March 27, 2018

Overcoming Monotony

Runners, beware, you are about to enter the twilight zone.  This is the dimension that exposes long-held beliefs that cause of chronic burn-out. It is a journey into a wondrous land that defies dogma and disposes of the monotonous. A place where mindless, boring exercise goes to die.

Running can be boring. Especially when you do it a lot, and for a long time. There are days when I can’t bring myself to go for a run. Ever have one of those? You know, when the thought of going for a run makes you want to clean the kitchen, take out the trash or work on a project, like any project? It’s a quandary, especially if you’re trying to prepare for something like a half-marathon, an ultra marathon or whatever.

The solution? Try this out: reading. That’s right. Reading while training. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but it’s really not. Read on.

I’ve been putting a healthy amount of my weekly training in while reading the Wall Street Journal, the LA Times and the New York Times. I’m even adding in a regular dose of the Weekly Standard, Backpacker Magazine and an occasional book (usually non-fiction). I’m in the middle of Getting to US, a profile of some of the greatest coaches in sports by Seth Davis, and What Unites Us, reflections on patriotism by ousted CBS anchor Dan Rather.

The question of course is how is it possible to read and run at the same time. It isn’t. I don’t run while I read. And I don’t have to because I incorporate a lot of cross training into my schedule. The elliptical machine is one of my favorites, as is hiking at a steep grade on the treadmill wearing a 10 lbs weight vest. Another is simply riding a stationary bike. Each of these workouts can get my heart rate to an aerobic level. They also give my body a chance to rebuild after long and/or difficult workouts, all while catching up with what’s happening in DC, Pyongyang or Pennsylvania’s 18th district.

I’ve come to look forward to my reads during training. In fact, I truly believe I would have given up running ultras a long time ago if I hadn’t started incorporating reading into my training regimen several years back. What’s more is I’m usually blasting my thumbprint radio on Pandora while I’m checking the sports page or the latest Op-Ed. Did you note the juxtaposition of the WSJ NY Times? (Trying to stay balanced my friends).

In addition to rewarding my neurons, reading while training forces me to stay in a recovery zone. That is because pushing into the red zone makes it impossible to focus - on text, paragraphs or even titles. Everything becomes a blur.  Staying in my recovery zone allows me to build a solid base of fitness, the foundation for running strong at any distance.

Keep it real runners!

March 11, 2018

Six Cities Run (in the rain)

Six Cities Run
It wasn't until mile 3 or 4 when decided what I was doing. And even then I really didn't know. It was starting to rain and the trails near my house were turning to mud, so I decided to hit the roads for a longer run. As I started to run, I kept thinking, how can I make this interesting? After all, outside of avoiding life threatening vehicular traffic, running on the roads for more than a couple of hours can be quite humdrum, even (sorry road runners) boring. 

So I tried to come up with something to keep things interesting. Nothing came to mind, except running to a particular destination, then catching a Lift back home. I've done this a couple times before with decent luck. Once I did a solo run to Swallows Bar and a couple of group runs to Cooks Corner for birthday celebrations. I started thinking about how many cities I could possibly run through on one run. I started with seven, but soon realized that was more than I could chew. I settled for six.

So there you have it. Starting in Newport Beach, I proceeded to Irvine, Tustin, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa and finished up in Huntington Beach. Twenty one miles of pure bliss. LOL.

Ok, not the most glamorous of journeys, but still a good day at the office.

Keep it real runners.

March 5, 2018

It’s All in the Head - A Tribute To Roger Bannister

To achieve a personal record at something you’ve put your heart and soul into is, as any runner will tell you, an incredible feeling. To achieve something that no other human being has ever achieved is, well, monumental. Roger Bannister did this in 1954 when he broke, for the very first time, the 4 minute mile. Roger Bannister died March 3. He was 88 years old.

What makes Bannister’s feat monumental in the running world and the world at large is the wide held belief in those days that it was impossible for a human to run a mile in under 4 minutes. But Bannister did it. And others followed. And they followed in droves. Over 500 US runners alone have broken the 4 minute barrier,  and many weren’t out of high school when they did it.

The question that must be asked is how many of these runners would have run sub 4 minutes if no one had ever done it before them? My point is this: what we think is impossible might be impossible only in our heads, but very possible outside of our heads.

What are you capable of that is impossible? Here’s a clue. There is only one way to find out.