Run to Live, Live to Run

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Dog Days of Winter...

    Ok, say by now you've cursed the weatherman, cursed your neighbor for taking the parking spot you dug out, the local government for lack of snow removal skills, and if you're like me, even cursed God for making it all happen.  Anyways, the end is in sight, and despite the horrible conditions the past few weeks, I've still managed to get in my half marathon training, in creative ways nonetheless.  Today was actually pretty nice out, about 45, sunny and most streets just wet.  I got in a nice 45 minute tempo run, but lately it's been tough to get in a decent outdoor run.  I absolutely hate the treadmill, so I have to be very creative.  I've got a membership to the YMCA, which is very valuable this time of year.  On days I haven't been able to run outside, I've gotten in great conditioning workouts at the gym.  Usually, I warm up with a nice 15 minutes on the bike or the elliptical trainer, then full stretching and core training with the weighted exercise balls.  Throw in 3 sets each of 25 push-ups, pull-ups and dips.  I top it all off with a 30-40 minute swim.  I alternate laps with different strokes swimming and also strapping on a floatation belt and do some laps of pool running.  It provides the body with just as much aerobic benefit & exhaustion as a run when it's just too crappy outside.  It also just feels great.  My body gets probably the best night's sleep after a pool workout.
    As for you, if you're already an established runner or are actively training for a goal race, great for you.  If not, but you wish to and you're finding it tough to get motivated this time of year, don't get down about it.  It's not that hard to start a training program.  A logical first step would be to get some good shoes that fit your feet, body type and running goals.  I always tell folks to go out and see Mike Monagle at  Delaware Running Company in Greenville Shopping Center and they will set you up nice.  Sure you can go to Dick's or Sports Authority if you want know what you're looking for or want to find a deal, but nobody there is going know anything about finding the right shoe for you.  The Running Company is staffed by runners who know how help other runners find the right gear for them.
    The next step is getting out the door (or on the treadmill if that is your preference) but the only way to become a better runner is to start logging miles.  Start small, not too far, not too fast, say a few miles or 25-30 minutes at a comfortable talking pace.    Walking is ok too...maybe alternate 1 minute walking breaks for every 2 minutes running and then gradually work your way up adding another minute running.   If you have a dog, it's also a great excuse to get him or her out.  If not, think about adopting one-check out the DE Humane Shelter or Faithful Friends to get started on that.  The goal when you go out is to enjoy yourself.  It doesn't have to suck or be painful.
    Once you start running, it's a safe routine to go every other day...say 3-4 times each week, gradually building up mileage or time.  I go with time, just because I don't always have the time or patience to measure out the distance of every run.  It's a good routine to add 10% each if you ran 4 days in the week, totaling about 20 miles, just add 2 more miles to the next week's total.  Or add 3-4 minutes to your average run each week if you're not keeping track of distance.  Now once you're into a nice routine and comfortable adding distance or time on a regular basis, you can add in weekly long run if you like.  It should be 30-40% of your weekly running total, so if you're logging 21 miles for the week, have your long run be 7-8 miles.  If you'd like to map out a distance and don't have the means to measure it, a great tool to use is Google Maps.  Go to the main page, click "My Maps", then "Browse Directory" and then "Distance Measurement Tool"'s very accurate and very simple to use.
    A great way to keep track of your progress is to keep a diary or a running log.  Write down everything...where you ran, how long, what you saw, what you ate before and after, any pain or problems and how it made you feel (hopefully great).  You'll be surprised at how much you can learn from yourself. 
    Enough for now...I'm off to bed and to pray for rain to do some more melting the next few days.  Hopefully later this week the streets will be easier to navigate.  Spring is 4 weeks away...until then, the pool better be ready for me.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Six more motherscratching weeks...

  So the most famous giant rodent in the Western Hemisphere gave us his word on winter on Tuesday and honestly, SCREW YOU PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL.  Anyways, we shouldn't be surprised since it has been a harsher than normal season so far and all the predictions were that we were going to really get it this year.
I was lucky enough to get out for a long run today on the Woodlawn Trustees Trail, given that with the forecast for the weekend, it probably won't be great running conditions for the next few days.  I for one don't mind running in the winter, or in the snow and ice for that matter (I just can't stand treadmills).  I have a few great pairs of trail shoes that grip the elements well.  I favor Asics, particularly the Gel Trail Attack 5, below   and the Gel Trabuco, below those.

     Both are rugged and bulky enough like a hiker, but  light and well cushioned enough like a runner with the classic Asics feel.  They are also water resistant, which comes in handy this time of year.  I would recommend them to anyone looking for a great winter training shoe, especially if you've worn Asics before.  The Trail Attacks felt great today even after running for an hour through muddy snow covered feet were totally dry.  I also wore a pair of Nike long compression socks, which not help alleviate pain from shin splints, but also add a little warmth if you're like me and won't touch a pair of tights, no matter how cold it is.  They're actually made for soccer, but function very well anytime running for extended periods.  They keep my feet nice, warm and dry and have never given me blisters.  Until spring, they are the go to sock. 
     This week not only marks the 6 week countdown until spring (hopefully), but also the 6 week countdown until the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon.  I am just over 2 weeks into my training and am up to about 20 miles a week.  My hope is to add a mile to my long run each week (I did 6 miles today) and top out at about 35 miles a week before the race.  To make it interesting, I'm also doing fundraising for the race's sponsor and benefactor, the American Lung Association of Delaware.  If you would like to make a donation to help fight lung disease in my name, you may do so here at my homepage.  It's totally tax deductible, would help me reach my goal and would go to a great cause.  So if you donate, thank you very much and if not, shame on you, you should.  So enjoy the winter wonderland this weekend and until next time, good night and good running.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Balls of Fury...

     Alright, so you're a decent runner, and you want to maybe step it up a little bit.  Or maybe you just want to feel stronger and more confident while out there or just in your daily travels.
Weight Training...I know, it sounds so heavy...imposing...time consuming...or you just like to run and don't want to get too big.  All excuses, at least for the workout that I do to supplement my running routine.  I actually don't use weights, at least not heavy ones.  I go to the gym, but everything I do there I could do at home, so I think my $50 a month YMCA membership will be coming to a close come spring.  The elements to keep in mind here are low weight, medium reps and high quality. 
I like to use weighted medicine balls,  found at most gyms and available at any sporting goods store.  I found 2 great ones, 8 & 10 pounds each at the Sports Authority on sale for less than $30 each, so don't say you can't find any.  Now I am in half marathon training, so I am serious about my training.  I currently am running every other day...Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  I do my weight training and conditioning Monday and Wednesday.  I either swim, bike or do an easy jog on Fridays and I rest on Sunday.  My Mon./Wed. routine starts with a 15-20 minute cardio to get my heart rate up, then some light stretching and yoga moves to get nice and limber.  I then proceed to go through a mix of different moves standing up, sitting down and on my back with both the 8 and 10 pound balls.
Here is a great regimen to follow, this one followed by Tyler Hansbrough and the UNC Tarheels basketball team...I think it must've done some good, given that it helped them win a little something called the National Championship last spring.  
     Since I started using the balls as opposed to free weights and barbells, I feel stronger, more flexible and have much more energy not just on my runs but throughout my day.  It also takes a lot less time, and you can do it in your living room.  You'll have more time, more energy and like me, maybe some more money saved from that Y membership.  Until next time, good night & good running.