Post Marathon Recovery & Getting Started Again

After any race that I have done no matter the distance (sprint triathlon to half-Ironman triathlon to marathon) I find it tough to let my body recover doing easier or no workouts. I have just put in months of training building up my weekly distance and time commitment, only to force my body to slow down.  Experts will argue how much time you should allow yourself away from running and I believe it varies amongst the person.  If you’ve been running awhile and are feeling a little burnt out I don’t think there is a problem with taking a few week break before resuming your training plan to get that spark and excitement back for running.

After running the Sioux Falls Marathon, I had to drive 3 1/2 hours back to Fargo before I was off to San Francisco the very next day for a week long conference for work.  Spending nine hours in the airport and airplanes was necessarily what I would suggest to friends after running a marathon.  My legs felt surprisingly well the during my travel day to San Francisco and except for a little soreness after the 4 1/2 hour stretch from Chicago to San Francisco, I don’t think I hobbled too noticeably.  Like anyone who works out knows, usually it is the second day after a race or hard work where your legs feel the worst.

I brought my running clothes with to San Francisco as I didn’t want to take the whole week off so when I awoke Wednesday and felt considerably less sore I put on my running clothes and headed down to the gym at the hotel. I knew running outside could leave me very vulnerable if I was any considerable distance from the hotel if a sore muscle or tired legs would surprisingly show up.  I ended up running for 2.25 miles, which seemed to drag on forever.  On Thursday my legs seemed to be back to normal so I took off towards the Bay Bridge and ended up putting 6.33 miles in along the pier.  This picture was taken right before I headed back to the hotel.

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I was able to get one more run in San Francisco before I headed back home to the Midwest.  I’m back in my routine of running 5-6 times a week, but however next week I will include two days of strength training and will cut my running down to 3-4 times.  I plan to create my training plan that will get me through Christmas here in the next days and will share it on the blog once it is complete.  I don’t plan on running another race until the spring unless I’d pick up a short 5K or 10K here with the wife, however I’d like to continue to build my base and have my springtime training for my marathon make this past training look wimpy.  I need to be stronger over the last 1/3 of the marathon and I’m determined to make it happen.

Please share any questions or comments below and I will be happy to answer them. Until next time, Happy Running!

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Sioux Falls Marathon Race Recap

I knew going into this race that sub 3:05 is a special time and it would take a special day to achieve it.  My training, my diet, my lack of injuries, and mental preparation had all been spot on.  There was not an inkling in my body that hinted that the day ahead would be nothing less than spectacular.  As I woke up on race my morning I was pumped and ready to get the starting line.  I ate my bagel and yogurt which followed my plan and made my way to the starting line.  With a 6:45 am start, it still felt like night when I arrived at Howard Wood Field.  Seeing the parking lot and track full of runners, the butterflies settled in my stomach.  There was over 500 runners looking to accomplish the same goal as me…to finish the Sioux Falls marathon. 

I found the 3:05 pacer as my plan was to run with him as long as I could and hopefully leave him in the dust once we hit mile 20 or so.  There was quite a few guys (who were similarly aged) who had the same idea.  With the smaller field for the marathon and 3:05 being a fast pace I was one of the first few guys to toe the starting line. BOOM! Went the gun and we were off.One of the biggest mistakes a marathoner can make is going out too fast.  When the gun went off I told myself repeatedly, “You are running faster than you think, you are running faster than you think,” and told myself to stick with the pacer and he said his goal was to run consistent 7:03 miles from mile one through twenty six. 

Mile 1 worked on just getting us out of town which felt like a ghost town as not many residents were moving yet.  As I hit the mile 1 mark, my watched showed 7:13.  I told myself I was just getting settled in and my next mile would be on pace and to just stay relaxed.  Mile 2 featured what seemed to be the hilliest part of the race.  This race has been called one of the flattest so I hope you don’t think I mean I ran up the Rockies or anything when I say it was hilly.  I reach the Mile 2 marker and the watch read 6:47.  I was now 8 secs ahead of the pace and my body felt like it was settling in well.

Shortly after mile 3 I saw my wife and daughter for the first time on the course.  It’s always nice to see people along the race course but seeing your family is always a sweet moment.  Miles three through seven seemed to fly by as I knew I’d see Carliie and Madie again around mile 8.  My splits starting at mile three were: 6:57, 6:53, 7:18, 7:13, 7:32.  As I came out of the Harley Davidson dealership I saw my wife’s vehicle and knew they were just up ahead.  I yelled ahead to my wife to have my water ready and as I approached I unwrapped one of my energy blocks.  As soon as I swallowed half of the energy block my stomach clenched.  It felt like a calf muscle cramping up, except in my stomach.  I was brought to a halt and knew this needed to work itself out or Boston was not going to happen.

When my stomach relaxed 10-15 secs later I took one last sip of water and took off again.  Mile 8 was clocked at 8:05 and by mile 9 I was back down to a 7:35.  I knew being about 90seconds behind was too much too early.  I was really hoping I would see people over the next few miles to keep my spirits up, however this was thetime to put 3+ miles in on a bike path, near the airport, far from fans. By the time I reached the half-marathon mark I was pleased with a new unofficial PR for a half-marathon, however I knew I was 6 minutes behind my marathon pace.  When I saw Carlie and Madie at mile 14, my spirits were at the lowest they have been in quite awhile.

I had wanted to accomplish this goal so bad and it set in that it wasn’t going to happen on this day.  From miles 14 to 21, I just put one foot in front of the other.  I didn’t want to try and discect why I had stomach cramping earlier or complain about the warm, humid air or place blame on something or someone. My mile splits weren’t great and  I walked through the aid stations but I was accomplishing another marathon, something that .1% of society does.  When I saw Carlie and Madie for the last time on the course at Mile 21, my attitude was the complete opposite of when I saw them before.  Seeing them was exactly what I needed and although there was only five miles left to go, it would be the five toughest miles yet.

The last miles seemed to crawl by like I remember them doing in Minneapolis in 2007 at my first marathon, but a runner’s kindness that the running community knows so well was in full force.  If you saw someone that was walking for awhile you encouraged them to come with you as you passed.  Everyone told each other they were doing great and that they were almost there.   I’m always amazed that you rarely know too many people at the starting line, but you feel like good friends by the time you reach the finish line.  As we turned onto Oxbox Ave the finish line was in sight.

There were quite a few volunteers helping direct the parcticipants into the appropriate chutes as both the marathon and half-marathon had the same last seven mile course.  I had told my wife that unless I was really close to the BQ time, either slow or fast, I wanted to get Madie from her 20-30 yards from the finish and carry her across with me.  I will write a follow up post discussing why this was important to me, however as I grabbed her from Carlie my calves wanted to cramp with each step.  I held her tightly and hobbled/ran across the finish line.  I had done it. I had completed my second marathon. 

A few THANKS I want to give out:

-The man and woman at mile 8 and 20 that were handing out bags of ice.  With the warm humid weather these were a very much appreciated surprise.

-All the volunteers that worked the aid stations. They would shout out if they had water or powerade so you knew what you were getting 15-20 ft before you got to them.

-To my wife Carlie for lugging Madie around and seeing me at four different spots on the course.  It always great to see spectators but seeing your fans make you want to run faster and make them proud.

Only Days Left To Go…

It’s that time again to look back and review my progress but more importantly look forward to the race that is getting closer day by day.  When I resurrected my running routine back in the early part of 2013 I had a goal of running the Fargo Half-Marathon.  This is a big race in our new hometown and continues to grow each and every year.  As much as I wanted to do the full marathon I reminded myself that I just had a daughter in early February and good sleep and “extra” time might not exist for awhile.  After completing the half-marathon in a time that satisfied but kept me hungry, I knew I needed to go after the full marathon distance again.

The past couple weeks of training have been very much a confidence booster.  On my long runs my body has been feeling great and on the shorter days or tempo days I feel like I’m truly “following the plan.” I use a training plan to not only keep my training structured but keep myself accountable and make it hard for myself to “skip” a workout.  Today I had an easy 6 miles where I didn’t look at my pace but kept telling my body to “keep it slow.”  When I got done my phone showed a 6:43 pace! It’s positive thoughts and vibes from here on out.

What If People Looked At Their Health Like A Competition? With Cash Rewards..

Everywhere you look another report comes out stating that as a society the United States is one of the fattest (most obese) countries in the world.  In each report it doesn’t say that the United States is making strides in the right direction however, it mentions that we are getting fatter and fatter.  If you want a guess as to why this is the case, take a look at grocery carts of others next time you are at the grocery store or maybe take a bike ride around restaurants during dinner time and see that there is a wait even on a weekday.

As consumers we are more worried about how long dinner is gong to take us to prepare than what is actually on the plates we serve to our family.  We are willing to sacrifice a nutritious meal for our children if it saves us 20 minutes as our days already don’t have enough time in them.  Rather than giving our kids fruits and vegetables for a snack, we listen to their pleas for fruit snacks with their favorite cartoon character on the box.  There as been talk of company’s raising their health premiums for people who’s health levels are not up to par.  This could include whether a person is a smoker or not or maybe if there body fat percentage is an unhealthy range.

I would like to see the government do the same and take it a step further. (I am not an advocate for the government to get involved in many things for the record.)  What if every year you got an annual physical where they checked your body fat percentage, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels and gave you a tax credit if you met the healthy level standards.  This would encourage people to get yearly physicals and hopefully help diagnose health risks or problems for people before they become a serious condition and also give a reward for being healthy or making strides in the right direction.

I am not sure how much of a tax credit would be appropriate as I have to think more through on the possible health care reductions as a healthier society ages vs. a increasingly obese society.  However by encouraging healthier lifestyles and rewarding individuals for doing so, healthcare costs should decrease, especially amongst the middle to later aged demographic.  Stay tuned for future updates to this plan…change doesn’t happen by stagnant activity, but by acts driven by a purpose.

Marathon Training Update: Knee Injury, New Shoes and Speed Workouts

The last month has seen some of my training highs and lows since I started running again in early 2013.  After running a “slow” 6 miler on Friday, I woke up Saturday (7/20) with a swollen knee. My knee felt like a rubber band that someone was stretching to it’s max and all it wanted to do was snap.  I had a 18 mile long run planned on Saturday and rather than further injuring myself I took to the ice and advil plan.  I know how much it helps to get the long runs in during training for a marathon, but knew I still had plenty of time to recover, get some long 20 mile runs in, and still be in great shape come race if I just was smart about this swollen knee.

After five days of resting my knee, it was feeling great so I ventured out for a 2 mile run with no pain during, after or the following day.  I slowly was ramping my mileage back up and have been very careful since ensuring I listen to my body and treat it like a delicate tool.  Although there is no high like crossing the finish line on race day like I did in May at the Fargo Half-Marathon and plan to do in Sioux Falls in just a few short weeks, great training runs are a close second.  The marathon plan that I have modified is to run a sub 3:30. My goal has been the entire time to run a 3:04:59, the qualifying standard for my age group, so for all the speed workouts I’ve increased the speed at which they were to be done.

The speed workouts have reminded me very much of my high school cross-country training days besides not having the large group of people to push you through the  800 or mile repeat.  Although they many times can be tougher than a long run, the pain from them is temporary and once it is over, the feeling of what you just accomplished can leave one speechless.  Every time I have one of these speed workouts I can’t wait to run that day and almost get jittery at work with excitement.  As I write this blog post I’ve already been looking ahead to when I have 800 repeats again.

Lastly, I made a change in the footwear department.  I will write a more extensive blog post about my reasoning on why I decided to make the change, but I am enjoying my new New Balance 890v2’s.  Through five runs now I continue to like the feel of them more each time and am looking for a pair of race flats for New Balance for future marathons.  For the Sioux Falls marathon I have decided to use the New Balance 890’s that I have been wearing for my training as they will be broken in but should still be very comfortable over the 26.2 miles.  Please check back for my extensive post about why I made the switch the New Balance as I feel very passionate about this decision and encourage others to do the same.

I hope everyone has many happy miles in their training and upcoming races! I already am giddy about the Sioux Falls Marathon on September 8th when I will look to crush my PR of 4:13…by hopefully over an hour 🙂

Initial Thoughts: New Balance 890 Running Shoe

When I recently discovered an old pair of running shoes that I had been moving around the country with me (without me knowing this) the thoughts of all my previous triathlon races and full marathon experience came rushing back to me. I had put quite a few miles on this old New Balance shoe and had 4 pairs of this shoe over a couple summers. I took note of the style number and reached out to both New Balance and my favorite running store (www.runningwarehouse.com) to see if they knew what the current style of the most similar shoe would be. They both responded quickly with the 890.

At the time I was only about 100 miles into my Saucony Ride 5’s so despite my excitement I told myself I needed to get my money’s worth out of the Ride 5’s and then I could make the decision to switch once I wore them out. As much as I enjoyed running in my Ride 5’s, something about the 890’s made me want to give them a shot. Not sure if it was the color choices, knowing that the company still employs many Americans to manufacture their shoes here in America, or the numerous memories in my old New Balance shoes and wanting to give them a shot again.

Either way as I approached 400 miles I decided it was time to get the shoes from the Running Warehouse (@RunWithTheHouse). I put them in my closet and paitently waited to finish wearing out my Ride 5’s. Today was the day (7.30.13) that I was ready to start breaking in a new pair. I only had a 6 mile run on my training plan so I knew I could suffer through it even if these shoes were not comfortable or they caused pain…but how could they, I was so sure they would perfect.

When I first put them on I was astonished at the fit. Running Warehouse has a Shoefitr program that suggests what size to get in a new style based on how your old shoe fits which made knowing what size to get while ordering online very easy. The shoe was constructed of different materials than my Ride 5’s and you could quickly tell the 890 was a cut above the Ride 5’s in quality.

With the shoe fitting very comfortably right out of the box, I took off on my 6 mile run. Around mile 3, my right foot had some slight discomfort however it went away a quarter of a mile or so later which has me thinking it was stride related vs. a new pair of shoes. The rest of the run went very well and finished the run with an average pace of 6:59/mi. I always get a “high” from new equipment or a new route, but wow I felt good.

Overall, I am very pleased with the initial run in the New Balance 890 shoes. I look forward to many more miles in them and hopefully will have multiple pairs of these shoes like I did with my old New Balance running shoes.

New Balance 890

July 10th Training Update

With less than two months to go until my next race, the Sioux Falls Marathon, my training is kicked into high gear.  My training plan has me running 5 days a week with Thursdays and Sundays being my rest days.  Monday’s are a speed workout day with my plan calling for 16 x 400’s with a 2 mile warm-up and 1 mile cool down. Most people might find it weird but I enjoy speed workouts with repeats as it breaks it up and allows me to stay focused on one thing at a time.  While racing I try to do the same thing breaking the long race up into smaller chunks that make the total race more manageable.

Tuesdays are a 5-6 mile recovery run after the speed workouts on Monday.  Most people wouldn’t call these “short” runs but that is what they are for me.  Wednesdays I would consider my tempo run days. For this workout today I had a two mile warm-up followed by 3 reps of 2 miles run at a fast pace with a 3 minute break between reps. These workouts like my speed workouts have 1 mile cool down at the end.  After a rest day on Thursday, Friday is similar to Tuesday in that I just go for a short run to get the legs going again.  The distance again is usually in the 5-7 mile range.

Saturday is when I let it all hang out. Okay it’s not as bad as it sounds but Saturday is my distance day.  Each week I’m usually adding 1-2 more miles on than the previous week and it’s my chance to simulate different nutrition ideas in an effort to understand my body better for race day.  My training plan usually has these runs set a “steady” pace, however my goal is usually to run a solid first half of the distance and then run the second half based on how my body is feeling.  I’m more worried about getting the distances in than my speed but when my body is feeling good like it usually does it’s nice to come home strong.

I have also been using my foam roller from TP Therapy on a regular basis to help my muscles stay loose and ready for the training.  Doing this is a new practice for me since about early June so I’m not an expert yet, but I do feel like I’m making good strides in taking better care of my body ahead of time so it will limit my injuries.  I’ve also been doing some research about different supplements that I plan to start taking to help with joints and also recovery.  I plan to discuss my findings in a future post regarding the supplements and the effects I feel once I begin taking them.  If you would like to share any experience of supplementation that you have done to be proactive about your body’s health and prevent injuries please leave it in a comment below.  I look forward to many more miles in July and early August as I get prepared to hopefully BQ in Sioux Falls!