Monthly Archives: September 2006

What We Should Learn From Our Kids

I live in this apartment building. When I emerge from the elevator with my kid, she takes off running down the hallway because she wants to hide and then scare the heck out of me when I turn the corner.
Just recently, I can’t help but study her running.
Her torso is very still and relaxed. It does not sway from side to side. Her arms pump easily as she takes off down the hallway. They move backwards and forwards and do not waste in side to side motion. She runs a natural Pose Method, completely on the balls of her feet and I watch her legs kick in perfect form backward, and no wasted side motion at all, on each stride.
This is the way kids run. They have an instinctive way of moving and it is very economical and efficient. Somehow, they just know how to do this. There is no learning, just doing. It is the way that we, as adults, apparently are trying to learn again, and we call this the Pose Method, or any one of many names we can call the perfect running form.
I marvel at what we’ve lost as we grow to be adults. Ever watch other people run? You see people’s torsos bent over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. You see arms sway back and forth across their bodies, like they’re doing the watusi. Their legs churn, but yet they heel strike or have some weird foot flopping as the leg kicks backward on each stride. Watch other people run and see. Then do something really radical like videotaping yourself and…shudder….
As we grow older, we’ve lost that instinctive way of running in the most efficient and effective way. We learn new habits like sitting on couches and watching TV and doing that REALLY WELL. We forget what it’s like to be a kid anymore, in more ways than one. Whether it’s running or being creative, or being silly, or just laughing your heart out, we’ve lost the kids in ourselves.
People always say we have a lot to learn from our kids, and athletics is no exception.

ARG Asics Why Did You Change?

For years I’ve been running in Asics Gel Nimbus running shoes. They are neutral (no motion control) and supposedly have the most cushioning of any running shoe. And they worked great for 3 years. Until now.
This year, they decided to make the toe box narrower and the tongue has padding in it. This combination meant that all of a sudden, my foot was bound by the shoe more tighter than before. After about half an hour of running, my foot started to swell and then caused bruising against the edge of my hard orthotics. Bruising the ball of your foot is no fun. You can’t really run hard until it goes away and it’s pretty painful to walk on.
This went on for about 3 weeks with me trying to figure out what was wrong. After 3 weeks of trying new tying methods, taping the orthotics down, new padding, etc. it boiled down to the change in the basic design of the shoe.
I had 3 weeks of painful running because Asics chose to change the design of their shoe! The old design was fine. Why did they mess with it?
So I tried out the new Adidas A3 Microride which is extremely cushy in the forefoot, due to its cushioning cylinders which run along the bottom of the shoe. And they don’t bind my foot and make it swell.
Sorry Asics. I made the switch. You and other manufacturers should learn that you shouldn’t have keep messing with a working formula.

Crazy New Goal

OK so after I found out about Yasso 800s, I told my coach about it and he gave me a workout progression based on 800s. I started running 800s and now I’m doing that at about 3:05-3:19 per 800.
My new (CRAZY) goal: run a marathon in 3 hours. YIKES. But given my 800 times, it looks like I can get close…?
I’m psyched and going for it!

Breaking Through

This morning I ran hill repeats on my favorite loop at Rancho San Antonio. It takes me about 22 minutes for each loop. The loop consists of a .3 mile steep section and then levels out slightly but still goes uphill for about another .5 miles. After that, it starts going down and back to the parking lot where I can begin the loop again.
Doing these loops today brought home one really important aspect of running long – the mental aspect.
I start these loops OK but feel slightly tired. I purposely went swimming for about an hour before just to take my energy level down a notch. It is important to train in depleted conditions and teach your body and mind to perform even at low energy states.
The first loop is a warmup; the second loop I feel stronger. The third is the kicker. I start up the hill and I feel the run up the hill in my legs and in my breath, which becomes labored faster. It is at this time I start thinking about quitting after this loop and just heading back to the car. The voices in my head tell me it’s just better to stop and rest; why fight the muscles burning to do another loop?
But it’s important I get to this 4th loop. Last run I did here, I did 3 loops and felt pretty good. But now everything in my mind is just telling me to quit. I need to continue building past the 3 loops and beyond. It’s the only way to deal with those damn bridges on the NYC Marathon course.
I ignore the voices and desire to quit. My focus becomes razor sharp as I pass the parking lot and head out on the 4th loop. As I hit the steeper early section, I focus only on moving my legs at the previous rate. I reach the less steeper part and then I accelerate. It burns in my lungs and my legs, but I ignore both and just concentrate on cycling my legs. I hit the top and then recover down the back side, reach the bottom and then sprint faster towards the parking lot. I reach the lot in 21 min, having gone a minute faster on the last loop, in which I am most tired.
Negative split training is so important in toughening up the body for endurance. It works the body, but also conditions the mind to force the body to perform in very fatigued states. Breaking through these periods and finishing strong is so important. Otherwise, you’ll just give in to the little voices in your head and your pains, and just quit.
This is not the mark of a champion.

Yasso 800s

Today I traded emails with a buddy of mine who is a sub-3 hour marathoner.
If you do the calculation, to run a 3 hour marathon, you’d have to maintain a pace of 6:52/mile the whole way, and that’s not counting dealing with the terrain and environment (ie. if it’s hilly or hot/humid day).
That’s pretty freakin’ fast.
So I asked my friend about how fast your track paces would have to be in order to have a chance of running a 3 hour marathon. My sub-3 hour friends are running 400s at about 65-75 seconds and 800s at about 2:30-2:45, and able to maintain that over as many as ten repeats.
In fact, some guy named Bart Yasso, the race services manager at Runner’s World magazine, came up with this workout of 10×800 on the track, and if you can run this workout at fairly even pace, you can get a prediction on your marathon time. Another writer named this the “Yasso 800” workout. So basically, if you can maintain a pace of minutes:seconds for each of ten 800s, then your predicted marathon pace would be about (minutes->hours):(seconds->minutes). My friends on the track who are sub-3 hour marathoners typically can run 10×800 at about 2:30-2:45 per 800, so that would mean a predicted marathon finish time of 2 hours and 30 minutes to 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Ugh. Currently I could probably sustain a 400 of about 1:32 and 800 of about 3:35-3:40! Good prediction of a 3:40-ish marathon finish time so not bad. But a far cry from 3 hours!
This morning I did 10×400 and was redlining towards the end of the last few 400s to make a ~1:32 finish!
At least now I have a rough measuring stick on how to improve. To get from 1:32 on a 400 to 65 seconds, I merely need to run that twice as fast. To get from 3:35 800s to 2:30 800s, I just have to run about a third faster. Easy.

Waikiki Rough Water Swim 9-4-06

Waking to a beautiful aloha morning in Honolulu and swimming 2.4 miles is the best thing.
The Waikiki Rough Water Swim was the original swim after which the swim leg of the first Ironman was modelled after. It makes this swim extra special to do.
This year, they let us out, after heavy winds prevented a race start last year. The water was very calm at the start and getting through the rollers was a breeze. It’s always fun swimming through the breakers and the challenge of not getting wiped out as you’re making your way through the waves is very cool.
The swim is one of the best marked I’ve seen. The buoys are easy to spot, with a tall flag rising above the waves into the sky. They are also spaced very close so that as soon as you reach one, you can pretty much see the next one. And by the way, you’re not sighting into the sun on this race at all…Very nice!
Clouds obscured the sun for most of my swim which was great to not have the sun beaming into my eyes upon taking a breath. Also, burning my race numbers into my skin would have been embarassing as well!
It’s about 14 buoys to the turn and I make it to the beach feeling very strong the whole way. I hit the beach at around 1:20 or so and my arms feel very tired. It was a good swim and I am glad to have shown improvement all this year in my strength and form.
Can’t wait to do it again next year! Maybe next year I’ll do the Dick Evans road race the day before.which is a 112mile bike race around the island. Also of Ironman fame, is the Honolulu Marathon which one of these days I’ll have to run…