Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Musings

Yesterday I attended my last class as an undergraduate student...

My time at Shawnee has seemingly vanished before it even started.  I was running on the flood wall yesterday and I could distinctively recollect the feelings, thoughts and moments from my freshman year of cross country.  One moment in particular the team was doing a workout in the rain which provided for a muddy flood wall.  We were all wearing our new red long-sleeve shirts with a big "S" on the front - still one of my favorite shirts.  During the start of our second 800 meter interval I was in the front and slipped.  Joe Jinks was behind me and about fell over top of me, adding in a brief set of profanity (just like you could imagine Joe Jinks saying, if you know Joe).  I am not sure why I remember certain moments like that.  Another moment on that same flood wall, we were finishing an 8 mile run and Blake Jones looked at his watch to inform us all we just ran 5:55 for our last mile.  Looking back, that could be the reason we all burned out at the conference meet.  But we were loving living in the moment that year.

A lot has to do with memories.  For every present there is a past.  For every future there has to be a present.  Too many times I let my past dictate my present or my future thoughts - I often point to what I have done or what I will do.  But none of that really matters.  All we really have is what we have now.  How are we suppose to make new memories by constantly recollecting thoughts about old memories?  Paradox...

With running, a lot can be said about a "lifetime base" of mileage.  That is true, having that experience or build-up of strength in beneficial.  Our achievements can lead to confidence for the future and lessons learned can provide for a more flawless type of running.

Often though, our ego's take over... we start to stray away from our true identity... we put on a face that is not really ours... and end up becoming shattered in the process.

Moving forward from here, I hope to remain who I am.  Continue to identify myself and search deeper.  Wherever I may go, live or work... wherever I may run, I hope to do this.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Smells Better, Sounds Better, Looks Better, Feels Better - Hangover

For most of my readers, you might be used to me talking about a place called Hangover - a place I have written entire blogs about and included in dozens more.  This blog will highlight this same place; a place I love - called Hangover.

If there are any new readers, I will briefly explain Hangover.  Hangover was founded by SSU runners long before I was in college, before Eric Putnam was even the coach.  They needed to run one morning and decided to drive into the Shawnee State Forest to find a new place to run.  They stumbled upon Forest Rd. #5 and at the top found Bridle Trail #5.  Now, the night before was still lingering on their breathe and sweating out of their pores - hence the name Hangover.  Today, Hangover is more aptly named because of the feeling runners get the day after running this hill-invested, lovely-viewed, out-of-the way path.  SSU Cross Country uses this grueling route three times a year for workouts, one 5-mile time trail and two 5k time trials, per season.  Long runs are often held there on Sunday's too.

I have been especially fond of this place and contribute running there to a lot of my success.  Here are some of the blogs about Hangover:
A Tribute to Hangover - August 2010
The First Chapter... 2010 Hangover Time Trial  - September 2010
Hangover At Its Best... Time Trial Edition - August 2009
The Last Two Hours - October 2009 

Today I made my way out to Hangover for the first time since, I think, November of last year.  I have passed through the area on some of my long runs on the trail, but haven't exclusively ran on Hangover for an entire run.  This was just what I needed too, Hangover demonstrated to me why I love it there so much and why it is so good.
I usually like to find time to be in nature.  Usually, that time is spent running, but it is sometimes just spent sitting in it.  Hangover gave me that fix this morning.  I headed out early and was running by 6 a.m.  This time of year is a wonderful time to be a runner.  Mornings are a cool, damp, clean time of the day.

Today was also a long run day.  I did 17 miles.  It is 6.1 miles from gate to gate.  I went past the gate a little over 2 miles, left of road #2 and back.  Early in the run I knew I was going to be feeling good.  Not only because my body was feeling good physically, but mainly because my mind was in a state of clarity on this day...
Everything was better at Hangover.  The air was cleaner... the ground was softer... the creeks were giving sound of bubbling water from the recent rains.. trees were coming into bloom, filling the woods with colors no man can create... birds were making their way back into the forest, singing their songs... and I was gliding up and down the hills, blazin' the trails smooth and calm.
It was like Hangover was calling me into her fortress.  It is open for the whole world too walk in, but today, she just wanted me.  I felt privileged and made the most out of my 2+ hours in the wilderness.  A wave of serenity came over me, but I felt so small in the gaps filled with 40 foot tree's.  Mother Nature is good to me.  Mother Nature... sings to me.
This run wrapped up the week for me.  I ended up with 100 miles total; feeling good with my progression this time around.  I have the All-Ohio 10k coming up this Friday night at U of Cincinnati.  I am looking forward to a PR.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Yin and the Yang

It has been a while since I have posted anything substantial on my blog - nearly an entire month.  I won't lie, the time away from this bastardized form of social media has been a bit of fresh air.  Ultimately though, I have been drawn back into it.  My last post on this blog was about me getting back into running after taking seven days completely off due to an achilles injury.  Since then, things have gone well.  I am confident that I am 100% healthy and - even though this is hard to say - the injury was probably good for me and my body.

I have spent some time lately learning and thinking about the science aspect of running.  It is something I have not paid much attention to and don't buy into much either.  Terms such as Lactate Threshold, running economy, V02 Max, Muscle Fiber Type, Metabolism and Enzymes....  Who knew people could make such a simple, minimal thing like running into something so complicated to the point that it debases the basic principle of one foot in front of the other.  Elite "fast" guys - or their coaches rather - would argue that the only way to maximize their speed and endurance, results, would be by understanding their body's physiology and training to that type. 

I believe runners can run to their maximum potential without an understanding or training based on science.  It has been interesting to learn a little about this though.  If I were to become collegiate coach, I think it is pertinent to know both sides of the spectrum.  The other side of that spectrum of course, is running mainly off of "feel" and a slew of other factors.  Looking at a persons body type is one good indication of what type of training they need to do.  Is their form natural?  Are they tall and skinny?  Their leg turnover quick?  Shorter and muscular runner?  One example I always think about is between myself and Keegan Rathkamp.  I ran 24:42 in the 8k by running 120 miles a week.  Keegan ran 24:37 in the 8k by running 65 miles a week.  Two completely different types of runners maximizing our running by finding what works for us and getting very similar results.  Of course, people can state a scientific explanation for that - Keegan thrives with his fast-twitch muscle fibers and I thrive with my slow-twitch muscle fibers.

To me, certain terms can be translated into phrases more understandable by people like me.  These are all ideas that crossed my mind in the past and who knew their were actually doctors out there giving it meaning:
VO2 Max:  Yes, I understand this has been around a while.  I read an article in Trail Runner Magazine about how Steve Prefontaine had a much higher VO2 max than Frank Shorter but their times were similar.  That is due to Frank Shorters more efficient running.  VO2 max to me would be explained as how natural a runner.  Is it easy for them to just go out and run 8 miles without running a step for months?  I know people like that.
Running Economy:  This can be best explained and understood by me as how "smooth" a runner is.  How hard is he working to run a certain pace?  The less flaws in his foot strike and arm motion, the more energy he is conserving.
Metabolism:  Metabolism to me is how a person responds to eating.  I know a lot of people who can eat a ton and not gain wait.  But I also know a lot of people that eat a lot and gain wait.  Also, how much time before they run do they like to eat... some people don't like to eat three hours before they run because they will have stomach issues.  Others can eat right up until they run and not have problems on the run.
Muscle Fibers:  This is the example I stated above about Keegan and me.  Keegan is big, strong, and fast.  I am tall, skinny, and "not as quick."  He has a quick flip of his foot and he is off the ground in a hurry.  I probably am on the ground a little longer and using my biggest muscles.  His calf muscles are twice the size of mine but my quad muscles are more worked than his.  Just another way of how different muscles get people to the same place.

It comes down to observing the patterns of your own body and experimenting with different types of training.  I would be worried that running scientifically would hold back certain people, but the opposite can be said of people that don't run with science... they they never reach their maximum potential.  I quickly learned that running 60 miles a week was not getting me fast results.  People now think it is crazy that I run so many miles - I say to them that I am only doing this because it is the only thing that will make me as fast as I am.  That is actually not true though because I do it for so many other reasons.

Aside from all of that, mentality plays so much into reaching the maximum potential for an individual runner.  Confidence, motivation, belief, and a clear mind are needed for any runner to be maxed out.  So, maybe running isn't so simple as I though...

Enough talk about that stuff and on to what I have been doing the last several weeks...    

I have been running!  I like the sound of that.  After seven days off and a massively swollen achilles back to a normal size, I am on a normal routine.  I feel that with my huge base before the injury, I was able to jump up quickly.  Here is my past weeks:

Feb. 21 - Feb. 28:  40 miles (all in the first two days, then days off)
Feb. 28 - Mar. 6:  30 miles (a couple days off still this week)
Mar. 7 - Mar. 13:  60 miles
Mar. 14 - Mar. 20:  75 miles
Mar. 21 - Mar. 28:  88 miles (5 mi. tempo)
Mar. 28 - Apr. 2:  95 miles (3x2 mi. and Half Marathon)

Half Marathon Thoughts

Today, I ran my first ever half marathon.  I needed to run a half to qualify for the NAIA National Marathon race. "A" standard is 1:14:00 and just wanted to run as "easy" as I could to qualify with that. I knew there wasn't going to be much competition - just Craig Leon who has ran 1:05:00 in the past, an OU grad; another guy ended up running away at the beginning.

Corey Culbertson decided to register and run with me for as long as he could and that provided much help. Without him, I would of been by myself for the entire 13 miles. He faded back a little after 8 miles - then Chuck jumped and led me through to the 9th mile. I ran the last 4 miles alone.

Started out downhill and was surprised when CC and me came through the mile in 5:02. After that I tried to slow down and settle into a pace around 5:30-32. Started feeling good at the turnaround and went below 5:30 for a while. Here are my splits.

1- 5:02
2-3- 11:11
4- 5:32
5- 5:30
6- 5:30
7- 5:27
8- 5:26
9- 5:21
10- 5:22
11- 5:27
12- 5:33
13- 5:07
.1- 41

(Didn't get my last 1.1 split and haven't saw the official results yet; I'll get it updated soon)

Overall I am happy with the run. I didn't "compete" or really dig deep but rather tried to stay as comfortable as I could and find that rhythm at the pace I wanted. Once I found that rhythm I was not going any faster or slower.

Had to turn down $110 which went to Corey who came in about a minute behind me. Perfect weather on the day. mid-40's up the the 50's during the race and maybe 5 mph breeze. The course was out and back on the bike path that finished with 1.5 laps on the track.

I have seven more weeks until National, where I will make a road marathon debut.  Between then I will be running a couple 10k's and building some more mileage.  I am liking the way this is setting up...