Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Reality Strikes (Again?)


So far this year, I am averaging about 47 miles a week. That's not too bad.

All of the miles, however, are pretty slow. We're talking 14 minute pace. I am, nonetheless, still out there logging the miles. 

I've been in Orlando the last three days. First and foremost, most of the places out around the attractions; the resorts, the convention centers, are terrible places to run. No trails, no sidewalks, no bike lanes even. So, in order to get in some miles you either a) take your life into your hands (which is actually just a saying because what you're really doing on these highly trafficked roads is putting your life in other people's hands) or b) you run the hotel grounds, or, I guess c) you stick to the fitness center treadmill. All sucky kind of options if you ask me.

Anyway, I opted for the so called "running track," basically a sidewalk through the hotel grounds. Originally this loop was about 1.5 miles but with a plethora of hotel construction, it has been significantly altered. 

Sunday afternoon, upon arrival, I could only tolerate the loop two times. Then, I headed out to the danger zone to get in a total of 7 miles. Monday morning before teaching an all day class, I ran just the loop, in the dark (who invented daylight savings time, anyway, and why do we still need it?). This morning, another combo run.

All runs were uneventful until this morning.

Being struck with the massive amount of oxygen down at sea level, I got just cocky/confident/stupid enough to quicken the pace. That was a mistake. Knee pop after knee pop after knee pop. Now, I've had runs like this before but not in a LONG time, so frankly, the whole thing was a bit annoying. But also...... a reality check.

My 14 minute miles are comfortable and they get the job done when it comes to the running fix. They don't, however, work if I ever plan to race again (or even do workouts to test my fitness). If that is ever going to happen, it'll be because I had the dreaded knee replacement.

I've avoided even thinking about this mostly because I have little or no interest in having foreign objects placed in my body for any reason AND.... who says they will achieve the desired result? But now, firmly realizing that in order to run any faster, something has to change, I find myself a hair depressed about the whole thing.

Is there an answer here? I actually don't think so. I mostly just want to take what's been in my head today and express it in another, less inward way. So, thanks for being on the receiving end.

Run on.


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Up, Up, Up, Down. Meant to be that way.


So this week was/is the easy one. After a three weeks build (45 miles, 50, 56), it was time to back off a hair AND, it just so happening to coincide with two major events: me going on the road to teach and 2) the latest Blizzard of the Century.

A week ago, I went 12 miles. I was only planning on 11, but got a little carried away and tacked one (well, half of one) on at the end. It was a run the began very slowly for the first mile and a half before I fell into an okay pace (for me). Around 3 - 3 1/2 miles, I felt my knee pop a couple of times (see: http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2020/09/pops-and-buckles-what-happens-to-my-knee.html to now what that means) followed by a full blown knee buckle. Surprise was my most obvious reaction as nothing like this has happened in quite awhile. So, I backed off a bit, hoping to regroup, and not have to call for a ride home. 

Amazingly, the knee calmed down and from about 4-12 was never to be heard from again. 

I won't say it was easy, but I cannot remember the last time I ran 12 miles in one setting. It was clear by mile 9, that by the time I got home (it was a run home kind of run), it would be 11.5. Well, in the world of whole, rounded numbers, THAT would not be tolerated. Thus, the extra.

Followed by a nice run on Sunday, it brought the weekly total to 56, a very good week. It also brought the yearly total to 445.

Because we build training over time, we occasionally need to take it easy. As Dr. Jim Loehr said, "In order to be fully engaged, we must periodically practice disengagement." So the was this week. I did have a nice run this week in Twin Falls, ID. I say nice because Twin Falls is a great place to run.

The trail begins in town (so for me that means near whatever hotel I am residing) and heads over to the ridge overlooking the Snake River. Then it stays across the top until it hits a trailhead the sends you down into the canyon. The whole trail is actually 12+ miles, but for me, it's usually a 4 out, 4 back kind of thing as I am always rushed for time in the morning.

What I did miss was the good run in Boise. Usually when in Boise, I try to go to the Riverfront trail or if I want some hills, to Camelback Park. Today, time was limited so I looped the mall parking lot across the street. Mall running is not my favorite thing, but whenever I am pressed for time, staying near a mall, and running in morning darkness, the mall fits the bill just fine. And for this day, it was good enough.

All in all, a good time, especially for a week of disengagement.

Run on.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Let's Catch Up!

It's gotta be the shoes

So, it's March already and 1) we're still in a pandemic (and we didn't even know what that was a year ago), and 2) I'm still running.....

Yep, the pandemic is still here. 

Race much? Maybe VIRTUAL racing. I did a few of those and have a few more scheduled for the first half of 2021. But REAL racing. Nah, mostly that is reserved for the elite.

But, yes, I'm still going at it. Today is March 2 and I have run everyday this year.... AND.... if you take that "streak" back, it goes to my last day off on October 12, 2020. I won't add that up, I think it's bad luck or juju or something, but it's been awhile. Significance? None except it means I have been injury and sickness free for awhile and that's good!

And yes, I'm still REALLY slow, but I'll tell you what: it still feels good to me.

I was supposed to get my knee replaced ages ago and for many reasons, it didn't happen. Well, unless I decide I want to do some serious racing later in life, I might just pass. As I have written before in this platform, I'm not excited about having someone violate my body with some artificial knee. So, we'll see. I might just be content to get in my 2000+ miles a year slowly.

In the world of super/cheater shoes, the news is everywhere about all the great shoes and now spikes that give you that little extra push forward. Unfortunately, for me, investing that money is kind of silly even if it might drop my mile pace from 13 to 11. Nonetheless, I grabbed a new pair of my present fave shoes, the Nike Epic React in, yes, purple (see picture of my purple feet)!

On the bigger scene, there has been racing to be watched. Flotrack, Runnerspace, and others have been streaming elite track and field and cross country. In fact, my Grandson Mason, will be running in the Mountain West Cross Country Championships on Friday and I can't wait to tune in.

Theoretically, this is all setting us on the path to the 2020, errrrr 2021 Olympics. In order to do that, the U.S.must have the Olympic Track and Field Trials. After heading to Eugene in 2016 for the Trials, I was/am chomping at the bit for this edition. Unfortunately, all signs at this moment are pointing to a spectator-less Trial. DAMN. I so wanted to see the new Hayward Field. Well, maybe at the 2021, errrrr, 2022 World Championships.

No matter what, Spring is right around the corner meaning earlier sunrises, later sunsets, and warmer morning temps. So.....

Run on.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Hello 2021!


So, yeah, I'm a little late on the whole Happy New Year thing. But, nonetheless, Happy New Year! If this writing were just a year in review exercise, it would be two things: very short, and very slow.

My running in 2020 was mostly short and most always slow. But I digress, or maybe I don't. Anyway, I completed 2023 miles in 2020. Yep, I "ran the year" as they say. Of the 55 recorded running years in my life, it ranked 29th as far as miles run. On the upside is the fact that halfway through the year, I had logged a mere 795 miles and was on the way to a disastrous total. Then something happened, but more on that later.

I "raced" three times, all virtual. Two 5Ks and a 200 mile race (that you had a month to complete - so not 200 all at once). The results were not that impressive.  The 5Ks were blazed in slightly less than 34 minutes each (this is by a guy with a 5K PR of 15:09 - and I know that was a LONG time ago). Nonetheless, they were weirdly fun. 

The 200 mile race (The Midwest States 200) was a matter of logging mileage over the month, tracking your time and submitting the results. Well, drumroll please, I finished 2nd. HA! That's hilarious. Well, first and foremost, there were only 5 finishers compared to several hundred in the 100 miles version of the race, so let's not get too excited. Now my time, of 51 hours, 23 minutes, and 7 seconds, would have been pretty darned good in a real 200 mile race. Strung out over a month..... well, not as impressive. But, I'll take it.

Mostly, these three "efforts" were tests so to speak. They were opportunities to push beyond what has become the norm of my knee injured running which is slow, slow, and slow, as not to aggravate the knee. It's something that, for now, I have accepted as the way my running is going to be. I have little or no interest at this point to follow the knee replacement course. That may come, but not now, not yet. So, I run the way I run. Slowly, often gingerly.

It is THAT decision, to just keep running that turned the year around. Somewhere in the middle of the year, I decided it was okay to be slow, okay to walk almost as fast as I run, to be slower than pretty much everyone out there. It is okay because inside me, my mind and my body, I'm still running. I feel the difference as soon as I move from a walk to a "jog." (geez, I hate that word). 

Effort and speed are not the same. Just because you, or Eliud Kipchoge, run faster than me, it does not mean we are not exerting the same effort, and/or feeling the same things inside. Long ago, when I never ran a training mile over 6 minute pace, it felt a certain way to be on the run. Oddly, yet happily, it feels the same today. And that was the change.

And I'm okay with that. For now, and maybe for longer.

Run on.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Something New, Something Old


I've done enough to know I miss it, and I love it. So I'm BACK!

Effective Jan 1, I will be launching my Peak Performance Run Coaching program.

As a runner, I have committed to over 54 years of running and over 116,000 miles. As a Coach, I have successfully guided an Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, Boston qualifiers, numerous collegiate and high school All-Americans, countless State Champions, and plenty of people who just want to find their Peak Performance Edge.

In 1990, I became a Level II certified coach by The Athletics Congress (now the USATF) in the distance events. And while I imagine that certification is too worn out and cobwebbed to still be official, that knowledge is here to stay. Not mentioned in all of this is that while I left the organized world of coaching almost thirty years ago, I never really left coaching. I've focused on the occasional adult runner who needed some training advice, as well as working with family and friends when needed. Time to step up for real.

The website is up. All that is left is a few disclaimers to be written and posted and we'll be good to go. You can get a sneak preview of it all at: www.yourpeakperformanceedge.com

My goal is simple: just like in my sales teaching and coaching, I want to bring out the best in people pursuing something they love. Sounds pretty cool to me.

I look back to the many people that first influenced me to follow a coaching path. Fabulous and giving mentors like Al Pingel (my first high school coach), Dick Swanson (my college coach), Dr Joe I Vigil (the smartest coach I know), Jerry Quiller (who hired me for my first college coaching experience), Jack Daniels (a mentor to all), and Gary Wilson (an fantastic role model). They laid the foundation of my expertise. Today I find inspiration in the coaching of people like Mike Smith at NAU, Lance Harter (at Arkansas), and Mark Wetmore (at Colorado).

I'm excited about adding this fun to my life plate.

Run on (and be coached.......).

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Finish With A Bang! 2020 in 2020!




So, with 26 days to go in 2020, I made a decision. I am going to run the year. While I have spent the last few months analyzing my miles in the hope that I would reach 2000 for the year, I have now shifted to that wonderful concept of running the year you're in. It's 2020 in 2020 and ending the year with a bang.

As has been mentioned in this blog on several occasions, I determine a good running year to be a minimum of 2000 miles. And between a bad knee and this whole pandemic thing, I would consider that a milestone and a heck of an accomplishment.

I'm so tired of hearing that people just want this year to end. You know what? While this year has been tough for a lot of people, there is still much good in this world, so much to be thankful for, and countless blessing to look forward to every single day. And I am taking advantage of these last few weeks to close this sucker out with my own personal bang.

When April 1st came around, I was averaging a mere 90 miles a month. On that pace I would have ended 2020 with barely 1000 miles. That would have been borderline shameful and my worst mileage year since 1967, high school, when we didn't run year round. Since then, however, it's been almost 200 miles a month and a nice turnaround of the mileage year. Instead of Corona-settling, I have chosen to draw my own line further out than where it should have been simply because I'm feeling like ending this year kind of spunky (not to mention with a bang)!

So, as I attempt to end 2020 with a bang, I leave you with the deeply profound words of Marshall, Ted, and Barney: "Bang, Bang, Bangity, Bang, I said ah Bang, Bang, Bangity, Bang."

Run on.



Saturday, November 21, 2020

Catching Up..... BORING!

BORED after reading this post

It's been quite awhile since I last submitted to this blog extravaganza!

Mostly, it's been pretty boring out there on the trails and roads as I trudge along in my pedestrian manner. Also, with no races and pretty much no races in sight, it's boring out here.

A few things to mention: first, and foremost, my knee has been consistently okay. Not great, not super, not look out Eliud Kipchoge..... just consistently okay. I think the knee has leveled off mostly because I don't overly stress it. My pace is slow, easy, and never creates anything close to high pounding or overstriding. Also, being down 37 pounds now hasn't hurt either. Less weight pounding with every step is always a good thing.

Next, it looks like, barring the unforeseen, I might get to 2000 miles for the year. With about six weeks left in 2020 (the banner year for all kinds of CRAP), I'm at about 1760. If I can continue to roll through the 42 mile weeks (which is the norm lately), I'll make it. As I have said many times on these pages, 2000 miles in a year generally means I had a pretty decent year of running.

For most runners, the last 8 months or so has been a challenge to navigate. Cancellation of races has created situations where many "serious" runners are struggling to find the motivation to maintain fitness. Those new to the sport find it difficult to set goals, and stay committed to just the process of getting out there.

For me, the biggest challenge, actually, has been the knee thing. I don't have a problem getting out there every day as this running thing is my refuge, my escape from the world's garbage. So in 2020, with it's never-ending supply of garbage, getting out the door to go on a run is often one of the highlights of the day. The knee has just created a situation where almost every run is the same as the last. No pace changes, no drastic terrain variations. Just me in the Cherry Creek State Park, or the trails near Tagawa Gardens. Don't get me wrong, I am THANKFUL (which is a great thing to be) for my daily jaunts no matter what.

Last, but not least, I have been enjoying the cooler temps during the early hours. This hot summer type days dripping into September and October were kind of a pain (global warming I'm sure). Nonetheless, the 32 degrees during this morning's run was great!

So, that's pretty much the update. Got some news coming soon, but no spoiler alerts to share at this time.

To you and yours, Happy Thanksgiving. Stay Safe. And Run On!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Pops and Buckles: What Happens to My Knee


I was running down the Kestrel trail in the foothills near Boise last night and it happened: my knee popped. Then a minute later it did it again. Then three minutes later, it half buckled. Well, I can handle the occasional pop (even though I haven't had one in weeks), but the half buckle is almost as scary as the full one.

Pops.... Buckles..... what's this guy talking about? Pops and Buckles are the weird things my left knee does to get my attention and remind me that Dr Brian Larkin wants to replace it. AND, they are the things that make me think that this rude, invasive, knee replacement might have to happen.

First, Pops. I don't know why I call them pops because nothing is actually popping. What happens, in my mind (a dangerous place) is that I over extend my knee and it causes a bone on bone shot up my leg. OUCH. They only last a second, but are pretty alarming. Generally, I can have an occasional pop and it's not a big deal. Three or four over a short time span, however, makes my knee progressively sore.

Two things: first and foremost, the bone on bone thing is real. There's not much attaching the bottom of my knee to my shin (the song "the shin bone connected to the knee bone" is, indeed, just a song). Second, as my Ortho Doc Andy Parker says, "Over extend? HA! You couldn't over extend your knee if your life depended on it." Too much arthritis, too much inflammation. Nonetheless, my over extension happens sometimes when going downhill, or when I try to lengthen my stride (go faster).

Buckles are different. Appropriately named, a buckle happens when my knee actually buckles. All support vanishes, the knee decides we're going down, and makes its attempt at causing Rich to take a tumble. Luckily, I'm still coordinated enough, or intuitive enough, that I rarely go down (fall). Only fell twice in these last few years of this knee journey.

I suppose it could be said that this, like many pain and discomfort things, is in my mind. Part of the brain's job is to receive sensation from the body. Maybe David Goggins could skip right through this. Maybe I could skip right through this. But I don't. The Pops cause alarm and I always use them to alter pace and footstrike. The Buckles are just plain scary.

On the bright side, as I have lost weight, they don't occur as much. Well, that makes perfect sense as the amount of impact for the knee to absorb is lessened by weight loss. So there is a part of me that thinks that with enough weight loss, this problem could be nearly eliminated. We'll see.

Yesterday, when the Kestrel trail provided some pops and a half buckle, I think it went better than usual. I said OUCH (and a few other things unwritable), and then walked for about four or five minutes. Started up again and had no further issues (only had ten minutes to go).

All in all, it could be worse. At least I'm still out there.

Run on.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Today I ran 6 Miles....

Today I ran 6 Miles. No big deal. I do that often.

Today, however, followed a 58 mile week and put me over 1200 miles year to date. Now, THAT, is another story.

In all of 2019, I logged 1106 miles. It was my worst mileage year since high school (back when we just didn't run much in the off season). Most of it was about this knee replacement saga. Arthritis everywhere, not much holding the bottom of my knee together. That's the story, anyway.

So, I've always had this arbitrary, self imposed target of a minimum of 2000 miles in a year. If I got in 2000 miles, it meant I'd had a "serious" year running.  Well, if the next four months are like the last two, then Boom, Bam, What...... we just might hit it. Emphasis on the What??????

When I began 2020 and mostly when the pandemic hit, I pledged to myself that maybe, just maybe, I could still run. Maybe if I ate healthier, weighed less, I wouldn't need some metal contraption violating my body to make it happen. Thirty (30) pounds later, I'm getting closer.

Thirty pounds is barely halfway to where I want to be, but I feel like I am on the right path; the running path. And MAN...... I love the running path.

So it's time to step it up. Time to eat even better. Time to exercise even more.

I've got a surgery to postpone for years.

Run on.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

54 Years Down.....



So, It's August 12th, my 54th Runnerversary is today. 54 years, that's 115,410 miles as of right this second.

Today was a trail run. Why a trail run? Well, Trails are better. I love trail runs for a multitude of reasons. I love them because of the scenery. I love them because of the challenge, I love them because they're less crowded. I mostly love them because of the Earth. The Earth? Yep.

The thing about trails is that there is no buffer. Run on a track: buffer, run on asphalt: buffer, run on concrete: buffer. Trails have no buffer.

You, by the way, you (and me) wear socks, shoes.... buffers. Buffers between you and the Earth. It's easier to live with that buffer, I guess. I'm not much of a barefoot kind of guy.

It's okay, most people rarely think about the buffering of running and running surfaces. Most people run to compete, run for health, run for some other reason. Me, I stopped running to win, place, or show 40 years ago. I stopped running to PR 30 years ago (although PRs can always be personally instituted - this is my 10K PR for this calendar day of this year in my life on this course, wearing my red shorts.... you get the picture). Now, I began running 54 years ago because A) it looked like I could be good at it, and B) I liked the way it felt.

As mentioned, I ceased being good at it long ago, but I SOOOOO still like the way it feels. I can be having a bad knee day (something that happens with more regularity than I like) and begin by walking. I can move along at a decent clip, by the way, but it just doesn't feel the same. Then, all of a sudden, I make the move that breaks me into a run and BAM!!!! Everything changes. It feels different in my legs, it feels different in my feet, it feels different in my head, and mostly it feels different in my heart. It's, as they said in Sleepless in Seattle....... magic.

Almost eight years ago on the day I hit 100,000 miles, I wrote this:

"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."

And I am still. 

But back to the original question, why is the trail better? Simple, No buffer. It's me and the Earth, this planet we live on. It's me being connected to and receiving strength from this place where we all live. It's that place where neuro-scientists are beginning to discover for real what many of us have known all along: it's where the world slows down, makes sense..... something about lateral eye movement they're finding. It's the place where I can be me and no one else's opinion or judgment means diddly squat. It is, as Simon Sinek would say, The Infinite Game.

So today, I celebrate this milestone. I'd like to think I could celebrate 21 more of these..... we'll see, right?

Run on.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

My First Races OR How I Became a Runner

Was listening to a podcast the other day and the runner being interviewed was talking about his first races in school. It got me thinking about my introduction to running and racing before I ever put a uniform on my body. FIVE races in five years. And I remember WAAAAY too much about each.

It was fifth grade and the culminating activity of the national physical fitness test: the 600 yard run. My gym teacher Mr. Wenzl had us primed and ready to run this monstrously long distance TWICE (I guess they figured if the first time didn't kill us, they'd try a second). The "track" was simple. We ran the bases of the hardball field. 90 feet to each base, made for 360 feet or 120 yards per lap. Five laps made 600 yards. And without ceremony, we were off!

I have no idea what my time was for the first go round. I do know, however, that I WON! Ah, the taste of victory was divine, short-lived, but divine. I say short-lived because since I had won my "heat," I would be placed in the second running with Larry Roma, who no one had told me was the school record holder. Well, I broke Larry's record with a quick 2:06. The problem was that Larry broke Larry's record with a 2:04.

In sixth grade the much awaited rematch was set. We both ran easy in the first running knowing the big matchup would be coming. The"final" had me taking an early lead only to have Larry come up on my shoulder with a little over a lap to go. Well, sorry Larry. I'm not sure if I had my Wheaties that morning and you did not, but I was not to be denied smashing through the finish at 1:58.

Next came Junior High. We were a 7-9 grade school and while we did the obligatory fitness test jive, we also did a thing called, are you ready for this, The Distance Run. WHOA, that seems intimidating. Turns out that the "distance run" was about 3/4 of a mile (which by the way, made it more than twice as far as the measly 600).

Anyway, 7th grade, I won with a 4:26 breaking the 7th grade record and coming up 2 seconds short of the record for the entire Junior High. In the 8th grade..... well, in the 8th grade I ran 4:00 "shattering" every record (closest guy was my buddy Steve Sly who was 20 seconds back). 

9th grade, well 9th grade changed my life. I had always thought I'd play baseball in High School. I was a very good pitcher and an excellent hitter. My Dad, with all of the optimism of a Dad, thought that baseball might be my ticket. Turns out he was wrong. And so was I.

I ran 3:36 that day and the next day the High School cross country coach just happened to show up at Jr High PE class to chat with me. That was all it took to win me over. I became a runner that day.

(By the way, on a side note, as much potential as I had, my youngest son Ryan was scary...... 6:22 mile as a first grader)

115,000+ miles later, I still look at it as the best decision I've made.

What's your story?

Run on.

Reality Strikes (Again?)

So far this year, I am averaging about 47 miles a week. That's not too bad. All of the miles, however, are pretty slow. We're talkin...