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Sunday, April 18, 2004

week 9: on the heat and good advice

yeesh. i supposedly had a bit of a break this week , with a "mere" 12 miler for the long run, but it was in the mid-80's today which pretty wiped me out. i've written about me and the heat and i'm still dealing with it. timewise, running in 80+ F degree heat seems to add 15 seconds per mile onto my time as compared to running in 40 degree weather and it seems to double my perceived exertion. i have no idea if this is "normal". maybe some people can run faster in the heat, but i'm not one of them.

last week i commented on what i thought might be an emerging case of shin splints , which can be tough to deal with if you let them get out of hand. i'm feeling much better thanks to a well-timed email exhange with ozzie gontang , maintainer of the running faq . ozzie had noticed that i had linked to his writings in the past and wrote to say that he liked the site and had hoped that the running was going well. i took the opportunity to tell his that while everything seemed to be going well, i thought i might be getting a case of shin splints. he send me an article called, healing shin splint folklore and prevention , which contains some very important advice regarding shin splints:

"I continue to believe that the shin spints come more from the overstride and the deceleration and then the overstretch of the shin which should be relaxing but hasn't had time. It is then being stretched by the contracting calf muscle. For me I define an overstride as landing on the back of the heel of the shoe. If I were jumping up and down, I would never land on the heels of my shoes nor on my heels if I were barefoot. So why run landing on the heels...and by this I mean the back of the heels if one were barefoot."

so with the knowledge that it my troubles might be due to an overstride, for the entire week, i made a conscious effort to shorten my stride and land with less force on my heels.

well, all i can say is, "thanks ozzie!" the shin splints are gone. the benefits from shortening my stride, were seem almost immediately and now, a mere week later, the pain in my shin is completely gone.

6:55 PM

Sunday, April 11, 2004

week 7-8: running meets reality

the last two weeks have been busier than normal as we're in the process of selling our house which tends to put a damper on the running schedule. i've also been feeling something in my right shin which might possibly be the first signs of shin splints, so i've been backing off the schedule a little.

in week 7, i intentionally ditched two midweek short 4 milers to give my shins a rest and then ended up missing the 16 miler because we were frantically getting our house ready to show. for week 8 i was still feeling some tenderness in my right shin so i skipped the saturday 8 miler. i did get an easter day 17 miler in today and am happy to report that by this morning my shin was feeling better and didn't seem to act up during the run at all. sometimes in the early stages of shin splints, they don't feel that bad after you get warmed-up, so i'll be keeping a close watch on how things feel in the morning. week 10 looks like i get a little break again, so that should help things out as well.

my running times are feeling pretty solid. when i run run more than 12 miles, i tend to think of things in terms of 8 mile "splits" [ i.e. am i running the second 8 miles at the same pace that i rant the first 8 miles ]. even though i'm substantially more tired at the end of the run, i seem to be keeping essentially the same split times, so that's a good sign. it's hard to imagine keeping it up for 26.2 miles, but i guess that's what training is for.

1:40 PM

Sunday, March 28, 2004

week 6: spring [ and the heat ] seems to be officially here

with the arrival of spring, it's time to begin the process of getting acclimated to running in warmer weather. the 3 miler a few weeks ago in pasadena was one thing, but it's a whole other thing to run a 10 miler in 60 degree weather, when you're acclimated to far cooler temperatures. on a perceived exertion scale of 1-10 with 1 being low and 10 being high, i'd say last week's 14 miler in 20 degree weather was about a 6 and the 10 miler today was around an 8 - maybe even an 8.5. i can't find any studies at the moment beyond the somewhat obvious conclusion that heat increases performer discomfort. if memory serves, last spring it took me a full 6 weeks to get comfortable with the warmer temperatures, so we'll see if that stays the same this year.

other than the heat, now is the time to watch out for the first signs of common overuse injuries. you almost never see injuries in the first few weeks of training, rather they creep up on you - a tight calf or a sore ligament there or a tender achilles tendon or hamstring can quickly move from an slight irritant to an incapacitating injury that that take weeks to fully heal. the tendancy, expecially at this stage of training to blindly "run through" the mild irritant until it's too late. that said, it's also completely normal at this stage to get a few aches and pains after a run. so you have to listen really carefully to what your body is saying to you and go with your gut. with impeccable timing this week, i've started to feel a few minor irritants in my right knee, the ligament in my lower right hamstring and my right shin. since everything is connected, i'm sure they are all related and hopefully just accumulated muscle tightness and nothing too serious. if it keeps up, it might be time to supplement the running with a little therapeutic massage.

if all goes well, next week, i'll throw on a few miles to the weekday junk miles and finish the week with a 16 miler for a grand total of 40 miles.

6:23 PM

Sunday, March 21, 2004

week 5: on perceived longness of long runs and getting ahead of yourself

no matter how you cut it - objectively - 14 miles is a long way to run. and beyond that real-world, actual longness, there's the perceived longness, which can either work with you, or more often than not, against you.

the 14 mile and longer runs are really more about mental rather than physical conditioning, and your mind is what makes the difference between a good run and excruciatingly horrid run. one game that my brain is particularly fond of playing is the "get ahead of yourself" gambit. this is where the first 6 or eight miles go by rather quickly and you imagine that you're further along than i really are. given the way that energy is consumed during a run, you'll always feel more than twice as tired at the end of a run as you did halfway through the run and you have to remember that simple fact. otherwise you'll spend the last 3 or 4 miles focusing on how much more tired you are now compared to just a few miles ago. you'll be surprised how much energy you can burn trying to figure out if you'll have enough energy to finish the run, given the stupendous rate at which it appears to leaving your body. while just 40 minutes ago the miles were flying by , now they are getting progresssively longer and longer until you're quite sure that the last mile will be infinitely long. and then it comes, the little voice that suggests that you're probably not going to finish this run.

i haven't actually talked with other runners about the "get ahead of yourself" game to see if it's common, but for whatever reason my mind likes to play it a lot. you'd think it would be as easy as telling yourself to not let your mind wander to the end of the run, to stay "in the moment", one foot in front of the other. that's it, just stay there, mentally, right where you and don't go thinking about the end. but it never works that way for me. i've devised strategies to try to force myself to think only about where i am, chief amongst them is measuring and ticking off half mile markers through the run. that's right, i'll divide a 14 mile run into 0.5 mile segments and try to stay mentally in that half mile. i've tried narrowing things down even further and attempted to meditate on each footstep hitting the ground to keep my attention only on that exact moment, the moment that i'm right then, but usually that falls apart after a quarter mile or so. the half mile marker strategy works adequately much of the time, but i keep hoping someday i'll just be able to settle into a run and not have to worry about silly strategies for defeating mind games.

all things considered, today's run went well, a half a mile at a time, and i didn't get too far ahead of myself. it was 20 degrees F today and windy so mostly i played the "it's so !#!%~ cold i can't stand it game". woohoo! next week i get to chill out a little and only run a 10 miler on the weekend.

6:56 PM

Sunday, March 14, 2004

week 4: beating jetlag with (almost) a half-marathon

thanks to my travel schedule i missed the saturday 6 miler this week, since i didn't get much sleep on the redeye back from pasadena. the week wasn't a total loss though since i had a pleasant wednesday 3 miler while i was in the area which was a little shock to the system since the weather was quite a bit warmer than i'm used too. despite not feeling altogether correct today, i decided to grin and bear it and just run the sunday 13 miler. much to my suprise it felt great despite being subjected to wind gusts of 45 m.p.h. and slow flurries.

next week i'll add a mile here and there during the week and finish up the week with 14 miler. it seems strange to be hitting such long miles so early in the training, but everything it feeling great so i guess i'll go with it.

6:19 PM

Sunday, March 07, 2004

week 3: winter's back!

of course, as soon as i mention that spring was in the air, winter comes back with a vengeance. most of this week wasn't too bad, weatherwise, but today was hovering around freezing with high winds and a freezing rain/snow combo which made running an 8 miler loads of fun. occasionally the gusts would come up so strong that i could imagine my feet being swept out from underneath myself on the slushy, slippery sidewalk. fun! this week i switched from the Intermediate I to the Intermediate II program. things are going great. i can really tell a difference in my conditioning by running 5 days a week. it's a pain to try to carve out the time, but i guess i can just keep taking it a day at a time.

only 15 more weeks of training!

7:58 PM

Sunday, February 29, 2004

week 2 training summary

ah yes. week two of hal higdon's Intermediate I program is under my belt and i'm feeling pretty good about it. the nine miler today went well, even though it came immediately after the five miler. nine miles is a long distance, it's even longer when it comes less that 24 hours after a five mile run and your muscles haven't had time to repair fully.

it's getting warmer. it has been in the high 40s lately, which makes it tough to decide what to wear. it's not quite shorts and t-shirt weather, but the regular winter legging and long sleave shirts can get toasty. in any case the snow is melting and it might be a little premature, but i swear it seems like there's a hint of spring in the air.

6:38 PM

just in time for summer - look snazzy and support the site at the same time by buying some snowdeal schwag!

"I think you devise your own limits for your own personal convenience. There are some people who wish to have limits, and they'll invent as many boxes for themselves as they want. It's like, you know, men invented armor. They wanted to protect themselves from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and so forth. And people do the same thing psychically and psychologically. They build their own armor. They build their own rathole, whatever it is. And they choose their existence. Whether they do it consciously or whether it is helped along by a government or an education system, somebody is helping to shape this imaginary box you live in, but it doesn't have to be there."

--frank zappa

runner's world / joe henderson / chicago marathon /

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