Monday, August 29, 2011

A Little Sad...and A New Plan

Let me touch on the "sad" part first. If you've suffered through my posts lately, you'll know that I've been running exclusively with my oldest daughter, Natalie, the last few weeks. The reason has been two-fold: to help her prepare for her upcoming 7th grade cross-country season, and to force me to hold back as I return to running from a pretty serious heel injury. It has worked very well (in my opinion, anyway). But alas, like all good things, it now comes to an end. Natalie is still over a week away from starting school, but her team will have "conditioning" workouts every day this week, starting tomorrow. I'll miss my running partner. There's still a chance we can run together when my club meets on Saturday mornings, assuming she's still willing to get up early for it. We'll also run a couple of road races together, so all is not lost. Still, it's sad. I really enjoyed those runs with her. As I mentioned before, it'll be a challenge to reign myself in in her absence.

Now, on to my new Plan of Action! I've put it out there that I will do a sprint triathlon next year. I'm already working up a rough training schedule for the next few months. Here's what I'm thinking (subject to change, of course):

MON: run (intervals)
TUE: swim, weights
WED: run (easy)
THU: bike (short, hard)
FRI: swim, weights
SAT: run (long-ish)
SUN: bike (easy, long-ish)

I'm not to the detail stage yet, so I'm not sure about times and distances. This plan doesn't give me a complete day off, which may be an issue. One thing I do know is that I won't be doing anything particularly long, as I'll be training for a sprint distance. As with most of us "pure" runners, swimming is my biggest nemesis, and will probably require the most work. Fortunately, I've got several swim-savy friends in my local running club who can show me the ropes. I may ease into this program by doing fewer workouts per week for a couple of weeks. I may start doing a "brick" workout once a week as the race approaches.

Although I'd rather be running a bunch of miles, I'm starting to get excited about the variety of such a program. Here's hoping my heel holds up, and no new injuries appear (i.e. that I don't push myself too hard!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wow, I Was Ticked!

First, let me say that I'm approaching a dangerous time as a runner. The last few weeks of short, relatively show runs has me feeling like a caged tiger, knowing he's going to be set free soon. The cage door is being unlocked, and the tiger is ready to bolt to freedom. No, I'm not suddenly 100% injury-free, but I've run enough with minimal (or no) pain lately that just that little taste has me eager to bust out a longer, faster run...or ten. I've been here before (as many of you probably have), and it takes a LOT of discipline for me to hold back. I'll continue to do my best in that department. What will be even harder is when my daughter, who I've been running with, goes back to school. I'll then be left to run on my own most of the time. Talk about will power! I'll have to keep the memory of NOT BEING ABLE to run at all fresh in my mind.

Speaking of not being able to run, here's a little gem I found while going through old video files. This was from September of 2010; nearly a year ago. I was in the initial stages of life without ANY running. While I honestly don't remember recording this, I remember the feeling quite well (I'm well beyond it, thankfully). While I was trying to be funny, the sentiment was real. A happy camper I was not.

Monday, August 22, 2011

She's Ready To Fly

As you probably know, I've been running exclusively with my oldest daughter (entering 7th grade) the last few weeks. Our first of 3 weekly runs has included some interval work. Today I decided to mix it up and run a mile time trial on the road, so we can get a feel for where she's at before school (and cross-country season) starts in less than 2 weeks.

After a 1/2 mile warmup, we took off — me keeping an eye on the Garmin as we ran so I could monitor our average pace. She was hoping to go sub-8:00. I knew she could go a good deal faster than that. We ended up at 7:37. She finished strong. I think she had a sub 7:30 in her.

Her track PR for the mile earlier this year was 7:21. I don't have any doubt that she'll blow that away during XC season (they run a mile time trial early in the season), and she'll likely go sub-7 next spring during track season.

I've been emphasizing to her that her biggest limitation is her mind. That said, I'm not willing to push her close to what I feel her limit is currently. This has to be an enjoyable and positive process for her. But I always tell her she can go farther and faster than she thinks she can.

Another fun aspect to today's run was running with my youngest daughter after my run with Natalie. Yesterday, I bought Lindsey a running outfit she's had her eye on and she was eager to try it out. We ran a comfortable .6 miles. She asked me if she could run with me a lot more when she gets to be Natalie's age. How could I turn that down? Fun times as a dad, to see both girls interested in running. If they stay interested and stick with it, there's no limit to what they can achieve as runners.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

3 Weeks and All is Well

I just finished my third week of 3 runs per week...all with my oldest daughter. My heel has felt fine, for the most part. I still feel a little soreness when going uphill. Our weekly runs are mostly flat, with exception of a long, gradual hill on our Saturday morning run. I might need to make an adjustment there...but even that soreness isn't as bad as what I was experiencing a few months ago. Of course, NO soreness would be preferable, but I'll take what little progress I can get, at this point.

We've got about two and a half weeks until school starts again, so we'll keep plugging away as we've been doing. Short intervals on Tuesday, medium-pace run on Thursday, and long(ish) and slow on Saturday, for a very modest 7-8 miles per week. Obviously my fitness won't go through the roof on such a program, but once I start swimming again (and cycling, once I get new shoes to replace the one I destroyed), I'll start improving my cardio fitness, to go along with the strength I've built with weight training.

So overall, I'm content with how things are going. Hopefully the gradual progress will continue.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A New Challenge

Since I already put this out on my running club's Facebook page, I'll make it public here as well: I'm officially training for a sprint triathlon. No, it's not earth-shattering news, nor is it an epic event. I was inspired by following several of my clubmates online as they competed in the Lake Stevens 70.3 triathlon.

Aside from that, it just makes sense for me to do this. I'm goal-oriented (almost to a fault), and having something like this to train for will force me to cross-train, rather than succumbing to the temptation to run too much, too often, too soon. I mentioned in a previous post how my heart just wasn't into swimming and cycling as much as the running. Part of that was due to not having a goal that involved those activities. This will take care of that.

I know that most able-bodied people can complete a sprint triathlon with pretty minimal training, but I want to start small, for two reasons. First, I want to see if I actually enjoy triathlons and, second, I have a tendency to overdo things the bigger they are. In other words, a sprint isn't a "grand scale" event in comparison to an Ironman, a 70.3, or even an Olympic distance. I can keep my training short and sweet.

As for what race and when, I haven't decided yet. I'm looking at sometime late June or early July of 2012. That will give me more than enough time to prepare, and to make sure my injury allows me to train for it.

Aside from that, my daughter and I are signed up for a local 5k next month. We'll also be running a little 2-mile race in November (which we did together last year), as well as possibly another 5k in early December.

So...let the fun begin!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It Ain't Much, But It's Progress!

I just wrapped up my second consecutive week of 3 runs per week. Didn't go far (14 miles combined), nor fast (about 9:50/mile average), but despite a couple of times when my heel & Achilles let me know they were there, I was encouraged.

All runs were with my daughter, who is starting to get ready for her cross-country season. Last year (her first year), she went into the season totally unprepared & came home sore and exhausted the first week or two. This year, she'll be much more ready. So this plan is working perfectly for both of us. I get to gradually work myself back into a minimal running program at an easy pace, and my daughter gets to improve her fitness going into XC season. We're even doing a bit of "speed work" on Mondays.

Now, if I can get motivated to cycle and swim, I'll have a more rounded endurance-training program. Still hitting the weights 3 days/week, but I'm itching to build up my cardio fitness once again.

So, I guess to summarize, I'm happy with how things are going at this point. I ain't the runner I once was, but at least I'm running!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ragnar Relay NW Passage 2011 Video

Here is this year's video submission for our Ragnar Relay team. If you saw last year's video, you'll notice that this is a completely different concept. Last year's video won "best video," and thus we got a free entry for this year's race. We're hoping for the same again this year.

Like last year, I wrote, directed & produced this year's submission. The difference this year is that I thought it would be great to get some of the other team members to do some acting. The concept is a Ken Burns-style documentary, forty years in the future, looking back (completely inaccurately) on the 2011 race. While I've only directed myself in the past, these guys did a great job. Some needed more "coaxing" than others, but to be fair, I did put them on the spot ("here's the clothing, here are your lines...NOW ACT!) I got in there as a German Ragnar historian. No, I couldn't just stay behind the camera.

So, without further adieu, here it is:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Pattern, A Groove...but Not A Rut (I hope)

I survived a three-run week last week. First time since May. I just finished my first run of this week today, which included 3 quick interval segments. The heel held up okay. Got ice on it right now.

All of these runs have been with my oldest daughter (going into 7th grade). While I miss the 45 mile weeks and my own speed & tempo sessions, being able to run with my daughter (so far), at her pace, has been really enjoyable for me. While I'm determined to NOT make her my "project," it's fun to see her develop as a runner.

So, for the time being, this will be my pattern. I'll lift weights 3x per week and run 3x per week. Hoping to fit in some cycling (did a family ride over the weekend in which I broke one of my cycling shoes) and, perhaps, some swimming once again, as I quit doing that for the summer when the the pool changed their lap schedules.

It would be nice if I'm able to slowly build up some mileage and speed using this approach. I may never be a 40+ mile/week runner again without having surgery, but I'm going to see what I can do on limited mileage and frequency. Something tells me I'll get the urge to run more/farther/faster before long and choose to go under the knife. Who knows. But for now, I'll stick to this little groove I'm currently in & enjoy running some miles with my daughter.

Oh, full disclosure — I quit seeing my sports doc for the time being. The last several visits went something like this:

Doc: "Let's look at the heel. Looks good. How does it feel?"
Me: "Oh, not too bad. A little discomfort from time to time."
Doc: "Well, keep doing what you're doing. 3 runs per week. Short & slow. And do your heel raises."
Me: "Okay"
Doc: "I'll see you again next month."

There were many consecutive visits identical to that. I figured that, unless things change, why make a co-pay every month for the same thing?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'm Baaaack (sort of...)

Hey, I actually just ran 2.7 miles with oldest daughter! 1 mi easy warmup, 2x.2 mi @ 8:20 pace (w/.2 mi recovery btwn), 1.1 mi cooldown. Trying to get my daughter ready for 7th grade XC, and trying to get us BOTH in shape for a 5k next month. No noticeable pain in my heel, knock on wood.

I'm still lifting weights, although I've slacked a bit, thanks to some vacation time, lots of landscaping work (hey, that's a workout, too!) and a pretty busy work schedule. My plan for the next month (at least) is to shoot for 3 runs a week to go along with the weights. They won't be long runs, but I will try to throw in some "speed" (as it relates to my daughter's pace) here and there.

I'm also working on a new video for my club's Ragnar team. Wasn't able to run it this year, but I volunteered. Our video won last year, and I'm trying to continue that trend. This year's version is completely different from last year's. I'll post a link here when it's ready.