Monday, November 10, 2014
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
I put this question up with a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek - because the answer invariably is: "it depends". It depends on where I am in my running experience, level of fitness, and specific goals and targets. It is easier to answer the question if I have an upcoming race event, and therefore I am structuring my running mileage accordingly in order to be adequately trained and ready for the event.
But I'm pondering the question outside of training for an event: given my age and overall health (which fortunately is pretty good) how many miles per week will provide me with the optimal return in maintaining a healthy body and mind...? And the corollary: at what point am I causing damage to my body (by running too many miles)...?
If I put this question up to Google, I get over a billion results... so this seems to be important to a lot of people.
I run about 30 miles per week, sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less... I'm prepping for a Half Marathon, so every week I'm doing a 10, 12, or 14 mile long run - no big deal, right? But I keep asking myself: for conditioning purposes, should I be running more weekly miles, like maybe closer to 40 per week? Or should I be doing fewer miles to reduce the risk of damage or injury?
On the one hand I am concerned about whatever conditioning I might be missing by not running more miles, but on the other I worry about what part of my body I might be damaging or wearing down. We've all heard the saying "what hurts you makes you stronger...", which I've bought into most of my life, but now I'm beginning to wonder if I'm always going to be able to recover from that which hurts me... You can see the conundrum...
Well, it turns out that even science (my usual go-to source) can't help me here, simply because I don't have access to the specific data regarding the status of the wear and tear of my joints, muscles, ligaments, cardio, or vascular systems, etc. I have to literally rely on "how I feel". I have to try things and if I feel that there is improvement, continue doing it, and if something hurts, I am supposed to back off. Hardly scientific, but it's the best I've got (short of instrumenting myself somehow and having a budget of many dollars to pay for it).
So as runners, we push ourselves through pain and discomfort in order to build endurance and performance levels. And by doing so, we believe that we are able to do more. If at some point the pain is so uncomfortable that it is not tolerable, we say 'ok -that's as far as I can go', but we do so at the risk of actually damaging a critical part of our body.
Let's not kid ourselves: as we run we are wearing down cartilage and all the other pieces that help us move. And we have no idea how much of that is happening or at what point it will cripple us. For some people it happens faster than others.
So what do we do? What should I do?
I'm going to run until I feel that I've run too far or too much. I'm going to be confident that I will recognize the signals that I should tone down my mileage or workouts. Obviously this is highly subjective and I may be influenced by what other runners my age or older are accomplishing (or not accomplishing) or by my own competitive nature. But the other reality is that we, as a species, never got better by not trying... so therefore I want to push the envelope until I sense a tear in the seam... (does that make sense?).
Now - what about the other part of that question: how do I know if I'm not running enough?
That turns out to be a multi-faceted question since it has at least two parts: 1) how much running is necessary to achieve a desired level of endurance or performance, and 2) how much running is appropriate for a better than average cardio-vascular health?
The answer to the first part is actually very straightforward because it is actually just asking how competitive do I want to be?. If I am really competitive, I have to put in a lot of miles... no bones about it, and guess what?, this falls back into the question of how many miles can my body take... ahhhh, the catch-22, the self-eating watermelon...
So for a "better than average cardio-vascular health" goal, my personal goal would be running a minimum of 200 minutes per week, split up across the week, with an actual target of ~250 minutes, and a stretch goal of 300 minutes. Head's up: this is a purely arbitrary conclusion on my part based on my personal condition. But it seems in keeping with general fitness thought. Personally, I know that if I run at least 200 minutes per week I can drink beer and eat ice cream... :-)
More as it happens...
Honeymoon HM in 3 weeks.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Here is the elevation map... wicked for those of us (me) who have spent the last 12 months running on flat terrain:
We weren't able to capture a "crossing the finish line" picture, but we did get a group pic at the end. That's the beer and food tent behind us - lets go already!
Thursday, September 4, 2014
So I went back to my old Newtons and immediately felt the difference. It was like finding an old friend. They felt great. Well used, but my run felt so much better than my runs with the Saucony's.
But I don't think that this necessarily has anything to do with Saucony shoes from a quality perspective - they are good shoes - they just weren't working for my gait and physical characteristics.
One of the things that I noticed while running with the Saucony's was that my left foot was toe'ing in. A friend suggested that it was because of a weak or tired muscle - but I was somewhat skeptical about that. I did sort of notice was that when I ran in my old Newton's that it did not happen, but that little fact did not totally register with me until later.
Then, on a whim, I went into a local running store to re-visit Newton's and the woman who took care of me suggested that perhaps I needed more of a stability shoe.
I said "nah.... I'm good, I want to try the Gravity's that I've got now"... I did, and as I ran around the store she noted that my right foot was caving in from time to time. Hmmmm. I mentioned my issue with my left foot toe'ing in, and she said yeah, that makes sense. That the left foot was basically compensating. More hmmmmm. I'm not totally sure about all of it, but ok, I'll take it at face value. Then she had me try the Newton Motion Stability model - and I absolutely noticed that both of my feet were on track, no toe'ing in. They felt great. I want to be back in Newton's!
And I would have pulled the trigger on buying them if they didn't cost $175. Folks, that's a ton of money for me, and so I didn't buy them, much to that woman's disappointment. I also had a little issue with the woman, but I won't go into that - it was just a little off-putting, and that was another factor in my not being that anxious to give her my money. But still, $175 is a lot of money.
But guess what? I was able to get a 20% discount directly from Newton. I feel bad for not being able to support my local running store, but 20% turns $175 into $140. And now we're talking. I'm hoping to get them before I leave for my Reach the Beach relay run in New Hampshire next week. Hopefully, I'll be able to have a great run with them!
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I make an effort to be committed to my running goals, but they always get re-prioritized by life's other priorities (family, work, social commitments, etc - you know how it is...). When I have a pressing ongoing project I am tempted to forgo my morning run so that I can get an even earlier start on the project, the rationale being that there are other people that are affected by the status of the project. On the other hand, I'm not being true to myself and my health by dropping my run.
I remember years ago rationalizing that there was no way that I could get to a gym or start a running routine because I had "urgent and pressing" responsibilities that just had to be addressed. Once they were taken care of, then and only then could I think of myself... but of course that never happens.
Of course, I've had people tell me that I needed to literally schedule my workout time as if it were a business meeting, i.e. make it mandatory. And predictably, I never did that. I always felt too committed to my work and family priorities. It was not until I sold my company that I suddenly had the time to run - which is how I started running...
Now I'm facing the same issues again, work projects and family commitments are demanding time and I've been tempted to forgo my runs to take care of those responsibilities. Just a few weeks prior to the Marine Corps Marathon last year I got enveloped in a huge project into which I felt so committed that I scaled back my marathon training - at obviously the wrong time - and I am sure that helped contribute to my tough marathon. It's not an excuse - it was my decision, but in hindsight a bad one.
But I've pushed back.
I am forcing myself to reschedule projects and meetings in order to accommodate my running and training routines so that I can meet my running and training goals.
The current levels of humidity are a different story, and there is not much that I can do about that. It has a way of just sucking the mojo out of me - it is so hard to run when it is so oppressively humid. Ugh. I've been scheduling my runs early in the AM before the sun breaks the tree line - it's still humid, but at least the solar radiation is not knocking me down. Plus I'm working on the premise that by gutting it out and pushing through my runs that I'm actually getting stronger (yeah, right....).
I'm also fighting an Achilles strain, which requires careful running, resting the ankle, ice, and elevation. I've got a Ragnar Relay coming up in a month, and I'm determined to have a good run!
I'm struggling, but I'm going to win my battles!
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
|Newtons, Saucony, and Cloudtec|
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
- More sox
- Non-cotton t-shirts
- Running shorts
- Winter running pants and shirts
- A rain shell (for those drizzly or ice-spitting mornings)
- Headgear, i.e. hats and skullcaps
- Sunglasses (ok… I might have bought them regardless, but interestingly enough, I only wear them when I’m running…)
- Nutrition (like gu, shotbocks, Gatorade, etc.)
- First-aid junk (band-aids, ace-bandages, wraps, creams, Epson salts, etc)
- Running app for my phone (vs buying a GPS watch)
- Ear buds for music (they break, get lost, etc.)
- A waist-pack to carry all of my crap in
- Camelback and a water belt