Sunday, January 13, 2013

Don't Sell Yourself Short

There was a baby shower for one of my coworkers this past Thursday. As with most work parties, it was a potluck event and everyone had an assortment of snacks on their plates. Every time this happens, I get at least one comment about my ability to eat what I want because I run so much. But lately, I've noticed that a lot of the people that make those comments are just as active, if not more active than I am.

Thursday, two coworkers were talking about what we were eating and their frustration with exercise. One guy is currently running more frequently than I am and even moved his treadmill into his living room for extra motivation. Another girl regularly goes for 6-mile runs. But because I have a reputation as 'a runner', they assume that I do more than them. So today's lesson:

Don't Sell Yourself Short!

It reminds me of all the people that need to be convinced it's okay to call themselves runners. So many people think there's some arbitrary amount of running or accomplishments you have to achieve before you can be called a runner.

If you like to run... If you run every now and then... If you do a mix of running/jogging/walking... All of the above... It's okay to call yourself a runner. Give yourself credit. Pat yourself on the back. Embrace it!

Okay... Off my soap box and on with the post:
After yesterday's run, I saw this guy making his way across the sidewalk:

I wonder if he felt like he was going fast. Or if he compares his times to other slugs. Maybe he was setting a PR for crossing the sidewalk. I hope he was at least heading someplace warm because it was a lot colder this morning as predicted.

My plan for today's run was to repeat last week's run of the Kircher Park Trail Loop but I decided to tack on a lap around Route 66 State Park. It was a cold morning but my stride was feeling more comfortable so I just went with it.

I was doing fine until I stopped to admire some Cardinals in the park. I got my phone out of my armband to take pictures but the birds weren't cooperating and after several minutes, I gave up. Apparently, I stopped just long enough to cool off and for my sweat to get cold. As soon as I started running again, I turned a corner in the park and ran straight into a headwind. I was freezing! The last half of the run was a much colder experience than the first half!

Goal For The Day: Long Run.
Distance: 7.61 Miles.
Time: 57:54. 7:37 Avg. (7:37, 7:29, 7:25, 7:27, 7:24, 7:29, 8:01, 4:59*).
Route: Kircher Park Trail To Rte. 66/1 Lap/Home.
Conditions: 25 degrees. 11:38AM.
Run Details On Garmin
Run Detais On Nike+

Notes: Two weeks of getting back into the routine. 15.35 Miles this week. Nike+ tidbit: 0.36M more and 0:15/M faster than the average of my last 7 runs. Nike+ Weekly Review: 5.1M Avg. 7:41/M Avg. 2,278 Calories.

Daily Miles: 7.61 Miles.
2013 Totals:
  Run - 28.54 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 0.00 meters.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why Not An Even 4 Miles?

The route that I run most often starts in front of my house, heads into 'downtown Eureka', runs down the main street in town, and then loops back along the same path to end where I started. It's almost exactly 3 miles but I sometimes add an extension up to a cul-de-sac and back at the beginning of the run. With the extension, the route is just under 4 miles long.

I've been running this course during the week and my Nike+ app posts my runs to Facebook and Twitter. My friend, Byron decided to comment on these less-than-4-mile runs with a little good-natured ribbing:

After Thursday's 3.88 Miles:
Byron: really...u couldn't go 4?

After today's 3.86 Miles:
Byron: do u need me to come down there and walk u in for the final 0.11m? let me know

My sarcastic response:
Brad: That's where the loop ends! If God intended me to run a full 4 miles, he would have made one of the streets longer. Plus, if I accidentally go past the 4-mile mark, I might be tempted to go ahead and run 5. Then where does it end? It's a slippery slope, Byron. A slippery slope.

The funny thing is, that missing 0.11 mile actually used to bother me. I like round numbers. I like distances and times to be neat and tidy. But even running the exact same course, I get slightly different reports on my GPS over time (like the 0.02M difference in the last two runs). So I've learned to ignore that OCD tendency to stress over a tenth of a mile. I just think of it as a 4-mile run. I figure it all balances out when I later run slightly over my mileage goal and then round down in my head.

Runners certainly don't round down.

Either way, it's a great example of how runners tend to obsess over the numbers!

Goal For The Day: Easy Run.
Distance: 3.88 Miles.
Time: 30:01. 7:44 Avg. (7:34, 7:46, 7:42, 6:57*).
Route: Old Town Eureka Loop w/ Cul-de-Sac Ext.
Conditions: 45 degrees. 6:53AM.
Run Details On Garmin
Run Details On Nike+

Notes: I felt like I was running much faster than my actual pace. Checking my watch at the end was disappointing. Nike+ tidbit: 3.68M less and 0:05/M faster than the average of my last 7 runs.

Goal For The Day: Easy Run.
Distance: 3.86 Miles.
Time: 29:17. 7:35 Avg. (7:36, 7:28, 7:41, 6:30*).
Route: Old Town Eureka Loop w/ Cul-de-Sac Ext.
Conditions: 47 degrees. 8:19AM.
Run Details On Garmin
Run Details On Nike+

Notes: Much warmer today. No Tights + No Gloves + No Hat = Instantly Feeling Faster. I even took the Christmas lights off of the house this afternoon in a short-sleeve t-shirt. A cold front comes in tonight and we're expecting sleet/snow. Good ol' Midwest weather!

Daily Miles: Thursday - 3.88 Miles. Saturday - 3.86 Miles.
2013 Totals:
  Run - 20.93 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 0.00 meters.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gear Check: Christmas Gear! (2012)

Either I didn't set my alarm right or I turned it off without really waking up. Either way, I woke up an hour later than I needed to if I was going to run this morning. So I'm going to take this opportunity to look back at the running-related gifts I got for Christmas this year.

Liz hooked me up with some great gear this year!

I got replacement inserts for my Stuffits. I haven't replaced my inserts since I got them for Christmas two years ago. (Gross.) Now I have a pair of brand new, cedar-filled inserts to keep my shoes from getting too funky!

Speaking of funky... My Garmin watch had a Velcro wristband that I also never washed. That thing smelled horrible! So I'm really excited about my new watch band. It won't absorb my sweat like the Velcro did and it should be much easier to clean. As an added bonus, the part that the watch clips into pops off of the watch band and attaches to a mount for my bike frame. This way, I can move it quickly and easily for triathlons and duathlons!

My new Garmin watch band and bike mount.

I've used Fleet Feet's Ultimate Training Journal before and I really like the setup of the pages. A new year calls for a new journal and I'm hoping to be consistent about filling it out.

Fleet Feet's Ultimate Training Journal
And last, but not least, I got a new ornament to add to the Christmas tree! Now that Colin is here, Christmas feels even more exciting and our trees are one of my favorite parts of the Christmas tradition. I like that our ornaments are tiny little reflections of our personalities.
Gotta Run Christmas Ornament

It was a great first Christmas with our new addition to the family and I received a nice set of running goodies!

Goal For The Day: Easy Run. (Not accomplished... Overslept.)
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
2013 Totals:
  Run - 13.19 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 0.00 meters.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Competitive... Stalker... It's A Fine Line

Hello. My name is Brad. And sometimes I get a little caught up in competition.

This is hard for me to admit because most of the time I'm not an overly-competitive person. I play most games, sports, etc. with a primary goal of having fun. Win or lose, as long as I'm having fun and doing my best, I'm happy. But that's not always the case. Sometimes, I get a little caught up in the rush of competition and do things I wouldn't normally do. For example:

In the winter of 2011-2012, I ran the St. Louis Track Club's Frostbite Series. It's a series of five races that you can enter one race at a time, or you can enter the series and compete for an overall place in your division. You get points based on how you place in each race and at the end of the series, they give awards based on your point total from all of the races.

I've run this series before and I always track the points of people I'm competing against in my division. It adds a layer of fun to the race when you know who you're chasing and who is nipping at your heels. But I usually just check names in the results report each week. I don't really know who to look for when we line up for each race. Last year was different.

I was competing for the top spot in my division and when I checked the results, I noticed that the guy I was chasing also lived in Eureka. There was another guy about my age, in my town, running very similar times, and we were competing for points in the Frostbite Series.

So, of course I looked him up on Google.

(Hanging my head in shame.)

I wanted to see what kinds of times this guy usually runs so I was looking for other race results. What if we've been in the same town for years and have been racing each other without knowing it? I also hoped to see a picture so I could look for him on the starting line so I knew who to keep up with (it seemed that he was a little faster than me).

I realized this probably wasn't normal and Liz definitely made fun of me for stalking this guy online, but that didn't stop me.

In the end, he won the series and I placed second. I had a new runner to keep an eye on and life went on.

Then, last fall, I ran a 5K here in Eureka. While I was waiting at the starting line, the guy from Frostbite turned to me and said, "Hey, Brad. How's it going?" He recognized me on sight and started some small talk. Maybe I'm not the only one that's a little competitive. I don't know if he just paid attention during the Frostbite Series or if he did some internet searching of his own, but he knew who I was.

Jump ahead to this morning. I was out for a run on the new trail that connects to Kircher Park. On my way into the park, I passed that same guy as he was running out. Again, he recognized me (this time, I didn't recognize him at first) and said, "Hey Brad! Not running Frostbite this year?"

Not only do I feel a little better about taking notice of my competition, I feel a little better about my internet searching (definitely not stalking). That night, I had a friend request from him on Facebook. Of course I accepted and Liz and I had to laugh at how much I seem to have in common with this guy based on his profile.

Hopefully, we'll meet up for a run sometime and I look forward to some more races with him since he seems to be running better than I am right now and it'll give me another reason to push myself.

Goal For The Day: Easy Long Run.
Distance: 5.44 Miles.
Time: 41:41. 7:40Avg. (7:28, 7:22, 7:49, 7:44, 7:50, 3:28*)
Route: Kircher Park Trail Loop.
Conditions: 40 degrees. 2:24PM.
Run Details On Garmin
Run Details On Nike+

Notes: My hamstrings felt really tight early but loosened up later in the run. I'm still feeling a little mentally lazy. Much warmer today. It was nice to shed the tights. Nike+ tidbit: 2.64M less and 0:10/M faster than the average of my last 7 runs.

Nike+ Badge: "Talk About A Triple Threat. You were active 3 times this week.
Daily Miles: 5.44 Miles.

2012 Totals:
  Run - 13.19 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 0.00 meters.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Off My Game

I'm really feeling the effects of all that time off... physically and mentally.

I've gone for stretches of time without running before and while I might be a little rusty when I start back up, I usually get back into a groove fairly quickly. But I don't usually feel this far from my baseline.

I was surprised to have sore quads Wednesday after running less than four miles at a pretty relaxed pace on Tuesday. That kind of run hasn't made my legs sore in years. On one hand, it felt good to have some sore muscles again... a nice sign of real work being done. On the other hand, I wish it had been a harder workout that caused the soreness.

And today's run was a sign of how rusty I am mentally. I started out at a slow, easy pace... and then got slower and slower. It wasn't a fatigue issue or that I couldn't go faster. It was just a lack of motivation to make myself go any faster. I was perfectly content to basically jog the last mile. My mental metronome is dramatically slower than it used to be.

(I don't think my brain woke up for this morning's run.)

Granted, my only two runs since the break have been with temperatures in the 20's so I've been bundled up which tends to slow me down. And today was an early-morning run which never feels as good. But I would still expect to be running these distances at least a minute faster per mile.

So my only goal for the next couple of weeks (possibly for all of January), is to run at least 3 days a week. I can run them as easy and relaxed as I want, but I need to get my base back. Then I can regain some speed and work on my mental game.

Goal For The Day: Easy Run.
Distance: 3.89 Miles.
Time: 33:02. 8:29 Avg. (8:10, 8:16, 8:34, 7:59*).
Route: Old Town Eureka Loop w/ Cul-de-Sac Ext.
Conditions: 25 degrees. 6:10AM
Run Details On Garmin
Run Details On Nike+

Notes: Tuesday's run was about 3 minutes slower than I usually run this course. Today was 2 minutes slower than Tuesday. I know better than to jump back into things too quickly, but I probably don't need to go quite so easy. Nike+ tidbits: 4.45M less and 0:50/M slower than the average of my past 7 runs.

Daily Miles: 3.89 Miles.
2013 Totals:
  Run - 7.78 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 0.00 Miles.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year But Not A New Beginning

I think it's a common thing to use special occasions as 'starting points'. New Year's Day is a perfect example. It's a day known for resolutions intended to help us become better people. We do the same thing on birthdays, holidays, the beginning and ending of seasons, etc. Over and over, we say things like, "I'm going to start working out more in the new year." "My diet begins right after Christmas." "I'm 30 now... time to start making healthier choices."

I'm a big fan of goal-setting, challenging yourself, and general self-improvement. But I feel like our habit of using 'special' dates as starting blocks can actually work against us instead of for us. I'm certainly guilty of delaying an intended goal just so I have a more important starting date to mark the beginning of my next adventure.

Take this blog for instance... There's a definite correlation between my production on this blog and my workouts. I'm not sure about the cause-and-effect, chicken-or-the-egg of it, but the more I write in this blog, the more consistent I am about working out. (Or the more consistently I work out, the more I write in this blog.) So for months, I've been planning to get back into updating my blog. I've even had several false starts along the way. (I have a half-dozen unpublished drafts just sitting there.) One of the reasons I didn't just get back into it is because I wanted something worth writing about to happen. I was waiting for a good starting point. Then... several perfectly good starting points came and went without me taking action. So I would wait for the next opportune moment to come along and eventually, the clock struck midnight, we turned the page on the calendar, and strolled into 2013. A new year and a new beginning!

But I want to break my cycle of delayed starts. So I'm changing my mindset. I refuse to think of this as a new beginning. Instead, it's just me resuming something that never really stopped. I'm picking up where I left off. The story went on even while it wasn't being written and now I'm just rejoining our broadcast already in progress. This way, if I ever stray again, maybe I won't feel the urge to wait so long to get going again. Maybe I'll just pick up where I left off the very same day that I feel the urge to write (or run, or swim, or bike, or whatever) again.

It's like any other challenging thing in life... there will always be reasons why today isn't the best time to take on that challenge. Eventually, you just have to forge ahead regardless of the obstacles.

So while today is New Year's Day 2013... as far as this blog is concerned, it's just another day. And any day is a good day for a run!

(Not a bad sight for starting a run.)

Goal For The Day: Easy Run.
Distance: 3.89 Miles.
Time: 31:08. 8:01 Avg. (7:49, 7:47, 8:10, 7:21*).
Route: Old Town Eureka Loop w/ Cul-de-Sac Ext.
Conditions: 26 degrees. 4:43PM.
Run Details On Garmin
Run Details On Nike+

Notes: This was my first run since November 22, 2012. Yikes! I don't know that I've gone that long without running in about 10 years. It was a cold one but I was surprisingly comfortable. Took it easy and had to slow down for ice on the Hwy 44 overpass. It feels good to get back out there. Now I just have to make time to keep going out. Nike+ tidbit: 4.86M less and 0:18/M slower than the average of my last 7 runs.

Daily Miles: 3.89 Miles.
2013 Totals:
  Run - 3.89 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 0.00 meters.