Friday, June 18, 2010


I'm heading out for a two week vacation, a classic road trip loop around the desert Southwest, the first for my copilot. It should be a great time.

My ankle made a remarkable recovery today, to the point that I think I could run tomorrow if I was in a position to do so. But alas, actually I'd rather be vacating, I won't be able to.

I'm still not sure at all what happened, but each hour today was better, although the start of the day was still incredibly painful. Tonight I'll put some ibuprofen and water near the bed and take it an hour or so before getting up. Maybe that will make the walk to the bathroom tolerable.

Causes? I can only guess the tight turns on the indoor track. They bothered me on big mileage last year, although not to this extent, and especially with the off day Wednesday, that could almost be the only cause. Whatever. I'll stay off the indoor track going forward and just keep adjusting all the way to the starting line.

Til next time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I woke up at 5am today with my left ankle in searing pain, doing its best imitation of a serious sprain it could. After 30 minutes wondering what had happened, I got up and staggered (no, I didn't "pad") to the bathroom, took a couple ibuprofen, and made it back to bed. It wasn't good. The only shred of positive was no swelling or discoloration.

I hobbled around all through the day, with the pain coming and going, but always tough, depending on the level of ibuprofen in me. Not until I got home late today, took one more ibuprofen, and got an old pair of running shoes on did I feel like I could walk, on the side of my foot, without real pain. There's hope.

But what happened today? I checked the last few days posts and there are no real clues. Nothing happened yesterday; I didn't even run. I have no ideas.

To the point, I did not run today, surprise, surprise. I doubt I will run tomorrow, so I will miss the last 18 miles this week. No real biggee, just a disappointment. There's no push heading into what will be an active vacation, and a last run prior to that is just not worth it. Discipline? Maybe, but I just want to feel good again, and until this morning I was feeling great with fairly big miles.

Now how to get it back when I'm back in the saddle in a few weeks?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Off Day

As planned, today was an off day, and based on the way my legs, particularly my lower legs, felt this morning, I needed it. Going back to a recent post on discipline, I worked this out just about right. I am still concerned, however, that the cumulative strain I'm putting on my legs will eventually catch up with me, but as my legs improved throughout the day today I have less concern in this area than I did.

I'll resume tomorrow with the planned ten mile run at around 7:45 a mile or so, so we'll see. It feels good right now to have a short-term plan and a long-term plan, and have both coming together.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Holding Course

Today was a planned ten mile run in something under 8:00 per mile. Accomplished. But some fading in the last mile.

Details include the first seven miles on the treadmill at 7:47 a mile and the last three on the indoor track and untimed, but about the same pace as the first seven. My right hamstring tried to cramp once around mile four, go figure, and the right heel hurt some off and on for a few miles, but nothing to be worried about. On the shin front, I think there may be some cumulative pain developing, but with the past couple of week's mileage I'm not surprised.

I'll take tomorrow off and come back with ten miles on Thursday and eight on Friday, just like last week. So far I'm holding up under the back-to-back grind and higher mileage really well.

On Course

I ran the 12 miles yesterday as planned, although it was a bit convoluted in how I did it. I started with the usual treadmill run, but for some reason my right heel started huring just before mile 5 (this is the same area that had plantar fasciitis a few years ago, and I'm still gun shy), so I decided to walk a bit and maybe just quit the run. After stopping the treadmill it magically felt better, so I grabbed a lap counter and ran on the 5.5 laps/mile indoor track. This was the first time I have been on the track in maybe a year, and I don't really like it since the corners are so tight (it sits on the perimeter of a downtown-block size building) and with major mileage my ankles take too much of a pounding. But I managed to cruise the last seven miles on the track to total the goal twelve. The run was in about 7:45 mile pace, although I'm not completely sure since the track portion was run without a watch (I could see a digital clock and calibrated a few laps here and there, but overall I really don't know what my pace was).

So I'm 30% the way through the week, with a ten mile run for today. Last week the ten mile run after the twelve was very difficult, and I can feel tiredness in my legs, so the entertainment value may be high.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Running Discipline

Another day off after the long week and the week upcoming. Speaking of the upcoming week, I think this will take some discipline on my part.

One, I don't need to run too far if I feel good. That seems to be one of the primary causes of injury in the running propaganda and blogs that I read. I'll have to avoid it.

Two, I don't need to run too fast if I feel good. This is less of a threat since I have a defined pace and the treadmill will keep me on it, but I had to sit out months once a couple years ago due to plantar fasciitis, caused by running intervals with elite high school runners. I don't need that to happen again.

Discipline is tracking us all the time in running, and marathoning in particular. We have to train for months if not years. We have to determine a schedule, usually somewhat based on a planned pace, and stay with it. We have to run on that schedule. We have to create a race day plan. We have to execute that plan, which may be the hardest part of all this.

And running discipline is the key. I'll have to keep that in mind this week.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


I mentioned yesterday, I think, that one thing to be learned through running longer distances is the skill of concentration. I call it a skill since I think you have to learn it; it's not something people typically are just born with.

Now I know compared to ultrarunners what I do is not running long distance, but running regularly for more than an hour requires a certain amount of concentration. And since I am definitely an associative and not dissociative runner, I have to concentrate for what I think are long periods of time.

What do I concentrate on? As I've mentioned before, I focus on speed, breathing, foot strike, stride turnover, heartrate, posture, head tilt, sweat rate, and a few other things. But what does this mean?

I think the improved concentration skills from long runs directly translate over to the personal and professional world. At work it's pretty obvious most people can't focus and concentrate on complicated issues long enough to even get the facts straight, much less find possible solutions and then choose the correct one. Why offices provide more and not less distractions through increased use of cubes, glass office walls, multiple computer screens, reduced etiquette for office interruptions, etc is beyond me. Most of the employees just can't handle it.

So maybe they should just run long distances. Learn to concentrate. Learn to focus and stay in that zone for as long as it takes.

Running has advantages. So I keep running, for now.

Friday, June 11, 2010

"High Mileage" Week Over

I finished the five day week with the planned eight mile run today, in 7:55 a mile. That made for 40 miles from Monday to Friday, with Wednesday off. Goal met. Legs good. All positive.

I spent around 317 minutes on the treadmill this week. Mostly boredom, but a chance to work on form, breathing, and body analysis. I'll talk a bit about the "life" advantage of this type of training in the next few days. I think there is actually a positive to the treadmill (!).


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ten Miles, Again

Another day, another relatively slow ten miles on the treadmill. This time it was in 7:55 a mile, and didn't seem so bad as far as boredom. My goal was simply to make it to mile 8 without any issues and I made it to the end, so it made for a successful day.

The local rag the Houston Chronicle ran an article today on the lottery in the Houston Marathon, noting how the runners are upset and how the Houston Area Road Runners Association, who sponsored the first Houston Marathon, were left out of the process. This lottery decision continues to look bad for the Marathon.

On another front, apparently the course will remain the same as the last number of years. There was a rumor that a viaduct would be torn down in the first two miles, resulting in a course change. Well, the viaduct is still standing and the course seems to be the same, although no official announcement has been made yet.

To continue with this week's goal, I have eight miles to go tomorrow to finish a good 40 mile week. So far the week has been easier than expected.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cramping Information

The New York Times has an article today on cramping, examining what causes cramping and what MAY alleviate it or prevent it. The conclusions are not so good.

First, it doesn't seem dehydration plays such a huge part in causing cramping. That surprises me. It does seem that general fatigue to the point of failure contributes a lot. And that is interesting.

How do I use this information? Don't fatigue myself. Yeah, right. Actually, the article did go on to say that, while pickle juice itself probably does not help, jolting the nerve firings to the muscles can help once cramping sets in. Stretching specific cramping muscles can re-fire the nerves and stop the cramping.

Or just take some pickle juice. And forget the bananas and water. Go figure.

The eggheads always have the answers....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Struggling Run

I thought I was going to die today. Not really, but the last four miles of the planned, and completed, ten mile run was really difficult. Hunger, tired, sore, and generally bored made for a tough run.

In truth, I faded fairly badly at the end. I even had to slow the treadmill down to 8:23 a mile for the last mile. By then I didn't really care, but it sticks in me now that I feel much better. Oh well.

But I finished the 12/10 back to back without too much damage, and am looking forward to a day off tomorrow. I think this is going to be a decent running week.

Still bothered by the Houston Marathon lottery decision. There seem to be so many other ways to get this done right, and better.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Houston Marathon Registration

Today the Houston Marathon announced they were moving to a lottery system to determine entrants in the race. I'm very disappointed in this development, since it could preclude my entry.

I understand why the Marathon is doing this...they filled up in 60 hours last year, and apparently the computer registration system did not allow some to register even though they tried within the 60 hour time period. But on the other hand, for the fourth largest city in America to limit its premier sporting event to 11,000 participants when other cities, such as Boston with 25,000, New York with 45,000, Chicago with 45,000, and San Antonio with 30,000, have much larger fields is not understandable.

Possible solutions, and I'm sure the Marathon Committee discussed these, are to increase the number of waves at the start, just add more entries and let it sort itself out, or take spots away from the half marathon. Any of these seem reasonable to me.

But instead the marathoners, many of whom like me train nearly year-round for this event, may not be able to enter. Disappointing, to say the least.

I guess another possible solution is to "allow" bandit runners like Boston?

But I'll keep running until August 17 when the entries are announced.

Beginning of Long Week

Today was day one of a planned forty mile week, with a 12 mile run in 7:57 a mile starting it off. Other than feeling hungry around mile 9.5 and some general calf stiffness a little later, it was a successful run.

I guess I'll find out how I bounce back tomorrow. Ten miles following up twelve has not been easy for me in the past.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Stretching Thoughts - 2

I decided to not run this weekend with the heat and the relatively heavy mileage last week, or at least those are my excuses.

So I thought I'd write today on my new-found stretching exercises. I have written before that I don't stretch, and have seen a lack of evidence that it really works for distance runners. I'm now not sure - note that I didn't say I believe in stretching, but that I'm not sure it doesn't hurt.

I have been lightly stretching after my runs for about three weeks now. The stretches are simple, focused on my legs below the knees, where my shin splint pain has been. I only stretch after the runs, and I only do each stretch once for about 25 seconds each.

The four stretches are the "lean against the wall calf stretch", the "lean against the wall with bent knee lower calf stretch", which I do with my foot splayed out to focus the stretch on the inside of my lower calf where most of my pain hides, the "stand on something and let my body weight stretch out the lower calf stretch", and a bent leg "top of foot on floor to stretch the front of lower leg near shin stretch".

These four seem to be helping, although the much-discussed ibuprofen habit may be the real reason my pain is much diminished. But who cares?

On deck for the week: around 40 miles total, with 12 on Monday, 10 on Tuesday, off Wednesday, 10 on Thursday, and 8 on Friday. I don't expect to hold absolutely to this schedule, and also don't expect to run very fast any day. We'll see.

Friday, June 4, 2010


I'm back in Houston today and ran on the treadmill at the fitness center (and the heat is, as it always is when I get back to Houston, ridiculous). I put in another 8 mile run, but only in 8:00 a mile to make it easy. But it wasn't.

I never found my groove, either in breathing or in the legs feeling fresh. I think I was just tired from the hard run yesterday, even though I felt so good then. Anyway, I struggled through the run, with the last five miles really being difficult, and will almost certainly take tomorrow off.

My consecutive days of running showed I can do it to some degree, and hopefully I can maintain this with minimal pain.

We'll see....

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I followed up yesterday's easy run with an 8 mile run in 7:29 a mile on the treadmill. This run felt absolutely great, and again the discretionary side of me called it off. Strange that with all the difficult hiking and some running over the weekend, then the third real run in a row, and I still felt great. But what about tomorrow?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Easy Day

I'm working now on running back-to-back days to see how my body, and shins, react. Today was an easy four miles in 8:00 per mile. No problems, but I did want to let it loose a bit, but alas, discretion held and I just did the planned run. Tomorrow will be the telling day.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hotel Treadmill Run

I got up early and beat the morning crush at the hotel's fitness center, running ten miles in 7:47 a mile. Not much to report, just a solid run with light stretching to finish and the ubiquitous ibuprofen pill shortly prior to running. I did walk up and around San Francisco later in the morning, eating a loaf of sourdough bread with some kind of olive mix I bought at a local grocery. This is kind of my calling card while roaming in San Francisco, but a killer diet it is not.