will be pushing her hardest, and that somehow helps me to push harder also.

She keeps going, and going, and going.

She keeps going, and going, and going.

Funny.  She has no idea that she helps me push through.

What a great dog she is!!!

Mountain Run PR!

I’m guess people could be getting tired of hearing about my mountain running, but it has been such a transformational thing to me and my running, I want to pass it along my experience along.

Yesterday was my first mountain run in 3 weeks and my first since last weekend’s half marathon.  I had taken last week off of running (okay, I ran 6 miles) to make sure I don’t get injured in my post race workouts as I have in the past.

I began at an easy pace as I warmed up.  By the time I got to the foot of the mountain, I was running too fast.  I knew I was running too fast for a mountain run, but being that I hadn’t run much in 7 days, I guess I got carried away.

About half way up the steepest part of the mountain road (one of the first hills) I had to walk.  That was okay.  I walked about 30 seconds and then started slower and kept a good pace.

By the time I got to the top I was getting tired.  I could tell I hadn’t run this road much in three weeks.  My legs were tried and I was breathing hard.  At the top of the mountain, there is about a half mile of fairly level running before I turn around.  I got to the turn around point, paused long enough to take and post a picture and headed back down.

20140504-094812.jpg

This was my only real scare.  Right after I posted the picture above on my previous post, I began to run again and felt a “pull” in my left heel.  Oh no!  It had been a good run and beyond that, I didn’t want to get injured again.  So I relaxed and kept my run going.  I just paid close attention to how I was feeling and my form.  Honestly, I don’t think I hurt myself, but my past experience tells me that sometimes injuries don’t show up right away.

As I got to the bottom of the mountain, I had 1.5 miles to get back to the car.  I know my run was in record mountain running time, as I know I was running well.  So I pushed a bit going up and down the hills leading back to my car.  I passed a guy walking the opposite direction who said, “Does it feel as bad as you thought it would?” I had to ask him to repeat his question.  He was being nice, knowing I was breathing hard and really pushing.  I just yelled back, “Nah, this is easy”!  He just laughed and we continued in our separate directions.

I got up the last hill and could see my car.  I finally looked at my time.  8:45 pace.  Seriously?!?  I ran hard down the last hill.  My pace dropped to 8:42 for the run.  My total time was 1:09:47 for the 8 miles.  My best time before this was a run with TJ several months ago that was at an 8:50 pace.

Mountain run PR

Mountain run PR

My heel is better today and I am still being careful.

My hip isn’t doing great, but is much better then last week.  I wear a sciatica belt on my mountain runs to help with the support and that makes a lot of difference.

So a half marathon PR last week and a mountain run PR this week.  All in all, I’m pretty happy.

I’ve been trying to catch up on other people’s blogs by the way.  I got way behind the past week or two, but I am getting there slowly.  🙂

Have an awesome week.

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.