Week 5

This is a cutback week. Rather than increasing the distance of the long run every week, it looks like we will be increasing every other week for a while. Then, at a certain point, it starts increasing every third week until the longest run (3 weeks before the race). So this week will have a shorter long run. Hopefully this makes sense. Here we go!

Day 1

I’ve been contemplating the idea of treating this entire week as a recovery week. Not only with the shorter long run, but also by doing the other runs at an easie effort. This is something I’ve been doing with weight lifting for years. By backing off every few weeks, I am able to avoid burnout and come back stronger. At least I’ll give this a try today.

Once again, it’s 50 minutes at the track. Today, I’m trying to keep my heart rate in zone 1, which for me is 125-141. Normally, I’m somewhere between zones 1 and 2, so this should be easier than usual.

Not exactly fast, but it was easy. Average pace was 11:24/mile and average heart rate was 128. All done with day 1.

Day 2

After thinking it over some more, I’ve decided to go easy all week. This morning’s workout is 35 minutes of easy running plus warmup, done at the community college trail. Rather than staying entirely within zone 1 like yesterday, I won’t hold back quite as much. But it should still be a very easy effort.

That worked out pretty well. Average pace was 10:36/mile and average heart rate was 134. Rather than working harder to maintain a steady pace, I’m keeping my effort the same and slowing down as needed. Now that I’m working on maintaining a steady effort, I’m seeing that the hill is slowing me down some. Completed mile paces were 10:24, 10:29, and 10:51. On a flatter surface, I think my pace would have stayed more consistent. I’m hoping that, with training, there will be less of a drop-off in pace, even with hills. All done with day 2.

Day 3

30+ minute walk with easy running intervals. One of my favorite things about working out early is getting to see the sunrise. Here are a couple from this week. No more physical activities planned for today.

Day 4

It seems like my write-ups are much less eventful with this being an easier week. Not too much exciting is going on today. Really nice weather though. 64 degrees, which is very mild for Texas this time of year.

My workout consisted of an easy 50 minute run, plus warmup, including 5 strides. As much as possible, I tried to keep the effort consistent throughout the workout. Average pace was 10:27/mile with and average heart rate of 136. This a flatter route than Tuesday, but there are still some hills. Completed mile split paces were 10:12, 10:26, 10:32, and 10:33.

During the earlier part of the run, my right knee was feeling a little weird. Not painful, but slightly uncomfortable. After sitting at my desk for a little while, it still wasn’t feeling great. As much as I wanted to do my traditional lunch break run/walk, I decided to let it rest. Better safe than sorry.

Day 5

Rest day. My right knee feels better. It’s amazing what a difference some rest can make. One of our daughters asked me to walk with her, so we ended up walking about around 45 minutes. That’s it for today.

Day 6

In keeping with the recovery nature of the week, I’ll make sure that I’m going easy for today’s run. It’s only 6 miles plus warmup today, so this shouldn’t be tough. Today is another great milestone. It’s my wife Jennifer’s birthday. Jennifer is such a blessing to me and she inspires me to be a better man. While she isn’t a runner, she does share my love for music and is an amazing singer. I thank God every day for giving much such a gift. She is an incredible wife, best friend, and mother to our kids. We’re all taking her to breakfast today, so I’d like to get this workout over with early.

Hitting the road/trail shortly after 5AM. It’s pitch black right now. Starting out with a few minutes of easy running and then 5 hills at 5K-10K pace. Feels great. Let’s get going.

OK, this is turning out to be one of the slowest runs I’ve ever done. Seriously. Zone 1 + lots of hills + high humidity + warm weather + me = very SLOW. Several of the miles are slower than a 12 minute pace, so I probably won’t be passing too many people this time. Quite a few of the high school cross country runners are out today. Of course, they’re all flying by me. Friendly group, though, as they’re all saying “good morning.”

Why do I feel the need to explain to everyone why I’m going so slow? This reminds me of the early days of low heart rate training. I always felt like saying “I promise, there’s a reason for this…I really can run faster.” Oh well, let’s just make the most of it. I’m not out here to impress anyone.

All done with an average pace of 11:57/mile and average heart rate of 132. Strangely enough, when adjusted for temperature, this is still over 30-45 seconds per mile faster than I should have run. Seriously though, I don’t know how this run could have been made any easier. Enough running for today. Let’s go eat!

Day 7

I went to the track for an easy run/walk to work out any soreness. However, after about 5 laps, a thunderstorm hit and put an early end to the workout. Oh well, these things will happen from time to time.

After church, I celebrated Father’s Day with my family. It was a great reminder that, beyond what I could ever deserve, I am truly a blessed man.

Final Thoughts

Though not particularly eventful, this was another great week. I feel very rested and ready to hit it hard next week. The takeaway from this week was the importance of not pushing yourself to the point of injury. When something doesn’t feel right, take care of it. Let it rest if needed. It’s better to miss one of two workouts and stay healthy than it is to push through and end up hurt for several weeks.

I think I could have dialed things back a little less and still ended up OK. But there was certainly no harm done. I guess that wraps up another week. Five weeks down and only 21 to go!

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Week 4

After getting to bed at a decent time and eating healthier for the past few days, I feel about 100 percent better. All ready for another week of training! Here goes…

Day 1

It’s so nice to wake up and feel rested. This one should be pretty easy. 50 minutes at the track. Looking ahead, the duration of Monday’s run stays the same until week 8, when it changes to 55 minutes.

All done. Once again, I just ran this one by effort. I’m noticing that I tend to run more conservatively when I run by effort, at least on runs that are supposed to be easy. When I’m looking at my heart rate on an easy run, I’ll generally try to go as fast as I can while remaining in zone 2. But when I go by effort, I just settle into a rhythm that feels right.

Garmin says 10:15/mile and an average heart rate of 134. However, if you’ll observe the GPS map, you’ll see why I think I was given too much credit. I promised that I didn’t actually swerve that much. So I’m quite sure that my actual pace was a little slower this morning. Regardless, this was a good day.

Day 2

Later night than I expected, but for a good reason. One of our daughters ended up wanting to talk. Any of you parents of teenagers understand what I mean. Sometimes, you can hardly get them to open up about anything. Then there are those times when they pour their hearts out to you. This was one of those. As much as I wanted to get some sleep, this was more important.

Today’s workout is the same as last Tuesday. Warmup plus 3 miles at marathon pace, broken up by 3 minutes of easy run/walk recovery. 76 degrees and humid this morning. I’ve figured out than when it’s 74 and humid, it doesn’t really feel warm, but there’s no coolness in the air. Around 76, when you’re still, it starts to feel a little warm. Here goes…

Well, this wasn’t my best workout. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m just feeling more run down this morning. Marathon pace efforts were slow at 8:52, 9:06, and 9:16 per mile. This is a 1 mile loop with a good hill. Each time I ran the hill, I felt progressively more drained. This isn’t normal for me.

It’s almost noon and I still feel terrible. Really tired and weak. I just cancelled all of my afternoon and evening activities. If I’m not feeling a lot better tomorrow morning, I’m taking a sick day. Time for a nap.

This is strange. I texted a friend about how I was feeling and they responded with a reminder to stay hydrated. Why would they say something like that? Seems like a strange response. But maybe I should at least look into this.

Woah…this all looks very familiar. Feeling thirsty. Fatigue. GI distress. Headache. Confusion. Feeling that exercise is harder than usual. Lethargy. Dang. I left out a couple of things that didn’t apply, but these are dead on. Come to think of it, I probably don’t have a handle on good hydration (sounds like a Beach Boys song).

Last summer, my running volume was considerably lower. So I always had enough water. During the fall, winter, and early spring, the weather was cool and hydration was rarely an issue. But this is different.

Well, it’s close to dinner time and I feel much better. Headache is gone. I don’t feel mentally foggy or weak. No long run plans for the evening, but I think I’ll be back on track for Thursday.

Day 3

Back to normal today, as far as I can tell. Just a walk around the neighborhood and a few easy running intervals before heading to the office. That should be it for today.

Day 4

Feeling much better than Tuesday. It’s a few degrees cooler this morning, but I’m not taking any chances. I was only planning on using the SaltStick tablets on my Saturday long runs. But I decided to start taking them during the week. I’m not messing around with this!

Colleyville City Park this morning. Same workout as last Thursday. 2 easy miles, 3 miles at marathon effort, plus warmup.

Well, somehow I ended up doing the workout wrong! I was thinking it was supposed to be 2 easy miles, then 3 miles at marathon effort. Actually, it should have been 1 easy mile, 3 miles and marathon effort, and then 1 easy mile. Not sure how much different the order actually makes, except for the amount of fatigue I have when starting the marathon effort. Oh well. I’m sure either will work.

Good workout. Marathon effort miles were 8:54, 8:51, and 9:05. Last week was 8:47, 8:54, and 8:54. However, the overall pace of the workout was faster this week at 9:36/mile (vs. 9:44/mile last week). When I got back to the house, the sunrise was pretty spectacular.

I’ve been working in the office on Thursday, but I’m working from home this week. So I did my recovery walk / run around the neighborhood. It’s a beautiful day and felt pretty good initially. The longer I was out the more by body temperature increased. By the time I finished, it felt really hot. I managed to sneak in 3.67 miles by the time I got back to the house.

That evening, we finally did Gracie’s in-town birthday dinner. We went to Uncle Julio’s and then to Sundance Square. While we didn’t manage any group pictures, I did get a couple of shots with our oldest daughter, Anna. It was a fun evening for all.

Day 5

Rest day. I always try to respect the rest day and do nothing harder than taking a walk. Today, Jennifer and Gracie both asked if I would take a walk with them. So I got in 2 walks. Still an easy day, though.

Day 6

What’s wrong with me? Why am I usually excited about the long run? I’m sure that any normal person would think I was crazy. Today, I’m trying something new. I’ll be running with a local running club. The course is a 10+ mile loop. Some people will run the whole thing, but others may run a longer or shorter distance. I’m not sure what to expect, but let’s give it a shot!

Today’s workout is 9 miles plus a warmup consisting of 10 hills at 5k-10k pace. The group meets at 6AM, so I need to finish my warmup in time to make it to the store by then.

This isn’t really much of a hill, but I need something close to the store where the club meets. All done with warmup and heading to the store. It’s a good sized group and they all seem to know each other well. Being a natural introvert, this always feels awkward. But I try to make the best of it and introduce myself to a couple of people.

We’re about to get started. I’m running at least 2 minutes per mile slower than marathon pace, so I won’t exactly be flying. Hopefully, there will be some other not-so-fast runners. Well, there they go. All but one person just took off about 2 minutes per mile faster than me, and the only other person is quite a bit slower. So I may be doing this alone. It’s hard not to speed up and run with the pack. Focus…stay focused. I really need to pay attention to my own effort rather than their pace.

About a mile into the run and I see the group heading up a hill. I’ve heard several runners complaining about this. Come on, how bad can it be? Woah. This is really steep. And long. Seriously, this hill just keep going. I thought I had reached the top, only to realize there was more. Oh man, I understand what they meant.

OK, I guess we’re about to make up for all the elevation we just gained. Heading downhill. This is one of the steepest downhill stretches I’ve ever done. It’s not as long as the first hill, but it’s steeper. It’s actual hard to run at a normal pace without braking unnaturally. It really feels like, if I just let myself go, I’d probably be at a sub 5 minute pace with almost no effort.

Alright, I’m at the bottom of the hill. Uh oh…where did the group go? Checking my directions, it says to turn on Shady Lane. But which direction? Oh man, that would have been helpful. I’ll take a guess and go right. This brings me back to the park and nobody from the group is anywhere in sight. Maybe I should have gone left. Hey, I see one of the runners and she’s headed to the park as well. I’ll ask her about this.

It turns out she’s just taking a bathroom break and that I should have turned left on Shady Lane. At this point, I may never see the group again. Nevertheless, it’s time to press on and keep moving.

OK, I think I’m officially in the middle of nowhere. Nobody in sight. Nothing looks remotely familiar. I’ll stick with the directions I was given and hopefully I’ll eventually end up somewhere familiar. From here, it’s a steady uphill climb. It’s getting hot and the humidity is really high, which is making it hard to keep my heart rate down. Now I’m on a 2 lane road with about a 6 inch shoulder and a ditch on both sides. This can’t be right.

OK, finally. I see a street that looks familiar. Man, I’ve done 9 miles before, but it seems a lot longer when you don’t know where you are. Still moving forward.

Finally, I’m getting back to civilization. This all looks familiar. They mentioned that they would be supplying water, so I considered not bringing my own. Maybe that wouldn’t have been so smart. We’re almost 7 miles into the run and I haven’t seen water yet. Maybe I missed it earlier. Oh wait…there it is! Roughly 7.5 miles into the run. Except that there are no cups and I didn’t bring a water bottle. Feeling the 1.5 liter reservoir in my hydration vest, I think there’s enough water to make it back.

Alas, we’re finished! Not the easiest 9 miles I’ve ever done, but it’s finished. There are some runs that are physically tough. To some degree, this was the case with the hills, heat, and humidity. But this one was more mentally tough. Staying focused and sticking with the plan, even when everyone else was going a lot faster. Moving forward when I was all alone and had no idea where I was. It feel great to be done and I’m heading back to the house.

We got a couple of free tickets to the Texas Rangers game, so I’ll be taking our son, Joshua. It’s hot day, but our seats were in the shade until about the 8th inning. The Rangers won. But more importantly, it was a great father/son time. It was his first Ranger game and he says he’d love to attend another one. All done for the day.

Day 7

Easy run/walk this morning at the track. Good afternoon nap. Feeling great and well rested for next week.

Final Thoughts

Though not without its challenges, this was another great week. My biggest takeaway was the importance of hydration. Drink plenty of water. Not just right before the run, but steadily throughout the week. Seriously, don’t mess around with this. Dehydration is very serious and could have been much worse. This program is moving along very quickly. I know the race will be here before long. Until then, I’m trying to get the most of out of training as well as the other more important things in life. Four weeks down and only 22 to go!

Week 3

Traveling out of town to visit family is great. It’s truly a blessing to be able to spend time with them, catch up, create new memories, etc. At the same time, traveling can really mess with your sleep schedule. That’s where I am right now. Enjoying everything, while trying to make the best of inadequate sleep. Time to get moving!

Day 1

This is our last day in Amarillo. Last night was my second night of this weekend with less than 5 hours of sleep. But I’m feeling pretty good this morning. Today’s workout is 50 minutes of easy running at the track.

All done. OK, this isn’t bad. Garmin shows an average pace of 10:15/mile and an average heart rate of 138. Legs are feeling good afterward, so I’ll run a few strides. Great workout!

Today is my younger daughter Gracie’s 15th birthday. Seriously, where does the time go? Gracie is our child who is both artistic and athletic. She has a beautiful singing voice and is also on the drill team at school. She’s the one who is the most likely to run or go to the gym with me. My parents always warned me about how quickly the time would fly. While I believed them, I wasn’t expecting this.

Gracie and me at Isaac’s graduation

To celebrate, we took her to breakfast and grabbed some coffee. After we got back to my in-laws’ house, it all hit. I could hardly keep my eyes open. While they were running some errands, I managed to get a pretty good nap. Then we had lunch, which consisted of two fast food burritos. On the drive home, I polished off two more burritos, totaling six for the weekend. That was officially too much. I felt awful for the rest of the way home. It’s definitely time for some healthier food.

Day 2

OK, I’m feeling every bit of this weekend. Lack of sleep, bad eating, etc. I can hardly drag myself out of bed this morning. I’m already trying to plan my next nap. Maybe lunch break today? Let’s get this over with.

Running at the community college trail again. 3 marathon paced miles with 3 minutes of easy recovery in between, plus warmup. Here we go!

Great warmup. I was able to run the warmup mile at 9:27 with an average heart rate of 131. This is faster than usual for such an easy effort. Feeling great! Bring on the real workout!!

Mile 1 was easy. 8:31 pace (goal of 8:33-8:45). I actually felt like I was holding back. Mile 2 was also easy. Same exact pace and barely trying. Woo hoo!! What a day! If this is what a marathon feels like, I’m ready! Uh oh…I may have spoken too soon. Somewhere into mile 3, I felt like my body was saying “if I’m going to do this, you’re going to have to give me some better fuel and more sleep.”

I ended up looking at my watch more than usual to stay on pace, and finished the last mile at 8:34. Honestly, I could have kept going at this pace for a little while. But I felt like I pushed too hard for feeling as run down as I did. It felt like a threshold run or harder, which was not what I needed. Looking back, I should have stuck with running by perceived effort. This served me much better last week. Dang it! But I guess it’s not a loss if you learn something from it.

Day 3

7+ hours of sleep last night, but I’m still feeling tired today. Why does it take so long to recover from a lack of sleep? Garmin shows my average sleep for the past week to be 6 hours and 18 minutes. I think I’ve figured this out. If I can average 8 hours of sleep, I feel great. With 7 hours, I feel like I’m at least maintaining. But when it’s 6 or less, I feel like I’m progressively falling behind. I’m really hoping for an early bedtime tonight.

Pretty simple this morning. Easy walk around the neighborhood with a few jogging intervals. Legs are feeling good.

Day 4

Feeling much better today. Less than 7 hours of sleep last night, but yesterday’s nap really helped. After Tuesday’s (day 2) workout, I want to get this right. In addition to paying closer attention to effort, I’m setting a high heart rate alert just to make sure I don’t push too hard.

Today’s workout consists of a warmup followed by 1 mile easy, 3 miles at marathon pace, and another easy mile. After each marathon pace mile, there is a 3 minute recovery (easy run/walk) period.

Alright, that was much better. The effort felt slightly harder than my easy “all day” effort, but still easier than my tempo / threshold effort. It never felt like I was straining and there were no high heart rate alerts. Pace was a little slower than I originally thought. 8:47, 8:54, and 8:54.

I’ve noticed that starting a workout at marathon pace effort has me running closer to 8:30/mile, while using the same effort after running a few easy miles has me running 15-25 seconds per mile slower. So maybe my feasible marathon pace is closer to 8:45-8:55 at this point. That’s fine. I’d rather dial things back a bit and speed up as my fitness improves, rather than pushing too hard at a pace that’s not realistically sustainable.

It’s about lunch time and really nice outside, so I think I’ll go take a walk.

All done. Beautiful day! Around 80 degrees, but with a cool breeze. In the shade, it was nearly perfect. A little steamy out in the sun because of recent (yesterday) rain. I managed to cover 3.9 miles, which makes a total of 11.05 for the day. No more physical activities planned until Saturday.

Trinity River Trails, Fort Worth, TX.

Day 5

Rest day. Some foam rolling and that’s about it.

Day 6

Almost 8 hours of sleep last night. Feeling great! I think I might actually be caught up from last weekend. Today’s working consists of 7-8 hills at 10k pace for warmup, followed by 7.5 miles. I’m doing the hills in our neighborhood and the regular running at the Cotton Belt Trail, which is only a couple of blocks away.

Today, I’m trying something new. I may have mentioned this before, but I’m a heavy salt sweater. Anytime I work up a really heavy sweat for more than about 30 minutes, I end up with a terrible headache and feel like sleeping for the rest of the day. I’m trying SaltStick Caps to see if they help. The reviews were good, so I’m crossing my fingers. 🙂

Hills feel great. It’s a temptation to sprint these, so you have to learn to back off. The pace should be fairly fast, but not all out. The objective is to help strengthen your legs and develop quicker turnover, not to use up all of your energy before the actual workout.

All done with hills, so let’s head to the trail. It really is a beautiful day so far. Temperature is in the lower 70’s, which feels really nice. This also means I’ll need to slow down the pace just a bit.

Great run. I ran by perceived effort, hoping to keep my heart rate in zone 1, which for me is 125-141. It turns out that I was successful for most of the workout. However, as the sun came up and temperatures increased, it started to feel really humid. For the last couple of miles, I was having trouble cooling down, so my heart rate increased a little. Even still, my average heart rate was 133 with an average pace of 11:13/mile.

The good thing about a lower heart rate run like this is that you don’t feel nearly as run down afterward. The SaltStick Caps seem to be working as I sweated a ton but didn’t have a headache afterward.

Something to take note of. I filled a 1.5 liter reservoir with water and also brought a small water bottle. Before I made it back to the house, it was all gone. This does concern me a bit as the long runs will be getting considerably longer and the weather will be getting hotter. While it may be possible to carry a little more water, I’m not sure if it will be enough. So I need to figure something out. If you have any suggestions, I’m open.

Day 7

I did my recovery walk with jog intervals at the track this morning. It was at 5:30AM and there was actually another couple there jogging. There’s not usually much company at that time of day. Church this morning and no other physical activities planned.

Final Thoughts

There has been steady improvement each week. As far as the easy runs are concerned, I think I’d be OK not looking at the heart rate monitor at all. With marathon pace, it’s becoming more familiar, but I think I still need the occasional reminders to back off when I’m pushing too hard. All in all, it’s been a great week. Three weeks down and only 23 to go!

Week 2

I can already tell that one of my biggest challenges will be getting enough sleep. Work starts at 6AM and we live in Texas. If I run before work, I need to wake up early. No problem. But to get enough sleep, I also need to get in bed early. This is not always possible. If I wait until after work, it cuts into family time and often ends up being usurped by other responsibilities. Plus, the summer afternoons get really hot. It’s a challenge either way. Regardless, here goes another week!

Day 1

Oh man. Sunday was more draining than usual and I’m paying for it this morning. Is it seriously time to wake up already? Can’t I just go back to sleep for a couple of hours? Well, nobody said this would be easy. So let’s get moving before I talk myself out of it.

Same workout as last Monday. 50 minutes of easy running. The temperature is 13 degrees warmer than last Monday at 72. I’m really trying not to look at my watch, but rather to pay more attention to effort and adjust my pace accordingly. The temperature may slow me down, but that’s alright.

It turns out that my perception of effort was pretty good. I ran about 27 seconds per mile slower than last Monday, but my average heart rate (139) was exactly the same. By the time I finished running, my eyes were burning from all the sweat and I had completely emptied my water bottle. Note to self: Bring more water next time. This could be really interesting when summer arrives and it gets really hot.

Day 2

Last night, I managed to get in bed around 9. So it should be easier to get up this morning. But I’m still dragging. Thunderstorms are in the forecast, so let’s get to work before they hit!

Roughly 30 minutes of running today, plus warmup. Only this time, the intervals are slightly different. 3 miles at marathon pace, with easy recovery between each mile. It’s 78 degrees this morning, which is my warmest running day of 2019. But don’t worry. This record shouldn’t stand for long.

Things went much better this time. My pacing was a lot closer than last week. The marathon pace miles were run at 8:27, 8:37, and 8:36. For reference, it should be somewhere in the 8:33-8:45 range. This time, I didn’t pay much attention to the pace on my watch. Instead, I paid closer attention to effort and would occasionally check my heart rate to make sure I wasn’t pushing too hard. At least for today, this made for a more reliable pacing strategy. However, I could stand to hold back just a little on the first mile.

About halfway through the last mile, it got really windy and started pouring down rain. This was all in the forecast, but it hit earlier than expected. I went ahead and finished out the mile and did my best to stay focused. Survived day 2 and feeling great!

Day 3

Cross training. I did a short yoga routine for runners, then went for a walk around the neighborhood, with a few easy jogging intervals. This has become one of my favorite ways of working out soreness from the day before. I’m not planning on any more physical activities for today.

Day 4

Change of venue for this morning. One of my daughters asked if she could run a mile with me before getting ready for school. So I decided to run this one in the neighborhood, which is more hilly than the trail where I ran last Thursday. Normally, whatever speed you lose on the uphill portions of a hilly route, you gain back when running downhill. Not the case here. The downhill portion was fairly short and steep. The uphill, on the other hand, was much longer and more gradual.

I started the workout with a 1 mile warmup and a few strides. As I was finishing this, my daughter met up with me. We ran the first mile together, and then she headed back to the house. I matched her running pace, which was just a little faster than my usual easy pace. Something like 9:30 per mile. But it was still easy. When it came time for the marathon pace miles, I ran by effort and ended up going a little slower than I had planned. This was probably a combination of the hills, the humidity, and the two miles I ran before this. Had I been running an actual marathon in these conditions, it’s possible that this would have been my race pace.

It was a really nice day, so I used my lunch break to take a walk on the Trinity River Trails. This was only supposed to be a walk. However, my legs were feeling great, so I threw in a few jog intervals and ended up covering of 3 1/2 miles. Now I’m officially done with day 4.

Day 5

Rest day. Two mile easy walk and then a 6 hour drive to Amarillo for my nephew’s high school graduation. Being a goal driven person, it’s so easy to be consumed by the end goal that I fail to embrace the journey. Can any of you relate? With my schedule, I can also be regimented to a fault. Discipline is great, don’t get me wrong. But I can easily push it too far and become very rigid and uptight when my schedule is thrown off. I figured this might be the case this weekend, so I’ve really tried to maintain a better perspective and just enjoy every moment. I ended up eating 2 burritos from a fast food restaurant after 10pm and getting to bed after midnight. Not my usual routine and this probably won’t happen again for a while, so I think we’ll be OK.

Day 6

Not as tired as I expected this morning. This was a good chance to try out a new route. I chose Medical Center Park. This is a nice scenic area with a trail that loops around a pond. It was great day for running. 65 degrees, which would make for a target pace of 11:03/mile (8:33+2:00+:30).

The workout was a warmup plus 7 easy miles. Other than trying to keep my heart rate in zone 1 during the first mile, I didn’t look much at my watch. Instead, I tried to keep the effort easy, and adjusted the pace whenever needed. What really surprised me was how evenly paced the last 6 miles turned out to be. 10:48, 10:48, 10:44, 10:47, 10:48, and 10:46. The average pace, including the first mile, was 10:54. A little faster than my target, but it remained really easy the whole time. I figured the 3,000 ft elevation increase would make a difference. Other than feeling a little more winded during the warmup, I didn’t notice anything else.

I was very happy with this one. Several months ago, I had a bad habit of pushing too hard on all of my easy runs. Now, I feel much more confident about my perception of effort. I just need to further refine this so that I can do the same with my marathon pace.

Day 7

Just a walk around the neighborhood with a few easy jog intervals. Legs were feeling a little sore this morning, but they feel great now.

Final Thoughts

Great second week. I would call this one better than last week. Not pushing the marathon pace miles too hard really made a difference. My legs felt better and recovered more quickly. I’m also feeling better about my ability to pace by effort. The next challenge is to refine this with my marathon pace. Obviously, it’s still early, but I feel very encouraged by how things are going so far. Two weeks down and only 24 to go!

Why I Started Running – Part 2

This one is a bit more personal. Actually, it could be called “Why I Started Running And Still Continue To Run” or simply “Why I Run.” Because these next two influences are so closely related, I’ll address them together. So here goes…

My Brother

My brother, Mark, and I are roughly 2 1/2 years apart – with me being the oldest. We grew up with similar interests: athletics and music. However, Mark was more of an athlete and I was more of a musician. Strangely enough, these paths have recently converged as Mark has put a lot of effort into learning the drums and I have taken up running.

Mark has always been more of an endurance athlete than me. He has competed in a number of races of every distance, up to and including the marathon. Also, he has done several cycling races and triathlons.

Saturday, November 8, 2014 is a day I will never forget. We were getting ready to celebrate our dad’s birthday, which was November 9. That afternoon, while at the store with one of our daughters, mom called to tell me that Mark was missing. He had gone for a bike ride, but had not returned home. Nobody had seen or heard from him for hours, and he wasn’t answering his phone.

This was one of the longest days of my life. Several hours passed and he was still missing. Not knowing was the worst part. Maybe he was seriously injured. Maybe maybe he was gone. We just didn’t know. So we prayed and waited. Late that night, dad called to inform me that Mark had been found…thankfully alive. He had a terrible cycling accident that knocked him out for about 3 days. Mark sustained a severe concussion, lost several teeth, and received a host of other injuries.

It was a hard road for Mark (no pun intended). He had to put in a lot of hard work to regain his strength, stamina, balance, mobility, and even his confidence. In the face of great adversity, Mark persevered. Eventually, he was able to start racing again.

My Dad

One of the first things Mark remembers after waking up in the hospital was dad telling him that he loved him and was proud of him. Dad was always one of our biggest supporters. He and mom were always such an encouragement to us. Anytime Mark raced, if it was humanly possible, they would be there.

This is a much longer story than I’m making it, but dad was diagnosed with a terminal illness in December of 2015. Dad’s prognosis was 2-5 years. The first time I saw dad after his diagnoses, he quoted Job 1:21 and said “the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Dad fought hard, but ultimately was at peace knowing his time had come. On January of 2017, dad finished the race.

Ironman

In April of 2018, Mark was registered for the Ironman triathlon in the Woodlands, TX. With dad not being there, mom, one of my daughters, and I came to cheer Mark on. Needless to say, this was a very emotional experience.

The atmosphere was incredible. Everyone was extremely encouraging. Even the participants seems to have the attitude that they were all in it together. One racer would pass another and say something like “great job…keep it up”. The whole experience was very inspiring and uplifting, even as a spectator.

I guess I expected most of the participants to look like Olympic athletes. Muscular and ripped…like something from Greek mythology. While there were some of these, most looked like regular people that I would see everyday. Yet they had worked hard and made numerous sacrifices to accomplish a goal. That day, a seed was planted in my mind. What could I do if I really worked hard and gave it my best? This question continued to plague me.

At last, it was time. With each person who crossed the finish line, the crowd cheered loudly. Families and friends gathered around to welcome and congratulate those who finished. It was amazing.

In the midst of the celebration, I couldn’t help but think of Hebrews 12:1-2:
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. “

At the same time, I kept thinking about dad’s race and wondering what the celebration must have been like when he crossed the finish line. I’m not ashamed to say that I completely lost it.

Moving Forward

During a GriefShare class, I heard a great statement. When you lose somebody you love, you can’t just move on with your life. But you can move forward by treasuring the memories you shared, honoring the person’s life, grieving as needed, while still living your life…as they would want you to do. At this point in time, I still felt like I was stuck in my grief.

When I picked up running, I found that it was a great outlet. It provided a break from the busyness and stress of life. It gave me the space to to pray, process, decompress, and to work through much of my grief. Today, I’m doing much better. I still miss dad, and I’m sure I always will. But each day, God gives me the strength to move forward, one step at a time. Now, a year later, I’m training for my first marathon. This one’s for you, dad…

Week 1

Well, we’re off and running! Sorry, I’ll try to cut back on the dad jokes. My pre-training weigh-in was 191 lbs or roughly 86.5 kg. Just so you know, I’ll be doing most of Monday’s runs at the track. The other days will either be in the street or on a trail. In the even of unsafe weather (thunderstorms, hail, tornado, flooding, etc.), I’ll run on the treadmill. But if the weather is merely unpleasant (rain, heat, cold, wind, etc.), I’m running outside. Here we go…

Day 1

50 minutes of easy running. Conversational pace or somewhere in the zone 1-2 range. Everything went well. No issues at all. Well, there were a couple of technology issues. My heart rate monitor was spiking at almost 180 for the few few minutes, until I broke a sweat. Then it settled back down to around 125. Also, I fully understanding that using GPS at the track isn’t always 100 percent accurate. All of this being said, my Garmin watch indicated a 9:49/mile pace with an average heart rate of 139. Truthfully, it was probably closer to a 10:00/mile pace. Just keeping it honest.

No issues at all. Feeling great.

Day 2

I was sleeping really well when the alarm went off, so it was harder then usual to get out of bed. Today’s workout began with a 1 mile easy warmup, followed by a few strides. Then, I ran for 30 minutes – with 2 rounds of marathon to threshold pace for 10 minutes and 5 minutes of easy running recovery.

The first 10 minute segment was run at a 7:58/mile pace and the second was at 8:25 (purposely slower). Both were faster than I could feasibly run a marathon, so I need to work on pacing. It’s easy to run slow or fast, but I’m having trouble dialing in some of the in-between gears. Thankfully, there’s still time to work it.

Week 1, Day 2

Day 3

Easy day with some cross training, but no running. I did a 15 minute core workout and took a brief walk before work. As far as physical activity is concerned, that’s about it. My legs are feeling just a little beat up from yesterday, so this is a nice break.

Day 4

Feeling better this morning. I decided to check out a local park with a trail. We pass by this place all the time on the way to church, but I’ve never actually run or walked here. It was a nice change of scenery. Today’s workout consisted of 1 mile easy warmup, a few strides, and then 52 minutes of running. I used one of the 80/20 Running workouts for today. It’s called a fast finish run.

For this one, I ran the first 40 minutes easy and then ran the last 12 minutes closer to marathon pace. Again, I over paced the last 12 minutes. So I need to work on slowing this down just a bit. Feeling great with no issues.

Day 5

Rest day. Normally, I start work at 6AM. So I’m up pretty early on workout days. For this reason, I try to get in some extra sleep on non-running days. Today, I slept until around 5:15. Felt like I was on vacation! Legs are feeling a little beat up again, so this is a nice break.

Week 1, Day 5

Day 6

Thunderstorms were in the forecast, so I was planning to run on the treadmill. Not my preference, but it’s better than nothing. The expected start time of the storms was delayed, so I’m hitting the trails. The Cotton Belt Trail has been the home of my Saturday run for almost a year now. It has some nice scenery, hills, and it’s a quiet place, which makes for an enjoyable run.

Today’s workout starts with 4-6 hills run at 5K to 10K pace, with easy walking in between. Then, 7 miles run at an easy pace. The guy who wrote the plan suggested doing the long run at least 2 miles slower per minute than your marathon pace. Then, for every 5 degrees above 60 (F), slowing down by 30 seconds per mile. This morning’s temperature was 76, so this would have made for a long run pace of about 12:03/mile (8:33/mile + 2:00 + 1:30). To keep the run easy and to reduce recovery time, he suggests taking scheduled brief walk breaks. The run/walk interval is determined by pace. I know some runners may scoff at this, which is fine. I’ve done long runs both ways and I’ve found that my legs feel much better after this. Plus, I’ve found that it doesn’t slow me down at all.

This morning, I used a 60/30 run walk interval and a very easy running effort, which I figured would make the run very slow. But even still, I ended up at an average pace of 11:36/mile and with an average heart rate of 136. It was a little faster than it should have been, but it felt great.

Final Thoughts

Very enjoyable first week. Nothing was particularly difficult. However, I do need to make a more conscious effort to hold back on the marathon pace segments. Running faster than I should is very tempting, and my heart and lungs can handle it with no problem. But this effectively turns two of the weekly workouts into threshold runs, which is a bit much. As a result, my legs feel more beat up the next day. So this is what I’ll be working on next week. One week down and only 25 to go!

Why I Started Running – Part 1

Many people I talk with seriously dislike running. I can certainly understand. This was the case with me for most of my life. Running was something I saw as beneficial and helpful, but not something that could be enjoyed. I thought people who said they enjoyed running were crazy. But this all changed for me in May of 2018. There are basically three things I can think of that led to this change. To keep this entry more concise, I’ve decided to break these up into 2 or 3 parts.

The first reason was simply the fact that I didn’t have any stamina. I like being healthy and feeling good. The feeling of being out of shape and unhealthy is more unpleasant to me than any diet or workout. When I returned to working out again in my early 30’s, it was because I was tired of feeling out of shape. I would have stuck with this longer had my progress not been derailed by a foot injury. When I cut processed sugar out of my diet 2-3 years later, it was because I constantly felt tired and still needed to lose a few pounds. Yes, the sugar withdrawal headaches were unpleasant. But being able to lose the extra weight and getting my energy back made it well worth the sacrifice.

In May of 2018, I was strong and was at a healthy weight. At the time, my workout routine consisted exclusively of weightlifting and no cardio. I was eating well and felt pretty good, but I didn’t have a lot of stamina. Certain activities that were once easy began to require a lot more effort. For example, using the stairs at work had become quite difficult and really took the wind out of me.

I knew it was time to make some changes. Running was simple and didn’t require any equipment, other than a decent pair of shoes. With a couple of tracks and some jogging trails close to our house, running seemed like a fairly obvious choice. And it turned out to be a great move. Not only was I able to regain my stamina, I also began to feel more mentally alert from running.

The other circumstances the pushed me toward running are more personal and I will address these later. What about you? If you are a runner, what spurred you to start in the first place? What motivates you to continue?