Friday, February 22, 2008

State of the Shape

7 weeks into my new training program, I am feeling rather optimistic. I can tell that I am in much better shape than when I started on 1 Jan 08, but it is also obvious how much further I have to go. I'm having several random thoughts all jumbled together at the moment. I offer that as a disclaimer for the following comments.

Due to heavy rains in the area, last night I ran a 5k time trial of a sort. I tried to run it at an 8:00/mi pace, and I succeeded...painfully. I am also convinced that I would not have done it had I not been on the treadmill just because I don't think I would have kept the pace on my own. While I am sure that is right, I am not sure why it is that way. Do I give into being tired too quickly? Am I mentally weak? Does the treadmill act as another person encouraging me to run at a quicker pace? That might make sense, but when I run with a friend of mine (who is faster) he often has to wait on me if we are to actually run together. What's the deal? How can I get the most out of myself on a non-treadmill workout?

As many of you know, my family participates in the Oklahoma City Marathon Relay every year as a form of fun, fitness, family reunion, and with the Arts Festival a couple of blocks from the finish, a lot of food afterwards. Recently, my sister sent me a proposed training program to run/walk a 10k portion of the relay. My sister currently participates in rowing classes and dance/pilates for exercise and doesn't really run. After she showed me the program, my concern was that it may be too much too soon, and she may end up overstressing herself in the beginning in order to try and keep up. She countered with her need for a set schedule in order to be able to avoid "just skipping a day" turning into being a week or more behind. I am now of the opinion that she can go ahead and try it, but she needs to make sure that she doesn't overdo it in an effort to keep up with everything. My question is this: specifically, what signs/symptoms should she most attentive to that would let her know before it is too late that she is trying to do too much in her workouts starting out? (If you are really interested, let me know; and I will e-mail the actual proposed workout to you.) She is planning on starting on Monday, so any advice prior to that would be most appreciated. Jen, if you feel qualified to offer an opinion from the perspective of one who is or has recently begun running from scratch, I am sure that would also be welcome.

As for my own relay goals, I have decided I would like to try and run the 12k portion in under 1 hour. 59:50 is the arbitrary goal. For my own training purposes, does anyone know of a place/site where you can design a training program with specific goals like that over specific lengths of time (64 days and counting)? If not, I need to get faster and increase my mileage. Any opinions on how to structure a workout plan with this in mind would be most appreciative. My current fitness level is best described with a 9:30 pace over 4 miles (non-treadmill) being a good workout for me. My treadmill results would be about 8:30 for 4 and the aforementioned 8:00 5k.

Thanks for any and all help/advice you want to give. Gooooooooo Catahoulas!


Friday, February 15, 2008

Beer Mile

You've heard the predictions of 8:30... now I'm going to give you the splits for each lap of the beer mile.


see you in may.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Some thoughts on common running injuries, and the benefit of walking

These musings are not necessarily scientific, but may be based loosely on scientific conclusions that may or may not have been accurately remembered. It seems that running injuries come in two varieties: overuse injuries and violent injuries. The latter are less frequent and less easy to prevent. Ankle sprains or breaks from missteps or unexpectedly rough terrain are things that are hard to prevent without excessive caution. Few people, nigh Tigger, find these a common occurrence.

Overuse injuries may seem to appear out of-the-blue but instead build up over time. Stress fractures are the classic example and shin splints may fall into that category. Disorders of the plantar fascia and compartmentalized inflammation are a bit trickier, but probably also fit into this category. The real problem with this category of injury is that treatment often involves little other than rest and prevention often involves little other than specific strengthening and the sort of experience that guides you to understanding the subtle cues your body is always transmitting.

This proximal conundrum (it's probably not proximal at all, but i wanted to use that word) is not unlike that of education, which is given to the young but is only useful to those with wisdom, which is gained with age.

I would love to tell everyone anecdotes of my training and showcase your bad decisions (rather yours than mine), but this neither helps you nor strokes my ego. What may help you, actually, is walking.

As much as I hate to say it, walking can be an integral part of successful training. (If I see any of you fudgepackers Gallowalking the marathon, I'm out for vengeance.) [Now begins my official apology for using such a socially insensitive phrase as fudgepacker.]

Tim Noakes makes it clear that many overuse injuries are prompted by the cardiovascular system seeing training benefits ahead of the musculoskeletal system. What happens is that we feel faster and begin training faster when our legs literally aren't under us. And we often don't know until it's too late. That coupled with our psychological bent to push too hard and not wimp out (which is untrained to listen to our physiological cues until we gain the wisdom of a few races and subsequent injuries) leads us to many of the more common overuse injuries.

So Noakes prescribes walking in training to start and mixed in training to begin. Walking is beneficial to both systems but does not add the adverse stress of running and does not tempt us to progress to quickly.

And it may be that walking is a good recovery tool for runners coping with overuse injury for the same reasons. As with any injury, what you feel is what you get, so don't push through the pain, but walking may provide many more benefits than anticipated and can certainly get you out of the lack of training cabin fever mode that tends to settle with injury.

Happy trails.

Friday, February 8, 2008

My homage to Jessica Hagy

I had to vent a little about the society in which i live, so i did it in the form of

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Happy Mardi Gras Y'All

February Goal: Run every other day. So far, I've managed to play in a soccer game and run twice. By the previous standard, that doesn't quite cut the mustard. (How do you cut mustard anyway? Is that even the right saying?) I'm trying to run at least 30 minutes each time this month. Shin splints have started to rear their evil head so I'm contemplating starting swimming in addition to running. I blame the shin splints on soccer, but the playoffs start this weekend so I'm going to see that through. I do think I'll be more attentive to making sure I don't run any more than two days in a row until my shins feel a bit better. I'm also planning on switching shoes at the end of the month. I may even consider trying to get some custom orthotics made, but that has more to do with the fact that the Air Force would be kind enough to pay for it.

In happier news, please feel free to visit our wedding website. Comment here or there, but the intent is to encourage exchange of information.

On an entirely separate note, do you guys give things up for Lent? If so, what is it this year?