20-Point Bucks and Trail Run Therapy

The more I run on trails, the more this Robert Frost work is true:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I'd venture to say most people don't usually get lost. People get gone, but very seldom get lost. They say that the purpose of endurance sports is to lose yourself. Or, another great quote is, "the greatest distance to cover in endurance sports is the distance between your ears." I haven't quite gone to that length, but I do try to get lost. Let me explain

Trail running is straight dope therapy. Heading out to Griffy to the run the trails Saturday was the perfect choice - and one that was made for me (legs are pretty sore from the running on the pavement, so I put trails in the bag for the days approaching 30.) I'm never dissatisfied by root romping. No matter the route, or how it winds, it all seems to be perfectly crafted in the end. Its funny, but I never finish a woods run and think, damn, I wish it would have gone up that ravine, or over that way. It all looks the same. Although, I will note, the last 2 miles of the three lakes trail in Morgan-Monroe, headed for Bryant Lake, are the berries. Weaving in and out of creek beds, having slight, sharp inclines and switch backs is on the same level as listening to John Denver in a misty morning sunrise. That dude's voice is a clear as a mountain stream! Have a listen!

Anyway, I left Griffy around 6:15 on Saturday, hoping to go for an hour. The trails there are not too long, but I remember that coming from the CC Course at IU one time, I could see the east side of the lake thru the woods from the ridge by the golf course. So instead of starting at upper Griffy, I began at the lakeside trail head intending to go southeast until I hit the IU golf course.

None of that happened. I did hit a long stretch of trail that paralled the creek bed, weaving thru the trees and tracing the lower part of the ravine. And that was fun. Eventually I hit some signs that said private property (ignored) and then Sycamore Land Trust, which got me thinking - I was smart enough to wear an all white shirt, but dumb enough not to make it a orange one. With as many shots as I've heard before on the trails, being within SLT bounds can give you a least some reassurance that you won't get Dick Cheney'd. Speaking of, things that get shot, I took an exit route leading to the back of someone's yard. Not just any yard, I guess, because for about a 1/4 mi they had mowed one deck wide from their house to the trail. A path that took you through really high grasses and beautiful countryside. When I got close enough to the house I stopped and looked around. There was a deer bust about 20-30ft away in the bushes that initially I thought was fake, but at a second glance revealed more.

He was lookin at me, me lookin at him. Huge rack. Masterful deer! Knowing I could get seriously injured, I retreated just a bit only to have him bound away. In doing so, he cleared the bushes entirely and when he landed I, no fooling, could feel the ground shake. Probably twenty points on his head. It blows me away that an animal like that can evade people for so long. I looked for a picture online, but the only pictures of something like it are those that involve hunter's holding the heads of.

Just one experience of many involving wildlife that you can have on the trail. I highly recommend! The fall is the perfect time as it is off-season for most, the trees are shading orange, bugs are mostly gone, and it feels like an adventure every time.

Tecumseh Trail Marathon on December 3rd!

HY-VEE 5150 Championship- 1st place age group

Well it has been awhile since I have given you all an update on my training and racing, so I will give you the low down now!

After competing in Ironman Muncie my next goal was to go to Iowa for the 5150 Championship race which I qualified for when I went to Tampa Florida earlier this year in April. The race consisted of 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run. The things I wanted to accomplish at this race was getting as close to 2 hrs and 5 minutes and breaking 40 minutes on the 10k run.

So after Ironman I really had to train hard, and i mean real hard in order to accomplish those goals. My coach Ben Weaver knew what my goals were and so he created my workouts to get me to that level. Just to give you an idea of what some of my training weeks were like I would swim 3 times a week, bike 3 times a week with a run after and then run 2 other days of the week. I can recall doing some workouts on the bike with Alex where Alex said to me " that is the first time I have ever felt nauseated".

While preparing for this race it was mentally and physically draining. I wanted to quit or take the day off due to being exhausted. This race coming up was going to be my 9th race this season. But thanks to Alex and Coach Ben I had plenty of support to keep me going and the results where HUGE!

When arriving in Iowa it was 55 degrees and rainy. Not what I wanted at the time but it came to benefit me on race day. The day before the race officials swore up and down that the race would not be wetsuit legal, but little did we all know race morning the water was 74 degrees. For some of you that don't know a wetsuit helps you stay afloat and not have to work so hard. Oh ya and it also keeps you warm. Granted I am and strong swimmer but this really helps me out! Also since this was my last "A" race of the season and I wanted to go fast Ben let me use his zipp 1080 races wheels which were awesome!

The run is what I was most proud of on this race I finally broke 40 minutes. My run Split was 39:20! I was able to hold off the second place guy in my age group, who beat me at Tampa earlier this year. I crossed the finish line in 2:08.00. Granted it wasn't 2:05 but it was a PR for me in an Olympic distance race by over 4 minutes and I smashed the run! I was happy for sure! As I was on the shuttle bus back to the race site I was talking to some people and they were talking about prizes. I knew that the pros were competing for some big cash prizes, but little did I know that winning 1st place in your age group got you $650 and a really nice metal!

Next year I will be back for this race except next time I will be under 2:05 without a doubt!

Now that race season is over as of this past weekend competing in the Lake Lemon triathlon, I will move onto my next goal of competing in a full marathon race. Leading up to this I will do the Monumental half marathon in downtown Indianapolis, IN and then I am thinking of doing the Walt Disney Marathon or one of the Rock and Roll marathons where they have a band playing at each mile!

So until I blog again I will be running, lots and lots and lots of miles!

Thanks for reading!

21 Days of Running

I'm not a runner. At least, I wouldn't be picked from a line-up. But of the three sports, I enjoy running the most. Loco-moting solo with very little wind or other variables to worry of, every step being different, hearing myself breathe, focusing on form - dude, to me, running is hands up one of the most incredible feats a human can accomplish. Running is tough shit, too, especially if you're out of shape. Because it's such an intimate activity, you can come to fully understand how out of shape you, in fact, are with one 15 minute jog (or less, depending on how hard you go!). And, I think the best part is that you can't fake running fitness in a group setting. It's a little easier in cycling and swimming, but trying to have some fleet feet can make you look and feel like a spaz. I've been there. Didn't love it.

Currently my running phase involves 30 days of running 30 minutes minimum. Three weeks in, and just past the habit forming threshold, I'm feeling many things. Some of which I expected and other's I didn't. Of those:

1. Feeling quite a bit creakier at the 6a runs 3-weeks in compared to when I began. I now expect it, and wait for the moment (usually after 2 miles) where I feel my system has turned on all the lights and that which hides in the dark has scurried out. At that point, with the same effort as the opening miles, 7:30/mi on grass w/hills is no problemo.

2. Running with no intensity has done a few things. Namely, by running at a HR comfortably under my V-dot , it has dropped my aerobic pace probably by 20 sec/mi. So, what was at the beginning 8:40miles at HR-1 will probably be 8:20 miles when I test it again at that same HR. The concept of running slower to run faster is completely foreign to me, but after careful reading and consideration, I'm glad I've given it a chance.

3. Not having an off day has given me a kick in the ass. I'm beginning to approach rest much differently. Because I know I have no off days, I am more modest in my efforts elsewhere. This has led to consistency, frequency, and more exercise without feeling beat up. That to me is worth the patience and the ego check when I feel like going much faster.

4. I look forward to running more than I ever have before. I feel stronger and more resilient.

Previously, I would typically get 15-20mi/wk in going much faster. My propensity for injury was much higher, and in many cases, some of those runs set me back for days. With this phase, more miles=more fun=more fast....in the long run.

In all, I'm exercising some serious self control here. Terribly unusual for me.

Who knows, after this 30 days is up, I might continue to go for 100.

Thanks for reading!

Miles thus far:
Week1: 3.5hrs - 26.29mi
Week2: 4.5hrs - 29.9
Week3: 3.3hrs - 25.7mi

'Plan' is a 7-Letter Word

While visiting a friend this past weekend, he mentioned something that the owner of a brokerage company, which he works for, said.

-"Don't think of a plan as a four letter word, because in many ways, a sound financial plan can help you achieve a state best described by a seven letter word: Freedom." Super cool quote.

Insert 'training' for 'financial' and wahlah, some relevance.
Let me be the first to say, I am somewhat anti-plan. It depends on what kind.

Short term plans are essential. If I don't plan my workout, then write it down just before I do it, it's like I never came up with a plan, and without that plan, nothing constructive gets done. I'm just not that talented.

Long term plans? Dumpster. Financial long term plans? Rock and roll, but training long term plans - I'm not so sure. Here are the reasons I am skeptical of long-term training plans.

1. Nothing ever goes as planned. Essentially, when one workout follows another, you're somewhat planning on how you might feel that day. What if you're crushed from the previous workout and you've got intervals that will have the wheels coming off if you do them? Should you forge the river and loose your supplies to the mighty waters and your women to dysentery? Rhetorical question.

2. Long term plans give me the feeling that a lot is weighing on my performance at the end of the plan. Unofficial statistics show that a person's success in a competition is inversely proportional to the amount of pressure they perceive and directly related to how much fun they perceive to be having prior to race time. Sports fans often observe the opposite. They say, wow, that person really performs well under pressure. But mid-game or prior to the competition, if they don't have time to get caught up in the hype, or they are somehow diverted from it, they perform much better. I've seen this in the swimmers I coach. They instinctively know the race is big time, so no need to mention it. Instead, telling jokes and being lighthearted about things is the best approach. Never fails.

3. It's easy to get distracted. A lot of Olympic athletes give talks to kids who are just beginning in their sport. I watched a video of this just today. The athlete tells the kids he's speaking to, "my dream was to swim in the Olympics. I thought about it everyday and worked to get there everyday." I'm sorry, but I don't think you did. You broke it up into segments, focusing on each independently. I'm not 100% on that, but I know that if I left a talk like that in my early years and thought about the Olympics each and everyday, I would be fried crispy in a matter of weeks. I tried it once with a goal not so lofty, but far away. I stopped the next day.

4. It can be daunting. If I want to run a marathon, which I do, during the race I'm not going to think about however many miles I have left to run. That's a quick path to discouragement. Thinking shorter-term will be more successful - just hit your pace on the next mile, then the next, then the next.

In the fine print, if you have a long term training plan for yourself, and you get injured early on, or even later on in the cycle, it can feel like a tremendous burden - I've been there. Instead, by splitting things up in to small, manageable time periods or goals, if you don't get to one of them because of setback, it's no sweat. You already made it to this level. You're game gets saved, and the mental anguish is avoidable. In this case, the plan IS freedom.

Essentially I'm not telling you anything you didn't already know. This is just how I manage my plan and how I manage training plans of my athletes.

There's a lot of truth to this plan=freedom logic. If you don't have a plan of some sort, then how will you know the freedom when you get there? Freedom could be anything. Be sure you know what you're looking for.

Something I struggle with, probably the most important element, is that a plan is nothing without execution. Plans, just like ideas, are multipliers of execution. The original creator of that statement, Derek Sivers, says that the greatest idea with no execution is worth $20. The greatest idea (plan) takes excellent execution to be worth $20,000,000. That's why he doesn't want to hear people's ideas. He's not interested until he sees their execution. (Props to Sue recommending Derek)

Be careful how much time you spend on your plan. Your time might be better spent working your way to freedom without one.

You Need More Numbers

But then, what about Paula Newby-Fraser? Eight Ironman wins and she preferred to not wear so much as a watch? What about the pros who don't use heart rate monitors or power meters?What about Craig Alexander? Where are their numbers? Their number is in Ironman victories. That's not what I'm looking for. Wrong number.

And their number won't work for you or for me. That's assuming we even knew what theirs was. I am confused.

I knew I was confused a while ago. I had my SPEEDometer that told me everything I needed to know. Until I discovered what wind was and hills were. Those were the wrong kind of numbers. Questionable training method #1.

Then, for the past year I used my mind to gauge my speed and effort on 3x10's or whathaveyou's and prayed to whatever it is you pray to that in a race I would be faster. But then I learned that you probably shouldn't go all out every time. I don't know about you, but I sure as sunrise don't know what 90% feels like. I can guess, but I bet I'm 10% off in the wrong direction. Metaphorical numbers don't count. Questionable training method #2.

The only thing I can think of that logically would follow as Questionable training method #3 would be if I kept doing what I'm doing. That's not to discount the value of the work itself. Surely, just riding my bike quite hard on a pretty frequent basis is going to yield results eventually, no secret there. But having the opportunity to accurately ascertain my effort, I couldn't help but eventually smell what the rock is cookin'. I needed to know my number!

The feedback PowerTap will provide me will be invaluable. In my first experience, my number was 373. As Shanahan says, getting my 20 minute over 400 should be the main goal. Everything after that will be incidental. And so...the wholesomeness of doing things by perceived exertion and for the love of it is beginning to look a little threadbare.

Luckily, though, I think I did it right. Comparatively speaking, I enjoyed swimming before I started racing. I enjoyed basketball before I threw up an airball in my first game, and I did triathlon recreationally before I attempted to give it a go. I never excelled at hoops because the only measurement I could look to improve on was who I beat. That's great and all, but I'd rather stack up against my previous self. Just an FYI - that is exactly why Mario Cart Time Trial mode was the highlight of my video game career.

Point is, the playing field is now leveled. I can follow the clock while swimming, I can run the same course multiple times, I can look at the Erg screen to tell me if I'm being a girlyman, and now I can look at the Joule and know, no matter the route, if I'm better than I was the last time.

I know it's not a panacea, and I know it doesn't get easier - I'll just get faster. But if working at the bike shop has taught me anything it's that the right tool for the job does indeed help.

I'm excited. Looking at a number when I was rowing drove me insane some days, and others helped me live a little higher. Here's to learning to live and learning to die by the numbers.

The magic is in the man. Not the miles. - Bill Bowerman. Hoping to find a few more tricks in the months to come!

Get paper? Nah, man. Get Numbers!