Monthly Archives: February 2012

Back On The Horse…er, Pony

On Friday, I had my first structured workout in months, a small thing but it put me back in the game: 8 miles with 10 x (1min on/1min off).  Modest as it was, I managed to feel somewhat accomplished afterwards.  Baby steps are not overrated.

Somewhat related (at least to my infamous resistance/dread of standard workouts) I’ve been enjoying a thread on LetsRun about a coach and his winning team of high school girls (#8 in the country with four #1 performers) who do no formal speed training – no intervals or tempo runs.  Why? Because the gals don’t like them.

He’s found a way to make them fast while keeping it enjoyable for them.  Here’s the article about the coach/team and here’s a FloTrack video of them.  Lastly, here’s the LetsRun thread.  It should be noted that they do race often, so in essence that’s their speedwork – still, it’s not a traditional approach by any means.

Film Recommendation
I just saw a wonderful “body/health/life makeover” documentary last night that’s inspiring, motivating, funny, charming and made me tear up at the end: Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.  It follows an Australian guy, the filmmaker, who travels the US for 60 days on a juice fast to lose his gut and improve a chronic skin condition.  Midway through the film he meets a morbidly obese guy and eventually helps him out to dramatic effect and who in turn spreads the word…  It’s just great.  Available free on Hulu or via streaming on Netflix.

Speaking of body makeovers
Mine is going slowly but steadily; lost 4lbs in the last 3 weeks and my fancy-schmancy scale reports a 1% drop in bodyfat.  I’m having a good time with this!  I decided upon 112 lbs as my goal and since I’m currently at 120.5, I’ve got 8.5 lbs left to go.

To my friends who are also trying to lose for racing season, have heart! It hasn’t been a linear drop for me and never is, more like down, up, up, down, up, down, down, etc.   My bodyfat, however, has been a steadier progression which makes up for all that down/up crap.

Between hormones, whether you did or didn’t poop before weighing or if you had some high sodium thing for dinner the night before, it’s going to vary day-to-day, especially if you don’t have a lot to lose in the first place. I do like weighing daily, though many people don’t – for me it’s a better way to get the average than doing it once a week and possibly landing on one of those sodium/hormone/non-poop days.  Plus, I made a cool live graph in Excel so it’s fun to input the data.

In other body news, I started doing squats and step-ups yesterday – long overdue since I’ve always hated my ass.  I admit to copping out all these years, thinking the butt is a difficult place to make improvements so why bother?  That might have been a semi-valid argument when I was a couch potato with a lot more cush in the tush, but now I expect the result will be more readily apparent.

What’s funny is that every nice change my body has undergone since becoming a runner was a byproduct of trying to become faster.  Whether it was adding pushups, working on posture, weight…it’s always been about the running, looking better was just a cherry on the sundae.

My ass, however, is the opposite.  I’m finally doing something about it for vanity but in a brilliant turn, it will also make me a better runner.  Glutes are the powerhouse for explosive movement, it’s where we get the force to run fast.  Along with that, there’s a big anti-injury element since weak glutes mean your leg muscles are forced to compensate.

And I’ll have a cuter butt.

A Chilly Cutback Week In Review
Yesterday’s runs were lovely, big fat snowflakes but nothing sticking to the roads or paths.  I added a few miles to the afternoon run since today was forecast to be super windy and frigid.  It was.  One hour in that suck was enough.

5@8:44 8@8:14
7@8:24 8@7:49 (10x 1on/1off)
7@8:33 11@8:00
Total: 67.5 miles



Knowing When To Say When

When last I left, I mentioned this week would be a cutback and predicted around 75mi for the week, this figuring about a 20% cut.

Monday’s run, however, was quite the suck.  It was a measly single 7-miler that I cut to 6.5 which speaks volumes.  Tuesday’s runs were improved but still, I wasn’t having a good time due to: a painfully sore toe from having bought a too-small size of PureFlows (though I wasn’t willing to admit this till I had 100mi on them), tender calves from the previous week’s fast running, some lower back pain and an all-round pissy attitude.

None of these were terrible on their own but combined (and with that last item particularly) it was time for a day off.

My last rest day was 6 weeks ago so this was a no-brainer especially since it’s already a cutback week – it just means a larger cut than originally intended.  I’m totally fine with this since the goal of the week is not about seeing what I can “get away with” but to feel fresh and ready for another clump of high weeks.

So I returned to the road today with a single 8-miler. Physically, I was much better but for the first mile and a half, I wondered if I should have taken 2 days, I was still a tad pissy.  Then I got in the groove and it became a wonderful run.

Remember last week when working on arms it seemed to carry into my whole body with a feeling of “up, up, up”?  Well, I somehow locked into that again.  It’s weird but cool – my pace speeds up but my effort stays comfortable and it’s as if my entire posture becomes much better, taller.  Maybe by thinking of “air time” rather than “ground time” my hips are better positioned beneath me so my legs have more force to spring?  I dunno, but whatever it is, it’s effective. It also made for a fun run.

Aside from that, I’m very excited to be getting some CEP compression socks to review.  Those couple days with tender calves prompted me to consider compression socks as an addition to my injury-prevention collection.  Of course, self-PT is the first course of action but why not speed up the repair process with compression socks or calf-sleeves.  I’m not into the sausage look of sleeves so I posed the question on Facebook asking what compression socks were everyone’s favorite. CEP was in the majority and it turns out a friend of mine was able to hook me up with the company (thanks Martina!) so I should be getting them next week.

I also got a pair of Yaktrax to review but all we’ve had lately is one little snow shower, not enough to cover the paths so I’ve yet to try them out. Crossing my fingers for one good snowfall before Spring gets going.

Couple Cool Links
In unrelated news, here’s a fascinating podcast on marathon fueling that Coach A muse/Adam recommended and implemented in his successful come-back to marathoning just this last weekend.  The section on caffeine is especially interesting and something I’d be up for trying.

Also, someone posted this great article on massage on MRT.  It makes me think that foam rolling right after every run is something worth doing.  It’s not a personal masseuse but it’s the next best thing.

Speaking of, I finally got a new roller to replace my old cheapie Target thing. While I also own a trigger point roller and find it invaluable, it’s short and hard as hell which is effective but can be overkill. So I got this one from Runningwarehouse.  It’s the first time I’ve had a 36″ roller but it really is nice to not have to worry about repositioning yourself to keep from falling off.  Plus the density is great, I had read that black ones are firmer than the white so that’s why I got it.

And with that, you know I really, really hate the lame unfunniness of “that’s what she said” but…I guess this means I like ’em big, black and hard.  TWSS.

Sorry, couldn’t not do it.


I Could…

I couldn’t decide what to write about for this one, nothing in particular seemed worth covering.

I mean I could talk about how during Saturday’s fartlek, when I got to top speed I felt like an epileptic duck, totally uncoordinated and that it was worrisome.  But that I reasoned “You’re not used to fast wheels – maybe give a notch less, work up to it and trust it’ll improve.”  And how I believed it.

I could share the fact that with so many friends training for Spring marathons proudly reporting hard interval and tempo sessions, it doesn’t matter how many miles I run, I feel like a total slacker.  Then I remind myself that I gosh darn enjoy my runs and I’m getting there in my own sweet time – I just need to own it.  Then I could roll my eyes because I typed “just need to own it” which is so psychobabbly stupid.

I could also mention how this week will be a cutback since I had 4 consecutive high weeks so ~75mi sounds like a good idea.

I could tell you how for the last 2 weeks, I thought I was putting a tablespoon of peanut butter in my 5-grain cereal but then yesterday on a whim used a measuring spoon and discovered my dollops contain twice that, so I’ve been eating 200-300 extra calories per day. Classic.

And then I could post my week in review.

5@8:51 13@7:56
6@8:29 9@8:00 (fartlek)
6@8:30 (strides) 8@7:57 (fartlek)
6@8:38 10@8:10
Total:  91 miles

Me At Work
Here’s a photo I posted on FB the other day.  In all the years I’ve been doing voiceovers, this is the first photo I have of me in the studio.  This particular job was a couple commercials for a car superstore in Detroit.  It’s rare to have 4 people on mic for one spot – usually you do your schtick separately or there’ll be one, maybe two other actors with you, so this was fun.

Please Friends, Be Careful Out In The Big World
One of the sweetest gals in my FB collection of friends was injured badly on Saturday by a hit-n-run cyclist while she was out running.  She hit the pavement hard, fracturing her skull with brain and ear bleeding and was in ICU till late yesterday.

I think of the potential for this on my own route since runners and cyclists share the path (and we all make unexpected moves from time to time), so keep an eye out as best you can folks.  Meanwhile, rest well, Odessa, thinking of you.


One Cue Is All It Takes

January mileage total: 367mi.  Still very surprised by the pace drop this last week, it happened so suddenly.  The way things were coming back, I expected more afternoon runs in the 8:2x-8:1:x range for a couple weeks before 8:0x’s and under became the norm but hey, no complaints – just letting it unfold.

Arms – Transformation!
In a coincidental turn, the person who shot that slow-mo Trials video I linked to on the last post turns out to be a fellow MRT forumite, IRunForBeer (more slow-mo from the Trials are here on his Youtube page…wonderful stuff!).  He’s also a shit-fast runner and coach.  Anyway, when I read on the sub 2:40 thread that this was his video, I unlurked to thank him for shooting it, and mentioned I was using it for arm form.  He left a generous reply with tips on arm form but one in particular resonated with me beyond all expectation:

“Note that many elites have some ‘swim’ in their arms/hands, not just robotic forward/back but hands moving in a loose relaxed oval pattern.”

Immediately after reading that, I went for a run and realized that, of all the components or tricks I’ve used for my arms, I have never once considered what my wrists are doing.  My wrists, it turns out, are like rigor mortis sticks, locking my hands down creating a never-ending tension.  In that moment, I finally understood what it is about my arms/hands that bug me in every race photo but I could never pinpoint.  Aha Moment #1!

As it turns out, IRunForBeer wasn’t even talking about wrists, as he added this the next day: “Just to be clear the ‘swimming’ with the arms is from outside to inside (the left hand/arm clockwise circles and the right is going CCW) and just keeps thing loose and in rhythm.” so he was talking about the whole arm (or forearm).  No matter, my misinterpretation unlocked a hugely important key – that by adding some “float” to my wrists, my whole arm became more relaxed.

Then yesterday, I expanded the looseness applying the small circular motion to my entire arm…Aha Moment #2!  I had been running like a robot, arms sawing back and forth, this new motion was like night/day to that.  It’s as if previously, my arms were limited to 2 dimensions whereas now, all 3 dimensions were available to me.  Major stuff!

I even felt taller as I ran, as if that pressing down and tension had grounded me to the pavement, whereas with looser upper body, I felt more “up, up, up” with my gait.

So yesterday afternoon’s run was one of my favorite outings ever.  Helped by a surreal January day (60 degrees before sunset), my planned 10-miler stretched to 13 because it felt so damned good, average pace 7:56.  It’s these kind of discoveries that make me so excited to go out on my next run and my next run and…

Apologies to Shoefiter
I had to edit my last post where I bitched about the Shoefiter application at RunningWarehouse letting me down when it came to the Hyper Speed sizing. Turns out, I thought I wore a 7.5 in the Adios but I wear 8s so Shoefiter was right on the money.  I wish I’d realized this before ordering a pair of 7.5 Adios from Eastbay the other day, but oh well, I’m an idiot and Shoefiter rules.