You Always Have Something Else To Give ~ Never Give ‘Up’!

January 9, 2012 3 comments

The tape in any race or challenge marks the finish line or the goal that every competitor is striving to reach, and it can be broken in a single race by different runners with different times (Overall female, male, age group winners, etc.), but, until the tape is broken, the race goes on.

For each of us, 2012 brings with it a whole series of new challenges, each with its own finish line, or “tape” that will remain always before us, unbroken, until we hunt it down and snap it.  Regardless of your goals, know that you can achieve them and put any thought of failure or inability out of your mind.  Granted, you should never be so naive as to believe that you won’t encounter setbacks along the way.  What you can say with certainty, though, is that success, at any given moment, and in any given endeavor, will always be one quality decision away.  You decide your outcome by deciding how you will respond to adversity.  You decide.  Not your circumstances.  Not your friends.  Not your family.  Certainly not your critics.  You alone hold the keys to your success by deciding that you will never give up.  If you look back and find that you have given up in the past, in ways large or small, you need only start again today, and you’ll immediately find that what you thought was failure was, in reality, merely a temporary pause on your journey to success.  Perhaps a necessary rest at an aid station along your course.  Failure can only consist in your final decision never to rise and begin again.

Decide today, right now, that you will not give up.  Regardless of the hurdles you face, you must not accept defeat.  You always have something more that you can give.  Crawl if you must.  Scratch, claw, pry the achievement of your goals from the clutches of any person or circumstance that dares to defy you.  Do what you must.  Give what you must.  But never, ever give ‘up’.


First Gear

Running gear has become a multi-billion dollar industry.  There’s no shortage of running shoes, apparel, accessories, supplements and gadgets available to separate the runner from his or her money.  Still, I’ve found one piece of gear that no runner should be without.  The Road ID deserves to be the first piece of running gear I blog about, because it is the first piece of gear I check for when I’m preparing for any run of any distance in any weather at any time.  I hope it will be for you, too.

The founders of Road ID are a father and son team whose running experience led them to start this innovative company.  Edward Wimmer, Co-Owner of Road ID with his dad Mike, recalls “…So, there I was, in a ditch, on the side of the road, having nearly been hit by the aforementioned pick-up truck. From that ditch, my father’s suggestion to carry ID started to make a tremendous amount of sense.”

Since the company’s inception in the Wimmer’s basement, the company’s team of spokespeople (who have their own testimonials about the bracelet) includes such elite super athletes as Ironman champion Craig Alexander, and ultrarunning god Dean Karnazes.

My personal choice is the Wrist ID Sport (pictured) because it’s lightweight, and contains all the information a first responder would need in the event I were involved in an accident and unable to speak (some of you might view that as a welcome change) for myself .  Kidding aside, besides critical contact information, mine (the information on the picture above is not me) contains my blood type, and a statement regarding RX allergies.  Bottom line, no EMT will ever have to wait to provide care if I need it, and I’ll never be admitted to a hospital (or worse) as “John Doe”. 

There are a variety of products and styles available, including a slim version, one for your ankle, one that affixes to your shoe, and others.  There’s even an interactive model that simply contains login information for first responders to access a secure website that you populate with lots of critical personal and medical information.  Granted, the holidays are past, but this is a gift you should give yourself if for no other reason than peace of mind.

Gotta run, but not without my Road I.D.

Categories: Running Gear Tags: , ,

Less is More, More or Less

January 5, 2012 2 comments

I am a minimalist runner.  There.  My secret is out.  I’m one of those runners.  But before you judge, or imagine me as some nature crazed, hemp smoking lunatic running naked through the enchanted forest, hear me out.  First and foremost, I’m a runner just like you.  I run because I can, because I must.  I run because running moves me (pun intended).  The only difference between me and the majority of runners, including most of my heroes, is that my gait simply happens to favor a forefoot strike, instead of a heel strike.  That wasn’t always the case, though. 

In fact, I was a heel striker my whole life until about 18 months ago.  What happened that caused me to so radically alter how I run, you ask?  You probably already know the answer, but I’ll confirm your suspicion:  You guessed it, I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.  For the one or maybe two runners left on the planet who have never heard of Mr. McDougall or read his magnum opus, Born to Run is the New York Times #1 Best Seller that launched a global minimalist running movement, which, as nearly as anyone can tell, is continuing to grow in popularity.  For the rest of you, the fact that you rolled your eyes when I disclosed that I’m a minimalist runner, and ground your teeth when I confirmed that it was due wholly to the impact of Born to Run on my running style, tells me that I’m not likely to win you over here.  In fact, I wouldn’t presume to even try.  I have no interest in engaging in what seems like an ongoing, and increasingly unfriendly debate among runners and other experts over minimalist running.  I will simply tell you that it works for me.  Like many runners, I suffered from running related injuries for years.  But then, after reading Born to Run, I engaged in a months-long transition from padded, supportive running shoes, to (again, you guessed it) Vibram Five Fingers, and I have been running almost injury free ever since. 

Here, I think a bit of clarification is in order.  First, I said above that I’m a minimalist runner.  I am not a barefoot runner.  Not that I have anything against barefoot runners.  In fact, I find them positively inspiring.  Greats like Abebe Bikila, who won the 1960 Olympic Marathon sans shoes, or modern visionaries like Barefoot Ted whose efforts have led scores of runners to rediscover the sheer joy of forward self-propulsion are themselves evidence of the sheer genius of the human machine.  I simply lack the chutzpah of such running luminaries.  Besides that, I have neither the podiatric fortitude nor the desire to endure the countless shards of glass, rocks, or other debris in my soles that would be necessary to toughen up my gringo feet (yes, that’s another Born to Run reference).  So, like most runners, I wear shoes.  Granted, my shoes have little pockets for each individual toe, but aside from making me look like a ninja-in-training, they’re just another (altogether different kind of) running shoe.  But that’s another post for another time.

Second, it’s not as though when I read the book, the clouds parted, a bright lite shone down, and I heard the distant beating of Tarahumara drums (seriously, you two, read the book so I don’t have to keep explaining my references) compelling me to take up the mantle of my barefooted running ancestors.  The book did speak to me, though.  Like most runners, I’ve suffered my share of injuries.  So the notion that simply changing my form could help seemed too good to be true.  Actually, it was.  But not for the reasons you might think.

I did not immediately shed my thick, padded, supportive running shoes.  Instead, I ran in those shoes, but on my midfoot.  At first, for very short distances.  This gave my feet and calves time to adapt to the new stresses.  I took the first 3 months REALLY slow.  By the time I could run 2 miles comfortably, I removed my insoles and repeated the process until I could run comfortably for 3 miles.  My lovely bride gave me a pair of VFF Bikilas for Christmas, 2010, and I incorporated them into my training by running in them once or twice a week.  Eventually, I was running in the crazy looking toe shoes exclusively.  I never experienced any pain or injury, until…. 

I eventually decided to try a different “minimalist” shoe.  One with little support, but with a wide toe box and also with a bit of a heel rise.  This was a huge mistake.  By the time I donned the new shoes, my gait had changed so dramatically that I was unable to immediately change my stride to account for the marginally raised heel.  After a single week, my right medial meniscus was torn.  I’ve now recovered (mostly), and, needless to say, I’ve returned to my trusty Vibrams.  Actually, I’m splitting my runs between the VFF Bikila’s and another actual zero-drop shoe that I’m really digging so far.  More about that in an upcoming post on running gear.

Anyway, the moral of the story for me has been that minimalist running works…for me, and has helped me become a mostly injury-free runner.  But not all that glitters is minimalist gold.  I had to find that out the hard way.  Gotta run.

Off on the Right Foot…Or Should it be the Left?

January 3, 2012 2 comments

I started down the 2000 mile road today with an easy 3 mile run (9:32 pace) during the lunch hour.  Weather was a breezy 50 degrees, without a cloud in the sky.  I’m planning a 17 mile week for this, the first week of January, as I continue to build a solid mileage base and chip away at the monumental task ahead.  As New Year’s resolutions go, I’m on track with only 1,997 miles to go. 

I debated whether to post about this breathtakingly forgettable start.  I feel a bit like a competition eater taking a break to notify the world that I’ve consumed the first french fry of a gravy-laden meal so large that it’s served in a claw foot bathtub.  Or, for the health conscious runner, I’m taking a moment to report that I’ve successfully eaten exactly one celery stick, and have only to finish consuming the entire Garden Bar© at Ruby Tuesday©.

Anyway, I do actually have a reason for sharing.  As I was running (remember in the first paragraph I told you this was an “easy run”), my running buddy, a fellow attorney/fellow runner/generally nice fellow, asked me the following question: “So when do you plan on doing your speed work?”  I considered making something up so I would seem like a cool, seasoned marathoner like him (my buddy completed his first marathon last November), but thought the better of it, as it occurred to me that he would know I was fibbing.  Or worse, he might call my bluff and offer to join me, in which case I would actually have to DO speed work, which, of course, would require that I first google “speed work” to find out what it is.  So I took a middle road, and asked my buddy what day he would recommend.  Turns out, that was just a faux pas of another kind.  I know this because he responded with a whole series of other questions as follows: “Well, that’s something you have to decide based on your larger training schedule.  It needs to be balanced with your long runs (author’s note-I actually know what long runs are), and with your recovery runs, interval work, fartleks (author’s note: turns out these have nothing to do with the effect of a high-fiber diet on running performance), tempo runs, race days and easy runs (remember the first paragraph above, when I told you this is what today was?).

The point is, I have a pretty good handle on how I’ll build my mileage base in coming months, how I’ll taper before my planned races, and even how I’ll recover during my “post marathon” weeks.  That is, I know how far I plan to run and when, but I’ve paid absolutely no attention to what kinds of runs I should be doing, or at what paces.  I could ask my buddy, but, notwithstanding his (one) marathon experience, I thought I’d better ask someone who knows.  That’s why I’m asking you, the running blogosphere.  Coming soon, I’ll be sharing my “2,000 miles in a year” running schedule.  For now, check out the extremely cool and useful running log template prepared by David Hayes that I’m using to track my progress.  And in the meantime, please offer any suggestions you have that might help me structure my running plan to incorporate the right kinds of runs to help me achieve my best times when race day(s) arrive. 

Thanks in advance, and stay tuned for periodic updates as I venture further into the fray.  Gotta run.

The 2,000 Mile Challenge

January 2, 2012 1 comment

I don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions.  Besides seeming trite, history has proven them so invariably doomed to failure that they’ve become cliché.  I typically avoid the whole thing by simply resolving not to make a New Year’s resolution.  Curiously, or perhaps, not so curiously, I’ve always succeeded in keeping that resolution.  But this year is different.  It’s different because this year I’ve finally come to realize that running is more than just something I do.  It’s a significant part of who I am.  I’m not a great runner.  As of the date of this post, my long runs are in the 6 mile range.  I’m not a fast runner.  A 9 minute mile feels fast to me.  I’m not even a marginally competitive runner.  I’ve never entered a formal race in my life.  But I am a runner.  In fact, running has been an enormously transformative force in my life. 

When I was in elementary school, I was so awful at virtually every sport that doing poorly seemed appealing to me simply because it meant at least getting off the bench long enough to actually play.  Sensing that my desire outweighed my athletic abilities, a friend (spelled j-o-c-k) encouraged me to try out for the track team.  Unbeknownst to me, this was viewed by the cool kids as the athletic consolation prize for kids who couldn’t play any other sport (spelled m-e).  I consented, and relegated to the non-sport of track, I contented myself with what would certainly at least offer me the chance to participate (I had been told there was no bench for third string runners).  Then, suddenly and when no one seemed to be paying any attention, I began winning my heats.  All of them.  Within a single season of parochial track and field, running had transformed me into a school star, as I turned out to be one of the fastest 220 meter runners for my age group in the state.  That is, until I snapped my shin bone in half playing 8th grade football, and ended my scholastic running career as quickly and unpredictably as it had begun. 

After high school, running would again transform me.  This time, however, it was from civilian into soldier, as my Drill Sargent mercilessly and repeatedly forced our whole platoon to run, and run, and run what seemed like innumerable miles in full combat gear, in all weather, in all hours of the day and night.  I often wondered whether I had enlisted in the Army or the Olympic trials.  I was pretty sure Olympians weren’t so heavily armed, so the Army it must have been.  Later still, after returning from the Gulf War, running helped ease me back into civilian life, as I took to the streets before the sun rose to gather my thoughts during early morning runs through quiet, fog-shrouded neighborhoods. 

Finally, after  college and law school, and all the extra pounds that came with having spent the better part of a decade holed up in libraries surviving on sugary sodas and mcburgers while studying for the next big test, I began running again to lose weight and discipline myself for the Bar Exam.  As a result, running helped transform me from an overweight, non-traditional, thirty-something law student into a focussed, self-disciplined, super lawyer (notice the increased self-confidence).  

Running has, in fact, been a part of my life longer than anything else, and has therefore been that part which most clearly reflects not only who I aspire to be, but who, at any given time in my life, I am.  So this year, unlike years before, I’ve resolved to challenge myself to be more myself (as runner, that is) than I’ve ever dared to be.  Two thousand miles more, to be precise.  I have resolved to run 2000 miles in 2012.  To get there, I’ll average around 40 miles per week all year.  I’ll include regular posts about my progress, training cycles, gear, races (did I mention I’m planning to enter and finish not only my first race, but a 10K, two half marathons, a 15K, and two full marathons), and much more.  I’m reasonably confident that I won’t be upsetting the elites at any of the races I plan to enter this year, but I do intend on setting lots of personal records, including breaking the tape on a 2000 mile running year.  Gotta run.

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