Saturday, April 30, 2011

Forefoot Striking and What is Truly Natural Running

I finally signed up for the I-Drive 5K Run on Saturday, May 7th.  That's only a week away and I also went out and bought myself a new pair of running shoes.

The pair that I have been using are Asics Gel Nimbus 11's.  I am a forefoot striker and these worked well for me, but they have literally worn out their welcome.  As you can see from the picture below, the heels are barely scuffed, yet the forefoot area is worn through.  This is my left shoe, which is in worse condition than my right.  At the top, you can see that 2 whole pads are completely gone.

I don't think that can be too good for my feet and legs.  Now, I believe that it is natural to run with your forefoot striking first while the majority of runners use the heel striking form.  This has been explained by many people on blogs, in books and if you don't come to it naturally yourself, just look at nature around us.  Sure, we walk upright and that is different than other animals.  Let's look at the easiest examples to be found.  Cats and dogs.  They always walk and run on their forefeet.  Their heels rarely touch the ground.  See below.

I created the cat diagram and I found the dog diagram, but you can see what I am trying to show.  We, humans, are the oddballs that are walking on our heels/ankles.  I wonder if we are loosing power and speed this way.

In any case, running au natural is becoming the latest hot topic in running.  This makes sense if you plan on running on clay, sand, grass, or dirt.  That would be completely natural.  I do tend to believe that people are taking it overboard when they try to run on sidewalks or streets barefoot, though.  The last time I checked, pavement of any kind is not made in nature.  Thus, it behooves us to wear appropriate footwear for such endeavors.  I will continue to run on my forefeet, but I will not run barefoot on pavements.

Enough already.  I am very excited to have a new pair of running shoes.  You don't realize how old your shoes are until you put on a pair of new ones.  That's for sure.  Not that I was trying to do this purposely, but I stuck with the Asics cloud theme.  I had Gel Nimbus 11's and this time I got Gel Cumulus 12's.  Check 'em out...

If I can get up in the morning all goes well, I will be trying them out tomorrow morning for a long run.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It is Summer in Florida Folks!

Today's track workout took place in temperatures in the high 80's... okay, it was 89 degrees out there although the humidity was normal.  In Orlando, that's still very humid, but not quite "swampy" yet.  Our seasons are a little different here.  Spring is in February and March, April and May are Summer, and June through August are Super Swampy Summer.  September and October are like Summer 2 and November and December are Fall.  Winter?  We don't need one.

I thought coach was going to give us mile repeats, but instead went with the slightly shorter 1000m repeats.  4 or 5 of them depending on how many you could handle in the heat.  I ran my times and didn't go out too fast on the first one, so I was able to keep it together for all 5.  That right there felt like an accomplishment considering most people don't even workout in these temperatures.  An indoor track would have been nice.  No doubt.

The goal pace was 5k race pace.  I looked at the chart and went for something that was 1 minute faster than my last race and still looked obtainable.  That was 4:20 per kilometer and I gave myself a 4:20-4:24 range.  That would be a 21:40-22:02 actual 5k if you strung it out.

Like I said, I went my pace the whole way.  The first one was perfect in 4:23.  Oddly enough, I thought I sped up just a hair on the second one, but I came in 4:33.  Who knows sometimes how it's going to work out?  From that point, I ran negatives.  4:28, 4:21, and 4:18.  I felt really good and the heat never really got to me.  I could see it taking the energy out of some of the other runners in my group, though.  Most of the runners opted for 4 reps and normally I would.  There was something in me.  My little voice inside usually whines about my feet, calves, hamstrings, and knees hurting.  But today, that little voice said that those pains don't matter.  Only a cramp will slow you down today, so run your workout.  And I did and it felt great!

As a note, I didn't run on Saturday or Sunday.  I spent most of that time recouping from not sleeping Thursday evening and staying up way too late on Friday night.  Thursday, my mother went into the hospital for an operation and I stayed with her overnight.  I did get a speed session on the track of 8x400m and at least got all my times under 1:30 except the last one which I hit right on.  Friday was a hard day just staying alert and working.  My mom got released that afternoon.  One of my coworkers is leaving the company, so we sent him off the right way.  With heavy drinking, of course.  All of that led to my eventual downfall on Saturday.  No way was I going for a run or racing for that matter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Speed is Hard the Day After a Long Run

First off, shout out to a running legend.  Grete Waitz passed away today at the age of 57.  I'd say that she has a claim to fame, but she was a world record holder and won a lot of marathons.  She held records ranging from 3000 meters through the marathon.  'Nough said.  You don't know who she was to the running community of the 70's and 80's?  Yahoo has a good write up and Wikipedia has her best times in one place.

I was hoping the workout was going to be fast and short, so it would be over quickly.  My legs are still sore from yesterday's long run and not fully recharged so to speak.  I wanted to get home and watch the Orlando Magic play the Atlanta Hawks in game 2 of their playoff series, too.

I got out of work late, so I only got one extra lap before we started the regular warmup run.  1.25 miles there.  We stretched and ran 4x100 striders as usual.

The workout was not new.  400, 800, 400.  3 sets.  Since it was hot and humid, coach increased the recovery 15 seconds to 1:15 between reps and the rest between sets from 3 minutes to 4 minutes.  Big thanks on that!  OK.  The first 400 was mile pace.  The 800 was 5k pace.  The second 400 was faster than the first. My goals were 1:30, 3:30, 1:25ish.

I ran the entire first set faster than planned.  That's OK, since I didn't go so hard as to get my arms tingling like I have done in the past.  I ran 1:26, 3:13, 1:23.  My legs were killing me.  I'm not talking about feeling sluggish and heavy.  I'm not talking about muscles even feeling tight.  My patellar (knee) tendons were in a lot of pain and my entire lower leg bones hurt.  It wasn't my shins and it wasn't calves.  Bone is the only thing left.  And that screams shin splints to me.

I already knew at this point that I should have done my long run on Sunday to give myself an extra day of rest.  Too late now.  The second set was right on pace and slightly faster throughout.  On the last set, I missed by 2 seconds on the 400 and 800.  I made the last 400 under time, but I had to dig hard the last 100 of it.  I should have commanded this workout.  I skipped the regular cooldown and rode my bike home.

Oh yeah, the Magic beat the Hawks 88-82 and evened the series.  Next game is Friday night.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Ryan Hall American Marathon Record Breaking Inspired Run This Afternoon

The inspiration was about the only thing related to my run.  Ryan Hall breaks records; I listen to them.

I didn't feel good about my long run being cut short on Saturday, so I decided that I needed a do over.  It was even hotter in the afternoon today, but I was feeling inspired by following the Boston Marathon online.  Ryan Hall led most of the men's race and Desiree Davila was so close to winning the women's race.  Ahhh!  That's got to hurt.  I hope she wins it one day.

Back to me...

The first part of my run was 4.35 miles in 38:10, which is 8:46 per mile pace.  Felt like I was running faster though.  Stopped for maybe 2 minutes to go inside my apartment, drink a glass of water, run my arms and my head under the sink and then get back in it.

This is like when I wanted to give up on Saturday, but Ryan Hall didn't give up today so neither was I.

I finished another 2.83 miles in 21:59, which is 7:46 per mile pace.  Oddly enough, I felt like I was running about the same speed as the earlier part of my run.

In total, I got 7.18 miles (8:22 avg) logged in 1:00:09 which doesn't include my warmup of 1.69 miles.  That brings me to a total of 8.87 miles for the day.

I need a 55 gallon drum filled with water at the track on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  There's gotta be a way to figure out how to cool off during the speed sessions this summer, so I can continue to be productive.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

(RUNNING) In the Right Direction: Blog Help...

(RUNNING) In the Right Direction: Blog Help...

What is the "Links to this post" all about on Blogger?

Running Hot and Biking Cool

Today was an odd one.  I planned (not really or I wouldn't have been drinking Friday night) to run Saturday morning in a group run for 10 miles at 6am.  I slept right through that.  11:30am it is.  10 miles?  Maybe.

It was hot by 11:30am.  85 degrees and humid.  No cloud cover, so it was really fun running on the roads.  Sun from above and heat from the road.  I can't wait for summer!

I started with a 12 minute first mile as my warmup and I didn't intend to stretch.  Go right into it.  I was still stiff for my second mile and couldn't open up my stride yet, but I picked it up the pace regardless.  I stopped at the local Publix for a quick water break since they have a fountain inside.  The next two miles went by relatively easy, but the heat was definitely taking its toll on me.  I didn't feel like pushing the envelope, so I finished my run at 5 miles.  My time was 45:07, which is an average of 9:01 pace.

I want to know what my average pace is without including the first warmup mile.  45:07 minus the 12 minute warmup is 33:07.  That comes out to 8:16 per mile.  That would have been a good pace if I ran the whole 10 miles, but I might have been able to do that if weren't 85 degrees with the sun beating down on me.

I took some advice from danny and ran my head under water, but since I didn't have a barrel out in the middle of the road, I stopped running.  It was a necessary step in cooling down, though.

That was it for running.  I stayed the rest of the daylight hours inside.  I grilled out as the sun was going down and threw down 3 cheeseburgers with mushrooms and onions.  Awesome stuff.

As the night went on, I just felt uneasy.  I'm not sure if it was the Orlando Magic losing their first playoff game to the Atlanta Hawks or the 3 cheeseburgers sitting in my gullet.  Maybe both.  Around 11pm, something hit me and I just had to go ride my bike.

I know a point in the neighborhood that is 2 miles away and thought that may be a good ride for an out and back.  When I got there, I took notice that the main road at this point has a bike lane and there wasn't too much traffic out there.  I rode to the end of the bike lane at the next traffic light and that happened to be .7 miles.  I did up and backs 3 times, so that covered another 4.2 miles.  I just felt free out there, because it felt so cool compared to the daytime and riding a bike is so much easier than running.  I almost felt like I was flying.  I could have kept going for another hour with no problems, but I only wanted to break a sweat and burn off some energy (burgers).

Friday, April 15, 2011

IOA Corporate 5K Race Report

I don't know how many people ran and walked this thing, but estimates are between 14-15,000.  That is not a lot for a marathon, but it is a gross amount of people for a 5k.  There are a few reasons why this becomes a nuisance for seasoned runners.

First, novice runners are everywhere.  You don't get this in a marathon, because people don't venture out and run marathons on a whim.  Anyone off the street knows better.  This is not the case with a 3 mile race.  There are plenty of people that think they can run 3 miles and the best is when you see some of them sprinting the beginning.  There are some sprinters and they are usually done by about quarter mile and start walking.  Then, there are the average hares.  They run until a mile, because they have no clue how far a mile is.  I have to admit that I've done this before, though.  Once.  My first day at cross country practice when I was fourteen years old.  I ran with the top 2 runners for about quarter mile, then faded and ran with the number 3 runner for the remainder of the first mile.  Coach Thomas pulled me laughingly pulled me aside about that point and explained to me something called "pace."  Whatever!  Just kidding.

Secondly, the joggers that go running from time to time, but don't know how fast they are.  These are the people that just line up out of place.  They want to be near the front for the start, but don't know that people running under 6 and 7 minutes should be near the front.  These are the people that I passed usually up until the 1.5 mile mark.  These are the people that bunched up the beginning and crowded the line and made my time slower by about 30 seconds.

Lastly, people that are of the two above types don't know how to get out of other runners' way.  When you are about to give up, which is inevitable to someone out of practice, you need to move to the nearest side of the road and make way.  These people just stop in their tracks as if hundreds of people aren't right behind them.  The ones that know to move off to the side, don't "check their mirrors" and look over their shoulder when sideswiping others.  I gave some these people a forearm.  Not a shove, but more of a guide as to say, "Stay in your lane."

The course was pretty much a rectangle, which made it fast.  That was nice.  One of the first turns was funny. You could see the novices getting nervous and moving all around going into it.  Some going to the inside.  Some going to the outside.  I just yelled out, "Stay calm people and keep going straight."  The guy directly in front of me who kept zig-zagging back and forth, got the message loud and clear.  That was nice, because I was about to pass him on the upcoming little hill and I definitely didn't need him tripping me.

End of rant.  I do wonder how many people ran into my elbows, though.

My Run:

First mile, clogged up and the first 100 meters specifically is the worst brick street in the entire metro area.  Central in Thorton Park is not good to ankles, knees, or tires for that matter.  Hit the first mile at 7:30.  As soon as I saw my time, I sped up and started weaving my way to little pockets where I could stride out and be comfortable running my pace.

The next mile was pretty good.  Anytime I felt like I was coasting along, I easily reminded myself that I wasn't truly pushing.  I then forced myself to move forward just a little faster.  It is a race afterall.  It was a nice easy pace.  I hit the 2 mile mark at 14:47, so that one was a 7:17 split.  That at least put me under the 23 minute window.  I wanted to get on the other side of 22:30, so I had to pick it up a little more.

On the last mile, I tried to go faster since I knew I had to make up some more time, but there will little lulls when I was just coasting and didn't notice it immediately, so my response to push myself harder didn't kick in right away.  Not sure what that was all about.  Somewhere between half and quarter mile to go, one of my fellow Sandbaggers passed me and that's when I knew that I had to pick it up for the finish.  I stayed just a few strides behind her and then let loose on the last tenth of a mile once I hit the 3 mile clock.  My 3 mile time was 22:08, so my mile split was 7:21.  I ran the last tenth of a mile in 36 seconds, which is a mile pace of 5:00.  Hardly a pace though, considering I was near all out.  I could have gone faster, but I don't try to sprint at all anymore.  That's when my hamstrings can't quite keep up and get pulled.

My final 5K time was 22:44 by my watch.  Average pace for the entire 5K was 7:19 per mile.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I thought I knew where I was going

The problem with doing long runs with a group is when you think you know where you're going and you fall behind.  Of course, that is what happened this morning.

The loop we run covers 10 miles and there are water and Gatorade stations every 2-3 miles.  There are so many people running that you are either passing or getting passed by runners the entire time and there are people that start at different points and going both directions.  It's crazy how many people are out on this course at 6am.

I tried to find a video on the internet, but I guess that would be hard to do.  That is record and run at the same time.  I've seen people do it and the results usually aren't that spectacular.  Bouncing and cameras are not friends.  Well, I was able to find the course map online (obviously after I got home) and if you look just before the 5 mile mark, you can see a school called Rollins College.  That's where I went the wrong direction somewhere and ended up on their campus for like 5 minutes walking around trying to find the road out of there.

I was frustrated and started getting mad at myself and at the idea of the course going through this campus in the first place.  I knew I could just go around the school and continue on, but I wanted to find my way.  And the whole "guys don't stop and ask for directions" doesn't apply here, because I couldn't really ask one of the maintenance guys to point me in the direction of my running group.  I mean, maybe I could...

I figured that I had to be at least half a mile since I hit the 4 mile water stop and if I just went back the way I came, then I'd have 9 miles logged.  So that's what I did.  It ends up that I logged 9.74 miles, so it worked out quite well.  And for good measure since I wasn't sure how far I had gone, I loosened my laces and slowly jogged another mile after finishing.  Total for the day was around 10.8 miles.

At least I have a map of the course now.  Thanks Joel for posting it to your Daily Mile.  Next time will be better.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Last Hard Workout Before the Corporate 5k

Today was the last hard workout before the IOA Corporate 5k on next Thursday evening.  I don't feel like I am quite ready, but if you wait forever to "jump in the ring," you never will be.

For today's workout, we had a 4 mile tempo run.  I started off with 1.75 miles as a warmup, which I took faster than normal, but I felt really strong.  My legs weren't as sore as they normally are.  Followed that up with light active stretching and our normal striders.

My hammies were a little tight to start the workout, but we were running tempo, so I didn't have anything to worry about.  Coach asked us to start around half marathon pace and work our way into a faster pace.  Get it down between 5k and 10k goal pace.  I did that.

I had to keep telling myself to push harder just to keep my speed as constant as possible.  I was able to do this through about 2.5 miles and I gave up.  I really wanted to make it through 3 miles, because that would be the distance of next week's race.  I wasn't concerned about the last mile, but when I broke mentally at 2.5, that just made it worse the rest of the way.  I only walked for about 10-15 seconds and then got back to the same pace for about a mile and then jogged for about 30 seconds before finishing up strong.

When I hit the 5k mark, I think I was around 24 minutes.  If I knew that I only had to run 3.1 miles, I think I could have kept running to that point without any walking or jogging.  That still would put my time over 23 minutes, though.  I'm not happy about that and it isn't going to be any cooler next week.  It was in the 80's this afternoon for sure.  At least there was a breeze.

Off topic here, but is anyone from Philadelphia or Washington DC?  I'm thinking about going up to either one or both cities for New Year's and was wondering what there is to do besides the museums.  Thanks.

Three Things for This Thursday April Theventh

3 Things:  Pace, Pulse, and Pressure

First off, I want to take my usual notes about my latest running workout.  That's the Pace... or lack thereof.

Tuesday's workout was 400 repeats.  3 sets.  4 reps in the first with 1:15 recovery.  2 minute rest.  3 reps in the second set with 1:00 recovery.  2 minute rest.  2 reps in the third set with 45 second recovery between them.

That sounded like a piece of cake.  Of special note, I have dropped 5 pounds since last week.  I went from 180 to 175 and I think I was feeling lighter out there on the track.  That's good and bad.  The good is the benefit of feeling lighter and therefore being able to run just a little faster.  The bad was that speed and not being able to reign it in and stay under control at the beginning of the workout.

Coach Nate wanted us to run these 400's at mile pace.  That's around 6:07 for me, so that makes my quarter time around 1:32.  How did I do?  This dumb-ass decided to run 400's at 5:20 pace.  I took the lead out the gate.  I ran the first 3 reps in 1:18-1:20 each.  By the last stretch of the 3rd rep, my arms and legs were tingling.  I don't know exactly what that is scientifically, but that is usually a sign to me that I am running too fast and won't be able to keep it up much longer.  The 4th rep was 1:28.  Much slower than the other 3, but still under my goal speed.

Set number 2.  That was just brutal.  My legs were now connected to cement shoes.  My arms had no drive and I was panting after 100 meters.  I wanted to give up.  I have no idea what my times were and I don't even care.  I ran them.  They were definitely over 1:30 and probably close 1:35/1:37.

That last set of 2 reps should have been really easy.  The first one of those hurt like crazy and I could only plod my legs forward and just think each stride was a couple feet closer to the finish line.  I don't know what my time was.  The very last 400 was hard, but knowing it was my last one made it easier mentally.  I ran that in 1:28, so not only did it feel good to finish, but I also made my goal time.

This workout was tough, but it felt really good to run that fast.  Some of the guys in my group were complementing me for my efforts.  That was definitely for the first 3 reps, since they all beat me on the rest of the runs.  What's really mind blowing is that my fast reps were just slightly better than my coach's pace for a 10k last Saturday.  I could keep up with him for a quarter mile, maybe a half mile of a 6 mile race.  That's probably how he feels about the Kenyans, though.

Here's the Pulse and the Pressure.

I've been taking my blood pressure and pulse at the local grocery store lately.  I know I need more data to get a better assessment, but my blood pressure seems to have been going down and I think it is attributed to eating better in general the past month or two.

2 weeks ago (drove to the store midday before eating and exercise):
135/80, p=39  (that BP is considered in the High Normal range)

An hour after eating and drove to the store on 4/3/2011:
129/73, p=52  (BP is Normal, but my pulse was much higher yet still considered Normal.)

An hour after hard workout (above) and a mile bike ride to the store on 4/5/2011:
118/80, p=62  (BP systolic is Normal, but distolic is High Normal.  Pulse is high, but I just got off a bike.)
When I was in high school, I used to check my blood pressure at least once per week since we had a kit at home.  I consistently was 110/70, which is considered either Low Normal or Athletic.  I was definitely of the Athletic variety.  I hope to get it close to that again one day.

Most people only talk about how fast they run, but c'mon, a lot of us run, because it is a good way to exercise in hopes of living longer.  This just happens to be a sport or exercise that you can do by yourself or in a group and you can see measurable results by the amount of work you put forth.  And the skill level is relatively low.  Even little kids can put one foot in front of the other and repeat.  The 2 most common measurable results which you hear about and acknowledge are times (hopefully going down) and weight (also hopefully going down.)  I want people to take notice that your weight is not the only vital sign that can improve with running.  Blood pressure and pulse are also very important and definitely measurable.  There are numerous factors that can change your BP, though, and they can be time from last food intake, time from recent exercise, time of day.  That is why I have left notes on whether I drove or rode a bike to the store and whether I just ate.  There may be other factors as well, but perhaps a doctor or nurse can explain that better.  I am neither, but I hope this gets at least one more person thinking and perhaps, looking forward to their next doctor's visit.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hitting the Road... on Wheels

I ran 2.5 miles just after noon today and my legs felt heavy and my knees hurt the entire time.  I ran the whole thing between 10 and 11 minute per mile pace.  I knew that I wanted to keep working out, though.

I hit the road on my bike.  Now this may seem quite normal to triathletes, but I don't have a road bike.  This is my road bike...

No gears, fat tires, wide handlebars.  This is good for trolling your neighborhood about 5 miles and then it starts to wear on you.  I got 18.4 miles logged.  DailyMile says that my run and my ride came out to 1900 calories.  My legs are tired, but I feel really good about it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

With every excuse, a little dream dies inside.

That's the saying I came up with today.  I typed it on my computer, printed it off, and taped it to my wall.

While it may seem negative to some people, so is the pain in your legs before the endorphins kick in.  Pushups when your arms and stomach burn to exhaustion are negative.  In the end, whatever it takes to get out that door and on the street, that's what matters.  This came to me after I said that I was going to run this morning and then I put it off to run errands around town and then came home and laid down for a nap.  I taped this to the wall before I went out for my 5.75 mile run this afternoon.

My thighs felt fresh.  Usually they are tight and slightly sore.. they're sore now as I'm typing though.  My knees were a little stiff, but didn't have any pain.  The only time I checked my watch was when I knew I hit the first mile.  I did that in 8:45 and thought I might speed up as I went.  I never did.  I just kept cruising at that pace the rest of the way.  It was a really good run.  My only complaint is that I didn't have an opportunity for water until the last mile.  At that point, I figured what's the use.  I'm practically home and why mess up the groove.

I completed 5.75 miles in 50:57 which is an average pace of 8:50 per mile.

I think my legs felt so fresh today, because of the run I did yesterday.  I had every intention of running 5 miles after work, but due to plans to go with my girlfriend to the Seminole Community College Planetarium, I cut it short to 2.5 miles.  Those short runs seem to just work out the kinks and you are done around the same time you are warmed up.

The Planetarium was cool, too.  After the show, we got to look through one of the telescopes at Saturn.  It is the only planet visible from our skies right now.  You could see the rings around the planet.  That was way cool.  I learned a few things about astronomy.  When you look at the stars, the ones that twinkle truly are stars and the ones that don't are actually planets.  Who knew?  Apparently the astrogeek at the plantarium.