Category Archives: Goofy Training

I’m a Streaker!

Recently, I decided to start a run streak. If you’ve not heard of this phenomena then let me fill you in on the challenge.  A run streak is when you run every day rain or shine…or snow or ice…or hurricane for that matter as long as you do at a minimum a continuous 1 mile run. I was contemplating as to when I should publish a blog about my run streak because let’s face it, proclaiming from the mountain tops that you have a run streak of 3, 5, or even 14 days long is not really all that impressive. Therefore, from the mountain top of my recliner where I presently perch I am happy to proclaim that I have so far accomplished a run streak of 78 days! I have ran every day since May 29th for at least 1 mile, but usually more. Today was my 78th

My most active run week so far has been the week of June 16th covering 61 miles. June as a whole was fairly productive as I ran 170 miles and then followed up with a 130 miles in July. August is promising to be a heavy mileage month as it is just August 15th and I have already covered 90 miles!

I have no delusions of grandeur as I am fully aware that many runners put in a LOT more miles than this on a weekly basis, but I must say I have enjoyed running more and I have also gained a considerable amount of speed from all the extra miles. To put it the way the old cereal commercial did, “Mikey likes it!” My body is responding well and adapting to the increased mileage. Considering I am also following the Insanity DVD series while I do this run streak I can say that my body has never felt stronger or more fit!

Why do a run streak on top of Insanity training?  Well, as you know I am training for the Dopey Challenge this coming January. What better way to prepare myself for the challenge of running 48.6 miles across four days than to run every day up until, throughout and after the runDisney’s Marathon Weekend!

I’ve ran Goofy twice (once unofficial) and both times I felt okay afterwards with minimal recovery, but this year I want to run through the parks with ease and be able to have a good time after the marathon without a noticeable limp!

Why else?  I’ve been playing with low mileage training plans for a few years and they have served me well to build a base, however, I have noticed that I’ve stopped improving on speed and endurance. I am interested in running a single day ultra and have tried to make the jump to a longer distance race, but have found that it’s difficult to run a low mileage program and continue training by piling all my miles into my weekly long run. Plus, thru continued reading of research I have found that the usual weekly long run that many plans prescribe may not be the best way to go about training for any distance. So, thru this run streak I’ve decided to run more often and up my midweek mileage runs. The run streak just fits…and it’s a lot of fun too!

Anyway, I hope you have the opportunity to see me streaking thru your neighborhood or on a nearby race course!

Happy Streaking!

Brian

Dopey Core Work

It occurred to me that I could elaborate a bit on the core work that I suggest doing for the Dopey workouts. Thanks Tammy & Tammy’s friends who are following the program!

First let me reiterate that core work is very important to running or any sport. A strong core will help you maintain your running form across the long miles of the Dopey Challenge or any distance really. A strong core is also great if like me, you have a desk job that may have you slouching all day. Before we get to the exercises I suggest in the plan I made let’s first discuss what is meant by “The Core.”

Most people think of their core as just their abdominal muscles or their “Abs.” While the abdominals are included, the core is made up of around 30 muscles depending on how you count them. I’m not going to go through all 30 here so don’t worry this isn’t a Gross Anatomy 101 lecture.

Here they are! Your core muscles as one part of the core.

Psoas Major/Iliacus: Known as the hip flexors, these muscles lift the thigh toward the abdomen and limit excess motion of the hip joint. **Limiting excess motion means a better running form so these tiny muscles are important to runners!

Erector Spinae: This collection of three muscles straightens the back and, along with the multifidus, a short muscle, supports the spine. Remember I said that I have a desk job? Slouching over a desk kills these muscles. Strengthening them helps your posture throughout the day and during a run.

Now, let’s talk about the abdominal muscles of the core.

Obliques: These muscles rotate your torso and work with the transversus abdominis to support your center during movement. If these are weak and you need to make a quick directional change then it’s going to be difficult.

Rectus Abdominis: These are what the lay person means when the say “The Abs.” These form the six-pack we all long for at the beach. Primarily, this muscle helps stabilize your core, its main function is to flex or curl the trunk like during a crunch or bending over to tie your shoes.

Transversus Abdominis: This muscle is your natural weight belt. It’s a very deep set muscle sitting under the obliques and wraps laterally around your center just like a belt.

Okay, now that you know the basics of the anatomy of your core let’s talk about how we are going to make them stronger because you know Dopey has a six pack under that tunic he wears to the mines, right? That’s because he is an avid core worker and his job is physical. The dude is stacked!

Below is an excerpt from my Dopey Challenge Novice Training Program blog post concerning core work. Remember if you want a more advanced program I did write a Dopey Challenge Intermediate Training Program as well. The core work for both programs is similar except I added a standard plank to the intermediate plan.

EXCERPT:

Core:

Working your core is imperative for your training as a runner especially for the novice runner. As you run long distance your core stabilizes your entire body from your upper torso to your hips and spine. As your core fatigues your running form begins to degrade and you must expend more energy to keep running or maintain pace. Worse yet, as your core stabilizers weaken across the long miles it is easier to become injured as your ability to recover from a quick side-step or a high curb lessens. DO NOT SKIP your core workouts! Ask me if you don’t know how to do these exercises. I’m happy to explain!

Oh, and forget sit-ups. Sit-ups are worthless. I almost didn’t add crunches as I don’t do them, but I know the standard crunch is a recognized exercise by many people. Try to move from one core exercise to the next with minimal rest between exercises and only 30-60 seconds of rest between sets. If you are just starting take it slow at first and work your way into the workout little by little.

After you finish the core work stretch out the major muscle groups for 20-30 minutes holding for 15-20 seconds for each muscle and do 3 sets each. Hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and calf muscles should all be stretched after your core work.

Core  Rep/Time  Sets
Standard Plank 60 sec 3
Low Plank w/one leg off the ground: both legs 60sec 3/leg
High Plank position. Knee to elbow. Both legs 15/leg 3/side
Crunch w/arms crossed on chest 30 3
High Knees 50 3

The Core Exercises:

Standard Plank:

The standard plank has two positons, Low Plank & High Plank. The high plank position is just like when you are doing a push-up and you have your arms locked out straight at the top of the movement. Your hands and elbows should be directly below and in line with your shoulders. There is a straight line going from your head to your heels. Don’t allow your pelvis or hips to sag toward the floor and keep your head in line as well. Also, don’t stick you butt higher than your shoulders. Remember, a straight line is the goal. Just holding this position is a great beginner’s exercise for core work. Work your way up to holding it for 60 seconds for three sets. The low plank position is the same except you’re resting your weight on you forearms as your elbows are bent at 90 degree angles. Again keep a straight line going from your head to your heels just as with the high plank. Your elbows should be directly below and in line with your shoulders. The low plank may be an easier start for the newbie athlete as compared to the high plank. The picture below shows both high and low plank position as well as how to transition between the two.  The transition from high to low plank and back again is another exercise for the core if you want to add it later.

Transition from Low to High Plank position
Transition from Low to High Plank position

Low Plank w/One Leg Off the Ground

Get into the low or high plank position. I suggest low plank for beginners. From the low plank position and while maintaining the straight line from head to heel you will simply lift one foot off the ground so it is 6-8 inches off the ground. You will need to balance on one foot and your forearms. This is more difficult than the standard plank as your core has to work to balance you.

Low Plank with One Foot Off the Ground
Low Plank with One Foot Off the Ground

High (or Low) Plank – Knee to Elbow

This is an advanced move. Get into the low or high plank position. From the plank position and while maintaining the straight line from head to heel you will bend your right leg at the knee and hip bringing your right knee toward your right elbow. Depending on how flexible you are you may be able to touch your knee to your elbow (I can’t do this so no worries if you can’t either). Just don’t force it! Slow and controlled is the key until you learn the movement. Avoid allowing your butt to raise into the air as this compromises the integrity of your core. Remember, slow and controlled.  Work your way up to the suggested number of repetitions ans sets. Repeat for the other leg and keep the number of repetitions and sets the same for each side. NOTE: While I suggest doing this in high plank you can also do it from a low plank position as well. In low plank you will need to bring the knee to the outside of the body a bit more so you don’t scrape your knee on the ground.

High Plank Knee to Elbow
High Plank Knee to Elbow

Crunch:

When training I assume nothing so let’s go over the proper form for a basic crunch. Do these at the end of your workout as this exercise is from the most stable position. I don’t want you to pre-fatigue your abdominals until you’ve learned well the movements discussed above and built some dynamic core strength.

Lay with your back flat on the floor with your knees bent so that your feet are also flat on the floor. For beginners, cross your arms on your chest. Using your abdominal muscles lift your shoulders and head off the floor reaching your forehead toward the ceiling. DO NOT GO TOWARD YOUR FEET but rather toward the ceiling for proper form. I always describe having a string tied to your nose that pulls your head and shoulders toward the ceiling. Apologies, I don’t have a picture for this one as all the ones I found show the improper technique of yanking the head toward the feet with the chin pressed against the chest. there should always be space between the chin and the chest for this exercise.

Additionally, avoid putting your hands behind your head until you have gained enough core strength to not use your hands to lift (yank on) your head. This is hard on your spine and lessens the exercise as your arms are doing all of the work instead of your core.

High Knees:

These can be done “cardio style” or they can be done more as a slow and controlled “set and rep” style. From a standing positon raise your knee straight in front of you until your quadriceps (the front muscle group of your legs) is parallel to the ground. You don’t have to raise the knee higher, but you can once you get used to the exercise and learn the movement. Avoid just throwing the leg up, but instead use the core muscles (Psoas Major/Iliacus…hip flexors) to lift the leg. Cardio style is when you do these fatser and for a specified amount of time. Learn the movement before trying them “cardio style”. Play the right music and you could even do them Gangnam Style.

High Knees
High Knees

So that’s it for the core! There are basic and advanced moves in the program that hit all of the core muscles. If you wanted to do this more than once a week you definitely could. I do a 17 minute core workout twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays before work. My exception is that I don’t do crunches or sit-ups. There are a lot more exercises and versions of the exercises we discussed above that you could add, but this will get you started. As always, if you have questions I am here to help.

Happy Training!

Brian

The Dopey Challenge

Are you Dopey enough?  Of course you are!
Are you Dopey enough? Of course you are!

It’s already started. People are asking that very important question.

How do I train for the Dopey Challenge?

For many, the Dopey Challenge may be the closest they ever get to running an ultra marathon…it seems I may have said something similar to this about a piddly little race called the Goofy Challenge a couple years ago…I’m joking obviously as both are very much a challenge! However, now we can officially be Dopey!

An ultra marathon is defined as any distance beyond the 26.2 mile marathon distance in a single day, BUT most ultra marathoners will tell you that the respect of ultra runners start at the 50 mile marker and not a step before. Anything less is just a “marathon plus”.  The Dopey Challenge will cover 48.6 miles across four days while the shortest official ultra will cover a minimum of a 50K (31.069 miles) in a single day. However, I digress as this post is about the Dopey Challenge.

I’ve decided to post “unofficial” training plans for the Dopey Challenge for my personal use. I’m basing the plans off my experience from training for relays (64 miles), two Goofy Challenges, multiple marathons, half-marathons and other shorter races. My educational background is in Movement and Sport Science double majoring in Exercise and Fitness.

Disclaimer: You should always consult your doctor before beginning ANY exercise program regardless of previous experience.  If you want to use a plan posted here then it is your choice. It’s freely posted on the web and you use the plan at your own risk.

Here are some general guidelines to get you started before I post my training plans:

  1. Start now or as soon as you consult your physician.
  2. Don’t wait or only wait until after you consult your physician.
  3. Start slow regardless of previous experience
  4. Start slowly building your mileage to 50 miles per week over the next several months. (Dopey = 48.6 miles)
  5. Get yourself used to running back to back to back to back days with increasing distance. Start this process slowly and take a few months to build your base miles and consecutive running days.
  6. Cross train. Bike, lift, spin, row, swim, whatever, but do something more than just run and do it weekly until December.  Preferably cross training should use something else besides your running muscles.

Happy Training!

Brian

Recovery

Recovery is perhaps the most difficult thing for someone after the big event. Whether it’s your first 5K or your second unofficial Goofy Challenge there is a mixed bag of emotions that come with crossing the finish line.  Joy, relief, determination, excitement, the feeling that you WON’T be doing THAT again anytime soon, and the realization 24 hours later that you can’t wait to do it again…and better this time.

Besides recovering emotionally there is of course the physical component. There are some things you can do immediately post race to help your body recover “faster”.  I put the word faster in quotes because time to recovery is relative to the individual and is a complicated equation.

Here are just a few things that effect time to recovery.

  • Age
  • Training Time for the Event (did you train for it or foolishly jump in over your head? …like me)
  • Previous training (high school track doesn’t count unless you never stopped)
  • Nutrition –> A lot goes under this one
  • Rest (immediately after the event AND the weeks following)
  • Rehab
  • Time
Age

We can’t do a lot about this one except keep training as that is the only way to minimize the effects of one more trip around the sun. Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something. You can’t outrun time.  Just ask Captain Hook.

Training Time for the Event

Did you give yourself enough time to train for the event or did you wait until you had the bare minimum time to start a program? A lot of people will take 16-20 weeks to train for a marathon and 12-16 weeks for a half marathon. When I decided to run my first marathon I gave myself a year to train with a LOT of mile markers along the way.  I ran three 5Ks, one 4.5 mile race and four half marathons on my way to running my first marathon at Disney.  Preparation is key. Make the decision and go for it.  When you are well trained recovery takes less time.  Now days, I only need a day after a half marathon and I’m back full force 2-3 days after a full marathon.

Previous Training

Is this your first rodeo or is this your 6th or 60th marathon?  If you continue to train (with periods of rest and cross training) then recovery will be easier and faster. Only training for eight weeks a year for your annual event will be a trip to eventual injury.  Believe me, it’s harder to start over than it is to slow down a bit, but still keep going.

Nutrition

There is so much under this one that I could right about.  Here are some general recovery tips concerning nutrition.

  1. Hydrate
  2. Fuel before, during, and after a race.
  3. Hydrate
  4. Take in some protein within 30 minutes of ending the event.  Add some carbs to make it even better. I use EAS shakes.
  5. Hydrate
  6. Don’t forget some electrolytes
  7. Don’t over hydrate
Rest

This should be an obvious one, but there are times when after a race that you don’t want to go rest…ahemDisneyRacesahem.  Still, try to get as much rest as possible as soon as possible. After my first Disney marathon I went and took a three hour nap before hitting the parks. Taking it easy is good. Sitting and being off your feet is better.  Sleep is best.

Rehabilitation (Rehab – They tried to make me go…)

This refers to those other things you can do such as:

  1. Ice bath or ice pack
  2. Compression gear
  3. Elevation of the legs
  4. Stretch
  5. Foam Roller
  6. Massage
  7. The Stick
  8. Chiropractor

Many of these can and will speed recovery if used properly. I’ve used ALL of these.

Time

You can’t help but give yourself time to recover. It takes, well, time. After my first Goofy Challenge I was surprised that it took me a month before I felt 100% again and started running again and was able to actually train. I’ve made it a habit to give myself time off after a race and really rest.  I still am active, but in other things besides running.  After my impromptu Goofy Challenge a few weeks ago I focused on weight lifting, short runs of 1-3 miles, and a lot of biking and elliptical.  I just took the time to enjoy working out and not run allowing time for those running muscle to recover.

Happy Recovery!

Brian

You can also follow me on Twitter  @TheRunningMan23

Goofy Challenge Recap – Part II

“Divide the marathon into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart.” -Mike Fanelli

Whenever I run a marathon I begin to think of all the motivational quotes that have inspired me.

“There will be days you don’t think you can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime of knowing you have.”

Beer Run•ner (noun): 1. Someone equally devoted to fine beer appreciation and an active, healthy lifestyle.

After psyching myself up a bit I’m ready.

I always set up my marathon gear the night before and for Disney races this time is especially important since once you leave your resort the possibility of getting back should you forget something is nearly impossible.

Bib pinned on the night before! Ready to go!
Bib pinned on the night before! Ready to go!

Getting to see and run with friends is one of the best parts of Disney Marathon Weekend.

Me, Lori, and Mitch on Marathon Morning
Me, Lori, and Mitch on Marathon Morning

The marathon was a mental battle. The lessened training due to illness along with the half marathon the day before made this race one of the toughest (read painful) races that I have ever run. In addition to being one of the most painful races I have ever run it was also one of the most fun and exciting races that I have ever run. I pushed myself to the mental edge and persevered. Now, with that being said let me show you how much fun the race really was!

Full start

The best part about the race as you might imagine is running through all of the parks!

Running into The Magic Kingdom
Running into The Magic Kingdom

The only hill besides the on and off ramps is “Contemporary Hill”. Chances are unless you’ve stayed at the Contemporary Resort or ran a Disney World race you don’t know about this “little hill” which brings many runners to a walking pace. The picture may not do it justice but the grade is significant.

Contemporary Hill!
Contemporary Hill!

The next best thing to running through the parks is all of the characters you see along the way!

Captains Jack and Barbosa
Captains Jack and Barbosa

I was surprised at how fact the first 11 miles went by!

Mile 11
Mile 11

The new course for the marathon allowed us to run around the Disney World Motor Speedway. This was the first time I had seen the inside of the track!

WDW Motor Speedway
WDW Motor Speedway

And the Cars characters were out in force!

Mater!
Mater!

Running through Animal Kingdom is always awesome!

Screen shot 2013-01-27 at 8.53.47 PM

Again this year I did NOT have time to ride Everest, BUT this is on my to do list for a future Disney Marathon

Everest!
Everest!

Another change in the marathon course this year was getting to run through the Wide World of Sports including where the Braves conduct spring training!

The stadium was fun to run through and soon enough we had rounded the bases and were off! This whole running the infield made me want a hotdog from Casey’s!

Screen shot 2013-01-27 at 8.55.17 PM

I don’t have any pictures from the Disney Hollywood studios as I was in a lot of pain by this time in the race. The next thing I knew we were entering EPCOT where we had phoned in our order to the Rose & Crown for some adult libations!

Best Aid Station Ever
Best Aid Station Ever

Guinness never tasted so good! Notice all the people behind me who REALLY want my beer! See if you can find all three!

Mmmm, Guinness
Mmmm, Guinness

A short mile later we were approaching the finish line!

The Finish is Near!
The Finish is Near!

Then finally, the 20th anniversary Disney marathon medal was mine!

20th Anniversary Medal
20th Anniversary Medal

Added this to my collection!

Two days and two medals!
Two days and two medals!

Not my fastest time, but great training for my upcoming ultra marathon in June!

11:36:01 on my feet across two days.
11:36:01 on my feet across two days.

Thanks to eBay I did find myself an UNofficial Goofy medal. It’s unofficial because Disney didn’t get their extra registration fee, but I’m sure the running community at large would be okay with it since it’s the 39.3 miles, not the $300+ registration fee that make a runner Goofy. I did the miles (painfully so) so I earned the bling!  All my fellow running friends agree with me!

UNofficial Goofy Medal!
UNofficial Goofy Medal!

I can’t wait until next year!

Happy Training!

Brian

Remember, you can follow me @TheRunningMan23 on Twitter!

Mugged at Dew Point

If you’ve continued your usual run schedule the past couple weeks then you know that the heat and humidity have been brutal just about everywhere in the the good ol’ US of A. To try and beat the heat I’ve woken at 3:20am the past three weeks for all of my mid-week runs to try and get my miles at the coolest time of day. Still, at 4am when I start my run the heat and humidity has been just slightly better and it seems that all I’m doing is removing the sun from the equation. While this is a huge help my experience this morning was that of 84 degrees and 85% humidity which is brutal and performance stopping to say the least.

To battle the heat, hydration and recovery are key points to remember. Perhaps a good place to start is to figure out your sweat rate and to figure out how much water you should drink per day so you know the numbers. I am big on knowing your numbers and as I’ve said before, numbers don’t lie. The numbers cut through the emotion, the mental, the physical and the crap! Being armed with your numbers is a great first step toward maximizing your potential.

First up is you daily water intake. Check out the Human Water Requirement Calculator to see how much H2O you should take in per day. My number surprised me. Just be honest with yourself when using the calculator so you’re as accurate as possible. Also, I don’t count sugary drinks or even diet soda toward my intake number. That’s a personal choice and a good way to make myself decide/opt for water instead of a soda or juice. Knowing how much you should drink daily will ensure that you are hydrated throughout the day and ready for your next training session!

Next up is your sweat rate. This will tell you how much you should drink during exercise to stay hydrated. According to Active.com, “An average person sweats between 0.8 to 1.4 liters (roughly 27.4 to 47.3 oz.) per hour during exercise.” The best way to calculate your sweat rate is to weigh yourself sans clothing right before you workout then go workout for an hour without taking in any fluids and ideally without using the restroom during this time. After an hour of exercise weigh yourself again without clothes. The change in weight is the amount of fluids you lost due to exercise. If you are down two pounds then you lost 32oz

Be specific for the type of exercise you do when calculating sweat rate. If you a want a sweat rate for running then you should run for an hour. You SHOULD NOT lift weights for an hour and then expect that sweat rate to be the same for when you go for a run. You’ll sweat more on a run than you will lifting weights in the air conditioned gym.

Speaking of AC, please pay attention to your environment when calculating sweat rate! If you decide to calculate your sweat rate on the treadmill in your air conditioned gym with the two TM fans blowing on you then know that you will sweat more outside on a hot day. Basically, just pay attention to the temperature, humidity and dew point in relationship to human comfort.

Finally, if you are becoming more active and losing weight like me then be sure to recalculate your sweat rate on a regular basis as your body will become more efficient at regulating heat and your performance will increase too so you’ll want to make sure you are drinking enough, but also not over-hydrating…not a big issue in the recent 100+ temps, but still something to consider so you aren’t trying to run with a lot of extra fluid sloshing around in your stomach. Stay hydrated and stay safe on those hot runs!

Happy Training!

Brian

The-Ultra-RunningMan23

The-Ultra-Runningman23??

No I’m not actually changing my twitter handle to add the word “ultra” and no this is not a post about Dean Karnazes’ book with a similar title…good book though! This is about my next adventure later this year. That’s right, I am registered for my first 50-mile ultra marathon! My ultra of choice is the OPSF 50/50 Ultra Marathon.

Wait…what’s an “Ultra-Marathon”?

Good Question!  Let’s define an ultra marathon for you. An ultra marathon is any distance foot race/event that is longer than the traditional 26.2 miles of a standard marathon.

What about the Goofy Challenge?  That was more than 26.2 miles!

So is the Goofy Challenge an Ultra?  A purist would likely say “no” since the 39.3 miles of the Goofy is ran across 2 days with a big break in the middle where as an ultra marathon is a continuous event until the mileage is finished (assuming a course time limit). Having just completed a Goofy Challenge…plus an extra 5K for 42.4 miles in three days, Dopey I know…I can assure you that the experience will be helpful! The shortest ultra I know of is the 50-K which equates to 31.07 miles. I had the option to do this shorter distance instead of the 50-miler, but to be honest there is no doubt in my mind that I can finish a 50K especially after having completed 42.4 across three days. At the end of the Goofy Challenge I was more than prepared to go another 5-miles. The 50-miler is a much greater challenge for me. Also, having read up on the topic of ultra marathons I’ve learned that the people who run these events don’t consider it a “real ultra” until you hit the 50-mile mark. Anything less is considered a long marathon or “just a training run”. As they say, “When in Rome!”

Why in the name of all that’s holy…?!?!?

Why an ultra? Well, that’s a good question! An ultra marathon is like a mountain to some runners. You run it because it’s there. For others it’s just the challenge of the distance. It’s a little bit of both for me plus training for an ultra marathon is much different than training for even a regular 26.2 for both the program and the philosophy. Also, this is a trail run so the environment of the course is much different than a standard road race. So I have a 2-in-1 challenge ahead of me!

Preparation

To prepare for this event I am increasing my training mileage quite a bit. Right now my weekly mileage not including cross-training is close to ~25 miles per week.  Once I start the ultra training I’ll boost that number to over 30 miles per week almost immediately…emphasis on “almost” and then increase it from there.  It’s advised that you only increase total mileage by 10% from week to week so luckily I have a couple weeks to build up so there isn’t such a huge jump at the start of the program.  Another nicety is that the weekly mileage increase primarily comes in the mid-week runs at the start along with the addition of a short Sunday run after a long Saturday run.  The first 8-weeks has a small 5-miler on Sunday after the long run on Saturday. I was amazed at how closely the training plan resembles the Goofy Challenge Training just higher mileage.

Besides the races I mentioned in my last post I also added a couple 15K trail runs and a full marathon trail run so I can get more trail experience. As soon as I finish the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 5th I will be all about the trail running for the remainder of the year.  I’m looking forward to buying a headlamp! 🙂

Happy Training!

Brian

You can follow me on Twitter @TheRunningMan23

Visiting Mecca

Ok so yes, my training has been a bit lackadaisical the last few weeks and yes, I had to Google how to spell lackadaisical correctly but both of these facts are neither here nor there to the subject of visiting mecca.

If you are ever in a training slump and if you happen to be a long distance runner then I have the cure for the common training woes. Visit running mecca. That’s right. Go to Boston, MA and try not to run. My experience there? In a word, phenomenal! Why you ask? Wait…why are you asking why? You said a minute ago that you are a runner.  Never mind I will explain. Wait again, there’s too much.  I will sum it up.  Have you heard of a little road race called the Boston Marathon?  Hardly anyone goes, but a few people seem to like it (SARCASM).

Here’s the gist. The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world’s best-known road racing events. It is one of five World Marathon Majors. Also, there is this little issue of needing to qualify for this race. To do so here’s what I would need to do in the future (too slow right now) at an official Boston Qualifying race (another marathon, FYI).

Effective 2013, for my age group and gender I would need to be able to run 26.2 miles in 3:10:00 (3 hours & 10 minutes flat). If I hit 03:10:01…..I need not apply because I can’t.

Regardless, running where the elites “stretch their legs” is inspiring and I’ve hit the gym nearly every day since last week when I stopped by Boston for a quick out and back where I got lost and of course found “Heart Break Hill” in the process.  Lucky me!

Hopefully this post finds your training right on track and going strong for the upcoming season.

Happy Training!

Brian

Recovering from being Goofy

I’ve blogged before about how I feel that rest & recovery are just as important as the actual training sessions we do to prepare ourselves for any event. I’ve read about and witnessed too many fellow athletes who have pushed and pushed only to overtrain themselves to an injury when a simple day off could have prevented the “medically mandated and mandatory downtime”.

So with this in mind I want to share the methods I used during the Goofy Challenge Weekend to feel well rested and ready for the next event even after three back-to-back race days equaling 42.4 miles.

Nutrition

I want to talk about nutrition in two ways, the WHAT and the WHEN.

What: Protein & Carbs

A combination of protein and carbs is best for helping muscles, tendons, ligaments and the body as a whole recover from an intense session of training. My personal opinion is that the protein is most important, but that the carbs help increase the recovery of damaged systems. It’s fairly common knowledge that an exercise session does some amount of damage to muscles and that when recovery is allowed the muscles repair to a “bigger, stronger, faster” state.

From previous blogs you know that I am an EAS guy or a Pacific Health Labs guy. I like EAS because I can tolerate and even enjoy their ready-to-eat shakes as well as their powdered products. I would dare to say that EAS has the best tasting products I’ve ever had in the nearly 20 years that I’ve been drinking protein shakes. Every exercise session (cardio, race, weights, spin, run, etc) is followed by protein intake and many times carbs too.

When: Before, During & After

Before:

First let’s discuss carb loading. If you read a lot like I do then you know by now that the pre-race night spaghetti dinner is completely NOT needed except for the camaraderie of it all which IS important on the mental side of things. By all means go have fun chatting with fellow participants and make those connections with fellow athletes! Just don’t stuff yourself with too much pasta.

However, if you want to carb load then just sip on some Gatorade or Powerade throughout the day 24-48 hours in advance of your race or endurance event. To clarify, on the Thursday and Friday before a race I sip on Gatorade throughout the day and have a couple meals with a serving or two of carbs. This amount of carbohydrate is all that is needed to “top off the tank” before an event. Next, choose a combination of carbs and protein for your pre-race meal (breakfast usually) and stick with this for every event.  For me, I eat a peanut butter crunch cliff bar and drink some gatorade or water along with a half cup of coffee 60-90 minutes before a race.  That’s it…no big secret. This was my exact breakfast before each event of Goofy Weekend.

Finally, I do use gels and my product of choice is Accel Gels by Pacific Health Labs due to the 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Taking in a small amount of protein along with carbohydrate has been shown to reduce exercise induced muscle damage which is an inhibitor of performance and endurance in long distance events. This also helps reduce recovery time as there is less damage to recover from after an event.  Make sense? I pop a gel 15 minutes before my race to get a good kick start. I did this before each race on Goofy Weekend except the 5K…no need due to the shorter distance, but could have if I wanted.

During:

Not much to type here that I didn’t just type in that last paragraph. I use gels, Gataorade, Powerade, Accelerade, etc during a race or other endurance event. I used them during the Goofy Challenge as well.

One other thing I used during the full marathon was chocolate covered espresso beans. Sounds odd I know, but a handful of chocolate covered espresso beans will give you quite the mental and physical kick when you need it the most. If you want to try this be sure to see how these wonderful little magic beans interact with your digestive system BEFORE race day. In fact, I would test them several times on a long run (15-20 miles) before employing them for an event. I had my wife carry them and hand them to me around mile 11 of the course from the sidelines. Talk about a rush of mental clarity!

Finally, I did ingest a single salt packet during the marathon on Sunday (like you get from any take-out restaurant) to make sure my sodium levels were replenished in the Florida heat and humidity.

After:

Post race nutrition is many times overlooked by recreational athletes. They accept the bag of chips, cookies and bananas that the volunteers are handing out on the way to get their picture taken and call it a day. What you should be doing is realizing that as soon as you cross the finish line a stop watch starts on a window of opportunity for maximizing recovery for damaged muscles.

30-60 minutes is the window. If I have a “cheer squad” with me that day then I’ll have them carry an EAS shake to hand me as soon as I finish with my picture (Hey, I still get the pic, but I’m just thinking about the nutrition!).  If I am solo that day then I will stash an EAS shake in my gear bag at the bag check and be sure to grab it as soon as I finish. Combine the EAS shake with the free banana (or other easy carb) at the finish line and you have a combination that gets you on your way to a speedy post race recovery. You could also stash or have someone carry any other type of protein shake/recovery drink besides EAS…I just like that brand personally and EAS uses whey protein which absorbs into the body faster than other types of protein.

R.I.C.E

R.I.C.E.? Isn’t that an acronym used in first aid?  Yep! It’s also the best means by which to recover from extended exercise in my humble opinion. Though I rearrange the letters to I.C.E.R. which is slightly more difficult to remember and is only technically a real word. What is an “Icer” anyway? Sometimes a football coach is an “Icer” when they call a timeout before the opposing team’s field goal attempt. According to Webster’s dictionary an Icer has to do with baking or covering food with ice…so yeah…captain tangent…..apologies…Webster’s pushing it I think.

Ice:

Or ice bath rather. WHAT?!!? Yes, you read right. I will swear on a stack of runner’s world magazines that “taking the plunge” will do more for post-race recovery than…well…I don’t know, but it really really helps! An ice bath reduces inflammation BIG TIME and almost immediately. I take a 20 minute ice bath as soon as I can after finishing a race. I did this right after the half and full marathon on Saturday and Sunday. It made a big difference for me.

Here’s what you do.

  1. Grab a stop watch or wear a watch.
  2. Draw a bath with cold water only. Fill the tub enough to cover your legs completely.
  3. Throw in a bag of ice from the corner grocery OR just dump the entire ice container from the freezer in there.
  4. Get in for 20 minutes.

That’s it. Take a deep breath and take the plunge. I did this every Saturday after every long run for almost a year when I first started running and I truly believe it helped me recover from those long runs.

Compression:

There are many products on the market for compression including a simple ACE bandage from the drug store. I go a little more high tech with mine and use Zoots compression gear. I’ll admit they are a bit expensive, but they are designed for triathletes and are at the top of the list for quality.

The story behind compression gear is that it forces lactic acid and other waste products out of the lower limbs for a faster recovery. As an example compression socks are used in hospitals post surgery for the same reason. A good product will have enough pressure to even raise your heart rate a bit as it will need to work harder in order to force blood flow into the lower leg. If you happen to have any cardiac or blood pressure issues it would be advisable to check with your doctor before using these products for recovery.

As soon as I dried off from the ice bath I put on my Zoots compression socks for the remainder of the evening. I even slept in them the night of the marathon.

Elevation:

For ninety minutes to two hours I elevated my legs with a pillow after each Goofy event. This is just a common knowledge practice. Use gravity to help return blood to the heart and help to remove waste from the legs. I also (as much as possible) tried to sleep with my legs elevated…at least I started off sleeping that way.

Rest:

This goes right along with the elevation piece. Notice I didn’t go walk around the parks Saturday night…I rested.  Yeah, it killed me to do so for the second straight year…I need more park time that doesn’t include stopping for Biofreeze! 🙂

So anyway, I rested after the half on Saturday and then had a nice early dinner, caught a sit down show (Cirque du Soleil) then went to bed shortly after 9:00pm. On Sunday I did all the previous and then took a short nap before heading to EPCOT in the afternoon.

On a rest side note I also took it easy on Friday before the half marathon and I went to bed early. Rest isn’t always about recovery.

Finally, after I completed the Goofy I have taken it easy for a week afterwards in regards to running and training in general. I was planning on getting back to the gym a week ago, but have been sidelined by a nasty rhino virus after my own mandatory week of recovery so I ended up with two weeks of inactivity (rest) before initiating training for my next race. I’m back in the gym this coming week though and ready to start training for the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon. I’m hoping for a PR this year!

So that’s it. I feel that I have a good recovery regimen for endurance events. That being said I am always looking for something to add so I can recover better or faster.

Happy Training!

Brian

The 2012 Goofy Challenge Recap

This is my first multi-page post (fancy I know). Please click the title of the post above if you don’t see the page numbers at the bottom of the first page.  🙂

The 2012 Goofy Challenge is over and I am happy to say I arrived on the other side of 39.3 miles (+3.1) unscathed!  Kate and I arrived at Disney World on Thursday this year and went straight to the Expo after dropping by the hotel to see if our room was ready (it wasn’t). We stayed at the Hilton Grand Vacation near the Vineland Premium Outlets just a 5 minute drive from Disney property.  Why stay off property you ask?  Two words…Jacuzzi Tub, but more on that later!

While at the Expo I picked up a new wardrobe of running shirts as each of the three races came with a shirt and I also purchased Goofy Challenge memorabilia and two coast-to-coast challenge shirts as I’m doing the Disneyland Half Marathon in September. Be sure to register on January 18th, 2012 if you missed the registration at the Expo!

One of the best things about the Expo was getting to meet a long time twitter follower, Facebook friend, and Disney Mom’s Panelist…Deborah Bowen also known as @DisneyDeborah on Twitter!

I met Deborah for the first time Thursday!
Deborah after crossing the Marathon finish line!

Deborah is not only a fantastic person and friend, but also completed her first full marathon on Sunday!  So proud of her!