Saturday, February 28, 2009

Getting Muddy can be fun

This morning I got the opportunity to do something that I don't get to do very often. Really, not since I was a kid.

When I was kid and came home covered mud, let's just say that my mom wasn't too happy.
But these days, my mom doesn't look over my shoulder any more and scolded me that I shouldn't do these type of things.

Yesterday, Jeff emailed me asking if I wanted to run today. I replied back "always".

His response was where.

I said we could do the roads but how about a trail run. With the rain coming down yesterday and at times through the night as well as this morning, the trail would have its fair share of mud to play in.

I wasn't too far off.

And no, I forgot my camera so I don' t have any pictures - sorry

But it is safe to assume that my legs and back were pretty much covered in mud. There is something about getting covered in mud that makes one feel young at heart. It takes you back to your childhood when you just went out and played all day. The only reason for coming was dinner.

Back to my mom, I now remember why she was so upset. Only this time, it was up to me to wash my mud covered cloths and I don't really mind doing it because I enjoyed so much getting them dirty in the first place.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Riding into the night.

Yesterday was such a warm day that I let my judgment get the better of me.

I love riding my bike when the spring like temperates arrive. Some days, I feel like I could ride forever.

Leaving the Lake Norman Y about 5pm, I was expecting to ride some where around 15 to 20 miles.

I don’t ride that often in Davidson so I didn’t know how the traffic might be. But the traffic was light on the roads by Fisher Farms. Light traffic means I am going to as far as I can.

Finally, at round 12 miles out, I turned back. Looking toward the sunset, I wasn’t sure if could make it back to the Y before dark. My bike doesn’t have lights so riding at night is a bad idea.

To make matters worse, I was wearing my sun glasses. It is the kind of pair that you just don’t want to stick in back of your shirt.

As darkness was fast approaching, I was tired but I attacked on every up hill and rode hard on the down hills. I wanted to make it through the greenways before darkness hit. They don’t have street lights on the greenway in Davidson. But luckily, the evening sunset lasted long enough.

By the time I reached Antiquity, darkness had settled in and the only light came from the near by houses. I was looking over the top of my sunglasses and riding by feel.

You would be surprised how hard potholes are to spot at night.

Mostly, I was trying to be safe. But I did make it back to the Y - 24 miles in just less than 2 hours of riding.

Maybe, I will invest a head lamp and tail light for my bike.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Race Warm Up – How much is enough

Reading an article on the internet recently about prerace warm ups, I started to ponder my own race warm up routine.

Typically, I usually do an easy mile or two depending on the race distance about 30 minutes before start. This is followed by a change over to my race flats and race singlet. Just before the start, I do some striders as the final piece to get my self ready to run.

But after reading this article I maybe selling my pre race warm up short.

So what brought me to this conclusion?

Well, for one thing, I routinely wear my heart rate monitor during my runs. In looking through the download of the results, I noticed that usually some where between 3 to 4 miles, my heart drops. I believe this to mean that my body i.e. muscles and heart – basically everything is warmed up and ready to go.

In addition, I noticed that my pace per mile tends to go down.

Based on these two facts, I suspect that my prerace warm up routine should be extended to include more miles. By getting in this extra warm up, my body then has a better chance to perform at it most optimal level.

Now, 3 to 4 miles warm appears to work for me. But I have another suspension that it is probably different for each person.

My suggestion is get your self a heart monitor. Track your heart rate during your daily runs – easy days or recovery days or even long runs. Look to see where your heart settles down. Try making it the sweet spot for your pre race warm up and see if it improves your overall race efforts.

I am going to test out my theory in my up coming races. I post what effect this have on my races.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Running or Biking

Over the last six weeks, I have spent considerable more time riding my bike than I have running. Mainly as you know, it is due to my having ITB.

I really started riding my bike again last summer. It was about the time that I started ramping up my marathon training and I didn't want to put in any more running miles than necessary. Riding my bike gave me another option so I could get in a good cardio workout with the beating that running places on my body.

I continued riding pretty right up to the week of the marathon. But afterwards, I just stopped and didn't get back on the bike again until I got ITB. Funny, I wasn't even planning to use the bike during my training for a spring marathon.

Part of the reason for not riding, I have this aversion to cold weather and riding the bike is like riding down the street with the windows rolled down in your car. It is just not as much fun as you might think even at 50 degrees.

But with ITB limiting my ability to run, I dusted off my bike after two months and started riding again. I rode through some very cold days and even through some days with snow. Guessing what is the right type of clothing to wear is probably 90% of the battle with riding bike. Mainly, I have found keeping the chest and neck covered is vital to staying warm. It does help to wear heavy socks and booties if you have them. Also wearing heavy gloves is a plus. Once the fingers get cold, being miserable is the only thing left.

Now, I cannot be all negative. Riding gives one a certain amount of freedom to go where ever the road takes one. Not to mention, while riding, I can see twice as much of the country side vs. the short excursion running. Furthermore, riding doesn't leave me beat up like a run does. After a 20 mile run, I sometimes can feel like a truck hit me. After 25 to 30 miles on the bike, I am still feeling pretty good.

All in all, I am starting to find my bike rides a lot more enjoyable. Maybe I will just switch to riding instead of running.

Friday, February 20, 2009

ITB recovery

A little over five weeks have now passed since I accepted the fact that I had an injury. Five slow weeks of waiting and wondering if I would ever run pain free again. Five weeks spent stretching and icing my body in hopes that it would actually do some good.

When I was younger, the thought of getting over an injury and not returning to hard racing never really entered my mind. Being young has that advantage.

But as I grow older, I start to think if this will be the injury that sidelines me for a much longer period of time. Will an injury prevent me from running the way that I want to run which is hard.

All of these negative thoughts never really do any of us any good. I mean I could just as easily get injuried driving my car or playing games with my daughters.

If an injury happens, it happens. I will just have to accept it and then work on getting over it.

I think someone once said that you cannot live your life in bubble. Exploring the world and the risk that goes along with it is what makes life interesting.

So far my knee is healing nicely. I am taking one more week of recovery before starting to add some more harder workouts. The workouts will be nothing too difficult- just some simple short hills to stregthen the legs and get the heart rate up.

Shamrock 4 miler is only four weeks away and will be the first real test of my knee.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Riding at the Huntersville Business Park

Normally, I am a totally running guy. But with my recent ITB issues, I have been forced in to cross training - mainly on the bike

I don't have a street bike but I do have a mt. bike. I guess I look a little funny riding on the roads with it. But the bike gives you a great workout because you have to drag along a much heavier bike.

I have been taking it to a few different places for a ride but one of my favorite places to ride is at the Huntersville business park. The business park is built with a nice loop around the businesses. The loop measures about 1.75 miles if you ride the inside line and a little over 2 miles if you ride the out side of the loop.

Usually, I ride on Tuesday and Thursdays at the park. In the last few weeks, I have noticed that the number of riders is ever increasing. Two weeks ago, there must have been 100 riders in the pack and last night there was probably 25 to 30 riders.

It is simply amazing to see that many people riding their bikes at the same time.

What is more amazing is to be riding along when they pass. It is kind of like being passed tractor and trailer on the interstate which is going about 30 miles per hour faster.

I do my best to just keep my bike in straight line and out of their way.

It is fun to chase after them. Even thou, I know that I cannot catch them. It makes the workout go faster.

Everyone should try it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Epic Battle

Yesterday, I received a first hand race report on the Chris vs. Cody 1/2 marathon battle in Sarasota, Fl. directly from Cody.

Chris and Cody were quickly away from the pack in the earlier miles. Their closest pursuer was Sheri Piers the leading female runner.

Chris and Cody were right to together at 7 miles in 38:11 with Sheri just over a minute back. From this point, it appears that Chris and Cody started throwing surges at one another. Ultimately, Cody got in the last surge and created a small gap. Cody crossed the finish line in 1:12:14 with Chris just behind him in 1:12:45. Sheri kept them honest winning the female open in 1:15:52

As I understand it, both Chris and Cody ran PRs.

Based on this being a two man effort, I see a lot of potential for improvement. Put them in a bigger race with a large pack of runners, Cody and/or Chris might be able to run 1:10.

Hopefully, we see them in one of the bigger 1/2 marathons possibly Philly or Rock and Roll this fall. That sub 70 minute 1/2 might just be possible for them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Prerace fueling and refueling during races

I was reading Tim Long's blog about fueling up for a big run and refueling during race. I thought it was very interesting how he went about getting his body adequately nourished for race.

This started me thinking about what I did to fuel up for a race.

The first step is consider the type of race that you will be running. This will set the tone for the type and amount of nourishment required by your body.

Let's start with the shortest race.

Pretty much anything up to a 10K to 15k, I am not really concerned. I feel like as long as I have decent diet then I are going to have enough reserves on board to run the race. As personal preference, I usually don't eat anything right before race, but I will drink some Gatorade about an hour before. If the race is in the evening, I will usually will not eat anything after lunch. I like my stomach to be empty. I guess it goes back to something my high school coach told me "A hungry dog hunts best".

During the race, I may grab a water at an aid station. If it is hot, I am more likely to dump it over my head than drink anyway.

Races between 15k and 20 miles, I will to load up on some pasta the day before the race. Although, if I am traveling to a race, I am careful about eating out the night before a race. Too many times, I have seen it have unexpected side effects which end up ruining your race the next day.

On race day, I follow pretty the same routine as with shorter races. I take some Gatorade about an hour before the event.

In the race, I will usually take on some water and maybe Gatorade. Depending the distance, I may take along some Gel Shots. I prefer the "Power Gels" over the the brands. Mainly, they tend to taste better to me later in the race. But it is all personal preference. Note, I will rarely take the "Gel" shots given out during the race. While you may know the type of "Gel", you may not know the flavor. There is nothing like expecting chocolate and getting strawberry or banana.

For races 20 miles through 50k, I am usually pretty heavy on the pasta for the last 2 to 3 days leading up to the event.

During the race, I will make sure to take water and/or Gatorade every 5 miles if at all possible. I will also carry along my "Gel" shots. I have the shorts with the little "Gel" pockets on the back which make carring the "Gel" rather easy. Although, I have one tip here. Tie your shorts snuggly because the "Gel"s can start to pull down on your shorts.

If you are looking for tips related race fueling beyond 50k, I am sorry but I will not be much help. The longest race that I have completed is 50k. But there are several good blogs where ultra runners describe their fueling process. It never hurts to read up on what others are doing. It helps provide you with insight as well as potentially reducing your trial and error time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How to recovery from ITB

So how do you get rid of ITB.

Well first, I am not a medically trained expert, but after having it 3 times and in both knees, I have become expert by personal experience.

ITB starts with pain on the outside and sometimes behind the knee - at least for me it does.

If you catch early, stretching and ice will most likely help keep you going in your workouts.

But if you are like me and push over the edge of common sense, running becomes so painful that just the thought mentally hurts.

This time I pushed so hard in my training that I had swelling around my knee and down my right leg.

At this point, common sense finally did start to kick in and I adjusted my training.

So here is what I did.

I cut my miles way back.

I would run until the knee started to hurt and then stop. I never pushed any further. I also slowed down the pace that I was running. Instead of running 6 min miles, I ran 8 or 9 minutes per mile.

I changed where I run. I avoided any place with concrete because concrete is so much harder than asphalt or dirt. I moved to running in neighborhoods where I can run on the wrong side of the road. Yeah, I know this is bad idea but that is why I ran through quiet little neighborhoods. They have very little traffic. The other thing to do is move off the roads altogether. I started hitting the trails and found that I could run a little longer before the pain reared it ugly head.

Stretching has always been a part of my routine. But with this batch of ITB, I did some searches on UTube for some videos. I found a ton of new hip stretching exercises. A few of which make me look like a pretzel but it seems to be working.

I also continued to use "The Stick" on my legs.

There is one other thing that I did. I bought one of those foam rollers. As I research on UTube, I found this video online about ITB where the guy recommended using a foam roller for ITB. And I thought, let's give it a shot. But one word of warning, the first time that you use the roller, it will put tears in your eyes. It really does hurt if you use it correctly. But as you use it regularly, it does get easier.

Along with these exercises, I have been using ice and heat. After every workout, I put a cold pack on my knee. I do it for 15 minutes on, 10 minutes off. I do this three times. You don't want to leave it on to long as it could freeze the skin. I try to do 3 icings per day. Then, before bed I wrap a heat pad around the out side of my knee and leave it on for 20 minutes.

So far, it has been almost 4 weeks since I started these treatments. My knee has moved from lots of pain to having a stinging feeling to just being numb at the end of my runs.

And, I have been running the entire time. But because I wasn't running as much, I started cross training. I have been riding my mt. bike, using the stair master, the bikes at the Y, and the elliptical machines at the Y. I also started lifting more weight. By this I mean, I added more sets and rather than more weight. I did't do any weights on my legs, however. I felt if it was hurting, let's not put any more pressure on it.

Overall, the cross training doesn't give you the same cardio workout that a run does. But, if you do it right, it will help keep your fitness level from falling off too quickly and that is the whole point. You use the cross training so continue the workouts that push your cardio.

So this is what I have been doing for the last 4 weeks. They say it takes 4-6 weeks to recovery from ITB, I think that I am on pace. Once I get back to full time running, I will still need to build back my running to previous level which will take time. What you do not want to do is jump into heavy training immediately. You can run the risk of reinjuring your knee again.

Sugoi Arm Warmers

A few weeks ago I was in the Charlotte TrySports to pick up some stuff and I started looking at the arm warmers.

Never being one to wear arm warmers before, I thought what the heck; I am going to try a pair.

This morning, I finally pulled them out to wear. It was about 48 degrees here in Charlotte and I was heading over to the North Meck Trail for a run.

The warmers have these strips on the ends which I am assuming is to hold them in place while you are wearing them. At least effectively, this appears to be what is happening.

I thought they might be a little to warm to wear, but actually, they never felt hot. I would even go so far as to say they are felt cool. I noticed the cool feeling during the last half of the run.

So effectively, I didn't notice them at all which is exactly what you want. You want new materials to blend right into your running style.

Over, I would have to say that I like them.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

OBX marathon - thinking ahead

Yes, I know it is just February and OBX is 275 days away. But this doesn't stop me from thinking about it.

I am also hearing talk of who will be running at OBX this year from our TrySports team.

I will start with the usual list of suspects: my self and Megan. We both had decent runs last year. For me, I think I can run it faster if the weather is good. I just need to get over this ITB and the spend the summer working on my base. I suspect the same can be said for Megan. She won the open women's side with a 2:49. She can definitely go faster.

Megan's future husband Mr Megan Hovis otherwise known as Ben has talked about running OBX. Ben has done a few marathons. His best is about 2:33 (if I remember correctly) which should make for a good show between he and Bob M.

Ben is smart and knows how to train for the marathon. The key will be in his training if he can stay healthy. He spent most of '08 getting over an injury. But when he is healthy, he is fast.

Then, there is Mike Beigay. I talked to him at the TrySports Social last week. He is throwing his name in the OBX marathon pot as well. Mike delivered some amazing times last fall. He had great 15k and then followed it up with a personal best in the OBX 1/2 of 1:16 a few weeks later.

If he can get into this kind of shape this year, he could run 2:40. I am going to keep my fingers crossed that he does. It would mean (continuing with crossing my fingers), we would be running with roughly the same goal time in mind.

Definitely two people working toward the same goal provides for better odds on achieving that goal than one person alone.

Hopefully, we get a few more commitments by mid summer to run OBX from our team. Then, we maybe could have a true TrySports house for OBX.

Chris vs. Cody - Take 2

I logged on to my yahoo email this morning and I got a little surprise. There was an email from Chris telling me that he had read my blog.

He went on to give me an update on his training and diet. I guess I have been a little out of touch with Chris lately.

I knew that he had been training hard. His log on AthletiCore tells of some amazing workouts. And if you just look at him, you can tell that the training is having a positive effect on his body.

What I didn't realize until after reading his email, he is really committed to running well and for that matter much harder this year.

Chris has a ton of talent so this just might be his breakout year.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Snow Day

I have been reading a few other blogs where they are often get to run on snow covered trails.

Today, it was my turn. I spent nearly 2 hours running along the North Meck trail and I enjoyed each and every slip and slide along the way.

Even with the snow and ice the trail was in good shape. After the first loop, I knew most of the slick spots. Laps 2 and 3 I was able to avoid these spots by running on the side of the trail.

Sometimes, I do miss the snow but only when I don't have to drive in it.
As proof, I took a picture in the upper right before I headed off for a run. When you live in the carolinas, you need proof that it actually does snow from time to time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chris vs. Cody

Chris vs. Cody

Chris Lamperski and Cody Angel are two of my friends, follow runners, and TrySports Team mates.

Being that they are roughly the same age, they have a nature rivalry. Both have raced each other in college and have been racing each other on the local Charlotte Running Scene for the last few years.

In two weeks, they will be racing each other again in the Sarasota Fl. This time, they will be tackling the ½ marathon distance. This will be their first head to head competition since the Turkey Trot 8k in Charlotte.

On that day, Cody bested Chris but he did it with the smallest of margins.

I suspect this has provided Chris some much needed motivation.

This past weekend Chris and Cody raced in Charleston SC. Chris won the 5k in 15: 53 while Cody took 3rd place in 50:28. This was a road PR for both of them.

So I know they are both in great running shape.

Handicapping is something everyone does as they gauge their competition. This means, I have break down how I believe Chris and Cody will run.

Chris has great legs speed. I suspect maybe a little better than Cody. Cody on the other hand has probably a better base. Although, Chris has been putting in the long runs to build his endurance.

When it comes to diet and recovery, I have to give the nod to Cody. I know that he sleeps in a high altitude tent and watches every spec of food that he consumes.

I suspect the race will go down as follows.

Unless there is some fast ringing in the race, Chris will take the lead out with Cody in close pursuit. They will run pretty much side by side through 10 to 12 miles.

If I were Chris, I would wait as long as possible before dropping the pace and sprinting to the finish.

If I were Cody, some where about 10 to 11 miles I would start throwing in surges. I would want to take the sprint out of Chris’s legs. Even better, I would want to gap him before nearing the finish.

Basically, I think this is a toss-up race. Either of them can win it and it will all depend on who is having the better day.

Totally Unmotivated today

I went for my run this morning but I was totally unmotivated to even go out the door.

It was not because it is still February and the temps are in the 30's. I run to many times for the weather to stop me.

Or maybe it is just my low point in the month. We all go through cycles where we feel really good and other times when we feel low.

Or maybe it is my ITB knee. Although, it is recovery albeit very slowly. At least, I am able to run on it.

No, I think it must be something else. Something more profound in my life that has changed and will forever impact how I deal with the world. And I feel bad for the people who have to live through it because they came from this life event. I am sadden by the fact that I failed to give them the kind of world that they deserve. Even thou, I am only 1/2 this life event, I feel totally responsible for its failure.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Uwharrie 20 miler off my race schedule

I have decided to skip the Uwharrie 20 miler to this year. My knee is just starting to recovery which was evident by my surviving a 14 miler Saturday morning.

Uwharrie is tough when you have 2 healthy knees. Making any attempt to run 20 miles with ITB would have killed me. I am not the type to go half throttle. I have to give my best with every outting.

To that end, I emailed the race director to let them know. Also I wanted them to give my spot to another runner.

If I cannot be enjoying the trail next Saturday morning, I hope someone else can enjoy it in my place.

Spring maybe in the air

The temperature here in Charlotte was 39 this morning. I hardly needed to wear tight during my run.

But something felt different. I was wondering if spring was actually in the air.

I could hear birds chirping my entire run. There was a Wookpecker building his home. The sky were the perfect shade of blue and the sun rose over the horizon.

If my knee felt better, I would have to say this was a perfect morning.

I am keeping my fingers crossed and ice on my knee.

See you on the roads soon.