Tag Archives: running

Run lots

I have an idea why many people find it hard to stick with running: if you don’t run frequently enough you never get through the point where the discomfort fades.

I’m not sure if the discomfort actually goes away, or if you just get so used to it that it feels normal. In either case, a light bulb moment for me was when I discovered that running more frequently was easier than running less and trying to recover more.

“More frequently” doesn’t have to mean “more mileage”. It just means running more days per week. Same miles, but few miles per run. I always thought running back-to-back days would be too hard, but paradoxically it’s been easier than taking more days off.

This isn’t my own invention of course. You can find this approach documented in many running books and web sites.

Why bring this up now? It’s bike racing season!

Well, tonight I folded up my running clothes and put them into a drawer until sometime in September.

Last year I learned that it was too hard to continue even a minimal amount of running once the racing season started. I hit that point last week. The number of runs per week has been going down, and finally I realized that each run is now uncomfortable.

It’s not the mileage that’s the problem, it’s that I can’t run 5 days per week now. If I didn’t like bike racing so much, I would keep running and just have tired legs all the time.

I guess the “secret” to running is the same as in bike racing. To paraphrase Eddy Merckx: “run lots”.

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I often run naked

That was a Twitter response to my “Today I rode naked” post.

Yeah, it’s like that with running too.

I’ve gone from just going out for an easy jog … to wearing a watch … to getting a GPS watch to track distance … to consciously trying to get faster … to doing tempo intervals …

And when my GPS watch stopped working a couple weeks ago, it was at first annoying to not know how fast and how far. Like the run “didn’t count” if I didn’t know how far, exactly. So I went and found another on eBay.

How do we become so neurotic about stuff like this?

One of the reasons I like running — trail running in particular — is that it’s quieter than being on the bike. You don’t have the wind noise, traffic noise, speed, cars buzzing you. But then we go complicate a nice trail run by wanting to monitor and record it.

It’s snowing today. I’ll try running in the snow without worrying about how far or fast, until I don’t feel like running anymore.

***
That “I often run naked” Twitter response came from one of my heroes, Zack Johnson. He somehow manages to find the energy to train for and compete in ultramarathons (including a 100 mile race), organize an ultra team, actually put on a 24 hour race. He put me on his team roster, and I have to say I feel so incredibly inadequate.

He’s also putting on a snowshoe race series — equipment rental available. First race was cancelled, but assuming we do get a real winter soon there are 2 more races scheduled:

http://ohioultratrailrunners.blogspot.com/p/events.html

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Mixing Beer & Wine, Continued

It’s been about 6 weeks since I wrote about my desire to continue (at last some small amount of) running during the racing season.

I’ve been doing it. 3 or 4 times per week (so maybe 10-15 miles). Not very fast, so I feel more like a “jogger” than a “runner”.

It doesn’t seem like it has compromised the bike training. So far.

We still haven’t raced all that much. The real test will be whether I still feel like running once we hit the 3-races-in-a- week period, which will be as soon as the Tuesday night races start up.

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Like mixing beer and wine?

Sometimes after the Westlake training race, you will see a couple of guys put on their running shoes and run around the course.

I used to think that seemed really stupid. Why ruin a good bike race by running afterward?

Now I am thinking of doing it.

The last few years, I’ve enjoyed running in the off-season. Each year I’ve enjoyed it a little bit more, as my body continues to adapt. I like the simplicity of putting on shoes and running out the door. I love going for a solitary trail run, where the only noise is my own footsteps and breathing. But I stop running completely, right about now, when the racing season is about to start. I’ve always felt that running during the season would compromise my bike training.

Then October comes, and it’s painful to try to get my running legs back. I remember how far and how fast I could run when I stopped in March, and it’s frustrating to start off so slow again.

So I’m wondering … can I run just enough to keep my legs in reasonable running shape without compromising the bike racing? The big questions are how much, and how to fit it in to the training schedule. Running after hard bike workouts would seem to impact recovery. Running before hard bike workouts would seem to compromise the bike session.

I’d like to hear from anyone who’s tried this. Did it work? Or did it just leave you tired?

Did I go to one to many cross country meets last fall?

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My Feet are Staging a Revolt

After a bike race ends, racers will often say “wow, that hurt”. We usually mean “hurt” in the sense of extreme fatigue, periods when we were in severe oxygen debt, or legs burning from lactic acid.

But when I say, “wow, that hurt” after a running race — every one of the running races I’ve done — I mean that it literally caused me to be in pain.

The most recent torture was the Run With Your Heart 15km trail race. 15km is the longest I’ve run. Ever. Running that distance on a snow-covered trail made it seem even longer. Going off trail in foot-deep snow to pass people really made it seem longer.

But the worst were the parts of the course that were littered with hoof prints from the horsey-people that use the trails. (I don’t ever want to hear one of them complain about how mountain bikes damage trails). It was like running on a miniature ski-mogul slope. Toward the end of the first loop it seemed every other step I would land on a bump that sent a shock wave up through my right arch.

Other than that the course was very cool. Slow courses seem to be better for us “bike racers pretending to be runners.” At the time my foot started to hurt, two of us pretenders (Rudy and I) were respectably holding down the 3rd and 4th spots, talking about bike racing as we ran. But then I had to slow down and change my gait so that I could finish. I did manage to limp my way to the finish and just barely hold on for the 5th spot (Rudy took 4th).

Now I have a feeling that for the next few days at least I will have to carefully choose which shoes to wear, and watch where I step.

But here’s another illustration of the superiority of the bike: even after a painful run, I can still go out on the bike. Tired, yes, but without pain.

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Exercising Stupidity

Yesterday I had this realization that if I start out on a workout, I need to finish it. No matter how stupid it becomes. I think that’s why I won’t start a ride when it’s raining, but once I’m out in it I’ll keep going for as long as I had planned.

I signed up for a 15km trail race that’s coming up in a week, and hadn’t done any trail runs in a while because of all the snow. So I figured I should go out and get my “trail legs” back again. The plan was to run for 1hr 15 min. I don’t know why I thought this would be feasible, given the snow/rain/snow we got in the past week. I guess I had this idea that enough other people would have packed down the trail enough. But I forgot that “most people” are smart enough not to attempt slogging through 18 inches of crusty snow.

Well, I could see that a few had tried. It didn’t look so bad, so I started down the trail. 18 minutes and only 2km later, I decided that this was an exercise in stupidity. I was either sinking through the icy crust, or falling into holes other people had made. But I just could not make myself stop and turn around. I thought that maybe it would get better when I hit the main trail. It did get better, but was still more about trying not to get hurt than it was about getting a workout.

The smarter thing would have been to turn around at the start, and just run on the road. The amusing thing is that I didn’t even think about that.

What I did was finish the workout, then go home and start looking online for a pair of racing snowshoes.

Which I ordered today.

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Whose Sport Is It?

When my daughter said she wanted to give up soccer and instead run cross country in high school, I admit I was a little disappointed. She’d been playing since she was 8 or 9, and it seemed a shame that after all those years and all that training she wouldn’t play at the high school level.

Or maybe a bit more accurately: it was a shame that I wouldn’t get to enjoy sitting in the stands for 4 years watching high school soccer games.

One of the problems with youth soccer in the U.S. is that players who want to be really good end up playing virtually all year. Outdoors in fall and spring. Indoors over the winter. Camp in the summer. Footskills sessions. It requires a lot of time, and a lot of miles logged on parents’ cars. After a while, instead of being fun it becomes a grind.

I realized this, having coached some of her teams and seeing players become burned out. So despite my own selfish desire to see her play on the high school pitch, no way was I going to question or discourage her choice.

The dirty secret of youth soccer (and other youth sports) is this: in many ways it’s more about the parents and coaches than it is about the kids.

To see this firsthand just drive down to Lodi (Ohio) on a Saturday, which is where all the “premier” teams play. You’ll see an army of kids dressed up to look like little professionals, with matching warm-ups and equipment bags. You’ll see parents wearing their own team gear, as if they were there to see Manchester United play Chelsea. The worst part is what you’ll hear: parents and coaches yelling — at the kids on the field, at the referees, sometimes at other parents. Parents and coaches talk about “our” team as if they were out there playing.

When I went to coaching school, right about the time my daughter started to play, one of the teachers (who was from Scotland as I recall) said something I never forgot: when you are standing on the sidelines yelling instructions to your team, who are you doing it for? You or them?

In that instant I had one of those “aha” moments of understanding. All that stuff that parents and coaches do is for their own egos, and not for the kids.

So when my daughter decided she wanted to give up the sport she’d played for so long, I was immediately brought back to that moment, and my answer was clear.

Next: Why I Ended Up Loving Cross Country

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