Bouncing Back From a Demoralizing Run

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This isn’t a how-to. This is a help-please! A desperate plea to the runners of the world.

I have a 10K race coming up a week from today. In fact, by this point I’ll be home and cleaned up and chilling on the couch. I thought I would be ready by now. But I am not ready. Not even close. I’m sure of that now, after this morning’s disaster of a run.

Instead of settling into a comfortable pace for one last long(ish) run, I struggled and had to stop to walk. Eight times. I even cut my distance short. At least by now I know when I’ve had enough.

Instead of feeling primed and powerful and ready to take on this 10K, I’m feeing like a failure. I’m floundering. Flustered.

So I ask you, oh wise ones of the internets, a week from my race, what should I do?

  • Do I hit the roads hard this week to try to make up for my lackluster long run?
  • Do I take the week off and rest up?
  • Do I carry on as planned and shoot for my original goal?
  • Do I pull up the reins and run a slow race, so long as I can actually run the whole thing and maybe even enjoy it?
  • Do I step down to the 5K?

Why I Won’t Accept the Ice Bucket Challenge

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I do not accept the Ice Bucket Challenge, and I nominate no one.

You’ve heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge, of course. (If you haven’twell, maybe you’ve been rereading Harry Potter exclusively for the last month. In that case, carry on!) And chances are, you’ve taken a deliberate action as a result of the challenge, whether it’s dousing, donating or dodging.

Disclaimer: I have no qualms with anyone who has accepted the challenge, or who hasn’t. If you’ve made a video and donated money, or if you’ve done none of those things, there is no judgment from this side of the keyboard. Furthermore, congrats go to the people at the ALS Association who had a hand in this campaign, which as of Aug. 24 has raised $70 million.

Me? My nomination came Monday. Not this Monday, mind you. Last Monday. So much for “you have 24 hours.”

First, there was the flush of pride to be invited to something that’s so quickly taking over the internets. A fraternity of sorts. To be in the company of Will Smith, Lady Gaga and Kermit the Frog is quite an honor.

I bought a bag of ice, which is now taking up valuable ice cream space in my freezer. My wife explained to my 3-year-old that yes, I was doing this by choice and no, I would not be too cold. (He really was concerned.) I went so far as to write a script for my video and accompanying social media posts. OK, maybe I wrote a couple versions.

Unlike all those other videos, my contribution to the cause would be perfect. I agonized over details. Yes, AGONIZED. The lighting would be just right. My words would be just right. The donation amount would be just rightenough to make a difference but not so much that it would bust the budget. I would nominate just the right people.

But really, all this agonizing was a stall tactic. There had to be something else going on here, some other reason why I hadn’t yet taken the plunge. I just hadn’t put my finger on it.

And so the waffling continued. I’m talking epic waffling. I was gonna do it, and then I wasn’t. Was. Wasn’t. Was. Wasn’t. Was.

Continue reading “Why I Won’t Accept the Ice Bucket Challenge”

I’m Not Very Fast (So Say ‘Serious’ Runners)

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This month I finished my second 5K summer series. In the last race, I missed a PR by 36 seconds! So you could say I was feeling pretty good about myself. Oh, but not today.

No, today, because I was feeling so good about myself, I searched for what people consider a “serious” 5K time. I had in my head 25 minutes, which I can do (I hesitate to say easily) just about every time I toe the starting line these days. Boy, was I wrong, according to “serious” runners on the internets.

The “serious” runners think that any 5K over 20 minutes is not serious. That serious runners could cover 5,000 meters in 20 minutes as a warm-up nursing an injury on an off month. Never mind that I may never get to that easiest of thresholdshealthy, in the best shape of my lifeno matter how much I train.

I’m sure these “serious” runners would prefer that I join the Clydesdales.

See, there is talk among these “serious” runners that seriousness is a result of effort. Because I haven’t broken 20 minutes, naturally I’m just not trying hard enough. Maybe that’s it, “serious” runners. Or maybe it’s genetics.

At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds on a good day, I’m not built like a runner. I’m more like Jimmy Graham than Galen Rupp. I would venture to say the Saints tight end can’t run a 5K in 20 minutes, either.

Look, guy, let’s not be so negative.

Deep breath. After grinding my teeth a bit, I turned my frown upside down by thinking about how far I’ve come in 5K Land. In 2004 I finished my first one in 28:20, after kinda-sorta training on the treadmill for all of eight days. I remember feeling this monumental sense of accomplishmentand also rewarding myself with utter laziness for the rest of the weekend. I ran another race in 2007 (29:26) and another in 2008 (33:49) before finally cracking the 25-minute mark in 2010, when I caught the running bug.

Continue reading “I’m Not Very Fast (So Say ‘Serious’ Runners)”

The Hills Are Alive! My Hillsboro, Oregon, Bald Peak Half Review

The Hills Are Alive! My Hillsboro, Oregon, Bald Peak Half Review

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The moment I signed up for this race, it went straight to my head. And not in a good way.

The Bald Peak Half worked out well for a family trip in the area—and oh, when did I turn into the guy who says, “Dear friend, I’ll be in your locality. Perchance I’ll run a 13.1-mile race!”?—and I have to admit, I didn’t look much at the course or other details before I sent in my money.

In my defense, unlike the bigger distance races I’ve run, for this modest little event there wasn’t much detail to be found. With fewer than 300 total finishers in the previous two runnings, the data were sparse. I searched online for anyone who tracked the course, and found at least one. (Thanks, krushgrapz.) It was then my jaw hit my keyboard.

I obsessed over this “hilly half” for the next three months.

The prospect of 1,800 feet of elevation gain (not a typo)800 in the first 2 miles and 300 in the last half-mile (also not typos)had me looking around my flat Phoenix-area surroundings and wondering how I would ever get ready for the hills of Hillsboro.

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Using MapMyRun’s Climb Ratings, I was able to look for local runs of 3-ish miles with crazy elevation gains. A trend emerged: summit hikes. Gulp. It took me weeks to work up the nerve to get out there. My trail of choice was the Quartz Ridge Trail, not too far from Piestewa Peak. I could hit it on my way to work in the morning and clean up at the office. I did it three times (4, 6 and 3 miles) in the three weeks leading up to my Oregon trip.

Continue reading “The Hills Are Alive! My Hillsboro, Oregon, Bald Peak Half Review”

I Had a Dream (About Running)

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This week I had an elaborate dream involving me running a 5k race. (I was getting ready to run one this weekend.) I was late to get there and missed the bib pickup period, so they gave me a 3-year-old’s time chip and sent me on my way. (I have a 3-year-old.) Soon enough, well-meaning volunteers were chasing me through the course to give me a bib, and when they were successful, I struggled mightily, fumbling as I went, to pin said bib to my shirt without slowing down or stopping. The course was in a mall, and because I was so far behind, I never knew where I should be running amid all the shoppers. (Not my first dream where I was running in a mall.) Although my pace was good, I never did catch up with the pack. The end.

OK, psych pros, unpack this one for me.

» What About You?
Do you ever have dreams about running? Tell me about them!

Is There Any Cure for My Half-Maranoia?

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Maranoia (n.): Fear of something going wrong (illness, injury, etc.) in the weeks before a marathon.

I came across this fabulous “new-to-me” word this week. Best I can tell, credit goes to tweeters Runner’s World (@runnersworld) and Will Britt (@WillOnTheRun). (Good stuff, RW and WB!)

Maranoia—or more specifically, half-maranoia—perfectly sums up my last week or so, and the last week or so before all my races running up to this one.

The week before a half or a full, I am certain I’ll come down with a chest cold or turn my ankle stepping off a curb, thereby wrecking all my hard work over the previous 10 to 14 weeks. Every cough, every sniffle, every hitch in my hip is a sure sign of doom.

None of these things has happened yet, of course (please, please, please give me a pass, oh running gods). But it hasn’t stopped me from being, well, maranoid.

Is there any cure for my maranoia? So far, not yet. I do take extra precautions to avoid sickness (read: I become a hand-washing freak) and otherwise try not to do anything stupid (like not pulling my hamstring playing softball). But, overall, I live my life as close as I can to normal and try not to go too much out of my mind about the race.

No, not that maranoia

It should be said that “maranoia” has a second meaning, referring to reefer-induced delusions, and there is a book about the same abject subject. Instead of getting you to NOT think about it, I’m going to leave you with something that lodges it firmly in your brain. You’re welcome.

In the tune of “Smoke Two Joints” by Sublime
I run two miles in the morning,
I run two miles at night.
I run two miles in the afternoon.
It makes me feel all right.
I run two miles in time of peace,
And two in time of war.
I run two miles before I run two miles,
And then I run two more.

4 Reasons Why I Love Final Race Instructions

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I’m a rule follower. If you have rules or instructions or directions for me, I will adhere to them as best I can. It’s a very exciting life I lead, I know.

So when I get an email from the organizers of a race with the subject line Confirmation Sheet & Final Information or Final Race Instructions, you can bet I’m all over it like a guy who loves instructions maybe more than is healthy for him.

Last week, I got THE EMAIL for my next race. (Along with spam-levels of correspondence pertaining to upgrades and special offers and a dozen other new ways I can spend my money. But that’s a post for another day.)

The much-anticipated email contained FOUR KEY ELEMENTS that are instrumental to my race experience. Continue reading “4 Reasons Why I Love Final Race Instructions”

9 Numbers That Defined My Year in Running

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This is my 2013 retrospective. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Oh, 2013, you were a beauty. My family and I were tremendously blessed with health, stability and security. I loved watching my toddler start to turn into a little man. My wife and I found out that our family would grow again, by one, in 2014.

2013, you were also one for the record books. I ran hundreds of miles training for races in five different distances, and I was surprised to realize I bested my time in all of them in the last 12 months!

To see my number of PRs, and other stats, check out my list below.

627

  • Total miles run

98

  • Miles run in January (most)

17

  • Miles run in September (least)

8:58

  • Average pace per mile (Nike+ calls it “fast & furious”)

7

  • Medals earned

5

2

1

  • Marathon run
  • 15k race run
  • 4.2m race run (third consecutive Pat’s Run)
  • 4m race run

0

  • Injuries

With 2013 in the books, I hope you have a happy new (running) year!

» What About You?
Do you have any 2013 numbers you’re particularly proud of? Do you have any running goals for 2014?

Good Vibes from a Good Run

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This morning, I had a good run. It didn’t strike me just how much a good run affects my day until I sat down to write this piece. Today, even without that realization, I had pep in my step and a hunger in my belly. (Literally, as in I can’t eat enough food!)

I’m shooting for 8:15 miles for my Thursday tempo runs, and today I nailed it. I’ve only done that a few times for my tempo runs since I started training almost two months ago. If you don’t run, it’s difficult to describe the feeling of meeting a running goal. If you do run, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Nice, right?

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^ I seem to always start off herky-jerky as I settle into a comfortable pace. By mile 4, I was in a groove.

Anyway, studies have shown that running and other exercise is good for the brain. After a good run—heck, after a bad run—my brain takes a bath in endorphins and other feel-good hormones. Accomplishing a goal during said run (like meeting a certain pace) is icing on the physiological cake.

Plus, it’s such a pleasant change from a few weeks ago, when I was struggling to meet my new, aggressive goals while training for a faster half-marathon finish. I’m not struggling any more! It seems I’ve turned a corner.

That feels good.

A Tale of Two 10-Mile Runs

I run the same route for all my 10-milers (boooring, I know), but the last two could not have been any different. Behold:

Date: Oct. 26        Time: 1:38:41       Goal pace: 9:00     Actual pace: 9:38
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^ Ugh. Don’t let the kick at the end distract you from what was a miserable run. You can see the pace start to erode after mile 4, and then things go further south from there. What you can’t see is that I walked four times in the last three miles. My body was toast for the rest of the day after this mangled morning run.

Date: Nov. 9         Time: 1:31:17       Goal pace: 9:00     Actual pace: 8:5510_miles_1109

^ Hooray for negative splits! Hooray for starting strong and finishing stronger! Hooray for having energy to spare by the end! Hooray for not walking! I like this pace plot. A lot.

This is what success looks like for me.