Tag Archives: half-marathon

Small Muscles…Big Gains

A lot of times when we hit the gym we go for the “more bang for your buck” workouts. Multi-muscle, multi-joint exercises are always being touted as a “Time Saver”, “Calorie Burner” or “Only way to go if you have X amount of time”….  I would have to agree.

Using more than one muscle group DOES burn more calories.  This technique also saves you time as opposed to working each single muscle group individually. However, occasionally it’s a good idea to hit those tiny little muscles we forget about when we’re hitting those Lats, Pecs and Quads getting ready to look buff for the beach or just in our normal training for our next race. I found out as much when I had an hour long session with my personal trainer last week. I bought a training sessions package from my gym back in December 2009 and I’ve been able to make the sessions last for 18 months since I don’t do a PT session the week of any race or over holidays….there’ve been a couple holidays and a lot of races in the past 18 months! 🙂

So I’ve been training for 18 months and my trainer “handed me my hat” so to speak on these small muscle exercises over the course of the hour. I was sweating bullets on the first couple exercises that worked the front of the lower leg. These three little guys are in charge of pulling the toes back toward your shin (dorsiflexion), rolling your foot inward (inversion), rolling your foot back out (eversion) and extending your big toe (extending your big toe…). So these muscles are fairly important to running, swimming, biking, walking, standing, and to a lesser extent bouncing on a pogo stick (actually not sure on the last one because I can’t do that, but I’m glad you’ve decided to come with me on this one).

Exercise Physiology 101 Terminology...enjoy.

So here I was laying on the floor with a cable strapped to my foot with my foot at a 90 degree angle to my lower leg and pulling my knee toward my head.  Basically a knee-up in the supine position (flat on your back). By the third set (3×15) I was barely able to keep my foot from pointing down and letting the cable slip off.  It was a LOT of work! This would be a great exercise for shin splints too as it strengthens those muscles.

Next we worked on the inner/outer thigh machines which I’ll say that not a lot of guys in my gym use. But when you’ve experienced ITBS like me, you don’t care anymore. These machines hit those muscles and strengthen them so you can help stave off ITBS. The muscles being worked here also support the sides of your knees. Raise your hand if you could use a healthier and more stable knee or two!!!!  Ok, put your hand down now…people are beginning to stare….

Single Leg RDLs (Romanian Dead Lift)

What’s next you ask? Single leg Romanian Dead Lift with a dumbbell (not me the weight…). Want a strong ankle and superior balance?  Do single leg RDLs. In the picture the guy (not me BTW) has his leg bent slightly. This is okay, but an RDL technically has a straight leg.  Note that he has a straight/flat back as well. We did a super set on these with a seated row since the big muscle being used IS your back. This also works your core! Triple bonus!

WARNING: If you’ve never done RDLs ask a trainer at your gym to model it for you. Just call it a single leg dead lift with a dumbbell…a good trainer should know what it is. Use a light weight until you get the form down.

We did all sorts of other stuff, but I’ve rambled on long enough so I’ll put the core work in another post. You shouldn’t always isolate the small muscles since you hit them when you work the big ones, but take a single workout every 2-3 weeks to concentrate on the small muscles and you can see some big gains!

Happy Training!

-Brian

2012 Goofy Challenge Training Program

It has come to my attention from one of my readers (Thanks Jenn!!) that runDisney has yet to post Jeff Galloway’s updated training program for the 2012 Goofy Challenge. Being a training program connoisseur of sorts I downloaded it back when it was still posted in 2010. Thinking back I guess I already knew that runDisney had taken the old training program down since I had emailed them about the dates being “off”.  The dates were off since it hadn’t been updated since 2009 when it was originally published, but the basics were there. Now remember race fans, this program is designed to get you across both finish lines in the upright position not set land speed records at Disney World. It’s a fairly simple program that follows Jeff’s run/walk philosophy. Most weeks you only run 3 days and rest/recovery is a key component of the program.

Seeing how I don’t have express written consent by the Walt Disney Company or Jeff Galloway to republish the PDF I have (assuming I can find it…) I will talk in generalities and answer questions if you have any. Don’t worry though, there’s a table below with a week by week schedule.

You know you want it...or one very similar to it!

Keep in mind that my goal for the 2012 Goofy Challenge is to cross both finish lines on Saturday and Sunday in the upright position and live to tell the tale! I have a friend who’s running it with me and we are both determined to finish and earn a lot of bling…that’s it! OH! Before I forget…I’m also doing the 5K on Friday which will be a nice warm-up and an extra medal!  🙂

The program is around 30 weeks in length. I’m sure once runDisney updates it the numbers may not be exactly the same.  For my own use, I adapted the program a little to fit my own needs, but the basis of the plan is here. Also, I believe it is suggested that you have been running for 6 months prior to starting this Goofy Training Program. If not, take it easy and follow the plan as prescribed by runDisney.

As always, you should consult a licensed medical professional (aka: a doctor/physician) before beginning any exercise program. Especially, if like me you are a middle aged guy with a Peter Pan-esque view on life! Hopefully, I spelled out the fact that you are at risk in this 39.3 mile undertaking and that you’re making the decision on your own to do this training program or participate in it in any way either in full or in part…..heck people, GOOFY is the mascot!  There’s a little bit of crazy going on to try something like this and I’m doing the 5K too so that makes me just plain Dopey!

Okay, enough of the legal speak about it being YOUR decision and YOUR own liability should something bad happen to you. You have been warned!! On to the training program!

Like I said, this program is fairly simple. I’m not going to get into the whole run/walk method because that is Jeff Galloway’s thing. There is also a training tool Jeff suggests called a “Magic Mile” which he has you do every so often to see how you’re progressing. I’m a runner and plan to run 85-90% of both races not including the time it takes to stop for pictures. Oh yes, there will be lots of pictures! Again, see my blog post about the WDW full-marathon last January 2011.

So here it is…in general…the 30-ish week Goofy Challenge Training Program as best as I can remember it. By the way, if you actually followed this program then you would start in mid-June. The program takes you a couple weeks PAST the WDW full-marathon on Sunday January 8th, 2012 for recovery purposes.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are 30-45 minute run/walks according to the original program. Go to Jeff Galloway’s Website for details on the run/walk method. You’ll notice that you get six weeks of training before you have your first weekend of back-to-back workouts. I also took the liberty of switching the run days for Christmas and New Year’s Day to Saturday, but feel free to run when you want! Oh, and don’t forget to plan for holidays (in no particular order) like July 4th, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Labor Day, Father’s Day, President’s Day, Ramadan, Boxing Day, Administrative Assistant’s Day, Yom Kippur, My Birthday (Oct. 7th), etc.

Week

Mon

Tues

Wed

Thur

Fri

Sat

Sun

1

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 3 mile

2

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 4 mile

3

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 5 mile

4

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 3 mile

5

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 5 mile

6

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Walk 3 mile

Run 7 mile

7

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 6 mile

8

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 8 mile

9

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 6 mile

10

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

5 mile

Run 10 mile

11

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 11 mile

12

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 12 mile

13

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 8 mile

14

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Walk 5.5 mile

Run 14 mile

15

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 11 mile

16

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 15.5 mile

17

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 9 mile

18

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Walk 7 mile

Run 17 mile

19

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 12 mile

20

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 18 mile

21

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 10 mile

22

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Walk 9 mile

Run 20 mile

23

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 13 mile

24

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 21 mile

25

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 11 mile

26

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Walk 12 mile

Run 23 mile

27

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Rest

Run 7 mile

28

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Run 6 mile

Xmas

29

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

30-45 min

Rest

Run 7 mile

New Year’s Day

30

Rest

30 min

Rest

30 min

Rest

WDW Half

WDW Full

31

Rest

30 min

Rest

30 min

Rest

Rest

Run 7 mile

32

Rest

30 min

Rest

30 min

Rest

Rest

Run 6 mile

Of course, you may opt to throw in some cross training for some of those rest days. I would suggest taking a rest day before and after those weekends where you’re doing a long walk followed by a long run the next day. Your body (muscles, ligaments, joints, etc) need the rest even if you’re not tired.

You may also want to do specific types of runs for the “30-45 min” runs on Tuesday and Thursday. I do intervals and Tempo runs on those days…usually a little longer than 30-45 minutes. I also add in a little lifting on some days usually twice a week with my cross training.

HOWEVER, the above program should get you across the finish line both days with no adaptations or additions needed. I bet you’ll even be smiling at the end of day two! I know I will!  😀

All that stands between you and these three medals (besides common sense) is the proper training program!

Let me know if you have any questions and happy training!

-Brian

2011 Indianapolis Mini-Marathon

The greatest spectacle in racing!  The Indy 500 was dubbed thus so many years ago and this year Indy is in the midst of celebrating it’s 100th year of memories spanning from 1911 to present day.

The Indy Mini-Marathon started in 1977, bringing in Olympic champion distance runners Frank Shorter and Bill Rogers. In 1979, the Mini-Marathon became an official 500 Festival event. The event grew rapidly in the 1980s and even more throughout the 1990s. Today, the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is noted as the nation’s largest half-marathon with a field of 35,000 runners and walkers participating each year.  The course is flat, fast and allows participants to run the 2.5 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway!

But enough with the history lesson!  This past Saturday May 7th was perfect for running in Indianapolis. The morning brought temperatures in the mid-50s and the winds were quiet.

Last year (2010) I ran “The Mini” in 02:33:25 and was very happy with my time as I had been training for 5 months and had just started my fitness journey and lost about 20 pounds.  My time was 22 minutes faster than my 2009 time. This year I ran the 13.1 mile race in 02:05:49 approximately 18 minutes faster (and another 35 pounds lighter) than my 2010 race.

Besides having an extra 12 months of training I tried a few more things this time around to improve my performance this year.  First was knowledge (or information would perhaps be better way to describe it.) I’ve been having trouble keeping a consistent pace recently. Basically, I go out too fast which is a common error for new runners.  You feel good, you run fast and then you crash hard on the second half of the course.

Pace Tat

This year I wanted to run a more consistent pace throughout the race so I strapped on a temporary pace tat so I could keep tabs on my pace throughout the run. This is also a lot cheaper than a GPS watch (though I’ll be adding that to my Xmas list this year too)!  These are very good if you are wondering.  I could still use the tat for a run three days after the race. It has survived a half-marathon which ended with rain and several showers!

Next, leading up to the Indy Mini-Marathon I was reading a book called “Racing Weight” by Matt Fitzgerald and in the book the author mentions how performance is effected by various factors like hydration and muscle glycogen.

Of course everyone realizes that being hydrated is a good thing.  Don’t drink enough water during a long run and eventually you’ll slow down or stop altogether as your body has trouble cooling itself and your blood gets thicker from having less water in it.

Next, most of us know that we need fuel (carbs) during a long run like a half marathon. We take sports drinks with us and consume gels like GU along the race course.

What I didn’t know was that exercise induced muscle damage causes fatigue separately from hydration or fuel availability.  So I looked into using a product that would help this third performance limitation. I found a product called Accelerade from Pacific Health Labs which has a combination of carbs and protein to help limit muscle damage from prolonged exercise like a marathon or half-marathon.  The company also makes a gel called Accel. So I bought some Accelerade and instead of taking GU on my 13.1 mile fun run I added some Accel gel to my run pack.

Now I will say that from training for a year I was in much better shape and I did run a much smarter race with my pace tat, but still I liked the Accel gel and I did feel like I had a lot more energy during the mini-marathon. The consistency of the Accel gel wasn’t as thick as a GU gel so it was a lot easier to take and I didn’t feel like I needed to wait until I was near a water station to have something to drink with the gel like I do when I use GU. I still like GU, but I’ll be using Accel a lot more in the future.

Another thing I can say is that the day after the mini-marathon my legs felt great and I never experienced the pain that shows up two days after such an intense exertion. When I ran the Kansas half-marathon four weeks ago (in 02:11:37) my legs were tired the next day and I did experience the major stiffness that usually comes 48 hours after (called DOMS). So the Accelerade (taken pre & post race) along with the Accel gels seemed to help me recover faster than with just GU and a whey protein shake per my usual routine.

So my experience at The Indianapolis Mini-Marathon was great!  I even made it onto the local news on WTHR.  I had a half dozen of my friends tell me that they saw me on the news running around the Indy 500 Motor Speedway.

Now I have 5 weeks to continue training for my next race (another half-marathon). I’m excited to continue using Accelerade while I train and to use the Accel gels for my next half. My recovery workouts this past week have been very good and I’m ready to jump back into training on Monday!

Happy Training!

Brian

Tapering, take 2!

I’ve written about tapering in the past, but felt it was worth writing about again as I approach my next half-marathon this coming Saturday. I’m running the nation’s largest half-marathon, The Indianapolis Mini-Marathon with 35K+ other runners in Indianapolis, IN.

35,000 runners participate in the Indy Mini-Marathon. The course takes runners around the Indy 500 Speedway track!

What prompted this post was all the “taper tweets” I’ve been reading this morning.  Many runners are worried about doing too much or not enough in the last 7-10 days leading up to their race.  I totally understand dear friends!

First off for all my new runners out there you might be asking, “Tapering?  What’s that?” Tapering is the final days leading up to your big event when you workout less so as to get the recovery you need for race day. Whether it’s a 5K, 10K, 15K, Half, Full or Ultra marathon it really doesn’t matter. All of these have a little taper time before hand.

In my opinion and experience, how much tapering you need depends a lot on your amount of current running experience, the distance you’re going in your event and the number of races you’ve run prior.  All of this combined should fit into a plan of what works best for you.

For me, I tend to taper for 7-10 days before anything less than a full-marathon. So two weeks out from this half I did a final 10 mile long run. Last Friday I did a 6 miler and primarily rested over the weekend except to do yard work. This week I rested Monday and I’ll do short runs Tuesday and Wednesday.  I lifted last week on two days and did a very light (high rep) full body weights routine today (Tuesday).  I’ll be finished with any weight lifting after today.  Thursday I will go to the gym and do something non-impact like cycling, elliptical or maybe just walking on the treadmill while I watch ESPN.  🙂 Friday I will take off completely (and sleep in past my usual 4:30am wake-up call) since the race is the next day.

One big component of my tapering is stretching.  I normally stretch after every workout, but I will take a little extra time to stretch my IT Bands, glutes, legs, shoulders and back.  Basically, instead of doing 2-3 sets of stretches I will do 3-5 sets adding 10-15 minutes of extra stretching. Many times I’ll also use my foam roller at night to make sure I have all the knots worked out of my legs.

As for diet, I don’t change much in the taper zone.  2-3 days out from the race I do eat a little more pasta….mainly because I really LOVE pasta!  There is a lot of hype around carb loading, but I’ve read the actual research studies and while stored muscle glycogen (sugar/carbs) is a limiting factor for performance (sorry about the geek speak), the average runner doesn’t get a lot of benefit from carb loading. As long as you rest a couple days before an event, your muscle glycogen stores will increase just from not exercising.  You’ll also want to replenish during the event/race with Gatorade, gels, etc. at regular intervals. Basically find what works for you and stick with it.

Actual breakfast not shown....wrong cereal.

For me, I eat a measured serving of cereal, a banana and a cup of coffee a couple hours before the race.  15-30 minutes out from the start I pop a GU Energy Gel and then continue to take more gels as the race progresses usually every 30-45 minutes. I also use the provided water and Gatorade on the course. I might be overloading on the carbs, but it doesn’t bother my stomach so I stick with the plan. I also don’t have to worry about hitting the wall at mile 11 and crawling to the finish line.

Remember, tapering is a good thing! You won’t lose the ability to run long distance in a week…or even two weeks. I’ve even had races where I didn’t workout at all 5-6 days before an event and did fine during the race….including earning a PR by over 8 minutes!  I chalk it up to being well rested.

Tapering is also a time to make sure you are getting extra sleep.  If you are a morning exerciser, sleep in those last two days before an event and get your 8 hours (or more if possible).  If you are an evening exerciser use the gym time to get a few things done early so you can get to bed early.  Don’t waste the time on the TV…that’s why we have DVR!  🙂

Active.com had a decent article on Tapering today as well if you’d like to check it out! Also, Runner’s World had a good article on Recovery days today. Though not specific to tapering it speaks well to recovery which is what tapering is all about!

Happy Training and see you on Race Day!

-Brian

Follow mw on Twitter @TheRunningMan23

Kansas is Flat and Other Misconceptions

I travelled out to Olathe (O-LAY-tha), KS (Home of Garmin by the way) to visit friends and run a half-marathon this past weekend. First off, I had a great time visiting and being back in Kansas.  It’s just a nice area where I used to work and it was good to hangout with friends for the entire weekend.

Now, it is a popular misconception that Kansas is as flat as a pancake. I am here to tell you that this may very well be the case in several locations around that state, but that is not the case if you are visiting or running a half-marathon in Lawrence, KS. Lawrence, KS is home to The Jayhawks (KU). If you are an NCAA basketball fan you may have heard of them…just not this year. 🙂

Up until now the half-marathons and one full-marathon I’ve ran have all been relatively flat. I train weekly with a slight incline on the treadmill, but it looks like I need to add some hardcore hill training to the mix. So I went out and found a good program for hill training that I can do once every 7-14 days.

Indoor (Treadmill) Hill Training: From Runner’s World

Warm up for 10 minutes, then set the treadmill at your approximate marathon pace. (If you’ve never run a marathon, estimate your marathon time by multiplying your typical 10-K time by 4.65.) With the treadmill elevated 1 degree, run for 2 minutes at marathon pace, then elevate the incline to 2 degrees and run for 2 minutes. Next return to 1 degree for 2 minutes, but then climb to 3 degrees for 2 minutes.

Continue in this manner, raising the grade on every other 2-minute repeat until you’ve reached 7 degrees (the inclination pattern is 1-2-1-3-1-4-1-5-1-6-1-7). If you feel exhausted before you reach 7 degrees, stop, and don’t let it worry you. Try the workout several more times and you’ll develop the ability to handle the hills. Finish the workout by running an easy 8- to 10-minute cooldown.

This should help me take on those hills better. I really think I could have ran a 02:10:00 half or better had I been conditioned for hills. There was a hill in the middle of the course that seemed to go on (and up) forever. The race started and ended on several smaller hills and there was only two areas of the course that were over a mile without a significant incline.

Now I’m really looking forward to the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon which is almost completely flat.  Good chance I’ll PR again and come closer to that sub 2-hour half I’m chasing!

Happy Training!

Brian

They tried to make me go to Rehab…I mean recovery

Holy cow what a run this past weekend!  I hit a distance PR of over 20 miles and was so happy!  I did the run on a treadmill at the gym so I’m sure I was getting weird looks from the people around me since I didn’t leave for nearly four hours.

Hopefully, my trainer won’t tell on me since there is a 20 minute limit when people are waiting…to my knowledge no one was tapping their foot behind me!  🙂

I had come prepared with two 32oz bottles of Gatorade, several GU packs and kept running forever it seemed like.  It was well worth the mental training as well as the physical training. Thank goodness for Sports Center on the TV and NCAA football!

Sunday I found that my right knee was a bit stiff and if you know what you’re looking for you can see a little inflammation on the outside edge of my right knee as compared to my left.

Sunday was all about ice, heat, ice, heat, ice, heat all day long as well as about 9-10 hours of good sleep Saturday night!  Monday is a continuation of recovery from the long run.

When starting to recover from a long distance run I try to start immediately after I’m finished running and by immediately I mean the very instant I stop running.

My Loooong Run Rehab/Recovery

  1. Recovery Nutrition: Within 30 minutes I have a whey protein shake.  I use EAS, but any brand will do. 20-25g of whey protein.  Whey protein absorbs the fastest so it’s a good choice for getting protein to muscles quickly. I usually have this waiting for me in my car or have it in my gym bag for immediate consumption. Time is a factor for getting nutrients to your muscles immediately after exercise.
  2. Hydration: I continue to hydrate even hours after my runs.  I try to take in a good 32oz of water in the hour following a run.  I keep hydrating even after that, but that’s a good start for me.
  3. Ice Bath (optional): Some say yes to an ice bath, some say no, but I draw a tub of cold water and dump my entire ice bin in it from the freezer.  I soak my ankles, knees, legs and hips for 20 minutes as soon as I get home to limit inflammation. It works for me.  I DO NOT submerge and I watch the clock. Usually follow this up with a nice hot shower too!
  4. Ice: If you don’t like #3 then at least put some ice on your knees & ankles to limit a little of the inflammation. If I have any pain I ice it.
  5. Heat: I have a heat pack I can throw in the microwave I like to use on any pained areas. I will alternate the heat and the ice pack after I’m finished in the ice bath.
  6. Hydrate: I’m still sipping my H2O!
  7. Elevation: I prop my feet up and relax while I’m icing and heating for an hour or as long as I’m on the couch!  …so quite a while.
  8. Rest: I take a nap for 1-2 hours if I have the time or just sit and relax.
  9. Movement: By now I’ve been finished with my run for several hours.  I like to get up off the couch and just walk a bit to get the blood flow going to my legs. Nothing brisk, just movement so the lactic acid can be on its way.
  10. The next few Days: I ride the bike and continue to ice/heat any achy joints.  I also make sure to get a little more protein than usual to help rebuild muscle and of course I continue to hydrate!

Your recovery is more important than even your workouts because the recovery period is when your body becomes stronger, faster, more agile and conditioned.

Refocusing

For the last 3 months I’ve been at a weight loss plateau.  I’ve been training regularly with 4 days in the gym each week.  Three days on my own and one day with my trainer for a 30 minute intense session.  I usually rest on Friday and Sunday with my weekend “Long Run” on Saturday.  My distance has improved greatly and over the past 11 months my speed has increased too so I am happy with the results to date, heck I’ve lost 45 pounds!  My weight has edged down a couple pounds since the end of July, but nothing significant.  I know that I’ll have to make some adjustments if a future shot at The Goofy Challenge or Boston is to be realistic.  Those two future goals are a ways off since I still need to run my first full marathon though.

Also, this is a “dangerous” time as we approach the holidays and some would think to rest on their past successes while I am thinking it’s time to refocus and step up my training. These past two weeks I’ve opted to hit the gym all five days for a little extra calorie burn.  The same goes for Sunday. While normally I would rest on Sunday I am going to go in and put in a little extra time on something different.  The key for me on these extra workouts is not to go all out intense, but to burn a few more calories, get a good stretch, loosen up and rededicate myself to the goal at hand, the Disney World Marathon on January 9th.

Even now as I write this I’m fueling up to go out for a 22 mile run this morning. Sunday will be an “active” recovery day where I just pedal on a stationary bike to warm-up, maybe walk for 10-15 minutes and then go stretch for 15-20 minutes.  I’ll follow this up with a whey protein shake to help speed recovery.

But back to the topic at hand, I’ve learned it’s good to keep a core schedule, but to also mix things up from time to time so I can shock my body into new growth (or shrink it). When I started out I was hitting the gym 7 days a week and burning a lot of calories in the process.  So I am going to return to that schedule of “active rest days” with the following schedule.

Part of this is a Jeff Galloway program & part is a “Brian Original”  🙂

  • Monday: Run 45 Minutes
  • Tuesday: Lifting Weights opposite of what my trainer does Thursday
  • Wednesday: Run 45 Minutes
  • Thursday: Personal Trainer Session (30 minutes)
  • Friday: 30-45 cardio/stretch depending on my long run distance
  • Saturday: Long Run, Speed Work or a “shorter” run
  • Sunday: 30-45 cardio/stretch depending on my long run distance

This will be my training plan through the holidays as I approach January 9th save for the required tapering period two weeks from race time. My diet won’t really change all that much except that I will be taking a protein supplement after my workout 7 days a week instead of the normal 5 days a week.  I will also be on H2O patrol to be sure I’m drinking enough and I’ll limit alcohol to the 2-3 special days left this year like Thanksgiving (Football & a couple beverages!), Christmas Eve (Egg Nog!) and of course New Years Eve! I’m hoping to drop just 6-10 pounds more by January 9th.  With the right focus this is totally doable for me in the 6 weeks of training I have left.  This would have me weighing very close to or just below 180 pounds and just 15-20 pounds from my ultimate goal weight.

Stay (re)focused and keep training!

Follow me on Twitter  ”@TheRunningMan23″

A rough & chilly run

So a couple weekends ago I geared up to run outside for my longest run to date. I was pumped, excited, anxious and ready! I had previously ran 17 miles (2 weeks prior) and I was ready to tackle my first 20 miler!

Ready for my cold run and 45 pounds lighter than my 1st blog's pic!

I had purchased Under Armour Cold Gear ($100 worth!), bought a hat, gloves, extra GU packs, running socks and I was ready! Why special Cold Gear you ask? Because it was going to be a bit chilly out in Indiana that Saturday morning. The low temperature was to be 25 degrees with a high of 41 in the afternoon. I grew up on a farm. I’ve gotten up at 5am to feed cattle in blizzard conditions. This felt colder. There was just a slight breeze, but at 25 degrees a 5-8 mph breeze can be biting and it was!

I ran down the trail and was doing well. I took a side route to add a couple miles early and then came back to the main trail and kept going. Starting out at 156th I was aiming to turn around at 75th street for a nice out and back. 136th and 116th whipped by. The next thing I knew I was at the tunnel near 96th street.  I was tired but I was in familiar territory. I had run the same route for my 17 miler save for the extra 2.5 miles at the beginning. Then I was at 75th street again. I was ready to turn around and when I did, I came to face that little 5-8 mph breeze…and it stopped me cold, literally. The breeze had been behind me and now I felt it fully on my head and chest. I wear a camel back for water on long runs and it had been protecting me from the cold plus you all know it feels different when the wind is at your back. Not nearly as cold.

By the time I got back to 86th street I was at 12.5 miles…and 7.5 miles away from home.  A knot had formed behind each of my knees and I was chilled to the bone from my own sweat. I was in bad shape. I had tried a run/walk routine for a bit from 75th to 86th street, but it wasn’t working. My hips and legs were done.

Normally I run a 10 minute mile. I was 20 minutes off the pace for the 12.5 miles I had run so far.

This is when you realize there is no shame in knowing when you’ve had enough and a 12 mile run is good enough when the temperature is still in the low 30s.

I whipped out my cell phone and called my life line!  My gf was kind enough to come get me as she lives 15 minutes away.  As we were talking she asked if I was feeling okay. I thought I was and realized that since turning into the wind my lips had gotten cold and I sounded like I had just come from the dentist….numb face/lips and all! I was talking funny. I stepped into the nearest super market and out of the cold. I looked a little funny walking around the store in full running gear, camel back, hat, shades & tights while the regular Saturday morning shoppers went about their business. I got a few odd looks. So I went and hung out in the power bar/health food aisle. Not surprising, no one came down that aisle for my 15 minute wait!  🙂

So I want to talk about limitations and listening to your body. I hate to admit it but that little voice in my head (we all have it) had tried to talk me out of running in 25 degree weather. I ignored it though….it was just a little cold out after all. Buck up, be a man and go run! People run in the cold all the time! You have the right gear so “just do it”! When I had passed my gym at mile marker #3 that voice had told me to finish up the remaining 17 miles inside on the treadmill. I could see the front doors of the nice warm gym! Again, I ignored the voice. I was doing okay, just a little off pace…it WAS cold so it was to be expected. When I had crossed 111th street that same voice tried compromise instead of all out orders. The suggestion came to turn around at 96th street instead of going on down to 75th. I could loop closer to my car “just in case”. A third time I ignored the voice of reason.  Heck, I was just 2 miles from the turn around and I would be headed home! No worries right?  Right??? I only heard from that voice one more time the whole day and that was when I limped back up to 86th street near the grocery store. “I told you so.” is all that little voice said. I hate that voice. He can be a real jerk sometimes.

I think it’s great to push and challenge yourself. I do it all the time. I regularly test my one mile best time, I’ve ran two half-marathons only two weeks apart, I’ve ran a 5K race at 7am and a half-marathon that same night at 10pm. I’m signed up to run a full marathon now and I have plans to run The Goofy Challenge in the future which will have me running a half and a full marathon on consecutive days. I’m not sure if I’ll ever want to do an ultra, but we’ll see. Challenging yourself is good.

Regardless, it’s important to train well, know your limitations, still push it a bit, but remember to listen to what your body is telling you and know the difference between an ache and a pain. Had I just looked at the evidence on my Garmin watch I would have turned around early and finished at the gym. And I WOULD have finished! By mile 7 or 8 I was 20 minutes off my regular pace and I certainly wasn’t going to pick up speed on the last half of my first 20 mile (near-zero degrees) out and back.

Now I can’t wait to get back out there, run in the cold some more with my new Under Armour (it worked great by the way) and allow my body to acclimate to the lower temperatures while still delivering a good performance! I didn’t fail, I just learned something new! This coming weekend I have a 22 mile run on Saturday and I can’t wait! Weather permitting I’ll do much of the run outside, but I’ll also be listening closely to how I feel so if I need to duck in and finish on the treadmill I can. The distance is more important than the location for these last few long runs before my first full marathon January 9th!

Happy Training!

Follow me on Twitter  ”@TheRunningMan23″

Food = Fuel.

I have a friend who refuses to view food as fuel, but that is what it really is, just fuel for the body.  He continually struggles with his weight and only finds temporary fixes with increased exercise over short time spans.  He’ll workout for a a few weeks or so, lose 10 pounds and then gain it all back because he still eats like he is in college.  He’s only addressing the symptom, not the problem…putting a bandaid on a broken arm.

Now I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy your fuel, but once you start looking at food as a source of what your body needs to function and less about eating just to satisfy a craving then the sooner you will gain control of the ultimate habit we all have, eating.

BTW, I read a lot of research articles on diet & exercise mainly because I’m a big nerd for that kind of thing… I try to learn as much as I can about how everything works.  Knowledge is Power.

Let’s get started…back to Food = Fuel.

My Metabolism.  When I started back in December 2009 my metabolism was messed up! It was slow and definitely working against me.  My metabolism was programmed to do exactly what I had told it to do…store as much fat as it could for the up coming winter.  I might as well have been a bear ready for hibernation.

I worked with a couple different trainers at my gym to get a plan together.

My Plan Components:

  1. Food (Fuel)
  2. Cardio (Walking, Running, Biking, Elliptical, Stairs, etc)
  3. Strength Training (Lifting Weights)

Of the three things above, trainer after trainer has told me FOOD accounts for at least 60% of the equation in weight loss.  No matter how hard you work the other 40% can’t make up for the 60%.  How much we eat, how often we eat and what we eat are all a part of the mix.  Unfortunately, just like in high school though 60% isn’t enough to be successful.  You DO need the other two parts. Today however, we are discussing food.

My Pre-December 2009 Diet:

  • Breakfast: Coffee
  • Lunch: Eat out at a restaurant with a co-worker
  • Dinner: Whatever I wanted
  • Snack Later: Potato Chips, ice cream, cake, pop corn, or a 2nd meal (no joke)

This diet was killing me slowly and I had the 75 extra pounds to prove it.

*My Diet Today: Serving sizes are all 1 single serving.

  • Breakfast (Pre-Workout): Coffee and a serving of Original Fiber One Cereal.  Sometimes a half glass of OJ too!
  • After Workout Protein: EAS Advantage Protein Shake (Chocolate!)
  • Mid-Morning Snack: Chewy Quaker Granola Bar (PB & Choc. Chip) or a banana/apple & water
  • Lunch: I bring my lunch a lot (Soup, lean hamburger, chili, grilled chicken, salad, lean steak) & water
  • Mid-Afternoon Snack: Chewy Granola Bar again or a piece of fruit again & water
  • After Work Snack: Dannon Light & Fit Yogurt, a piece of fruit or a cheese stick!
  • Dinner: Baked fish, lean hamburger, chili, pork, turkey, spaghetti, etc.  I take the time to cook ahead so if I’m busy I always have something in the freezer/fridge that I can reheat in a pinch.  Planning ahead is a key to eating healthy!
  • Late snack: Yogurt again or a glass of skim milk

If you hate being hungry then my plan or something similar may be for you!  I eat 8 times a day.  I eat every 2-3 hours.  Some “meals/snacks” are only 100-200 calories.  No meal is over 500 calories.  By the end of the day I usually have consumed 1700-2000 calories.  Take away the calories I burned with exercise and I’m losing weight.  By the way, if you DON’T eat your body will store fat.  So not eating is counterproductive to your goal.

Why does eating every couple hours work?

Answer: Think of a fire.  You start a fire and it blazes to life.  After a while the fire dies down.  Throw on another small stick and it blazes up again.  Now this is SIMILAR to metabolism.  If you only throw on three large logs the whole day then there are a lot of times when the fire is really low and it takes some work to get it blazing again.  If you add some twigs and leaves every once in a while (small meals/snacks) then the blaze stays more even and it’s easier to get the large stuff to catch.

I have a small office at work and I find it interesting to watch the thermostat on the wall after I eat.  The room temperature goes up about 2 degrees 15-20 minutes after my snack.  Why?  My body’s metabolism is increasing and a by product is heat.

Some Things to Consider:

  1. A lot of hunger/cravings is mistaken thirst.  You need water, not food.
  2. Fiber makes you feel full.
  3. Eating smaller portions several times a day keeps the fire burning.
  4. Portion size is key.  Retrain yourself to know what a real portion size looks like….not what a restaurant tells you it is.
  5. Mom was right!  Chew your food slowly!  Once you are full, it takes your body 20 minutes to send the signal to tell you to stop eating.  If you scarf down a huge burger & fries in 10-15 minutes then the signal to stop eating won’t get to you in time.  Enjoy it, don’t inhale it!  🙂
  6. This one kills me, but I know it’s true…Diet Soda make you fat.  Regular Soda is even worse than diet soda.**

By the way, while I was writing this blog I had two snacks and a meal.

*Disclaimer: I plan for celebrations so I can take part in BBQs, holidays, birthdays and weddings.  On Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, The 4th of July, Elvis’ Birthday and other national holidays I eat what I want and indulge a little.  I don’t eat everything in site for an entire week though.  I have some of my Aunt’s applesauce cake at Christmas, enjoy my mom’s pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, eat a burger AND a brat on the 4th and drink a Bud Light or two at my Super Bowl Party.  I don’t indulge daily, I don’t indulge weekly, but when the time comes to celebrate I make sure I’ve worked hard enough to deserve that extra piece of mom’s fried chicken.  That’s why I don’t skip workouts and that’s why when I weigh myself October 8th my birthday cake from the day before is already a memory!

**See the video on my Links & Resources Page to learn how/why Diet Soda makes you fat.

17 miles

Ever want some time to think about practically everything?  Run 17 miles on a Saturday…or any day of the week for that matter.   You’ll have about three hours to ponder things assuming we run about the same speed.  For the last couple weeks I’ve left the iPod at home and enjoyed the confines of my own thoughts while running.  Money, job, school, girlfriend, family, Disney, my next run, vacation, the upcoming week, last week, past relationships, my next promotion, my next degree, my next job, my last job, my best friend, my worst enemy, those whom I inspire, those who refuse to be inspired, Disney, buying a house, that girl who just ran by (hey, I’m a dude!), renewing my apartment lease, my knee hurting, my knee not hurting anymore, and a host of other things.

In all that time suddenly I’m turning around and heading back to my car. I’m halfway finished.  Where did the last 8.5 miles go?  I’ve been lost in the run, not thinking about breathing, not thinking about running, not thinking about how far I have left, not thinking about any imaginary pain or real pain.  Is it time for  GU yet?  Yep, it is!

In all that thinking I realize that having balance in life is key.  Work, school, social life, family, alone time, exercise and everything else needs its little piece of my time.  Many things take priority and those priorities will shift throughout the year.  Right now I’m training for my first marathon so going out with my buddies is not at the top of the list on the weekend….a 17 mile run is.  During the week my lunch time diet tends to be geared toward fuel more than “the business lunch”.  Everything is preparing me for January and the long run.  After that I will start to see if a social life on Friday night can be explored again.  I’m sure it will!

So my advice is to have balance, but also have priorities for the time being knowing that those priorities can shift once you cross the finish line.