June 19, 2011

Reflection Time for Motivation

When I reflect back on last year I can see a huge change. I haven’t really trained a lot this year, but It is coming together. So far this year, I didn’t run at all in January. In February, I ran an average of every other day with a total of 66 mile. March I injured by back and didn’t really run until about half way through the month. I still managed to get 42 mile in the second half the month. April I had a race half way through and then quit running again. 50 miles was covered in the first half of April but quit after my race on the 16th of the month. May, as many of you may know was a pretty busy month for me. I managed to squeeze in 9 mile for the month of May. September and October of 2010 were pretty big running months for me last year, but with all the slacking off I have done, it’s hard to believe I have retained it all. The phrase “miles in the bank” are ringing in my ears. I can’t help but to admit that I have retained some, but I’m looking forward to what I can build up to for this upcoming fall.

Last June, I only ran 12 miles mostly due to the heat and lack of motivation. May of 2010 I ran 23 miles compared to this year’s 9. So I think the June comparison is ok to look at. Jun 12, 2010 – 2.61 miles – 23:20 – 8:55/mi. Jun 17, 2011 – 2.00 miles – 15:02 – 7:30/mi. Yeap, I’ll take that. Have you taken the time to see how far you’ve come? It may be a lot better than what you think. Now that I have gotten faster, I need to figure out how to maintain that speed for longer periods of time.

I’ve been thinking about heart rates and running lately. I keep seeing people post about running in zone 2 or zone 3. Every site I look at will have a different definition of what that heart rate should be. Even if I find out what my true maximum heart rate is, the zones will vary. A typical comment is that I need to train in the aerobic zone. Then I see an article about Crossfit’s Brian MacKenzie. It seems to me that he trains for short periods of time but at a high intensity. Then it hits me. When we want to train our legs to be fast, we work them at a high intensity. The heart is a muscle just like the ones in our legs…well not just like it, but it is a muscle. I wonder if we can train it to have endurance to pump at a high intensity for extended periods of time as well. So why not train at a heart rate above the aerobic zone. As long as we have time to recover, it is possible isn’t it?

Well, I don’t know what I’m going to be doing during this phase of training. I do know that I’m going to be listening to my body. When it’s tired, I’m going to back down a little. When I’m feeling good, I’ll speed up a little. I think our body knows more of what is going on than our head does anyway. 

So for me, looking at where I was last year and comparing it to where I am now. I’m pretty pleased. However, I know I can do better. My next goal is a half marathon under 1:44. That will be a PR by 6 minutes. I’ve got until December to do it, so I’m thinking I’ve got a pretty good chance. What do you have plans for? How far have you come? Keeping track of your runs will give you the motivation you need to keep going and the encouragement you need to know you can do better.

June 13, 2011

Here is the beginning...again.

So here I am in a house with no wife, no kids, with “The Bachelorette” on TV thinking, there has to be something better to spend my time doing. Yes I said the Bachelorette, mostly because I think my wife is watching it while she is off visiting family and it make me feel closer to her while she is gone and will give me something to talk about during our 4th conversation of the day right before bed. I sitting here thinking about how bored I am and what I could be doing or should be doing. It reminds me of when I started to run.
I am in the US Navy and I was attached to a submarine that was in the shipyards in Portsmouth, Va. Not the worst, except for the fact that my family was still in southeast Ga. My wife has been gone for 5 days now and I am ready to go for a run again for the second time today. All this quietness is driving me batty. That is why spending 10 months in Virginia without my family turned me into the runner I am today.
Well, I can’t go running again, so I’ll just write a little bit of a blog. Two weeks ago, I started running in the heat of the day (as close to it as I can run due to work). I am trying to build my tolerance for heat. I wanted to run at a fast pace all the time, but I’m not sure that is the best way to do it. If you follow me on Dailymile, you would have seen my first 10 days of RITO (Running in the Oven) and the results of it.
My biggest drawback is why. Why would anyone want to read my blog when there are so many out there that are established or written by people who know what they are talking about. I’m just a normal guy trying to put down some stuff that is going on in my life, and trust me; there are a lot of hats around here. So anyway, this is my introduction and there is going to be more to come.

August 29, 2010

My First Race

     You would think that being active duty in the military, a service member would be in pretty good shape.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  In the Navy, a physical fitness test is performed twice a year.  In order to pass the test, a member is required to do a few push-ups, a few sit-ups and run 1 ½ miles.  I was a member of the 3 mile per year club.  The passing requirements, are not very difficult.  As long as you pass, you can get away with a minimal amount of PT.
     Having said that, I have gone from being a “Couch Potato” to running a marathon in 2 ½ months.  I don’t know why I had this desire to run or even how I got started running.  I didn’t even like running.  Every day I told myself I was going to quit.  There was no reason to run.  Why am I doing this?  I do know I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment.  In January, I purchased a new pair of running shoes, an iPod Nano, and the Nike+ system and I was on my way.  January 4th, I ran 3 miles.  By the 10th, I BARELY finished 5 miles.
Before I go on, I have to say “Do Not try this at home!”  I went against almost every piece of advice I got and still got the job done.  “They” say not to increase your long run more than 10% each week.  In two weeks I went from a 5 mile run to a 12 mile run.
     February 21st – I ran a 13.5 miles in 2 hours and 10 minutes within a month and a half of starting.  At the end of February, I took a week off to let some massive blisters on my foot heal.  Jumping right back into it, I ran an average of 9 miles every other day for the next week before taking another week off.
     March 18th – 4 days before the race, my longest run yet…14 miles.  “They” say the last week before a marathon you should take it easy.  “They” also say that if you can run about 18 to 20 miles then you can do a marathon.  I never met that goal either.
     March 21st – Registration.  I walked up to register for the race with the application.  The volunteer started going through entry requirements and the schedule with me.  He asked if I knew how the D-ring timing chip worked.  My response was “No this is my first race.”  “Oh, you first marathon, Huh.”  “No, my first race.”  He looked at me like I was had just said something totally insane.  Fact is, I guess it was a little insane.  I had been running for 2 ½ months and now I was about to run 26.2 miles at one time.  He asked me if I knew I was signing up for the FULL marathon.  I assured him I was in the right line.  He started giving me advice on how to finish.  “Stop and walk through all water and energy gels tables...”  I’m sure it was great advice.  Maybe that is another one of those pieces of advice that “They” say to do.  I don’t know about you, but when I stop from running, the last thing I want to do is start running again.
     March 22nd – Race day.  I got there extra early.  I wanted to get a parking spot near the finish line.  If I run 26 miles, the last thing I want to do is walk another mile to my car to drive home.  Since I had this extra time, I walked to the start and finish line.  The start line to make sure of where I needed to be when this got started, and the finish line, just in case I never saw it again.
     The temperature was 35 degrees at the start.  It was colder than I had ever run in before.  What to wear…I knew it would get warmer as the day goes on, so should I layer up and shed as I go along or just grin and bare it?  I went with the latter.  Shorts, t-shirt, and another long sleeve running shirt made it a little chilly, but with all the excitement, I barely noticed.
     This race thing was awesome.  It was more like a block party than a race.  People running in tuxes, kilts, big green afros, and superhero capes.  I have to say that over 3000 people all with the same goal makes for a real sense of camaraderie.  I wasn’t running with anyone, but I was by no means running alone.  I talked to a few people along the way.
     “Coach,” as I called him, was an 8 race veteran.  This was his third time in this marathon.  His goal was the same as mine…4 hours and 30 minutes.  He talked me through the course telling me where the hills were, where he has had problems and other pieces of advice.  His method of running was to walk for 30 seconds at every mile and walk through every water stop.  It seemed to work for him at the beginning.  Coach left me around the 8 mile mark.  I knew he was doing great.  Unfortunately, I ended up passing him around mile 20 and I never saw him again.  I know he finished, but he reach his goal this time.
     My boss has run in 3 other marathons, however, they were 10 to 15 years ago.  I had been talking to him about this event for the passed couple of months.  Trying to get any advice and an edge on making it through in one piece.  He too had the same time goal.  I never saw him, but looking at the results, he was ahead of me by 4 minutes at 7miles and 9 minutes at the halfway split.  I had narrowed it back to 5 minutes at the 18.1 mile timing split.  “If you can run 15 miles, you can do it.  It is all about heart after that.”  he told me.  He was right about it taking heart.  I hit my wall at 23 miles and it was only heart that got me through the next 3.2 without walking.  I was just focused on picking my foot up and putting it back down again.  I was watching every crack with care hoping I wouldn’t stumble one quarter of a mile away for the finish line.  I came around the last turn and there it was.  The goal I had been running for 4 ½ hours to see.  The crowed was cheering, the announcer would call out our name as we crossed the timer 40 feet from the finish line.  “Tom Reaves is about to finish his first marathon” I heard.  I was almost there.  When I crossed the finish line afraid to take another step in fear of falling over but, I had done it!  Was this for real?  Was it possible I finished and without even walking?  I wasn’t suppose to be able to do that.  With the prayers and support of my friends and family, it was over.
     So why did I write this?  To scoff in the face everyone who gives friendly advice?  To say that “They” are wrong or don’t know what they are talking about?  No not at all.  I couldn’t have made it without the advice of others.  I just wanted to say, I accomplished my goal of running a marathon in 4 hours 33 minutes and 2 seconds.  If I can do that in 2 ½ months without a real training plan, there is no telling what you can do.  Just get outside, run and have fun! Who knows, maybe you could beat your boss by 15 minutes.