Archive for the ‘Run’ Category

Meowing up the Wrong Tree

Posted: August 16, 2017 in In Transition, Run
Tags:

As of yesterday, the bones in my left hand have officially healed and the process to restore mobility and strength continues in earnest.  There have been some definite improvements overall but, well, let’s just say that I am resigning myself to the notion that my baby finger might be permanently locked in a position where if I  ever find myself sipping tea with the Queen, I will be perfectly suited for the occasion.

d5i6g

What this really means then is that I can now begin to return to my usual physical routine albeit, it’ll be some time yet before I can acquire any normal purpose and, therefore, results (ie. fitness).

But, hey, at least I can  do stuff.

In fact, I have  been doing stuff already, namely running.

I have forgone the normal weekend long distance marches and hard interval routines to simply getting out and getting my legs back accustomed to moving again.  Getting to burn off all the excess calories that I’ve started to amass over the last month and a half of sedentary lifestyle is certainly a plus as well as man tits are not an attractive feature in my humble opinion – “Dad bods” be damned.  So, really, I’ve retired myself to running short distances for the time being around the neighborhood and just trying to get accustomed to regular activity.

Baby steps, right?

Short as these runs may be, Crystal Beach is not without it’s perks.  It’s actually a quaint lakeside town crammed with cottage style houses and beach homes and where all the roads are tightly interlaced haphazardly in a way that it’s relatively easy to get lost and explore; something I don’t really do much of on my long distance hauls out into the surrounding countryside.  Here it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be something interesting to see given that it is now in it’s now full bore into it’s tourist season.  that means with every beleaguered step I am greeted with beach goers and the smells of sand, surf, BBQ, suntan lotion and copious amounts of wafting pot.

It is what it is and I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing.

Anyway, on one of my regular routes through Crystal Beach I pass by (at exactly the 1.85k  or 4.35k  mark, depending on which direction I set out from home in) the residence of a local friend and one of my biggest fans lately:  Ally the Cat.

She’s always there.

Here she is on her usual window sill perch whenever I pass by:

Ally1

Cute, right?

Typically, I have been running lately in the afternoons when there’s more “people-watching” to be had but, unfortunately, this also means that it’s frickin’ hot and by the time I see Ally in her window I’m pretty desperate for a drink.

But does Ally care?

Of course not.

Any requests for a liquid refresher are always met with the same response:

Ally1

Nada.

Even when I beg (oh, I beg!).

Not.  A.  Damned.  Thing.

I think she may even enjoy seeing me suffering just a little bit.

And by this time, I am usually suffering with the midday heat and humidity and leaking fluids like an over-saturated sponge.

Not that Ally cares mind you.

I can even read it in her deadpan kitten face:

 

“Uh-uh fat boy.  You ain’t getting any of my water!”

 

And, believe me, the thought has occurred me in times of utter desperation to try and crawl through that window in order to get to her water bowl but that’s likely going to be a hard sell to the responding police officers who will inevitably be called to the scene by the neighbors…

…so I usually just keep running.

And so it goes day after day after day; me passing by a window, begging for water and being mocked by a kitten.  At least that’s what’s going on in my heat-frazzled brain anyway.

Maybe I really do need to consider running more in the evenings when it’s cooler.

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It’s definitely not the way I anticipated beginning 2017.

It happened the Sunday before the Christmas weekend.  I went out for an anticipated long 100 minute progression run (I run in increments of 20 minutes now).  Shitty thing was, Mother Nature decided to throw me a curve ball as she is apt to from time to time by hurling down an epic ice storm the night before.

So, yeah, no progressions that day.

No problem – long, slow distance it was then – and out the door I went after my morning breakfast, coffee and poop ritual.  I had already convinced myself that if I managed to keep it slow and steady, I could still complete the 100 minutes and the workout could still be chalked up as a success.  The only other option was to do it on the treadmill at the gym and, yeah, no.  Fuck no!

Thing is though, I don’t think I felt solid pavement under my feet once.  Every road I ran – even the back roads that I thought would have been at least somewhat gravely and forgiving traction-wise – had fuck all to offer as far as solid footing was concerned.  In fact, to give you some idea what I was up against today, I got passed along Gilmore Rd. by an elderly couple…on skates.

Yes, skates.

There they went merrily on their way down the middle of the road in the middle of Buttfuck Stevensville on old beat up skates going heaven-knows-where.  Needless to say, my pace completely sucked (5:54min/km) and by the end of 90 minutes my quads were so shot that when my neighbor passed by and jokingly called out if I wanted a ride home I was all like “fuck ya!”, shut off the Garmin and hoped in – which is why for those of you who follow me on Strava, my run stopped abruptly at the corner of Nigh and Ridge Rds.  I just didn’t have the wherewithal to navigate the last 3k of black ice home again.

F-u-c-k that.

The next day, my right shin was tight…very tight.  So much so, I bunked off running for the rest of the week and for the first time in 8 years, I did nothing on Christmas Day.

Nothing.

I usually run a half marathon distance Christmas Morning (it’s a tradition) and there was the one year that I rowed a half marathon instead (click HERE), but this year:  nada.

Things started to get better gradually and the following weekend I started running easy for 60 minutes or so and successfully completed two of those, along with a few short drill and tempo runs during the week.  I thought things were progressing well so I decided to push my luck and try a short fartlek run again.

I’m such an idiot.

My only success that day was that I managed to complete the first 5 x 2 minute hard intervals (7.83k).  ‘Ol Thunder n’ Lightning felt tired but I cold attribute that to the 3 minutes of squats I did this morning as part of my 28 Day Challenge (click HERE).  But shortly afterwards, it was a quick slippery shit show of a slide straight to the bottom when my right calf/shin pretty much stiffened up forcing me to hobble like Paul Sheldon after his run in with Annie.  I could have kept running but I knew that would have be really special kind of stupid.  So, instead, in a bit of a panic as it was starting to rain down sleet and I was already cold, wet and still some distance from home, I did what I have never done before…stuck out my thumb and shamefully hitched a ride home with my tail between my legs.

How.  Embarrassing.

So what the hell went so wrong around the 7k mark when all my other runs the past two weeks have been getting progressively better?  Well, the last time I truly suffered on one of these runs I was wearing those exact same shoes (ASICS GEL 3030-2).  Upon inspection of my Strava account upon getting home I saw that they now have exactly 482.6 kilometers on them, give or take the treadmills sessions I’ve done over the past year or so, yeah, maybe this aggravation of my calf/shin issue is a by-product of that?

Well, that and my being a dumbass of course.

So now I’m on the injured list again.

16114630_10157979669500277_4687479425056172463_n

Fucksticks.

I’m quite confident at this point that what I’m dealing with is muscular and while I’m still injured, I’m not necessary damaged per se.  In other words, nothing popped indicated a torn muscle or ligament.  So that’s good.

However, it’s still sore.

As it turns out, there is a very good likelihood that I am suffered from what’s known as an “increased neural drive” to my right calf muscle.

Don’t panic, I’m not dying.

Here’s the skinny as I understand it, when you perform any action for an extended period of time – in my case, running – the body has two ways to power that movement, through the natural fuel that I consume (carbohydrates, proteins, and what have you) or through an automatic neural activation from the brain to the muscles themselves, known as neutral drive to the muscle.

The human body is essentially designed to move, specifically over long periods and distances, so once the primary fuel source begins to deplete itself that automatic neural drive begins to kick in and take over allowing the body to keep going by wiring electrical synapses directly to the muscle.  When it comes down to it, our bodies are primarily wired to be instinctively cavemen-like and we have evolved to allow us to keep running as there are gazelles to catch and mouths to feed, so to speak, so we have to keep going in order to survive.  This is likely what happened on that first long run when things began to go terribly wrong; I was tired, under-fueled and running with a poor form on the ice.

The problem is, that once this automatic neural drive kicks on, it doesn’t necessarily know when to cease and desist meaning that even though I had stopped and didn’t need to run anymore, unconsciously, my body was still in lion-mode chasing down gazelles on the African plain.

It definitely sounds cooler when I explain it that way, right? (thanks Dr. Burr)

Anyway, now that it’s fired up and causing me grief, what can I do in the meantime until it decides that enough is enough?  So while I go through my physio treatments with Dr. Burr at the amazing Legacy Health & Performance to coax my calf to give up on the gazelles already and just be, the question remains:

Now what?

My concern then is how do I continue with my training so that I a) don’t necessarily lose all my acquired run fitness and b) promote healing and no make the issue any worse?

My options then are twofold:

  1. Walking/slow shuffling
  2. Shallow water running

That’s if I don’t consider sitting on the couch doing nothing but eating bags of Ring-Ding’s mind you.

Luckily, I don’t.

Walking or the “slow shuffle” is aimed at replacing the longer non-stop runs. If the injury is not too severe then this can take the form of long hikes and to add resistance, the use of a weight jacket.  Now, I have no intension on strapping any more weight onto this already hulking frame, thank you very much, but I get the point. This type of shuffling would have the same duration of my current long distance times (ie. 60 minutes).  Case in point, Chrissie Wellington when training for Ironman Frankfurt completed all her runs as hikes and finished the race just a few seconds off the World Record.

I’m not so sure it would play out this way for me, of course, but it definitely beats the Ring-Ding’s.

I could do this slow shuffle (below any pain discomfort) on the track upstairs at my local gym on the outside lane in place of my Sunday long runs.  I’m sure it’ll be gutting to be lapped by all the old ladies walkers but if it’s aiding in m recovery while keeping me moving – so be it!

I’ll think of it as building mental strength through self-control.  I’ll just keep “shuffling” while everyone else just walks laps (literally) around me. This type of training has been adapted from Kenyan runners training methodologies.

For many Kenyan groups it is not even a debatable point on whether to ‘push on’ in continuing with the group track work. Injured athletes will often shuffle on the outside lane till their compatriots have finished. Very few carry the Western propensity to push on or hard when injured. The pace instead dictated by the ‘no pain level’.  Think of it as discipline in its most basic form.

And then there’s “shallow water running”, carried out in waist deep water.  Luckily, my local pool has such a wading pool for the kiddies.  This exercise would build (or maintain, however you wish to look at it) strength while still keeping in touch with the ground.  The run mechanics would change,  sure, as this form of running forces me onto the ball of the foot but the big advantage is that, hopefully, I can get back run form quickly.  Varying the depth of the water can even assist with the rehabilitation of various injuries until transitioning back to normal running.

I gave this specific shallow water workout a trial this past weekend and, holy shit!  It’s absolutely challenging!

What’ya know?

In fact, after 6-7 minutes of Figure-8’s I was absolutely sweating buckets seeing as how humid it was.  I’ve never considered this before seeing as how I’m always swimming in the pool and therefore submerged in water.  I’m not so sure the other people in the wading pool with me were as thrilled about my hard work (ie. perspiration) was I was but, meh, fuck ‘em.

After running repetitive Figure-8’s from the shallow end to waist deep water what I can absolutely guarantee you is that my legs were toast!  However, there was no pain.  So that’s definitely good.  The only drag was my having to constantly avoid all the mothers and babies and kids and whatever the hell it is that the creepy old dude was doing in the corner.

6nkawnts_400x400

There is also the deep water variety that I could perform with a floatation belt, but I’m not sure I’m 100% ready to delve into that level of crazy just yet.  If this injury goes on longer than another week or so, I will explore that option more closely but for the time being I think the shallow water running and track shuffling will suffice.

So my plan over the next two weeks or so is to supplement my three weekly runs with either a shallow water session or track shuffle and, hopefully, get myself back on track in February without having sacrificed too much fitness.

Knock on wood.

As I alluded to in a previous post, my run workouts have become a bit, well, “intense” (click HERE).  Seldom do I ever have anything resembling an “easy run” in my training plan anymore.  No.  Those days are long gone.  Now everything has a specific purpose; either build strength or improve pacing.  And now the new Coach has gone and thrown another monkey wrench into the machine: “cadence”, or the number of strides I take per minute.

Yay.

While I’ve always heard about the benefits and importance of cadence from other “runners”, I’ve never really given it much thought or consideration.  Now when I first started swimming I didn’t see the importance of drills, or “watts” when I first started spinning either.  But eventually I did come to understand the importance these training tools provide and I have since incorporated them into my daily workouts religiously…but “running cadence”, well, not so much.  What can I say?

I can be a bit slow on the uptake.

And truth be told, when I was first told via email to “focus on my cadence” over, say “pace”, this was the first thing that came to my mind:

 –

Needless to say I wasn’t impressed.

Imagine me doing that through the back roads of Ridgeway in my stretchy tights.

Yeah.

I’d likely be burned at the stake as a witch.

However, being the dutiful foot soldier I am, I decided to give this “cadence” thing a chance.  First, however, I wanted to investigate it a little more in depth to discover what exactly the whole point and perhaps what the ultimate payoff will be come Ironman time.

What I’m really trying to say here is “hey, what’s in for me?”

What I’ve come to understand is that our bodies love rhythms.  And I’m not talking about your crunchy reggae beats but the natural rhythms of life itself.  We thrive on them.  Our heartbeats, breath rate, and need for rest are all based on rhythms that occur naturally in the body.  When our body has a natural rhythm to follow, it doesn’t have to work as hard. It just knows what to do and goes about the business of getting it done.

Okay, so “easier” you say?

I’m listening.

It turns out that most runners run upright with a long stride, causing them to land on their heels with their feet out in front of their bodies.  I happen to run like a retarded orangutan on stilts.  This tends to overwork the legs, as they have to pull themselves forward with each step.  Heel striking also causes huge impact to ankles, shins, knees and hips, and is a primary cause of running injuries. And Lord knows I’ve had my fair share of those the past few years.  However, when we run with a quicker cadence, our stride becomes shorter, making it easier for our feet to land underneath us, which then reduces heel striking, saves our knees, and helps prevent other injuries.

So, it minimizes injury too?

Go on.

Furthermore, most runners will spend too long in the “support stance,” or landing phase of their stride.  During that time, our leg muscles are engaged and supporting our body weight which, in my case, is a lot; fast bastard I am.  When you have a quick foot turnover, you’re supporting your weight for less time.  You actually expend less energy and become more efficient – two benefits that are especially important during those long training runs and on race day.

So I’m even less fatigued?

Fuck, yeah!

WINNING!

So how does one improve their cadence then?

Personally, I imagine running on hot coals.  This means that my stride is typically a bit shorter but my “turn over” rate is much higher.  After all, I don’t want to get burned on those imaginary coals.  You could also think of it this way, your forward momentum really only happens when you’re not on the ground but are actually in the air – get this – moving through space.  Wrap your brain melon around that!  You’ll just have to believe me here but there are, like, tons of scientific studies on the ‘ol Interweb thingee that you can reference.  Not that I really understood any of it but that’s the basic premise.  So the longer my foot is on the ground, the less I’m technically moving forward through space.  So, rather than think about actually planting my foot I concentrate on keeping it off the ground and therefore moving my fat ass through space.

This is basically my new focus now for all my runs and for the past few weeks, I’ve been trying it on all  my training runs; fartlek, long or otherwise.  I was initially curious what my actual cadence was so I learned that I can calculate my run cadence fairly easily by counting every step taken by my right  foot for 30 steps.  I then needed to divide this time into 3600.  The first time I tried this, about two week s ago, 30 steps with my right foot took me 22 seconds. So, 3600 ÷ 22 = …… Blue?  Cantaloupe?

Fucked if I know.

I failed math.

But when I got home I tapped it out on a calculator and learned that I take approximately 163 steps per minute, or the equivalent of a three-legged sloth doing the Watusi.

Good for me.

What I can tell you for sure beyond a shadow of a doubt is that it sucked…at first.

But stuck with it I did.

After a few workouts, I was able to increase my cadence to about 180 quite consistently; 180 being the recommended cadence for truly minimizing my risk of injury.  Now, I can’t maintain this for long periods, yet, but during these 2 and 4 minute intervals my Garmin data does verify that I am running at a must faster that I initially thought possible. Eventually, after approximately 6-7 workouts, I’m actually finding it a bit easier and spot-checking a few times during each of my workouts confirms that I am indeed running at an elevated pace – dare I say it – easier.

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The other noticeable difference is that ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning don’t seem quite so beat up after my runs and that  is definitely a good thing.

On my weekend long runs I am now focusing on increasing my cadence every 20 minutes so that I am, in fact, increasing my pace over time and distance and therefore becoming more adept at running more efficiently and effectively; basically finishing strong instead of dragging my ass across the finish line broken and battered which is usually the case.

And, this, is how I want to finish my Ironman.  I don’t want to simply survive the marathon as I did before (click HERE  or a little recap) – I want to rock  it.  The Ironman run is definitely my “limiter”, as it with most people I suppose.  Well, fat bastards like me anyway.  However, this time around I want to bend this thing over my knee and slap it’s ass.  So if that means getting more comfortable with and capable of maintaining a strong run form by working on this fast cadence thing, then so be it.

It’s on.

The Lost Art of Fartlek

Posted: February 26, 2016 in Run, The Plan
Tags: ,

One of the biggest changes of my current Ironman training plan is the inclusion of regular fartleks.  Likely, just mentioning that word is bound to get everyone (even runners) in the room giggling like a school girl but as a disclaimer for all my non-running, non-triathlon peers, unfortunately, “fartlek” has absolutely nothing to do with farts.

fartlekelf-e1411671909499Well, most of the time.

In the past, I have made use of tempo workouts, speed workouts, hill workouts as well and the dreaded long run workout.  And, of course, there’s always the easy run periodically because, well, just because.  Typically, fartlek runs were just thrown into the mix when I didn’t feel like doing any of the other aforementioned workouts but knew I should still be doing something.  In other words, a “fartlek” run was a fancy label to throw on an otherwise lackluster workout just to make it sound more strategized and formal.

So what is a fartlek officially, right?

Basically, “Fartlek”, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training.  Fartlek runs are a very simple form of a long distance run.  Fartlek training is simply defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running. In the past, the old school mentality towards fartlek running has been to simply “sprint to the next telephone pole or mailbox”  and that’s how I usually applied them in my own workouts.  In some cases, it happened completely spontaneously when, say, I happened to find myself being chased by a turkey down the street (click HERE).  Basically, it all amounts to running hard when you feel compelled to do so (in my case, usually on a slight downhill) and then back off again when your heart rate starts to soar like a jack rabbit on crack and it isn’t fun anymore.

Simple.

The whole purpose of fartleks is to prepare a runner to handle the uneven paces of a race. In a race, a runner usually runs fast, then slower, then fast again. During my last Ironmam (click HERE) – shit, in every triathlon or run I’ve ever  competed in – this has pretty much been the case.  This variation in pace is largely due to the race course’s terrain and surges used by competitors at different points through the competition.  There is likely not a single race that I can remember where I wasn’t locked in some silent mental duel with other runners around me on the race course, all trying to break each other as a means of getting finishing one position higher in the finishing results, or on the podium.  In fact, it’s likely the best runners who can physically and mentally respond to these variations of pace and keep on keeping on.

So why now then?

Well, largely because Coach Nicole wants me to and that’s why I pay her the big bucks.  But, still, what’s her overall strategy at this point?

Besides making me suffer that is…

Well, the most ideal time to insert fartlek runs is when you’re making the transition to faster, race-pace type training like, say, after your winter base and before your spring race season begins – which is pretty much where I am now.  By doing a weekly fartlek run for a month before you hit the track, you’ll: 1) avoid the tendency to train too hard, too early; 2) learn your effort levels and how to adjust the workout based on how you feel; 3) develop an optimal base of speed training prior to hitting the track.

There are typically two recommended types of fartlek workouts.  The first, after a warm-up, is to perform 10 to 12 surges lasting 1 minute with a 1 minute jog rest in between with your effort being slightly faster than my 5K race pace effort.  Most runners find this to be at about 90 to 95% of their full effort – to which I can attest to, I assure you.  Research indicates that running at this intensity for a total of 10 to 12 minutes results in a higher VO2 max – your ability to consume and utilize oxygen.  As it turns out, I was doing workouts similar to this on Tuesday nights while HRH  was swimming. I was labeling them as “Hill” workouts solely because the intervals were being performed on a short hill along Welland Vale Rd. in St. Catharines, but each interval took me approximately just over a minute to complete finishing at the required 95%.

GO ME!

So given that this first type of fartlek has been accomplished already, I’ve actually moved onto the second type of fartlek run now, performing 4 to 5 four surges lasting 3 to 5 minutes each with a 1-2 minute jog in between.  My effort here is slightly faster than my 10K race pace effort but not as fast as those in the first type of fartlek.  Most runners here – well, I know I certainly do anyway – find this to be at about 80 – 85% of full on effort.  Research indicates that running at this intensity for a total of 15 to 20 minutes results in a higher lactate threshold – the balance point between the production of lactic acid and your ability to keep it from building up.

Here are the two fartlek workouts I am now regularly incorporating into my weekly training schedule:

Fartlek #1:

  • 10-15 min warm-up
  • 5 x 4 min HARD! (sub 5:00min/km pace), with 1 min easy “shuffle jog” recovery
  • 2 x 3 min  HARD! (sub 5:00min/km pace), with 1 min easy “shuffle jog” recovery
  • 10-15 min warm-down

Fartlek #2:

  • 10-15 min warm-up
  • 5 x 2 min VERY HARD! (4:30min/km pace), with 1 min easy “shuffle jog” recovery
  • Bonus 2 min rest
  • 10 x 30 secs ALL OUT!, 30 secs easy “shuffle jog” recovery
  • 10-15 min warm-down

After four weeks (I’m currently in week #3), I will simply add 1 interval per week in order to continue building on my aerobic capacity and threshold training.

The Enormous Elephant Run

Posted: October 19, 2015 in Run
Tags: ,

I’ve mentioned before that sometimes you run for distance while other times you run for speed, hills, and, so I’ve heard anyway, you even run for fun – although this “fun” thing still tends to elude me.  Shit, sometimes you even run for survival (click HERE).  But, occasionally, there are those others rare times that you run for the sole purpose of making a total and complete ass of yourself like I did this morning when I agreed to run 10 kilometers in an elephant suit.

Yes, you read that correctly:

…in an elephant suit.

Okay, actually, we were running in support of a pretty good cause, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which works to protect wild elephants and rescue orphaned baby elephants, giving them a second chance at a life in the wild.  Did you know that an elephant is illegally poached every 15 minutes or something ridiculous like that?  Awful, right?

But, c’mon, seriously!  How cute is this?

12027104_1677324302484609_6111281572818781472_oYeah.

Just try and say ‘No’  to that widdle winkily bundle-wundle of infinite cuteness.

Not this tough guy!

Anyway, the long and short of it is that when the Coach, for whom this is an important cause, messaged me last month to ask me if I’d be interested in running with her while wearing an elephant suit I was all in…hands down.

No questions asked.

I mean, seriously, if I’m going to drop 60-70 bucks on a race anyway, it might as well go towards supporting a good cause and then be able to do it on my own terms.  Making a total spectacle of myself was just the icing on the cake.  Forget the dry-wicking shirt that I’m likely never going to wear anyway, it may as well be a full elephant costume which might just come in handy later on down the road.

You never know do you?  Someday it might just be convenient and handy to just happen to have an elephant costume hanging in your closet.

Just sayin’…

The whole premise of the “Enormous Elephant Virtual Run” is that once entered, you will receive your elephant costume in the mail and then be asked to run either 5k or 10k in it sometime between October 1st and October 31st. What the fuck. I was looking for a new winter running outfit anyway so I registered right away. And I will admit, when it did arrive I was pretty damn excited.

See?

What has two thumbs, one truck and is damn excited to make an ass of himself?

What has two thumbs, two tusks, one trunk and is pretty damn excited to make an ass of himself?

Shit, I might never take this thing off.

Upon agreeing and registering, the Coach created our own ‘Enormous Elephant Run – Niagara Area ‘ Facebook page so it was definitely carved in stone with this past Saturday being our official “Go” date.  We met at Starbucks on 4th Avenue at 9:00am in our costumes (and for the record, it is pretty easy to spot friends in an already busy parking lot when they also happen to be wearing elephant costumes) and ready to stampede our way down Martindale Rd., or so for 5k and then back again (click HERE).

Our Niagara Herd

Our Niagara Herd

The reception we received was pretty damn funny with people either honking their horns, waving or just flashing us that surprised “what the fuck is that?”  look that people get when they haven’t had their first coffee of the morning yet and they stumble upon three people running along the road in elephant costumes.  I’m surprised that someone didn’t actually drive off the road honestly.  Primarily, I think people were pretty amused for the most part.

And we're off....

And we’re off….

And so we ran for an hour or so, waved at passing motorists, acknowledged catcalls and threw out the hig-5’s to other morning runners along the way; not to mention the odd “Pfft.  Nice jacket”  as they passed by because, well, when a guy who is wearing an elephant costume chooses to mock your choice of running attire, well, that’s some funny shit right?  So fun was definitely had by all.  And, shit, if a baby orphan elephant manages to have an easier time in this life as a result, well, that’s pretty awesome as well.

Elephant Selfie

Elephant Selfie

So if anyone is still interested to acknowledge my complete buffoonery by making a small donation to my online fundraising page in support of this cause, they can please click HERE  to do so.

I thank you in advance.

A Letter to Mr. Vaughn

Posted: November 1, 2014 in Lifestyle, Run
Tags:

It’s not often I feel the need to respond to things that randomly pop up on my Facebook feed as I realize that when it comes to the Internet, opinions are like assholes in that everybody has one. Of course, the odd kitty cat video will still garner the periodic response from me (we all have our weaknesses) but, still, usually I’m pretty good at letting things go. But recently, I read a link to a post put forth by Brian Vaughn that even I couldn’t resist responding to.  After all, I have an opinion like everyone else and, hey, it’s my recovery day and currently raining outside so I’m feeling a bit antsy.

In his post entitled ‘Why We All Hate Your 13.1 Sticker’ (click HERE) Mr. Vaughn makes some rather disparaging remarks about those who choose to decorate their vehicles with 13.1 bumper stickers. I’m choosing to respond in this case not as a runner, or as a triathlete, but because, for whatever reason, it lingered a little too long in my lizard brain and cut a little close to home and, hey, I can be an asshole too.  For the record, I have no stickers presently on my bumper but I do own a 13.1 sticker.  Just sayin’…

Let’s start with the title of the article itself: ‘Why We All Hate Your 13.1 Sticker’. Geez, it must be nice to be the singular voice for the entire human species; the pressures you face must face. However, given the number of people I see sporting these stickers, not to mention the number of runners I see out on the road lately or the growing number of participants in local running events, suggests to me that not ALL people see these stickers in quite the same light as you. Likewise, I’m sorry that these stickers make you want to “run (them) off the road”  but remember that sometimes radio stations advertise their position on the dial with numbers and decimals so, if you’re going to commit vehicular homicide please make sure it’s for the right reason.

Anyway, I think your anger might be a little misguided.  Seriously?  Anger much?  What with everything going on in the world today, BUMPER STICKERS are what you choose to publicly crusade against?  Whatever your reason, please don’t loop me, my fellow runners, or anyone else who might feel differently into your toxic little world. Furthermore, when you suggest how “three numbers and a decimal point can single-handedly turn someone into a big, arrogant butthole”, that’s your impression of which you are certainly entitled to, however, recognize that most runners I know are anything but and you don’t strike me as the kind of person who regularly frequents the Running Room anyway, so maybe your impression is a bit skewed.  We apologize if our hobby or active lifestyle choices somehow threaten your status as a tater-tot chomping lay about but, well, that’s not really our problem.  By the way, how does it feel to have assumptions made about you?

Just curious.

You go on in your article to explain how bumper stickers in general are for the purpose of touting one’s appreciation for something specific; be it a particular interest, location, destination, band or whatever it is that’s managed to capture someone’s ultimate attention just as you profess to have done yourself.  And I agree with you for the record, but you lose me when you then suggest how the 13.1 stickers do exactly the opposite. So interests expressed through bumper stickers are fine, just as long as they mirror your own.  Really?  So if anyone should dare to support something that they might be passionate about – like running – they’re “arrogant buttholes”  simply because you don’t share that same passion or interest?  How.  That’s good to know I guess. Thank you for putting me back on the right track.

Dodged that bullet.

Maybe herein lies the problem, runners aren’t necessarily decorating their bumpers to impress you. In fact, I doubt they care about what you think at all.  Who’s the arrogant butthole now?  Likewise, I don’t think they’re bragging about their half (or full) marathon at all but simply documenting something that they are proud of and then communicating it with others of the same community who might either feel or have experienced the same, just as a Smiths fan is doing when they choose to affix their Smiths sticker to their own bumper.  It’s their way of advertising to the world ‘Hey, I like this too!”.  The notion that runners are different in that they are “defending (their) interests”  or trying to “quantify their love”  for running, or in some way suggesting that they’re better than someone else because they a) run and assume others don’t, and b) run more than other runners is fucking ridiculous. That’s like saying all Smiths fans are snobby, pretentious douche bags because they assume they have more Smiths albums in their record collection.  Should they instead only have ‘I Love Music”, or maybe just a treble clef to advertise their interest instead?  For runners, the ‘three numbers and a decimal’ are simply a way of celebrating their accomplishment.  That’s it.  So either you’re a complete idiot or you’ve been listening to too much Morrissey.  It’s just a number, dude.  Relax.  Take some vitamin C.  Maybe go for a run.  You’ll feel better. Trust me.

Oh, and by the way: it never stops.  Can anyone ever have too many Smiths albums?  Can anyone like the Outer Banks too much?  What’s it to you anyway?

WARNING:  This post contains questionable subject matter involving more feces (click HERE or HEREtake your pick).

Today marks a drastic change in my typical weekly training schedule, namely, early morning workouts.  And not the usual mid-morning workouts I typically do and have become accustomed to, but those early morning pre-dawn workouts that up to now I thought only crazy people did.  Well, no more.  With my return to working at the office regularly, I am now forced to squeeze (pun intended – read on) some workouts, primarily running and swimming, to the early ass crack of dawn prior to leaving for the office.  Goodie.  Today was the start of that transition process beginning with a long run.

I already know that the hardest part of any morning workout is simply getting out of bed and I’ve made peace with that.  However, I learned this morning (the hard way I might add) that there are other things I will now need to consider before heading out the door.

To prepare for this morning run I did as much as I could last night to minimize my having to do much.  I laid out my clothes (for both my run as well as work once I’d returned home and showered) and running shoes, pre-set my Garmin, prepped my pre-run breakfast, selected my running music on my iPod (click HERE) and set the alarm for stupid o’clock before turning in early.  Thankfully, everything went like clockwork; I rose on time, threw a bit of kibble in the cats bowl to keep them happy and quiet, devoured my small bowl of oatmeal that Kelly prepared for me the evening before, dressed and, Bob’s your uncle, I was out the door and hitting the pavement by 5:30am on the dot.  Booyah!

I was quite proud of myself.  Maybe this early morning nonsense wouldn’t be so bad after all.

Yeah, right.

Anyway, my first realization is that, like my mind, apparently, m y body also needs time to wake up.  I hadn’t noticed this in the pool so much, but it wasn’t until 3-4 kilometers into my run when my legs decided that they too were finally alive and kicking.  This wasn’t such a big deal as I hadn’t planned for anything beyond an easy pace, but for those days when I’ve planned for something more energetic like a quick-paced tempo or speed workout, I may have to give myself a bit more time to loosen up before I get to business.  Noted!

Aside from this, the early stages of the run were quite pleasant.  I turned onto Thunder Bay Rd. from my home and ran directly into the most amazing pink and orange sunrise and it continued like this for the first 6-7 kilometers as I ran along the lake along MacDonald Dr. and the dawn spread out before me like an incredible landscape painting in progress.  There was little to no traffic to worry about, birds were singing and all the local critters were still out and about feasting on dewy grass by the side the road.  There were lots of bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks, deer and even a pair of gorgeous orange orioles that accentuated the colors of dawn nicely.  It was running through a Group of Seven painting; not at all shabby at all.

So for the first half of the run things went smoothly.  Then, I felt the first grumblings of trouble brewing in my stomach…quite literally.  Running in the mid-morning/early afternoon allowed me to have something to eat, have a cup of coffee and pass my morning constitutional well before needing to go outside and work out, so I never really had to experience this, well, let’s call it a ‘sensation’.

Around the half way point of my run, or about the 50 minute mark, I started to worry a little.  Surely it would pass.  Wouldn’t it?  God, let it pass.  But no!  A few kilometers more and a few passed farts later and my concern shifted to panic as serious cramps began to set in.  I realized at that moment that there was no way I was ever going to make it home without having to lighten the load, so to speak.

My error this morning was that I never figured that what tiny amount of food I did put into my gut prior to leaving would ever really amount to anything but, oh, how wrong I was.  As it turns out, despite what little I might have had in my stomach, that constant up and down movement of running coupled with my body’s temperature increasing as my legs woke up and my pace increased, well, it all serves to churn things up a bit.  Think about it as a bit of an egg beater effect, just kind of emulsifying the bowel contents, including what still might be left in my system from the previous evening.  Likewise, even just a little food – even the small unsubstantial bowl of oatmeal I had – can kick start the whole gastrointestinal process.  This was probably the case this morning so that by the time I had laced up my runners and headed out I was quite literally a ticking time bomb ready to go off so before I knew it and well beyond the point of no return, my bowels had fully developed into a minor Krakatoa-like incident just begging to go off.  And go off it did.  Big time.

The good news was that when the zero hour arrived, I was still out in the middle of nowhere and there was lots of wooded area and brush to duck into.  I knew that if I tried to avoid the inevitable and make it further up the road I would have run out of options and probably would have ended up crapping myself in the middle of the road, so I decided to cut my losses, nip off the side of the road and take care of business.  Not ideal, but what choice did I have? So I found a spot, dropped my tights and braced myself for the unpleasant task at hand.

I have heard that pooping in the woods is quite pleasurable.  I know of other runners who can squat and unload in a 2 ft. boxwood if necessary but, clearly, I am not one of these people.  The whole thing was rather awkward what with the tights, the iPod wires, etc.  It was nasty.  From the vantage point of looking between my legs, the whole action kind of resembled one of those gnarly birthing videos you might see on the National Geographic channel.  I was both shocked and repulsed and – oddly – a bit proud.  I’m sure that if there were any animals secretly hiding nearby witnessing this whole debacle, however, I have surely scared them for life.

Then it hit me that I now had a much bigger problem on my hands.  What the hell was I going to wipe my ass with? Being so early into the spring season there was still no leaves, leafy vegetation or any other similar materials with which to clean up and didn’t relish trying to wipe my ass with a stick so, unfortunately, there was nothing left to do but pull up my tights and carry on carrying on, shitty ass n’ all.  Gross.  I ended up cutting my run short to make this uncomfortable shuffle home (through a now fully awake downtown core no less) in complete and total shame with a severely damaged pride.  Definitely not an experience I ever care to repeat.  No sir, anything short of a clean, ceramic toilet seat and daily paper and I am not a happy camper pooper.

So now what?

First, I am going to begin carrying some emergency toilet paper in a little baggie – full stop – particularly on these long morning runs should I need to do them again.  Secondly, I’m definitely going to have to figure out a better strategy for eating and pooping in the early morning that, hopefully, doesn’t include me needing to get up earlier than I already have to.  I mean 5:00am is early enough don’t you think?

So, yeah, eat less?  Eat earlier?  Don’t eat at all?  Or maybe just keep the long stuff for any other time of the day other than early mornings.  I dunno.  The whole thing is pretty shitty if you ask me…literally.

Isn’t running fun?