Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Back to Basics Works (Again)

I'm recently (and still, it seems) recovering from a hamstring issue. It's healing, slowly, but healing nonetheless. Sunday, I decided to test it out with an eight mile, progression run (gets faster each mile). Normally, an eight mile run is not a big deal. Unfortunately, I had not been that far in two months. While all in all, the run went well, there were a few middle miles when it DID NOT seem that way. The next few paragraphs describe the choices I (we) have when things aren't going as they might.

As with any experience in running or work or life, there are three possible scenarios that exist at that point when one realizes that things aren't going so well: 1) We can continue going through the motions and simply hang on till the end, 2) we can fold up the tent and call it a day, or 3) we can get out of your comfort zone and try something daring and yet familiar at the same time. I chose number three. The daring part: pick up the pace. The familiar part: go back to basics to do it.

There are three basics at the very core of running: feet on ground (biomechanics), breathing and overall relaxation (physical AND mental). Choosing a nice downhill, I asked myself, "doing okay?" Upon receiving an extremely weak but affirmative answer, I decided to pick it up. The pace increase was noticeable. I lasered my consciousness on running efficiently and relaxed and went into what I call monitor mode: feet landing well and pushing off easily? Check! Hands and face relaxed? Check. Breathing under control? Check! Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Amazingly, although not really, the change was nearly immediate. I knocked off a quicker mile and I felt fantastic! The seventh mile was even faster and considerably under my early pace and despite a decent size hill in mile eight, that one was quick too. Somehow I had turned lemons into lemonade and what could have been a rough finish into a fabulous run. Back to basics, as per usual, had worked.

When faced with a difficult task, rely on what you know. Draw strength from your basics. It's the ninth inning in the movie For Love of the Game, when Billy Chapel (aka, Kevin Costner) discovers that he has nothing left and his quest for the perfect game may be over. He lets out a deep breath, closes his eyes and says, "Okay, three more. Like I've done a million times."

I rallied on the run. Billy pitched the perfect game.

We all have it in us to reach back and rely on our basics to achieve when troubles arrive. In sales, maybe it's customer service or product knowledge. Maybe it's simply relying on knowing that we can finish what we started because we have so many times before. Whatever our basics might be, they are the key to turning it all around. They are the key to high achievement.

Marcus Garvey said "If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life." 

What are your basics? Run on.

Monday, April 13, 2015

On a Roll

This morning I ran 4 miles. It wasn't particularly fast and nothing impressive happened whatsoever. But this morning I ran 4 miles and it was the third day in a row after a very inconsistent, injured month.

Saturday's run was in a lovely place near Elyria, Ohio called the bridgeway trail. It was the perfect place to test a hamstring: flat as a pancake and sea level! I might have only run 3 but it was the fact that it was occurring without an unreasonable amount of hamstring discomfort. Yesterday, back at altitude for an easy 4 in the Cherry Creek State Park woods. Again, flat, easy and the woods. Doesn't get better than that. That brings us to today where an easy 4 was another step in the progression back to legs that work without over-tightness, cramps and knots. 

I don't mean to get, heaven forbid, optimistic here but the three runs and the fact that I've lost 11 pounds in just a bit over two weeks has me there. Hoping for more steady progress and a fall of racing. More to come. Run on.....

Friday, April 10, 2015

There is a Reason They Call it the DREADmill

Well the last time I wrote here some two and a half months ago, a streak was over. At this writing I would LOVE if I were on a streak and it was over. I have run twice in the last three weeks. What's the problem? Hamstring!, 

Nothing happened. No trauma. It just got tight. I backed off. All to no avail. The discomfort got to the point where I always felt that if I ran a little harder, it would pull. SO, being the conscientious, wise runner, I decided to take a layoff. First a week. Tried things out, not better. Then another week.

This time I had a revelation. I thought, well, this hamstring is a problem when I extend, so what if I didn't extend? What if I ran on the treadmill where you pretty much drop your legs down more than extend or lift them. Great idea!

The first 12 minutes went well. Then, disaster struck. I decided to take my shirt off (getting hot). So, again being the conscientious, wise runner, I maneuvered the wires on my headset, threaded them oh so carefully under my shirt and began the removal process. All went well until the shirt got caught and I began heading backwards (and there isn't a lot of backwards on a treadmill).

My wife, Linda and I disagree on what happened next. I maintain that had there been nothing behind the treadmill, I would have slipped off the back, possibly fallen, but been pretty much okay. Unfortunately, there was a Swiss Ball lodged between the treadmill and the wall. When I hit it, it bounced me back. When I bounced, the treadmill (now quickly becoming the DREADmill) sent me back again. And so on and so on until I leaped to freedom.

Damage? Jacked up hamstring AND the biggest bruise of my entire life (covers the ENTIRE back of my leg butt to knee), a DREADmill burn that was huge (imagine a nasty floor burn), two other cuts and a bonked head (hard to damage that). And, to boot, a very damaged psyche.

That was a little more than a week ago. Tomorrow, I head to the Carlisle Reservation, a park near Elyria, OH where I have been the last few days. I'm going for a run. Wish me luck.

By the way, that audition I was hoping to land with OK Go? Forget it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTAAsCNK7RA