Try Again?

January 27, 2015 — Leave a comment

The thing about blogs is that thinking about updating them is not the same as actually updating them. I’m working on it, really. I do have some stuff I want to share. Hope I remember to do it.

Connections

August 3, 2014 — Leave a comment

This may be a bit of a ramble.

I used to insist on music while running / training. The first challenge I issued to myself when transitioning from obsessed walker to jogger was to run the length of one song on my iPod. It didn’t kill me. That turned into running. 

One of the reasons I used to always run with music (and still sometimes do) is that I simply have a very strong connection to it. I’ve been somewhat of a musician since age 10, and it is an extremely deep and important part of my life. I connect much of life to music. This connection is just natural to me. 

Another reason music became so much a part of running for me is that I found I could distract myself by striding to its beat. It became easy to keep moving at a steady pace by simply making sure that my foot came down with each pulse of what I was hearing. When I started trying to improve my skill, I chose music that was moving along at 150 to 170 BPM (or could be subdivided into that for you music geeks). I made playlists grouped by BPM’s and then arranged the content for what I thought I might like. 

For example, I once made a play list called “Last 10K” that I planned to turn on at the 20-mile mark of a marathon when I was tired and needed some inspiration. I got pretty detailed with this, but soon I noticed that when I didn’t have music playing, I was struggling. That’s not really good. 

Nowadays, I run with music only if I’m not running with others, and not even every time I do that. Because of this, my days of running with music seem more special – a treat – a relaxation, etc. and i’m not that worried about the BPM’s anymore. If it is under about 160, I just tell myself to run faster than the music.

I almost always listen to a specific playlist on Sundays. I call it “Jesus.” I love my Sunday morning Jesus music runs. When I hear or buy a great worship song, it goes in my “Jesus” playlist. Then on (especially) those Sunday morning runs, I just shuffle it. Sometimes, those 30-minute to 90-minute runs are some of the sweetest times of worship that I have. 

And that brings up for me the other connection I wanted to highlight – that of running and faith. That is the deep one. I don’t want to make too much out of running as a spiritual exercise, but there is a deeply spiritual component for me. Analyzing it too much can take some of the joy out of it, but here are a few of my thoughts:

1. Running represents overcoming. 
Long distance running is about endurance. It is about staying with it, no matter what, overcoming obstacles, fighting mental battles, and pushing to finish something. There is a lot of faith stuff wrapped up in that. 

2. Running allows meditation.
From deep thoughts, focused prayer, problem solving to simple mantras, running allows some deep thought time. When I choose to use that deep thought time for the high purpose of communicating with God, thinking deeply and slowly, and dwelling on faith matters, it is a good. good thing. At times, it’s been an escape – but more often than that, it is an entrance into welcomed thought time.

3. Running allows for purposed activity.
Through great organizations like Team World Vision, running also allows me to use my effort to raise awareness and resources for things like clean water projects, child protection, etc. Some of my marathons have been connected to this great cause. While I don’t believe charity is the only reason a person should run…and I don’t believe that not running for charity is a selfish endeavor, genorosity is a loving and good thing. It is a joy to have a hand in providing clean water to people who need it. Want to donate?  Hint, hint…here is my fundraising page for this year’s Chicago marathon

4. Running fosters community.
The running community is a good one. Sure, it has its problems, but it presents multiple opportunities for character development too. There is a sense of how we are all in this together, and there is the opportunity to allow grace to others, to work together, to avoid comparison, to be humble and to help and inspire others along the way. Any worthwhile community has this, and it is true of running as well. I’ve had good long talks with people while on a run – helpful, deep and real conversation. I’ve learned to put up with people and allow them to put up with me. I’ve made friends running, and I have deepened friendships that way as well.

5. Running can be a spiritual as I make it. 
What got me thinking about all of this was being in church yesterday and worshiping with the song “Forever Reign.” I think that one single song carries the most meaning for me when connecting running, faith and music. When we worship with that song, I can close my eyes and almost feel myself running as we sing the words

Oh I’m running to Your arms
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

I feel motion, and I see roads ahead of me, and somehow there is the great connection to life in Jesus, and life left to live, and what I’ve run from, and on and on and on. 

That simple song that I’ve run to 100’s of times (it’s in my playlist multiple times) brings me to a place where I can connect it all. A place where things are right, and good, and holy and wonderful. A place of longing, of a journey, of the race that I’ll someday finish, of God’s goodness and love, of contentment…well, you get the idea. 

Running isn’t everybody’s thing. It’s not even really possible for everyone. I’m very thankful, though for the season I’m in – one where I still feel the presence of God on the run – and I can celebrate it. For now, it’s where I am. 

 

Mid to Late Summer

August 2, 2014 — Leave a comment

Normally, July is kind of a slow month for me, but this year it has been very busy. Consequently, I haven’t updated here very much. i think I was out of town all but one weekend in July with business and family travel. It was tough on my training scheduled. Some weeks, I succeeded and other weeks I missed some workouts. 

I’ve made all of my long runs, though, and things are going fairly well. 

I am loving my training group. If not for that, I think my weekend long runs would be much more difficult. I’ve had to make one by myself, but I got through it. So here is a shout out to Luke’s Locker Marathon Training.

We are 10 weeks out from Chicago. The mileage is getting longer now. The speed work is getting more intense. I’d say it is getting hotter, but it isn’t. We’ve been blessed with very mild temperatures overall this July. My confidence level about meeting my goal is in a good place right now. 

Challenges right now (besides my schedule) include frustration with not losing weight as fast as I would like. Constant struggle. Most often, I feel somewhat defeated. Celebrations, business travel, stress…all the triggers are there in abundance. I need discipline and patience. 

This week is vacation, so I’ll be doing a 16-miler by myself. I’ll be ready. More on that in my next post. 

 

Flexibility with the schedule..

Had to travel last week, which brought the opportunity to run in two locations other than home: Greenville, SC and Columbia, SC. Both were routine 4 mile runs, but there is something exciting about running in new locations.

 

I have learned that the only way to work out consistently through travel times is to plan ahead. It’s pretty easy to find decent places to run if I plan to do it before arriving. In both cases, I scouted out areas close to where I was staying that would work. I planned the running into my schedule.

The only workout that didn’t work out was the speed and strength work that I had to do at the hotel. I got to the treadmill and got part of it done, but I was tired and not feeling very well. Consequently, I didn’t get all the way through the workout.

My speed workouts, however, are getting better in general. Marathon pace, tempo and track workouts are tough, but for the most part I’ve been successfully slugging it out.

This weekend, we had a 9 mile run (hilly in the middle), and when I got through with it, I realized that I’ve improved overall. I mean that I got done and the higher mileage didn’t seem like much. That is significant to me…and timely, because we will be in double digits for our long runs from now on.

This week, we’ve got two speed workouts (Monday / Thursday), 3 low mileage easy runs and a 12-mile run on Saturday. I will be traveling the next 3 or 4 weekends for at least part of the weekend, so it is time to get the plan together.

I’m getting pumped about Chicago.

 

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A Mixed Bag…But Some Good Progress

I just finished my 5th week of training for my Fall Marathon (Chicago, 10/12/14)

Stats:
28.2 Miles, 4 hours, 55 minutes over 6 activities. It was supposed to be 32 miles, but I had a bit of a meltdown on Thursday. We did our warm up and our pre-run exercises. I was already not feeling great…and then as we got into the run I realized I was fighting some discouraging nausea. I couldn’t seem to overcome it, so at the 1 mile mark I stopped, turned around and walked back to the starting point. It took me several hours that day to recover. 

Prior to that day, however, the runs were going well – better than they had been the week prior. In fact, by Wednesday I was really feeling as if I was getting on top of this thing mentally. Dread had subsided, and I was looking forward to getting a run done each day. Thursday just didn’t work out for me. 

I took Friday off, and then this morning I met with my group. We did a 9 mile run. A month ago, that would have felt out of reach, but today it seemed just about right. Two of my miles today were to be at marathon pace. I chose miles 5 and 6 for this. The way the course was laid out, those two miles were over the most hilly terrain. I didn’t like that at first, but I changed my mind about it and took it on as a challenge. I ran faster than marathon pace (but not quite tempo run pace) for those two miles. 

As we finished the 9 miles, I felt as good as I could expect to feel after a workout that long. I was proud that I made my marks today. I enjoyed some good conversation with my coach Allyson, and got a great start to this nice Saturday. 

This week, we made our hotel reservations and bought our airline tickets. Really looking forward to what is becoming a tradition: Chicago in October with great friends and…oh yeah…that running thing. 

Here is the plan for Week 6
Sunday – 4 miles easy
Monday & Thursday – Track workout (400’s), strength conditioning and 2 miles easy
Tuesday – 4 miles easy
Wednesday – 6 miles easy
Friday – 11 miles with 3 miles @marathon pace
Saturday – off (traveling to Greenville, SC)

Fun week ahead!

28 Miles

I feel like I made some progress in a couple of areas. First off, a few pounds left me. That was good. Secondly, this was the week that we started speed workouts in the form of tempo runs. We had two of these runs, and my second one was in improvement over the first one. Improving numbers are motivating to me. 

Low points included the 3-miler that we did at 7 PM…I just don’t care for late day running. We were supposed to get a taco and a margarita from The Blue Goose after this run. But I thought that if I saw a taco or a margarita after this run that I would throw up. 

Saturday’s group run was good. Hilly. 7 miles. Ran about at the pace I needed to. The scenery was really nice where we ran (Copper Canyon). 

Week 4 was to start with a 4 mile run yesterday…didn’t happen. We woke up to thunderstorms and then the day deteriorated and there just wasn’t time. This morning’s ATP workout was cancelled right before it started as well – thunderstorms rolling through. I made up for a little more than today’s miles with a 6 mile run at lunch time. Here is the rest of the week:

Tuesday – 3 miles easy
Wednesday – 6 miles easy
Thursday – Prep work, then 5 miles with 12 minutes tempo
Saturday – 8 miles with 2 of the miles at marathon pace

Feeling good so far this week. I don’t like the disruptions, but I remember to be flexible and let everything work together. 

Yesterday, I completed the second week of marathon training with my Luke’s Fit group. 

Overall, I’m feeling great about it. Our Luke’s Locker is new, and so this is its inaugural marathon training program. So far, my group has 4 participants and about the same number of available coaches. While I wish the group was a little larger, it is pretty great to have near individualized coaching. I am so happy that I signed up for this group. 

It was an immediate up in mileage for me, which was an initial concern. But I figured that since I have been running steadily for nearly 5 years now that it would be OK to dive in even after a 4 month break. I found out that I could do more than I thought I could, and so far I am keeping up. 

What was really difficult for me starting back up into running again was the struggle of trying to be my own accountability and training in isolation. With this program, for 1/2 of my training runs, I have teammates waiting on me. That motivation moves me. In addition to that, I’ve been able to have some individualized attention. On the long run this week, one of the coaches stayed with me every step of the way, watching the clock, reminding me of what I needed to remember and encouraging me. That made a huge difference in the run. 

This week, we start adding some fitness moves into a couple of the runs and we start more speed work – this week in the form of tempo runs. I’m looking forward to that challenge. 

We have many weeks and many miles to go, but things are looking up. I am enjoying being more passionate about a running lifestyle. I’ll keep you updated.

This week here is the schedule:

Sunday 4 miles easy (done)
Monday & Thursday prep work plus 4 miles including 10 minutes tempo
Tuesday 3 miles
Wednesday 6 miles
Friday off
Saturday 7 miles with 2 or 3 @ marathon pace