Friday, January 31, 2014

Natural Born Runners - kids

Last night I was at my children's science fair.  After taking a look at their work, I settled onto a bench, and waited until I could leave.  As I sat, I watched as the younger children became bored like me.  But rather than sit and be anti-social, they began to run.

The running involved chasing one another and playing tag.  The children all ran with perfect form (none of them were heel strikers) and smiles on their faces. They ran up steps, hurdled planters and dodged parents.  Their energy was exhausting to watch.

As I watched, I thought, this is how you get them to run. You don't put them on a track and have them go round and round.  You harness their natural proclivity to run, by letting them run the way they want.  Put up obstacles, jumps and turns and create a game of running tag.  Then let them go at it.

One of the children running was on my son's cross-country team last year.  During the meets, he looked tired and slow.  Change the venue to the school courtyard and he was fast, dynamic and indefatigable.

Why?  Because he was having fun.  Rather than force kids to run the way we want, let them run the way they want.  All it takes is a little creativity in designing the workouts, then sit back and watch them explode into action.

San Elijo Hills Running Club  

Speed Development

On Wednesday I did a speed development session.  This involves running at your absolute fastest for 50 to 150m, resting until completely recovered and then doing it again.  Since I started running, I have not done such a session.  The purpose is to train the brain to fire the muscles faster and make you a more efficient runner, which pays huge dividends in long runs.

I did the session behind the San Diego Convention Center on a grass field across from the water around 9 a.m.  The field has a flat section followed by a short decline into another flat section.  I began each run on the flat section and used the hill to accelerate into top speed.  Each run was about 50 meters.  I did nine repetitions.

At 3 p.m. my back began to hurt.  On Thursday, my back hurt even more.  On Friday, 48 hours later, my quads hurt for the first time.  After running over a thousand miles last year, just 400 meters of sprints destroyed me.  At the same time, as I began to to head back, my surgically repaired ACL (via hamstring) stretched out a bit, as if some scar tissue got ripped apart (a good thing).

Lesson: in my non-professional medical opinion, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, my back hurts, in part, due to my core being weak and my body not getting stretched enough.

That's why, for me Year Two of Running, will focus on strength (core), stretching and of course the reason I'm hobbling around, speed.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Friday, January 24, 2014

Post-Marathon Blues and Buying Shoes

All week, post-marathon, I've had the blues.  After spending the last five months preparing to run the Carlsbad Marathon, it's a bit weird to not be running and working towards a goal.

I'm happy with my race result and am looking to build on it, but taking a week off from running to allow my body time to heal is hard.  As each day ticks off, I get grouchier.  I know in the long run (no pun intended) my running will be better off, but in the meantime, I just want to sleep until Sunday, when I will run again . . .

In an effort to feel like I'm doing something related to running, I went to a running store on Thursday night.  During the marathon, the bottom of my feet started to hurt around mile 18.  I was wearing Nike Free 3.0s and wanted to find something a little plusher.  I guess I could just wear my Nike Free 5.0s, which I do the bulk of running in, but I wanted to try some Hokas.

Problem is, I hate buying shoes.  I'm Goldilocks crossed with the Princess and the Pea of shoe buying - if they don't fit just right, I don't want them.  To top it off, after getting used to the glove like fit of the Nikes, everything else feels like crap when I put them on my feet.

The Hokas were only available in a 10, which were too small for me.  The New Balance just felt too tight. Then the store began to fill up with people coming back from the store's weekly group run.  It got a little loud, the smell of bad pizza (I'm a connoisseur) was overpowering and the florescent lights were too much.  I need to buy my shoes in quiet solitude.

So I left, without new shoes and grouchier then I began.

San Elijo Hills Running Club


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Carlsbad Marathon 2014 - Race Recap

In January 2013,  I ran my first marathon, the Carlsbad Marathon.  That morning, I got out of my car and stepped into a light rain.  Not having run more than 16 miles in my life, I was looking just to finish.  Four hours and seven minutes later, I did.  I then swore I would never run another marathon again.

Flash forward one year.  It's Saturday, the day before the race and I call it a race, because that's how I approach it.  It's not a jog, it's not a relaxed event, it's lets see what my body can do.  I spend the day watching my son play two soccer games.  I do my best to stay in the shade, but I know I should have been holed up in my house like a vampire.

The swag: prefer the jacket from last year over the flip-flops
I don't eat a pre-planned race meal.  Instead I have a bagel in the morning, a grill cheese sandwich for lunch, half a bag of pretzels, the remnants of left over Thai food and a bowl of cereal for dinner.  I drink a super large Gatorade throughout the day.

Sunday morning I eat half a bagel/fried egg sandwich and drink some coffee.  I get out of my car and step into great weather for a 6:15 a.m. start.  Unlike last year, I spend 30 minutes warming up and stretching.  I then march up to the very front of the start.  I say good luck to a Japanese man running his 187th marathon and then we begin.

As usual, I go out too fast, but a little bit less too fast that normal.  I try to dial it back, but I feel good, but hey it's only mile four.  I'm out in front, with about 40 people ahead of me.  It's great to not have to spend the first few miles of the race weaving around people.

I'm not a big fan of the course itself.  The detour off the coast and onto Palomar Airport Road takes you into a bit of a wasteland.  Around mile seven I strip off the arm warmers I made out of a pair of old soccer socks and throw them onto the street.  At 13.1, I'm at 1:29.  My goal pace is 3:00.  I'm on track, but I know it's going to get harder, not easier, as the miles click by.

At mile 18, my feet are hurting.  I'm running in Nike 3.0, and thinking next time I need plusher shoes.  My pace is still holding.  There is still a chance to break three hours.  At mile 23, the wheels come off the bus, my pace drops from around 6:55 a mile to 7:16.  At mile 24, I want to give up and stop.  But I press on and run a 7:28 mile.  Last year, I was walking at this point, which makes me feel a bit better.

At mile 25, I'm really struggling.  By this time, the marathon course has merged in with the half-marathon course.  Runners are passing me and I can't tell if they are marathoners or half-marathoners.  I wonder how many places I'm losing.  I have my worst mile, with a 7:51.  I now have 1.2 miles left.  My spirits lift.  I push on, posting a 7:19 for the last mile.

I finish in 3:06:10 (7:07 per mile), a full 61 minutes faster than last year.  I don't meet my goal pace, but I met my primary goal of going sub 3:15 and I qualify for Boston.  I take 38th overall and can still walk.   Not bad. I'm happy with the result.

Post-race I realize I wasn't strong enough.  The fade at mile 23 was probably due to not having enough long runs.  Running the San Diego Half-Marathon at race pace three weeks before was probably not a good idea either.  Looking forward, I'm going to focus on speed, strength and stretching.

With that, I'd like to give a shout out to Debi Doyle of SEHRC for running the marathon in 3:47:47.  Great job Debi!

San Elijo Hills Running Club