Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Free Beer After Races!

Yeah, just another catchy title to get your attention!

But the past two half-marathons I did this past month were both giving away free beers.  Two at each race, to be exact.  But I'm still chicken to drink beer right after a race.  Not sure how it will feel in my stomach.

Well, it's been a loooong couple weeks for me between running two half-marathons, training runs, and coaching.  To put it all in perspective, the coaching is going great, the halfs went okay, and the training went kaput the past couple weeks.

Both of the half-marathons really had me thinking afterward about how I want to approach my next long race.  I've always wanted to be able to run a half-marathon or full marathon completely from beginning to end.  Just something I've always wanted to accomplish.  I came really close in Frederick, but succumbed to achy calves and wound up stopping around mile 11.5 to stretch and walk for about 2 or 3 minutes.  I than went to a 2-min. run/1-min. walk ratio for a couple cycles, and was able to run in the last .75 miles or so.

I came relatively close in Williamsburg.  I felt great until the "turn-around" at mile 8 on the Colonial Parkway.  Was actually on PR pace until that point.  As soon as I turned around - whoosh! - a bit of a head-wind caught me off guard.  I was okay until I hit a nasty hill (although it wouldn't have seemed that nasty at mile 2 or 3) that just sucked it out of me.  For some reason, my legs were still a little dead from the Frederick half.  And the hot weather didn't help.  I only got in two training runs total between half-marathons - one each week. 

So, after contemplating and reflecting after each race, I'm seriously leaning toward re-incorporating the run/walk routine into the remainder of my long races.  I set my personal best of 2:30 in the half using a 4-min. run/2-min. walk ratio for my very first half-marathon five years ago.  And the closest I've come to that time was Frederick a couple weeks ago.  And I don't think I was nearly in as good as shape five years ago as I am today.  Maybe after another year or two, I'll re-think my "racing" strategy again.  So from here on out, I'll continue to completely run my week-day "maintenance" runs of 4 to 5 miles, and incorporate the run/walk for anything over 10 miles.

As far as anything else, lets just say it's time to re-dedicate myself.  Now that the races are out of the way, I'll probably take this week pretty easy  Maybe get in a maintenance run on Friday and a longer run on Sunday or Monday and take it from there.  Also time to start adding the weighlifting back into my routine.  I've gotten away from it the past couple months. 

Here's a little poster I think we can all relate to in one way or another.  I posted it on my Facebook wall a few months ago, but I think it's too funny not to share...

My tip for the "blog" - when in doubt, rest...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mea Culpa...

For having been away from the blog for so long. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing for the sake of writing. Anyway here is my long awaiting update (he says sarcastically). Things have been going really well. My running, weight loss and weightlifting have all seen improvements. Of course one could argue they are all related, but you and both know they are not all mutually exclusive to each other. So lets go point by point.


After having dealt with so many nagging issues since last October I have really scaled my miles back and I only run 2-3 days a week. In fact my weekly mile totals have only recently begun to creep back into double digits. Sure it sucks that as of May I only have 140 miles for the year… but I DON’T HURT. My pace is also improving. I chalk a lot up to that to 1)weight loss and 2)a focus on form. Although I have not made my transition to minimalist running yet, I am constantly focused on a midfoot strike and attempting many of the principles discussed through CHI RUNNING. To give you an example of my improvement, on a 9 mile training run with hills and pouring rain for the duration I ran at a pace that would have put me under my half marathon PR. I also ran a 5k training run almost 4 minutes under my PR. Don’t get me wrong… I’m pushing it a bit, and its still hard… but it is fun to get home and look at your times. Of course I still have shitty runs too but we won’t talk about those.


 If you are a runner and you don’t lift twice a week… you need to start. Think about it… stronger arms lead to better pumping and form, stronger core leads to better endurance and form, and stronger legs lead to making hills your bitch. Sure it also feeds a sense of vanity a bit (I won’t lie about that). I don’t know one guy that would turn down arm definition. But in two months I’ve added 50 lbs to my bench, 80 lbs to my leg press and 50 lbs to my leg curls. I’m still not throwing up big weight but its cool to see the improvement. I am still following a similar circuit plan that I mentioned a few months ago, although I have cut back a bit due to the extra running.

Weight Loss…

So I adopted the Wheat Belly approach to diet. I essentially consume no wheat or processed grains with the exception of my “beer night” which is when I allow myself one evening to partake in the nectar of the gods. I also use recipes that would be found using the Paleo approach as well. I will admit I cannot make the full jump to Paleo. Its hard enough giving up the grains… but cheese too?!? No way. I know some of you will read a description of Wheat Belly or Paleo, see the guidelines and assume “its another Atkins” simply because its low carb. It is so much more than that because it not just saying no carb, its clearing out the processed crap we all assume to be safe. Think about it… our bodies have evolved over thousands of years and our food has been morphed and modified in the last 50 years. Did you ever think you just can’t seem to lose those last 10 lbs because your body doesn’t know how to? Sure I miss sandwiches, spaghetti and eating a whole slice of pizza and not just the toppings. But you know what? I am not sluggish through the day and I hardly ever eat in the middle of the night (and when I do its usually after a cheat day when my body immediately craves the carbs). I have not consumed a single energy drink or gel pack on a run either, just water. And I am down 12 lbs since March. So something is working. Thanks for stopping by.

 Until next time…

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why Do I Run?

"Hey Rob, why do you run?"

That's a question I get asked a lot when people find out I run half-marathons and the occasional marathon.  Some people are just making small-talk, others are genuinely interested, and still others are just being polite.  Than of course you have the occasional knuckle-head who always has a wise-@ss comment, such as "I don't drive that far!" or "Man, you're crazy!" or one of my personal favorites:  "Why, don't you got nothin' better to do?"  And each sarcastic comment is always followed by some sort of sarcastic guffaw.  Yuk, yuk, yuk!  Just imagine you're best red-neck laugh.

Laugh it up, fuzzball...

So, why do I run such far distances?  Especially since I come from a track background?  Is it about the "bling?"  No.  Well, maybe a little bit about the bling.  Okay, you got me.  Yeah, part of it is about the cool-looking medals you get when you finish.  Very colorful, big, and shiny.  Like a new car...  Is it about the cool tech t-shirts you get?  Sometimes.  The Baltimore Running Festival is sponsored by Under Armour, so that's usually a nice looking, well-constructed shirt.  I was very jealous of the ones I saw during the Frederick Half a couple days ago.  And the Baltimore 10-miler held every June also has a sweet race premium.  A couple years ago I got a nice, heavy jacket.  The next year, I got a nice half-zip warm-up jacket.  But for the most part, I can care less about the shirts.  Don't get me wrong - the Disney long-sleeve tech shirts are my favorites.  But the other ones that I collect that are short-sleeved, I'll wear maybe two or three times before they go into my collection of old jogging clothes.

So why do I run?  I run mainly for my health.  When I graduated high school, I was 145 pounds and able to run a 5K in the 18-minute range.  I wound up being the #4 runner on my Cross Country team.  Not bad for a sprinter/jumper.  When I graduated college I was around 180 pounds.  I discovered something called weight lifting my junior year in college.  And of course, when I stopped lifting all that muscle turned to fat.  Back in March 2007, I was 205 pounds.  And my cholesterol was through the roof.  Five years later, I'm down to around 184 pounds as of this past week-end.  Not sure about my cholesterol, though.  Have to get that checked out in a month or two.  More than likely, I'll be back on the Lipitor again.  I must have my pizza and chicken wings occasionally.

So the next thing I'm usually asked is "Why don't you just run?  Why do you do the races?"  Good question.  You see, I've tried "just running" in the past between 1993 (when I graduated college) and 2007.  I would run for a few weeks or so, and stop for a few years or so.  I lacked motivation.  I figured if I had something to work towards, i.e. a race or something, it would keep me more motivated.  It would keep me honest.

Why half-marathons, 10-milers, and marathons for me?  Because of the challenge.  With all due respect to the 5K and 10K runners, I'm not trying to slam you guys.  But like I said earlier, I ran Cross Country in high school.  So the 5K distance to me is pretty much "been there/done that."  And the 10K distance, we'd run a couple times a week to train.  Again, I'm not trying to belittle the 5K and 10K distances.  It's just that the challenge wasn't there for me.  The half-marathon and marathon distances offered me a new, unique challenge.  I once read somewhere that less than 1% of the entire world's population that has existed since the year 1 A.D. has run a marathon.  That's pretty exclusive company.  That's something I wanted to be a part of.

You also can't beat the camaraderie and the feelings you experience with yourself and other runners in a marathon.  Especially after mile 20 of a full and after mile 10 of a half.  Really, it's too hard to explain.  It's something you have to experience for yourself. 

It's taken me a couple years to realize that I'll never be a fast marathoner.  I used to get frustrated when I saw people I went to high school with running faster times than me.  I would often say "I used to run circles around that guy/gal."  I often wondered what people I've known for over 20 years thought of my times.  And that took awhile for me to come to terms with.  And you know what?  It's okay.  I look at the weight I've lost over the past few months and that's my motivation.  Heck, my big goal is to finish in the middle of the pack and around the 50th percentile of my age group.  If I can do that, I will be happy.  But so long as I can maintain my health, that will be enough for me.

My Zip-Ah-Dee-Do-Dah Tip of the Week:  It wouldn't be a bad idea to stash some toilet paper in your fanny pack during races.  I actually did this for the Frederick Half a couple days ago.  You never know what the port-a-pots will be like after the half-way points..