Thursday, February 25, 2010

Training, Or Not

Getaway days are tough. No working out for this guy. Now for vacation. I'm out.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tempo Run - 2

I mentioned yesterday that I wasn't sure if I would run today or tomorrow, or do my usual light resistance training today or tomorrow. As can be guessed by the title, I chose to do an aggressive tempo run on the treadmill.

First, I still hate treadmills, but they do serve a purpose, such as providing a decent alternative to bad weather. They also allow precise measuring of a run's speed and distance, which are important markers of progress and should be determined on occasion. Today I took advantage of this precision instead of a normal outdoor run.

I started with an easy 8:00 mile, which started a bit of sweat but nothing other than that. After the first mile I sped the treadmill up to a 7:30 mile pace, and after the second mile I sped up to 7:00 mile pace. So far so good through three miles, although sweat was flying all over the treadmill.

After three miles I sped up for the last time to 6:30 mile pace, and begin to feel it about halfway through the mile. Some huffing and puffing went on over the last three minutes of this mile, but my legs felt fine (other than the ridiculous weaving all over the treadmill, from side to side and front to back). At the four mile mark I slowed down to a 7:00 mile, regained full control of my breathing quickly, and run good until about the 4.75 mile mark when I started to get raggedy with my breathing. At the five mile mark I slowed down to a 7:30 mile and the previous mile pattern re-emerged, with a smooth run for a while and then a gradual slipping into raggedy territory (thankfully I usually just concentrate harder and can regain full control). Finally the six mile mark came and my "warm down" 8:00 mile was mine.

I finished easily, took a walk around the indoor track, and then talked with some friends for a few minutes before heading home. A good run.

On another note, since I was on the treadmill and had access to a heart rate monitor, I checked myself periodically throughout the run. I hit a maximum of 173 beats per minute and was usually around 165 bpm. I know that's a bit high for most folks, but it's actually not too bad for me, and much better than a few years ago.

I'll do some light resistance training tomorrow prior to going on a ski/snowshoe vacation for a week. Party on!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Born to Run

I finished "Born to Run" earlier today and conclude it is an interesting read, although somewhat surprising. For starters, I expected the book to address the impacts of modern shoe technology and training methods much more than it did. I expected this mostly from reviews, since they focused on the barefoot running phenomenon.

The book primarily focused on Mexico's Tarahumara Indians and the tight U.S. community of ultra-distance runners. Several of the runners were chronicled, all leading up to a book-closing race in the Tarahumara's back yard. While it is an entertaining read into a subset of running, I was looking for more "technical" information on the impacts of changing physical parts of my running style on my times, health, and overall running enjoyment.

But it's a good read and I recommend it.

I did not work out at all today after the running/cross training session yesterday. I will probably lift tomorrow and run Thursday prior to going on vacation for nearly a week beginning Thursday evening, or some combination thereof. For excitement, I'm going to try a very aggressive treadmill tempo run - seven miles without stopping, starting with an 8:00 mile and decreasing mile-by-mile to 6:30, and then back up to 8:00.

I suppose I consider this fun....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Training Update - 10

I've been reading "Born to Read", the national bestseller by Christopher McDougall about the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico and their impacts on distance running. I messed around with some of the theories today as I ran on the treadmill due to cold and windy weather this morning (the weather got much better this afternoon, but I had no time to take advantage of it).

The treadmill is a great place to practice technique and work on speed. Today was a slow six mile run (8:00 per mile pace, right on Boston pace at my advancing age), but I focused more on moving my foot strike from the outside of my heels to my midfoot. It seemed to have some differences, mostly a bit of a shin splint on the front of my right shin, but I can understand the logic. I'll keep working on it over time, but am thinking my leg cadence may need to be altered.

Speaking of cadence, on the treadmill I was able to monitor it very closely. I was right at 84 both minutes I checked it; that's okay, but I may try to move that up just a little to see if my feet will stay on the ground a shorter period of time, thus reducing the strike load. It's worth a try.

Anyway, today was six miles at 8:00 pace with a lot of sweat on the treadmill, followed by my normal weight workout.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Bloody Sock

I really enjoyed watching the Boston Red Sox's Curt Schilling pitch a few years ago with his sock blood-soaked sock showing the results of his efforts. I just don't like it when it happens to me. But alas....

I had a terrific run late last night on my 4.7 mile night loop. I circled it twice for a total of 9.4 miles in 71 minutes, 40 seconds, or 7:37 a mile. That's 3:20 marathon pace, great for right now.

But as usual with my running, something goes wrong even when it goes right. I knew maybe halfway through the run that something was strange, but vaguely familiar, in my right foot between the second and third toes. Once I got home and got ready for a shower I saw the bad boy - blood on the sock and streaming between the toes. I hopped in the shower and watched blood run in the water to the drain for a bit, felt the sting as my sweat washed down to the foot, and gradually felt the pain diminish a bit before I got out of the shower.

What had happened? Another little something that really doesn't matter; I had the same problem in the 2008 Houston Marathon and to a lesser extent in some training runs over the years. I have kept my toenails trimmed to help prevent this, but sometimes it's almost as if the toes just aren't lined up. Anyway, it got me to thinking about other nicks and injuries.

I have ongoing shin splints, or something, on the inside of my right shin just above the ankle. Only rest solves this, but it doesn't hurt when I run, only when I get something pressuring it like my dog stepping on it (I figure if it doesn't hurt more during a run, it will go away. This philosophy has worked so far.).

My left foot in the ball area has been generally hurting for a month or so. It will eventually go away.

The muscle/tendon area behind my left knee recently hurt for two weeks.

If I run hard my groin muscles will be sore for a few days. No biggee at all.

I sat out maybe five months of running a year ago due to painful plantar fasciitis from running intervals with high schoolers (just getting older!).

See a pattern? The solution inevitably seems to rest or just keep going. And in the very short term maybe take ibuprofen!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Save Time, Run Fast?

Occasionally I have some sort of time constraint when I start a run and will usually ocnsider running faster to save some time. What an inefficient way to save what can't be more than a few minutes.

Looking a little closer, to get in a run usually requires getting dressed, walking up the street to the greenbelt trail, running for 35-150 minutes, walking home, undressing and showering, drinking, and finally eating something. Of all these activities, the actual running seldom adds up to more than 75% of the total time spent. If a run time of 60 minutes is average, and even if I run 7:30 a mile instead of 8:00 a mile, I only "save" around three minutes. And we all know how much more difficult it is to run just 30 seconds a mile faster.

Seems a lot easier to just take a shorter shower or walk faster than the difficulty of running faster. Just sayin'.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


What should runners eat? Especially if you are burning an average of 500 calories each day? I'm guessing as much as they can!

My diet is largely determined by what's on sale at the local grocery stores. That's turned into my plate at dinner and the leftovers show up the next day in a plastic container in my work backpack. Not bad. All that is led by a bowl of cereal or oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast.

I have found that by eating those three main meals I can eat healthily with just a snack or two in between. The snacks are usually a banana after breakfast and an orange, another banana, or ice cream (yes!) in the evening. This actually sounds somewhat healthy as I write it!

On the downside I'm not afraid at all of pizza or eating out, although the out stuff is usually reserved for business trips. I just enjoy the home cooking and taste of good stuff, I suppose.

The liquid aspect is not quite so good. I will usually have a cup or two of hot green tea in the morning hours, followed by a can of soda with lunch. The afternoon will usually be a small no-fat milk and then dinner and later will be some cheap no-calorie drink mix found on sale at Big Lots, of all places. Real athletic and inspiring, I know.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Training Update - 9

My day job is killing me, and without the target of an upcoming race I just don't have the motivation to get out "no matter what", so I haven't.

I did run a 24 minute three mile treadmill run yesterday in combination with my usual upper body workout. I'm intentionally taking the running/cross training slow this week due to the knee. It's just not quite right, although I had no problems yesterday.

It looks like the weather will be okay this weekend, so I'll probably get out Friday for a run and a weight workout and another run on Sunday. We'll see.

One other thing of note was that while I was walking the dog on one of our typical 3-4 mile walks (not bad for a 12 pound dachshund!) I realized there was an informal track at an elementary school around the play area. It had turns too tight for my taste, but I can run on the side of the track in soft dirt, gravel, and wood chips. This could be a great night interval site as the weather warms, huh?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Apocalypse - 1

Something I'd like to see before I die:

Daytona 500 Marathon

Can you imagine this mix? A bunch of beer-drinking rednecks preluding the 500 with a marathon?

Yet another sign that the Apocalypse is upon us.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Running v. Skiing Biathlon

I spent a few minutes this afternoon prior to my run watching the Olympic “sprint” biathlon (how is a 25 minute race over 6.2 miles a sprint?). I was stunned by what I saw.

The race had staggered starts, much like an orienteering race, so the racers were on the course over a period of hours, even though any one competitor was on the course less than 30 minutes. But it snowed a wet, heavy snow beginning about 45 minutes into the race, which effectively eliminated the middle and later starters from medal competition since the conditions precluded them from skiing as fast as the earlier starters. Is that fair?

The only answer is, yes, it is fair since the starting times were known in advance and were non-prejudicial. But the conditions did not lead to results which were comparable. And that’s too bad.

What does this have to do with running, particularly distance running and marathoning? I think there’s a clear tie. I am working toward running the 2011 Houston Marathon with the sole goal being to qualify for the 2012 Boston Marathon. I am putting in the time, the miles, the sweat, the pains, and the diet to make this happen. But I have no idea what the weather will be like on January 30, 2011, in downtown Houston. And if the weather is like today (70 degrees and humid) I will have difficulty making my goal, thus jeopardizing all the prior work.

Is that fair? Of course it is. I understand the issues in play, just like the biathletes on TV. I suppose the difference is that I could sign up for another marathon following the Houston Marathon and try to qualify in that one while I was still in superlative condition, and the Olympians must wait another four years for this particular moment, but we still train without full knowledge of how difficult the day will be for our goals.

Yet still we run on, for whatever reasons. It’s the human condition, eh?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Internet Help

I love the internet. Or at least the information it contains that is accurate. And how do we know that?

I'm at least willing to take a shot at something, though. While checking my low checking account balance I took a look at "proper bicylce riding positions". And predictably, the internet came through.

What I found is that I have probably been overly extending my legs on the downstroke, resulting in a slight over-extension of my knees. The pain from this is usually manifested in the back of the knee...okay, the back of my left knee has been hurting for a week. So maybe I found the problem.

But as usual, there are questions. One, why did it seem to start hurting only around mile 9 of the half-marathon training run I did last Sunday, and then on the uphills in particular, and not on the stationary bike rides? Two, why doesn't it hurt while riding the stationary bike? And three, will stopping riding the stationary bike for a week or so make a difference?

I started the bike riding as a cross-training exercise last November when I was having some severe shin splint pain and was about to have to shut down my marathon training for a week or two. The bike seemed to stretch out the muscles on the inside of my shins, and the pain nearly went away. So I kept riding, logically.

Now I need to make a decision, and I suspect I'll stop riding for this coming week altogether, and on the off days try an elliptical or something and continue the upper body work. I'll also probably run on the greenbelts tomorrow for some distance, but not a half marathon!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Training Update - 8

As expected, I took yesterday off due to the weather and, since I worked at home, no access to the company fitness center. Also as expected, no biggee.

Today I normally cross-train by riding the stationary bike for some time, usually from 30 to 75 minutes, and working my upper body through resistance training. I changed it up a tad today by doing a tempo run on the treadmill and then the resistance training. The tempo run was supposed to be for seven miles, starting at 8:00 minutes per mile and descending to 7:00 minutes per mile before working my way back up the times. But my left knee started hurting again after about 2.5 miles so I cut it back to five miles, going 8:00, 7:30, 7:13, 7:30, and closing with an 8:00. Not a bad workout.

It's clear the resistance training is working. Today was the 11th workout and my weights are increasing. I am still trying to get to muscle failure prior to the third set being completed, and almost made it on the dumbbell press. I can already see visual results...I wonder what the potential is with all the running.

I'll have to post on my diet sometime soon. I've changed it a bit since the marathon.

Run on.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Yasso 800s

A training session I haven't used in months but think is really cool is what is called Yasso 800s. It's supposedly a killer way to estimate your marathon time, but the way it works is a bit odd.

Here's the logic, if there is any: you run 8-10 800 meter intervals on the track in some time, say 3:30 each, with a 3:30 jog between the intervals. Sounds okay. The strange part is that the thesis says if you can do this workout you should be able to run a 3 hour 30 minute (3:30) marathon. Where's the connection between minutes to run a series of half miles and the number of hours/minutes it takes to run a marathon? I don't see the logic. But what about the practice?

I put it to the test last year once, and it worked out fairly closely. I set out to do the 800s in 3:40, accomplished that without too much difficulty, and then "surprised" myself with a 3:38 marathon. Seems like the Yasso theory works.

I do have some caveats, though. It seems like it would work "down", but not "up". In other words, if you can do the workout the marathon time should take care of itself. But one may not have the sheer foot speed to make it work the other way: a 3:30 marathoner may not be able to run the Yasso intervals in the requisite time. No proof on my part, just thoughts.

Another caveat is that "faster" runners, those with simply more foot speed like middle distance runners as opposed to truer marathoners, have a built-in advantage. The Yasso 800s are built for a guy who can run fast but also run a marathon since it feels so much slower for so much of the race. I think I fall into this category, although my actual marathon results a few years ago seem to refute this.

I'm not convinced any of this matters, but it is fun to think about. Not much else in the brain at mile 9 now is there?

Today's workout was 30 minutes on the bike and 20 minutes of upper body resistance training. Ho hum. I doubt there will be much of anything tomorrow since I am working from home and the weather will be very cold and very wet. Bummer.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Training Update - 7

Today was a cold, windy day, and not one that I wanted to run outside in. So I took to the treadmill and ran a controlled six miles in 48 minutes, or 8:00 minutes per mile.

The run was very easy, with only a little early stiffness in my left knee. I thought several times about picking up the pace, but with the knee what was the point? It was a day for some mileage and not much else, and that's what I did.

It's better to get to tomorrow than not. I still strongly believe I have a better chance of not making the starting line than not making the finish line.

Super Bowl Thoughts

I enjoyed watching the Super Bowl this past Sunday evening. The contrasting styles of the various NFL teams has always intrigued me to some extent, and being a life-long sports fan the ebb and flow of various strategy trends have been fun to watch.

This year’s Super Bowl teams came at the game from completely different directions, at least from the last quarter of the season through the game itself. To take a look at the two teams:
The Colts started the season 14-0 and then, after clinching home field throughout the playoffs, took the last two weeks off and played their backups as much as reasonably possible. They also modified their play-calling, and probably to some extent their game-week preparation, to a more conservative approach. I suspect this may have been because they were believing their press clippings (who clips newspaper articles anymore with the internet around?) and believed they could win with talent and preparation as opposed to having the single best player and good talent. An indicator of their true competency level may have been their unbelievable number of fourth quarter comebacks. It may have caught up with them. This was a team that was not picked at the beginning of the year to be a Super Bowl contender, and in some circles to not even make the playoffs. I rely on preseason analysis for exactly not much, but as a proxy for talent levels those prognostications are not too bad.
The Saints were in much the same position in the pre-season as the Colts, although they were much less proven and did not have the star power of Peyton Manning. They started 13-0 before losing their last three games. But they kept their foot on the gas pedal and did not change their philosophy. This may have made the difference in the Super Bowl, as the Colts seemed to get less aggressive as the game went on and the Saints kept forcing big plays, either for or against them (the failed fourth and goal play, the onsides kick were “forced” big plays; one went for them, one not so much).
So how does this apply to running? I think we should be careful how we evaluate our workouts and races. Each day is different. The weather, our previous workouts were of varying degrees of difficulty, our diets, our co-runners, and any number of other things. Drawing conclusions that we can do something easily can quickly bring us down. An example of this was my last Sunday run, a one-man half marathon. It was not easy the last 2-3 miles and I was disappointed with myself when I finished. But on further review I realized I struggled with a slight knee problem and still ran a 1:43 (Boston pace, by the way) with little hydration and no support (read water or preparation or spousal support). There’s nothing wrong with that time! But I walked home disappointed.

Another application is in looking at the Super Bowl winner. They went for it, from preparing for the onside kick in the week prior to the game to their attitude during the game itself. I think this is key to running at a relatively high performance as well. We have to prepare to run faster, not just hope for it. We have to race, from the start to the finish, at speeds that will reach our goals. Starting at a 3:30 pace will not result in a 3:20 marathon; I have to start at a 3:20 pace to have any hope of meeting my goal. But you want to know the really interesting part? Starting at 3:20 pace may result, somewhere out there in the marathon hinterlands at mile whatever, in a bonk. And bonks result in 3:40 marathons when 3:20 was dreamed of. And that hurts.

But it takes a hurt sometimes to meet goals. Run on!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Conflicts, Conflicts

I have a free way to get copies of Runners World and Running Times magazines. They are both interesting, although they have different focuses. I typically enjoy the editorials and training sections most.

But sometimes we just make this way too hard. While reading the February 2010edition of Runners World there is an article titled, "The Slow Road". The uptake is that it's okay to take it slower than normal for a week or so while chasing a goal to give your body a chance to recover and move to another level later. This is particularly true when chasing a goal, and I know I'm guilty of that at times.

All this sounds fine and good, and probably is. I could certainly listen to the advice, and may this week with the tweaking going on in my left knee. But then I read the inserted box at the bottom of the second, and final, page of the article: "Sometimes More is More". What?

Here we have an article saying less is more, and then it completely contradicts itself with a more is more rebuttal. What to believe? Which is the right path?

We all have to deal with this dilemma monthly, weekly, daily, and sometimes even within a run. It's part of the territory, especially when chasing goals. And it's part of what makes this so much fun. I really enjoy the "thinking" part of running, concentrating on my body and what it is telling me, and mentally responding by changing speeds, breathing patterns, stride lengths, cadences, and even concentrating on toughness on occasion.

It's a fascinating sport when I'm not really competing against anyone, but the most honest competitor of all, the clock.

As for today's workout, I felt the tweak behind my left knee clearly this morning and every time I got up from my desk. So much for a hard workout, so I just rode the bike for 30 minutes at a solid resistance level and 100 rpm, and then spent 20 minutes on upper body resistance training. The knee feels better tonight after the "stretching".

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Training Update - 6

Not much to say after the Super Bowl. Congratulations Saints on a surprise win.

I ran a half marathon before the game in 1:43:20, or 7:53 a mile. It was the longest run for me since the Houston Marathon three weeks ago. I felt fine other than having to really monitor my speed the first five or so miles and then had a small tweak behind my left knee. I'll watch this; it hurt last week on a run.

The TH Index was 111, with the temperature at 55 degrees F and the humidity 56%. Good weather for a nice sweat, but no heat problems.

I did manage to get a little dehydrated, probably, and drank a huge amount once I got home and during the game. It would have helped to drink more than just a cup or two with lunch, I suppose.

Oh yeah, in the future when I run a half marathon or quarter marathon it will almost certainly be on a Boston-qualified four-times out-and-back course on the greenbelts near my house. It makes for a great, perfectly known distance course, although the exact mile markers are largely unknown.

Til next time....

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Stretching Thoughts

I have made it a habit to not stretch prior to, or after for that matter, running. I know. I'm headed straight to running purgatory.

I've never had any muscular problems, other than some slight soreness the day after a hard run. That's not a problem since I never run back-to-back days. Ergo, no need to stretch. On top of that, I have done the requisite research into the benefits and threats from stretching...and found very little either way that sways me. I can theoretically see the benefits, but it doesn't work for me, and I just don't see the downside based on my results. So there.

But I do have a caveat: at about mile 10 of the 2007 Houston Marathon I had a severe calf problem that caused me to stop running and find a tree near Rice University to stretch against. It gradually worked and within three miles I had forgotten about the issue. What caused it? I can only guess it was all the stride-shortening and -chopping I had to do in the first 3-4 miles. Since I never run with other folks, this congested running early on was a little disconcerting. Maybe this had no effect on the calf, but maybe it did.

And the other caveat (can you have two and they still be caveats?) was in this year's Houston Marathon. I had severe cramping starting at mile 23 through the finish line. But I don't think stretching had anything to do with it. Full body cramping, from one toe to my neck and almost everything in between, isn't due to a lack of stretching. Dehydration, maybe. Too fast, too far, maybe.

But not stretching.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tempo Run

I tried something today that I haven't done in my running career: the tempo run. I know, I know, it's no big deal, but I as a rule I have avoided the "techie" words used in running, such as tempo, intervals, hills, stretching, and the high-tech like.

I thought the best way to try one of these evil forms of the masochistic sport was on a treadmill, especially given the moist nature of our week here in H-town. So I started at a pedestrian and boring 8 minutes per mile for a mile, devastatingly accelerated to 7:45 a mile for a mile, then hit the afterburners for a 7:30 mile. I then backed off the accelerator for another 7:45 mile and followed with a closing 8:00 mile. All in all not a bad run, but I had forgotten how sweaty and boring the treadmills at work are.

What did I get from this type of run? A good workout, especially when combined with about 20 minutes of resistance training and crunches. I liked the control of the treadmill, particularly when compared with my lack of exact mile markers when I run outside from the office. I liked the easy start and finish, but I struggle with the logic of a tempo run. Why not just goose it for 4 miles or so at 7:30 a mile with a short warm-up and warm-down?

I'll probably do more tempo runs in the future, but not often and only in controlled conditions like on my home outdoor course, on a track, or on a treadmill. I will also probably use the tempo run for a partial substitute for speed work that I am planning to start in the coming month (I still don't think I have completely recovered from the lower legs hurt today for the first mile, and there really was no reason for that). To make this work right I'll modify my speeds to something like 8:00, 7:30, 7:00, 6:30, 7:00, 7:30, and 8:00. Now that's a tough workout, but I think I need a legitimate speed component to make this worthwhile.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cross Training

I've never been big on cross-training, until this past early November when I was gearing up my Houston Marathon training and developed a bad case of shin splints. I tried stretching, of which I'll talk about some other day, walking, ice, and self-massage to no avail. Then I tried to come up with some non-impact exercise that would keep me sufficiently toned to re-enter the marathon training efforts. Voila, use the stationary bike at the office fitness center, Sherlock.

But something strange happened along the way...the shin splints largely went away, and much quicker than they ever had before. Why? I'm not sure, but I'm guessing it had to do with the constant micro-stretches the biking put the lower legs through during the typical 60 minute ride at 110 rpm. I've since continued my riding on many non-running days, which means 2-3 rides a week. I specifically try to ride the day after running, so typically I'll run on Tuesday and Thursday and then once over the weekend, with the running day depending on how my legs feel.

I'm not certain the cross-training is the cause of my reduced shin splints, but even through the high mileage months of November and December my pain was nearly gone. So now I'm not so interested in why, but am more interested in the lack.

On the training front, I'm really getting tired of the wet, cold weather. I've had meetings all this week across town in the Galleria area, meaning I've had up to 90 minute commutes, and that has no bus time, so no reading, etc. I finally gave up today and got no exercise at all, but I did ride the stationary bike yesterday for 60 minutes in the 15 hard, 5 easy sequence, and then did 20 minutes of resistance training. That's enough for this skinny guy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Training Update - 5

A quick update without comment, other than I woke up this morning with a terrible pain in my always-tender right shin splint. The cause? The heel of my wife digging in, even when I suddenly pulled away. The heel followed, and an unintentional, and ongoing painful, game of chase was on. I lost badly. One ibuprofen later I felt better. Why is the pain worse in hours 12-24 after a run than right after the run? Ah, the ongoing questions of the body.

And now to the training update. You waited, you get. A mere 4.3 miles today in 33:22, or a 7:45 pace. Temperature was about 51 degrees, with humidity being about 85 percent, for a TH Index of 136, cool but still sweaty, particularly so if more miles were run. This run featured a light rain as well, so I wore a ball cap to protect my glasses from getting too wet. I wound up with clean glasses but a sweaty cap. So much for today.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Training Update - 4

Today was cross-train day with 50 minutes on the stationary bike alternating hard five minute segments and easy five minute segments. I then spent 20 minutes doing 200 swiss ball crunches and three sets each of three upper body weight exercises. Sound familiar?

Association Vs Dissociation

I think it's interesting what different runners think about while they run. Some focus on themselves: their posture, their footstrike, their pace, their breathing, their muscle condition, their heartrate, or any number of things. Others focus on the scenery, the guys or girls around them, talking with friends, the next water break, work, music, or anything to take their minds off the task at hand.

While I am very un-scientific here, I think the associative runners, the first group described above, are generally the higher performing runners (this is also consistent with the few studies done in this area). The dissociative runners generally are more recreational in nature and not so concerned about performance. Not that there's anything wrong with either!

I definitely fall into the associative group. I'm constantly monitoring my speed (usually through my breathing rate and effort), my distance covered and still to go, my footstrike, and any number of other technical issues. It's amazing the differences in this approach and some of my work associate's approaches.

But, any approach works. I suppose it just depends on your goal. Mine is not to watch the girls and is to focus on the task at hand. It works for me; I'll stay with it.