Never Give Up, There Is Always A Way!

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must, just never give up.” That is one of the most motivational quotes I have ever read and of my favorites. It is so fitting for those rough days or times when things just are not going right. Let’s face it, there are many days when we could pack it in. I lecture my clients often that if it is important enough you will find a way. If something is important enough it will change your mindset.

This past Saturday I dealt with just that thought process. I was working with a long time client of mine. From way back when she started with me many years ago we knew she would one day need a knee replacement. Actually she would need two. So we have always modified the exercises based on how she was feeling, what she needed, and what exercises we needed to avoid.

We are a little less than a month before her second knee replacement surgery. We need to work around the issue but we really want to make sure that she is keeping her legs strong ahead of surgery. After her first surgery she was still so strong that she was way ahead of the curve in regards to recovery. The two of us had to find an exercise that would allow us to maintain her strength. Even her PT was impressed!

I came up with a new use for my cable weight stack. We have been using it for about the last three weeks. It has been great training option for her as any knee dominant movement like squats, lunges, step-ups, etc are difficult and painful. We have been doing forward and backward walking while using a triceps rope handle. It has been an awesome way to train.

I really like the fact that we can walk and pull going both forward and backward. I feel this maintains an optimal muscle balance, and hits the glutes, quads, etc, without having to use the movements mentioned above that aggravate the symptoms.

While this is not a perfect alternative to direct knee dominant and even hip dominant (kettlebell swings, deadlift variations,etc), it has been allowing us to get in a positive training effect. At the end of the day if you can walk away from any type of training you are doing with a great effect that is a win in my book any day. Never give up!

Happy Training!

Hitting Reset

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B,A,B, A. That was the ultimate video game code from one of my all-time favorite games, Contra, for the old Nintendo Entertainment System or NES. It provided you with 100 lives. Those extra lives were more than enough to get to the end and reach your goal. If only running were that easy. You could simply start right off where you died. At worst you could hit reset and start over.

Ok well thankfully and much less dramatically I did not die, so that is a plus! However my April training has in a sense died in its forward progress. I have had to overcome so many obstacles this year in my training that I have decided to not run in this year’s Connecticut Master’s Games. The last two years I had competed at the Games. This always the main race in my schedule and is usually one of my first which is only adding to my disappointment.

My April started off great! I was hitting some really great numbers in regards to weekly mileage, number of quality runs, and pace. That is until the week before Easter and we had  to help my wife get to Florida for work.  Kids on vacation, many of my clients away, new tires, an oil change and we were underway on our impromptu ‘family’ vacation.

I had many mixed feeling of this. Recently I had been complaining to my wife that we had not had a real ‘vacation’ in forever. Well now we were and not only that we were going to the Star Wars Celebration too! This was going to be an incredible experience I could share with my daughters. From lunch with two sets of aunts and uncles to an airboat tour this was going to be a busy trip.  However with the crazy hours my wife has to work there was literally no time to get any training in. I literally did run one mile.

This should have been my last big push before the Master’s Games. I really needed to get some quality speedwork sessions in on the track since that is where the competition is held. With the late Winter snows, local high schedule, and my daughter’s schedules, track workouts, my bread and butter have not been consistent

I got home from Orlando the Monday after Easter around 1:30am. As tired I was I dragged myself out of bed. I trained a client then went for an easy run. The goal was five miles but ended up being 4.30. I threw in a couple striders then headed home. I started to feel really tight in my right quad. I thought to myself, you did not run all last week why run faster than your easy pace? Well the next morning my quad bothered me even more. Fast forward to the weekend and between weather, local high school sports, and my quad once again there is no speedwork to be done.  This weekend brought more of the same as my daughter had a soccer tournament both days.

Factoring all these things in I have decided to not run in the Master’s Games. I am actually ok with it. I was leaning toward that decision on Sunday anyway. While at my daughter’s soccer game on Sunday there was a baseball game going on behind us on an adjacent field. I used to play on a softball team and even got to go play in the U.K. and Scotland one year. After that, I also began playing vintage base ball (yes two words in 1864 the year of the rules we followed). I stopped playing both once my daughter started playing travel soccer, I never wanted to miss any of her games. I thought I would miss it, but I never did. That is how I knew it was right for me to stop playing.

Oddly enough I feel the same now. I’m disappointed at losing the opportunity to compete but am totally ok with my decision.  I refuse to look back on the great trip I had with my girls to Orlando and the Star Wars Celebration with anything other than the joy and happiness I felt there. It was truly an experience I will never forget. That fact that I shared it with my daughters is even better. I was getting so focused on my training I was losing sight of the bigger picture, which was one of the things I blogged about in my “Everything I Know About Running I Learned From Start Wars” blog post, specifically #38.

What I will do though is hit reset on my training. Like those old school video games you could hit restart or revert back to your saved game. While I cannot back and start right where I left off I also do not need to throw out all my training and start over. I will be smart and ease back into it.

I have now set new goals. I have a Father’s Day race coming up in June, and will that as a tune up and springboard into some summer Cross Country races, and maybe I will still compete on the track this summer.  I have now had three weeks, one where I had no running at all, and two others with very reduced mileage and inconsistency.

My focus has been not on myself but helping my oldest daughter and her soccer team by filling in a bit in the coaching area. My other focus is on my youngest daughter who has been dealing with some challenges. We have been trying to work through them and rather than focus on my own running and victories I want to celebrate hers. 

I am now feeling mentally ready to take on my first real training in almost a month. I feel renewed mentally and physically. Today I find myself ready and looking forward to the miles! I believe I should have backed off my training earlier in the winter but that is neither here nor there. I am where I should be based on circumstances, with my feet pointed straight, my laces double knotted, and my Garmin trying to connect.

Beware the Slides of March

It is going to be a tough week to find time to blog. My daughters were home after school canceled yesterday. Now they have a two hour delay. In between getting them ready for school I thought I would try to post something. We have received a last (hopefully) blast of winter here in the Northeast. Thankfully the snow turned to sleet which kept the snow totals down. However it did leave everything a complete sheet of ice. Beware the slides of March.

My driveway and the roads are just not safe today. Here in Connecticut many roads do not have shoulders to run on. That forces the plows to push all the snow onto the sidewalks. With these factors it makes sense to move training indoors. It can make for dangerous running as everyone slides around. That goes for both runners and drivers.

I know for many it is a badge of honor to run in all conditions. I take pride in this was well. However today I will swap my outdoor training for a strength training session. I’ll take tomorrow as it comes. I do not subscribe to the “No Pain No Gain” mentality when I train clients, and I follow that rule of thumb for my own training. I believe in avoiding injury so it is possible to train.

Be smart. I know we all try to run outside during all conditions. In this case beware the slides of March! Injuries can derail the best laid plans.

Happy and smart training!

Today Is My Birthday And I Don’t Care

Today is my birthday! I do not give a rat’s rear end about it. Oh sure, I’ll celebrate with my family later this evening. I have earned it with all the hard work I have been putting in. The family time will be what I really celebrate and look forward to. I also look forward to hearing from long time friends.

I usually do not care about my birthday. In fact there have been some I did not even acknowledge like my 40th. It came and went. I find it helps me keep a competitive edge not acknowledging it. So I will allow my family to celebrate it, especially my daughters. While the number of my age has changed at the end of the day I am only one day older than yesterday.

Father Time is undefeated.  While I do not feel my age I know someday this is a battle I will lose. However if Father Time thinks I’m going quietly he is severely underestimating me. It reminds me of the poem by Dylan Thomas.

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

As you saw in the workouts I have sharing, sprinting and strength training I will do all I can to fight. I will lift, run, sprint, push, pull, jump, claw, scratch. Whatever I have to do I will. Father Time is in for a battle. Rage!

Things Can Go Wrong Without SMART Goals

A man names Joe goes to see his parish priest. “Father, you have to pray for me. “ The priest responds, “Of course Joe. What seems to be the problem?” “Father, I lost my job and my bills are adding up. I need you to pray for me to get a job, “Joe replies. “The priest thinks about it a moment and asks Joe, “What type of job shall I pray for you to get?” “Oh I don’t care anything. I just need a job.”

The priest kneels down facing the altar,” Lord, please help your son Joseph to find a job shoveling horse manure at a parade. I ask this in Jesus name…”

“Wait!” Wait yells Joe. “Not that kind of job!”

The take home message here for is be careful what you truly want. Even more than that though be sure you have clearly defined goals of what you want for yourself.

I see it quite often with clients. Those who have clearly defined goals usually have an easier time staying focused. It is easier to stay on the path than to struggle trying to find the path.

I am currently in the second phase of my training for the 2017 CT Master’s Games. Last year I ran my best ever running the 3000 meter. I did that by following a well thought out plan that I laid out for myself. It incorporated strength training, many tough speed work days, and also factored in recovery. Without that well devised plan I have no doubt I would not have run nearly as well.

Injury would later derail me from late summer into the Fall after playing soccer. That was pretty frustrating since I am not really a soccer player. I am now working to get back to where I was preinjury. I have a clearly laid out plan that builds off of what worked last year. Whether or not I get back to where I was is yet to be determined.

There are two types of pain. There is the pain of discipline and the pain of regret.  By having clearly defined goals I know I will avoid the latter.

Now get out there and chase your goals.

Random Running Musings From My Long Run Yesterday

When I do my long run it provides the quietest time of my day. With two busy daughters, clients, and just life my weekly long run is an opportune time to think. I can focus on myself as a person, dad, husband, as well as certain aspects of my running. Here are some random running musings I had while doing my long (for me) run yesterday morning.

1)      I am just not a cold weather runner. We had temperatures here in Connecticut in the upper 50s on Saturday. I had my best training session. My times are always slower in colder temperatures. When the weather cooled off again in Sunday my times went up. Yesterday was in the lower 50’s and once again I ran faster. I need to trust the process more.

2)      My long run is the perfect time to focus on a couple key points of my running form. While running I periodically “check in with myself” to make sure I am leaning slightly forward, not over striding  and despite it being an easy paced run I made sure to focus on my cadence. These are some tips I picked up after reading Chi Running a couple years ago.

The increased focused paid off. My cadence was much lower the previous week. Also after comparing my previous week’s long run to this one I able to see I also shortened my stride length running 6.6 mph to now running 6.8mph. You might not think this would matter that much. That would be wrong as this allowed me to run the same course 10 seconds per mile faster, while still being sure to stay within my easy pace range. I just ended up staying on the faster side of that pace. This resulted also in me running over a longer distance while running the same amount of time. I was running more efficiently.

3)      I love running for time as opposed to a prescribed distance for long runs. When I used to train for half marathons and even now sometimes before what constitutes my longs run now, I can get psyched out by the distance. If I focus instead on running for a certain amount time I find the run goes better. There is much less pre-run anxiety, and less pressure overall to run a certain distance. In fact I find running for time I usually end up running longer than I would have if going for distance. For example during training for one of my half-marathons my goal was to run for two hours. I ended up running over 14 miles. This was a huge confidence builder ahead of my half.

4)      I can focus on myself.  Long runs are always a great time for me to personally check in with myself like I do with my form mentioned above. I try to analyze how I handled myself that morning or previous night as a husband, dad, etc. It helps to put things in perspective. Like we all experience with good runs and runs that do not go so well, there are things to be learned from both. How can I be a better husband, and dad? If I did a good job how I can continue to do that? What are some ways like running and strength training can I build off of my success?

5)      People here in Fairfield County Connecticut are just not friendly. I always wave and say good morning or good afternoon to walkers, runners, and bikers. More often than not they do not even respond with a simple wave. I vow to keep greeting them because you never know how much that one person may need that simple wave. So whether or not I get any responses I will keep greeting everyone.

6)      Do not measure your pace against someone else’s.  Many of us follow other runners via social media. I do not know if yo do it, but I know I sometimes catch myself comparing my runs to others. You cannot have a real idea how flat or hilly someone’s course is, or what weather factors affected positively or negatively their run. Run the mile you are in based on your own personal conditions.

7)       Medical paper tape is the perfect thing to help deal with blisters you may have. I have started to do a lot more track work now that the snow and ice have retreated here in Connecticut. The first couple times out in track shoes I build up a bit of friction which results in blisters. I read a study that determined that paper tape can be very helpful in preventing blisters in ultra-marathoners and started using it with good results last year. While many of us will not run an ultra we can surely benefit the same from using the tap. It does make a difference as I was not bothered by my blisters on my long run yesterday. In fact they actually are almost healed.  You might give it a try. 8)      It is like the name of the concert film by Led-Zeppelin. The Song Remains the Same. So do my feelings about the long run, I still feel the same. This was one of my more popular blog posts from last year the week before the CT Master’s Games. It sums up some of my feelings of the long run.

9) Running helps makes me the best version of myself I can be. I know I have said it before but I really do believe that.

Happy Training!