A return to running

After my first Olympic distance duathlon last August, I decided I was pretty burned out on running and endurance activities in general, so I very purposefully took a step back and changed what I was doing to stay in shape. I started off with a 12 week cycle of P90X. Looking back on it, I don’t think P90X was the best option for what I wanted. The first 6-8 weeks of that program I felt like I was getting stronger and leaner, etc, but by the end my strength gains were going backwards and I was developing some nagging pains that I attribute to overuse injuries. I eventually moved over to a more sane strength and conditioning program that has me lifting heavy and running balls out for very short distances.

The amazing thing was that after the first couple of weeks of P90X during which I still went out and did some sprints on yoga days, I ended up not running at all for a couple of months. As a result of this no running phase I never felt like I was getting out of shape. To be honest with you, I feel like too much long distance running isn’t conducive to functional fitness. By functional fitness, I mean the go out and chase your kids around the playground, play on the monkey bars, climb the pole and play chase type activities. This is always my dilemma; there’s some deep passion I have for running, but I don’t want to be one of those skinny-fat runners that can go forever in a straight line at a steady pace.

I’m not sure you can have it all, but I’m going to try. I don’t have any plans to run a marathon or anything like that. I’ve done that, and it was a great accomplishment, but I just don’t think that’s what I want from my running right now. I want to fulfill that deep down desire I have to go out there and put some miles in, but I don’t want that pursuit to stop me from hitting the weights hard. Right now I’m focusing on getting back in enough semblance of endurance shape to complete a sprint duathlon 5K/30K/5K with some dignity.

Don’t laugh, but after 6 months of lifting weights and running hill sprints and shuttle runs, it’s harder than I imagined it would be to go out there and run 2 hilly miles. I’m building up slowly. By mid May my last long run before the duathlon should be 9 miles, which I think should more than prepare me for the race. I’m also building back up on the bike slowly. I started with 20 minute sessions 3 times a week this week, and I’m planning on building up 5 minutes per session per week for the duration of what pretty much amounts to base training for me.

After that race is over, as summer starts to set in I’m going to focus on getting ready for the olympic distance duathlon I did last summer. Last summer I wasn’t really in shape for it, so that last 10K run was a suffer fest, I don’t want to see that happen this year.

So, for now, base training with the reward of a fun little race in May. After that, focus turns to training a little more smartly for the next race. I like to think during all of that I’ll keep up the strength training, but we’ll see.

Refocusing: A tabula rasa of sorts

Last May I started off on a journey to spend less time on the couch and more time out moving. Obviously, my main goal was to drop the excess weight I’d been carrying around for the last few years. My secondary goal was to start running again. When I was a kid in gym class I always looked forward to the mile run or doing laps around the gym, and I spent a lot of my last 2 years of college running and I really enjoyed it, completing countless 5Ks, several 10Ks, 2 half marathons and 1 marathon. I guess at some level I always have been and always will be a runner.

So last year from May through August I spent 6 days a week down in the basement doing the Body for Life program, which helped me go from a quite hefty 215-220lbs to a less hefty 190lbs. At that point in early August I mapped out a couple of races I wanted to run in, then I started running outside. During the end of the summer and early fall when it was still hot as hell outside I was getting up and running at 4:30am before work, which really isn’t as bad as it sounds except for the creepy factor of being outside at that time of day.

During the fall I ran in my first 15K followed up by the Atlanta half marathon, which I had run for the first time exactly 10 years earlier. That was all well and good, and though I didn’t quite catch up with the ghost of the runner I used to be I considered both events successes.
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What’s next?

Well, the Granite Grinder half-marathon is in the bag. It was a muddy, dirty, rocky, root ridden tough course, but I’m not sure if the layoff since the ING Georgia half-marathon contributed to the feeling that it was tough or if it was legitimately a tough course. My finish time was 1:52 and some change (~17 minutes slower than ING), which I think put me towards the front of the pack, but still a good bit behind the leaders. Though I was suffering the last 5K or so, I still had a pretty good time. I’m not so used to jumping creeks, dodging fallen trees and trudging through mud during the course of a run which certainly made it entertaining. The worst part for me was running across the granite sections, where my trusty 992’s were telling my why I really should invest in some trail shoes.

There’s one more 15K trail race in June I sort of have my eye on, after which I think I’m going to be forced to layoff the distance running/racing for a while since the new baby should be arriving shortly there after. I’m really leaning more towards getting in the “gym” (basement) and hitting the weights more consistently followed by intervals on lifting days. My biggest issue is I really need to start focusing on what I eat more. I think we all know it isn’t possible to out exercise a bad diet and I’ve been slowly slipping back into some bad habits, and though I’m not really paying for it on the scale yet, it feels like a slippery slope that could take me back to where I was a year ago (35-40lbs heavier).

Radio Silence

No clue why, but I just can’t ever really come up with much to say here. There’s nothing all that exciting going on with my training and to update about the every day training regimen seems self indulgent and like a waste of time.

Coming up tomorrow I have the Granite Grinder, which is a trail half marathon run out in Conyers at the horse park. I don’t really know much about the course, but from looking at the finish times last year and the elevation chart, it looks like it might be pretty challenging. I haven’t really done much distance type running since ING 3 weeks ago, so hopefully I keep the time below 2 hours :)

Speaking of runs gone by, since I last updated I finished the Red Top Rumble, an 11.5 mile trail race at Red Top Mountain, in a somewhat disappointing 1:30 flat. I ran out of steam the last couple of miles and was struggling to hang on. My performance there was just another classic case of going out too fast, but all in all it was pretty fun. I keep meaning to get back up to Red Top just to do some running for fun.

The other race I’ve completed this year is the ING Georgia Half Marathon, which I finished in 1:35. I’d hurt my ankle before the race, so I was worried about finishing it at all, but I managed to get through without too much drama there. I am a little disappointed with my time, but I very intentionally took it easy in the early parts of the race and finished feeling pretty strong and not feeling all that spent, which to me means I didn’t work hard enough.

In other news…

I’m thinking after this weekend’s half marathon I’m going to back off the distance stuff quite a bit. I’ve been feeling a little burnt out on it lately and my wife and I are expecting our second child in June, which I know isn’t going to leave a lot of time for disappearing on long runs.

I started Turbulence Training 2 weeks ago, and so far I like it. It’s far too early to tell what sort of results I may or may not see, but the workouts are challenging and it’s nice to think the off days I can spend doing fun things with my son, perhaps even some stroller jogging. No, I don’t plan to give up running completely, but I’m planning on cutting it way back. I’m hoping to fit in one 5-8 mile run per week so I don’t completely lose that stamina I’ve built up in case I decide I want to see if I can beat my times from the past year of races, or maybe even take another run at a marathon sometime in the future.

Wow, it’s been a while

Yeesh, I knew I was a bad blogger, but this is ridiculous. So, it’s been over a month since my last post and I really don’t have a whole lot to say.

I missed the half marathon update, so I guess I should start there. I ran it in one hour and thirty seven minutes, though the last 5K was a real struggle. I think it was a combination of going out a little too fast and completely forgetting that the last 6 miles of the course were mostly uphill. I’d looked at the elevation profile before hand, but I guess it didn’t really sink in. I like to think I’ll give it another shot next year and maybe run it a little quicker. For only having been running for three months, I guess that’s a reasonable time but it bugs me and I know I can do it better.

After the half, I forced myself to take it easy for a week or so then started rolling into my next training program and ran a 5K. The 5K went ok, it was packed, and I ran it in about 20 minutes, which is a far cry from the 18 minute 5Ks of yesteryear, but I’ll take it. The week after that I continued my training for the 11.5 mile trail run in February and all seemed to be going well until the weekend when my knee started to hurt a bit.

I ran through it a little on Monday and Tuesday of last week but it continued to nag, so I took an unplanned break over Christmas Eve/Christmas and then went for a 6 mile run on Friday. Then, I took the weekend off and am planning to give it a go again this week. All of that is a long way of saying that my mileage has been down more than I’d planned in December, and I really hope that’s not going to be a barrier to finishing the 11.5 mile trail run I have scheduled for February.

Assuming I manage to get through that, I’m planning on backing off on the longish-distance stuff and refocus on mostly high intensity, short cardio and strength training for a while just to change things up on my body a bit and trim these last 10 pounds off. My theory is that if I keep one long run per week in my regimen I will hopefully be able to hop in to whatever races pop up.

Oh well, we’ll see. I hope my knee holds up this week. It’s weird. Running straight I’m all good, it’s more side-to-side lateral movements that are causing issues.