RRCA Coaching Certification

rrca_cert_coach_logoThe last six months have been a journey and a bunch of great new experiences from a running perspective. I’ve set my sights on a lofty goal (a Boston BQ, which for me means running a marathon in ~3h10min) and I have been working with a local coach to help me achieve it. I’ve also spent a lot of time reflecting on what motivates, energizes and inspires me. We can’t all expect to get everything we need out of just what we do from 9-5, what our hobbies might provide us or even the relationships that we have with others as important as each of those on its own might be. We have to continue to grow in all of these different facets of our lives. So in the vein, I’ve decided to sign up for an upcoming Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Coaching Certification Course. Not because I have any expectation of doing this as my “gig” but because I want to continue to stretch myself.

There’s so much I feel like I can learn about my own running through this and also gain a clearer understanding of the feedback and guidance I get from my own coach. I also hope to be better prepared to give guidance and encouragement to the two budding high-school age runners in the house. Even if nothing ever becomes of it, I think it’ll be an interesting investment of time to hopefully learn something and see running in a different way. The first step, gaining my certification in First Aid/CPR/AED, is already complete. In a few weeks, I’ll venture to Twin Cities, MN and spend the weekend geeking out with other runners. Who knows where this might lead? That’s the interesting part.

 

 

Long, Long Run

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The Run Woodstock Hallucination 100K is about a month away. Which means that last week was my longest run of the training plan that I put together. 40+ miles seemed like a long way when I was putting the plan together and I can tell you that when I ran those 40 miles last Friday, it was every bit as long as I thought it’d be.

I was in the woods by 7:15 for an out-and-back down the Tecumseh trail for about 20mi. I had 2L of water in my pack so that was about as far as I figured I could go without needing a refill and I was right. Then I planned on a loop of the Three Lakes Trail and a loop of the Low Gap trail. Miles 20-30 felt pretty good and so I thought making it to 40 miles for the day would be pretty straightforward. That last 10 miles, though, wasn’t nearly as easy as I thought it’d be. The last 5 miles were a challenge from a combination of the heat and some GI issues. I’d had a sip or two of my recovery shake after 30mi because it sounded good but I think that may have contributed to the sour stomach.

Pretty or not, it’s done and I learned a few things. Now it’s time for a 26 miler, a couple of sub marathons and a final 10mi run before the final taper week into the race. I’m a little nervous about my GI comfort for the 100K but am happy with my energy level and how comfortable I felt even after 40 miles. Recovery was not an issue at all. Having a spare set of shoes and socks felt great. I’m taking that one with me to Woodstock.

Lost In The Woods

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Ran 20mi at Morgan Monroe on Saturday, managing to squeeze in my long run between MrsRoudy‘s ribbon cutting ceremony and a few days off to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway on my motorcycle. It’s a bit of an undertaking to drive 45min each way to run, but there’s just something about being in the middle of nowhere with nothing but trail shoes on your feet and a hydration pack on your back.

Felt great today…legs were a little tired but nothing unusual. I have 26mi next weekend without the luxury of being able to run them in the woods.

What makes a runner?

There is an interesting dichotomy of feelings associated with beginning “to train” for a goal race. We poor running addicts (gluttons for punishment) don’t really ever stop running and so it’d be easy to imagine that all of the days and miles blend together. An outsider might never know the difference between “just running” and “training” but there is one. It’s hard to explain but there’s something about sticking a flag in the sand 3 months from today and proclaiming your intention to do something crazier than you’ve been crazy enough to do before.

On one hand, there’s the fresh hope and the feeling of starting over with all of your past running transgressions forgotten. On the other hand, there’s the weight of all of those future miles, long runs and early mornings weighing heavily on your shoulders. We chose to lace up our shoes everyday anyway. I suppose that’s what make a runner a “runner”.

Racing to Training

The Summer Night Trail Marathon on Saturday was a a good run. I felt strong the entire race despite some nagging glute and foot issues going into the race. It had been awhile since I ran a nighttime race and I was using this as experimentation for the Hallucination 100K at Run Woodstock in September. It starts at 4PM on Friday and you run through the night and finish the next day. Beyond the occasional stumble over a root here and there, I didn’t really have many issues with running in the dark. I’m sure sleep deprivation adds a whole other interesting element, though.

So this week I’m easing back into training mode. Without a scheduled race until September, it’s all about running what’s on the schedule. From what I can tell, many folks take a “the more mileage, the better” approach to training for these long ultra distances. I really struggle, though, maintaining a balance between running and the rest of my life. Running is supposed to make living more fun and interesting, not burden it with stress and obligation. So I’m probably under-training a bit for 62mi but I’m confident that with my cross training and the right mental approach I’ll be able to finish strong. It’s not like I’m a favorite to win the thing outright, anyway!

What do you want?

May was a busy month as far as running goes. Two half marathons on either side of a 50k which most people would consider the perfect ingredients for a “suffer sandwich”. I felt great during all three races and PR’ed in two of them. I am signed up for the Eagle Creek Night Trail Marathon this weekend so I had a couple of weeks to reverse taper and get a decent long run in the book in preparation. We also did the “Murph” workout on Saturday at CrossFit which involves a 1mi run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats and another 1mi run.

Which is the probably the proper amount of background required to understand where this particular post is coming from.

This morning at CrossFit, I was struggling with Hang Power Cleans. The coach was patient (as always) and provided equal amounts of advice and encouragement. During the conditioning work, I remarked that I just felt like I was out of gas. He replied, “Well, what did you do yesterday?” The look I gave him was all the response he needed and he just started chuckling out loud. I finally fessed up to a 20mi bike ride just to “shake things” out. “So you ran 13mi on Friday, you did “Murph” on Saturday and you rode 20mi on the bike yesterday and you are wondering why you’re out of gas?” he asked, rhetorically, of course.

This single interaction exemplifies where I’m at with my training, my CrossFit and my running right now. I’m capable of doing a lot of stuff. Overdoing it all the time doesn’t help anything and actually makes both my running and my gym work suffer. Instead, I need to focus my effort and give myself a rest when it’s due. Sounds easy enough, right? To focus requires you to know what you want to get out of it all – something for me which is not easy at all.

So I found myself leaving the box today asking myself what I wanted and not having a particularly good answer. Yet.

Dances With Dirt 50K Recap

I ran the Dances with Dirt Gnaw Bone 50K on Saturday and finished in 5:54:03. That was a PR for me by 25 minutes so I’m obviously very happy with it. There wasn’t as much rain preceding the race this year so the course was in much better condition than last year and that made things easier for sure. Though I think the change in my approach to my training also contributed significantly to shaving so much time off of last year’s finish. My nutrition plan worked well and I felt strong the entire time.

When I went back and looked at my training mileage in the 3 months preceding this year’s race and compared that to the 3 months preceding last year’s race, I ran about 30% less miles this year than last year. I’ve added 3-4 days of CrossFit training every week and I seriously believe that the combination of strength training and less mileage has made me a much better runner – especially on tough trails. I’m really happy with where I am at right now and finding that I look as forward to my time in “the box” as I do to my time on the road.

2015 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

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The race “strategy” was to just see how it felt and go with it. I’m supposed to be tapering and have a 50k next weekend so there was no need to prove anything today at the 2015 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. MrsRoudy and Haewon, having recently run a marathon or three between then them, were just planning on taking it easy. Surprisingly, I felt really good.

25 seconds off of a sub 1:40 net time, I crossed the finish line of my 6th 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. With the exception of a couple of slower miles (#9 and #10) and a somewhat slow start, today was a PR by 2 minutes. Makes me wonder what I could do if I were running on fresh legs and focusing my training on a specific goal. Who knows, maybe a sub 1:40 time should be what I shoot for next year?

Race or Taper? Taper or Race?

I’m supposed to be tapering for my 50K next weekend. Instead, I’m running the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon this weekend and I’ve gone to CrossFit 4 times this week. Yesterday, the workout was front squats, more front squats and then a few more front squats followed by an impromptu weighted sled sprinting session out back. At the time it seemed like a fine idea but this morning my quads are feeling it. So the advice from MrsRoudy to skip a 5th CrossFit session this morning was sound. It’s a good thing I have her around to keep me from really letting my stupid show.

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Damn you, endorphins. Held hostage by the pituitary gland once more. At least I have another week to try this taper thing over again.

Time to Dust off the Pen & Quill

I got too busy. Or I ran out of things to say. Perhaps I just didn’t feel like it was a priority or all that terribly important. Likely it was a combination of all three of those excuses and a couple of more well-crafted ones. I’ve certainly been running, so that’s not the explanation. Since my last post almost a year ago I’ve logged 1,922mi of running including a 50 miler, a 52K, two marathons and a half marathon for good measure.

Running for me over the past year hasn’t been nearly as reflective as in the past. It hasn’t been some deep metaphysical experience. It’s been a part of my life for long enough now that it’s just part of the routine. It keeps me sane. Wake up, run some miles and face the rest of the day. At the end of the running season last year, I made a conscious decision to integrate some serious cross-training into my regime. So beginning in October I started CrossFit three to four times a week in combination with a running schedule that was closer to between 30-40mi a week than my usual 50-60mi per week. I think the result is that I’m more balanced, stronger in more ways than just my ability to crank out miles and having more fun.

Many days, though, the best I feel about myself is the 30min after a good run or getting my ass kicked at “the box”. They’re the two things that no one can take away – you can’t “undo” 10 miles or 20min of deadlifts and power snatches.

I’m not convinced yet that I’m in a running “rut” but I do wonder what the next big challenge is. What goal I should set my sights on. Which is a sign that it’s time to be more introspective. Running is just a metaphor for life in many ways. If I’m wondering what the next big thing is on the trails or on the road, that probably means that I’m also wondering (even subconsciously) what the next big thing is off the trails and the road. So perhaps it’s time to revisit the blog if for no other reason but to try to sort it out.