278 to 3500

Today is my running anniversary.

I’ve now run for 3 years and over 3500 miles.

I started this journey at 278 lbs.  My running began after a physician directed diet that brought my down to 220 lbs.  I now weight 186 lbs.

Running isn’t easy for me.  Starting my running career at 49 years old and having been in horrible shape, my running is almost always accompanied by pain.  I run with hip pain and heel pain most of the time.  I don’t know if it is a good thing or not, but the hip and the heel are on opposite sides of my body.

Over the past 3500 miles I’ve learned a lot about myself.  I don’t listen to music while I run, so it is just me out there.  I can be a boring person to run with by myself. LOL.  I have learned to do things while I run.  I pay more attention to my surroundings, I pray, I say hi to people I pass.  I try not to think of the next hour or two that I’ll be pushing myself and try to distract myself in anyway I can.

During my runs I have solved a lot of problems.  It may be the oxygen getting to my brain, it may be the quite and the fact I have nothing else to do but think.  I will say that most of my good ideas and problem solving have occurred during my runs over the last 3 years.

Just some philosophical musings from a 3 year runner.

Yesterday’s run went great and I have a new system for running that seems to be working well.  I’m going to try it a few more times and then I’ll post it for everyone.  So far, I’ve done this for 3 runs (4, 13 and 8 miles) and my runs have been better, stronger and I’ve felt better afterwards.  Check back in a few days and I’ll tell you my system if it keeps working for me.

Have an awesome week and keep running!

Tom

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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  

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

Racing the sun in running shoes

This is my recovery week for running.

I’ve run 41+ miles for two weeks in a row and now need my body to heal a bit.  In the past, I would keep increasing my mileage until I got close to 200 miles in a month and then my running would crash.  My monthly charts look like stair steps going up, up, up and then major drop off.  After my marathon in Sept of 2013, everything crashed.  Now, I’m trying to be smart about my mileage and strength.

Yesterday was a particularly tough day in general.  It started as usual waking up at 4:00AM and at work by 5:30.  After work, I was looking forward to a slow 4 mile run with RS at the park while JR rode her bike.  I got home at 3:30PM and sat in my car for a minute and just enjoyed the silence.  No one wanting something from me, no noise, just quiet.  I thought, “I could sit here for hours and just relax”.

Then my phone rang!@#$%  It was work with a major database crash.  SERIOUSLY!!!  I finally have a “zen” moment and it is all over in seconds.

I spent the next hour recovering the databases (successfully, BTW) and then rushed out the door to get to the park to get my 4 miles in before dark.  I don’t run after dark outside of my neighborhood – just my preference.  We got to the park and I knew it would be close.  RS and I started our run out much faster then I wanted.  We had no choice.  We were racing the sun and that isn’t an easy thing to do.  Also my lovely daughter was riding her bike and I didn’t want her riding after dark.

As we came up to the 4 mile mark, it was dusk.  The sunset was beautiful and we were tired (more from the 8 mile hill run the day before then this run).

So we beat the sun… sort of.  Unfortunately this was to be a slow, easy run (as are the rest of the runs this week).  I need to recover, and racing the sun isn’t the way to succeed in slowing down.

Another 4 mile run today (and the rest of the week) and then 7 on Saturday and I’ll be at 31 miles.  Next week, 45!

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.

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