Getting Back On The Horse..

As fall has arrived and the tree’s colors are beginning to change quickly, most runners are probably taking time off or finishing up their last fall race before the snow begins to fly. I’ve decided to use these weeks to continue laying down a solid base and hopefully continue it through the winter months in order to be more ready when marathon training begins in early 2014.  My two mains concerns after my 2013 racing schedule were: figuring out my race day nutrition and getting stronger.  I will tackle the nutrition piece in another blog post, so today’s post is more about my upcoming training schedule that will allow me to get stronger.

I am lucky enough to have a gym on-site at my work with a personal trainer that is available to train me as long as I schedule in advance the training the session.  I have not taken advantage of this up until a few weeks ago. I had a brief discussion with the trainer on what my goals were for the “off-season” and if he thought we could put a plan together that would help me achieve those goals.  He agreed we could make that happen and a couple days later he presented me with a plan to do so. My goal is to get stronger, not more bulkier or be able to push a car, but to get physically and mentally stronger so during my races I feel like I have more to give over the last 1/3 of the race vs. feeling completely wiped.  I know nutrition will aid in accomplishing the above thought but I think being both mentally and physically stronger will aid in that goal.

The plan is for me to lift two days a week and follow a three week plan before switching up the activities.  Each lifting day consists of three supersets of three activities each.  Within each superset there is an activity to focus on upper body, lower body, and then core.  Again my goal is not to bulk up but to strengthen what I already have.  Day 1 activities include: squats, dumbbell bench press, crunches, swiss ball leg curls, bent over rows, deadbugs, bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, and planks. Day 2 activities include: split leg squats, incline pushups, V-ups, side lunges, pullups, sharks, shoulder press, lateral raises, and oblique twists.

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!

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.

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 🙂