Tag Archives: training

Persevering

As I get ready to head out to Eugene Oregon for my first race of the season many things come to mind. All the hours of training I’ve put in, the ups and downs of the last few months and why I even do this to begin with.  We wall face challenges in not just running but in life.  I think these two articles sum up eloquently the courage of never giving up, to persevere against the odds and coming out the other side.

By Laura Kantor

Sixteen months ago, a friend helped me realize how self-defeating thoughts and behaviors were affecting every area of my life, including my running and racing goals. Running took a back seat last year while I did difficult work with my therapist to improve the rest of my life. Way Too Cool was the first race where it was apparent how far I have come and how much my mindset has improved.

 

Resurfacing
April 29, 2016
Written by Andy Jones

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Resurfacing April 29, 2016 Written by Andy Jones After 48 years of life I have come to realize that there are few pleasures greater than getting something back after you’ve lost it. Losing can be so sorrowful, so depressing, so definitive, that having the chance to get something back, having that golden opportunity to find again that which you’ve missed so much, can be at once rewarding and humbling. And, it can help us to be reborn.

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Some things I’ve learned along the way

Recently a friend who is going to be running in her first 100k race the Gorge Waterfalls 100k, asked me for some race day advice.  I also ran this same event last year as my first 100k race and I learned a lot from the experience.  I gladly shared some of my insights as I wished to help her as best I could.  This spurred the idea that I should share with others as well.  I’ve learned so much from fellow runners since I ventured into ultra running and I don’t think I would have made it this far on my own without their generosity.  Certainly not without a lot more pain, angst and slower progress.   This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a few important things that have been key in improving my race day performance.

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Racing in the S.O.B. 50 miler in 2015.

Run your own race.  When starting out in a race it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement. Adrenaline is flowing, everyone is rested and happy and it’s oh so easy to push harder than you should.  If you are not paying attention you won’t even realize you are clipping along way faster than you should be. Know what your race pace is and stick to it. Following someone else’s pace or simply running too hard up that first hill climb will eventually catch up to you towards the latter stages of the race.

Be consistent in your training.  Putting in consistent mileage, time on your feet, week in and week out helps prepare your body for the pounding it will take on race day.

Listen to your body.  If something starts niggling at you don’t be overly stubborn and just keep pushing through it. This can lead to injury.  Better to ease back on training a bit before something becomes a major issue.  Be sensible in your training.  Don’t get obsessed with reaching a specific mileage every week but instead be flexible as sometimes you get sick, get a minor injury or are just plain tired and on the verge of over training so know when to take an extra rest day.  Better to miss a work out or two so you avoid injury and come back to your next run well rested and refreshed.  And don’t forget to get enough sleep.  You are pushing your body and it needs plenty of time to recuperate and it can’t do it properly without enough rest.

Practice using your equipment prior to race day.  The first few hours of my first 100k race was in total darkness. The trails were single track, tight and rocky with sections with sheer drops down steep slopes. My headlamp of choice was lacking in a major way. It was great for rummaging around in a tent, but did hardly anything to light up the trail before me.  I was extremely happy to see the sun come out later that morning.

Same goes for fueling needs.  Know what you’ll be using and have it thoroughly tried out before the race.   Also know what may be available at the aid stations, but realize that supplies run out and other things happen so not everything will be there as advertised.  Don’t try eating or drinking something new during the race. You just don’t know if it will cause you stomach issues later down the trail.

Train on similar terrain as you’ll experience in the race.  If it’s a hilly course, verify the amount of elevation gain and loss and prepare for it.  Will it likely be a warm day or cool?  High humidity or relatively dry? Expect the worst and hope for the best in what mother nature will throw at you.  Better to have that extra layer of clothing or rain gear and not use it than to be stuck out in cold, windy, wet conditions and suddenly find yourself extremely uncomfortable or even hypothermic.

Seek advice from those who’ve been there. Don’t ignore the old coot in your local running group who looks like he could be your dad or even grandpa. He may very well have decades of experience and sage advice to offer. At one time he might have been able to run circles around you before time slowed him down.

Stay inspired. Set personal goals, daily, weekly and yearly to help motivate yourself.  Have multiple goals set prior to a race.  My first goal is always to just finish and have fun.  My second goal is a finishing time that I think my training prior to the race makes realistically attainable.  Lastly, if I’m really “on” during the race then I shoot for the last goal which may be a PR for that race or distance, or finishing in the top 20% or top three in my age bracket, etc.  By having multiple goals and being flexible with them during the race will help you keep moving when things get rough.  When in such a rough spot you will have to acknowledge that a PR is just not happening today, but you will realize you can still enjoy yourself out there and finish with a sense of accomplishment.

Use social media to your benefit. Strava, Facebook and others can help you connect with other runners, find new trails, see how others train and get involved with running groups.

Read, read and read some more. The library, magazines, online blogs podcasts and websites can all be a wealth of information.  Just be sure the source is a credible one.  In my town one local shoe store carries books you can check out like a library.  They have books available that my library may not and if I really love the book I can purchase it from them.  Also, if your local library doesn’t carry a book you are interested in ask them to obtain it on loan from another branch.  You might even be surprised that they may be willing to purchase it to add to their collection.  I will list specific books, publications, web sites and podcast that I’ve found helpful in another post.  For now try reaching out and exploring on your own.

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Taking in the beauty of the surroundings while on a training run.

Lastly, have a life outside of running.  I believe it’s helpful and healthy to have other interests.  Sometimes these can be complementary to your running.  I myself have enjoyed photographing the natural landscape for years before running came along.  I currently don’t pursue it as I used to, but I am not hesitant to spend some time photographing even if it means stopping during a long training run to pull out the camera and taking a few snaps of the scenery in front of me that I find so inspiring  I also believe we need to be mindful that we don’t become so obsessed with running that these other parts of our lives begin to suffer such as your job and especially your family and friends.  They often help us make running and attending races possible.  They may have endured countless hours of hearing about our latest training runs, injuries, races, new gear we’d love to have etc. So be sure to give back plenty of love and friendship as well.  They deserve it.

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My son helping finish. My family supports and inspires me!

Hopefully some of you found some of this useful and feel free to leave your own comments with further suggestions.  Until next time, happy trails!

 

Seeking guidance.

My legs were feeling dead tired as I ran what was supposed to be an easy 5 miles this early morning. Having just completed my first week of training using a plan written for me by coach and runner Max King I already see the great benefits of having such an aid in place.

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One of the benefits of early morning runs, seeing views like this.

I am currently focused on training for my next race the Eugene Marathon. As an amateur runner with no formal training background, not even at the high school level as I was deprived of that opportunity as the school I went to had no track team while I attended but I digress.  I’ve for the most part been winging it as best I can. I came into distance running late in life as I ran my first half trail marathon in 2009 and first road marathon in 2010. Since then I’ve been hooked and now run ultra marathons as well. However my gradual improvements in running fitness, racing times and increased distances have been haphazard. As I never considering myself a “serious” runner with a lot of disposable income, I’ve done the best I can by learning as many do. Reading magazines, books, blogs and online articles. I’ve gone to free local running group gatherings, free talks given by local running greats at shoe stores and other venues. I have no doubt learned much but that can take me only so far.
This year I’ve decided to limit how many races I will do and instead will focus on doing a few of them as best I can. My goal is to push myself to trying to get closer to breaking the 3 hour finish time in the marathon, complete and improve upon a 50 mile race I did last year and finish up with running my first 100 mile ultra. I had some ideas on how to train for these endevors, but I also was a bit confused on how to proceed. How does one focus on a road marathon and try for a personal record and yet not lose any necessary fitness for running mountain ultras? I didn’t want to sacrifice a race later in the year to do well in the first one on the schedule. Fortunately for me I live in a town where ample accomplished runners live and train. One of them is Max King. For those who may not be familiar with his running accomplishments lets just say he’s a jack of all trades who not only can compete in events like the Olympic trials for the marathon, run flat 100k road races, race in 50k, 50 mile and 100 mile ultras, but he’s competitive in every race he runs and often comes out on top. Max offers a free weekly speed work session open to all abilities called TPG (Tuesday Performance Group).  A few weeks ago after attending such a work out I approached him and presented my dilema. He generously started rattling off all kinds of suggestions and good advice to me on how to train for these three very different races and my brain was quickly swirling with words like tempo runs, hill work, locations to train, what to focus on now as opposed to later, etc. I quickly realized I wasn’t absorbing all he was sharing to me. So then it dawned on me to ask him if he’d be willing to write up a training plan for my marathon race and he agreed. Boy I didn’t realize what I was getting into. I’ve run weekly tempos but not multi week ones before. And this last weekend he had me running hills one day followed by doing a 13 mile progression run finising the last third at marathon pace the next day. Whew that was tough!  But now I clearly see the benefit of seeking advice from an experienced runner/coach. These type of weekly workouts are not what I would have prescribed for myself. Although he is not coaching me day to day I already can see how much better prepared I will be for the race by having a focused plan tailored to my abilities and goals.  If I could afford a coach to work with me week in and week out I would, but at least this is a step in that direction for me. So those of you who have never tried seeking out a coach I’d highly recommend doing so.  Even if your financial resources limit you even the most basic level of coaching will help make you a better runner.   Now onwards to another week of challenging work outs.  Happy trails!

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Getting out the door.

I sit on my bed thinking about going out for a run. Nothing extremely challenging for myself. Just a 45-60 minute workout which I routinely do several times a week. But now I sit immobilized. A huge weight seemingly holds my body down. I imagine getting outside, but am unable to change into my running gear and get going. It’s not a lack of motivation or laziness. I don’t suffer from any physical illness that would prevent me from running. I suffer from depression and anxiety. The last few days it has reared its ugly head and now drains away at my motivation and passion for not just running but for life itself. Even though I know getting out there for a short bout of exercise would benefit me I just can’t will myself to do it. That’s the challenge with these type of illnesses. It can disable an individual to the point of being unable to help oneself. From the outside most people can not even tell an individual is waging an unseen war within. Even friends and loved ones who are aware of ones illness can often times not appreciate or understand just how hard the battle is. This is why I have begun to share my own personal stories and experiences. To help better educate others who are unaffected and to also give hope to those fighting the disease like me. For it is a disease which one needs to attack from different fronts and on this day I reach out to someone I love and who cares about me. I text a brief message and she offers me words of encouragement. I read the response but remain where I am. She writes some more. Then more. Finally it gives me the last push I need to start moving again. It’s not as easy as it may sound reading this, but sometimes that’s all one needs to get over that hump. Sometimes it’s a hug. Sometimes a shoulder to lean on or an attentive ear that will listen. Sometimes just being there so one doesn’t feel alone. Some days nothing seems to help. But today her words of encouragement are enough. Enough to get me out on the road to running and wellness again.

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Walking during ultra and trail races

As a new year approaches and with it thoughts of possible races to partake in, new trails to explore and adventures to be had I reflect back on this past running season.  I feel from a running standpoint it was a successful one for me as I took on and completed more challenging races then my previous year.  As I hope to continue this trend in 2016 and improve I need to work on all aspects of my running.  One of the things as a trail runner I encounter plenty of is mountainous terrain.  In fact many ultra races are established within this type of environment so it pays for one to be properly prepared.  Although I’ve completed seven ultra races ranging from 50k, 50 mile and 100k distances these last two years I am still a newbie to the sport with much to learn.  In his article Training to walk for ultra, trail and mountain running , Ian Corless explains why walking it is not only o.k. and not a sign of weakness, but should be a part of any runners racing/running strategy.  For those who have many years of racing experience under their belt I feel they still might get some new insights or at least reminders on how to approach, plan for, train and execute hill climbing.  I intend to try and employ what he speaks of as much as possible into my running as so should you.

Training to walk for ultra, trail and mountain running

Climbing Broken Top during a training run.

Climbing Broken Top during a training run.

Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them. ~ Albert Einstein

 

As I watch a public television program on Albert Einstein I decide to do an internet search on him and quotes he is credited to have made. There are quite a few and some I have heard of before. But a number of them I was unfamiliar with and one in particular grabs my attention. Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them. The more I read and consider this compact, seemingly simple sentence the more I realize it is packed with meaning and implication.
I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for years. One of my biggest obstacles to managing my illness was simply accepting the fact that I could not conquer, squelch or obliterate it. To make it go away forever. That was always my foremost desire. As I repeatedly fought against my illness I would continually step backwards on the positive steps I had slowly made over time. When I finally accepted that this illness is very likely to be with me for the rest of my life it reframed my situation. Instead of looking at it as something to get over or to conquer it became something to accept and figure out how to live with it. By accepting this I stopped fighting it and knowing my limits with this illness allowed me to make better progress.

This same statement Einstein said can be applied to running. I like many other runners set goals for ourselves to achieve. Shoot for PR’s (personal records) and the more talented in our mist go for FKT’s (fastest known times). We compete with others during a race and compete with ourselves during our training runs and even with others through computer apps like STRAVA. Always pushing and striving in an effort to do better. But sometimes this narrow focus can lead to negative consequences. One can get hurt, become burned out or fall into a rut . When we don’t continue to make the progress we’d like we need to step back and reassess. As Einstein accurately stated we all have limits and once we recognize them then we can accept them for what they are. This doesn’t mean one has to give up and believe things can’t improve. However one can start to get a clearer picture on how to adapt and change to work with these limitations and in doing so we may in fact then get beyond them. For instance when I decided I was going to try my first 50k I realized I needed to get better at running hills. I ran my first trail marathon prior to this. It was grueling and it reminded me of the feelings I had when I ran my very first road marathon. I knew I’d be dealing with running more elevation and I did train for it. But the result wasn’t quite what I hoped for. I had the opportunity to ask runner extraordinare  Max King ,who lives in my town and leads a weekly running group, how do I get better at running hills. His succinct response, “run more hills.”  Sounds like stating the obvious. However to get better at something you have to do more of it. Up until then I had been increasing my hill work but not nearly enough. I also had a mental barrier to get over as I dreaded running hills. Once I came to terms with this and fully embraced the hills, then I began to make progress. Although I believe hills are still a weakness for me I am now running them with much better authority.

Learning to take a new perspective and try things differently can make a difference. Einstein would figure out new ways of looking at things to help solve his problems. Continuing to do what doesn’t work is futile. Have the courage to look elsewhere. By acknowledging my limits in running I am able to again continue with improving. One must realize one has limits and can’t just will themselves beyond them. One must first identify what their limits are and then take the time, effort and perseverance to work on improving them. This will allow us to start to move beyond them.  Thanks Albert!

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Group runs

This last weekend I had an opportunity to join some other local runners for a fun run. Most of those who participated seemed to know one another already and the intent was for runners and their families to gather together before the start of the holiday season. However an invite was posted on a public forum on Strava and since I was part of this Strava group I thought it would be fun to meet some of these runners in person outside of cyber space. Although the majority were faster, more accomplished runners then myself and seemed to already all be friends I was welcomed into their circle and had fun at the event.

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First Annual Stilly con Chili Trail Run

This reminded me of the general great attitude of the running community at large. When I began taking my first strides as a runner I joined a local running group CORK (Central Oregon Running Klub) on the weekends for runs. As I was still new to town I didn’t know of many places to run. I got the opportunity to learn about the local trails and made some friends and drew inspiration from some of the older runners. These individuals were well into retirement age and beyond and were out there hitting the trails and running races. It was a real eye opener for me. The last few years I try to regularly attend a weekly group called TPG (Tuesday Performance Group) . The focus is on speed work and all levels of runners are welcome to attend.  When I began attending I was certainly one of the slower and out of shape runners. I also had no clue what speed work, tempo and intervals even meant. But again as I’ve found over and over in various groups and even races I was never looked down upon and always felt welcome and encouraged throughout.
So if you are new to running or prefer running solo, as I do most of the time, I encourage you to check out what your local community offers and give it a go. At the worst you’ll decide it’s just not for you.  More likely you’ll gain knowledge, inspiration and a few friendships along the way. Happy trails!

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