Tag Archives: training

Hitting the ‘Reset’ Button

Deep breath … I’m hitting the ‘reset’ button.  There, I said it. It’s official.  For as great as my 2015 was, from a running perspective, 2016 has been just as far in the opposite direction.  For those who’ve followed my blog, I’m sure this isn’t a surprise.

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My miles are lacking.  My motivation is lacking.  I haven’t been blogging as much as I’ve liked and basically been absent on twitter.  Why?  It’s not fun to talk about running when running isn’t fun.  I came to that realization this morning – prepping for the Marquette Trail 50 felt like a chore.  And I have enough of those already.

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running when it’s fun!

Running should be fun.  I was reminded of this yesterday while listening to a podcast, hoping to get the inspiration to knock out my scheduled 22 mile trail run this morning, before my wife left at 10am.  This required me to get up in the 3s.  I don’t like getting up in the 3s.

Anyway, back to the podcast – it was great.  Diz Runs.  Check it out.  In this episode he was interviewing Sally McRae.  She’s one of the reasons I got into running ultras.  The video ‘Western Time‘ by Billy Yang sucked me right into the idea of trail running and ultras.  I had a lot of fun with it the last year and a half.

But recently things have changed.  I got off to a bad start this year and have felt like I’ve been playing catch up ever since.  Playing catch up is hard enough.  Playing catch up while training for a 50 mile race is pretty much insane.  And probably stupid.  Which is why my knee hasn’t been feeling good.

During the podcast Sally made a comment about one of the runners she was training – very nervous about running a particular distance.  Sally asked her if she’d feel better if she ran the shorter distance and the runner answered yes, and that’s what Sally recommended – because running should be enjoyed!

Flash forward to 3:15 this morning.  I woke easily, walked downstairs, began working through my stretching and that’s when I came to the realization (while thinking about yesterday’s podcast) this wasn’t fun.  And remembered, yes, running should be fun.

So … what do I mean by ‘pushing the reset button?’

  1. I’m not running Marquette.
  2. I’m going to find joy in running again w/o the pressure of training for a race.  Whatever distance / terrain sounds fun, that’s what I’ll run.
  3. I will get back to running consistent 20-25 mile weeks before I pick another race to train for.  I do have a couple in the back of my mind (Detroit Marathon / Stone Steps 50k in Cincy in the fall), but I’m no where ready to commit.
  4. I need to spend some time working on my core strength.  And my knee.
  5. I need to drop about 6-8lbs.

Dude – you’re not running Western States!

Yes I am.

Remember, this blog is my journey to Western.  Good.  Bad.  Whatever.

Another thing I learned from the podcast yesterday – you can have a bad year.  Sally had one that she basically had to scrap due to injury.  Then she came back, built a strong base, and came back and crushed it.

I’ll be back to crush it.

Tentatively – I think I can push my first 50 miler to Indiana in April.  And then Mohican in June.  But we’ll see how the rest of 2016 goes.

For now – I’m going to grab a beer and enjoy this beautiful May day!

Have you ever hit the reset button?  How’d it go?

What’s your favorite beer?

Cheers!

 

 

 

No head. No heart. No feet.

Ultrarunning is hard.

I was supposed to run 20 miles this morning for my log run leading up to the Marquette Trail 50 mile run in August.  Except I only ran 5.  Actually I covered 5 miles, but most of the fifth mile was spent walking, reflecting and watching satellites zoom overhead.

Yes, ultrarunning is hard.  And I’m likely dropping from the Marquette Trail 50 miler again this year.

After the 50k I ran on January 2nd, my running imploded.  I intentionally took a couple weeks of rest / relaxation after that race, and then some things happened at work over the course of a few weeks – some planned and some not – that impacted my ability to run what I wanted / needed to run.  After that much time of inconsistent running, my head was out of the game.

Within the last couple weeks I realized that if I’m still running the MT50, and I still planned too, I had to start training seriously.  Except – one can’t just jump right back into training for an ultra without really training to train for an ultra.  It was foolish think I can hop right back into running 35 mile weeks right out of the gate after not running that kind of mileage for a few months.  And so I sit here with a with pain in my knee and pain in my foot.

Just after starting my fifth mile this morning, I stopped to watch a satellite zoom across the sky.  Once I started hobbling forward again, it was only a couple minutes before I stopped again.  My heart wasn’t in it.

At that point I realized I had – No head.  No heart.  No feet.

It’s also at that point I realized ultrarunning is hard.  It’s not just training for the miles, but it’s training the mind.  It’s training yourself to get up at crazy hours.  It’s training yourself to run through shit weather.  It’s training yourself to push through pain.  It’s training yourself to sacrifice time with family.

What I learned this morning is – you can’t just jump back right to where you were.

So with that … I don’t know.

I don’t know what’s next.  Will it be an ultra?  Or a marathon?  Half marathon?  I’m not sure.  I need some time to heal my knee and my foot.  I need some time to rebuild my head and get my heart into training for something again.

 

Running and a different kinda race …

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I love Nascar.  Are there other ultra runners out there who are Nascar fans?  I’m guessing a few but not many.  For whatever reason, they seem like different crowds.  Perhaps not though – both groups like to drink beer.

My brother’s getting married next month and I took him to Martinsville for his bachelor party.  The two of us, our dad, and nine other guys drove down to camp for the weekend and enjoy some racing – on the track.

 

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I’ve been to quite a few races, but this was the first time attending a race since I’ve started running seriously.  I thought it’d be a great opportunity to see the campground in the early morning hours vs. the typical late night.  I expected to see the aftermath of the previous night’s mayhem and have folks give me a hard time about running vs. drinking but neither happened.  Both of my runs were pretty quiet and uneventful.  One guy asked me how many laps I was planning on running, but other than that folks just watched me roll by.  Or run by.  Or slog by – whatever you wanna call it.

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#brothers

Note: a bit of advice – if you do go to a Nascar race, and you camp, and you can rent a private port-a-john, do it.  People are gross.  Anyway …

I enjoyed the peace and quiet for a bit both mornings.  Everything at a Nascar race is LOUD.  The race is obviously loud, but so is the camping – people blaring music and the generators running.  I am not a fan of the generators.  So taking time both mornings to run was awesome.

The whole weekend was a good one – we had fun, the race was great (although my driver didn’t end up doing so hot), we had some good food (my first Martinsville hotdog – I ate 7 over the weekend), played some yard games and enjoyed a few beers.

Now that I’m back from the race, it’s time to get back into the swing of things.  Training for the Marquette Trail 50 starts tomorrow.  Goodnight!

Do you like Nascar?

Ever been to a race?

 

Running into darkness …

Out the door, down the driveway, start the watch, run … I reach up to my headlamp and click – I’m instantly swallowed by darkness.  And I love it.

A few months ago, on a whim, I turned my headlamp off mid run.  There was supposed to be a meteor shower that morning and I wanted to see some shooting stars.  I felt distracted by the headlamp so I turned it off.  I instantly noticed a sky full of stars and it was awesome.  I saw two shooting stars that morning – not as many as I’d hoped, but these were the first two shooting stars I’d seen while running.

I find myself time and time again, especially when the sky is clear, reaching up to click myself into darkness.  I found this to be a similar experience to when I first started running without music.  Dropping the music made me feel more in tune with my surroundings.  Dropping the light took it to another level.  It’s me and the morning.  And it’s beautiful.

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It’s amazing how well our eyes adapt.  And I don’t even really eat carrots.  What I found is the headlamp gives me tunnel vision.  Running w/o the light seems to open up the world around me.  It’s hard to explain.  But it’s cool.

Dude – you’re crazy for running around, in the dark, with no headlamp.

Eh.  Not really.  But I think safety is still critical.  Given that, here are my tips for running into the darkness … should you decide to give it a whirl.

  1. Wear a headlamp.  When I see a car coming, I click the light on so I’m more visible and then generally step off the road to let it pass.
  2. Wear lights on your back.  Even though my headlamp is off, I have red flashing lights on my back.  Nathan makes a cheap clip light.  Get one.
  3. Wear reflective gear – that’s really a given whether your headlamp is on or off, if you’re running in the dark.  I’m a big fan of the Amphipod xinglet.
  4. Run known routes.  If you know where the pot holes are, it’s much easier to relax and enjoy the run vs. looking at the ground for something that’s going to twist your ankle.
  5. I don’t recommend trying this in the snow.  It’s too hard to tell what’s good from a footing standpoint.
  6. Relax and have fun!

Do you run in the dark?  Ever tried to click the light out?

Cold weather hydration tips

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running below zero

I know, I know we’re half way through February and I’m just now giving you cold weather hydration tips.  But here in Michigan – it hasn’t been cold!  I suppose everyone who reads my blog doesn’t live in Michigan though.  Perhaps you’ll find some of these tips useful.  Worst case, we can pull them out again next year a little earlier in the year.

So while it hasn’t been too awfully cold this year, I do live in Michigan.  It does get cold and I’ve run for multiple hours below zero in a single run.  People have asked me – how do you keep your hydration from freezing?  I’ve asked other people how they keep their hydration from freezing.  Here’s what I’ve learned from my winters of running …

  1. The smaller belt clip bottles from Amphipod and the like don’t work for long runs.  I’ve literally had to throw them on the ground mid run to try to break up the ice to get to any water from them.  No, I have nothing against Amphipod, I wear their Xinglet on every run.  The problem with the bottles though – they’re too small so they freeze up quickly.  And since they’re small, I’d need multiple on a long run and that meant I didn’t get to all of them frequently enough to keep them moving and ice free.
  2. Preheat bottles before your run.  Whether you take warm water, mix your drink with warm water, or stick them in a pot of hot water – make sure it’s warm when you leave.  This serves two purposes – obviously it takes longer to freeze, but the warmth against your body will be nice as your body warms up at the start of the run.  I’ve had UD bottles out for 2 hours, below freezing (low teens I believe) and kept them flowing this way.  By the time I got home my Tailwind was a bit slushy, but I could drink it.  If you drink the Tailwind when it’s still warm – it’s not bad at all.  Warm water, eh, I don’t love it, but if it allows me to drink I live with it.
  3. If you use the UD bottles, squeeze a little air through the valve after your drink.  I suppose this would work with any bottle really.  This clears any liquid that might freeze the valve shut.
  4. If your hydration pack fits under your jacket – wear it under your jacket.  Mine fit under my old jacket and the warmth of the body keeps everything flowing.  You look silly, yes, but you can still drink when you’re 2+ hours into a run.  Besides, if it’s -3 who else is outside to see you look silly?
  5. Hydration bladders can be tricky.  Once you take a drink, blow the tube clean of liquid.  The tube will freeze quickly otherwise.  Realize as you blow back into the tube – you’re pressurizing your hydration pack.  This may force liquid back into the tube if there’s too much air in the bladder.  It’s a delicate balance and one that I got wrong yesterday.  I had to run the last hour w/o any hydration after my tube froze.  If you’re using the hydration bladder, stick the end under your, or down your shirt, to keep the valve from freezing.
  6. Drink more often.  The more often you drink, the more often the bottles are used / moved.  This motion keeps them, and the valves, ice free longer.  Set a reminder on your watch to drink.
  7. Pick a loop that keeps you close to home / car / something else where you can replenish your hydration if things do freeze.  If you leave water in your car, make sure it’s warm and in a thermos.  Otherwise it will freeze too.

Those are my cold weather hydration tips after a few years of running through Michigan winters.  Do you have any others to add?

 

When work calls – run!

I woke up Tuesday, about 4:20am, with the intent of running about 7 miles.  Typically when I get up, my first stop is my daughters’ rooms to tuck them in so they don’t wake up cold, cry and then wake my wife.  As I was tucking in my oldest my phone began to vibrate – work was calling.

*sigh*

I’m a computer nerd.  Actually I’m an ex computer nerd who manages a team of computer nerds.  And when the computers aren’t happy – we get called.  Computers don’t care if it’s 4:20am and a run is on my schedule.

I won’t bore you with the details, but it quickly looked like I would not be enjoying my morning run.

Fortunately though, after spending about 40 minutes on the phone with one of my team members, life on the work front was once again happy.

At this point, I could’ve fired up the teapot and pressed a cup of coffee and read the news.  Or crawl back in bed for a quick nap.  Both sounded great.  But I saw my running gear on the chair beside me – waiting to go enjoy the snow.  And that’s what I really wanted.  Rather than bail on my run entirely, I ran 4 miles instead.

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I can’t remember the last time I only ran 4 miles.  But you know what?  It still felt great to get out and enjoy the brisk February morning.

My advice to you – the next time work calls, or something else unexpected pops up – run!  A short run is better than no run in my book.  I think you’ll feel good about running vs. being annoyed that your original plans were spoiled.

Happy Friday!

What’re your weekend running plans?  I hope to run somewhere around 14 miles tomorrow.  It’ll be a cold on in Michigan!

Next up => 50k at Pinckney Recreation Area

Next up => 50k as part of the Trail Marathon weekend at Pinckney Recreation Area.

I began the year with hopes of returning to the KalHaven Trail Run, where I ran my first Ultra last spring.  I thought it’d be cool to see what a year of Ultra running would do to my time.  Unfortunately work had other plans.  And by work, I mean me – I’m the one that originally scheduled this maintenance window (I’m a computer nerd) without checking the schedule against the races I wanted to run this year.

*Sigh*

Thus, the last few weeks – since I realized I can’t run KalHaven – have been a bit off the rails from a running perspective.  There were other reasons too, but I’ve already covered them.

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Winter training – trying to dig out of the Hole

Truth be told, after the minimal running over the few weeks, I was also starting to fall back into the Hole.  A few days ago my alarm went off to run, I silenced it, rolled over in bed and told my wife – I need to find a race to run this spring so I can get my shit together.  I then went back to sleep.

Well, I found the next race and I’m pretty excited about it.  I’ve never run out at Pinckney, but I’ve heard awesome things – especially the Potowatami trail where we’ll be running.

I’d considered it earlier in the year, but dismissed it thinking there was a conflict between it and the 5k at our local Nature Center where I’m volunteering and my daughter is running the kids run (her first run – she wants to learn to run w/me this year – awesome!!).  Well – upon further review, the 5k is Saturday and the 50k is Sunday.  Woohoo!

Now that I have my sights set on a race that I can train for, here’s to digging the rest of the way out of the Hole.

In other news, it’s Super Bowl Sunday – who are you rooting for?  I knew you’d say the Broncos! – Go Broncos!

Also, what’s your go to beer, or wine, or spirit, for the game?  I’m going with Bells Hopslam.  It’s awesome.