"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW-- What a Ride!"

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Feeling normal again

Tonight I ran 5 miles and felt completely normal.  Yay!  For the first time in a month or so my knees didn't dictate when I turned around to head for home.  I got to enjoy a nice sunset, ingest a few gnats and be happy I could be running when it's not 10F and snowing.  I am also thankful that I have been able to stay active doing other things so my aerobic fitness did not suffer too much.

For May I logged 47.9 miles.  Far below what I would have liked, but considering that I was working through a case of runners knee I am happy with it.  It's better than 0 and for that I am thankful.  For June I am hoping to hit about 80-90 miles.  Considering where I am starting and where I am building to, I think that's reasonable.  Getting to 100 would be awesome, but would risk injury.

May also marked the end of the spring racing season for me.  No more scheduled events until the end of August.

How was your May?  What are you looking forward to for June?

Monday, May 30, 2011

A 5K walk and Some Trail Running

Today I did a 5K walk with my daughter.  It was the final event for her Girls on the Run group.  Technically it was a running race, but a bunch of them decided to walk instead.  So, I walked with them.  The sun was out.  It was comfortably warm and the scenery was nice.  We had a pleasant walk.  The girls seemed to have a good time.  We'll see if my daughter wants to do it again sometime.  I hope so.

Yesterday was 5.25 miles on my local trails.  Spooked several deer.  A couple of times I stood still to see if the deer would hang around.  I think they could smell me though because they took off anyway.  For the first time ever I cam across other people using the trails.  I guess it's summer so I should expect that.

This week my plan is to bump up my mileage a little.  Last week was 13-ish.  Before this runners knee thing flared up I was in the low 30's.  I want to work back to that.  I'm thinking 17-ish miles for this coming week will be good.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Today we scored a gently used Nordic Track skier for $10.  It's going to be incorporated into my cross training as a way to work on aerobic fitness and keep the impact down.  Also, I hope that it will help my coordination so next winter I will be a better cross-country skier.

Enjoyed a rest day today.  It was a pretty quiet and normal Saturday.  Did some XT with my "new" Nordic Track skier this evening.  Tomorrow I'm planning a trail run.  Not sure of the length yet, but somewhere in the 5-6 mile category is what I'm thinking.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Trying to Get Back on Track

Got an unexpected day off yesterday when some things came up that needed taking care of.  Oh well.  Now I need to get back on track.  I have to get back to four runs per week so I'm ready for my half in August.

Ran 4 miles easy tonight.  It took almost the entire 4 miles to get loose and start feeling good.  I used my method of taking it easy and then slowing down a little more.  It was frustrating to go that slow, but at this point I don't want to push too hard.

Monday is the Girls on the Run 5K with my daughter.  I'm really looking forward to it.  It'll be fun to run with her and watch her finish her first 5K.  Hopefully she doesn't burn dear old dad too badly :-D

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!  Good luck to anyone racing.  If you are racing, take a second to tell us about it and brag a little.  I love to hear racing experiences.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Taking You Along

Sunday I took some pictures and video while I was running my local trails.  I thought maybe you'd like to join me for a trail run :-)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Beginner's Corner - Time vs. Distance

Rest day today.  Got some cross training in moving dirt around the yard.  It was a nice upper body workout.

It's time for another irregular episode of Beginner's Corner.  Today we'll look at running for time vs. distance.  There are a variety of opinions on the subject.  I'll just to try to share what I have learned so far.

When I started out with Couch to 5K I ran for time.  I'm sure some of you remember the C25K intervals.  Five minutes running, one minute walking, etc.  At the end of the program the idea was to be able to run 30 minutes or 5K.  By the end I could run 30 minutes no problem.  I couldn't go anywhere near 5K in that amount of time.  For people like me that aren't really fast (yet), running with a time goal seems more practical.  That way we don't push ourselves beyond what our body can handle and get hurt trying to hit a goal we aren't ready for.

For instance, I know my normal easy training pace is around 11:30 per mile.  So in an hour I can go about 5.2 miles.  Someone who's been running longer than me or who is just naturally faster might have an easy pace of around 8:30 per mile.  They would be able to go about 7 miles in the same amount of time and stress their bodies about the same as when I go 5.2 miles.

In his book "Daniels' Running Formula" coach Jack Daniels discourages long runs of much more than two hours for any ability level as he feels there are diminishing returns to runs over two hours and far greater chance of injury.  Want to go farher?  Daniels seems to encourage becoming faster over a given amount of time rather than just running for a longer amount of time.  His contention born out from a lifetime of coaching experience, is that no matter how fast or slow we are, we stress our bodies about the same over a given amount of time.

So, training by time I am controlling the amount of stress I put on my body and reducing the chance of injury.  I still measure the miles I ran later on so I can log them in the various miles games I participate in.  At this stage of my running life it's more important that I work up to two hours on my feet rather than some mileage goal for my long run.

I hope this helps explain why I choose to run for time instead of distance.  Hope you all had a great Monday!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Getting Back to a Normal Schedule

This afternoon I ran 5 miles on my local trails.  It was sunny and 75.  Spring is definitely here.  Hopefully we are done with snow until next November.  I took a bunch of pics and will post them sometime this coming week.

With today's run I feel like I'm getting back to a normal running schedule.  This past week I logged about 13 miles and in the coming week I expect to log about 15-20 miles.  My plan for now is to run based on time rather than distance.  As long as I can work my long trail runs up to 2 hours on my feet I should be golden for my half at the end of August.  Also, I will try to minimize any back-to-back runs for now.  If there are any, the 2nd day will be short.

Random thought:  Now that the temps are warming up I have less desire for pizza and buffets and more desire for salad.  Weird.  I think I could live on pizza, cheeseburgers and buffets if I was allowed to.  Of course, I probably wouldn't live very long if I did that.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Random Rest Day Thoughts

It's a rest day, so here's some random thoughts for the day:

My fantasy baseball team stinks.  I can't seem to get a pitching staff together that can have an ERA of less than 9.00.  Ugh.

This is the final week of Girls on the Run for my oldest daughter.  We'll run a 5K together a week from Monday.  I'm looking forward to that in a big way.

It's finally getting warm out.  Last night it actually felt like a late spring/early summer evening.  Nice.  Winter seems to be nothing but a distant memory now.  Hopefully this means no more snowy runs for about 6 months.

I need a new background for my blog.  Maybe sometime in the next few days I'll go out and see if I can take some springy/summery pictures that would be suitable.

Ice cream is the best.  I like it.  Too much.  Hi, my name is Mike and I'm an ice-cream-aholic.

Friday, May 20, 2011

All kinds of awesome

Tonight's run was 5.5 miles of awesome.  I took it nice and easy.  When I thought I was going easy enough, I slowed down a little more.  It was seriously the best run I've had in 2 months.  Now I can't wait for Sunday to do my next run.

The frogs were singing pretty loud tonight.  At times they drowned out my music.  I startled a large whitetail deer.  I heard it snort and then go crashing off through the brush.  I also felt it.  Like a horse galloping by.

Random running thoughts:  It was weird where I was running with a pond on one side and a field on the other.  I could feel the cool air from the pond mix with the warm air from the field.  Weird sensation.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rest days

Yesterday and today were just crazy busy between work and family things so they turned into rest days.  That's probably for the best anyway.  I'm trying to ease back into running regularly and don't want to re-aggravate my knees by pushing too hard, too soon.

Today was an accounting conference in Lansing, MI which is about 150 miles from my house.  Up at 4:15, out the door before 5 and not to run.  Boo.  Two and half hour drive in the pre-dawn gray, sat through a conference all day and then a two and half hour drive home.  Now I'm bushed.  I'll run tomorrow.  In the evening.  No way am I getting up before the birds again.

Hope you all enjoyed a fine Thursday wherever life took you today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Embracing Minimalism

After several suggestions to give minimalist running a try to see if that doesn't help my form improve I decided to give it a try.  I did enough reading first to be moderately dangerous.  I also learned that I should start slow.  Indeed, I should start by just walking around.

So, this evening I headed off to the Y in my minimalist shoes (my pool shoes).  I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and then a 15 minute walk on the treadmill.  Wow, I never realized how much I heel strike even just walking.  As I walked my foot and calf muscles were getting fatigued.  I expected this and stopped my walk.  I wanted to try it, not get hurt.

I learned that I should mix some minimalism in with my normal running for the foreseeable future.  I can see where it will help my form.  I can also see that it will take awhile for my foot and calf muscles to get strong enough to actually run in minimalist gear.

To those that suggested I give barefoot/minimalist a try:  Thanks!  It will help me in the long term.  Just don't look for me to be the weirdo out running in the snow in a pair of five finger shoes :-D

Something else I learned today:  My Asics Cumulus shoes may actually be too cushy to my legs liking.  I definitely have a neutral gait and am a slight supinator.  I love how soft the Cumulus are.  Especially on longer runs.  However that softness may actually be allowing my form to break down as I run.  It seems my legs might prefer a neutral show with a little firmer padding.  So, next time I will try something on the firmer side.

Have you given any thought to trying minimalist walking/running?  Tried it?  How'd it go?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Easing back into a routine

Tonight I started easing back into a running routine.  30 minutes easy.  I will rinse and repeat a few more times this week.  I'll also mix in some XT with the bike/elliptical.

Tonight I thought about what do I think about while I run due to a question someone recently asked on the Runners World message boards.  Well, what did I think about tonight?  I thought about how pretty the sunset was.  I thought very hard about keeping my cadence up so I wouldn't heel strike.  I could really tell when my mind would wander and I'd get lazy and start to heel strike.  I could feel it in my knees.

I thought about how hill training is a part of every workout I do.  It's unavoidable.  If I walk out my front door I go downhill.  To get home I have to go uphill.  That experience really helps in races.  I can't avoid hills so I've made peace with them and try to use them to my best advantage.

I thought about how if I can do 30 minutes tonight, then tomorrow I could crank it up to 45 minutes.  Then I thought that would be really dumb.  I'm trying to ease back into a routine, not get hurt again.  In fact tomorrow a bike ride and/or some elliptical time would be far more helpful.

Is there an aspect of running that you really dislike but you've embraced because it makes you a better runner?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rainy, cold Sunday rest day

Rest day today.  Just sitting here stalking all of your blogs, sipping my coffee and listening to the rain outside.  We gave up on "camping" at about 8:00 this morning, packed up and took the kids to grandmas house.  Now everyone is warm and dry.

Hope all of you are having an amazing day!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New PR!

Sorry for the absence the last couple of days.  I've been traveling with the family and away from my computer.  Just borrowing a computer for today's update, so I'll be MIA again for a couple of days.

Today I ran the 5K in the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in Grand Rapids, MI.  I set a new PR of 28:26.  Yay!

My goals for today were:

  1. To finish
  2. To run the whole thing
  3. If I felt really good, break 30 minutes.
I was worried after taking 10 days off running to deal with some runner's knee issue in both knees.  As recently as Thursday they were still painful and tender.  Thursday night, something clicked, literally, and my knees felt completely normal.  Weird.  I walked and jogged on them a bit on Friday and they still felt good so I decided to run the race rather than DNS.  Besides, I wanted to earn my shirt :)

We are camping near Grand Rapids as we thought it would be more fun for the kids that way.  Except it's a rainy, cold weekend.  Oh well.

Up at 5:15 this morning, got my running gear on and headed to downtown GR.  Found a spot to park off of Seward and walked over to DeVos place to stay warm and dry while I waited for the start time.  The men's 5K was to start at 7:00 a.m.  At 6:45 I headed outside to find my corral and wait for the horn.  Of course right about this time it went from a gentle soft, rain to pouring down hard.  We were all soaked to the skin in minutes.

At 7:00 we were off in the rain.  My glasses were fogging up from the cold rain so I couldn't see much.  Just what was immediately in front of me.  We had a nice tour of downtown GR.  It was nice to see some familiar sites.  There was a couple of small hills.  Not too bad.  I just shortened up the strides and kept on plugging.

About halfway I decided that my knees were feeling good and they could tolerate going a little faster.  So, I took off.  I started passing lots of people.  It was hard to pass cleanly in the crowds.  If I cut you off, I'm sorry.  There never was really a moment where I was in an open space like in the smaller races I normally run.  It was hard to get into my rhythm.  Mostly I just had to go with the flow of the pack and go around people as openings presented themselves.

Even at the finish chute it was hard to push too hard across the finish line due to the congestion.  Still, I managed to accomplish all 3 of my goals today so it was a great day.  After a hot shower and some lunch I'm feeling great.  The knees feel good.  I think they are ready to get back to running.

The event overall was lots of fun and well organized.  I would do it again.  I would not plan to use it as a potential PR event though.  The traffic is just too thick.  When I do it again, I would just do it for the fun and experience.

I hope everyone is having a great Saturday!  Catch up with you all next week.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Quick Update

Just a quick update for this rainy Wednesday.  Tuesday I rested.  Just did some stretching, rolling and worked on VMO and glute strengthening.  Today I'm planning to hit the gym for some elliptical and stationary bike.

The knees are feeling much better.  I'm half tempted to try running to see what they will give me.  I won't though.  I want to make sure to let things fully heal before trying to run.  I have a half marathon at the end of August to prepare for and I don't want to be fighting this all summer.  Better to rest the knees for a week or so now than several weeks later.

The plan is to start back to running next week.  I'll start off with several short, easy runs to see how things are going before doing anything else.

The thought of trying minimalist shoes has been running through my mind.  What do you all use and like?  I've been looking at Nike Free,  NB MT101, and Vibram Five Fingers.  What else should I be looking at?  Any points to ponder when/if I try out minimalist shoes?

I'm going back to working and stalking all of your awesome blogs.  Have a great Wednesday everyone!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday thoughts

It was a Monday for sure from the time I got up until now.  Whew.  Busy busy.

Went to the Y for a bit and spent some time on the elliptical and the stationary bike.  I'm just trying to maintain some level of fitness while I am not running and work on strengthening some specific muscles.  Weighed myself afterward and I am up a couple of pounds.  Looks like it's time to "Eat Less and Move More".  I got the move more part down pretty well.  I need to work on the eat less part :-D

Here's a thought I need to drill into my head:  It's OK not to eat everything on my plate.  I'll just keep repeating that.

I've been thinking about swimming laps too just to break things up.  The problem is I swim about as well as a rock.  I'll have to have my wonderful, sweet wife show me how to swim properly :-)  I have no dreams of doing a triathlon or anything.  If I ever swim a lap or two, it'll only be to break up my workout routine.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there!

Today in lieu of a run, I went for a bike ride. Nice sunny afternoon. Lots of turtles out sunning themselves along the way. I counted 22. Also saw a beaver lodge along the edge of a pond.  Planning some stretching and rolling for tonight.

The knee rehab is going well.  I found some exercises to strengthen my VMO muscles and my glutes.  It turns out bicycling is good for those muscles as well.  In a few days I'll evaluate where I'm at.  No running this coming week for sure.  Sorry to my running teammates, but I'm going to post a 0 next week.  I'm hoping that I can ease back into running starting the week of May 16th.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rollin'...rollin'...rollin' down my leg

Tonight I went to the Y and spent some time on the elliptical and the stationary bike.  It wasn't running, but it was a good workout.  It seemed to work the right muscle groups and not stress my knees too much.  Later I'll be stretching and rolling.

Got some steel cut oats cooking on the stove and sitting on the couch watching blues videos on YouTube with my wife. That's just how we roll on Friday night at our house.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I love RICE

Grrr...  Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation is about to become my "favorite" activity.  Runners knee has flared up again and it's not fooling around.

I tried running on my local forest trails this evening and made it a few minutes down the trail, when the pain started.  I slowed to a walk for awhile and when the pain subsided I tried a slow run again.  Pain came back.  I'll be elevating and icing it tonight.  I'm thinking 5 days of rest minimum before I try anything on it again.  I was supposed to race a week from Saturday, but that won't be happening.  :-(

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Something New

Tried something new today.  My wife let me borrow her knee brace for my run.  What a difference it made.  It seems my left knee needs some extra stabilization.  I think the patella is getting pulled around making the patellar tendon kind of mad.  It went well enough that I think I will go look for some knee braces of my own so I don't have to borrow my wife's.

45 minutes easy again today.  Pace picked up a little because I wasn't thinking about how long it was going to take for my knee to loosen up and quite barking at me.  I was just thinking about running, seeing the stars come out and the songs on my mp3 player.

Last night I started listening to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:  Quintessential Phase on my run.  Absolutely hilarious (at least to me).  For those not familiar, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy began life as a radio show on BBC radio, then it became a series of books and a TV show in there somewhere.  The radio show is by far the best.   I do enjoy the occasional audio book/podcast while running.  Not every time, but once in awhile is good as it breaks things up a bit.

I've been listening to The Prairie Home Companion for close to 30 years now.  Only today did I realize that Garrison Keillor puts a fart joke in every show.  How curious.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Take it Easy

Standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona...

Today's run was a 45 minute easy pace jaunt down my local rail trail.  The theme for this entire week will be Take it Easy.  This week begins my official preparation for my half marathon at the end of August.  Borrowing some pages from Davies, the first week or two will be primarily easy runs with some strides thrown in.  Going easy will allow me to work on my aerobic conditioning a bit before I start mixing in some quality work.

Since my inaugural half marathon will be a trail race at least one run per week (preferably my long run) will be on an actual trail complete with hills, roots and rocks.  For me, there's no better way to prepare for that environment that to just throw myself into it.  Besides, hill work in the woods is way more interesting than running up and down a hill on a road or sidewalk.

No, I wouldn't tease you.  Here's the tune for your listening pleasure :)

Hope you all had a great day!