Friday, June 28, 2013

The Need for the Great American Marathoner and Running Book Thoughts...

I won't be able to give a complete thought on it until I finish it but I want to start with this; Pre was an amazing person that changed the culture of running in America.  He is the type of American runner we need again!  Even though we have some amazing, hard working, great people that are ultra talented and I can only dream to run a marathon within an hour of what they can, there is something missing to make long distance running and running in general BIG again.  There is that honesty, that swagger, that brashness, that never settle attitude and that American born USA runner that is missing that Pre was.  Pre didn't want to just compete and be amongst the best, he wanted to be the best and he ran his races to where he gave it everything to be on top, not just on the medal stand.  Watching his race in 1972 Munich a few times, you see this.  He could have medaled if he sat back, instead he charged over and over again and it is amazing to see that strength.  Ryan Hall could be that type.  Heck, he was in a commercial that only runners knew who the hell he was.  The marathon is now the ultimate measuring stick for runners.  A great 5k/10k runner like Galen Rupp brought a slight blip to the national radar, but with so many people trying a marathon or half marathon for the first time, that is what the general population needs in America to get the buzz going.  The main problems I see preventing this:
  • Americans aren't required to be on their feet as often as those other competitors, so they start behind already. 
  • I believe genetics are an excuse after what I have done, but I believe the fact your upbringing and the lifestyle you live is contagious.  America is the most obese nation for a reason, too many places it is not a priority to be active.  I believe since 2010 that this trend is starting to make a turn.  More people are being inspired and making a change.  Back on task at hand: I think even though these are the most fit people in the world, they have been around a lifestyle that doesn't REQUIRE exercise like those strong Ethiopian and Kenyan runners. 
  • They don't work together as much as the other countries blocking opponents or tiring opponents to sacrifice themselves for their fellow countryman.  Maybe this is changing a little, but I don't see it.
Here is what needs done to make running a national excitement and create a buzz that makes the front page of ESPN rather than just something that is noteworthy:
  • It starts with Boston 2014.  A year after such a tragic event, the world's eyes and especially the great nation of The United States of America will be on Boston.  Ryan Hall, or some young gun that comes out of the woodworks,  gets completely healthy and declares he is going to win Boston.  He backs it up and does it in record time running it in under 2:03.
  • Afterward he states that he will break the IAAF recognized mark within a calendar year.  ESPN starts covering his progression and he is given the money and backing by the U.S. Track and Field.  He does it and now the hype begins about when will the 2:00 hour marathon be next.
  • The hype of the marathon gets so big that the 2016 Olympics in Rio is an absolute hype machine and featured amongst NBCs coverage.  The world record continues to be talked about because it has been broke by an American and then taken over again slightly by the Kenyans or Ethiopians.  USA has its best team and is set up to medal and perhaps challenge for gold.  Everything sets up for a perfect race and an American wins and sets marathon running into a national craze more than it already has become.
Yes, these are dreams but something as big as these events may be the next spark to make running an even cooler thing to do and get the attention needed to help make some of these runners get the pub deserved.  The USA Track and Field Championships did not get the viewership on TV or in the stands and that shows that people just don't care.  If we can get up for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (and Belmont IF the first two legs are won by the same horse) and it be talked about on every update, why can't a human pushing the body beyond its limitations not get that same recognition at least once a year?

I have read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes and am currently into Pre by Tom Jordan about Steve Prefontaine.  I didn't start reading any of these books due to my Uncle Tim saying run your first marathon and then get bad thoughts in your head.  He was dead on.  After reading Born to Run and Ultramarathon Man I have had visions of running 100 miles with Tarahumara at Leadville or running in CA pulling myself down the road on my hands and knees but finding that last wind to get up and finish strong.

First I will say Dean Karnazes must be a wizard and have stolen Hermoine's time turner necklace.  I read about how he kicked ass in the business world, balanced family and ran 40-200 miles in a week and I look at my life and go, how do you pull that balancing act?  Next, I will say I enjoyed his stories.  I believe a few of them got Hollywooded from trying to have that finishing line that makes a movie or book captivating but it is amazing to hear of his accomplishments and hard work.  Ultramarathon Man is a book that you will hear some good stories from Dean and while it kept my interest for most of it I was ready for the end of the book.  I honestly have put his other books, 50/50 and RUN back on the shelf because I was more interested in reading about a guy I already know more about in Steve Prefontaine or read someone elses story.  Born to Run on the other hand I could have read another 50 chapters on human genetics, the Tamahara people and some of the ultramarathon events and people involved in them.

I read these books, read peoples blogs and read stories and have come to the conclusion, RUNNERS ARE INSANE.  They are at the edge of the definition of Insanity; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  The thing that keeps runners from clinical is the fact they become educated and take the time to improve slightly thus barely keeping away from insanity.  They have recurring injuries; they go get poked and prodded and try everything on earth to get healthy.  They are just short of improving their time to qualify for Boston or reach a goal; they run further, they do all the little things to get quicker from losing even more weight (even though they are already too skinny for the general public) to core improvement to whatever it takes.

An insane person is in a state of mind that prevents normal perception, behavior, or social interaction.  Runners talk about their running, think about their next run, their past runs and future races.  Runners ignore injuries and go for a run that would keep the average person more sedentary than normal.  Runners are happy people but if they miss a run or something causes their schedule to get out of whack, it can get ugly. 

I don't want to give away everything from my book, to be released in the year 2020 (Said like Barbara Walters) titled Why Runners are Insane, but it will center around a clueless non-runner becoming an educated runner and the stories .  Note: This book is currently just a pipe dream but I enjoy writing and think I may be driven to ramble on more than a blog.  In the meantime I should probably accomplish something larger than losing 50 lbs and 1 marathon.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

RUN, it turns crap into sunshine...

Yes, running will help turn some of the bad things in your life into a ray of sunshine.  You can be having a bad day at work, at home or whatever it may be and with each minute your feet hit the ground, I equate it to 5x that time you are going to feel better and have more positive outlooks on things.  This is the endorphins your brain generates giving you that runners high people speak of.  Now that high tends to fade when you are dealing with an injury or just slogging through a run, but I can tell you even on those days, you get done and your body and mind go, so you hurt, you just accomplished something that is good for your mind and body.  So my advice to you if you are having a shitty day and need a boost, find 30-60 minutes and go get happy with a run!!!

Now onto other items; the first of which is my new socks!!!   I have always been fortunate that my feet don't blister and remain pretty soft and in good form even when I am on my feet a lot.  I have ran for around 15 months in the same 4 pairs of Old Navy Active socks.  They breath okay, fit tight and I didn't have any blisters in all that time.    However most of these socks now have holes near the ball of the foot and I noticed the ones that don't I have sweating issues and my first blister.  Maybe they just have too many washes to them, but it was time for a change and that change came in the form of Injinji toe socks that my mom purchased for me.

 I have to be honest, the skepticism was running high for me before trying a pair of these on.  They look like gloves for the feet and that just isn't normal  After a few runs in them, I have to give them a thumbs up and a toe up since you can see that when I have my shoes off.  I am a big fan of wearing flip flops and sandals and part of that is I would rather be in bare feet than a pair of shoes when not walking (or running) on the road.  I like how my foot "feels" every step rather than feeling restricted.  They also seem to feel more spacious in my shoes even though the thickness between my old socks and the Injinjis are similar. Here are some benefits from Injinji's site I already see:

- Proper Toe Alignment (makes for healthier happy feet)
- Superior Moisture Management (drier and less smelly feet)
- Better posture, better balance (you get full use of your toes!)
- Blister and hotspot prevention (relieve some of that foot pain)
- Tactile Feel (enabling natural feel and movement in ANY shoe)

My mom got me the Run No-Show and Run 2.0 Mini Crew that I will use for my shorter runs (under 15 miles) and a pair of the Compression 2.0 OTC socks.  These are supposed to do similar things to what calve compression sleeves do with the increasing circulation and healing.  Before my marathon someone mentioned considering Compression Sleeves/socks over my calves and after running it I wish I had read that advice months before because I didn't know how much circulation was going to lack during the marathon.  As my Myrtle Beach Marathon Recap stated, it was not good the last 4-5 miles.  I say worth a shot to take that advice and the fact my mom hooked me up for a pricy compression sock instead of me splurging makes me say THANKS MOM!!!

Next, running on the treadmill.  I am not a fan of running on this contraption.  It doesn't feel natural, minutes tick by and each second is in front of your face.  I am not a hamster.  That said, due to some severe weather warnings and fear of getting caught in a downpour or lightning and only having limited time, I cranked out 10 miles on Andi's treadmill.  I call it hers since she uses it more and it was meant for her use mainly.  I have to say I enjoyed the last couple miles on it because Sophie and Andi were in the room while I finished.  I have to say that it was also bearable because there was a movie playing the whole time and what better movie than Forrest Gump?!  So yes, I was RUNNING!!!

Last, I go back to the I am a Marathon Runner, I Must Run Youtube Clip.  My Uncle and I have been doing 4-6 mile runs the last 4 weeks.  It has helped me show I can run an 8:00/mile pace fairly easily and give me confidence that I can break a 3:45 if I put in the miles needed over the next couple months.  I enjoy these runs with him because he is a faster runner, by a minute plus a mile, and it pushes me over running by myself.  I refer to the I am a Marathon Runner clip because my Uncle was dealing with back pain today that would keep the normal person doing little to no physical activity but he powered through our 5-6 miles without a complaint. 

Have a great week, go on and get happy, go for a run!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Running and Diet Strength built from Wrestling...

I have been thinking about what really made my quick weight loss a success and why my running a marathon maybe wasn't as Earth shattering as I have read others accounts.  Believe me it took a ton of hard work and mental toughness and I have a TON of respect for anyone that puts their body through that sort of torture.  I have never felt the soreness or inability to move how a human should in those 24 hours immediately after the race. I also put it amongst the greatest events in my life after my child's birth, wedding, graduation from Mines and on par with other things involving coaching the sport that is probably a big reason for that success, wrestling.  But as Dan Gable said, "Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.”

Wrestling was not easy for me growing up.  I started as an overweight Heavyweight when I first started wrestling at 8 years old.  I didn't beat ANYONE that first year and spent many practice and match time on my back with fluorescent lighting burning my retinas.  Fast forward about 6 years and wrestling finally set in.  My 8th grade year of wrestling I was in shape, I could run 3 miles like it was simply part of practice (which it was often) and I spent more time looking at dust on the mat from pinning a kid than being stuck.  I wrestled for a dozen years, helped a little while in college while my brother finished up HS and then after a few years away from the sport coached at the HS level for five years.  During that time I learned a lot.

Wrestling taught me things that you won't get in any other sport besides maybe boxing/MMA which all have ties and similarities in their training.  The key things wrestling taught me that helped make my LIFE change and becoming a runner a success are as follows:
  • Weight control/loss: This ranges from knowing the body isn't truly "starving" from eating hardly anything to nothing over a 24 hour period to changing your diet.  I would go from 15 lbs over my wrestling weight at the end of football season to wrestling weight within a month.  You learn to eat less and you learn to cut out things you don't need (empty calories of drinks and candy).  A reason for my rapid weight loss and sustained weight loss is I know when I eat poorly I need to do more than run more, I need to cut calories out the following day or days.  I need to give my body a boost with good foods. 
  • Endurance and speed: Unfortunately we didn't do enough and I didn't take it upon myself to do more long distance running but when we did, the 2-4 mile runs we'd often do were not difficult because of hours put on the mat where there is little to no breaks and it's continuous movement and strain on the body.  There was also plenty of speed bursts in wrestling that are great for tempo training where you have to go from your slower pace to an increased pace.  These helped a ton on my Yassos, MTY runs and in realizing I could increase my pace. 
  • Mental toughness and never give up attitude: One big thing I learned from years of being a crappy to average wrestler was how to fight off my back and not get pinned.  I got pinned once in my last two years in HS (a freak pin) and maybe only a couple times my sophomore year.  The reason is, I learned not to give up and keep fighting because you always had a chance in wrestling until the final whistle or buzzer sounded.  This was huge the last 4.2 miles when I was cramping increasingly in my calves.  I never walked the entire marathon.  I  had to stop and stretch my calves far too often but I kept pushing and running.  I knew I'd finish, which brings us to...
  • Confidence: Once you train at something enough times and see success, you realize you can attain what you set out to do.  I knew I was going to finish the marathon, I knew unless a bus hit me, my body and mind were trained well enough that I would easily get under the 4:00 hour marathon I initially set my goal for and had a legitimate shot at 3:45.
  • Striving for more: I didn't attain my 3:45 goal and like all competitors, you aren't satisfied with barely missing it or wanting more.  My goal is under 3:45 my next marathon with the mindset I am shooting for a 3:40 instead.  Next year (AND after I finally sit for my Professional Engineer license in April) I will be shooting for a 3:30.  That is a big step.  I want to EARN the right to run Boston within the next 8 years but will have to get faster and older to do so.
The biggest thing that correlates between the marathon runner and a wrestler is this quote from maybe the greatest wrestler of all-time:
“Most men stop when they begin to tire. Good men go until they think they are going to collapse. But the very best know that the mind tires before the body, and push themselves farther and farther, beyond all limits. Only when these limits are shattered can the unattainable be reached.” -Dan Gable

I have been dripping with sweat with every part of my body exhausted during some intense wrestling practices.  I have had the same feelings during running and especially those 20+ mile long runs and during my marathon.  I knew I could stave off hunger at dinner helping me cut some weight, power through that overtime after exhausting my body for the last 3 periods instead of just giving up that takedown, fight to win or kept running through that finish line with both calves cramping instead of walking through it and just being satisfied that I finished.  Be strong mentally, keep pushing and never be satisfied.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Running or jogging, does it matter?

I have heard the term jogging a couple times of late during my "runs" and read a post about being called a jogger and it got me thinking, what is the difference between the two?

I had a guy say during my long run in Hawaii, "Great jog man!"  I kind of chewed on that for the next few miles and when I went by him again I avoided eye contact and increased my speed.  So, yes a run being called a jog or hearing the term jogger kind of got to me and it mattered.  I think it is something many "runners" deem to be the wrong term for what they do.

Runners don't jog.  They have different paces depending on what intensity their run is for that day.  I have read people's accounts on what the difference between jogging and running is.  To me, there wasn't much until I deemed to be crap, running is 8 mph or fast.  I have seen this in a couple places, but they may reference the same source.  I am too lazy to check that out.  To me speed doesn't have anything to do with it.  I am sorry, but a person doesn't jog a marathon in under 4 hours.  I believe speed doesn't have anything to do with it but the heart rate of what you are doing, along with your history of speed.  Not everyone starting running can run 7:30/mile like the 8 mph can say.  That is a Yasso 800 for me.  I can tell you I am running at that point and it is tough and I can't sustain that for more than a mile without exhausting myself.  Based off the times I see, only about the Top 5% of a marathon field can even call what they are doing to be running if you follow the 8 mph rule.  That is just crazy talk.  I could jog 26.2 miles and not cramp and take 5 hours to do it.

To me jogging is equivalent to a super fast walk but instead of shuffling your feet you are actually picking them up.  Jogging is running at slow motion with the Chariots of Fire music blaring in your musical memory bank.  So I will put what a jog is to me:
  • 75% of a person's marathon pace or 80% of half marathon.  I run my slow runs a minute to two minutes slower than my marathon pace depending on how far into training I am and the mileage I have on my legs.  They are comfortable but not easy.  If I slowed down another full minute, then I'd call it jogging because it would be as easy as walking.
  • There you go, if it feels as easy as a walk the same distance it is running slow motion. Kind of like a fast walk to me. 
  • Heart rate.  Jogging's heart rate is calm and much like when walking.  A long run is increased above that.
  • Jogging is being able to hold a full conversation without much discomfort.  I have conversations the few times I have ran with someone else and it's brief, tough to do and sentence structure is similar to that of a caveman.
  • Running requires effort and is not fun, jogging is fun, it is goofy.
  • Jogging can be done in one of those polyester full suits you see people at the store wear in their 70s.  If I run in that, I get heat exhaustion in anything above 30 degrees.
That's the long winded simple way for me to put it.  We are runners, not joggers.  Show us runners some respect you casual observers.