Friday, August 10, 2012

Happy summer everybody! I have to be honest, I do love the heat. My running has been going well, I just went back and read my last post, I love to see in print what I have accomplished, or not. It is challenging for me to remember all these things so being able to review is helpful.

   So, my last big run, a full 26.2 on July 27th went well. Not too much to say about it, other than better than the last time, but certainly not easy. I definitely did not over train, I might not have put in quite enough miles in fact. Next time I will try to get it right and meet somewhere in the middle. One thing that can be said though is starting a race at 7PM and running in the dark is awesome, I hope to do it again next year!

  I have a 10k coming up, next Saturday. Staying consistent, I have worked out a time to beat. Based on previous performances and recent track workouts I am shooting for under 42 minutes. It should be possible depending on conditions and the course etc. I am looking forward to a faster, shorter distance. I like the long runs too, but the challenges that you face in the shorter distances are just more manageable for me I guess. I just think I like to run fast sometimes. I am not giving up on the long stuff. I just can't always keep up with the time commitment needed. Ultimately though I think getting faster, and stronger, will make me a better runner overall, that is certainly my goal.

  I have really been enjoying this journey, I feel like I can consider myself a runner now. Getting faster as I age is really a mentally uplifting experience. I am happy to be 47 and look forward to meeting the challenges of aging, One mile at a time.

Happy running!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The right training for me

     What a beautiful day it is, and a beautiful time of year! June is flying by though, soon we will be into July and the heat that I so love, no sarcasm here, I love the hot weather.  To me it is a great time to be outdoors and not be restricted by the clothes we need to keep us warm at other times of the year.
     I went for a great run yesterday, a much needed long one. It was mostly trails, almost 16 miles. The same trails I ran before my last post in April. This time I did it with four other guys, much to talk about, the differences between running alone and with a group. I will save that for a later post.
     What I do want to focus on is that I am figuring out what is right for me with training, most importantly that I have found that resting is important, and as I will discuss, at least for me, very beneficial in improving performance.
     In my last post I stated that trying for my best 2 mile time was a goal. I ran at the track and ran a 13min 12 sec. 2 mile. I was very pleased with this, although I thought I could do better in time. Shortly after, I think about three weeks, my wife told me there was a 5k race, just the next day, Saturday, to raise money for the teachers at he High School. I was excited to do a race and showed up the next morning ready to go. I had been running, just enjoying myself, not really worrying about mileage or time. So, with no real expectations, I ran the 5k and came in 4th overall, and got a ribbon for 2nd in my age group. There weren't many people running, about 100, but my time of 20 min 28 sec. was actually much better than I had hoped for. I did set a time to beat, just for the heck of it, of 21 min. The really satisfying thing was that at the 2 mile mark, I had beat my fastest 2 mile track time by about 3 seconds. It just goes to show what is capable in a race as compared with just pushing on your own.
     My next race coming up was the Run to Remember half marathon, memorial day weekend. I did that race last year, and actually was the start of my getting back into running. It was going to be interesting to see where the year had brought me. With the satisfaction of the 5k to motivate me, I was ready to work hard and have a good half marathon. The previous year I ran it in 2hr 5 min, and following that, the Seacoast half, I did in 1hr 50 min.
     What I then experienced with my training, was a bit baffling, and initially discouraging. I would be eager to get up in the morning to run, but, when I got out there, I would feel good, yet found that for some reason, I would fall short of the distance I was supposed to go. If I was scheduled for 8.5, I would stop at 3 and just "feel" like I was done. The next scheduled run, again eager to get out there, then the same thing. At first I thought, " I am getting lazy", then I figured, no, lazy would be not waking up at 4:30 to run at all.
     I continued on like this, more comfortable with it though, telling myself to just listen to my body, and as long as I was enjoying myself and improving, maybe this was the right "training program for me". The proof was in the pudding so to speak, time would tell.
     Half marathon day was quickly here, my daughter Jillian and I were doing the race together, she was doing the 5 mile and me the 13.1. The race is a good one and would highly recommend it. I set a goal time for myself to have something to shoot for, 1 hour 40 min. I thought it was possible, although I thought perhaps I possibly set the bar a little high, nothing wrong with that though. Well, I did it, 1 hr 40 min. exactly, crazy almost, to have hit it right on the money like that. I not only beat last years time by 25 minutes, but my best by 10. I guess the resting and listening to my body worked for me.
     Like everything else in life, running is so different for everybody. I think it is what discourages people from sticking with it, that they feel that they are not good enough or measuring up to some standard. I would really love to see more people running, I think they would find it truly life changing if they found out what was right for them. My advice, take it slow, if you are not enjoying it, you are doing something wrong. Time to head out for a run, I have 5 miles planned, If it ends up being 3, I won't sweat it, and if its 8, oh well. Whatever the distance, I am going to strive to better myself, listen to my body, and enjoy the journey, because if you don't, whats the sense. Next event for me is July 27th, Run Around the Lake, I am doing the marathon, 26.2 should be a great run.

Happy running

Monday, April 2, 2012

Running is so much mental

   I haven't been running very much lately. My barefoot running has been going ok, but, my right foot has been giving me some pain so I have been taking it easy. I have had a couple of good sessions at the track I am happy about though.

    About three weeks ago I went for a nice hike with my daughter Jillian. It was so nice to be outdoors on a beautiful day, and the one on one time with her is always great. I asked if she wouldn't mind stopping at the track after so I could try to beat my best mile time. She ran track in high school and has timed me before, so she was up for it. My previous best time was 6:19, I was going to be happy with anything better than that. After some nice warm up laps, I was ready to go. The hiking before actually made my legs feel like they were strong, so I was excited. I have to add, my long range goal was to break 6:00 minutes, eventually. Sometimes, I just throw numbers out there, perhaps not always realistic, at least it gives me something to shoot for. My quarter mile splits were right on my goal pace, on the fast side actually. I ended up with a 6:01. I knew if I had pushed, that beating 6:00 was well within my reach, at least on that day. Happy with my performance,yet eager to try it again, I returned to the track the next weekend, and ran a 5:53. What is so encouraging for me, is that all my training for the marathon obviously is paying off. having not seen it on race day, this improvement at the track was a much needed mental boost.

   Still in a bit of a slump, and not as motivated as I would like to be, I decided to go do a long run. I was off today for vacation, so I planned that this would be a great day to go for a nice run, getting in some time on the trails as well. I picked a route, a rough idea anyway where I would go, not quite sure of the distance, but knowing that I really didn't have any time constraints I really didn't care. I ended up doing 16.5 miles, a little less than half on trails actually. The trail sections were so much fun though and such a good total body workout, with the hills and rocks, it was really motivating. I will be honest though, my legs really felt it when I was done. I did my usual stretching, followed by cold water on my legs, after spending some time lying down with my legs elevated. This seems to have done the trick, I feel pretty good.

   The best thing I feel though, is a real desire to get out there and put in some miles. I haven't felt like this since finishing the marathon, just about five weeks ago. It is a process, to get back into your usual mental state that is conducive to productive training. Without being motivated to get out there, what you end up with is just going through the motions and being faced with a real challenge to stick with whatever schedule you have set up.

   I really needed todays run, to make me realize my long term goals are to continue to improve, and most importantly have fun running. What is fun for me is to push myself, and see improvement, to know that even though I am getting older, it doesn't mean I can't continue to get in better shape, and feel better physically and mentally.

   My plan is to try to get in some decent miles weekly, I'll shoot for around 30 miles, if I can do about half on some trails this should build a nice base for me. Hills are always part of my route, and an occasional session at the track. Getting a fastest 2 mile time is my next goal there.

    I guess the bottom line is that as far as running goes, find out what is needed to make it fun, set some goals. Sign up for a race, even if it is your first. Be careful though, it can be addicting, but what better thing to be hooked on. See you out there!

   Happy running

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Filling the void, back to barefoot.

   Ok, it has been two weeks tomorrow since the marathon. I took the first week off, it felt good to take care of my body and fully recover. I went skiing last weekend and I definitely benefited from being in shape.

   I read every article I could find on recovering from a marathon. One interesting article I came across was about post marathon depression. Interesting I thought, why would I be depressed when I have just worked so hard at something and succeeded? Well, the answer is actually quite simple and is common to other activities where goals that are difficult, are achieved. In the absence of that goal there is a void, fill the void and generally the problem is solved.

   Even though I really didn't feel exactly "depressed", I did feel like I was definitely missing something that
I had during training. I knew I had the Run To Remember half marathon coming up at the end of May, but three months away was so far off, and a half marathon, although a substantial accomplishment, for some reason just didn't seem that exciting from a training standpoint. I ran the Run to Remember last year, it really marked the beginning of my new running adventure. I am sure when it gets closer it will have much significance in charting my progress in running, to that point. What I needed now was something different and fun. Recalling a neighbors text about five or six weeks back, about a two day barefoot running festival, I immediately knew I had my next thing.

  Although interested when I first heard about it, it would have been entirely too much on my plate to focus on an additional goal, while coming to a crucial point in my marathon program. Now though, was the perfect time, with the weather getting warmer, to take off the shoes and get back out there to where it really all began, barefoot. I found their website, and after checking the family calendar and getting the thumbs up from my wife Kathleen, I signed up for the two day event.

   Many of the things I mentioned in my earlier posts, were inspired by the book Born to Run, and Barefoot Running Step By Step. One of the co- authors of "Step By Step" is a major pioneer in the barefoot running world. His name is "barefoot" Ken Bob Saxton. He will be just one of several notable individuals speaking, and giving workshops at the event. The Boston Barefoot Festival will also have the first official, barefoot, timed event, in Massachusetts. I am sure that it will be something very exciting to be a part of.

   Well, I've filled the void and gone back to barefoot. My first run without shoes let me know my feet were not as tough as they were at the end of last summer. I am going to take it very slow, and gradually prepare my feet for the 5k, April 15th. It makes me happy just thinking about the next 5 weeks of training, until the run. I do believe that running, and life are more about the journey than the destination. We all need to remember that every day is such a gift!

Happy Running

Monday, February 27, 2012

Take the good with the bad/ looking at the glass half full.

 No time like the present for some things. I figured, post about my run while it is still fresh in my mind...and body. I ran my marathon yesterday, things did not turn out exactly as planned. I wouldn't necessarily say I'm happy about it, but sad wouldn't sum it up either. If you read my last post, no expectations is what I said, and that was true. 26.2 miles can be  unpredictable. My goal was to start out slow, and I did it! Sound so proud of myself I know, I think it is the first time I have succeeded at that. I held back and enjoyed going slow enough to get warmed up and into the groove.

 Ran next to the nicest guy, miles 7 through 12 or so, talking about all kinds of things. He said he was hoping to do 3:40, that was what I had in mind too. It was his 30th marathon, at 60 years old! I was happily on my first*. He lost me just short of the half, I was starting to slow a bit, thinking, that 13.1 sure seemed long.

 I had been experiencing some foot pain in my left foot, hoping it would subside I pressed on. The foot pain continued to get worse, and then just due to the mileage, I started to feel both feet. This surprisingly ended up being the least of my worries. At 15 or 16 miles my right hamstring felt like it was going to cramp, and it did, never had anything like it happen in training, off to the side of the road I went to very carefully stretch. My hydration was good, I had already had two gels. Although looking back, it seemed that I wasn't sweating as much as usual. Usually I am soaked. So here I am, not doing well at all, 10 miles to go. It took a long time to get to the finish. I met a few nice people along the way though. Two guys in particular, well trained, were having similar experiences. Misery loves company, talking to them allowed me not to be so hard on myself. I really can't say that though, being hard on yourself under those conditions wasn't actually on my mind. Happy to be putting one foot in front of the other felt like I was doing the best I could, what more could I ask of myself. I was at that point, getting passed by many people, most having encouraging things to say, thank you to them, it was helpful.

 Funny, I read about things that people fear about running a marathon, or any race actually, and that is coming in last. When you are putting so much effort into something and really digging down deep, I can honestly say I would have been proud to have been last. I think finishing is winning, everybody has to run their own race. On that day, that was my race, who knows why, sh@t happens I guess.

So taking the good with the bad. Ok, I did do the first 13.1 in 1 hr 50 min, that was my goal. I started off slow as I mentioned, super happy about that. Regardless about the final outcome, I will forever hold onto the memory of the beginning of the race, surrounded by people that had all come together to share in an activity, to challenge themselves. It is amazing the feeling of camaraderie, and support I felt, being surrounded by all those wonderful people. I was surprisingly relaxed, very pleased that my training had brought me here to this day. We all stood there, removed our hats, faced the American flag, flying so proudly, in the breeze, against the clear blue sky. As the Star Spangled Banner was beautifully sung, I held my head high, and felt the warm sun on my face. I had already won in my mind, and I had not yet crossed the starting line. I am already looking forward to the next race, just maybe something shorter, just to get my confidence back a little anyway.

Happy Running!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tomorrow is the big day.

 My training for the Hyannis marathon has come to an end, I really got a lot out of it in many ways. To stick with the program I had to make some adjustments in lifestyle, which was a good thing. It took some discipline to get the rest needed to wake up early for my Saturday long runs for sure.

So, tomorrow is the big day. No expectations. I drove the course a few days ago, which was a huge psychological boost for me. Seeing the route definitely helped get me excited. It is a fairly flat course, with some very nice ocean views. I am sure that being next to the ocean on a beautiful sunny day will help propel me on my way.Yes, sunny in the mid thirties, could certainly do worse at the end of February.

The race starts at 10am, plenty of time to get there, check in, and warm up to get ready to go. My plan is to try for a faster second half than first half. The course is a two 13.1 mile loop. Most people will be doing just the half marathon, about 4700 I think, with the remaining 600 doing the full marathon. If I can just not go out too fast I should be ok. I am thinking anywhere around 1 hr 50 min for the first lap and anything less than that for the second. If I feel great, well, we'll see. I will be happy with a good solid effort and a strong finish.

Well, taking it easy for the rest of the day. I did my 2 mi jog a short while ago. Getting hydrated, but not too much, carbo loading for the past few days. I have learned a lot the past few months, so much more to learn though. I am looking forward to tomorrow and will post soon after.

Happy running!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Long run at the track

     My running has been going well, although I have had some concerns about whether I will be able to succeed in my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. As I previously mentioned, my pace is getting faster and I feel like my training is definitely paying off. My training usually consists of hills, where I live just doesn't give me much choice. So I am working a lot harder on my long runs than I will be on the marathon route, which is quite flat. So I had an idea to run last weeks 20 miles on the track, pretty crazy I thought, 80 times around! 

    I went to Pr Running in Westboro MA to talk to their very experienced staff about where I was at with my training etc. Well, first off, they strongly advised me not to worry about trying to qualify for the Boston, just run how I feel was their advice, don't spoil the race by putting pressure on myself. That was exactly what I needed to hear, I was thinking too much about it, and as much as I have been progressing, this will really be my first marathon. I just want it to be a positive experience. I did mention to them about running my long run on the track, they didn't think it was really that crazy at all.

 So, Saturday at 6am I was at the track and ready to go. The cool thing about the track is, no traffic! I really liked the smooth even surface for a change, no potholes to dodge. Keeping my water on the bench next to the track as well as my gels made things easy too. My run went well, started off slow and progressed to marathon pace, except for the very end when I started to have some foot pain. My average was 8 min 15 sec per mile for 20 miles. Everything I have read says don't try to run your race in training, so I guess what they are saying is that you will probably be able to run faster on race day. We shall soon find out. I would need to do 7min 46 sec per mile for the full 26.2, so like I said, not going to pressure myself, I'm going to run how I feel. I have to be honest though, I really hope I feel great that day and kick butt and do a 3:24, that would really make my day.

   Well, thats really it for now, reading up on nutrition, specifically carbo loading. So many great things to learn about running. 

Happy Running

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Time flies!

My last post, I had run 22 miles for my long run on Saturday, since, I ran 16 last week and 18 today. I have just 3 long runs left and then the Saturday before the marathon, I just jog 2 miles. I can't believe I have been on my training program for 8 weeks! I certainly picked a great winter to train, with little snow, and unseasonably warm temps, it has been a pleasure to be outdoors.

I promised to post the recipe for the energy gel, which I will do, although I found out it really wasn't for me. There are many different ways to fuel your body, some are faster working, others slower. the honey based recipe ended up giving me cramps. I tried a gel recommended by someone at PR Running in Westboro, it is a gel that is absorbed slower. I used it two weeks in a row with great success. It is called Hammer Gel. I used this along with an electrolyte powder, also recommended.

One more thing I have been eager to mention is something that has been responsible for helping me stay on my training schedule, especially the Saturday runs. I make sure I get all my things together the night before. Water bottle, shoes socks etc. all ready to go. It makes it very easy to get ready and eliminates any opportunity to find an excuse to go back to bed. I think it just allows me to keep my brain shut off for as long as possible, the next thing I know, I'm half way through my run. So by then I am all warmed up, it is usually just getting light out, and I am ready to work hard to finish.

My pace has been steadily improving, although I feel I still have a ways to go, I am much better than I was two months ago. That's it for now. Keep up on articles on and Runners World. The more you learn, the better you will  perform.

Happy running!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Listen to your body.

Got a nice early start, very cold out at 5am. Dressed appropriately for the weather, I had my water bottle in hand and my new homemade energy gels ( recipe in a later post for sure). I was scheduled to do 22, but, had the thought that I may try for 26.2. Well, sometimes you have to listen to your body, and at about 20 miles, mine was definitely telling me that 22 was going to be more than enough for today. I finished the run, not strong I might add, oh well. The key thing is I didn't push it and so my recovery has been good.

After my long runs I make sure to lie on my back and put my legs up vertical, I try for 5 to 10 minutes. Then I stretch. When I shower, I finish with letting cold water run on my legs, usually for as long as I can stand it. So far this has worked well, I usually don't get too stiff. Also a protein drink or chocolate milk within about 30 minutes, then I start getting rehydrated with water.

Looking forward to an easy 5 miles tomorrow, and then next week some intervals at the track. One thing for sure is this winter has been amazing for running. I feel very fortunate about that.

Here is a great article worth reading, Trisha Reeves wrote it for, How to find your mid foot. It has so much information helpful for developing a good running form.

Happy running.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I finally got the pace right

I have so many things to write about. I take notes when ideas and thoughts pop into my head. I then try to organize it into something that makes sense. The problem is that time goes by so fast, that by the time I go to write, it seems like old news to me. So, what I am planning to do is not worry about it so much and just post things as the mood strikes, we'll see how this works out.

Last weekend I ran my 18 miles, it ended up being a little longer. I learned from the week before and went out nice and slow. I came up with a new route, an extension of my usual loop, and then my regular loop. So, two 7 mile loops and one 4.8. The advantage of the loop is you never end up being too far from home, and it gives you an opportunity to stash some water, and you can drop off extra clothing, flashlight etc. My goal was to start slow and speed up throughout the run, to finish at my marathon goal pace of 7min 46 sec. per mile. It was a success, I did my last mile at 7: 30. The idea is to train properly so you can finish the marathon, or any race, strong. One additional thing about running the loops that I have found out for myself is that 3 times around, to get to my total distance is optimal for me. I think that any more, 4 or 5 gets boring and just makes the run seem too long especially if your tired. I am hoping that my Hyannis marathon route, which is two loops, will work out. I think it will! When I am out running and get to 13.1, I say to myself, ok, one more time around.

Tomorrow is Saturday, my long day. I am scheduled for 22 miles. I may try to stretch it to 26.2 just to get the feel for that distance. Pace isn't important for this run so just to finish would be great, less than four hours is what I would be very happy with, if I do the 26. I better start early to get this one done. This is the longest run for my training, then I start working on improving my speed.

Happy running!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Don't go out too fast!

Not starting out too fast either training or in a race has always been a challenge for me. As recently as last week, I set off on my Saturday run, Saturday is my long day. The long run is an important day in preparation for an upcoming race, mine being the Hyannis marathon at the end of February. My training program had me scheduled for 16 miles, a manageable distance as long as I don't start out too fast. I had picked a new route, thinking that a less hilly course could help me get a little better time. I waited for it to get light out that morning and I was ready to go. With my GPS watch turned on, I hit the start button. I'll spare you the details of every step but I will tell you that at mile 9 I felt like I had nothing left. 7 more to go and no chance of quiting, my new route was what they call out and back, just as the name describes, I ran until the GPS said 8 miles and turned around. In the beginning I didn't pay too much attention to my time, I knew I was running fast, and fast is good, right? Well at the end I was not running fast, I was running on empty and was just happy to get home. It wasn't until later in the day I put my GPS watch on my computer. I was able to look at each mile and my time. Well, no wonder I ran out of steam, my first 5 miles were way faster than I should have been running, so hard to tell while I was doing it though. I have quite a few more long days before race time so I'll give it another shot next weekend, the distance is 18 mi. Slow and steady wins the race! I'll let you know how I do. Happy running.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Probably as good a day as any to start a blog about running. I am sure many resolutions are being made today about running, diet and exercise in general. I hope that all those people wanting to get into better shape succeed. Perhaps our paths might cross someday and I can provide some information or inspiration. At least I have the running thing well under way which I will elaborate on in time. If I can be as dedicated about writing as I have recently been about running, I will be very pleased. One thing I hope to achieve is to satisfy a desire to talk about my running without boring my family, mainly my wife to tears. My wife, Kathleen, of 23 years has been very patient and helpful, yet sometimes has to say "enough". OK, I know I can talk and talk about running, but I feel I have a lot to say, and I just need to let it out. Wow, I think this has the potential to be more fun than I imagined. Well, if I'm supposed to be writing about running here goes. First of all. why sneakers optional? Thank you daughter Morgan, 20 year old, oldest of four for the suggestion. Amazing how many names of running blogs are already taken, I mean a crazy amount of names I came up with, and I didn't want to just add Kevin to the beginning or end. Sneakers optional does say a lot about me. Having recently gotten back into running, it was suggested by a stranger in a bookstore that I read Born To Run, and that is really where this story begins. Inspiring is not an adequate description of what this book was to me, it needs to be put under "life changing". If you are a runner this book is a must read. I was with daughter #2 at the time I bought the book so I will take this time to mention 18 year old Jillian. So, my journey from reading that book until now has only been about six months. In that short time, I have gone from thinking I was going to be a barefoot runner, to five fingers, to where I am at now. What I learned quickly was that barefoot running can be a great step in the process of becoming a better runner but it doesn't need to be the last step. It isn't for everyone that is for sure, although, I think it can benefit most people as a tool to teach us to run properly and injury free. The next book I read was Barefoot Running Step By Step. This book served, as the name implies, what I needed to know to progress along in my pursuit of what was going to work for me. So where am I now? I train in shoes most of the time, 75%, the remaining I go either barefoot or five fingers depending on weather conditions and terrain. This balance has kept me injury free and running distances I never thought I would be capable of, ever, and enjoying it. Well, I can't be completely honest without saying, yes there are times I think, really, I need to run that far, today? I can say one thing, I am learning so much about running and myself, and it's these things I will be sharing in this blog. There it is, post #1 a little rough, but done. I am starting the new year off exactly the way I wanted to. Happy New Year everyone and happy running.