Saturday, December 31, 2011

Unsatisfactory Assessment.

Back in December of 2010, I set my running goals for 2011. There were eight. Assessing the past year, I find that I didn't quite accomplish many of those targets. Here is the recap:


Goal #1.  I will run every day in 2011. This one was successful. I ran everyday, with the shortest run being 3 miles and the longest being 22. The streak is presently at 462 days, my fifth longest streak (I have another year and a half to surpass the longest). My best week was 78 (week #41) and the best month (October) was 299.

Goal #22700 miles. Accomplished as well! Finished with 2788 which is the tenth best of my 46 years of logging runs. That brings my career count to 97,802 which should place in in a great position to get to 100K before the Mayan calendar stops.

Goal #3Three Marathons. One. Napa Valley, run easily.

Goal #4Qualify for Boston. Not even close.

Goal #5.  To FEEL like a runner again. I got close to this one. I lost 32 pounds between Jan 1 and Thanksgiving (have put on five since then though). It'll take another 20-25 to get to feel lean and mean.

Goal #6.  To connect with a plethora of new running friends and to reconnect with many old ones. Didn't happen. Ran alone almost exclusively.

Goal #7Half Ironman. Nope. This became mostly a financial issue.

Goal #8TimesHAHAHA. Ran ONE race. There were no times.

I suppose I could be discouraged, but I'm not. The most important goals which have to do with commitment and dedication were the ones I met. The rest were extra.

So, I'm like many of you, am looking forward to 2012. It's going to be a great year!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Return of the C.A.T.

Once again, a storm blew in early this morning and we received about 3 inches of snow. Once again the roads were snow packed, slippery and just plain pretty messy. 

"Three inches," you say, "that's nothing." In the big winter storm picture, you would be right.  Here in Colorado, however, I would rather get two feet than two to six inches. When snow is measured in feet, a wonderful thing happens: the rookie drivers stay home. But I digress (well, maybe I don't).

Three times during this morning's run, I watched cars slide in a plethora of directions: toward me, away from me, all over the place. I escaped today, without incident (so did the car and driver). Why do I mention this uneventful event? Because with a little thought, preparation and a good system, you'll escape too. So what follows is what I believe to be the most important winter running tips of all: The Three Tips to Safer Winter Running.

Tip #1. Ask a Tough Question. The first question on a hazardous looking day should be, "Do I really need to run today?" If you're like me, the answer is "YES, of course I do. I run all the time."  The next question, however, is the biggie: "Do I need to run outside?" The answer to this question revolves around one thing and one thing only.... SAFETY. The decision is simple, if it's dangerous to run outside, I don't! Your ability to take responsibility for this decision is critical. My motto is simple: when in doubt, don't go out! And that goes triple for running in the dark in the snow. But if I decide I will brave the elements, Tip #2 comes into play...


Tip #2. Prepare.  Once committing to the outdoor run, it's time to prepare. This consists of two things: my clothes and my route. I will not pontificate on what to wear. You can get that advice anywhere. I will, however, say this: what you wear needs to work for you as far as protection and comfort. If you're fighting your clothes, winter running is terrible.


To me, the bigger part of preparation is where you will run. From the first snowflake through spring, I pay close attention to the streets that get plowed (and how quickly), the neighborhoods that remove snow from sidewalks and overall traffic patterns. It would be great if the trails were well manicured, but usually they are not. I will say, however,  the Denver area includes some of its trails in the snow removal protocol and this is certainly helpful. Most often, however, I'm taking to the streets. Before heading out, however, I spend a good amount of time constructing the safest route given my knowledge of the area.

Tip #3.  The C.A.T. System.  I approach my winter run with one irrefutable rule: Vehicle vs. Rich = Rich loses (the same goes for you). In deference to that rule, I run the sidewalk whenever I can. Often times, especially when the storm is happening during the run, the street can be the safest place. It is that occurrence that activates the C.A.T. System.


C. Car.  I ALWAYS run FACING traffic. I joke that I do this because I want to see the look on the drivers face when he/she hits me. In reality I face traffic because, yes, I want to see them but mostly because I want them to see me seeing them. As a vehicle approaches, I try to identify something about it. Is it an SUV, a truck, a little compact car? Right off the bat, I equate the type of car with the driver's potential ability to maneuver. Next I check speed and control. Is their speed appropriate for the conditions? Are they under control? If any of these checks create nervousness, I retreat to the sidewalk or anywhere well off the road.

A. Awareness. Once the car has been evaluated, I look at the driver to see their level of awareness. Are they on the phone? Do they appear to be seeing me? Do they look petrified? Often I will wave at them (a hello wave, not some other gesture) to capture some semblance of awareness. The other part of awareness of course is activating my own heightened awareness. I don't wear headphones when I run, but if I did, I surely wouldn't be doing it on the winter street run. By the way, just following the C.A.T. System will elevate your own awareness. Again, if their lack of awareness or my own nervousness about them sends me a red flag, I retreat.

T. Tires.  C and A have taken all of a couple of seconds. Most often the car has to be evaluated and awareness activated very quickly. In traffic (more than one vehicle coming), I multi-evaluate. Finally, as the vehicle gets closer, I lock in my sight and complete awareness to the TIRES. It's mighty difficult for that vehicle to slide your way without the wheels locking, so my eyes become totally fixed on the tires. I've escaped a few incidents in my time because I saw it coming before even the driver knew it was happening. Any indication of locking wheels or a loss of control sends me retreating as well, and as you can imagine, QUICKLY. Remember our formula.... Vehicle vs. You = You Lose!
The lure of the spring race, for many of us, means training in less than desirable winter conditions. Keeping these tips in mind will not insure that you will never have an incident. But safety is first for me and hopefully you too. Decide first if running outdoors is your only alternative. Remember: When in doubt, Don't go out is a good guideline. If you must venture into the elements, prepare ahead of time and use the C.A.T. System to make your winter running a little safer.

Run safe!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Goal Setting: Runner Style!

"If you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you. If you go to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you. Whatever good things we build end up building us." - Jim Rohn

"An athlete who tells you the training is always easy and always fun simply hasn't been there. Goals can be elusive which makes the difficult journey all the more rewarding." - Alberto Salazar

"Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success." - Pablo Picasso
 
Tomorrow is December 1st, we will be one month away from the New Year. January 1, for many, is a time for setting resolutions for the coming year. I guess that's okay, at least it's a harmless tradition linked to sending out the old and bringing in the new (it's also a great way to deal with the guilt of holiday overindulgence).
And while I suppose resolutions are nice, anyone really trying to plan improvements for their lives for the coming year and beyond is carefully setting goals NOW (many are in this process throughout the year). The biggest difference between a goal and a resolution is this: we intend to achieve your goals. Resolutions are meant to be broken. What follows is my handy, dandy procedure for goal setting. It works in my personal life, my business life and is completely applicable to my running life.

First, let's get some things straight about goals. Some folks say that you should set achievable goals, ones that are not too difficult. Others say you should shoot for the moon (after all, what if you want to take a minute off your 10K time and only drop it 53 seconds - that's not too bad). I believe both. You should probably have goals that are easy, difficult, short term and long term. So let's start with the list. A list? Yes. Write them down!

While studies vary on the effectiveness of written goals (including the classic Harvard study of 1953 which has since been found to be questionable at best in its reliability), one thing is clear: writing down goals help imprint them on the brain and gives you a place to go to remind, focus, and renew yourself. It also makes them mobile (which is not to say that your mind isn't mobile). Also, by writing down goals, you can complete some other important goal-achievement activities.

I begin by writing down everything I want (need, desire, want to attract). I like to sticky note them with one goal per note. Basically I divide my goals into areas of my life. My categories are: Family,  Physical (here's where my running goals go), Business/Work, Social, Financial, Emotional/Psychological, and Spiritual. Some goals overlap, but mostly the system works for me. During this time of goal writing, two things are important: 1) that you set a flexible timeframe for your writing and do nothing but write what you want (I like 10-15 minutes according to how long it's been since I last did this task) and 2) that you believe there are no limits.

The list, and the process I offer that follows will lead to goal clarity. "Goal clarity," Ron Willingham wrote in The Inner Game of Selling, "is having clear, specific, written descriptions of what you want to happen in your future." Willingham also believes that goal clarity releases what he calls achievement drive, an energy we all possess but seldom use to its capacity. Achievement drive creates focus. A workout that is part of a plan toward a goal is more effective than one done to simply be done. I see this big time in my own training.

Once the list is finished, give each goal a timeframe. Because these are real live goals, not resolutions, your timeframes could be any length. Some will fall nicely in the 12 months or less group. Some will not. Having said that, once you examine your goals, you will find that some are more short term in their nature, some long. Here are my classifications:  less than 3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-36 months and 3 years +.

Next, prioritize your goals. Which are most important? Take 6-12 high priority goals (or more if you are an overachiever) and write a paragraph about WHY you will achieve each. Not how, why. The why is the benefit for you, the answer to the question "what's in it for me?". At this point, we're not concerned with the HOW of our list. As Tony Robbins says, "get a big enough WHY and you'll figure out HOW." Also, make sure your goals are written in the positive, and as many experts maintain, in the present tense (I am, I do, I weigh, I earn…).

Most goal/resolution projects end here, if they even get this far, but I ask a bit more from myself (so I will request it of you). Make a list of the resources you have to help you accomplish your goal. Who can help, whether it's encouragement, participation, accountability or financial. It's easier to achieve a goal when you have the support and/or input of others. Be careful here. You must be extremely selective about with whom you share your goals. The last thing you need is someone who will offer only negativity to your process (and execution). We can and will generate enough of our own self-defeating thoughts, we certainly don't need any outside assistance.

Look for models (no, not THAT kind of models). Identify other runners that are models of the runner you will be once you have achieved your goal. Ask yourself how they got to be who they are and what you could learn through modeling them. Maybe meet and chat with a model or better yet, run together and observe how they do what they do.

Then, let's list our potential obstacles. I teach that behavior is predictable. I know that also means MY behavior is predictable. Generally I know what gets in my way. If I examine potential obstacles early, I can create strategies to avoid or overcome them. One huge obstacle for runners is injury. So plan breaks in training, incorporate injury prevention protocol in your daily/weekly routine.

Finally, for each goal, create an achievement plan. What do you do to make it happen? Or maybe, how do you STOP doing what you do that sabotages your efforts? Log miles, write about workouts in as much detail as you can stand. Your log/plan becomes a daily, weekly and monthly checks and balances system that keeps you firmly targeted to your outcome. I like to look at my goals weekly and refer to parts of my plan daily. It's like your weight, if you check it only once a month, you may be in for some bad surprises. Check it daily and you can halt problems long before they actually become problems. The great thing about running is that it lends itself perfectly for monitoring goals.

You know you better than anyone, so institute a plan that you can make work. Whether it's affirmations, a buddy who holds you accountable or self floggings – stay on the plan (knowing that the beauty of any good plan is your ability to be a little flexible).

So, now we're ready. We're lean, mean goal machines. All that's left is taking some time and beginning the process, developing your goal mindset and achieving your dreams. Have fun, be brave, accomplish great things!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rationalization: My Body Needed the Rest!

Eight days ago and four and a half hours into a flight from Lihue to LAX, I began sneezing: couldn't stop. Upon landing in L.A. the sniffles jumped on the bandwagon and by the time I arrived in Denver, I should have known: I was getting sick.

"But I don't get sick," I always say although that's not completely true as I tend to adopt a cold every year and a half or so. But that's what I verbally send to the universe when symptoms arise and nine times out of ten, I don't get sick! It works. This time, not so much. Saturday was exhausting, Sunday even worse and by Monday.... full on bad, bad cold.

When you are a runner with a cold, you have decisions to make. When you are a runner with a cold on a consecutive day streak, you have a bigger decision to make. Monday, when I felt absolutely like death was a better option than how I felt, I was at 422 straight days. I chose to run!

Historically, I run through most colds. Frankly, for me, it gets me outside, away from my germ filled self-environment. It also clears my nose (where my colds typically begin) and doesn't hurt anything in the process, especially when I am free of fever. And I actually feel better after the run, at least for awhile.

I suppose I am obliged to mention that the last two months have been pretty good on the mileage front. I have averaged about 70 miles a week and continuously turn out long runs of 16-21 miles weekly. The last two weeks, however, have brought a plethora of the usual aches and pains associated with overdoing this kind of pounding, cyclical activity. Right hip flexor, right calf, left hammy and finally... right knee. The right knee got so bad that I resorted to icing it!

It is also worth mentioning, as well, that in the last month I have done considerable traveling. Nothing exciting. Teach a class until 5 pm, hop on a evening flight to wherever, teach the next day until 4 or 5: repeat. Maybe I sleep four hours a night, if I'm lucky. While I love teaching away from home, the traveling part is not only NOT glamorous, it is tiring. Through this little traveling stretch, the upside of this has been the consistency of my training. Two double digit runs in Yakima and Anaheim, one in Huntington Beach, Portland and Poipu. 

Anyway, in retrospect, this was all leading to the Great Collapse of 2011. Today, seven days into the Collapse, I still feel pretty crappy but considerably better than two days ago. I have managed to run four miles a day and while I think that to be a monumental effort given my near terminal condition, I will look back on the weeks mileage with disappointment (although a good 40 mile run tomorrow could salvage the whole thing, but Dean Karnazes, I am not). Wise friends and acquaintances share that this particular cold going around is a ten day to two week version, so I rest with patience (not really).

A positive result of this little setback is that my hip no longer hurts, my knee pain has disappeared and my legs on the whole feel pretty good (although tired). Maybe, just maybe, my body has been telling me something. I just wasn't listening. Of course, in 45 years of running, this is the first time I didn't listen to my body's messages.

Yeah, right.... Next time though.....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nike and American Express Were Right!

The last thirty days has found me doing an increased amount of traveling. Traveling, as many of you know, is not the glamorous, wonderful experience many believe. Fun traveling? Maybe. Going on a real vacation could be extremely enjoyable. But business traveling, not so much.

So what I have successfully done in my latest flurry of biz travel focuses on two things: preparation and running.

In the past, I have spent WAY too much time tweaking slides, inserting last minute content and stressing over everything being just right. Don't think I'm not prepared, quite the contrary. I'm just doing much more of the stressing prior to departure time, leaving me extra time to do one of my favorite things on a trip: RUN!

Running anchors the trip and each day on it. It gives me an activity that is very much a normal daily thing when I am in an abnormal setting. Because running melts stress, I have eliminated much of that pre-class anxiety. Last minute class insertions still occur, but now they come within the confines (or lack of confines) that the run gives. Clarity and focus? No problem.

The key to the whole thing is simple: Just Do It! I make it a point to carve out the time for my run no matter where I am and what else is going on. During a macro cycle of between 65-70 miles a week, I have included traveling weeks of 66, 66 and 70 miles. Finally, I seem to have it down.

Other benefits of my run-on-the-road protocol are: 1) I sleep better (and sleeping on the road is NOT easy for me); 2) I am more focused during my classes and meetings; 3) I simply do a better job.

I love doing seminars and classes all over the planet. I'm one of the lucky ones who really does something that I truly love.  The run, well, it makes it even better!

The run: Don't leave home without it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Peaceful Place

I'm finding that my running, in the past few weeks, is in kind of a peaceful place. While I'm not actually training for anything in particular, I am most definitely training. My log shows the last five weeks at an average of 70 miles a week. The pace varies, according to how I'm feeling any particular day. The only time Mr. Garmin is turned on is when I'm exploring a new route or monitoring my heart rate. On a weekly basis, a run of 15-21 miles is thrown in for good measure.

I'm on a real roll at work. The next three months are busy, busy, busy. As a speaker/trainer I am happiest when I am writing new content, booking gigs and delivering the message. Maybe my run training has subconsciously evolved to be exactly what I need at this time, a peaceful place where everything slows down a little.

I suppose I could label this phase as base building. The coach inside me would find it quite questionable that I would be running without focus or intent. Luckily, the coach inside me must be enjoying the time off as I feel no need to label this time of training and feel no guilt about not "training for something." Having just written those last words, it dawns on me that I am training for something - I am training for me. That's all, just me out running on my planet as I feel, connecting with whomever and whatever I choose. Wow.... does this make me one of those zen/chi guys?

Maybe there is an early spring marathon in my future. Not sure, maybe there isn't. I know one thing for sure, there is three inches of new snow on the path, it's a bit nippy and it's time to lace up my shoes... 

Peace.

Friday, October 14, 2011

From the words of Dean...

"The marathon mercilessly rips off the outer layers of our defenses and leaves the raw human, vulnerable and naked. It is here you get an honest glimpse into the soul of an individual. Every insecurity and character flaw is open and on display for all the world to see. No communication is ever more real, no expression ever more honest. There is nothing left to hide behind. The marathon is the great equalizer. Every movement, every word spoken and unspoken is radiant truth. The veil has been obliterated."
- Dean Karnazes

Monday, October 10, 2011

I'm Sorry, Tim Tebow, But I Just Don't Care!

Tim Tebow
Facebook and Twitter are lit up! All of my friends are talking about it.... Tim Tebow led the big comeback yesterday and the Broncos ALMOST won (actually isn't it only a real comeback if you win?)! Is it Tebow time? I don't know, but I will say this: Here we go again. I will also say this: it doesn't much matter to me.

It's not that I don't like Tim Tebow. Heck, I don't even know him. And it's not that I'm not a Bronco fan ...... well, I'd better not go there. It's just that 1) the guy hardly played last year (his rookie year) and has seen extremely limited time (even at practice) this year. Even John Elway wasn't John Elway for a few years. So maybe we could just sow down a little here. and 2) I was busy this weekend.

Kara Goucher and me
Saturday I ran long. It was snowing, the wind was blowing and it was chilly. I finished strong, very strong (talk about a comeback). Then I religiously cheered for my Ironman favorites, Chrissie Wellington, Mirinda Carefrae, Craig Alexander and Chris Lieto for hours online. These are remarkable athletes who only wish they made in their careers what Tim makes in a season (not Tim's fault, by the way). In between, I supported the Denver marathon Expo and was lucky enough to get to chat with Kara Goucher, one of the world's finest female distance runners. I didn't really have the time to ponder upon how our Denver football team would do on the following day. I hit the sack early having done quite a bit.

Chris Siemers: Best Sunday performance in any sport
Sunday I was up at the crack of dawn watching Ryan Hall shoot for victory in the Chicago Marathon only to be thwarted by Kenyans. Again, I was relegated to watching this international event online as ESPN was showing Poker, or Bowling for Furniture or some important sport like that (thanking Al Gore for his wonderful invention). Then it was off to Wash Park to watch the Denver Marathon go by. First, Chris Siemers, who did nothing less than run the fastest marathon ever run in Colorado AND qualified for the Olympic Trials at altitude. Siemers, by the way, has to have a full time job to make ends meet despite his incredible prowess. Then, one of my favorite runners, Josh Cox came by. Josh, the American record holder for 50K had been in Hawaii the day before with sponsor obligations, caught a late flight, and used the 26.2 mile course as a training run in preparation for January's Olympic Marathon Trials.

Josh Cox 26.2 mile workout (6 min pace)
Then.... it was off to the Highline Canal and my ten mile tempo run. Talk about a comeback (#2 for me), 2:30 faster for the second five miles. I felt strong and satisfied with the day's work. Upon arriving home, I checked on the final Chitown results, looked for some post race interviews and took it easy. Around 5:30 or so, I was just in time for the last minute of Tebow time. Ohhhh, so close. So, the big question now is: Is It Tebow Time?

I like Tim Tebow. I wish him the best, not just for him but also for the so-called experts to be wrong. I also have nothing against the Broncos (well, until they play the Lions later this season). It's just that I'm too busy being involved in the things in and around what I actually DO, in my life to be a spectator or a fan of something else.

George Sheehan once wrote, "From the moment you become a spectator, everything is downhill." And for me, he is right. I'm still more than active enough and involved enough to be excited about the world to which I can relate first-hand. Everything else is, well, just not that interesting to me.

Perhaps this makes me a tad weird. I accept that. I suppose there could be room in my life for football, basketball and the like. But, there isn't and I'm okay with that. So Tim Tebow, I wish you the best. I just don't actually care, okay?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Somebody Stop Me!

I just began reading Dean Karnazes book "Ultra Marathon" last night and think I am in severe trouble. This morning I went to http://www.ultrarunning.com and then listened to podcasts on www.competitorradio.com of Dean and Mike Wardian on my run. If that wasn't bad enough, prior to writing this post, I seriously considered entering the Greenland 50K, held next May here in Colorado. The only thing that saved me was registration doesn't open until January 1st!

Maybe by New Years I will have regained my senses.

I've run 97,000 miles and 15 marathons. Plenty of folks have run MANY more. My longest run was a thirty mile jaunt three decades ago and I did run the Pikes Peak Marathon when it was 28 miles, instead of 26.2. In my forty-five years of pounding the pavement, the temptation to go further than 26.2 has had the overall appeal of ripe skunk carcass. Until now.

Before I do anything desperate, I am attempting to identify the source of my madness and I think I am narrowing it down. First, I don't run 2:58 for the marathon anymore (and honestly 3:58 seems like alot of work right now). I suppose I will put one together on a good day and be happy with the result, but for the most part being semi-speedy is no longer my forte. So I guess that means I go longer, right?

David Carner getting buckled!
Then, I seriously want to blame my friends. Long time friend, David Carner just buckled at the Leadville 100 mile, his fourth such century undertaking. Up in Canada, my friend Lisa Miller is talking about some thing called the Death Race.... What is wrong with these people? And how and when did they implant this malfunctioning chip into my brain?

Finally I blame Al Gore. If it were not for the invention of the internet, I wouldn't have seen that the winner in my age group (I turn 60 for next year's racing) averaged 11:02. Conspiracy? Maybe!

In the next three months prior to the opening of Greenland registration, I will be counting on my moderately sane friends to talk me off of this ultra ledge. Unfortunately, I think it'll take some serious talking...

Friday, September 30, 2011

For Ideas Lasting Longer Than Four Hours, see a Psychotherapist

When a neighbor heard that I had done the unthinkable, actually run 21 miles, they asked this, "What do you think about for that long?"

First, thank God they didn't say "I can't even drive that far..." Next, I've heard this one before and usually my answer to this often asked question is some self invented cliche like, "anything and everything," or "running," or "nothing at all." What I wanted to say was, "You're awake 16 hours a day, what do you think about for that long?" But I didn't (can't get too flip with the neighbors). Instead I made the biggest fun mistake of all and answered the question in vivid detail.

It must have been brutal for them. They thought they were asking something simple like "how are you?" and was expecting an equally simple answer like "fine." But, no. I went into the differences between a run like Monday's, where survival and disassociation from soreness were the primary thoughts, to Saturday's 10 miler in which I believe I nailed what is my next motivation-oriented class, or maybe even my next book.

So, I pontificated... "Well, first, there are people who associate when they run, they really get into their bodies and how it feels. Then there are the people who disassociate with the run. These are the ones who listen to music or a book or a podcast. For some reason, I have never been able to listen to music when I run, not sure why. Lately, I'll go with a book or a podcast about running or something like that, but not very often. I mostly run in my head. Speaking of podcasts, they have some great ones at http://competitorradio.competitor.com/. Anyway, most of the time, like I said, I disassociate from the run by associating with my brain. Which, maybe means I'm not disassociating at all. Hmmm, I don't know. I'll have to think about that, maybe on my next run!

"You know, I blogged about this once," I said. "It was early last year http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2011/01/rightside-running.html ("Doesn't anybody read my blog?" - Barney Stinson). I do my organized, checklist kind of thinking in the beginning of the run. I'm more logical, sequential, informational. Early in the run, I am a WHAT kind of guy. I make lists, check things off old lists and I am organized beyond the capabilities of mere mortals. Once a few endorphins have been released, however, the thoughts become more simultaneous, more about context than text and I begin to look at things within a bigger picture beyond the lists and details. I become a WHY and/or a HOW kind of guy. It's a beautiful time. Like I said, I've created entire classes, speeches and presentations on a good day and at the least, solved the world's problems on a bad one.

It was apparent after a minute or so that my inquiring neighbor had bitten off a little more than their ears or mind could chew. At this point, I had a choice: I could release them from this auditory agony or remain in full verbal flight in the hope that I would never again be asked such an inane sort of question. I chose to press on.

"You know, I love what John Parker Jr. described in his running classic, Once A Runner. 'When the trance broke and a word or phrase popped into his mind, his dizzy mind played with it like a seal with a beach ball, in a disturbing, gibberishly mad way.' 

But of course, that beach ball thing is what leads to the good stuff. After the disturbing, gibberish, mad stuff comes the clarity.

"Clarity can't be hurried and sometimes it doesn't come at all. Some runs are simply mental gibberish. Now that's not to say that I am unreceptive to life's gibberish (well, I don't have much use for politicians), I enjoy the random exploits of my mind's beach ball. The good ones, however, produce quality stuff. On that ten miler, Saturday, I thought of this quote about hope.... geez, I wish I had written it down, or told my iphone. Oh well, it'll come back - or not.

"I really like it when my run leads to something that winds up being a step forward. Saturday it was clear as it could be: The 4 Pillars. And then there was that hope thing - what was that....? It'll come to me. Anyway, running is really sort of like a mental and physical performance enhancer."

Then, like the executioner who decides there may be hope for this doomed person, and maybe they don't really deserve this, I pardoned them from further lingual torment. But before we parted, I had to fire one last shot. 

"Yeah..... it's alot like sex. There's all the fooling around before you get to the good stuff. And sometimes the fooling around is the good stuff. And sometimes it's all good stuff OR not so good at all. Then you hope it's not awkward and it really furthers the relationship in the end. For me, I really like the afterglow though, when I snuggle with my newest cognizance.

"Well, gotta go. I need to shower. Talk to you later."

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Long Run to Nowhere!

Yesterday's 21 mile run had some interesting little footnotes attached. Outside of the Napa Valley Marathon, it was the longest run of the year. Normally, I'm more than happy enough between 18-20 miles for my long run, but today's course had to be either 17 or 21. I opted for the longer run.

The other added attractions for the run were as follows: It brought my total for the year to 2039. In the whole of 2010, I ran 2031, so I have equaled that total with over three months to go. Next it finished my week at 76 miles, the most of any week during this year. Finally, it was the run that boosted my "haven't missed a day" streak to 365 days. All nice things.

The run itself was mostly uneventful. The first couple of miles are the hilliest so they were covered in the 10:20-35 range (trying to keep my heart rate under control). The next few were semi-catchup miles, drooping down to the low 9:50s while at the same time being VERY under control.The mid miles were right around 10 minutes with 13-17 in the 9:30's. After 17, my wife Linda joined me so we ran just under eleven minute pace for the final 4 miles. All in all, the average per mile was right at 10 minutes with an average HR of 142. Both citing an easy, relaxed run.

I certainly won't complain. I had some hip flexor stiffness through most of the run, but recovered well and was only a tiny bit sore this morning for a shakeout six.

I train on despite the fact that the goal of aiming this towards a specific race is temporarily on hold. A few weeks ago when I went to register for the Savannah Marathon, I found it full. Sooooo, I'm actively searching for a suitable replacement. At this time, I think I have it narrowed down to Cal International or Tucson (both in December). In the meantime, train on, right?

By the way, I always love awaking to an international marathon (this time Berlin) on my computer as I ready myself for the days run. Great runs by Patrick Makau (2:03:38 is REALLY fast) and Florence Kiplagat for the victories. Also a shout out to the great Paula Radcliffe, back and looking good!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Buggy Trail Run!

Bugs? No, that wasn't my problem. My problem on this morning's run was that the two things that bug me the most when I'm out trail running both happened AND they both happened with the same person. Allow me to explain.

We all have our little pet peeves. On the trail, I have two. The first, which is not trail-exclusive, is when I am running along (the pace doesn't matter) and an approaching runner says, "hi" and then immediately looks away (usually upward - not sure why). And that's the point, I'm not sure why. If you didn't want to have some kind of a salutory dialogue, why did you initiate it? Of course not everyone out on the run is friendly and I am perfectly okay with that. Heck, in the old days, the nicest thing said to you when running was "Hup, hup, hup."

I don't know. Maybe I'm overly sensitive.... maybe I'm feeling misled.

That brings me to buggy thing #2 (and remember, I got BOTH of them today, so I'm REALLY vulnerable). Approaching runner, singletrack trail, I move off the trail to let them have it, so they move off so that no one has it. What?

I suppose it's some kind of a,

"thank you,"
 
"no, thank YOU"

"NO thank YOU" kind of a thing.

Doesn't mean I get it. Take the trail, say Thanks, if you want. But please don't negate my niceness. I'm doing the best I can to get along with the other humans and every now and then I'd like to think they appreciate it.

Okay, gotta go. Have an appointment with my therapist.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A MILEstone week (pun intended)!

My log and my running-total log tell me that this is a week of milestones.

First, tomorrow I will hit 2000 miles for the year. In all of 2010, I ran 2031, so I'm thinking that I'm having a pretty decent year. The goal is 2700 and I believe it will be close. For me the mileage is an indication of being able to train consistently and without injury. At my age, or maybe any age, these are good things.

Next, on this coming Sunday's run, I will have gone 365 days without missing any. A nice streak - not my longest by far - but a good one nonetheless. Again, the idea here is not so much the streak as it is being consistent in my training and not being sick or injured enough to warrant time off. While different streakers classify "a run" differently, my guidelines are: It must be a run (not a walk) and the minimum is three miles for it to count.

Finally, yesterday at the end of my run, unbeknownst to me, I hit the career milestone of 97,000 miles. Obviously, I owe most of that number to myself, but on an obsessive compulsive scale, I owe my first coach, Al Pingel much of the credit. On day one back in 1966, he said, "log your miles." So, I have.

Hoping to hit 100,000 by Dec 21st of next year. After all, I'm Racing the Mayan calendar. http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2011/07/racing-mayans.html  

After that, who knows....

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jenny B is the Queen Bee!

First, a shout out to Jesse Wiiliams and Lashinda Demus for winning Gold Medals at the World Championships today. Also, if you haven't seen Ezekiel Kemboi's last lap in the Steeple and his victory dance, you're in for a treat (kind of Usain Bolt meets Blanca Vlasic). The link for that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGyBa1_YY4g.

The biggie of the day for this Coloradoan and former Boulderite was the 1500 meter win by Jenny Barringer Simpson. In what was a tactically superior run, Jenny kept her cool, made the move of the day and brought the first 1500 meter gold to the US since Mary Decker Slaney. 

There have been more than a few doubters when Jenny moved from the Steeplechase, changed coaches and set off for Colorado Springs. Looking back, it just goes to show that athletes, at least the smart ones, have a better sense of what they need and should do, than most of the "experts." Jenny has always seemed to have a good head on her shoulders and a huge commitment to doing her best.

Alot of us got to watch Jenny grow at CU and feel like we get to share in a little of this victory with her and with all fans of US Track and Field. But for her, a hard working, flat-out good person, this must be SO sweet!

Great job Jenny!

Speedwork? Getting Closer...

Yesterday I did the aging veteran's version of speedwork: 8 X 400 with a 200 jog rest. I don't remember the last time I did 400's (I'd guess it was spring or summer of 2000 - I could look it up - probably will - well, wait a minute, I'll check my log - never mind).

Nonetheless it was a pretty good workout, although I had considerable energy left in the tank afterward. My goal was to run 1:45 (7 minute or roughly 5K pace - although I really had no idea where I was fitness-wise). 

All in all it was a good day, 1:43, 1:42, 1:38, 1:41, 1:38, 1:39, 1:37, 1:33 and a huge lesson learned. This workout showed me that I need to get a better handle on the "quality" side of my training and stop treating myself so gently. I seem to be stuck in the long slow distance mode and I know better. 

Time to push it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Halfway: Highs and Lows of the World Track & Field Championships!

Well, we're halfway through the World Track & Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea. NBS/Universal Sports scheduled an unprecedented number of hours of coverage and this has been on my radar most of the year. Not only is this a World Championships, but it is also the year preceding an Olympic year. Stakes are high, favorites will be established.

Before getting into my personal highs and lows through this halfway point, let me just say that track and field coverage needs a MAJOR face-lift if it is ever going to be relevant or effective in promoting the sport. This is not football, or basketball or even baseball. Networks need to talk to athletes and avid fans to determine the best way to entertain and inform, before it's too late and a wonderful Olympic opportunity is missed (this topic, by the way, will have to be a whole other blog, some other day!).

Downers.
First and foremost - the coverage. Early coverage was hideous, especially when shots of fans and coaches took precedence over real live action in the distance events. I cannot believe how little of the Woman's marathon and both 10,000 meter races was shown. Somewhere north of 60 million people in this country run or jog. Millions race distances from 5K to the marathon and distance races get little more than a slight nod from the networks. Problem: they don't know how to cover them. So, hey network..... ASK runners and fans! The only thing NBC/Universal did right was to enlist Toni Reavis and Josh Cox for the commentary (even then they had them in some hole in the wall studio FAR away from the actual action). And while I'm on that topic, with the number of commercials being carried every 6-10 minutes, couldn't you afford to have all of your commentators in Korea?
Toni and Josh (uppers amidst the biggest downer)

Other downers:  Allyson Felix getting nipped in the 400 meters, Usain Bolt's false start (now I am not the biggest Bolt fan, but it was sad to see the event without its superstar), and the Robles DQ in the hurdles (the biggest loser there was Liu Xiang who would have won). The time difference is very frustrating as night is day and day is night. I will get used to it, but by then, it's over. It was sad to see Shalane Flanagan drop back in the 10K, but nothing could have been tougher than beating the Kenyans in that race.

Vivian Cheruiyot
Amy Hastings
Trey Hardee & Ashton Eaton
Uppers.  There are plenty. Loved watching the Kenyans sweep the Woman's marathon and 10K. Made me want to hoist my Kenyan flag (didn't want to scare the neighbors, though)! The advancing to the finals of Lauren Fleshman, Amy Hastings, Emma Coburn, Jenny Barringer-Simpson, and Morgan Uceny shows the building strength of female American distance runners. The competitiveness of the Kirani James/LaShawn Merritt 400 meter dual was great. The coverage of both the Men's Decathlon (shout outs to Trey Hardee and Ashton Eaton for going 1-2) and woman's Heptathlon (Wow, is Tatyana Chernova some kind of an athlete or what?) were excellent. An impressive win for Carmelita Jeter in the 100 illustrated close to the perfectly executed race. David Rudisha showed unmatched power in the 800 and Mo Farah came, oh so close, in the Men's 10K.

I'm sure I am missing some of my other Uppers, but I reserve the right to add them later.

Tatyana Chernova
On the whole, the biggest Upper is the meet itself. The greatest track and field athletes in the world meeting in one of the greatest sports events held every two years is enough for me. I'll live through the bad coverage and the occasional disappointment by one of my favorites. But, compared to the dark ages when I competed, the breadth of coverage is awesome. Television (even poor television) and websites like Flotrack, Track and Field News and the iaaf site have been a Godsend.

 I'm looking forward to an exciting final half of the meet. How about you? Enjoy!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Me! 45 Years of Running...

Rich Sands, Wyandotte Cross Country
It began mostly because I didn't want to be embarrassed. The first day of Cross Country practice was Monday and it was already Friday, August 12, 1966. I needed to get in shape fast! So I laced up my new Beta Bullets and went for a run. It was a half an hour long and the only thing I recall is that it seemed like FOREVER!

The next day, I did it again. I took Sunday off (well, it was SUNDAY, right?) and reported for practice bright and early Monday morning. I had no idea what was to come and especially the significance it would have on the entirety of my life.

I wasn't showing up at just any cross country practice, I was going to be a member of Coach Al Pingel's Wyandotte Roosevelt High cross country team, one of the best in the state. The running Bears had been in the top three at state regularly and boasted the defending state champion, Al Ruffner. And, at least in my mind, there were expectations placed on my performance.

In Junior High, part of P.E. was running this thing, ominously called "the distance run." It was actually a mere 3/4 of a mile, but in 7-9 grades, someone must have felt that was a long way. I remember doing it fairly well as a seventh grader, beating everyone in my class. In eighth grade I broke the school record (which was around 4:20) by running 4:02. The next year, 3:36. The next day, high school coach Al Pingel was at class. Game, set, match: I was a cross country runner.

At the morning practice, we warmed up, stretched as a team and ran the workout. It was 6 x 440, followed by some kind of drills followed by the unfathomable news that we were expected to return later that afternoon for a second workout. A second workout? This guy was serious (Coach Pingel, not me). That afternoon, we ran for 45 minutes. He called it the Boston Marathon and it was the first time I had ever heard of that race or run that far. I made it, learning that my body was capable of doing things that my mind wasn't so sure about (wouldn't be the last time for that lesson). I also was taught that day the importance of logging my runs, so I did (still do). The next day, I could barely walk. Somehow, I lived to tell about it.

Cross Country, and then Track and Field allowed me the opportunity to travel to other schools, meet other runners and to experience a part of the sports world different from my earlier participation. I had played some football, a little basketball and I don't mind saying, was an excellent baseball player (pitcher). I liked being on a team, but cross country supplemented the team part with the individual focus. I could run well and win. There was no worry about a shortstop making an error allowing in the winning run or a teammate missing a free throw at a crucial point of a big game.

Those three things: travel, people and the individual challenge were part of the draw for me. They've also been part of the big payoff. As a collegiate, post collegiate, and as a marathoner, I have traveled to places I would have never seen had I missed this golden opportunity. I've made, and continue to make,  some wonderful friends. I've won some races, accomplished goals, ran in a few national championships, represented my country once, and met a plethora of self-directed challenges.

And frankly, I'm not convinced I'd have gone to, or completed college had it not been for my involvement as a runner. I most certainly would not be the person I am today. 

96,656 miles later I happily acknowledge that 45 years ago today, I began a journey that would transform my life with a simple 30 minute run. And while the travel, people and the racing have all been rewarding, I knew that first day that there was something I really liked about the act of running. I wasn't exactly sure what it was, but I felt something.

Running was/is a simple activity, cyclical in its nature. One foot placed in front of the next in order to move forward: to cover ground, to open my mind, to allow me opportunities to escape my troubles or celebrate my triumphs. Mostly, to connect me to and strengthen my relationship with this planet upon which I exist. For that, I am ecstatically, humbly grateful.

John Parker Jr. said it best in his epic story, Once A Runner, "Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Back to the Grass!

Let's begin by making one thing clear here, grass in this headline means the green stuff on many sections of ground, not marijuana. That said .... well, never mind.

In his book, Bowerman and the Men of Oregon, there are a few paragraphs where author Kenny Moore describes sitting on the stadium or track infield (grass) with Frank Shorter or Steve Prefontaine and chatting about the future. Reading that got me thinking and remembering my own experiences with what I will call, Grass Time.

I look at my running life (and maybe my whole life) in three phases: youth, middle age and maturity (better than calling it old age).  In the first two phases, for the most part, I ran with and had Grass Time with people in the same phase of their running lives.

Grass time in youth is future time. In high school with Ed; in college with Geoff, Rick or John, grass time was that valuable time before or after a workout where we parked it on the lawn and yacked the time away. Some time was spent discussing the last race or the upcoming one, but mostly, quality grass time was spent discussing the future. Where were we going? What did we want? And characteristic of our time, How were we going to change the world? There was plenty of time to dream because for most of us, by the time we'd plopped on the grass, there were no pressing engagements clouding the remainder of the day.


We believed that life was completely ahead of us.

The middle age phase of my running was spent living in what I will call "the real world." My fellow grassers, like me, all had careers and many of us had families. Time constraints strangled Grass Time and the result was that Run Time became Grass Time. Because the pace and intensity of workouts was somewhat different than college, most of my running time with my friends was spent on the trails and the roads - places conducive to Grass Time on the move. Some of my fondest memories of this time was Sunday runs with the Boulder Road Runners and Monday night runs with my closest sphere. Sure, sometimes we'd review the latest race or anticipate the next. The topic, most of the time, was now! We'd discuss the fam, the kids, the pets, the job.

We believed that life was right then, right there.

In my maturity phase, I mostly run alone. Grass Time happens in my head and seldom includes me parking my carcass on any lawn contemplating my world or the future. I suppose the natural progression would be that Grass Time in the mature phase would be a reflection. "I remember back in '75 when I almost beat Don Kardong," or "that run we made from Detroit to Mackinac." Looking back, I suppose is somewhat natural. After all, chronologically there are most likely fewer years ahead of me than behind.

The mature phase implies that life is behind us.

Fortunately, we (I) control our (my) own thoughts. "As a man thinketh, so he is," right? 

Grass Time doesn't have to be before or after a run. In fact, Grass Time can be anywhere, anytime and is completely self-motivated and self-directed. Grass time is by you, for you and of you! 

The future is tomorrow and the next day and the next day. They are as bright as we choose them to be. And while I've seen signs on the lawn requesting that animals Keep Off, I have yet to see one that said MATURE RUNNERS LOOKING FOR GRASS TIME - KEEP OFF! So today, after my run, I am plopping down on some finely manicured green dream machine and dreaming of how great life is going to be.

Take a few minutes today and join me. It feels good!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Medium Long Run

I merely lived through my "long" run today. No, not bragging or anything, just stating a fact: I lived through my long run (actually a medium long run).

As I conclude week 5 of the eighteen week plan to the Savannah Marathon, I'm working my way back to the long run. Next week it'll be 14 or 15 (fifteen has always been the benchmark as a "real" long run) and then up to 16, pushing my way methodically to the three twenty mile runs that will eventually place me at the starting line.

I feel a hair behind, but it's okay. I still have several months of wonderful Colorado weather and I can intelligently (hopefully) make up for a hair of lost time. I'm feeling unaffected by this 60 mile week and am ready to pile a little on in the next couple before my next back-off week.

I still haven't missed a day this year and after ending last year with a nice couple of months, the streak stands at 316 days. Maybe I'm not supposed to mention it (don't want the jinx or anything) but the reason I am able to run 316 days straight is because I haven't been injured or real sick in this time frame. To me, THAT is the part that keeps me going.

I'm at 1604 miles for the year, which is pretty much on schedule. The goal is 2700 and with several high mileage weeks approaching in the middle of the next two cycles, I may even have a bit of padding. The goal that may not get achieved this year is the Half Ironman. That will probably get pushed into 2012. 

So I have few complaints at this point. All by itself, that is a big deal!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Speed Work? I think not!

Today was a day for the ages for three reasons: 1) It would have been my 36th anniversary had my ex and I made it past the 17th, 2) I weighed in lower today than any time in the last seven years and 3) I did my first speed/strength interval type workout in a decade. One at a time...

First, my 36th anniversary.  Shortly after our divorce in 1991, she remarried and fifteen years later I did as well. Unfortunately, my ex passed away several years ago, but I still have fond memories of our rainy, car-accidented wedding day.

Next: Weight.... good, but a long way to go.

That leaves the workout. Today I did 3 X 800 with a 400 jog as my rest interval. Originally the workout was to be 4 by 8, but my stubbed toe and a tweaky knee caused a lowering of my expectations. Because it's been so long, I had no idea of what would be the proper pace. With my tempo runs in the 8:20-30 range, I figured I'd shoot for sub 4:00 as a reasonable goal (whooo, breaking four minutes..... oh yeah, we're talking HALF mile here).

The first one felt like I was BLAZING! Oxygen debt came quickly and I passed the 400 in 1:49 wondering why I wasn't on my usual easy run. Maybe a hundred yards later, I began to relax and get into a rhythm. First 800 - 3:45. I have to say that the 400 jog was pretty long, more than I probably needed. The next two passed without incident in 3:42 and 3:44. I didn't push that hard, could have done the fourth rep and probably been 6-8 seconds faster, but I figured I would not press my luck and stay hungry for the next time.

I confess to feeling a little proud of my first "interval" workout. Not because it was fast or anything, but because I planned it and did it! Interestingly, running log research shows I did half mile repeats during the first week of August two other times in my running life. In 2000, I ran 12 x 800 with a 200 jog averaging 3:04 (3:10 marathon that year at age 48). And as a collegian, in 1972, I ran 12 x 880 in Alpena, Michigan with a two minute rest averaging 2:14. 

Makes my 3:42 seem a bit tired, heavy and a hair old. But I'm happy with it. But, oh yeah ..... what about the other nine reps?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Man vs. Computer: Round 4

I'm four weeks into training for the Savannah Marathon and working diligently on stylish abs. Needing a lift, it seemed to be a great time to issue a challenge to my Macbook. If you recall, I have challenged my computer to two previous contests: a five mile run and a max bench press lift-off. (read the run at http://richyacks.blogspot.com/2011/02/man-vs-computer-round-2.html and the bench at http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2011/04/man-vs-computer-round-3.html). Both were in order to extract revenge for the humiliating loss by the humans at the hands of Watson, the computer on the Jeopardy show. Both previous challenges were embarrassing defeats for my Macbook.

Today's challenge: sit-ups.

I have to tell you, I thought I was being pretty generous here. I mean, the sit-up motion is how my Macbook opens and closes everyday. Certainly that would be a fair challenge, if not one stacked to the opposition's strengths.

Result: you're looking at it. Mac never moved. I could have done ONE and been victorious, but in the name of humans everywhere, I knocked off 150 of those bad boys just to rub it in.

Take that, Mac (and you too Watson)! Yay humans!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Market Piggy A Problem

It's just a toe. The big one; the "this little piggy went to market" one. 

It's just a toe and it shouldn't be able to bring down a big boy like me, robbing what was supposed to be a 60+ mile week. But it did!

Yesterday I stubbed my right big toe. At the time, it hurt, but I certainly didn't think it was of a magnitude to be a problem. Today, however, I was able to log a mere 4 miles, half of the eight that was scheduled.

I'm hoping that tomorrow is a better day. The upside is that this is better happening now, in week four of the eighteen week training program, than in week eighteen.

It could be worse. Robert Louis Stevenson said, "It's a pleasant thing to be young, and have ten toes." And while I am not as young as I used to be (except in my mind), at least my toes are still there. Even though the big one hurts!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Racing the Mayans

I was updating my log today and it dawned on me that by September I will surpass 97,000 miles for my running career. If I meet this years goal of 2700, by the end of year I will be sitting at about 97,750 and change. Why does this matter? I'll tell you.

Authors disagree about what humankind should expect on Dec. 21, 2012, when the Maya's "Long Count" calendar marks the end of a 5,126-year era.  I know this: I will have roughly 356 days to complete the 2250 miles I need to make 100,000.  That's  6.3 per day OR about a 10K a day to make 100K. Just in case...

Finally I have my motivation: 10K a day for 100K! Nice!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Not Snakes, Nice Guys and Captain Kangaroo

My run this morning was highlighted by these guys to the left. In a year when I have seen far more snakes than almost any type of critter (are snakes critters?), it was great to see these fine young deer teenagers. they were close enough to almost touch and were not, in any way, shape or form put on edge because of my presence. This sighting capped off three interesting days of runs in the Cherry Creek State Park.

Since the deer were Day Three, I will continue in reverse and give you Day Two. I'm about a quarter of a mile from completion of my morning run when a man runs up beside my wife and me and says, "You don't have to stop running. But, I've seen you out here before. A couple of months ago, you inspired me to extend a run from five to eight miles and I hadn't been that far in ages."

"That's great," I replied.

"You were going into the woods and I had never run in the woods before - didn't even know where the trail went. You looked so easy, almost gliding effortlessly along and I had to follow to see where you ran. I figured you were out here all the time. You motivated me to go further. Thanks for the inspiration."

"Well, thanks. And you're welcome." I said.

I will confess that I DO NOT remember the last time anyone described me as gliding or effortless but I can tell you, it was the highlight of Day Two!

Day One was about thoughts. As some of my somewhat faithful readers know, I enjoy a run for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that it is on the run when I do my most creative thinking. I've written entire classes on my runs, filled the holes of a troublesome presentation, and occasionally solved the world's problems. But on Day One, I went to a place that I have not been in decades and frankly.... a place that was pretty scary. 


Out of nowhere, I began to remember an episode of Captain Kangaroo. Yes, Captain Kangaroo and his theme song hit my head with a vengeance. I could see him jingling his set of keys and setting them on his key hook. Then.... it all came back: Mr. Green Jeans, Mr. Moose, Bunny Rabbit and Grandfather Clock. Wow!!!

So, during week number two of my eighteen week buildup for the Savannah Marathon, I have had three great days of diversion: Deer adolescents, complimentary fellow runners and the Captain.

Sure beats snakes!