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Marathon Training Week 5 Recap – First Double-Digit Run

Quick Question: Do you like this format better where I break down my training by day or do summaries of running, biking, and push-ups like I did last week?

5 by rosemary from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

5 by rosemary from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Week 5 of 18 of marathon training was my first 10-mile run. I haven’t a run this far since my last half marathon in 2013. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go but was remarkably pleased with how it went. This was also my first week of training while living in my new condo so I’m trying new running and cycling routes.

Monday: My weekend ended with car trouble so this week started out with a trip to the car dealership for repairs. I walked a total of 4.5 miles to and from the dealership. This distance doesn’t count for anything but I want to document that I was moving. My left shin hurt a bit in the process which reminded me of my physical therapist who said that running is easier on my body than powerwalking (which is what I calling walking). I also cranked out 100 push-ups – 5 sets of 14 and 2 sets of 15 – with no problems.

Tuesday: My complex has a gym so I’m taking advantage of it to do some speed work by running on the treadmill once a week. I ran 4.5 miles in 38 minutes. The speed was set between 7 and 7.6 mph. I felt like I was on the ultimate human hamster wheel. The most painful thing about this run was how bored I got. I listened to an old podcast featuring Gary Vaynerchuk from when Crush It came out, but even that barely took the edge off how boring it is to run nowhere.

Wednesday: I did a 6.5-mile run today at sunrise. I opted not to use my iPod so I could get a better sense of the route. I was already running with glasses or contacts so I dind’t want to dull all my senses. I purposely picked a route that I can easily extend for longer distances and one that has some hills. I heard the marathon route for Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona has a hill around Mile 20 so I want to make sure I’m ready for it. I also finished my push-ups for the week: 5 sets of 15, 1 set 13, and 1 set 12. I’m looking forward to getting up to 5 sets of 20 in the next week or 2.

Thursday: I made the mistake of running towards downtown Phoenix for my 4.5-mile run and ended up in a somewhat sleazy part of town. I suspect it was a good neighborhood to look for meth or a hooker. Thankfully it was early enough in the morning that few people were out and about. Apart from my surroundings for the last half mile before my turn-around spot, it was nice run.

Friday: Friday was my rest day. I enjoyed not getting super sweaty before breakfast.

Saturday: Today was my 10-mile run. I think I ran a little slower than 10-minute miles and that was just fine with me. I just wanted to finish without too much pain – and I did that. The best part of my run was the podcast I listened to – Profiles with Alicia Malone and Scott Mantz. It’s a podcast about movies and this week’s episode featured the work of John Hughes. I loved listening to them talk about films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club. What made the show extra special (and extra long!) was they had awesome interviews with Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, and Judd Nelson.

Felt good at the time, by lunchtime my quads were sore – didn’t have time to stretch right after my run b/c parents were on their way over.

Sunday: I hopped on my bike for a 19.5-mile ride for cross training this week. I checked out the Grand Canal, which is a good route if you’re trying to get to central Phoenix near Indian School Road or Camelback Road. There were far fewer people on the canal than what I see on the Arizona canal – my preferred canal for riding and it made me sad to ride through poorer neighborhoods were I saw more homeless camps, stray dogs, and trash. I was amused, though, when my route took me past the parking lot for one of the Phoenix bathhouses. I was surprised so many cars were there at 8am. The last half mile of the ride was uphill. I was up out of the saddle pumping as hard as my legs could while telling myself, “This is going to make my legs look awesome!”

My quads are sore from this weekend’s workouts and I’m looking forward to a mellower Week 6. The long run is only 7 miles.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 25.5 miles
Biking: 19.5 miles
Push-ups: 200 push-ups

Please leave me a comment below and tell me if you prefer this format or this format for my marathon training posts.

Marathon Training Week 4 Recap – More Strength More Pain

Fence Number 4 by Ze'ev Barkan from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Fence Number 4 by Ze’ev Barkan from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I ran into quite a bit of pain this week as my miles are increasing, but it seems to have calmed down this weekend. I basically lived in KT tape the last time I trained for a half marathon. I put on fresh tape every Sunday and I’d wear it until after my run the following Thursday. I’m curious if that will happen with this training cycle.

Running
This week I ran 4.5 miles on Tuesday and Thursday, 6.5 miles on Wednesday, and 9 miles on Friday. The 9 mile run was scheduled for Saturday but I moved this past weekend so I knocked it out early. I had quite a bit of pain in my shins and my right hip. My physical therapist told me that a lot of runners get hip pain from lack of strength so I’m trying to keep my strong by doing lateral walks (side stepping) with a resistance band.

I ran my 9 miles on the canal where I ran on dirt most of the time. The pain was much less than running on pavement. So my trail-running friends were right about that. I just wish there was an easy way to keep the little rocks out of my shoes.  The 9-mile run did a lot of good for taking the edge of my shin and hip pain.

The miles increase pretty fast during marathon training. When I did the half marathon, the longest run I did was a 10-mile run during Week 11 of a 12-week training program. The fact that I’m already at 9 miles and doing fine makes me feel more confident about this race. I read somewhere that you shouldn’t increase you miles more than 10% week to week, but I’m pretty sure I’m doing more than that with this program some weeks but I don’t think there’s any getting around that.

Cycling
I moved this past weekend so now I have to figure out all new running and cycling routes. I thought about riding to Changing Hands bookstore which is about 9 miles away from the condo so round-trip would be 18 miles. I didn’t read my directions carefully and I don’t know that area of Tempe very well. I didn’t get lost but I didn’t know exactly where I was. Moving is stressful for me so my appetite has been non-existent so I opted to ride until I started getting tired and turned around.

I checked my mileage when I got back and saw I only did 12 miles, but it was fun to ride on the awesome bike lanes in Tempe. I’ve spent plenty of time in Tempe, but this is the first time I’ve had the chance to see it from my bike.

Push-ups
Push-ups were awesome this week – 100 push-ups on Monday and 100 on Wednesday – 8 sets of 12 or 13 each time. I think this week I want to do 100 and 100 again and start increasing a few sets to 14 to start building myself up to doing 4 sets of 25 push-ups.

I can tell I’m getting stronger legs too. There’s more definition in my quad muscles. I’m glad they’re not as sore this week as last week, except when I have to climb stairs.

Week 4 Totals
Running: 24.5 miles
Cycling: 12 miles
Push-ups: 200 push-ups

Marathon Training Week 3 Recap – Getting Better

3 is the magic number by DanBrady from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

3 is the magic number by DanBrady from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

By the end of this week, I can say my body is adjusting to training pretty well. I feel stronger and I’m noticing more muscle definition in my quads and shoulders. And I’m not going to lie – one of the benefits of training for a race like this is I get to look better naked.

Speaking of how I look naked, I spent the last week with a gash on my arm from my fall during week 2. It’s still healing and showing significant improvement in the last few days. Up until Friday it looked pretty gross while my arm was trying to regrow my skin and the bruises got darker and more yellow each day. We’ll see if there’s going to be a scar. I hope not.

Here’s a quick recap of each aspect of my training from the last week.

1005141834Running
I had four runs this week – 4.5 miles on Tuesday and Thursday and 6.5 miles on Wednesday and Saturday. This was the first week I ran the full distance of what I thought I’d been running for the last month. My left quad let me know it could tell the difference in the distance – not pain, just a little sore. Sometime this week I noticed how comfortable I’ve become with my new running posture. I’m averaging about 10 min/mile without pushing myself that hard (though I was inspired to kick it up a notch when I was passed by another running this week) and my pain is still minimal and transient.

It’s a well-known fact that I’m not a fan of stretching. It’s a necessary evil in my world. I stretch before and after each run, but not so much when I ride my bike. I can definitely tell on my Tuesday run that I didn’t stretch on Sunday. My lower legs were more sore than the other days of the week.

So far, I prefer to listen to podcasts when I run. This week I listened to the Dr. Drew Podcast, three episodes of The Mistake Podcast with Peter Shankman and Peter Keller, an old episode of Evo at 11 featuring Joe Holt, and the latest episode of Profiles with Alicia Malone and Scott Mantz. The conversations on the shows keep my brain more stimulated and distracted than music. The one downside is I don’t like fussing with my iPod to flip between shows if I finish the show before I finish my run. I have a 20-mile run coming up in December. I really want to convince my friend Evo Terra to have our friends over to sit in ShEvo Studios, drink beer, and record a 200-minute podcast of their standard nothing-and-everything conversations to keep me entertained.

Biking
I had an awesome 18-mile bike ride at sunrise this week. (I also learned that I need to replace the batteries in my bike light because it was looking a little dim.) I still get a little tired towards the end but I my stamina and leg strength are increasing. I love my padded butt shorts. I feel bad that Rosie the basset hound hasn’t figured out that when I put these shorts on, it means I’m going out and she’s not coming with me. I’m moving next weekend so I’ll be changing up my route and beginning to explore Papago Park.

Push-Ups
The push-ups are going well. It doesn’t hurt to put my arms up anymore. I did 6 sets of 12 on Monday, 6 sets of 13 on Saturday, and finished up with 4 sets on Sunday alternating between 12 and 13 push-ups per set. This week the plan is to do my 200 push-ups over two days instead of three, doing 8 sets each day, alternating between 12 and 13 push-ups per set.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 22 Miles
Biking: 18 Miles
Push-ups: 200

Marathon Training Week 2 Recap – Annoying Things

Giant Number 2 by Ruth Hartnup from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Giant Number 2 by Ruth Hartnup from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Another week of training is in the books! This week of training was a success on the whole but had a lot of annoying moments in it.

  • I realized when I was mapping my long run the week that the run that I thought was 6.5 miles is only 5.25 miles – Eww! (So that means I only ran 19.5 miles last week, not 22.)
  • I’ve had intermittent problems with plantar fasciitis (arch pain) for most of my life. Keeping my shoes loosely tied helps because it allows enough space for my feet to swell when I run. That also means they’re loose enough to let little rocks in.  I don’t stop to shake them out unless they’re causing pain.
  • My Scraped Up Arm - 35 Hours After the Fall

    My Scraped Up Arm – 35 Hours After the Fall

    I dislike having to fuss with my iPod during my run. I prefer podcasts that are as long as my run. This could be more of a challenge as my runs get longer.

  • There is a strange truth about gymnasts – we have balance and grace in the gym but once you put us in the real world, we turn into complete klutzes. I caught my toe on a raised portion of the sidewalk 2.75 miles into my 7-mile run on Saturday. I got a bruise on my knee and a big scrape on my arm. I hope it’s not going to scar. I still have scars on my elbow from falling off my bike last year.
  • I know I’m a bit rigid and controlling. I planned to do an 18-mile bike ride on Sunday but unfortunately the storm on Saturday resulted in downed power lines across the canal. I had to turn back and finish my miles in other direction. It turns out I did 20.25 miles instead of 18 – the last two were with a head wind.

My friend is training for his first Ironman in November. He said he’s at a point in his training where he doesn’t get sore anymore. Although I have a lot less pain on my runs in general, I’m definitely not there yet. My quads are definitely sore from this week’s ride.

Care Label on my Cycling Shorts. Who Irons Spandex?

Care Label on my Cycling Shorts. Who Irons Spandex?

Padded Butt Shorts
As I climbed into bed after my first long ride, the base of my butt was sore. I decided it was time to bite the bullet and get some padded cycling shorts. So that was my birthday present to myself this year. I opted for the $50 gel padded shorts instead of the $40 foam padded shorts because I think I’ll crush the foam faster than the gel will wear out.

I had a good ride this week. I was used to wearing cotton bike shorts and I hadn’t worn spandex shorts since my gymnastics days. It felt good to be in slide-y shorts again and the butt padding was awesome. I had no gluteal discomfort during or after the ride. I thought it was funny when I changed out of my riding clothes and I noticed that the care instructions mentioned that I can iron my shorts.

Push-ups Update
I got through my 200 push-ups – split out over three days: 50 on Monday, 80 on Friday, and 70 on Sunday. I’m doing 10-12 push-ups in each set. My chest and arms still feel like they’re getting a workout throughout the week but it doesn’t hurt to sneeze or lift my arms anymore. I’ll probably split my push-ups out over three days again next week before bumping it up to doing 100 push-ups, two times a week.

Week 2 Totals:
Running: 21.25 miles
Biking: 20.25 miles
Push-ups: 200

Marathon Training – Week 1 Recap

Week One of marathon training is in the books! I’m pleased with how it’s going so far and I encountered an unexpected challenge with my strength training.

20130324-024-of-365 by Wilson Hui from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

20130324-024-of-365 by Wilson Hui from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I was a gymnast for 17 years and I consider myself to be relatively strong. When I trained for the half marathon, strength training was on my calendar twice a week. The best upper body and core workout I know is push-ups. So I thought for the marathon I’d do 100 push-ups, 3 times a week.  That seemed easy enough.

And then Monday came. I made myself do 100 push-ups – taking as many sets as I needed and lowering down almost to the floor with each one.  It took 7 sets but it got done. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be.

By Tuesday I was sore. I ran my usual 4.5 mile while listening to the Invisible Office Hours Podcast. My legs have been doing well with running. I typically get a little bit of soreness in my shins or feet, but nothing worse than a 3 on a 10-point pain scale. The rest of my body was a different story. My triceps, chest, and abs were so sore that I felt like I was running with bruises all over my body. My abs hurt every time I sneezed.

Wednesday was a long run at 6.5 miles. It was sprinkling just hard enough that I didn’t want to bring my iPod. Only the diehards and people who don’t have treadmills seemed to be out on the trail. It was a nice run. When I got home I tried to do push-ups, but I couldn’t get into a push-up position without screaming pain radiating through my arms and chest. That’s when I remembered that my half marathon training only had strength work twice a week so I decided that I should do the same for marathon training and decrease my push-ups from three times a week to only twice a week.

I was a still sore on Thursday for a couple of reasons. I ran 4.5 miles and I could tell my body wasn’t used to running 3 days in a row. All summer I was running on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. For this race I have training runs scheduled on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and cross training on Sunday. My quad muscles could feel the difference – not exactly soreness but awareness of not getting as much rest between runs. I was surprised by how much my chest and arms still hurt from Monday.

Friday was a rest day and Saturday is my long run of the week – 6.5 miles this week. It was an easy 54-minute run. My new favorite movie podcast, Profiles with Malone and Mantz, kept me entertained. When I got back, I decided to split my 100 push-ups for the weekend over 2 days and do 5 sets of 10 each day. I still can’t go as low as I could on Monday but they got done. I’m thinking I should do 50 push-ups a day for 4 days each week until I get a bit stronger.

Sunday was my cross training day. I plan to ride my bike for most of my cross training days. I really don’t ride my bike enough; I love it. I did an 18-mile ride along the Arizona Canal. It was harder than I expected but it really shouldn’t have been since it’s been a few months since my last ride. One thing that’s nice about riding is I get to read everyone’s shirts. When I go running I usually don’t take the time to put in contacts so my world is blurry but they’re a requirement for riding. It was fun to see everyone’s shirts from past races. My ride took about 100 minutes and I knocked out my last 50 push-ups for the week when I got home.

I’d say it’s an excellent start to training for the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon.

Week 1 Totals:
Running Miles: 22
Bike Miles: 18
Push-ups:  200

Marathon Training for the RnRAz 2015

My training program for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon 2015 begins this week. I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon every year for four years (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013), (PR: 1:52:04), but then I had to sit out 2014 due to shin splints. Now that I’ve finished physical therapy and learned a new running posture, I’m ready to do another long race.

Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 - Pre-Race with my Uncle and Cousin

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 – Pre-Race with my Uncle and Cousin

I will be using one of Hal Higdon’s marathon training programs for the next 18 weeks. I’ve used his half marathon training program for my previous races with a lot of success. It’s easy to lock in to his program of how far to run on what day. I’m a little worried about how fast the mileage climbs on the long run days.  I’ll be running 10 miles by week 5. In his novice half marathon program, 10 miles is the longest run you do before the race and that’s in week 11 of a 12-week program. I hope my legs and feet can handle the stress.

I am grateful to be in the best running shape I’ve ever been in heading into a training cycle. I’ve been consistently running and stretching since March as part of the rehab from my injuries. I’m currently running 22 miles a week (2 4.5-mile runs, 2 6.5-mile runs). For previous races I was barely working out so the first 3-mile run of training was painful.

Since I’ve been running so much, I’m slightly modifying Hal’s program for the first 13 weeks. If the run in Hal’s program is less than what I would have run on my own, I’ll run the longer distance. For example, the first run in Hal’s program is 3 miles. I’d normally run 4.5 miles that day so I’ll do that distance instead.

I’ve also heard that the route for Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon has a decent hill around Mile 20. So right when I expect to really hate myself, I have to climb a hill. (This will be awesome for a masochist like me.) My training will definitely include some hill work to prepare for this. There was a small hill in the last Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon I did and I could easily tell whose training included hills and who only trained on flat ground.

My Foot and Leg in KT Tape before the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2012

My Foot and Leg in KT Tape before the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2012

Hal’s program adds 1 day of cross training to the mix. I’ll probably bike 12-20 miles on those days but there may be some hiking and other fun on those days. I think I also want to add some upper body and core strength training by doing push-ups 3 days a week – just push-ups, not the 100 Push-ups Challenge.

The real challenge in doing a race is staying dedicated to the training program. I don’t know if non-runners appreciate how much time and dedication goes into preparing for a race. The race itself is filled with excitement, fanfare, and comradery with your fellow racers. Race day is easy – if nothing else you have adrenaline to get you through it. The training is hard – long hours of pounding pavement rain or shine (most likely by yourself), scheduling your life around your runs, potentially living with perpetually sore muscles, and taking care of minor injuries. (I literally lived in KT Tape my last two training cycles.)

I’m looking forward to training for my first full marathon and being able to share the journey with you.

Old-School Icing Techniques for my Running Injury

I’m using this summer to get my legs ready to train for the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon – Arizona in January. Training will start in mid-September and I want to be comfortably running 18 miles a week by then.

A few weeks ago I did an easy 4-mile run. I felt good, until about 8 hours later when I felt a searing pain in my left post-tibialis (inner calf). It was the strangest thing. I figured I pushed a little too hard (even though it didn’t feel like I did) and I rested it for a few days – but the pain didn’t go away. I emailed my physical therapist who suggested ice and stretching. It was kind of hard to get my gel pack to mold to this part of my leg so I decided to go old school for this.

(My gymnastics family knows I much prefer the suck-it-up-ibuprofen-and-tape approach to injuries and if I’m icing something, it must really hurt. And in this case, I’m thinking about the long game. I’ll take care of myself now to be able to have the race I want in January.)

Ripped Cup

Ripped Cup

I opted to go back to using ice cups instead of gel packs. I learned about ice cups when I was a gymnast. It’s what my club used for the communal ice needs – mostly by the team kids who were there the most and got the most injuries. Ice cups are fairly simple to make – fill a disposable cup (styrofoam or high-quality paper) with water and freeze. My drug store only had styrofoam cups so I went with those. Their smallest package had 51 cups.

Double Cup

Double Cup

I ran into a small a problem right off the bat – the ice ripped through the bottom. I think what happened was the top (not being insulated by the cup) froze first and when the ice at bottom froze and expanded, had nowhere to go but down and out. Paper cups are less insulated by nature and may not have this problem as much – and probably freeze faster.

The solution: add a second cup before using.

Using an ice cup is simple: tear off the top edge of the cup and apply to the injured area is a smooth motion. It’s essentially a big ice cube and the cup protects your hand from getting cold and wet. It’s best to do this outside or with a thick towel folded several times beneath the area you’re icing because it drips a lot. As the ice melts, tear off more of the cup as needed.

Icing my Leg

Icing my Leg

My physical therapist friend reminded me to only do this for 5-7 minutes at a time to prevent frostbite. I’ve frostbitten myself several times over the years (I usually call it an ice burn) and those things hurt like hell.

I can usually get 2-3 ice jobs out of each ice cup so I’m going through about one a day. This makes me wonder how often my club had to make these when people were icing every day.  I’m on the road to recover and hope to be back pounding pavement in the next week.

Going old school with my injury treatment has supplied a nice trip down memory lane. In gymnastics, somebody is always hurt so it was a regular sight to see a team kid sitting the sidelines, moving an ice cup against their skin, with a paper towel soaking up the drips and little pile of styrofoam pieces next to them. Ah . . . fun times.

Official Return to Racing – The Night Run 2014

It’s official – I’m back to racing.

After being sidelined for over a year with shin splints and plantar fasciitis, enduring painful ASTYM courtesy of Endurance Rehab, and learning a brand new running posture, I ran The Night Run 10K in Scottsdale over the weekend. I can say for certain that I’m back and I’m loving it.

I was so giddy and nervous to run again. Would I remember my new running posture? How will my pace compare to my last race? I love the energy of race expos – everyone’s friendly, helpful, and bubbling with anticipation for the race. I’d never done The Night Run before and didn’t know what to expect. I was definitely surprised by the number of people. A friend said he’d heard that there were 1800-1900 signed up for the race.

My Medal from The Night Run - It Glows in the Dark

My Medal from The Night Run – It Glows in the Dark

The race started after sunset at 7:30 p.m.  We got glow bracelets in our goody bags but that was more being seen than being able to see. I was grateful for the police cars that blocked traffic with their lights flashing and the volunteers who waved multicolored light saber-esque sticks to guide us along the route.

The Night Run was a 5K and a 10K – one loop through the course for the 5K, two loops for the 10K. The first lap was super crowded. I weaved through the herd of people, fighting for a position where I could maintain my pace.  The second lap was much more relaxed since there were only 705 people who opted to do the 10K.

My new running form felt great. I was more thoughtful about what my feet were doing when I started getting tired. That helped keep up my pace. I’ve been running 3-4 days a week for the last few months, but I’d only done one 6-mile run, and this was my first time really pushing myself for speed.

I love the playful competitiveness on the course. There were a handful of people around me and we went back and forth on who was the leader. I amused myself by staying right with a guy who was trying to pass me. I got the vibe that he didn’t want to be beaten by a girl. We switched places a few times during the race, and around Mile 4.5 he really seemed to want to get ahead of me. I kept up and egged him on by kicking up my speed so he’d have to run that much faster to hold his position.

Part of the race hand a strong head wind. It probably started around Mile 2/Mile 5. It was so windy it dried all the sweat on my face into a salty crust. My lips felt so chapped. And since this race was two loops, I got to experience this twice.

Somewhere around Mile 5.5, I almost started crying. I had the thought that my coach and mentor who died last year would have been really proud to see that I was back out running and happy after going through three months of physical therapy and the frustration of learning a new running form.

My goal was to finish the race in under an hour. I was ecstatic to see that I finished in 52:31.

  • Overall: 119/707
  • Gender: 33/422
  • Division: 7/81

I try not to care about where I place. Ultimately, running is about me competing against myself. I could to a personal best and finish last or have the worst race of my life and finish first. The real winning is with me – being prepared, running a solid race, pushing myself to leave everything I have on the course.

Somewhere along the race I asked myself if running was what I was supposed to be doing, and I think it is. There is something very satisfying about getting out and pounding pavement, and I genuinely enjoy the race experience.

So what’s next? I’m not exactly sure but the plan for now is to do the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in January 2015. Historically, they have a special on National Running Day in June so I’ll wait ‘til then to register. Training for the race will start in early September.  I might do another 10K or half marathon between now and then if I find the right opportunity, but we’ll see.

It just feels good to be back.

Running and Head Games

My friend asked me to write about the head games when it comes to running, in particular how do I keep going when it comes to training for a race, not quit, and accomplish a goal. For me, once I’ve paid the race registration, not doing the race is not an option. The only exception has been the 2009 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix when I was in a car accident three weeks before race day.

Running by Tomas Fano from Flickr

Running by Tomas Fano from Flickr

I don’t train for 5Ks. I rarely ever do 5K races because I think it’s wrong that I will spend more time getting ready for the race and driving to the starting line than I will actually spend doing the race. But on the rare occasion I do one, my performance may be completely pathetic if I haven’t been training because I forget that 3.1 miles will be painful if I haven’t been running.

For long races like half marathons, I lock in to a training program very easily. I like Hal Higdon’s half marathon training program for novices. Even though I’ve done the half marathon four times, I stick with this program because it gets me ready for the race without causing too much leg pain for my ex-gymnast body.

I’m really strict about sticking to the training program. I put it on my calendar and not doing a run is not an option. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it doesn’t have to be fun; but it does have to get done.  It’s just one foot in front of the other. I plan out my route in advance so I know where my turns are and I just crank it out. There are almost no excuses for not doing a run.

  • I’m tired: Suck it up. The faster you run, the sooner you get home.
  • It’s dark: Wear a reflective belt so cars can see you and a headlamp so you can see where you’re going.
  • It’s cold: Bundle up.
  • It’s below freezing and there’s ice on the sidewalk: Wait until the ice melts but you’re still going.
  • It’s hot: Run before sunrise and put on some sunblock.
  • It’s raining: Leave your iPod at home.
  • I’m traveling: Pack your sneakers.
  • I’m sick: Would walking your miles interfere with you getting better?
  • I’m sore: Stretch more.
  • I’m hurt: Take it easy or walk.
  • I’m injured: Stay home and get better.
  • I’m busy: Make it work. If something’s important to you, you make the time.

One tactic that works well for me is running first thing in morning. I lay out all my clothes and gear the night before so I can get up and out the door before I fully realize that I’m awake. Once I’m on the road, I’m fine, but getting out the door sometimes the hardest part.

And I take comfort in knowing that running isn’t always fun even for the die-hard runners. I was at Runner’s Den getting new shoes last year and it was comforting to hear a clerk say that the first two miles are always painful for him. That’s me too, especially on the longer runs. It takes 10-20 minutes for my body to get used to pounding the pavement and find a rhythm for that day’s run.

So how does this translate to setting and achieving goals the real world that require a long term commitment?

  • Have a plan of action that makes sense for who you are and your goal.
  • Commit to following the plan. No, really commit to the plan.
  • Set yourself up to succeed.
  • Confront your excuses.
  • Adjust your plan when sticking to it will likely keep you from achieving the ultimate goal.

Goals should be hard to achieve. That’s part of what makes them worth pursuing. Accept that it’s not always going to be a fun time and take comfort that everyone who’s working towards a goal isn’t happy all the time along the way.

Recap of the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Another race, another personal record – I finished the 2013 Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in 1:52:04, 28 seconds faster than last year’s time. Given that pain has been an issue for most of my training for this race, I was only hoping to finish in less than 2 hours. I was ecstatic when I saw that I did so well.

2013 half marathon pre raceI went into this race thinking that this would be my last half marathon. I was grumpy on the light rail as I headed downtown to the expo to pick up my race packet. As I approached the convention center, I started to feel antsy and by the time I was riding the escalator to the room where the expo was being held, I was completely giddy. There’s something about the running community and the camaraderie of doing a big race that makes me excited.

I planned to get my packet, get professionally taped at the KT Tape booth, grab a sample of 5-hour energy and take off, but I ended up spending over an hour there chatting with people. The physical therapist at the KT Tape booth sent me over the to The Stick booth where one of the guys worked on me and I ended up buying my own The Stick after experiencing how well it increased muscle circulation.

2013 Post RaceThe race day was awesome. I met up with my uncle and cousin in the “warm zone” before the race. Brand X Custom made me an awesome custom race shirt for the race that said “Masochist” across the chest and “Run Bitch” across the back. I learned last year that the back of your shirt entertains and motivates the people running behind you so the “Run Bitch” was as much for myself as my fellow runners.

I don’t wear a watch when I run so I don’t know what my pace is except to note the official race time at each mile marker. Instead, I’d find someone ahead of me that I thought was going slower than me and try to catch them.  There was a bald sweaty man that I ran with most of the race. I nicknamed him “Friend.”  If Friend got in front of me, I’d make it a priority to catch up to him. Friend kept me motivated. Around mile 10, I kicked it into high gear and I didn’t see him again until the finish line. He finished about a minute behind me. I thanked him when I saw him in the post-race area.

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, used with permission

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, used with permission

The best signs I saw along the route were “Chuck Norris never did a half marathon” and “Running is mental – and you’re all insane.” I hope the crowd knew how much their cheering and signs were appreciated. It makes the race much more bearable. My friend Jeff lives near the marathon route and he kept those runners entertained with a variety of snarky signs. According to him, a lot of people thanked him for being out there.

When I first finished the race and I saw how well I did, I thought about not giving up half marathons . . . until the ibuprofen and caffeine I took before the race started to wear off. My legs held up well during the race, but they were sore the next day. My amazing masseur had his work cut out for him. I’m not going to run for at least 2 weeks and let my legs recuperate.  I think I want to stay in 10K shape, meaning I want to be fit enough that a friend could ask me on a Wednesday to do a 10K race the following Saturday and I could say, “Yes” without worrying about embarrassing myself.

Special kudos to the race organizers and all the volunteers who helped make this race happen. You guys did a fantastic job.

And for those who care, here’s how my race results compared to the field:

  • 1853rd overall (top 14%)
  • 544th for my gender (top 7%)
  • 121st in my division (top 10%)

If you want to see my results and my goofy race photos, you can look me up here. My race number was 4040.

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