Monday, December 31, 2012

What's Ahead For 2013

With 2012 having flown by (didn't it just start?), I'm eagerly looking forward to what 2013 will bring, especially with regards to running and endurance activities.

But before outlining my plans and expectations, here are the raw numbers from 2012:

Miles Run: 621
Runs: 163
Average Miles/Run: 3.8
Biggest Week: 30.6 miles (Nov.)
Biggest Month: 113.1 miles (Nov.)
Longest run: 10 miles
Races: 10 (all 5k's except for a 2-mile fun run with my daughter. See my previous entry.)
Best Race: Christmas Rush 5k - 21:19 (Dec.)

Bike Rides (outdoor): 2
Bike Miles (outdoor): 40.2
Bike Rides (trainer): 8
Bike Miles (trainer): 66.9

Walks: 66
Miles walked: 190


I also put in about 50 hours of weight training, including bodyweight exercises:

pushups: 8050 (max of 50, 1005 in 1 week)
pullups: 3056 (max of 13, 305 in 1 week)
situps: 6404 (max of 85, 735 in 1 week)
dips: 4085 (max of 33, 432 in 1 week)
squats: 4446 (max of 74, 340 in 1 week)


It certainly wasn't an impressive year when it comes to mileage. Still recovering from injury, I didn't start running regularly until May, and even then it wasn't much. I began slowly increasing the mileage in September, when I kicked off a 77-day running streak. In fact, about 61% of my year's running mileage was recorded in the last 1/3 of the year. Consequently, I did manage to knock nearly two minutes off my 5k time from January to December. Higher volume...if the body can handle it...works.

I won't lie. I'm still "injured." My heel and Achilles still ache somewhat regularly. I push it too hard sometimes, being eager to rebuild both my mileage and speed. Then there's my left hip, which is tight and sore more often than not. And, lest I forget, I fight a bit of plantar fasciitis in my right foot from time to time.

But…none of these ailments has been enough to sideline me again. I'm learning to back off on the mileage and intensity and attend to them (ice, stretching, massage) when needed.

So, since 2011 was pretty much a wash, I declare 2012 as my official Comeback Year. And, for the most part, I'm happy with how it went.

As for 2013, it'll be more of the same, to a certain extent, with a couple of exceptions. I've committed to doing the Seattle to Portland (STP) bike ride in July. It's a one or two day (rider's choice), 204-mile bike ride. I'll be training for that the first half of the year, which means, unfortunately, that I won't be able to focus entirely on running. I know, I know…the cross-training will do me good.

I do, however, have some running plans. Having raced several 5k's in 2012, and having finished with a time only 4 seconds shy of my PR, I'd like to continue working on shorter races and honing my speed. I will step up and run some 10k's as well, but I'd like to get that (soft) 5k PR taken care of. I'd also like to see if I can work on getting my mile time down. I don't know whether or not I'll actually enter a mile race, but I will start incorporating some speedwork on the track and run some mile time trials. All this, of course, with the approval of my right heel (and the rest of my fickle body.) If all goes well, I may even consider a half marathon toward the end of the year.

I don't have any concrete mileage goals, since I'm basing my volume on what my heel will allow. I would like to hit the modest goal of 1000 miles each of running and cycling in 2013, if not more. And, barring setbacks, I should hit 10,000 lifetime running miles sometime next summer.

In other running news, I was accepted, for the 4th consecutive year, back into the Brooks ID program. It's a privilege I really appreciate. I swear by their shoes and gear and will proudly wear them again throughout 2013.

I did write a few articles for a couple of local running magazines (Northwest Runner and Outdoors NW), which was enjoyable. I was able to incorporate some illustrations…which is how I make my living…into the articles. Perhaps I'll continue to do some freelance writing in 2013.

I also released my third collection of running-related parody songs in 2012. If you're interested, see the column just to the right of the top blog entry. For the many of you who have purchased them, thank you VERY much! I hope they make you pee your shorts at least once during a run.

When I started this blog back in 2009, I titled it Resurrected Runner for the simple fact that I've quit…and re-started...running many times over the past 30 years due to a variety of injuries. I had no idea that I had yet to suffer my worst injury yet (the only one for which I went through two physical therapists.) Fortuitously named, yes, but I honestly don't plan on my running resurrections being an ongoing thing. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines the word "resurrect" as "to restore to life; revive the practice, use or memory of something; bring new vigor." It does NOT imply that I'm anything special. I know I'm not. Stubborn and obsessed…okay, I'll vouch for that. Even motivated and determined, to be nicer. Truth is, I'm just a middle-aged, not very talented runner who refuses to give up. Who knows, maybe I should. I have no idea what the long-term effects of my running-related injuries will be. But for now, I'll continue to be stubborn…although hopefully increasingly wiser…and forge ahead. Maybe even a doofus like me can show others in similar circumstances that, yes, giving up is an option, but it doesn't HAVE to be the only choice. Nearly any setback can be overcome. Personally, I think giving up sucks.

Thanks for playing along at home. I appreciate your comments and encouragement, as always. Here's hoping you have an injury-free, success-filled running year in 2013. Run happy!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Race Report/Race Year In Review

I'm a week late in getting a race report up for the Christmas Rush 5k I ran last Saturday (12/8/12) so I'll combine that with a brief review of all of my races this year, since I'm done racing in 2012.

As mentioned, I ran in the 30th Annual Christmas Rush race last weekend. What makes this race special for me is that I ran it the very year the race was established (1983...yes, it's the 30th year, since you count the year it began.) It was my first road race, and it was only a 10k at the time (starting about the 3rd year, they added a 5k.) I still have the shirt from that first race. Even though it's very thin (cotton was all you could get at races back in the day), I just had to wear it to this race. The race director knew I was going to wear it. After the race, he announced it and made a big to-do about it. Hopefully I can break it out again for the 40th running!

Pre-race, wearing the threadbare original race shirt.
The weather was perfect: overcast and low 40's. I talked my friend (and running club-mate) Dan into running the race, knowing I would be bumped down in the standings because of that. I prefer his company over finishing one spot higher in our age group (45-49). Indeed, that's exactly what happened, as he's currently quite a bit faster than me.

I had a goal of breaking 21:30 in this race. I ran a 21:53 four weeks earlier, so I wasn't completely sure I could chop off 24 seconds. But training had gone well, and I ended my running streak at 77 days, allowing for plenty of recovery time (both from running and from an upper respiratory infection) so I was relatively confident.

I managed to go out fairly strong and run progressive splits, which surprised me. After opening with a 6:59 mile, I thought I'd have to slow down a bit the second mile, before kicking it in toward the end. Here's how it played out:

Mile 1 - 6:59
Mile 2 - 6:56
Mile 3 - 6:45
last .1 - :38

Official Finish Time - 21:19
Overall - 45 of 1894 (2%)
Division - 5 of 61* (8%)
Men - 38 of 749 (5%)

Pushing hard during mile 3.

Finishing sprint. Nothing left in the tank.

*I was rewarded 4th at the post-race ceremony, but later was bumped down to fifth. They gave out ribbons for the top 5 positions in each division. I got the 4th place ribbon at the race, and was mailed the 5th place ribbon. This is the only time I've received ribbons for two different places in one race!

Yes, that happened.
The one slightly disappointing aspect to the race was the lack of any real post-race food. There were bottles of water and some pretty nasty tasting (in my opinion) protein bars. But that was pretty much it. The race director did give me gift cards for 3 free pizzas at a local pizza restaurant because of my old race shirt. I hate to say it, but I'm glad I didn't have to pay for the pizza. Not particularly tasty, to be kind.
But...that aside, it's a fun race on a great course. I'll be back yet again.

2012 RACE WRAP-UP

I'll briefly go over my race results this year. As I said toward the end of last year, 2012 was going to be the 'Year of the 5k' for me. Coming off a serious injury, I still wanted to participate in races, but didn't want to take a chance at prolonging...or re-aggravating...my injury. This proved to be a wise decision. I also went into the year with the goal of getting a 5k PR, since my existing 5k PR is what I would consider 'soft' (I never raced a road 5k during my quicker high school days.) After my first (frustrating) race of the year, I quickly abandoned that goal. I had a bad experience due to a lack of fitness, horrible weather and a cranky heel on a hilly course. I took (too much) time off—two months—before resuming training in March.
Here's a quick synopsis of each race:

Jan. 14 - Nookachamps 5k, 23:13, 1/6 AG, 22/219 overall. Cold, rain, sleet, snow. Bad attitude, angry heel.

May 19 - Walk & Roll 5k, 23:26, 2/7 AG, 8/90 overall. No base, no speed, no fitness.

Jun. 9 - Flight for Sight 5k, 22:54, 1/8 AG, 7/93 overall. Still out of shape, but a bit quicker. Hilly course. Surprising AG win.

Jun. 16 - Berry Dairy Days 2 Mile, 15:42. Paced oldest daughter. Rainy, 60°.

Jul. 7 - Run of the Mill 5k, 23:15, 19/111 AG, 175/1321 overall. Back over 23 minutes...but on a tough course. Had some bronchial issues.

Sept. 15 - Run For Hope 5k, 23:47, 2/5 AG, 8/62 overall. Took a bad fall on the course, then slowed down. Low mileage due to summer vacations, so wouldn't have been much faster.

Sept. 30 - Summer's End 5k, 22:56, 1/4 AG, 5/109 overall. Race started & ended at my old high school. Another hilly course, but got back under 23 min.

Oct. 13 - Fire Prevention 5k, 22:18, 4/10 AG, 9/70 overall. Finally starting to cut some time off. Recorded a sub-7 min. 3rd mile. Fitness is improving.

Nov. 10 - Fowl Fun Run 5k, 21:53, 2/6 AG, 13/139 overall. Sunny, 36°. Finally back under 22 min (1st time since July 2010.) Closed w/6:48 final mile.

Dec. 8 - Christmas Rush 5k, 21:19, 5/61 AG, 45/1894 overall. Only 4 seconds from current PR. All three miles under 7 min (6:45 for 3rd mi.) Felt good, but left it all out on the course.

Having come so close to a PR in my final 5k, I hesitate to start moving back up in race distances. I'll be running a 10k in January, with another in February, but I do intend to include a few 5k's next year, with the intent of not only setting a new PR, but demolishing the old one. I plan on adding some "official" speed work early in the year as well. Please, body, don't fail me now!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Good Night, Good Night. Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow."

I'll begin with a disclaimer. I have no intention of disparaging running streaks—neither my own nor anyone else's—with what I'm about to say in this post. It just became obvious, for reasons I'll go into, that it was time to end mine.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a definitive reason to start running more frequently. While an ongoing running streak (which I'll now refer to as 'Romeo,' as a reference to the post title) wasn't the objective, that's what happened. After an undetermined amount of days of consecutive running, Romeo began to take on a life of his own. He became an 'entity' as much as a number. That's something I wanted to avoid, before my running-related decisions became influenced by Romeo. That, however, was beginning to happen. One would think that a 1-3 mile easy run would still allow for complete recovery between harder efforts, and one would be…mostly…correct. What seemed to happen was that there was an accumulative effect. The fatigue gradually built up. It became most noticeable after two consecutive weeks of 30 miles of running. Not high mileage compared to what I used to run, but I hadn't totaled 60 miles for two weeks in over TWO YEARS. What started as 1-mile easy runs with the dog on my recovery days gradually grew to 2.5 mile, slightly faster, runs with the dog (the dog needed it, believe me.) Add to that some speed work and a couple of long runs in the second of those two weeks, and the graffiti appeared on the wall. I ended up not only becoming fatigued and slightly re-injured, but I came down with an upper respiratory illness (that's still with me, as I write this.) Whether or not Romeo contributed to the illness, I'm not sure. It has probably prolonged it, though.

With that said, though, Romeo was enjoyable and helped to keep me motivated to run.

[Okay, 'Romeo' has run his course. From here forward, the streak will be called 'Amos Otis'—center fielder for the Kansas City Royals during the '70s and early '80s.]

Amos Otis did teach me that I could do far more than I realized. When Amos Otis began, I had no idea I'd be able to run every day for even a week, let alone 11 weeks. Aside from the latter stages of Amos Otis, I felt like I was in a groove and getting stronger.

However, as much as I enjoyed most of Amos Otis, I remembered that my main objectives as a runner are to:

1. Stay healthy & injury-free
2. Recover fully
3. Race well
4. Have fun!

I feel like I can achieve these objectives a little more effectively without Amos Otis. Hey, chin up, Amos.

Now what? Since I'm planning on riding in the Seattle to Portland bike ride next summer, I'm going to dust off the bike (and the trainer, and the bun-hugging cycling shorts. Sorry, ladies, I'm spoken for) and start putting in some time on the saddle. At least a couple of runs per week will be replaced by bike time. I also plan on taking AT LEAST one complete rest day per week. That means no cardio, no strength training. Just letting my body rest & recover. I'm an old guy, after all.

I'll wrap up by giving you the final Amos Otis numbers:

Consecutive days run: 77
Miles: 266.1
Avg. Miles Per Day: 3.5
Long Run: 9 miles
Minutes: 2317.78 (38.63 hours)
Average pace: 8:42
Races: 4

[FYI—any future references to Amos Otis will be changed to Count Dracula]

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What's Working, and Why?

I just wrapped up my first 30-mile running week since late July of 2010. I also just reached day 65 of my current running streak. It still seems like I'm writing about some other runner as I type those words. I won't rehash my entire story of returning to running in 2009, building up to—and finishing—my first marathon in May of 2010, then succumbing to a serious heel injury that I've spent over two years trying to come back from. I've successfully beaten that horse to death in many previous blog entries (no wonder I can't make him drink when I drag him to water…)

One might argue, even though I've managed to return to running, that my "comeback" hasn't been all that successful, considering how long it has taken. My defense would be that there were several times during the process where I was pretty sure I'd never be a regular runner again. It would seem I was making marginal progress, then I'd have a setback that would affect me as much mentally and emotionally as it would physically. Most of us can only tolerate so many of those teases before throwing in the towel.

But I didn't. I don't say that in a noble, bragging manner, either. I was a wimp much of the time. I whined, if not out loud, at least inwardly. I pretended not to wallow in self-pity. While I wasn't constantly drowning in depression, I had plenty of periods where a serious attitude adjustment would have been justified.

The reason I didn't throw in said towel is simple: I LOVE running. It's a big part of who I am. I wouldn't go so far as to say it defines me, but I feel much more whole when I'm able to train and race as desired. Sure, I'm probably addicted to it, and I don't say that in shame. If only my ability as a runner matched my dedication and zeal...

So, aside from my addiction-driven dogged stubbornness, what else has made this tentatively-titled comeback possible? BTW, I say 'tentative' because, even though a lot of my running friends have suggested that I'm "back," I still feel like I have a long way to go, and the comeback is still on shaky ground. I hope I'm wrong, but I've learned to be VERY cautiously optimistic during this process.

In no particular order:

1. Patience. This should go without saying, but we runners are rarely patient. It was forced on me a few times, when I tried to rush the process and the pain returned and shut me down. Aside from the many months where I did zero running, I kept my runs, mileage and pace very low for a prolonged period.

2. Strength work. During my marathon training, I was putting in enough mileage that I felt too worn out to do any additional exercise. That was a mistake. This time around, I'm doing strength and core work on a regular basis, and it noticeably benefits my running.

3. Stretching and ice. Again, things that are easy to neglect when the training load is high, but very beneficial, in my opinion. I use ice packs when needed, and try to take one ice bath per week, after my long runs. I admittedly need to stretch and use the foam roller more consistently.

4. Good diet. Yes, I intentionally "bulked up" a few times when I wasn't running. I reverted to weight lifting and, in an effort to gain strength, also got sloppy with my diet. I've since cleaned it up quite a bit and I feel much better for doing so. I'm also keeping my weight down, which makes running less stressful on my joints. I don't plan on getting as light as I was leading up to my marathon, though, since I lost too much strength in the process.

5. Consistency in training. I spent many weeks doing no more than 3 runs per week, keeping the mileage very low. My heel didn't seem to be getting any worse, but it really didn't seem to be improving, either. At the time, it was obvious that longer runs definitely disagreed with my heel. But—as counterintuitive as it seems—I began wondering if more regular running would actually help to strengthen the muscles around the injured area. I didn't set out to start a running streak, but that's where that approach has led me, 65 days later. And, ironically enough, my heel and Achilles feel better than they have since before my injury. Not that I never feel pain—because I do—but the pain appears far less often and is far less intense. And it doesn't scare me like it used to. I now know from recent experience that, if it flares up, it'll subside in a day or two.

6. Shoe rotation. I have no scientific data to back this up (as if I do with any of my other points!) but I'm convinced that part of the reason my heel has accepted my recent buildup of mileage and speed is due to the fact that I'm currently rotating four different models of shoes. Not just four different pairs, but completely different models. Consequently, my foot never gets into a rut from the exact same motion or fit day after day. If you're curious, my current shoes of choice (all Brooks) are the Defyance 3's, Adrenaline 12's, Ghost 4's, and the Launch. I'm going to add the Cascadia 5's soon, assuming I can resume a small amount of hill training on a local dirt & gravel trail. I also have a couple of 'minimal' shoes waiting in the wings (Pure Flow and Pure Cadence) but I'm holding off on those just a bit longer.

7. Positive attitude. Don't give up! Even when it appears that there's zero hope, do whatever you need to do keep you on track for a return to running, one tiny step at a time. It might take weeks, months or years to get back to running. Our bodies…and minds…are incredible, amazing things. I believe—no, I know—that we can achieve far more than we think we can. So even when it would be so much easier to give up the fight after being beaten down countless times, stick with it. You may have to change directions and alter your process, but once you figure out what works, the payoff is more than worth the long, tedious battle.

8. Encouragement. A lot of you have supported and encouraged me during this process. I've come to realize how invaluable that is. I can't thank you enough.

My heel bump is still there. The resulting scar tissue in my Achilles tendon is still there. Even with all that I've written here, I'm still amazed that I'm able to run even like I currently am. Humbled and very thankful, but still dumbfounded and amazed. And that amazement and anticipation of what's next is part of what keeps me going.

I'm still a long way from being able to train for another marathon, or even a half. But for the first time in over two years, I have a glimmer of hope of doing both again.

Now…let's go run.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winter Running Article for Outdoors NW Magazine

Here's the article I recently wrote & illustrated for Outdoors NW Magazine, on winter running:

[click to enlarge]

Monday, November 12, 2012

2012 Fowl Fun Run 5k

For the fourth consecutive year, we made the 45-minute journey to Mount Vernon, WA, to run the Fowl Fun Run. In 2009, I ran the 10k. In 2010 and last year, I was injured and paced my daughter in the 2-mile fun run. This year, the two mile option was dropped in favor of a certified 5k course (to go with the usual 10k.) With my training and injury rehab coming along nicely the last few months, I decided to race the 5k. This left my daughter Natalie without her usual pacer she had become accustomed to in the few road races we've done together. She's coming off her 8th grade cross-country season, but wasn't sure she'd have the stamina to race a 5k well.

The weather was perfect. Sunny, 35 degrees. A bit brisk, but no wind. My wife and youngest daughter were also entered in the 5k, so it was a family affair. After my mile warmup, I shed my tights and jacket (but kept the gloves,) and was ready to go. My goal going in was to break 22 minutes, for the first time since 2010. I was hopeful, but not terribly confident. My plan was to run the first mile in 7:15, then increase the pace from there. I hit the first mile in 7:07 (and that was after consciously slowing myself down most of that mile,) but I felt fine. I slightly increased my pace the second mile, clocking a 7:04. There was a guy in front of me the entire race that I had hoped would start coming back to me. He never did, so I picked up the pace during the 3rd mile (6:48), intent on catching him. As we rounded the corner to run down a short segment of road before turning into the parking lot of the school where the finish was, I started my kick. It was not a quiet, stealth move on my part. I was breathing like a freight train. He heard me and initiated his kick as well. We turned into the parking lot and shot toward the finish in a full-out sprint. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to overtake him. Fortunately, he was 50 and no longer in my age group (he won the 50-59 group.) I wasn't sure until after the race that he wasn't in my age division, which was one reason I wanted to beat him. Yes, I'm that competitive.

Officially:
Time - 21:53
Pace - 7:03
Splits - 7:07, 7:04, 6:48 (5:45 pace for last .1)
Overall - 13 of 139
Age Group - 2 of 6
Men - 9 of 45


Not long after I crossed the finish line and spoke briefly with the guy I couldn't quite out-sprint, I went back out on the course to look for Natalie. Much to my surprise, she was already flying down the final stretch, turning into the parking lot. She proved that she didn't need Dad to pace her (although she says that should could have gone even faster if I had.) She obliterated her 5k PR with a 26:00.7 (her previous PR was 26:58.) We were both excited, but she was a little frustrated that she got that close to sub-26 without going under. She also took 2nd in her age group (out of 5), 26th overall, and 15th out of 94 women. She'll be running a Jingle Bell 5k on December 9th with her friends from cross country.

Lindsey finished in 39:17 and my wife (she walked most of it) in 46:11.

For a relatively small race, the post-race food and beverage assortment is quite impressive. Pumpkin pie with whipped cream, various muffins, coffee, hot chocolate, bananas, cookies, etc. They also do random drawings to give away frozen turkeys, large pumpkin pies and packs of Costco muffins. The three previous years, we brought home a pumpkin pie. This year, with all four of us entered in the race, we knew we'd increase our odds of winning, but thought we might be due to go home sans goodies. Luck was with us, though. My number was drawn and we left with a 12 lb. frozen turkey (insert "turkey wins a turkey" joke here.)

All in all a good day.

Today will be day 59 of my running streak. Next up for me is the 30th anniversary Christmas Rush (5k, for me) in Kent, WA, where I'll be wearing my very thin race shirt from the inaugural 1983 race. That was both the first year of the race, and my first road race. The race director will be looking for me for a photo op, so I'll be a minor celebrity. I'll have to settle for that, since I'll never be a celebrity based on my running ability!

Friday, November 9, 2012

"RUN WITH A CELEBRITY" Day

Today I had the privilege of meeting in person and running with none other than Chris Russell, creator of the Run, Run, Live podcast (and, if you listen to it, I'm the dude who sings & plays the opening jingle, the one at the end, and the parody songs heard on his show. Okay, enough shameless self promotion. But buy my songs. And Chris's e-book.)

He's in town vacationing with his wife while celebrating his...hopefully he won't mind me saying...50th birthday. After fighting horrendous road construction coming into downtown Seattle, I found a parking spot and ran to meet him at Myrtle Edwards Park, near Elliott Bay. After a few minutes of formalities, we began running north along the waterfront on the paved trail. As is often the case when running with others, the pace gradually (i.e. immediately) sped up to sub-8 minute miles. Once we got a handle on that and agreed to slow down, we worked our way down to sub 7:30's. Well. So much for an easy run. Still, the pace allowed for a steady flow of chatting, but for a guy battling plantar fasciitis problems, Chris can still handily hold his own during a run.

We finished with about 3.8 miles of quality running and walked to a Starbucks, just across from the Space Needle and continued to shoot the breeze for another 45 minutes or so, talking mostly about (are you sitting down?) running.

Chris Russell and yours truly getting caffeinated after our run.
It was great to finally meet him in person. He's a heck of a nice guy. I hope to make it out to the Boston area some day to run in the woods with him and his dog Buddy. Hopefully I can keep up and not get lost...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mini Milestones

Just a couple of quick things here to update those who wish to be updated:

  • I just completed day 45 of my current running streak. For the most part, I've felt great during the streak. I've felt a few niggles here and there, but surprisingly less than I was feeling before the streak. I'm still only running 23-26 miles per week, but that's a good bit more than I was running earlier this year. So...the streak will continue until my body tells me otherwise.

  • I just went over 100 miles running for a month for the first time since July of 2010. It's also an October PR (this was the only month in which I hadn't recorded at least 100 miles in a previous year. It also breaks my oldest standing monthly mileage PR, going back to...wait for it...October of 1983! Yes, I'm that old. And, yes, I'm that anal about running records.)

So, after two years of mostly complaining about injuries and how I wish I could run more, things are finally turning around. Why? I honestly don't know. I think it's a combination of things. My idea behind the streak was to slowly rebuild my base with a lot of short, slow runs, filling the gaps between my three 'real' runs per week. Since I can't run terribly long, I thought I'd run more frequently. It seems to be strengthening the muscles surrounding my injured area(s). Again, I still have days where the pain shows up pretty noticeably, but they're fewer, farther between, and more manageable. I'm also doing a lot more stretching, self-massaging, and icing (either with wraps or by taking ice baths. Which I enjoy. I'm sick, I know.)

All I can say is that it's working. For now, anyway. My next goal is to very gradually build up my long run (currently at 7-8 miles,) along with trying to bring my 5k time down even more.

Onward, my running friends!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fire Prevention 5k, Snohomish, WA

Rain before and after, but fortunately it held off during the race. Temps in the low 50's.

Although I'm still not back to where I'd like to be, I'm very happy with the time—my fastest 5k this year so far (out of 7, to-date.) The irony is that, after winning my AG two weeks ago, in a slightly larger race with a slower time, I placed out of the awards (4th of 10) in this one. This race went with 10-year divisions instead of a 5-year spread, so I was in the 40-49 group (rather than the 45-49.) Two of the guys who beat me were 40 on the nose (the other was 44.) Still, I'm much more focused on what I can somewhat control—my time—which is coming along. Finally.

Final time - 22:18
Splits:
7:33
7:18
6:55 (1st sub-7 mile in a 5k this year)
(6:05 pace for last .1)


PLACING
9 of 71 overall 
4 of 10 age grp.
8 of 31 men 

I pushed well into my 'pain cave' the last half mile or so, trying to catch two guys in front of me. I passed one, but couldn't catch the other. Hopefully I'll have an interesting finish photo. Spit was flying from my mouth quite impressively.

Next up: The Fowl Fun Run 5k, Nov. 10th.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Finish Photo - Summer's End 5k

Yours truly, finishing the Summer's End 5k, in Covington, WA on Sept. 30, 2012. This is the track where I used to run in high school nearly 3 decades ago. I wish I could still run as fast now as I could back then!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shhhhh...Making Progress

I'm not a superstitious person, but I'm almost afraid to talk about my current situation when it comes to running.

It's going...well. In fact, it's going REALLY well.

Man, it's been a LONG time since I could say that.

As I write this, I'm on day 25 of a running streak. I also ran 7 miles yesterday, which is my longest run in over two years. Even just a month ago, a 6 mile run would leave me with a sore heel for a couple of days. This time, after KT tape, a post-run ice bath and compression socks, my foot and heel feel fine.

I'm slowly inching my mileage upward. Granted, it's still low (low 20's per week), but it's about double what I was running earlier this year.

As for pain...oh, it's still there. Currently, though, it's manageable (and flighty.) I've got just a touch of plantar fasciitis in my right foot to go along with the heel and Achilles pain. I've been doing more consistent self-maintenance, though, in the form of stretching, icing and massage.

Back to the streak. I'm not doing a running streak just for the sake of a streak. I'm doing it because I had a hunch that I could increase my base mileage without stressing my heel too much if I ran every day, while keeping many of the runs short and slow (i.e. 'dog jogs', with my lab Apollo.)

To summarize, I still do three "main" runs per week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday), with distances ranging from 4 to (now) 7 miles. The other four runs per week are currently 1 or 2 miles with the dog. Some might argue that those are junk miles. On the contrary, aside from giving the dog some exercise, I believe they keep my body in "running mode" and may even slightly improve my fitness. After 3 1/2 weeks of it, I feel stronger and more fit. I'm choosing to believe the anecdotal evidence.

I'm still not sure how far my body will let me go. I have a faint hope that I can return to where I was pre-injury, but I don't want to get my hopes up too much. I've been hurt before (ha!)

Right now, though, I'm enjoying this bit of progress.

We'll see if I can stay the course and see what happens from here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Shameless Self Promotion

Hey, a guy's gotta buy running gear, right?


The third, all-new collection of running parody songs is now available! Click on the PayPal button to the right of the uppermost blog post on this page.

Click here to listen to the tenth track of the collection (only for a limited time.)

You know you want to. It's only eight bucks. Don't you think your mental running health is worth it?

Oh...and if you haven't purchased the previous two collections, you can order ALL THREE for a mere $20.

I thank you, and my children's children thank you.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Summer's End 5K...or...You Can Go 'Home' Again

This past Saturday, I ran a 5k race that started and ended at my old high school. It was a bit more than a 2-hour round trip from home, so it's not a race I'd normally sign up for. I graduated from Kentwood High School in 1985, and probably haven't been to the school since around '87, so I was eager to see it again, as well as the entire area. Not surprisingly, things have changed. Neighborhoods have popped up, scenery is different, and even the school has some new additions. Honestly, it was a bit surreal walking and running where I once did the same nearly 3 decades ago.

The race itself was a well organized event. Given the total number of finishers for both the 5k and 10k (153; there was also a kids 2k race,) the vendors nearly outnumbered the race participants! There was free: Starbucks coffee, sub sandwiches, whole bananas and oranges, bagels, sports bottles, post-race massages, etc. Prizes were given out randomly. They awarded medals to the top 3 age group finishers...and they went with 5-year divisions! To top it off, there was a guy on a PA system announcing the name of every runner as they crossed the finish line. Overkill? Probably. But it made the race all the more enjoyable.

What also made it enjoyable was winning my age group. Granted, there were only four guys in my division, but somebody had to win it! Oh—staying upright made it enjoyable, too.

Cutting to the chase (is it really 'cutting to the chase' four paragraphs in?), here are my official results:

Time: 22:56
Pace: 7:24
Splits: 7:28, 7:24, 7:31, 5:52 pace/last .1
Overall: 5 of 109
AG: 1 of 4
Men: 5 of 39

The course, which wound its way through various subdivisions, included a big downhill at the half mile mark, and a challenging uphill at 2.5 miles. The race finished with 3/4 of a lap on the school's track. Once I hit the track, I gave everything I had left in an effort to get under 23 minutes. Pre-injury, that would have been an easy task. Now, as I'm trying to slowly build back a base, it takes quite an effort.

Next up—and much closer to home—is the Fire Prevention 5k, in Snohomish, WA on October 13th. Hopefully I can stay under 23 minutes once again.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Article for NW Runner, Sept. 2012 issue: Coping With Injuries

Here's an article I recently wrote and illustrated for Northwest Runner Magazine (Sept. 2012 issue), about coping with running injuries:(click to enlarge)


ORIGINAL TEXT:
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HOW TO COPE WITH A RUNNING INJURY

Two years. Actually, closer to two and a half years. That’s how long I’ve been perpetually ‘recovering’ from my most recent running-related injury. During this time, as I’ve attempted to rehab and get back into running, I’ve experienced setbacks and triumphs. I’ve worn a walking boot, had x-rays and MRI’s, gone through two physical therapists, stopped running completely for months at a time, decided that running isn’t for me, decided that I can’t live without running, and continued to hold on tight as the emotional roller coaster whipped me around like a…well, like something that gets whipped around a lot. The injury-in-question came about partially due to genetics, and partially due to biomechanical issues. It manifested during a period of high mileage and hill training in preparation for my first (and only, thus far) marathon. I completed my marathon, but ever since, my injury has been hanging on like a stubborn cowboy riding a psychotic bull. And not just for eight seconds. And with no rodeo clown in sight. I think I’ve successfully hog-tied this simile…

I’m currently caught in a cycle of trying to gradually increase my training distance and frequency, while my body protests whenever it thinks I might be pushing just a tad too much. I'm also caught in a cycle of recording ridiculous TV shows on my DVR that I know I'll never watch. But that's a story for another publication. Or a therapist.

If you’ve run for any significant length of time, you can probably relate to my story. We runners get injured. It comes with the territory. Running is good for our health, fitness and well-being, but it can also be hard on the body, unless you're one of those genetic freaks that never gets a calf twinge or an achy knee. If that’s your story, I am in awe of you…and I despise you. I’m kidding. Come back!

For the sake of argument, let’s assume we’re all currently injured (which would make me feel better, actually, since I could probably jog my way to an age group victory on any given weekend. But then…you probably could, too. There goes that theory). How, then, do we navigate the rough waters that lay ahead? Allow me to propose a few Do’s and Don’ts.

DO: EXPECT TO GO THROUGH THE ‘STAGES OF GRIEF’
If running has been a major part of your life (an ‘addiction’, in some cases), and you’re suddenly unable to do it due to a serious injury, you might actually have to work your way through the so-called Five Stages of Grief…at least to some extent. I did. Initially, I thought I could push my way through the discomfort (fig. 1). “I’ve had aches like this before,” I reasoned, “so I'm sure this will go away if I just keep running.” Once it became apparent that I’d have to quit running, I became frustrated (the ‘anger’ stage). Soon after, there came a period when I tried to bargain with my body; running lower mileage, fewer days per week. When even that approach proved unsuccessful, I entered a state of mild depression. Not clinical, but a definite sadness due to the fact that I couldn’t continue doing something that was such an important part of my life. The final stage—acceptance—is something I’m still working on, as I continue to test and discover what my body will allow me to do.

DON’T: LET YOUR DIET GET OUT OF CONTROL
Going from several hours of running per week to virtually zero will have a big effect on your caloric needs. Your caloric wants, however, may not be in compliance (fig. 2). While your body was once a fuel-burning furnace, stoked by piles of pasta, pancakes and ice cream, the heat has been turned down out of necessity…or, more accurately, a lack of necessity. Unless your goal is to bulk up (yes, I’ve done it a few times), then more care must be taken in selecting both the quantity and quality of food that’s eaten while you’re sidelined.

DO: CROSS-TRAIN
Doing other activities, if cleared to do so by your sports doctor or PT, will not only help you to stay fit while you’re recovering from injury, but it can also help to fill the mental and emotional void that running used to fill. If you’re new to cross-training, you may find a new sport or exercise that you enjoy. Just make sure you choose an exercise that actually resembles an athletic activity, with some physical benefits (fig. 3). Good choices include aqua running, lap swimming, cycling, rowing, elliptical training, weight lifting and walking. Again, make sure your choice doesn’t affect your injury or delay your recovery.

DON’T: NEGLECT P.R.I.C.E. AND STRETCHING
Injuries are good reminders to be more fastidious about maintaining our bodies, especially as we get older. For most injuries, consider using the P.R.I.C.E. approach to treatment. According to sportsmedicine.about.com, “one of the most popular acronyms to remember if you get a sports injury is PRICE, which stands for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Using these immediate first aid measures is believed to relieve pain, limit swelling and protect the injured soft tissue.” Stretching, flexibility and strengthening (again, if cleared by your physician) can also play a vital role in both rehabilitation and further injury prevention. Being consistent with these programs is vital. It’s easy—for me, anyway—to be gung-ho about icing, foam-rolling and stretching for a while. It’s also easy to get lazy and forgetful after that initial zealousness fades. Be diligent and you will notice the benefits.

DO: ENJOY FAMILY TIME
When I was in the full throes of my injury and unable to run, I made a conscious decision to pull away, if just a little, from the running community. Not because I didn’t want to see or communicate with my fellow runners, but because it made me more frustrated that I couldn’t join them on runs and/or compare notes online. Moping around and feeling sorry for yourself is both counterproductive and aggravating to others around you. Consider filling that void with more family time. Just remember to refrain from whining about how “I could be out doing my long run right now.” Chances are, your non-running friends and family have missed you. However…

DON’T: GET CARRIED AWAY
Remember, being competitive during a half marathon is one thing. Beating your wife and kids, at all costs, in a game of Monopoly (fig. 4) is another.

DO: CONSIDER A NEW HOBBY
Why not explore some non-athletic interests while you’re on the mend. Grab your camera and learn how to become a better photographer (fig. 5). Read some biographies or fiction. Do some gardening. Learn to cook. Those of us who are in love with running can become a bit myopic while we’re immersed in our marathon training programs. Expanding our horizons with a new hobby or two will not only make us more well-rounded people, it’s also a great way to take our minds off the fact that we’re currently unable to put miles on our running shoes.

DON’T: HAVE FEAR AND SELF-DOUBT
When you’re finally able to gradually start running again, don’t let fear keep you from moving forward. Being gun-shy is understandable when coming off an injury. If a walk-run program is appropriate, stick with it until you’re ready to slowly decrease the walking and increase the running. Don’t let the feeling of being out of shape discourage you. If you have been keeping fit with cross-training, the running-specific fitness will likely return sooner than expected. But, by the same token…

DON’T: OVERDO IT 
We runners often share an “all-or-nothing” personality. Patience isn’t always a character trait we possess in abundance. I, for one, am guilty of this familiar pattern: a slow, measured return to running…gradually reintroducing my body to the associated stresses…monitoring how the injured area(s) respond. A couple of easy weeks go by. After one or two good-feeling runs, I wonder how just one itty-bitty tempo run would feel. Pretty good! One leads to another, which leads to a premature long run, and here comes the pain once again. Rinse and repeat.

Err on the side of caution. Despite it being a cliché, listening to your body is crucial, especially in the early stages of your comeback. Think of running as a lifetime pursuit. There will be speedwork, long runs and races in the future. Don’t rush the process.

DO: APPRECIATE WHAT YOU CAN DO
What if the aforementioned speedwork, long runs and races aren’t in your future? If your injury permanently affects your ability to run as you once did, learning to be thankful for what you’re able to do is vital to your peace of mind. If you can only run a couple of miles two or three times a week, embrace them. Enjoy the outdoors and forget the stopwatch. Personally, there has been more than one occasion in my running ‘career’ when I thought I’d never run again. I had to walk away from running altogether, sometimes for a year or two at a time. Even though I’ve been injury-prone—even after returning—I’ve come to realize just how amazing our bodies really are. Do what you can do now. Who knows what the future will bring?

DON’T: COMPARE NOW TO THEN
The anal-retentive, record-keeping nature of some of us runners isn’t always a helpful attribute. I’ve got spreadsheets and logbooks filled with every imaginable running record, going back to 1983. Tracking your training is good. Living in the past…not so much.

One thing I really like about 5-year age divisions in most road races is that I not only get to compete with other runners who are close to my age, but I get to set new PR’s every five years! As much as I’d love to run as fast as I did in high school (attempting to do so has sidelined me before), it’s healthier for my mental well-being to set aside the race times of the past and look forward to what I’m able to accomplish now and in the future, no matter how much slower it may be.

So, if you’re a runner who rarely or never gets injured, count your blessings and please, in the name of all of us who ARE injury-prone, don’t take it for granted!

And now, since I’m able…at least today…I’m going for a run. Afterwards, as I'm icing and stretching, I’m going to start deleting those ridiculous shows on my DVR.

Hang on…Barbara Eden Biography. Hmm…


Colin Hayes is a freelance writer and illustrator. He lives in Everett, WA with his wife, two daughters, and a crazy—yet uninjured—Labrador retriever. His running blog can be found at www.resurrectedrunner.com.



Monday, September 17, 2012

More Post-Race-Wipeout Fallout

Two days after my artistic spill while being accidentally led off course during the Run for Hope 5k, I'm realizing that it was more than just a harmless little fall. Now, granted, I can play the sympathy card pretty well, and can whine with the best of them (while simultaneously acting tough and manly; hey, it's an acquired skill), but last night I noticed this lovely shiner forming on my left hip:
And this delightful bit of road rash on my left leg:
So, I've got THAT going for me.

To add injury to injury, I woke up this morning with my left palm feeling like I have a bad case of carpal tunnel syndrome. Even though it was my right palm that got torn up badly, I also landed on my left and apparently bruised the bones at the base of my palm, which I feel whenever I tilt my hand back.

At least I've got a story to go with what would have otherwise been a bit of a yawner of a 5k.

Oh, speaking of yawns, the official results have been posted:
Overall: 8 of 62
Age grp: 2 of 5
Men: 6 of 23

On September 29th, I'll be returning to my old high school, where I graduated 27 (yikes!) years ago, to run another 5k. I hope to improve my time, but I'll try to keep it to more of a 'yawner' level otherwise.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Arlington Run for Hope 5k

Quite an adventurous 5k this morning. Went off course, took a nosedive and ran my worst time of the year. Still finished 2nd in my age group (which ain't sayin' much, given the amount of runners.)

They changed the course this year. It's an out-and-back (as usual), and on the way out, it's clearly marked. On the way back, not so much. I was trailing a gal and didn't realize that she had gone off course. We got to one of those plastic flexible fences, which we had to hurdle in order to get back on course. She succeeded. I bit it hard. The trail, at that point, was pea gravel. I got a lot of it lodged within a nice hole in the palm of my hand (and got a nice road rash on my leg, to boot). Bruised my ego nearly as much as my hand and leg.
Sorry, folks. I hope you're not eating...

I lost both my momentum and my desire at that point. My plan, as usual, was to go out slow and run progressive splits. I ended up with:

7:41, 7:21, 7:22 (7:32 pace for last .18) - 23:47

Heart rate - average: 155, max: 164 

Ah, well, it was a beautiful morning. It still beats inactivity. It was also great to have the company of my friend & running clubmate Dan (who ran considerably faster. And stayed upright.)

I'll admit, though, that I still can't get used to racing this slow (I know, it's all relative, but I've slowed down considerably thanks to my long-term injury.) Got to figure out how to somehow increase my speed without the ability to put in a lot of miles and w/o too much speedwork.

I'm thinking EPO & testosterone...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pullups, Puppies & Pain

I'll start with some news that you may be most interested in: the well-being of my 1-yr old lab Apollo. In my previous post, I mentioned that he was having some physical problems (being barely able to walk, being very lethargic and not eating). We rushed him to the animal hospital. They could only speculate on why he was acting as he was. He had his blood drawn (which came back clean) then went on pain meds for a few days. The meds helped a little. He improved slightly, but was still sluggish. This past Saturday, he started showing signs of life, so I shut down the meds. Yesterday, he was bouncing off the walls and seemed to be his old self (miraculously), so I'm hoping we're out of the woods. We had to take him for a walk for the first time in over a week just to burn off some of his pent-up energy. I still have no idea what his problem was. I'll walk him a few more times before I take him for a short run.

Just a quick update on one of my goofy little PR quests. Three weeks ago, I set a new PR for pushups in a week (1005). Last week, I decided to try the same thing with pullups. My old PR was 273. I managed to crank out 305* last week...and "boy, are my arms tired!" I know I won't be able to set these little PR's indefinitely, but these are the sorts of things that motivate me to train.

Now, regarding the 'pain' portion of the blog post title. I ran with my running club on Saturday for the first time in ages. I managed 6 miles on a relatively hilly course. As you may know, hills don't play nice with my heel. However, this run went well. I kept up (for me, currently) a solid pace (8:07) and only had some slight heel discomfort.

Two days later...today...I ran 5 miles, with all miles easy except mile 3 (7:29). My heel was still angry about Saturday's jaunt and made it clear about halfway through the run. In hindsight, this should have been a shorter, easy day.

I'm running a local 5k this coming weekend. I don't expect a fast time (gee, I've never said THAT before), but as always, I do plan on putting forth the effort. I'll do an easy run on Wednesday, then shut it down until Saturday's race.


*Real pullups. Slow up and down. Not those cheating, kipping things the Crossfitters do.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My (Former?) Running Partners

This won't be my most cheerful of blog entries. I have two bits of news to share that make me disappointed and sad.

The disappointment comes in the form of my now 8th grade daughter. She goes back to school tomorrow (we start LATE around here) and begins her cross-country season next Monday (Sept. 10th.) Why would I be disappointed about that? Because she ran exactly 1 time (that's O-N-E) this summer. I obviously didn't force her to run (she still has a volatile love/hate relationship with running and I don't want her to resent it...or me), but I strongly encouraged her to even run just briefly and slowly to maintain some sort of base. Nope, not interested. The teen years are upon us, and so is the accompanying attitude and lack of motivation. I'm sure she'll still have a good XC season, but she'll be unnecessarily sore (and out of shape) for the first couple of weeks.

The sad news is, to me and my family, hard to cope with. Our 1-year old lab, Apollo, is enduring some sort of pain that affects his back, neck and legs. He's barely able to walk and has very low energy. We rushed him to the animal hospital yesterday. They drew blood (we'll get results back tonight or tomorrow), but the doc said she wasn't quite sure what was wrong with him. It's nothing orthopedic, but it could be muscular and/or neurological in nature. He possibly could have damaged his neck/spine while playing roughly at the kennel while we were on vacation, or he could have some sort of virus that's affecting his mobility or, (worse yet) a disease. Our girls are pretty upset (Natalie in particular). He's on pain meds, which seem to be helping some, but he still moves like an arthritic old dog. Obviously, he won't be my running partner again for a while. We haven't even walked him for over a week, since this all started with a slight limp before it got really bad yesterday, when he could hardly walk.

I'll post the test results and/or updates here as we get them.

I hate to end on a down note, but work is beckoning, so I better get busy.

Happy running!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

New Page

I've decided to create a new page on this blog containing links to published articles I've written (see "Published Articles," above.)

There aren't many yet, but I hope to continue as a guest writer for Northwest Runner Magazine and Outdoors NW Magazine. Currently, there are two articles, with two more in the wings (completed, yet I'm unable to post them until later as per my agreements with those publications).

I'm no 'Prose Pro,' but I do enjoy writing. Hopefully that comes across both in this blog and in the articles I've been fortunate enough to contribute to the above magazines.

With that said, I'm open to writing for other publications as well. Shoot me an email (scroll down to "Contact Me" on the right side, just above my beautiful mug.)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

'Here' vs 'There'

I just got back from a Florida vacation, and boy is my checking account tired!

But seriously, folks...it is. This may have been...no, it definitely was...the most expensive vacation we've ever taken. Twelve nights of boarding our dog, airline tickets, condo fee, food, theme park passes...

But I digress.

We were in St. Petersburg, FL for 10 days (minus 3 nights we spent in Orlando) visiting family and celebrating my mom's 70th birthday. I managed to run exactly twice while we were there. Both runs were at night, when it was 'cooler.' 'Cooler' being eighty-four degrees with high humidity; a tad more palatable than the hellish daytime conditions. But I gave it a go anyway, as I always do when we visit there. It wasn't pretty. Living in the Seattle area has done nothing to prepare me for running in hot, liquified air. After two jaunts, I shut it down the rest of our stay and worked on another physical goal: seeing if I could do more than 1,000 pushups while I was there (I managed 1,230). Then, I went for a single-week PR and did 1,005 in a full week (half of it in Florida, half back home), totaling 1,530 in two weeks. This week, I'm working on my pullups. As you might suspect, I'm big into the bodyweight exercises currently. I'll get back to the free weights eventually.

Something I wanted to write about was an observation I made, having spent time in Florida recently. It's an observation AND a comparison. I'm sure it will seem condescending and arrogant to some.

What is it? Generally speaking, people in the greater Seattle area are in better shape and more fitness-minded than those in the Tampa Bay area. There, I said it. I can't quote the source(s) off the top of my head, but there's a reason that Seattle usually ranks near the top of the various 'Most Fit Cities' lists found in various publications. Go for a 45-minute drive around Seattle-area neighborhoods and see how many runners and cyclists you see. Do the same in St. Petersburg and you'll be lucky to see any.

I know, it's hot and humid this time of year down there...but I ran (albeit at night, and only twice) and I never saw another fellow runner. The few cyclists I saw while down there were mostly commuters...and none of them wore cycling gear. Not that you have to do so to be considered a 'real' cyclist (or 'cool'), but you get the point.

Now, to get out of the corner I painted myself into. The message I want to relay is that, wherever you are, be that person who gets out and lives the fitness lifestyle. Be the one that others see as they're driving around. You very well may inspire them to do the same thing. It always inspires me.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Woe Is Knee

If it's not one thing, it's another, so it seems.

Although I wasn't putting in a lot of running mileage, I was beginning to feel like a runner again. I spent several weeks doing slow heart rate training, I dropped a few pounds, started adding in some speedwork, you know the drill.

Then my old nemesis—my right knee—had other plans. You probably thought it was my heel, right? Sorry...that's my NEW nemesis (even though THAT issue is now in its "Terrible Twos".) No, the beast that lives within my right knee—which has been dormant for a few years—has awakened. And he ain't happy.

I had an MRI done on that knee back in 1997, which revealed a partially torn meniscus and degenerative cartilage. The doctor...who was overweight and smelled like cigarettes...advised me to give up running.

HA, I say!

So...4,500 or so running miles later, the knee is reminding me that it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Why?

Maybe it's the speedwork (although this week, an easy 5-miler set it off again). You don't need to be a mind reader to deduce how frustrating it is to be a runner with frequent and chronic injuries.

[As an aside, if you get Northwest Runner Magazine, you can read my article on coping with injuries in the September 2012 issue.]

So...where to now? As fate would have it, I'll be on vacation for the next couple of weeks. I'll bring my running gear, but I'll be busy vacationing (i.e. allowing my bank account to be raped by Orlando theme parks), so there may not be a lot of running going on anyway.

*sigh*

Maybe this will convince me to get back into the pool. Don't hold your breath, though.

See what I did there? I made a little swimming joke!

Ahem. Carry on...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Knee Trouble

Back in May, I ran a 1600 meter time trial at a local high school track, on very little mileage. My time was a paltry 6:42. I followed that up with a pretty much all-out 400m in 1:17.

On Monday of this week I decided it was time to do that workout again, just to see where I am in comparison. Granted, my mileage still isn't very high, but I've been running more frequently and more consistently the last couple of months.

After a warmup mile, I ran my 1600m in 6:26. Still slow, but a 16 second improvement over my earlier time. After an 800m recovery, I ran the same all-out 400m, this time in 1:16. Again, not impressive, but since I've mostly been running in Zone 2 (i.e. 10:00/mile), I can't complain.

What I CAN complain about, however, is the pain under my right knee cap. It's really aggravated. I haven't had knee trouble there for a few years, but I recognize the pain. It's a bit of Condromalacia Patella (Runner's Knee). It emits a warm, spongy, achy feeling that isn't pleasant at all.

It's important to note two things here. I wore new shoes during my fast running (Brooks Pure Cadence - a low drop shoe, at 4mm...which felt awesome, btw), and a couple of hours after my track workout, I did 74 bodyweight squats in a single set. I normally don't go over 50.

So, if my math is correct...fast running on new shoes + lots of squats on tired legs = angry knee.

Nobody to blame but myself for this one. It'll be another week of hardly any running, I'm afraid. I'm hoping for at least one more run this week. I'm sure that, with ice and ibuprofen, the knee will come around.

I guess I'll end on a positive note by saying that...my heel feels pretty good at the moment. So I've got that going for me...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

HEEL PAIN STAT-O-RAMA

Do you like numbers? Statistical breakdowns? If so, you're going to LOVE this post. If not, put on some goggles and a nose plug, because your head is about to swim.

Unless you're new to this blog, you know the battle I've been having with my right heel for over two years now. I won't get into the causes or just what's going on with it (I've bludgeoned that horse already), but it has affected my running in a huge way, unfortunately.

Being a stats geek, I finally did a little numerical study on what types of shoes—and runs—may be aggravating my heel and Achilles the most.

I'm obviously not a statistician, but I had to do this study for my own peace of mind.

The conclusion? Hold onto your sweaty sidesplit running shorts...

First, let me say that I've been rating my heel pain during each run ever since my injury first hit me in late May of 2010. I use a 0-5 scale; zero meaning no hint of pain, five meaning excruciating pain (fortunately I've never recorded a five. A few fours, but never a five).

SHOES
Since my recent acquisition of a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12's, I now have four active pairs of running shoes. I've run in the Adrenalines 6 times, so I ran the numbers on the 6 most recent runs in each pair of shoes:


Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 - 28.8 mi - 9:45/mi avg - 1.33/run heel pain
Brooks Launch                 - 23.6 mi - 8:00/mi avg - 1.00/run heel pain
Brooks Defyance 3           - 25.2 mi - 10:11/mi avg - 1.00/run heel pain
Brooks Ghost 4               - 26.3 mi - 9:49/mi avg - 1.25/run heel pain

Conclusion? I'm not sure there's a big enough spread in average heel pain to draw much of a conclusion.

Since I've worn three pair of shoes in my training for several more runs than the Adrenalines, I ran the full numbers on them (part of 2011 and all of 2012 so far):

Brooks Launch                 - 55.3 mi   - 8:10/mi avg - 0.45/run heel pain
Brooks Defyance 3           - 170.7 mi - 9:17/mi avg - 0.73/run heel pain
Brooks Ghost 4               - 85.1 mi   - 9:31/mi avg - 0.71/run heel pain

Hmm. It looks like the overall heel pain is lower if I go back far enough. What surprised me was the fact that the lightest, least supportive shoe (Launch) has given me the least amount of heel pain, at least based on this sample.

Since there wasn't enough data variance to say, "Aha! I'll just stop wearing THAT shoe," I decided to track the types of runs I've done (all of 2011+2012 to-date):

Easy        - 118 runs - 0.69/run heel pain
Tempo     - 13 runs   - 0.85/run heel pain 
Interval   - 21 runs   - 0.76/run heel pain
Race       - 9 runs     - 0.33/run heel pain
5+ mi.    - 9 runs     - 1.22/run heel pain

Anything shocking and/or definitive here? What's shocking to me is that racing doesn't seem to hurt my heel! At least not the short 5k races I've been doing. So I think I've solved the problem here. I'll limit all of my running to races only. Thanks for playing along at home.

;-) Seriously, I'm assuming that race-day adrenaline plays a part in that number. As a side note, all races were run while wearing the Launches.

What does stand out somewhat (based on an admittedly small sample) is what I already suspected. Long(ish) runs hurt the heel more than shorter runs. It does surprise me, though, that the tempo and interval running pain numbers aren't higher.

How about the higher pain entries? Fortunately, I haven't gone over a 3 since late 2010. Here's how my 3's and 2's look:

3/5 - 6 runs - 100% easy runs
2/5 - 15 runs - 9 easy, 4 interval, 2 tempo

Well, that didn't help much, did it? It's interesting that all of my 3's were during easy runs.

Now...for the disclaimer that may make these numbers less relevant than they already may be. I don't track the heel pain I may feel the evening after a run, on an off day, or the day or two after a race. The numbers ONLY reflect how my heel feels during each run. I also didn't run the numbers on back-to-back (or more) runs, but there honestly haven't been many of them the past couple of years.

Also, let me throw this out there. The heel pain numbers may be a tad subjective to begin with. If I had an otherwise excellent run, but had some heel pain, that number may have been a tad lower in my mind. On the flip side, if the run was horrible, but the heel didn't feel too bad, I may have bumped the pain number up unintentionally. I don't think I let any bias affect my numbers, but I can't promise that.

How will these results affect my running? I plan to nix the over 5 mile runs for the time being. I'm also ready, after 10 weeks of it, to give the Zone 2 heart rate training a rest. I'd like to include a tempo and an interval day every week in an attempt to boost my speed just a little. I think I may also wear my Brooks Launches a bit more than I have been ;-)

Okay, you can de-glaze your eyes and stop yawning...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

ONE SOLID HOUR

For the first time in nearly two years, I managed to run for over one hour yesterday. I'm still not 100% health-wise (still feeling a little fatigued and have some chest congestion), but I had a very strong urge to see if I could run for an hour.

It went very well. At the slow pace I was running (9:51/mile), endurance wasn't an issue. In fact, I felt like I was just getting warmed up at about 5 miles. I covered a 10k exactly. I think I could have extended the run by another 2 or 3 miles, easily.

Afterward, as is my standard routine, I iced my right knee and right foot & heel. I then wore compression socks for the remainder of the day.

One day later, my foot feels fine. Due to my work schedule (and because my chest is still congested), I'll rest today and run again tomorrow (Friday). I hope to sneak in a quick weights workout today, though.

I'm excited to have broken the hour mark and hope to continue building my distances, both in my individual runs and in weekly mileage.

I need to be careful, though, and continue listening very closely to my body.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Random Thoughts

To start the week, I thought I'd jot down several running-related topics that have been rattling around my brain lately.

• I think I'll wear my new Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12's for every run this week. That should give me a pretty good idea if the additional support will have an effect on how my foot feels. I ran 19.4 miles last week (sadly, the most since August of 2010), and I'm feeling some soreness in my heel, my ankle and the arch of my foot (a hint of plantar fasciitis, me thinks). As always, I'll report back.

• Is the 2-hour marathon this generation's version of the 4-minute mile? Before Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute barrier in the mile in May of 1954, it seemed unlikely that it could happen. Once he accomplished the feat, the floodgates opened and several runners duplicated it. I'm no prophet, but my guess is that the 2-hour barrier in the marathon will be broken within the next 5 years and, once it is, several (Kenyans?) will follow suit.

• Who else is excited for this year's Olympics? I watched more of the Olympic Trials recently than I ever had in years past. I think it'll be an exciting one, and here's hoping that the American distance runners (finally) raise some eyebrows among the always stiff international competition. To do that, they'll have to run some smart, tactical — and gutsy — races. That said, I'd bet cash money that the Kenyans will sweep the medals in the Men's Marathon. Well, an Ethiopian could sneak in there, too. I hope I'm wrong, but they're obviously in a class by themselves.

• Along those lines, I'm thinking of posting a short series, profiling Olympic distance runners that had an impact on me when I was just getting into running in the early '80s. There were several that I followed. Even if nobody else is interested, it'll be fun for me to rekindle those memories.

• I've had the privilege to do some "professional" writing recently. I just completed my third article for Northwest Runner magazine (due out this fall). This was a fun one, about the do's and don'ts of dealing with injuries (that was a real stretch for me ;-)). I also illustrated the article with some pretty humorous drawings. If you're local, keep an eye out for it. I'll try to post it here on the blog as well.

Outdoors NW magazine also commissioned an article (and accompanying illustration work) for their winter running issue. I'll be writing about — you guessed it — winter running. I'm looking to do more writing and, if appropriate, accompany the articles with illustrations. If you're a magazine or newspaper editor and you're interested in my running-related prose & illustration work, email me!

• It looks like I'm done "racing" until mid-September. I put "racing" in quotes because I'm nowhere near race shape. Still, I'm enjoying my 5k circuit this year, even though I can't race to my potential. Having been "coming back" from injury for over two years now, I'm taking the concept of "baby steps" to an entirely new level. For now, the Zone 2 heart rate training will continue, along with one quick-ish run per week (either in the form of a race or short speed work). At least it's running. I am, however, planning on running one or two 10k's later this year. I want to first get my long run beyond that distance, along with getting my weekly mileage consistently above 20.

Have a great week, my friends, and Run Happy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Just How Many Feet Do You Have?"

By Popular Demand*, I now present my current RUNNING SHOE ROTATION:

[click to enlarge]
 The back row, none of them having yet been worn, are mostly in-the-wings backups. The two new pair of Launches (my favorite shoes) were purchased when I found out that the model will be discontinued in 2013. I'm currently unable to utilize the Brooks Cascadia 5's, since I can't run hills (the C 5's are a trail shoe and, as is the nature of most local trails, they tend to be hilly.) The two pair on the far right (Pure Cadence and Adrenaline GTS 12) just arrived today. The Adrenalines will immediately go into my regular rotation (based on my recent gait analysis). The Pure Cadence will likely be worn only during races and/or speedwork (when I can actually DO regular speedwork!)

The front row are my current rotation. The Pure Flow, sadly, have only accumulated 6 miles. Too low of a heel-toe drop for my Achilles and heel to handle right now (may be the same story with the Pure Cadence, too). The Defyance 3's and the Ghost 4's are my workhorses. I've been wearing the Defyance series for over 3 years. The Ghosts, just this year. Initially, I wasn't sure I liked them, but now I may like how they feel more than the D-3's.

If I added my retired running shoes, I'd have to back the camera up even more. Some of them I wear just to kick around in, some for yard work, and some I intend to donate.

Once I put a few miles on the Adrenalines (and possibly the Pure Cadence), I'll give them a short review.


* 'Popular Demand' is a bit misleading. The only 'demand' in play here is the one from my wife that I CEASE AND DESIST any further acquisition of running shoes.