Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Oh Deer

ORN [Obligatory Running Note]: 10-mile base pace run. Ran from Weaver Park to Amboy Park and back. Nice flat course, although I started too late and ended up running in the dark. Need to get some night-time running gear soon.

The highlight of today's 10 miler was the deer that scared the crap out of me near UNCA. I was grooving along, listening to tell me how he's got a feeling...ooh oooh, when a car's headlamps revealed a pair of smallish blue-green phosphorescent lights in the woods by the creek to my right. Clearly, these were animal eyes staring at me. I thought to myself, "Wow. Those are too high off the ground and far apart to be a raccoon and too big to be a cat. WTF?" I stopped in my tracks, suddenly worried about bears and well, ...bears. Another car went by, shining its lights into the trees, but not quite revealing the animal who owned those eyes. I'm sure the animal was probably thinking the same thing I was -- WTF? Will that thing eat me? But it didn't move. It just stared. And so did I.

All of a suddent, it turned and sped off, barely 10 feet away from me, and I recognized it was a giant doe. In an instant, every YouTube video of a crazed deer attacking somebody flashed before my eyes. I knew I was going to die; OMG I was going to be killed by a deer. Or maybe the animal the deer just scared would decide to come after me instead. Oh, how I wished I had sent away for that Road ID, so my hoof-marked corpse could be easily identified. Then, a second-and-a-half later, it was all over. The deer had disappeared through the brush toward the college and safety, and my fear response was back in check.

"I am totally blogging this," I thought as I ran to my car.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another Uninspired Interval Workout

I guess I don't need the ORN rule if my entire post is about the day's run...

This morning's workout was 5x1000m at 7:36 pace (4:42) with 3 minutes active recovery in between. So happens, 3 minutes is a 400m jog. It was tough today, but mostly because I was feeling as if I didn't sleep at all last night. As a result, I felt like I was floundering... running terribly... struggling. These are the worst runs- where you feel like crap, but not so bad that you're not hitting your target pace, so you have to keep going.

It didn't help that I programmed the workout incorrectly in Garmin (pbtn), inputting 4:02 for each interval instead of 4:42. Nothing like feeling as if you're running waaaay too fast, but Garmin is yelling, "Speed Up!".

WTF? I knew something was wrong, so I started the workout over, timing the whole thing manually (gasp!), which left me able to figure out my math issues later.

Yet, for all the crappiness and confusion, or in spite of it, I was ahead of my target for each interval. Check out the splits:
Like a machine, right? The only thing I could complain about (besides feeling like crap, and it being too cold) is some increased soreness on the ball of my right foot. I need a new met pad, for sure. Dude.

Monday, September 28, 2009

16 Mile Progression Run

Saturday morning, I ran a 16 mile progrssion run. It turned out to be the first run to offer a glimmer of hope that I am on track to run 3:50 in December.

The goal: Run the first 8 miles at base pace. Run the next 8 miles progressively faster, running the last mile at Half Marathon pace. For me, that means 8 miles at 9:45- 10:45 pace, followed by progressively faster miles that end with a 8:17 mile.

I don't do well with terms like "progressively faster". So I figured out what each of the last 8 mile targets should be, and set up the entire workout on my nerd machine, I mean Garmin. Workout #1: Run 8 milers at 10:45 pace. Workout #2: Run 8 miles at: 10:20, 10:00, 9:45, 9:30, 9:15, 9:00, 8:45, 8:17

Here's how it all unfolded:

I planned to run the same 16-mile out-and-back course I ran 2 weeks ago, but in reverse to avoid having to run my fastest miles uphill. Leopold would ride along side me to keep me company, and to ensure at least one sighting of a black cat. We set out at 7:30am, hoping for a much-needed 2-3 hour rain delay. We stopped at the dojo to drop off Gatorade, then on to Carrier Park to start the run/ ride.

The 8 miles from Carrier Park to the dojo were pretty uneventful. I found it hard to keep the pace under 10:45, forcing Garmin (pbtn) to yell, "Slow Down!" repeatedly. Leopold wanted me to show him the screen when this happened, but I debated the wisdom of running too fast just to purposefully irk Garmin (pbtn). I decided against it. Instead, I amused myself with silly word play. Not my usual intelligent foray into the history of words (like how originally, the word “virtue” was connected to what it meant to be a true man). No, more like, "Hey, Leopold- Here's one: "more on pacing" or "moron pacing"?. Snicker, snicker. I am so funny, sometimes. Hey, that is some crazy looking dog poop. Get a picture of that, would you?

Then,a mile before the turn around point, something happened that surely foreshadowed the decline of the rest of this run. A crazed looking black cat came running full speed down an embankment towards us. Half way down, he did a little freak out, and turned around, shooting out of sight. It was like it never happened.

Next, it began to rain a cold, icy rain. I was thinking, "I should offer to have Leopold wait for me inside the dojo. I can pick him up after I finish." That's when I realized that I had only given Leopold the car key to hold in his backback. The dojo key was inside my car. We were locked out of the dojo. No shelter or Gatorade for those who irk Garmin (pbtn).

Third (thirdly?), I made a critical judgement error by turning around early.
Actually, it was more like my lack of basic math skill rearing its ugly head, but who's counting? Certainly not me, when I thought that if I turned around a mile early, I'd just have to run that extra mile once I got back to the car. Did everyone just catch that mistake? Yep, if you turn around 1 mile early on an out-and-back course, you have to run 2 extra miles at the end! Duuh!

So, we make it back to the car, finally. Leopold gets to be warm and dry while I still have to run a 8:45 and 8:17 mile, back to back. Off I went, down the path, in the rain, in the mud. The 8:45 was hard. The 8:17 was hard, but I pressed, and when I looked at Garmin (pbtn) at the end of the workout, I saw I ran 8:12 for the last mile.

After it was all over, and showers and snuggling under warm blankets was underway, I realized I had run 16 miles at 8:46 average pace, which is 2 seconds per mile faster than my marathon goal pace (BQ is 8:48 pace). Now, I know I didn't run 26.2 at 8:46 pace or anything, but still, I feel like this is a good indicator, given I have 10 more weeks of training.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Week 12 Training Update

Officially "half way there". This was a cut back week culminating in a 5K race. Race results: 23:42 (16 second PR), 7:36 pace, 2nd Place Masters Women, Dramatic sprint to the finish, Cool race shwag:-).

The weekly numbers:

Total weekly mileage: 44 miles
Average Intensity Factor: .991
Total Hours: 9.50
Long run: Race Day instead
Miles run on trail/ dirt: Approx. 7
# of Bears Seen: 0
Average weight: 120.6
% body fat: 16%
Average hrs. of sleep: 7.5

Next week (which is technically this week since I'm late in posting this) begins the "peak mileage" phase of training. Over the next 3 weeks mileage climbs to 72, 75, and 80 before backing off for race week.

As always, the goal is to stay healthy while covering the miles. Day by day, run by run.

Friday Funnies

ORN: 2 easy miles on the treadmill followed by Resistance Training Workout. Feeling residual fatigue from yesterday's tempo run. Worried about the 16-mile progression run in the morning... Still scheduled: 6 mile recovery run after work.

Well, it's Friday, people! You know what that means- it's time to set all seriousness aside. First up, cycling. I just have to post these cycling pictures because they CRACK ME UP!


The pictures say it all. According to the guy second from the right, it’s about 1 o'clock (if you know what I mean). I can just hear the ad campaign for red bike shorts now: “No need to wear a watch - just look down to your built-in sundial!”

And now, for your reading enjoyment...

A special Top 50 list of traits, habits, and idiosyncrasies that only other runners/ endurance athletes can understand.


1. When asked, how old you are you answer 40-44.
2. When asked how long your training was today you answer: two to three hours.
3. Your training is more limited by available time then how far you can run.
4. Your first thought when you wake up is how high your resting HR is.
5. You see a 90.3 sticker (a local radio station) and wonder what race that is?
6. You think it's natural to do your 'business' behind a tree in the woods.
7. You do a 5km warm up run and go for a 5km cool-down run after a 5 km race just so that you can call it a training session.
8. You consider work “regeneration time” between training sessions.
9. You sometimes sleep in your running clothes to save time in the morning.
10. You have a water bottle when you drive your car.
11. People praise you for being able to run 15 miles, but you feel insulted.
12. You want to spend your 2 week vacation at a training camp.
13. You know inside out how many grams of carbs and protein each energy bar has.
14. You consider applying for citizenship in Tonga, Jemen or Tschad so that you can participate in the Olympic games.
15. Your average dinner is a whole meat lover's pizza with a six pack of beer, and you only weigh 102 pounds.
16. You can say "fartlek" without getting embarrassed.
17. You not only eat gels, but know the best flavor of every brand.
18. You need a picture for a job application and you only have race pictures.
19. You use running T-shirts to clean your bike.
20. That charming "cologne" you wear to work is chlorine.
21. You take more showers in a locker room than at home.
22. 6:30 am is “sleeping in.”
23. The dog runs and hides when you get the leash.
24. You think there are only two seasons during the year: racing and off.
25. When you have two eggs, two pieces of toast, a slice of cheese, a glass of juice, and a yogurt for breakfast and are hungry again by 11:00 a.m.
26. It hurts worse to take a shower than it does to keep running.
27. You spend more $ on training and racing clothes then work clothes.
28. You spend 7 days going to 8 stores in 4 towns before buying a pair of running shoes but you take 1 afternoon to go to 1 car dealership and walk out with a new car 4 hours later.
29. When you see some lady watering her flowers and ask her if you can borrow the hose for a minute so you can fill up your water bottles.
30. You are the only person in town who knows that quinine is used to treat things other than malaria.
31. You've been stung be a wasp or bee in your mouth but carried on running or cycling because "your split times won’t go down by themselves."
32. Your car smells like a locker room.
33. You have everything needed in your car to be running with 5 minutes notice.
34. When asked to mow the lawn in 90 degree heat, you say that it’s too hot to do that (and you mean it) and then an hour later you go on a 10 mile run because it’s so nice out.
35. You tell your co-workers that you are going to "do a long brick" on Saturday and just expect that they know what you are talking about.
36. When a co-worker asks if you are racing this weekend, you say "yeah, but I'm just running a 10k, so that is not REALLY a race".
37. You are constantly washing running clothes but have to go through piles of clothes on the floor to find something to wear to work each morning.
38. You consider Clif Bars as one of the four food groups.
39. You are sick to your stomach at 2:00 in the morning and check the back of the Pepto Bismol bottle for caloric content and grams of carbohydrates, fat and protein.
40. You have plenty of water bottles, safety pins, and t-shirts.
41. You have trouble keeping lunch under 2000 calories.
42. You usually wake up at 4:00 in the morning but do not get to work until way after 9:00.
43. You like going swimming the day after a race with the permanent penned number still visible on your legs and arms because the feel like a medal.
44. Your car contains at least one energy bar wrapper and two sets of work out clothes!
45. You have a $3000 bike strapped on top of your $1500 car.
46. Your laundry continually smells like someone locked the cat in overnight.
47. Your company announces mandatory unpaid shutdown days - every other Friday throughout the summer - in order to cut costs and stay in business. Your response is "Great - now I can do two long workouts on the weekends and still have an easy day."
48. Your 9 year old comes home with the school record for the mile and says he took it out in a nice pace he could hold... everyone else died.
49. You catch yourself about to blow a snot rocket while walking around the office.
50. You have no EFFEN idea what to do with yourself on your off day.
Which one’s do you like? Which one’s are true for you? (And I bet many are true for non-endurance athletes as well...) Happy Friday!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Training Cycle Drama

ORN: Tempo run at Carrier Park: 2 miles warm up, 4.5 miles @ 7:53 pace, 2 miles cool down. This was a challenging workout. Kept telling myself, "You want to increase fatigue resistance at 10K pace, you want to increase fatigue resistance at 10K pace...". Still scheduled: 4.5 mile recovery run.

It's kind of weird that my first post after imposing the ORN Rule just so happens to be about my workout. Oh, well. As the name of the post suggests, I'm in the first week of a new training cycle. For the next 4 weeks, my key workouts are designed to increase fatigue resistance at 10K pace. This cycle culminates with a 10K race on Oct. 17.

So now on Tuesdays, instead of doing 400m intervals I'll be doing longer intervals (1200m, 1600m, 2000m) on the track. On Thursdays, a tempo run at 10K pace replaces mile repeats. Asu usual, Saturday is reserved for endurance runs.

I always find it hard to adjust to a new training cycle. The first workouts generally don't go well as I learn the new pacing and distance. I also always notice that I get a better appreciation of the previous training cycle (and I usually want to go back to it!). And this week was no exception.

I did 4 x 1200m @ 5K pace (7:36)on Tuesday. I went out way too fast and paid for it later in the workout. Left the track thinking "that sucked". I got back to my car and found a parking ticket. Perfect.

This morning's workout was even worse than Tuesday, and waaay more dramatic. I went to Carrier Park for the tempo run, since 3.5 laps around the park seems way easier than 18 laps around a track. On my warm up, I got the "Battery Low" notice on my Garmin (pbtn). Then I found out the path I run on was completely underwater in some sections due to the recent heavy rain. Perfect. So I start the tempo run wondering if Garmin will hold out for the workout, and having to run back and forth around the park to avoid the water traps. I headed over to the adjacent park in case it was better. At first it looked good, but then I came up on a huge muddy section I couldn't get around. I started running again when I thought I was clear of the mud, but noooo...there was a deceivingly slick coat of mud around the edges of the real mud. My first step sent my to the ground, on my butt, in the mud.

I eventually finished the 4.5 miles, and just like Tuesday I thought, "that sucked". My post run gift today, however, was to discovwer at the YWCA that I did not have a bra with me. I had to wash my sports bra in the sink, use the swimsuit dryer to get most of the water out, and then try to blow it dry.

I hope I fare better in my recovery run this afternoon.

Monday, September 21, 2009

WNC Run for Autism 5K - Race Report

Saturday I ran the WNC Run/Walk for Autism 5K Race. It's the 1st race of my ‘season’ and I finished in 23:42 at 7:36 pace, 17th out of 188, and 2nd Masters Woman. Looking at the finishing time, you can say that it was a pretty good run. I improved my 5K time by 16 seconds. But I probably could have run faster had I run 7:35 pace instead of 7:30. But I let my wishful thinking get the better of me.

Here's how the race unfolded:

I warmed up like normal and felt pretty good. The race was a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be, so it was pretty easy to get up to the starting line. I was able to get a good position at about the 3rd or 4th row. Looking at the other runners, I noticed a wide variety of runners: young high schoolers, older people and many more. I wasn’t sure how tough the other runners that I would be racing against were going to be. However, I had my eye on one lady that was talking to someone to me. She looked like she might be in my age group, and she was talking about how she qualified and ran Boston.

So we got started and I went out too fast at first, but slowed down to my target pace of 7:30 within the first 100 meters. I ran a 7:30 first mile, which is the target pace I was hoping I could maintain through the entire race.

What happened after that first mile was that my split for mile 2 and 3 dropped significantly. I don’t even want to say it, but will: 7:40, 7:46. I ran positive splits!! Now, I know when you run a race you’re a lot more tired than you are during a regular workout, but I could hear myself breathing a lot and very hard for the whole race. I was pretty tired at mile 2 and definitely at mile 3.

For as much as I slowed down after the first mile, others must have done an even worsejob of setting their pace. I passed people the entire race, setting my sights on the next girl who could possibly be in my age group, then the next, until finally, right before mile 3, the Boston Qualifier lady was right in front of me. I wanted to catch her so bad! I ran the last tenth of a mile at 6:23 pace, but I simply ran out of race. She beat me, even though we were given the same time.

Despite choosing too fast a pace, I was still pleased with the overall time, a 16 second PR. For the next race, on Octtober 17, I will have to try harder to set the pace correctly. I just need to get it in my head that it will benefit me and my overall race time to choose the pace I can run the entire race in.

By the way...Great shwag at this race! I won a $50 girft card to Diamond Brand, and Leopold won a $30 gift card to same. Leopold also won a Timex IronMan watch in the raffle. Very cool!

The ORN Rule

I am going to start leading my posts with an item called “ORN.” I best explain it.

ORN stands for Obligatory Running Note. I believe it originated with John "The Penguin" Bingham. Here's is his full explanation of ORN. In short, he said:
To make SURE that at least SOME part of the post had SOMETHING to do with running they imposed the "ORN" rule. It stands for Obligatory Running Note. And it required the writer to describe their latest run.

This means that ORN will describe that day’s run…and everything else in the post is my current thoughts on running, life, faith, gadgets and whatever else is on my mind. I hope you enjoy the ride.

This works for me. With few exceptions, my posts really have nothing to do with that day's workout. But if I impose the ORN Rule, I can blog about whatever is on my mind and at the same time update you on my training. Excellent! . Consider the ORN Rule imposed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm Not Normal

I found myself wondering on my run last night, "Do normal people think about this kinda stuff when they run? Do normal people think "I wonder what it's like to be friends with Prince?" when they hear one of his songs on their iPod (that's right, folks, "Purple Rain" AND "Kiss". BOTH on my iPod!)? Or as they choose between the sidewalk or the blacktop, do all normal people think to themselves, "How much harder is concrete than asphalt? And who would actually measure that, anyway?" How often do normal people think "I wonder if surgeons have nightmares about not having their muscles yet in the morning, and they're operating and can't get the scalpel to break the skin? I hope I never have to have surgery in the morning."

It would be great to be normal. Then I could just think about things like, "Cool, my toe doesn't hurt as much as I thought it was going to." or "Will my Garmin sound an alarm after every mile, or quarter mile?" But then I would get into things like "Why in the hell did I buy a frikken Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS-Enabled Sports Watch? I am the most electronically illiterate person on the planet. What makes me think I will ever figure out how in the heck to work this thing?" (Hey wait, is that a squirrel?)

Do normal people actually wait for the light to turn green before they continue across the street when they are running? Do they wonder if other people do?

But then I start to think about what I am doing. Do normal people run 10 times a week? Do they get such pleasure out of it that they feel the need to write about it? Do normal people plan their packing for a trip around "Do I need to take a bigger suitcase so I can take my running shoes?" Is the first thing they think about when they get up in the morning "I can't wait to get to the point in my schedule where I run my first 90-mile week. I can't wait."

I'm running my 4th marathon in December. I'm trying to qualify for Boston. Normal people do not run 26.2 miles. Normal people do not dream of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I am not normal. Eff normal.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

They Call Me The Flash

Remember the Seinfeld where Jerry hits on this girl at a bar with this line: "You may not know it by looking at me, but I can run really fast." Well, that was me this morning. I ran really fast this morning. For me.

A great workout, which hopefully foreshadows a great race this weekend.

I ran 9x400m intervals, and killed it. With a target time of 1:52, I am proud to say I was both remarkably under target and fairly consistent. I am so full of myself right now, I may burst in to song.


1:50 <--warm up
1:30 <-- A 90 second final lap! How's that for awesome?

Why am I so awesome today? Perhaps I'm a cyborg assassin sent back from the future to run 7 minute miles.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Week 11 Training Update

Just half way through my Training Plan, and I'm only 1.5 miles shy of my highest ever weekly mileage (70 miles). I knew I would be running more as I trained for Charlotte's Thunder Road Marathon, but I didn't expect to be in my personal no-woman's land so soon.

Here's the numbers:

Total weekly mileage: 68.5 miles
Average Intensity Factor: .890
Total Hours: 13:20
Long run: 17 miles
Miles run on trail/ dirt: Approx. 16
# of Bears Seen: 4
Average weight: 119.1
% body fat: 16%
Average hrs. of sleep: 7.0

OK, who noticed that "# of Bears" was added to the weekly numbers??

Next week is a step-down week with a 5K race on Saturday, in which I plan to terminate/ obliterate my 5K PR. After that, it's back to building mileage.

As always, the goal is to stay healthy while covering the miles. I'm just trying to take the training plan day by day, run by run.

Week 10 Training Update

It occurs to me I never got around to posting my Week 10 stats so without further (or any) ado, here you go:

Total weekly mileage: 63.2 miles
Average Intensity Factor: .838
Total Hours: 12:05
Long run: 15 miles
Average weight: 120.7
% body fat: 17%
Average hrs. of sleep: 7.2

Friday, September 11, 2009

Advil Needs A New Ad Campaign

Guess what?

Recent studies suggest that over the counter painkillers like Ibuprofen have the exact opposite effect that many professional and amatuer endurance athletes believe they have.

The recent medical news is pretty shocking and straightforward in its findings when it comes to endurance sports and painkillers.

According to the New York Times:

"Those runners who’d popped over-the-counter ibuprofen pills before and during the race displayed significantly more inflammation and other markers of high immune system response afterward than the runners who hadn’t taken anti-inflammatories.

The ibuprofen users also showed signs of mild kidney impairment and, both before and after the race, of low-level endotoxemia, a condition in which bacteria leak from the colon into the bloodstream."

But it gets worse:

"Athletes at all levels and in a wide variety of sports swear by their painkillers. A study published earlier this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that, at the 2008 Ironman Triathlon in Brazil, almost 60 percent of the racers reported using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers (or NSAIDs, which include ibuprofen) at some point in the three months before the event, with almost half downing pills during the race itself."

But wait- the news gets even worse for athletes who pop a lot of painkillers when training:

"The painkillers also blunt the body’s response to exercise at a deeper level. Normally, the stresses of exercise activate a particular molecular pathway that increases collagen, and leads, eventually, to creating denser bones and stronger tissues. If “you’re taking ibuprofen before every workout, you lessen this training response,” Warden says. Your bones don’t thicken and your tissues don’t strengthen as they should. They may be less able to withstand the next workout. In essence, the pills athletes take to reduce the chances that they’ll feel sore may increase the odds that they’ll wind up injured — and sore."

Fear and Loathing in Carrier Park

Intervals - I fear and hate them as much as the next runner. Having said that, I’m feeling good about my interval workout yesterday.

Here’s the actual workout:

Dynamic Stretch warm up
2 miles @ recovery pace
5 x 1 Mile @ 10K pace (8:03) with 2 minutes active recovery
2 miles cool down

Why do workouts like this always look so easy on paper? Why do they not come with a warning:

So about my workout. The first four intervals were all right at about 8:00 on the nose. But on the 5th one, the doubts started. I began thinking I couldn’t possibly run the last one in 8:00. I began cultivating an alternate scenario whereby it was right and proper to scale the last interval down to 800m. Or not even run it at all…

I let these thoughts run for the full 2 minutes of my recovery, then shut them down and started my last mile, not knowing what would happen. I convinced myself I would not look at Garmin until I was at least at the halfway point. Yes, at the halfway point, I would decide what to do next. Perhaps I would quit if I saw a discouraging number. Just hold on, I told myself.

After an eternity, I stole a look, thinking I would be off-pace for sure. And Garmin says…7:46 average pace. Yay! With renewed confidence I knocked off the last mile easily at 8:00 flat, feeling grateful to have won the battle with the dreaded doubt demons. Until next time.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Can't Get my Head In To It Intervals

I ran my planned 12 x 400 interval workout at UNCA’s track this morning. This is the first time I’ve actually done this workout on a Track. (I usually run my shorter intervals on the treadmill). Here’ the splits:

1. 1:40 (Oops, too fast!)
2. 1:48
3. 1:48
4. 1:45
5. 1:48
6. 1:48
7. 1:46
8. 1:48
9. 1:48
10. 1:39 (UNCA Track Team on the track- competitive mode takeover!)
11. 1:48
12. 1:47

My target was 1:52, so you can see I beat that time for all of them. I felt like I was running fast (duh!) but totally under control. I kept focused on my stride (especially “symmetry”), and did not feel particularly aerobically fatigued until the last one. Even then, I felt like I could have kept going. (I would have hated it, my legs would’ve hated it more, but I could have kept going).

So I bagged a good workout. What’s funny, is that I woke up dreading having to do intervals today. I just could not get myself "up" for the workout- even when I was doing quite well in the workout. To get me through, I just shut down my brain, unplugged everything but the basic motor functions and the parts that help me keep track of distance and pace. (Think HAL9000 here). I persevered, and it all turned out great. Obviously, there's some kind of lesson here. Something like life/ intervals are like a box of chocolates...

As a side note, since my split times were consistently under the target goal, I’m going to look to my next couple of hard workouts (plus the 5K time trial on the 19th) to see if I don’t need to adjust my TPL downward to 39 or 38). Now, THAT I can get my head into.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Nike Free 5.0 v2: Review

This is my second week running with Nike Free 5.0 trainers. I've run intervals, base runs, recovery runs, and a 15-miler in them.

As I mentioned before, I discovered the Nike Frees while researching barefoot running (and minimalist running shoes). Lately, I've been reading a lot about barefoot running and whether or not it's better for injury prevention than running with shoes. While technically the jury is still out, there are some interesting studies that say there is no significant relationship between wearing running shoes and injury prevention. In fact, it seems to me that more "evidence" points towards running shoes contributing to injuries by forcing a heel strike, which can cause problems from your hips on down. While I'm not qualified to judge whether these kinds of studies are valid or not, barefoot running passes my "gut" test.

I'll let you go research the shoe itself -- its features and such. For purposes of this post, I'll just tell you about my experiences with them so far. I will say that running in them takes a little getting used to, but not as much as Nike says. They say you should ease into running on them, starting with a day or two out of a typical training week and building up. I didn't do that. I jumped right in with both feet. I ran 2-3 miles, followed by 3-4 miles in them right off, then an 8-miler mid week, and a long run of 15 that same weekend (in which I did get some blisters from my toes "grabbing").

Running in them, I feel everything that's going on with my feet, and that's an unusual sensation for me. Usually, when I shop for shoes, I'm specifically not wanting to feel the road. I basically look for soft pillows in which to wrap my feet. The Nike Free strips away all that sissy cushion crap and gives me a much less mediated experience of the road. It takes some getting used to. After each run, in addition to my normal sensation of fatigue in my legs, my feet also feel like they've gotten a workout, which they have. They don't feel beaten and abused. It's like they're getting used for the first time. They have to pronate and absorb shock as they were designed to do. They flex, stretch, and push off naturally, without artificial restrictions or enhancements. In short, I feel my feet getting stronger.

The bottom line is that I love this shoe. I would buy it again, and would even consider going to the 3.0, which is lighter and even closer to running barefoot.

Rats Agree: Running Is Addictive

This just in from Science has now proven the running addiction theory to be correct.

Researchers at Tufts University gave naloxone, a medicine for heroin overdose that produces immediate withdrawal symptoms, to rats that ran in exercise wheels. The rats showed withdrawal symptoms like those seen in narcotics addicts. And the rodents that ran the hardest had the most severe withdrawal symptoms.

The scientists found that the rats showed similar behaviors to rats addicted to drugs. "Exercise, like drugs of abuse, leads to the release of neurotransmitters such as endorphins and dopamine, which are involved with a sense of reward," noted lead author Robin Kanarek, PhD.

But don't let a potential addiction be another excuse to not run. "As with food intake and other parts of life, moderation seems to be the key. Exercise, as long as it doesn't interfere with other aspects of one's life, is a good thing with respect to both physical and mental health," said Kanarek.

So scientists got a bunch of rats addicted to running. That's just not that impressive. Let me know when the rats are addicted to their Garmins. (GARMIN: Praise Be Thy Name!).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Going Bare, I Mean Minimalist

I can't seem to get more than 300 miles out of a pair of running shoes, and that's not good. At 70 miles per week, I'll go through a pair of shoes in 3-4 weeks. That's $80-100 a month just to train, and I can't afford that. (Truth be told, I would probably put up with it, but someone else in my house would not. No, they'd make a very big deal out of it, indeed).

So, I'm speeding up my plan to transition to a minimalist shoe in the hopes that I get better mileage out of them. You see, I've been researching this whole "minimalist" running shoe thing, and I believe I go through shoes so fast because I wear a very cushioned neutral shoe. The logic goes something like this: The softer the shoe is, the harder you have to make impact with the ground to be able to "feel" the foot strike. It follows that the harder you hit the ground, the faster the shoe wears out.

In theory, I am behind the idea of minimalist running shoes, even barefoot running. I agree that running shoes are the cause of a lot of injuries. The built up heel forces you to strike with the heel first, which is like putting on the breaks with each step.

Theory is one thing. It's totally different to actually try running in a minimalist shoe. I mean, it's downright scarey to make the change. After all these years of shod running, aren't my feet muscles basically worthless by now? Aren't I going to get injured by doing this??

Well, I threw caution to the wind, and bought a pair of Nike Free's. When I first tried them out, I noticed my feet feeling a little sore, but it wasn't that I was injured, I was using muscles that I wasnt used to using. I started out by running no more than 2 or 3 miles in them, and my feet adjusted nicely.

I train in them now for all of my recovery runs and speed work. I havent run more than 8 miles at once in them, but I have definatly noticed an improvement in my running form, and alignment issues. It's kind of exciting.

Now when I switch over to my Adidas super cushioned shoe, it feels horrible. Like blocks of concrete on my feet. Heavy, cushiony concrete.

Go, Ritz!

Last week, Dathan Ritzenhein took more than 2 seconds off Bob Kennedy's 13 year old American record for 5,000 meters. This makes Ritz only the third American to run a 5K in under 13:00.

Wow. 3.1 miles in under 13:00... It's hard to get a perspective on just how freakishly fast that is. The fastest person I know is Josie Weaver. He runs a 5K in about 15:00, and he wins most local races. If Josie had been in that race with Ritz, he would not only have been dead last (Ritz didn't even win!), but Ritz would have lapped him at least twice. TWICE!!!

So cool. Here's the video. (Split times are below).

Ritz's Splits
30.9 [15th], 61.8 [1:32.7] [15th],
61.8 [2:34.5] [15th], 61.3 [3:35.8] [15th],
62.7 [4:38.5] [15th], 62.2 [5:40.7] [14th],
62.8 [6:43.5] [12th], 63.9 [7:47.4] [11th],
62.9 [8:50.3] [9th], 62.9 [9:53.2] [8th],
62.5 [10:55.7] [7th], 60.4 [11:56.1] [3rd],
60.2 [3rd]
2:00.6 for his last 800, 4:06 last 1600.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009