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 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 a 10 mile run (negative splits)

It has been a long while since I’ve run 10 miles.  In fact, just to be honest, I haven’t run over 7 or 8 miles but twice in the past year.  Once was two weeks before my half marathon and once was my half marathon (RnR Nashville).

Why?

Well running up and down my mountain got me to about 8 miles and I considered that to be worth about 13.  That may not be true, but it really was much more then an 8 mile workout.  Then summer hit and I entered survival mode.  I decided I would set a goal of 4 miles a day and try not to miss more then 2 days a week.  That got me about 20 miles a week, just enough to keep me going.

Sunday it was cold here.  I know that it is cold it is up North, but for us, waking up to 36 degrees was a bit of a shock.  So I just stayed in bed.  In fact I stayed in bed later then I have in years.  I finally got up and decided I needed to get my run in anyway and man up under the cold.  By the time I got to our state park, it was a cool 50 degrees and almost perfect for running.  I will say it was too warm for a jacket during a run and too cold to go without.  In the end, I ran 2 miles with a jacket and then did the rest without.

I knew I could do the 10 miler, but also knew the temptation to tell myself that I could quit early, so after I ran the 2 miles and put up my jacket, I ran 4 miles in one direction and 4 back.  To be honest, it was hard.  My body isn’t used that long mileage anymore and the road back was mostly uphill.

The run was very rewarding.  I needed to get back to longer runs and figured 10 miles was a good start.  I am much stronger then I was during my marathon, which is good news.  All the hill runs paid off.  Also I mostly had negative splits, even with the last several miles being uphill most of the way.

So that run is in the bag.  I hope to keep the 10+ mile runs going each weekend for the long term.  I have the hill runs down, and adding the long runs will add to my strength.  I hope to run a half marathon at the end of December (Jacksonville) then another half in February (Birmingham) and finish with a marathon in Va. Beach in March.  Time will tell how this will go.  I got hurt a lot going into my last marathon, but I know now that I didn’t have the leg strength to do it.  I don’t know how I completed it, let alone ran it in 4:15.

Tom

6 miles a day

6 miles a day…  That is my new run.

In order to make this easier for me psychologically, I kept my 5 mile run in tact and added a mile at the beginning.  So now, after the first mile my mind thinks I’m still running my old run.  In fact it went so well yesterday that I ran 6 miles at 8:23, which is one of my best paces for my 5 mile run and my last mile yesterday was under 8:00 mile.

I am really working on “riding my run”.  I wrote quickly about this the other day, but I am concentrating on letting my legs run and my body rest.  The more relaxed I am the easier and faster I can run without as much effort.  Mentally it is like my body is riding my legs rather than my whole body trying to get me going.  That may not make sense, but it really seems to help me.

I have a meeting all day Saturday, so my (possibly last before my half) mountain run will have to wait until Sunday.  That is usually the way things work, but I wish I could do the mountain run Saturday.  Just my preference.

Also I got our hotel for the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville, TN yesterday.  Not cheap, but not a bad price.  Everything is set and I’m running better then ever in my 350 mile Brooks.  I can’t wait to get my new pair – unfortunately they won’t be in until next week.  That won’t give me long to break them in before the race…

Life is good.

Tom

6 mile run – Longest in a few weeks

Quick update…

I had a good day running yesterday.  I ran 6 miles for the first time since Christmas Day when I ran with TJ.  My hip was okay and I ran below a 10:00 pace, so I think I am on my way to “normal” running again.

Life has been crazy so far this year.  I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that if things keep going this way, this will be a very interesting year!

Keep running.

Tom

A run, a hurt achilles and hangin’ with the dog!

I had a great run yesterday with @BigBigGeek at our local State Park.  Well, the company was great, the run was a tad difficult.

We ran just over 6 miles which is good for me.  In fact it is the longest basic run I’ve had since a week before my marathon (so about a month ago) and I felt the burn.  By the end of the run my body felt as if I had just finished a 18 mile run.

One issue that has come back to life is my achilles.  I thought I had gotten past it with all the time off I’ve had to take, but it is obvious that I haven’t.  After our run on my way home I went to the supermarket.  I got out of my car and I could barely walk.  My right achilles was in so much pain.  The good news was that after I got some Blueberries for my LW and paid for them, the pain went away and didn’t come back.

Later in the day I went to a local running store and checked into getting a shoe with a higher heel/toe drop.  Their advice was to make sure I am really stretching my calf during the day.  So I gave that a shot and I’ll see how my run goes today.

I can’t finish this post without the obligatory “Hangin’ with the dog” picture.  I took this a couple of minutes ago as she was enjoying her morning snack.

The Dog enjoying her morning snack

The Dog enjoying her morning snack

My altered running plan

I’m walking slowly today.

I’m sore from my weekend runs and I’m also glad that I am beginning my taper this week.

I started thinking (worrying) about my weekday runs this week.  I am only averaging between 5 – 6 miles a day during the week. I hear from others that they run 8 – 10 miles a day and I started freaking.  Finally I brought myself back to reality.  I just don’t have the time or ability to run more than 5 -6 miles a day during the week.  I get up around 4:00 AM and most days can’t begin my run until after 4:00 PM.  By then I am tired and it is usually about a million degrees outside (okay, that is an exaggeration).

So without really thinking about it, I’ve created my own running plan.  I run about 20 miles during the week and 30 on the weekend.  I think this will work for me and even if it doesn’t, I have no choice.

So this weekend I got to run Saturday with Neill (and a little by myself) for a total of 13 miles.  Then Sunday I ran by myself for another 15 miles.  So for my 50 mile week, I ran 22 during the week and 28 on Saturday and Sunday.  Hopefully the longer mileage weekend will benefit me during my marathon in 2 weeks.

I plan on running about 35 miles this week as my taper begins.  I hope to run 25 during the week and on Sunday and if Neill is running a long run again this Saturday, 10 miles with him.

All in all I don’t think I could have worked much harder to prepare for this marathon.  I hope to never run a marathon in September again as it is way to hard to prepare in the heat of the South, especially since I have to run in the afternoon.  I really think TJ and I are ready for the race and I look forward to finishing it… hopefully in 3:29:00.  🙂

Quick post before my long run

It’s 4:15 AM and I’m up getting myself going so I that I can be out before the heat today.  I have a (hopefully) 18-20 mile run to do today.  If everything goes well, I’ll be done by 9:00.  The forecast is for it to be under 80 until 10:00, so it shouldn’t be bad.  Although it is hard to get up at 4:00 on my day off…  Only 4 weeks left.

Strange, my hip hurts quite a bit this morning.  Hopefully as I move it will loosen up!

That is about it for today.  I need to get going and get my mind set for my run.  4 mile loops.  Hopefully 5 of them.

Until tomorrow…

Long run chatter. The Voice! I hate that Voice!

I was 10.25 miles into my long run.  Frankly I was surprised I made it that far, but I needed to make another 7-8 miles.  There was a lot going against me.

First, I am still not over my sinus infection.  It is better, but not gone and it hit me hard Saturday night and I woke up Sunday feeling tired and a little sick.

Then there is the 5K I ran just 24 hours before.  I ran as hard as I could and I have never been able to run the day after a 5K because my body is way too sore.

Finally had I just drank water, had some Cliff Block Chews and I ran my tenth mile way too fast.  My thoughts were, “maybe I should call it a day”.  “I still have 5 weeks before my marathon”. ” Who would criticize me for running 10 miles after such a busy weekend”.

Then my phone rang… It was my work… I had to help someone with an IT issue.  I stopped running.  I talked on the phone for 10 minutes.  In the mean time, TJ ran past me on his run and another runner ran past.  I finished the call.  I stood there thinking,  “What do I do?”  I was tired and hot.  It was getting close to 80 degrees and 90% humidity.  I was soaked.

One more mile, I decided.  I’ll run one more mile and see how I feel.  I’ll slow down a bit, try to run relaxed, not push.  After all, 11 miles is better than 10.

I finished that one mile and went for another.  I finished that and then another.  By the time I finished, I made a distance PR of 17 miles.  2 miles farther than I have ever run.  I also managed to keep an average pace of 9:15/mile.  I am so glad I didn’t give into that voice.

THAT VOICE!

I hate that voice.  It talks to me on all my long runs and hard workouts.  It is constantly telling me to give in.  Give up.  There is always tomorrow.  You are tired.  You are hot.  Today is just a bad day.

NO!

I have decided that that voice is not my friend. Yes I have to be wise and if I get hurt, I’ll know I am hurt.  But there is no way for me to run a marathon in 5 weeks if I let that voice be my friend any longer.

So I am going to work my hardest to ignore this voice and move forward.  My goal is to run this race and do my best.  However if I bring this voice along with me, I will just live in fear the whole race.  My goal for the next 5 weeks is to silence this voice and move forward confidently and wisely and make the right choices based on fact and not on “a voice”.

Today is my off day.  I have a trip to the chiropractor this afternoon and then I hope I can rest for the evening.  It was a great weekend for running and I feel much better than I did about my upcoming marathon.

Thank you all for your comments and encouragement!  I am so thankful I started this blog!!!

The most important run so far

15.7 miles.

Okay, really about 15.20 running and .50 walking.  That is what I ended up with yesterday.  There is some good and some not as good news from that run.

The good:

  • My goal was between 15 – 18 miles and I made it.
  • 13 miles were completed with a pace between 9:00 – 9:30.
  • I ran 5 mile loops for the first 10 miles and that seemed to work well for me to get some Gatorade Chews and water.
  • I can walk this morning without a limp, so my Chiropractor must be helping.

The not as good:

  • I really wanted to make 17 miles, but just couldn’t do it.
  • The Marathon is 6 weeks away and I don’t feel that I am close to 20 miles yet.
  • My hip hurt to the point that I feel it affected my run.
  • I crashed the last 1.5 miles.

Here are my thoughts:

I feel that the 5 mile loop was a key to me doing well.  I decided to run the last 7 miles at one time and just as I hit 15 miles I couldn’t do more.  I wonder if I had kept to the 5 mile loop if I would have been able to make it.

I am a little panicked about the marathon being so close and my mileage not being where I need it.  I know that when the race comes, I will be able to do more than I can just running in my neighborhood.  Also, my neighborhood is very hilly and the marathon isn’t.  Finally, it is hot and humid here, so that will be better up North in September.

Ultimately, sometimes you have to do what you don’t think you can do in order to get what you really want.  I am not worried about qualifying for Boston in this marathon.  Right now, I want to finish the race.  Who knows, it might be the perfect storm and I’ll fly through and do great.  Time will tell.

So it was a good run.  It was a PR in distance.  It was fairly easy until the last two miles.

I can’t complain.  It was a good run!  It was the most important run so far in my training.

I am thankful.