This is how it works-
I love to run but there are times when I would rather not. This is when the voices start. Chants, name calling, guilt and reverse psychology is how they get me up and out the door. I don't really mind the voices and have actually started looking forward to their daily calls. Together we have formed a running club that supports, encourages and competes with each other. I love these peeps. They are much more experienced, talented and tougher than I am. Pushing me out the door, through the hard miles and up the monster hills when I am feeling lazy or want to give up. Some people have "real" training partners, coaches and support crews. My team is ALWAYS with me and helps me to keep my eye on the prize and not veer off the track. Sounds crazy- Yeah, probably is.........

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nation of Voices

August is coming. What does this mean for running? I don't know what, if any, significance it has for running in general but, hopefully, for us it will mean the beginning of something powerful and good. When I say “us”, I am referring to everybody that has a stake in THE FIGHT. You remember THE FIGHT, don't you? It has been over a month since I have mentioned it. Yes, THAT fight. Against the MONSTER that is cancer. Don't bail yet, I'm not asking for money. Well...... No, I'm not. I just had another idea that I would like to throw out there and see what happens. I hope it works.

Those with cancer fight the monster everyday, without choice but with a huge amount of heart, courage and hope. My two little running events lasted all of 19 hours combined....... not even one complete day. I think about this a lot, probably too much, and feel that there is more, so much more that we can do. That we MUST do. But what? I run just about everyday, which gives me a little time to ponder, dream and come up with “wild” ideas. Today was one of those “wild” idea days. Here it is....

The question. How can I help to honor those touched by cancer AND help keep the FIGHT out of the shadows? I can run. Everyday. Each mile in honor of someone that YOU know. We are all in this together and together is the only way WE will win. I would like to post a name for EVERY mile that I run in the month of August. Sounds simple, just run, honor and post. Only one snag in this plan. I'll need at least 200 names. Because I like to dream BIG, I hope to run 10,000,000 miles in their honor but 200 would be a great start.

The names will go on the blog and facebook each day to serve as a brief reminder of the battle that rages. It is my hope that this will help unite us in a common bond against a common enemy and bring others into the fight. By sharing this idea with you and if you will share it with your friends, we can honor ALL. The more the word spreads, the more people will begin to think about what THEY can do to help. Who knows, the word may reach the right people, you know, that rich uncle, neighbor or business owner that feels compelled to put some money into research or support their local Relay for Life. You just never know- sometimes big things are born from a small effort.

It may seem like an odd request but I am an odd dude- so it all works out. Please think about it and send a name or two, spread the word and stay involved. This MONSTER is not going to just slip away quietly, we must beat it into submission. If we come together as one, a Nation of Voices, with commitment, hope and courage, anything is possible. Fight On!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

What I Meant To Say.....

Okay.....sometimes I am an IDIOT....sometimes. This will not come as a shock to anybody but it usually takes me all of 10 minutes to write one these “blog thingies” and I don't generally put much thought into them. So, after going back and reading the Mumbo Jumbo.... I realized that I am truly an IDIOT. Training plans are important to a lot of people, just not me. Many CAN benefit from following a plan. Some actually NEED the strict discipline of a “cookie cutter” training plan to accomplish their goals. There are times when I get so wrapped up in the “me” aspect of all this, that I fail to articulate that there are about 1 billion ideas out there that are different and probably better than mine.

This is not a retraction. I still think that cookie cutter plans are, for the most part, not the best way to go and are designed to make somebody some money in one form or another. The C25K plan, for example, is a “miracle worker” for some but there are a TON of people that fail to complete it because they get hung up on the notion that they MUST be able to complete each phase in a specified time. When they get stalled on a certain distance or time, they wind up discouraged and quit all together. To me, that is not a great plan for EVERYBODY. A little tweaking on the plan and the MIND can change all that- but then it is no longer the C25K training plan. It becomes your own plan BASED on another. This is what I was trying to convey but failed miserably. If a plan does work for you or you find that you NEED to follow a plan to reach specific goals then, by all means, you should.

Training plans are designed by coaches, trainers and experts that DO know what they are doing. It is just my opinion that to grab one of these plans off the internet, from magazines or the book store and follow them to a T – without evaluating yourself vs. the plan is CRAZY. If you are fortunate enough to hire a personal coach or trainer that knows what they are doing, you could benefit from a plan they design to specifically fit you and your goals. Personal interaction and evaluation is the only way they could possibly give you a training plan that will work for you, your schedule, your needs and your goals.

The technical stuff....... boring, yes, but sometimes beneficial IF we are not so wrapped up in all of it that running becomes the required burden to gather the data. I stand by my statements about heart rate, VO2 max and all that. BORING. But if it helps you understand your limitations and betters performance, that is awesome. Just not my cup of tea- I would rather run, log my distance and smile. I used to get wrapped up in going faster every-time out- now I understand that to go faster- I should go slower sometimes.(I'll talk about THAT another time) Didn't need a heart rate monitor or an understanding of fast-twitch/slow-twitch for that. Just needed some time on my feet and a few races under my belt.

So, for the 4 or 5 that read this, use a plan if it helps YOU. Runners are part of a GREAT community and we can all help each other get better. This “blog thingy” helps me understand myself and what I can do- but it should NEVER be a tool for discouragement or running down what others believe. The exception to this is “real runners”. When I refer to “real runners” I am talking about a very small group- those that never have a nice thing to say, especially to someone slower, show up ONLY when there is money on the table and they KNOW nobody else can compete or pull out early with a fake injury. I don't like these people and think they are not good for running in general.

My philosophy is, enjoy, repeat. I feel that by using this as the backdrop to MY training then I will be successful in MY goals. Plans are great- everybody needs some kind of plan whether it is for running or life in general- we just need to make sure it is the RIGHT plan to successfully reach our goals. It is MY thought that the best way to succeed is by resolving to accomplish your goal, remain focused, stay FLEXIBLE and ignore those that say you can't. Basically- It is all on YOU to make it happen.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Mumbo-Jumbo Training Plans

Training plans.......there are a million of them out there. Everything from running your first 5k to 100 milers. So many to choose from that I have given up looking for the “right” one. When I started my running life, I became absorbed in everything “running”, bought all the books, magazines, movies, read every blog and discussion forum on the internet. I couldn't get enough information about speed work, proper form, training, shoes, gadgets and all things related. There are a few constants but the one thing that struck me was how much disagreement there can be among runners- mortals, elites and “experts” alike. Some say go fast, others want us to go easy and a few say to run slow all the time. Who do I believe? Uhh.....

I am one of those people that believe that the only way to “truly” learn is through personal experience. Sure this takes a little longer and there are some risks, like injury and never reaching the peak performance, but still, I think it is the BEST way. I may be way off base here, but it seems that most of these “experts” are basing there plans on what works best for themselves......exactly what I believe.....but want to apply it to everyone else. HOW can one plan work for everybody? I mean, they are almost always backed with some type of guarantee. (I guarantee that if it doesn't work for YOU, it was because YOU didn't follow the plan properly.)

VO2 max, lactic threshold, fast-twitch, slow-twitch, pronation, fartleks, tempo-run, marathon pace, mp+ 30, heart rate and Yasso 800's....... that crap blows my mind and leaves me feeling less like running and more like taking a nap. I kind of understand some of it and do not care about the rest. What I do know is this...... When I run as hard as I can, my heart beats faster and breathing becomes difficult, so I slow down. When I get thirsty, I drink water. My marathon pace depends on the course, weather and how I feel that day. Yasso 800's tell me nothing except that I hate running 800's. The rest of that “technical” stuff is just mumbo-jumbo to me.

I have tried to follow some plans in the past and usually end up tired, sore and less motivated than ever. Some of it is because of the time commitment required, some due to the mid-week speed drills but mostly because I hate the inflexible nature of a strict plan. Knowing that training is more important than the actual event, I WILL follow a training plan for all future events. The plan will be the same for everyday if possible, try to hit back to back long runs (10-12 miles followed by 16-20 miles the next day). Some will be slow, some will be faster but they will ALL be on my terms- depending on how I feel that day.

Combining this running plan with proper nutrition, weight and core training and my “new” cross-training method- the old rusty Schwinn, things should be fine. I may not hit my ultimate peak and the fastest times possible for me but that will be okay. I WILL have fun training, work hard and not feel burdened by it. Honestly, even if I was somehow able to reach my top potential, cranking out my fastest time- it is not going to make ANY difference other than a few places higher in my age group.

This GENIUS TRAINING PLAN will not be available anywhere but here. I understand that “Real” runners will probably laugh or get irritated by my lack of knowledge or caring but I KNOW what works for me. Besides.....I'm the guy that wears regular old Nike's and a doo-rag to trail races, I obviously have no clue.......

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Training is for Chumps- Next Time I'll Be a Chump

It is always fun to try new things and this time was no different. The Lake Freebird Sprint Triathlon in Mtn. Grove, Missouri was a blast. I was a little nervous about giving it a shot but less so than I have been in other events. This was mainly because I had no idea what to expect. Guess that is one good thing about not training..... you have no clue how hard it will be, so there is no need to be nervous.

I got the call at about 10 a.m. Saturday morning that my old Schwinn would be ready for pick-up by noon. Great news. Kind of. That would leave me PLENTY of time to test ride it. Except it didn't happen. A pizza party for my sons baseball team and a promise to take the boys to White Water made this impossible. But I DID get the bike and it appeared to work would I know anyway? I DON'T ride. Also purchased a helmet while I was there. Probably should have asked for help adjusting the straps and all that- but, in typical style, I didn't even bother to take it out of the box in the store.

We closed the Water Park down and made it home around midnight. Perfect for a few hours of sleep after rounding up some of my gear for Sunday. (last minute is ALWAYS best) I got up at 5 a.m. Ready to roll.....almost. After loading up the bike and the rest of my junk, it was off to McDonalds for a little breakfast and coffee- the perfect pre-race meal.

I arrived plenty early for packet pick-up..... I thought. It was about a one mile walk from the parking area, had I known THIS I would have done things differently. Got the packet, bib, t-shirt and numbers marked on my arms/legs and hiked to the parking area for my gear. Made it back with 5 minutes to spare- missing most of the pre-race instructions but my friend Charley filled me in. Charley actually “trained” for this- at least 4 or 5 swims and a few bike rides. He doesn't think these things through real well either.

The swim. 600 meters. Pretty sure that I was the ONLY person without goggles. Goggles? In the lake? I wasn't planning to scuba dive. It did have me second guessing things and really feeling like a stupid rookie (which I was) making me wonder JUST what I had got myself into. A deafening boom from the cannon signaled the start. I went after it like a pro, gliding through the water, so smooth that there was hardly a trace of ripples to tell where I had been......uh, not really. I flopped out there and splashed like the non-swimmer that I am. I was leery of starting to fast for fear that I would fade out and be “that dude”. You know, the one everybody talks about for the next five years- almost drowned and had to be saved by the lifeguard types. Half way down the front side, I realized that it would be MUCH easier if I actually used my legs and kicked once in a while. Coming down the backside, my competitive side kicked in and I pushed pretty hard, knowing that I had plenty left to make it back. Coming out of the water, I was a little wobbly but not too bad. Time to transition to the bike.

I probably spent too much time here but I was figuring things out on the fly. I scrambled to get my shoes, socks and shirt on. Then I remembered my Garmin- but did not have it set up for biking- so it took a little bit to straighten that out. Helmet? Oh yeah, gotta have that. After securing the helmet and hydration pack I was off. Just in time to see Charley coming in to the transition area. Wasting no more time I pedaled away and began the bike portion.

The bike ride was 14 miles and immediately I realized that it was not going to be as easy as I had imagined. A HUMONGOUS hill started the ride. (maybe not humongous but it was a hill and seemed like a mountain to a novice) Pushing the old bike through the first couple of miles was the toughest but I soon settled into a groove and got the hang of shifting, something I should have probably figured out beforehand. About 4 miles in, this dude on some super duper speedy road bike came up on me. He asked if I had done this course before. All I could do was laugh and say “NOPE”. He advised me to watch the corners. Dumb me- “for what?” Apparently loose gravel is an obstacle to watch for when on a bike- I felt like an idiot but thanked him for the advice. Finally hit the turnaround and knew that I would be able to complete the bike portion. Pedaling hard, I ran into Charley. He was only behind by about a mile and looking strong. We hollered the usual words of encouragement and kept going our separate ways. Around mile 10 a woman looked at my bike and told me that I was at a huge disadvantage riding a bike like that. SURPRISE!!! She also told me that I was doing an AMAZING job, so she gets a pass for the first comment. I managed to maintain a 16.4 mph average on the bike which I think is pretty decent for my FIRST ride and considering the monster mudder tires rolling on the pavement.

I hit the transition area and fumbled with my Garmin again to set it for the run. This was supposed to be the “walk in the park” portion. I am a RUNNER, right? A freakin' marathoner, better yet an ULTRA-marathoner. Whatever. Jumping off a bike and going straight into a run is a little different. I learned this real quick. The 5k started with hills that were small but felt like mountains. Just when things started to feel better- that same HUMONGOUS hill from the bike course showed up. I ran pretty slow for 2/3 of the run but finally decided to step it up and bring it in at a decent pace. 21:15 for an overall pace of 6:51, pretty slow for me. I think that IF I would have got my head together earlier it would have made a difference of a few places overall but IF's don't really count. I crossed the finish line with a total time of 1 hour 29 minutes and 14 seconds placing 27th out of 65 finishers. I was very pleased with this time because I had figured that it would take at least 1 hour 45 minutes. Charley, who ran an 18 minute 5k, came in at 1 hour 32 minutes for 32nd place. Not bad for a couple of rookies.

This was a lot of fun and I would recommend that everybody try it at least once. Me? I HAVE to give it another shot....... after a little training.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dumb? Yep......

Run. Run. Run. That is all “WE” do. How about changing it up and trying something new? This was a simple question that the CLUB discussed on many of the 216 laps around the track during last months Big/Dumb stunt. A valid and interesting question. The answer? A small triathlon. 600 meter swim, 14 mile bike ride and a 5k run. Great plan. Only a few problems- I don't swim, I don't ride and I don't have time to properly train. Luckily, the VOICES are great problem solvers and we figured out how to work around these small speed bumps in the plan.

I do own a bike. It is a 1994 Schwinn High Plains. An antique- not a very valuable one either- but still it is a bike, which has been retired to the great outdoors (sat in the rain, snow and sun) for about 14 years. The VOICES decided we could throw a few band-aids and shoot some WD-40 on it- good as new. Uhhh, not exactly. PRO-fessional help was required. Sure I COULD have got a new bike but that takes the fun out of it. Hopefully it will be finished tomorrow and ready to roll for Sunday.

Swimming. I do own a pool. It is a round, 18 ft x 4 ft, Sam's Club pool. Training for the swim portion of a Tri in this would be just as dumb as it sounds. I live very close to a couple of lakes but with work, my sons baseball games, family time, and RUNNING- that just seemed like too much of an effort. Fortunately, I have swam before. Like over 15 years ago. Marine Corps swim qualification. That should be sufficient training, how hard can it be? Genius.

Running. Yeah, WE know how to do that. Sure, it will come AFTER the dog-paddle and falling off the bike a few times but it IS still running. No problem.

I know that it is probably not the smartest thing to do- attempt a Triathlon (even a short one) without training, but it will be FUN. Hard? Yes. Humbling? Probably. Why? Why not? This should be interesting and for the first time I am going in with the mind-set to “just finish” not to race or try to be competitive- that would be just plain dumb.......hmmm......