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

Running by time

Running by time

I had an excellent 13 mile run today.  

Last week’s 13 mile run was so hard and all I could think about during the run was to count down the miles. It was really bad. 

Today, I knew I would take at least 2 hours to finish, so I purposely ran in a way that I didn’t know how far I had gone, and waited for 2 hours to check my mileage. I was relaxed and really enjoyed running and not thinking of mileage.  At the 2 hour mark, I looked at my phone and had less then a mile to go. 



So I ran my long run at a 30 second faster pace and felt good at the end. I was tired and could feel it in my legs, but I really felt good.  So for the second week in a row I’ve run exactly 45.7 miles and this week was at a 30 second faster pace overall. 

Finally I ran 163 miles for the month – the best mileage in 18 months and it was on a short month. 

Next week is a recovery week, so I get to cut my mileage by about 20%.  In a way I wish I could keep my mileage up, but I’m trying to run smarter and my 52 year old body needs some rest so I don’t get hurt. 

Running is beginning to get fun again. 

Tom

My week running and learning life lessons from my workouts

I made my goal this week – but it wasn’t pretty!  My goal was 45 miles and after my low mileage week last week, I had hopes for a great set of workouts.

Monday 6 miles – My plan was 8 miles, but it was raining hard, I was soaked.  I was cold.  I ran through puddles 2 inches deep and it was getting dark, so I figured I’d cut my day by 2 miles and try to make it up later in the week.

Tuesday 10 miles – My plan was for an 8 mile hill run with TJ, but after the hills (crazy hills), I decided to make up my 2 miles from Monday and ended up with a 10 mile weekday run.  This was the longest weekday run I’ve had in my short career and was a lot of fun with TJ.

Wednesday 4 miles – My plan was for 4 miles in order to give my body a rest.  I started the run and knew it would be rough.  I was tired from the 14 miles the two previous days.  It was windy!  30 mph winds right in my face.  So as I was running into the wind, I could tell I was using my hill run muscles – and they weren’t happy about it.  I finished, but I was exhausted – really exhausted!  RS had to drive me home.

Thursday 8 miles – My plan was for 8 miles and I did it.  It was very cold (wind chill in the low 20s) and it was  a rough run, but I got through it and felt great about my mileage so far.

Friday 4 miles – I planned on 4 miles as I knew Saturday I would have the longest run I’d attempted in a year.  The run was okay.  I was a bit sore and tired from the week, but my weight was down (183) to the lowest it had been in a LONG time and I was really glad it was Friday.

Saturday 13 miles – This was tough.  I planned on 13 miles.  I knew if I made it, I would have a record week since my marathon 18 months before.  After about mile 5, I started fading. By mile 8 I was doing poorly.  I didn’t bring goo or any type of help for the run as it was a training run and I wanted to “feel” the whole run.  I hit a wall at mile 9.  It felt similar to my marathon.  I thought as I was running that if I finished this run, I would have run 25 miles in 3 days, so my body was feeling that mileage.  RS was running in the same park and by mile 11, I texted him and asked him to run with me my last two miles.  I was really hurting, but I wanted to finish.  People hit walls all the time in races and I wanted to get past it and finish what I started.  I finally made my 13 miles – I was shot.  I finished just under a 10 minute mile.  It took me 20 minutes just to be able to drive home and then I still was doing poorly.  After a shower and recovery drink I felt better though.  Honestly, if it weren’t for RS being with me, I might has stopped early.  I probably should have stopped anyway, but I was determined to finish my long day and record week.

I think running is like life.  Some days are great, some aren’t.  Some days there is no reason why the day is as bad as it feels.  Some days you want to give up half way through.  But learning to push yourself past that point is a life lesson that running really helps with.  Knowing that as your run the race, you are running for something more then just running.  You are training for lessons in life that are invaluable to learn.

I’m glad I run.

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

 

The agony of de-heel

I was feeling good.  The day before, I just had the best 5 mile run, coming in under an 8:00 mile.  This day I chose to take it easy and not push it.  As I ran, my heel spur began to bother me.  It has been bothering me a lot lately.  So I concentrated on my form and tried to relax.

The run continued and I sped up a bit.  I was really wanting to have another good run.  I shouldn’t have done that.  My heel began hurting more and I kept relaxing and running.  At the 4 mile point, it hit.  The pain.  There was definitely something wrong.  I stopped immediately and began to walk.  Shortly the walk became a limp.  I had to walk a quarter mile back to my car and it took almost as long as it did to run the 4 miles.

I then limped for 4 days.  I had a lot to get done and didn’t ice it like I should have.  I still don’t know if it is my achilles or heel spur.

The good news is that I bought that bike over black Friday.  My heel didn’t hurt at all riding the bike.  I rode with my only daughter one day.  She has suffers a lot from Fibromyalgia and it was great riding slowly through the neighborhood with her.

Sunday was also good.  I went riding at the State Park with RS.  We rode a lot.  We rode mountain trails and roads.  The trails were really hard to get used to at first, but by the end, we were riding hard and having a lot of fun.  We rode some roads for a while and then headed back to the car.  Going up the hill to where we parked was hard as my legs were rubber.  Funny that I can run 5 miles hard and fast, but I can’t ride 5 miles without major effort.

Today, 5 days after my injury I am doing better.  I walked without a limp and have little pain.  I won’t have time to run again until Wednesday, so I should be good to go.

I was just thinking a week ago that what has kept me from running most lately has been other health issues (stones, mainly), and then this…

Either way, I will be back.  I will run.  I will keep the edge and, Lord willing, I will run another marathon… Boston maybe!

Tom

Running with a stone!

Running has taken a back seat at times over the past couple months to physical issues.

First, a couple (or the same) kidney stones that put me down for a week.

Then a mass on my kidney was found that ended up being a cyst.  No big deal after all.

Finally a week ago Friday I had a good run.  It was only 4 miles, but I felt good and enjoyed it.  I got home and went to the bathroom and had very visible blood in my urine.  Ugh.  Not something else.  So I went to the doc in a box and they said I had no infection, but if it continued, I should go to the ER.  Fortunately it stopped quickly and I was fine.  I took Saturday as my day off of running as usual and then went out Sunday for a longer run.

The weather was cool on Sunday and lots of rain, but the run was good.  I got to 7.5 miles when the thunder started.  I texted my son to come pick me up (as I do not run in storms) and by the time he got to me, it was thundering and lightening all around me.  I got home safely and totally soaked and went up to get in a shower.  I used the bathroom and… yes… bloody urine again.

So now I realized, this wasn’t a one time thing and it was connected to running.  I’ve had lots of injuries over the past few years of running, but this one took the cake.  So Monday I made an appointment with a urologist and waited to see what was happening to me.

Fortunately it wasn’t something horrible.  I had a stone in my bladder and when I would run, the stone would literally cut my bladder and make me bleed.  So I had to stop running until I could get this stone out of me surgically.  My doctor was able to schedule me for last Wednesday, so I went in, got it out and came home.

Finally yesterday I ran and had no problems.  It was such a relief to run and not bleed.  Crazy me writing that, but it is true.

I hope that all these seemingly unrelated problems are now over and I can get back to training for my half marathon at the end of December. I have new shoes, a fixed up body and am ready to head out.

One cool thing is that my urologist commented that it is incredibly rare for someone to lose nearly 100 lbs by diet and exercise. He said in all his years of practice he only knows of about a dozen people who have done that successfully.  I admit, that made my day.

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!

A good run, new shoes and a strange sensation

I got my run in yesterday (it was a rare cool day here in the low 80’s).

It was a good run, but my legs are still tired.  I don’t quite know why they feel this way, but it might be my shoes.  They have 180 miles on them and they take a pounding as I run down my mountain each week.  Fortunately, yesterday my new Father’s Day shoes finally arrived complements of TJ.  They are Mizuno Wave Rider Precision and I can’t wait to use them this afternoon.  I’ve never run in a Mizuno shoe before and the heel / toe drop is much bigger in these shoes compared to every shoe I’ve ever worn, so it should be interesting.

Back to yesterday.  I was running and another guy ran in front of my at an intersection.  This guy was young and probably running at a 7:30 pace, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch him, but as I pulled in behind him it was like I was in a race.  I felt my pace picking up and even though he pulled in front, it made my run much easier.  Finally he pull off a side street and I lost him.

Nothing much more about my run.  Being cooler and with my unknown running friend, I pulled below a 9:00 pace for the first time in a while.

Finally a question.  Has anyone experienced a tingling sensation go down their arms in the beginning of a run?  For about the past 4 – 6 weeks I have had this sensation of tingling going down the top side of my arms starting below the elbows and going down to my hands.  It is fairly quick and only happens in the first mile.  It can happen several times, and it happens during every run.  It seems to mimic the tingling you might get when you are startled.  It is hard to explain and I have just ignored it, but with it being a consistent feeling I thought I’d post and see if anyone else has had that sensation.

I hope you all have an awesome week.  Run, walk, bike and have fun.  Life is too short to live it sitting down!

Tom

No pain is gain!

I ran yesterday.

Normally I wouldn’t write such a crazy first sentence to open my post on my running blog, but I haven’t been able to run much lately.  Between back problems, hip problems, and lots to do, I just haven’t kept up with the running.

That’s the bad news – On to the good news.

My back and hip are doing awesome.  I wrote Tuesday about the new seat cushion that I purchased out of desperation at Target.  I figured I’d take it back if it didn’t help.  Monday I had almost no pain.  Tuesday was about the same.

Yesterday was the real test… My run!

Actually, I wasn’t worried about the run itself.  It was the “after the run” pain that I feared.  My back and hip rarely give me problems during my runs.  I don’t know why.  I guess it would be better if they did since that would give me a warning to stop.  But nooooo, I feel good during my run and then about 60 minutes after the pain sets in.  I try heating, icing, stretching, and just about everything to stop the pain, but it just keeps coming back.

Okay, “back” to my run yesterday.  I ran 4 miles at just over an 8:30 pace.  I was happy with that, but worried.  HOWEVER, I am here to tell you that afterwards I had very little pain and today I have none.  In fact I felt so good this morning that I didn’t even remember to take the anti-inflammatory that my doctor had given me.  Yes, I am exciting about this.  I think my issues have all been due to posture and the way I sit.  This new seat holds my body up and level so that there isn’t pressure on my hip or back.  I also use it in my car.  I have a stick shift and usually by the time I get to work or home I am in such pain that I can barely walk.  Not now.  I have almost no pain from the car.

I need to give it some more time before I claim victory over the pain, but even 2 or 3 days is just amazing to me.

Finally, with so little running my weight should be back up, but it stayed steady at 184.  In fact today I was in the 183 range – once again I give credit to apple cider vinegar (ACV).  I have NEVER been able to keep my weight steady, especially without running.  I’ve only been able to run 3 times in June (including yesterday) and my weight has not gotten beyond 185.  That is amazing to me.

I hope things keep going in this direction.  It would be nice to run and not be in pain and to keep losing weight.  I need to get down to about 165 to be at my correct weight and haven’t been there in 30 years, so here is hoping that I can keep this going.

Enjoy your day and if I don’t post again this week, have a great weekend.

Tom