Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Good Old Fashion Comeback Story

I think most people have heard the story of Eric Avila who was a state champion in 2007 in the 3200, who after that title admits to being an idiot and not approaching things right dropping out of college and stopping running completely.  Well he completed a full redemption, coming full circle and breaking 4 minutes in the mile at a meet last week in front of tons of support.  It's a great read if you haven't read it and the video of him crossing the finish line is such emotion it's fantastic (see here).  I think all of us runners who have taken some time off, love a redemption story, something that tells us, we can come full circle too.  Eric had been working in manual labor for a time, but got back into running and achieved such a fantastic thing.  Something I imagine at one point he thought he could never achieve again and it was past him.  Just reading this I know it's something I can apply to my approach to running going forward.

Back in college when I stopped running my senior year, my college coach told me "Someday Nick you are going to regret leaving when you still having more left to accomplish.  Leaving when you still have the fitness to do great things"  I'm paraphrasing a little bit it's been a while but running for me at that point in my life wasn't the same, I had moved on.  For many years I rarely gave it a second thought until I started to get really overweight, my wedding photo's will haunt me forever.  I tried tons of other activities to lose weight but it always came back to running, so I casually started up again.  But it was never about being competitive, about carving out time each day to run and do many other activities.  It was just about losing some weight.  Losing some weight and then running a marathon, but just one that's it.  But once I finished I got the itch again, running grabbed me and I was hooked.  And all the great races and times in my life I had run, no longer seemed unachievable.  That I could still achieve all that I wanted even this many years later, but am I sure?  I am older now,  past my prime?  Many years away from the game.  A great story of someone like Eric helps to level set you, to realize that your effort is on you.  If you want to do great things in running, or anything else in life...put in the effort.  Go for it, don't feel it's too late, that you can never do that again.  After reading this story about Eric, I know I no longer have an ounce of doubt that I can be great again, no doubt that I will put in the effort to run all the times I once dreamed, and at worst case I'll sure as heck enjoy the ride with the friends I have made along the way.

Training Week of  6/2

Monday - A nice easy recovery run, felt pretty good post race.  - 8 Miles
Tuesday - Another 8 mile recovery run, giving myself an extra day post race.  Also worked on core and did plyometrics post run - 8 miles
Wednesday - First workout since Boston - Warmed up for 3 miles, hit the track to do a 3-4 mile tempo.  Felt rough, tempo's are a good effort but should feel at a pace you can maintain.  At 3.5 miles I called it, while running at 6:00 min/pace on the track.  A good starting workout, I finished the workout with 4 x 200 ranging from 31-35 seconds and a 2.5 mile cool down. - 10.5 miles
Thursday - Recovery run 8.5 miles at work, and added 6 x hill strides at the end of the run
Friday -  Made it my long run.  Hit up 8.5 miles in Baltimore at a good clip around 6:20 pace, and met up with Graham for the 25/25/25 challenge(25 beers, miles, wings).  I did not participate but tacked on another 4.5 miles - 13 miles
Saturday - Off day- worked in the yard the entire day - 0 miles
Sunday - Felt terrible the entire run plagued with stomach issues - 8 miles

Total - 56 miles

Thursday, June 5, 2014

You’ve got to start somewhere!

I’ve wanted to at least be blogging once a week with my training but neglected the past three weeks.  It’s a common theme for me when my training hits a setback or isn’t going as I expected my excitement about running goes down, when sometimes that is when you need that motivation the most.  I hit a setback about 3 weeks ago when I had thought I was beginning my build up post Boston when my hamstring issue plaguing me off and on since October got to be too much.  With some talking to my doctor it was advised to hit up some physical therapy to strengthen and get back to 100%.  Some initial advice is this issue is linked to my weak glutes which are forcing my hamstrings to do all the work and the glutes nothing.  Funny thing about running, everyone will say to get faster all you need to do is run, which is 100% true but to stay healthy and always be at your peak you need to make sure you do not neglect all your other strength, mobility, recovery training.  I’ve neglected it too long and now it is beginning to have a negative impact on my running.

With PT under way, a new found respect for core work and new recovery techniques aside, I still had a race to run the Bel Air Town Run 5k on June 1st.  The 5k is an event that gets a ton of disrespect these days but it's to me one of the hardest, most painful races you run.  With everyone sucked into the half and full marathon craze the 5k loses all it's luster as only a 3.125 mile race, but believe you me when you run it all out, it really hurts...  That said having done 0 workouts since Boston and only one 40 mile week, I was not confident about this race.  But I needed a kick in the butt and to just race to get back at it, so I came out here nonetheless.  As I warmed up I was worried but also had some excitement to try and become a 5k runner again, as opposed to the half and full runner I have become of late.  I toed the line, took a deep breath and I was off.  The first 200 meters in I was in about 30th place behind probably the entire Bel Air High School track team.  I settled in and ignored these kids sprinting down the hill and focused on me.  Having forgotten my watch was a fantastic start to this race, so I relied on effort and racing people around me.  I came through the mile in 5:10, which I am told might be 5:20 but it didn’t matter either way I felt pretty good through 1 mile.  As the second mile dragged on I really didn’t feel like I was slowing down but the gentlemen at 2 miles seemed to tell me a different story as he shouted 11:04, doh.  I was a little deflated since I had felt smooth through mile 2 and I knew mile 3 was the toughest but I had to push on, or at least I told myself to.  Mile 3 was terrible though, the lack of training and miles since Boston got me and even as I crested the last hill to the final downhill I had nothing.  I was passed by about 6-7 runners the last 600 meters, just terrible.  I finished in 17:47, 19th overall and 1st in Age Group(Won a sweet glass bowl, not pictured).  That said it is technically still a post collegiate PR(I think I have run faster during the Club Challenge 10 miler, and I did 17:43 on the track 4 days before Boston) but it’s not what I wanted.  As the title says I had to start somewhere and now I know the work ahead of me.  If this race did nothing else it upped my motivation to get faster and my excitement for a summer of pain and fast running, which is exactly what I was hoping this race would do.  Sometimes even when you are tired or not at your best lining up and racing can be a positive experience as long as you can take something useful from it.  For me I learned a lot from this race about where my fitness needs to be improved and got some butterflies of running 5k’s out.

The advice I can give to runners everywhere is don’t be afraid to race, don’t be afraid to fail.  I could have easily bagged this race for not being “ready” and who knows where my mind would be at today.  I could also look at this result and be super disappointed that I lost to a few teenagers, and finished 90 seconds slower than someone who I finished even with at the half marathon in March, but instead it’s about focusing on the positives and using the negatives as fuel to get out there and get stronger.   It’s about having a goal and using races, workouts and any motivation you can to reach it.  I want to run sub 16:30 by the end of this summer, and yesterday gave me my starting point.  The rest is up to me to get strong enough to do it.  I just need to enjoy the process of getting there, one step at a time.

Last 4 weeks of training since last blog:

5/5 – Off
5/6 – 7 Miles, a couple miles in the 6:20 – 6:30 range just to get the legs moving
5/7 – 7 Miles today – Plyometrics
5/8 – Off
5/9 – 7 miles
5/10 – 6 miles – Plyometrics
5/11 -11 miles – strides
Total – 38 miles

5/12 – 7 miles
5/13 – 6.5 miles
5/14 – 7 miles, attempted a workout but just couldn’t get into it, shut it down after second interval
5/15 – Off
5/16 – 7 miles
5/17 – 5/18 – Off   Trip to Cooperstown cut into training, bah to real life!
Total 27.5 miles

5/19 – 7.5 miles
5/20 – 9 miles
5/21 – Off
5/22 – 7 miles
5/23 – 8 miles
5/24 – 10 miles
5/25 – Off – Hamstring
Total – 41.5 miles

5/26 – 7.5 miles
5/27 – Off
5/28 – 8 miles
5/29 – 8 miles – 3-4 at 6:20 pace – No workout until after race so just getting legs moving – Core/Plyometrics
5/30 – 8.5 miles
5/31 – 8.5 miles
6/1 – 10 miles – Bel Air Town Run 5k – 17:47
Total – 50 miles