Hey everyone, I’m officially announcing that I’m running Boston in 10 days!!! This will be my first time! You can read the article below on which elite Americans are running, but this isn’t fully correct (Paige Higgins scratched…Ruth isn’t running). It looks like my good friend Mary and I will be duking it out for Top American! Should be quite fun.
We are a week+ post-Olympic Marathon Trials. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m FIRED UP about the next 4 years! The next 4 years is going to be a process, a journey…. a metamorphosis. As I said on my Facebook page last Sunday, “Leaving Houston highly inspired! I know what I need to do the next 4 years.” I want to explain what I mean– where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I see myself going. [Read more...]
If you follow me on Facebook, I’m a voracious reader and frequently post the “must reads”. Yesterday there was a posting by my friend and Olympian, Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, on why she thinks she is getting faster with age. Here’s the article . I couldn’t agree more with EVERYTHING she says– it’s all so true, particularly the first point about tenacity. [Read more...]
Something that has been a key reason for my development and success as a marathoner is: heart rate (HR) training. I’ve used a heart rate monitor off and on over the years, mostly just for recovery purposes but the last few years for progression runs as well. It has been an extremely helpful tool for making sure I’m running slow enough to recover, while also seeing a progression in aerobic fitness, such that I can sustain a faster pace with a lower heart rate. I don’t wear my HR monitor every day, nor am I slave to it, but it’s a useful tool to wear every once in a while for recovery runs (acting as a “leash”) and progression runs. [Read more...]
Man oh man, where to begin on this past weekend! I will skip talking about Napa for now (need to collect and put together pictures)…. and talk about the most ballistic, legendary road racing experience ever!
My original intentions was to train specifically for the Gate River 15K Champs (or attempt the Snickers Marathon and then stay in Jacksonville to do the 15K). However, about a month ago I got talked into doing the Napa Valley Marathon the weekend before, which sounded awesome too. Having done back-to-back races in December (Dallas White Rock and the XC Club Champs), I figured I could pull it off, as I’ve gotten used to recovering from marathons and mentally and physically bouncing back quickly. [Read more...]
Back in 2003 when I was a “hobby jogger”, I had the honor of meeting Frank Shorter at the OKC Memorial Marathon expo. I got my picture with him, and he signed my poster with the quote, “Run for stress relief!” I thought very deeply about what he wrote. Being a Pre-Med college student, I endured a tremendous amount of stress at times, and having reflected on what Frank wrote, I began doing what he said and running for “stress relief”. I slowed down my pace a whole lot, relaxed from head to toe, and enjoyed the scenery and the freedom and feeling of moving and BREATHING the fresh air! I honestly felt soooooo much better, simply changing my state of mind, and so I kept doing it every day! I only did a couple of local races a year, and by that fall (’03) I had knocked 30+ seconds off my 5K time! That was a real turning point for me cause I hadn’t been competitive or ‘trained’ for a few years…. but here I was, doing what Frank Shorter said to do, and unintentionally getting better!
I’ve continued to think about and apply the “zen” of running the past 8 years…. and look where it’s taken me (still pinching myself!). I see running as a form of meditation, enjoying the tranquility of training alone, floating along, and feeling good and refreshed after a run. My training is mostly effort based, so I’m doing what feels right each day, running hard or easy over a variety of terrain and “feeling the rhythm”. I “feel” marathon effort– I don’t let a watch/pace/splits tell me what to do. When I travel to races and marathons, one of my favorite parts is getting out for my two runs the day before the race, away from the race hoopla, and having a moment of “peace”. When I run a marathon, my mindset is that I’m out for a Sunday long run, focusing inside on the effort and rhythm that I’ve practiced so many times, being relaxed and calm, competing against myself (mostly) and the competition, and the course and conditions. I think about all the progression runs I’ve done, where I’ve picked up the pace in long runs and how that felt.
Recently I was running a marathon, and one of the other elites had a Garmin that was beeping at every mile marker. I remember thinking to myself, “That’s not what running and racing is about!” It’s so much more than what a watch is telling you– it’s about focusing inside and mentally and physically pushing yourself (“feel Kung Fu”…. think Karate Kid). They did a series of research studies on marathoners back in the late 70s (here’s the publication) to determine what separates elites from non-elites. In particular, they found that elites focused more intrinsically than extrinsically when they raced. As an example, I was reading a Running Times article by Lorraine Moller, who said that when she would do aerobic threshold runs, she would focus on releasing any tension she felt in her body. In another article, Paula Radcliffe talked about how when she got to the last few miles of the NYC Marathon she kept telling herself to relax her legs. Indeed, it seems that elites are very much in-tune with their body, whether in training or racing, in order to get the most out of it.
A few years ago I downloaded a great book about the Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei (which you can read about here: http://www.lehigh.edu/~dmd1/holly.html). These monks run a marathon a day for 100, 700, or 1000 day periods, over brutal terrain, wearing straw sandals, and adhering to strict rules. Their purpose is finding spiritual enlightenment. A monk is said to have “radiant eyes” upon completing the journey. They also carry a knife and a piece of rope– if they fail in completing the journey, well….. it’s like the Yoda quote, “Do or do not, there is no try”. Very deep, hardcore, and inspiring of the human spirit and what we’re capable of.
More recently I read the popular book Born to Run. Joe Vigil went to watch the Tarahumara Indians compete at the Leadville 100, in order to determine their “secret” for being some of the best ultra-distance runners in the world. Upon seeing them and the other runners pass by, he described the Indians and having an expression of “joy” while they run, floating by with ease (while the other runners had expressions of pain and agony!).
My sister-in-law, Katie, sent me a Hippyish book from the 70s called The Zen of Running, which can be downloaded here. Having run barefoot for years, it is definitely a way to discover the Zen of running and connecting with the environment. There is nothing like feeling the cold, undulating surface on your bare feet, and getting a foot massage that stimulates the nerve endings to make the whole body feel better. You feel steady and balanced, becoming “grounded” and achieving an electrical equilibrium. I believe running in thinner, more minimalistic shoes can provide some of the same effect, allowing more freedom of movement in the feet to “float” along. Every one loves to put on their “fast shoes” on race day, thinking it gives them a psychological boost. Well, why not enjoy that feeling every day?!
I believe Bill Rodgers knows Zen, which like Frank Shorter, was a reason why he was so successful! He said he doesn’t feel pain when he runs (read here). If you’ve read his training logs, you can see the Zen in how he trained: running how he feels every day, lotta miles/double-days, a variety of terrain, only a few modest workouts (not much structure to when he did them), and a lot of all-out race efforts. They didn’t have digital watches until the late 70s, and certainly not Garmins! Like his legendary coach, Bill Squires, called it “Ebb and flow”, whereas you stress the body, let it recover, and then you begin to “flow” (you know that feeling!). It’s the “train, don’t strain” mentality of letting the body progress at it’s own rate to get better, not forcing it to get better.
If you find that you’re pushing hard every day, focusing a lot on splits and paces, feeling tired or run down, and maybe underperforming in races, it might help to think about what Frank Shorter said and “run for stress relief”! Good quote from The Zen of Running, “It’s your choice of whether to punish yourself or to experience yourself”. It’s all a state of mind– let running feel good, breath the fresh air, and enjoy the great outdoors!