Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Some days the motions are enough

Yes, as much as you try, as much as you prepare, there are days you just don't have it.

Tonight was one of those nights. Hill work scheduled with the Pacers.
Half way up the first one, coming around the corner,
tried to shift into the next gear, and there was nothing there.
The legs never got going. There was no "second wind".
There was nothing in the tank.

So you make the best of it. You go through the motions.
You concentrate on your form. On doing what you can.

And then it will be over for that day. You can rest, recover
and enjoy the next day when it will be better.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Book Review: Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear

I gotta chuckle when I saw the sponsored links found on the Amazon.com page for this book. AT Cross (the pen company) and cross stitch references popped up. Not exactly the same kind of cross as in "cross country" but a typical computer generated "clueless" mistake. Now, if Arthur Lydiard had written some books on cross stitch that would be a different story.

Chris Lear spent the entire cross country season with the University of Colorado Buffaloes, from opening practice session through to the end of the season NCAA championships. The training miles, the meets, and events outside of the practice sessions interwine to become the story of the season. There are highs and lows. There is drama and tragedy. Life goes on, the team keeps on running.

Cross country is one unique sport where individualism is desired and teamwork is rewarded. As one who has run on several teams in high school and college, Chris has captured the essence of cross country.

The success of the Buffaloes is partly due to the training methodology of the coach, Mark Wetmore. He has built his system upon the work of the great New Zealand coach, Arthur Lydiard. For those on the inside of running, the Lydiard way is not an easy path to success (there are "no" easy roads) but one that if followed, will bring success. It emphasizes building your aerobic capacity. Physiologically, the methodology is sound. As scientific as the methodology is, it needs to be applied with the skill of an artist. The body is a wonderful thing. Get 10-15 healthy bodies together on a team and the coaching experience can be a challenge. However, the moments of success are rewarding.

You get to live these moments with Chris and the Buffaloes. This is a book well worth the time to read.


Friday, April 15, 2005

Best Wishes for the Boston Marathoners!

The early weather report says it may be in the 70's on Monday, race day.

I hope for all your sake's that Mother Nature does not turn up the heat so much.

Don't overdo the water you drink.

Water is actually quite effective just poured on your head so it can run down your back in the heat.

Run well!

PS - lite blogging alert, heading away from the network for a spell. See you on the other side.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Yes, hill running is good for you!

The Norfolk County Pacers have a Tuesday night hill workout. We generally got 6-10 runners during the winter and hopefully will get some more in the spring through fall day light hours. We start at 6:30 in the parking lot at the top of the hill and do a warm up run down one side, a loop around a couple of blocks through the neighborhood at the bottom to get to the other side and then up and over to our starting point.

The hill has a "long" gradual up section (approx. 3 tenths of a mile). The short side is a little steeper (approx. 2 tenths). Our workout consists of a hard run up the long side, recover the short. Hard up the short, recover the long. We repeat this 3 times.

The total workout is just over 5 miles. 3 miles of hills and the mile loop twice for the warm up and warm down.

I have seen the benefits personally of this training. I took two minutes off my 5K time from November to February.

Catching up to some back issues of Runner's World, I found in the February issue an article by Amby Burfoot with some scientific studies to highlight the benefits of this training.

You can read the full article here.

Some key takeaways for me:

A 1977 article in the European Journal of Applied Physiology concluded that runners who followed an intense six-week program of hard uphill running enjoyed "significant improvements in training distances, anaerobic capacity, and strength."

A chapter in the International Olympic Committee's 1992 book Endurance and Sport reported a study of runners who did 12 weeks of regular training, plus "hill training with 'bounce running.'" After the 12 weeks, the subjects' running economy (or how efficiently they ran) increased by an average of three percent.

Arthur Lydiard had a hill routine that was part of his athletes regular training that is not so different from our NC Pacer Tuesday night workout (we would need to add the short sprints at the bottom of the hills).

Of course, not everyone appreciates hills. Nor can, or should, everyone run hills.

But for those who do, it is worth it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Overcoming fear and doubt

Can I complete the marathon?

Will I achieve my goal time?

What if ... fill in the blanks ...?

Negative thoughts are not good. They breed easily from one another.
They grow cancerous and dangerous.

What you need to do is to replace every negative thought with a positive one.

As Curt mentions, replace a red balloon with a green balloon.

It can be as simple as The Little Engine That Could.

I think I can.
I think I can.
I know I can!
I know I can!

As Curt mentions:

"You are what you think, so think what you want yourself to be."

Monday, April 11, 2005

Top performance

Runners dream about getting a "runners high". I feel fortunate to have had that a few times in my life. Running was special at each of those moments. Yes, the sensation rivaled sex.

But what brings it on? Can you prepare for it to occur on race day?

It is not likely but always possible.

This posting from Fred Gratzon at The Lazy Way provide this insight:

Top performances flow without any mental interference whatsoever.

We have all experienced that even though we may have mastered all the physical aspects of a sport, we lose the ability to perform them well under pressure. Therefore, it seems to me that teaching how to think (and more importantly how to not think) will bring success more quickly than teaching how to replicate the stroke of a great athlete.

"Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch
course, the space between your ears." Bobby Jones

The hard part is what to think about.
Thinking about nothing is actually the best.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Inspirational Marathon Journey

If you ever needed a little inspirational story to get your heart going and a tear (or more) in the corner of your eyes, read about William Tan. The Boston Sunday Globe Magazine piece reveals:

Tan, it turned out, was interested in blazing a new path: He hoped to do Antarctica as part of an attempt at completing seven marathons on seven continents in 70 days, culminating with Boston one week from tomorrow. Each race would be a fundraiser for charities, including the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Jimmy Fund.

William is coming to Boston to complete his task.
William is not your normal runner.
He is competing in a wheelchair!

I applaud his drive, his courage, his passion to succeed.

William, good luck in Boston!

Boston Marathon Prep

Only a week away from the running of the 109th BAA Boston Marathon. A number of folks from the Norfolk County Pacers are planning for this race. Their long runs are behind them now. They are looking to taper in the remaining days.

Simply: tapering is less running, more resting. You should run relaxed. You can go a little faster but the overall effort needs to be less to stay fresh. You need to be ready for what Mother Nature will bring for you on Marathon Monday.

During your runs this week, think through your preparations for the race.
Focus on the positives!
You have accomplished a lot thus far.
You have run long.
You have in all kinds of weather.
Visualize yourself on the course.
Running in control.
Running with encouragement from the crowd.

Put your name somewhere visible. The crowd will shout it out to cheer you on.
Go Jim! Go Scott! Go Sheila!
It would be better to hear "go Todd or Mike"
than "you in the white shirt" !

The Boston Globe Magazine article today focuses on some of the similar preparations by Boston area runners.

Be sure to check out the picture gallery.

Do not get swept away in the emotions of the race.
Run smart.
Make it a race worthy of all the training you have put into it.

Enjoy it!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

At one with the world

It is pouring rain, and more rain, today.
I did get a good run in.
Sometimes, the rain helps.

I needed to be warm to get going.
It was 38 and felt like 30 so I wore my tights,
long sleeve top, t-shirt and baseball cap.
Did not want a jacket.
More to wear, more water weight to carry.
Oh, and my old glittens (glove mitten combo).

Did my Jordan Road loop in reverse
from the normal way I run it.
Reverse provides for a different view,
a tougher hill, but a familiar route.

Felt good. Legs loose, strong.
Striding on my toes.
Avoiding puddles.
Cap keeping the rain out of my eyes.

Birds chirping all around.
They're not bothered by the rain.

Cars, vans, trucks
all Saturday morning traffic.
Off the main road finally onto Jordan.
Quieter here. Still birds around
perhaps commenting on my running style
or craziness to be out in the rain.

The miles disappear behind me.
The gutter continues to challenge me
with puddles and road detritus.
Legs still strong coming up the last hill
to the home stretch
this will be a good one.
Overall 3 minutes faster than
I ran this in December (according to the log).

An easy warm down around the block
adds another half mile,
lets the moment of success linger
legs recover, catch my breath
and then finally walk the last
bit to the house and out of the rain.

Remembering Creeley's line:
"... wet with a decent happiness."