Drink the Kool Aid

For more than 70 consecutive days it has been over 90 degrees in the low country of South Carolina. For anyone out there who thinks that 90 degrees feels like 90 degrees in this part of the country, you are wrong. Just walking outside resembles a health club sauna, minus the naked members of course. I am so ready for winter, even if its only 1 month long like the last. All of this focus on sticking to my training plan, dodging the heat as much as possible and strength training more has caused me to miss one of the most important parts of training. The ability to stay healthy by doing necessary maintenance exercises. I talk a big game to my clients about a specific warmup before runs and a core and hip strengthening routine for after. All the while I know how important it is but it is so easy to feel bomb proof while the going is good. 

For more than 70 consecutive days it has been over 90 degrees in the low country of South Carolina. For anyone out there who thinks that 90 degrees feels like 90 degrees in this part of the country, you are wrong. Just walking outside resembles a health club sauna, minus the naked members of course. I am so ready for winter, even if its only 1 month long like the last. All of this focus on sticking to my training plan, dodging the heat as much as possible and strength training more has caused me to miss one of the most important parts of training. The ability to stay healthy by doing necessary maintenance exercises. I talk a big game to my clients about a specific warmup before runs and a core and hip strengthening routine for after. All the while I know how important it is but it is so easy to feel bomb proof while the going is good.

It’s so easy when time is tight due to responsibilities like work and family to use the whole one-hour workout time chunk on my run. In my head I’m thinking, “1 hour, ok.. 7 min miles.. should be able to get 8 in.” I should be content with running 7 miles instead and using the remaining 10 minutes or so to do auxiliary exercises, core and stretch. This change in thought would only take away about 5-6 miles from my weekly total. In the past, with a less hectic schedule, I would just lallygag around after my run and get the necessary stuff in. With time being scarce and more precious as I moved deeper into the life of an “adult,” the extra stuff needs a front row seat.

As I am typing away there is an icepack strapped to the back of my left leg and under it is kinesis-tape stabilizing my achilles tendon. In a few minutes I will graduate to a boot that I wear in my downtime and through the night. I cannot isolate it for every hour of the day the way I should because of work and life, but completely resting would speed up the process.

Alright, I’m making it sound worse than it is on purpose. All of the above are true but after about 2 weeks of no running and supplementing with cycling I have been able to complete a few short runs with little to no pain. I am not in the clear yet and I have had a history of achilles issues dating back to college. I have been able to string together almost 3 consecutive years injury free which is the longest stretch in my running career. I have been doing all of the little things that contribute, especially for all of you that are over 30, to consistent healthy running. Despite knowing how important these little things are, it was the first to go by the wayside when my available time per day started to shrink. This is something you cannot afford to do!

We are all human and these things happen. They are something we all must go through time and time again in order to hunker down and make the necessary changes. My primary concern at the moment is to be healthy for the two Tunnel to Towers races that I compete in with other members from the Bluffton Fire District. The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was created in honor of Stephen Siller. They raise money and honor first responders and military that are in need. Our team has won the last 3 Savannah races and the first and only Columbia race (in full gear). I need to be injury free, even if it means in less shape than I was two weeks ago. After that, it’s up in the air whether I will go back to building a big aerobic base for a winter race or try to salvage the fall season.

The message here is to stay focused on your goals. Whether the goal is to walk, run or scale the Empire State Building… keep doing the little things. Most fairly motivated people will do the obvious things. Runners will run, painters will paint, but neither will be successful without the behind-the-scenes extras that keep you moving forward.

Tunnel to Towers Foundation:

tunnel2towers.org

It’s Hot

There are studies out there have compared the benefits of heat training to that of altitude training. While altitude training has been found to increase the body’s red blood cell count, training in extreme heat while slightly dehydrated can stimulate the body to produce more plasma. 

I think it’s a little unreasonable to have to wring your shorts off after and easy paced run. This has become an everyday thing lately as it’s been 90+ degrees with 612% humidity. I try my best to get my run in before 8 am, but because of other obligations it’s not always possible. I struggled through 6 miles (8 scheduled) the other day. I did, after all, run at 1 pm out of necessity but I was unaware that it might have been the hottest hour of the summer thus far. My weather app read a “real feel” of 119•F.

There are studies out there have compared the benefits of heat training to that of altitude training. While altitude training has been found to increase the body’s red blood cell count, training in extreme heat while slightly dehydrated can stimulate the body to produce more plasma.

I truly hope that all of us are gaining a little more plasma and not just a layer of mental toughness. Either way, if you are out at anytime in the South Carolina summer I applaud your effort, because at a minimum that is very impressive.

I have yet to do many structured workouts as the summer is typically base-ville for everyone’s fall racing; a little speed here and  there just to keep the legs active. But I am personally going to extend my base until September in hopes of staying motivated through November.  I’m keeping my hopes of a fast 5k alive for at least one more fall season, and there will be plenty of updates along the way!

One Month, One Mile

So as I am patiently waiting for the start of my race I look down and notice that the soles of my shoes are melting off. The same happened with the backup pair! Granted it is in the upper 90s in South Carolina which usually means that it feels closer to 200 degrees and I have been standing on the track for over an hour. I traveled 4 hours from Bluffton to Greenville to race in the South Carolina Open and Masters Track Classic. I was already working with a handicap after that drive but a one hour delay didn’t help either. Needless to say I did not finish this race season the way I would have liked but it did however start with some promise.

So as I am patiently waiting for the start of my race I look down and notice that the soles of my shoes are melting off. The same happened with the backup pair! Granted it is in the upper 90s in South Carolina which usually means that it feels closer to 200 degrees and I have been standing on the track for over an hour. I traveled 4 hours from Bluffton to Greenville to race in the South Carolina Open and Masters Track Classic. I was already working with a handicap after that drive but a one hour delay didn’t help either. Needless to say I did not finish this race season the way I would have liked but it did however start with some promise.

In early May I travelled to Columbia to compete in the Governors Cup Main Street Mile. I figured this would be a good opportunity to have some solid competition which would help push me to a good time. A Kenyan runner and a few post collegiate Americans were in the race who I had no business hanging with and therefor I did not try. My finishing time was 4 mins and 30 seconds. I was more than pleased considering there was a U-Turn around a cone at 800 meters and a slightly uphill finish. Mentally I gave myself credit for at least 5 seconds faster.

A little over a week later I traveled to Atlanta with my family so my wife could take part in a conference for her new business venture. I won my heat in 4 minutes and 31 seconds but was extremely satisfied because of the way the race unfolded. I sat back in the pack for the first two laps and then negative split the last 800 (2:20/ 2:10). I enjoyed a more tactical race for a change. Again this performance pointed towards promising fitness levels.

Just four days later I put on all of my firefighter bunker gear and air pack and raced past Forsyth Park in downtown Savannah in the Hero’s Heat of the 11th Savannah Mile. The race was made almost entirely of Army Rangers. I was the only firefighter that was treating it as a race. I came in 2nd to an Army Ranger. We went one and two last year as well but we both dropped our times significantly. I finished in 5 mins and 30 seconds. Every second of the race felt like I was carrying a car and it was terrible and I hated it and as usual I will run it again next year!

Overall I am happy with this short season of faster races. I truly didn’t know what to expect of myself and still feel I’m better than or more capable than the stopwatch read but I’m trying to remember that it’s all a process. One day or one full training cycle is building for the next. My journey in running has evolved and is no longer just about being the best. Im learning to enjoy the process and focus on becoming the best that I’m capable of being given all the obstacles and accumulation of life. Don’t get me wrong I still want to win… But I’m finally in a place with myself that I understand it’s not the only thing that matters.

Moving Forward, Longer and Slower

This may not have been the most logical time in life to add roughly three more hours of running per week to my life but why not keep piling it on, right? The transition from 45 to 70 miles per week was smoother than I expected and I found myself enjoying these extra miles. Running is no doubt therapy once you get past the complete suck feeling of the first few months. So why wouldn’t a few more hours of “healthy me time” make me a happier person?

When I look back at the last six months of my life all I see is chaos. I’m sure its standard for anyone with small kids, especially two or more under the age of four, to feel they are being pulled in every direction. Since November of last year I decided to start my own business as my wife began her own endeavors. We both of course kept our day jobs, if you can call them that. She is a nightshift neonatal nurse and I am a full time firefighter/ EMT. This of course goes with our two young children who go to a part time day care only some week days and my running which takes up a portion of everyday. Very little time remains for anything extracurricular.

Despite all of this mess I decided to move up from the world of racing 5ks- kind of fast, to running half marathons- not quite as fast. Despite improving my overall fitness and progressing in workouts, my 5k times hadn’t changed much from 2014 to 2015. My goal race was the Palmetto Bluff half in early March, only 12 weeks away.

This may not have been the most logical time in life to add roughly three more hours of running per week to my life but why not keep piling it on, right? The transition from 45 to 70 miles per week was smoother than I expected and I found myself enjoying these extra miles. Running is no doubt therapy once you get past the complete suck feeling of the first few months. So why wouldn’t a few more hours of “healthy me time” make me a happier person?

Slower racing brings with it slower training paces. I definitely liked the sound of that! However, that can be slightly misleading. During these twelve weeks of cooler weather a lot of my time would be spent at my goal half marathon pace. This pace is often referred to as threshold pace and is described as the pace one can sustain for one hour or comfortable hard. I like to describe it to others in a way that I feel is slightly clearer… “This is the pace you would choose if someone was chasing you with a machete and you had to keep moving for exactly one hour, no more and no less; in order to stay alive.” This comfortably hard pace also drags with it uncomfortably short rest periods that separate uncomfortably long reps.

I would be lying if I said there were many mornings that I couldn’t wait to jump up at 5 am for a 10 miler but I only succumbed to the snooze button a time or two. I gained so much confidence and fitness from this short training block and it has provided a great base for me to build on.

I guess what message I’m loitering around here is that you can do it. Maybe your goal is to walk for 30 mins 3 times per week, run a 5k or play a sport in college. Despite your circumstances, and by no means does my crazy life even come close to the conflicts and disasters that take place in the lives of some, you can make it happen. It takes a plan and a lot of help along the way but in the end, if you stick to it, you can look back and truly appreciate what you accomplished. As for me and the plan that I set in motion for my running back in November, I am satisfied. I went 2 for 2 winning the Hilton Head Island Half Marathon (1:12:58) and the Palmetto Bluff Half Marathon (1:12:07). Along the way I even ran my fastest 5k since my college days.

Over the past month I have begun racing some much shorter distances and I look forward to sharing the experiences with you in the coming months. Stay tuned.

David_Adams_okatieale

Okatie Ale Super Bowl 5k -15:08 (Converted 15:25 for short course).

“the race that got away”

I plan to attempt to run the 1 mile race distance a few times this spring and summer.  I’ve been consistent in my training for some time now, and I’ve started to see some results in my level of fitness hinting at good things to come. Even though success in the 1 mile race is historically enjoyed by younger runners, it was always my least impressive personal record. Of the standard middle distance events I raced in high school, the mile was the one for which I was never fully trained or rested. It’s “the race that got away”.

When my comeback began four years ago the idea of creating a new personal record for myself was constantly on my mind and kept me, literally, moving forward each day. As I struggled through the humid summer days, barely able to run each of my 2 or 3 miles at a pace 2 minutes slower than what I would’ve considered acceptable in the past, I daydreamed about the possibility of setting a personal record at this stage of life. Deep down I knew there was a possibility it was unrealistic and maybe even unattainable given how high I had set the bar for myself over a decade earlier. However, I’d always thrived on challenges; both those others set for me, and especially those I set for myself (as my own biggest critic). I was challenging myself again. This time around, it was going to be more difficult to reach the same shock value I enjoyed in my younger days, but the challenge was set just the same.

I plan to attempt to run the 1 mile race distance a few times this spring and summer.  I’ve been consistent in my training for some time now, and I’ve started to see some results in my level of fitness hinting at good things to come. Even though success in the 1 mile race is historically enjoyed by younger runners, it was always my least impressive personal record. Of the standard middle distance events I raced in high school, the mile was the one for which I was never fully trained or rested. It’s “the race that got away”.

Most people who hear “one mile in four minutes” hear just that; no distinction is made between 4 minutes and 14 seconds, and 4 minutes and 57 seconds. But the distinction in my mind is monumental: the former is my high school PR in the mile; the latter is the pace my now 34-year-old body can sustain for a 5k.  Most runners in their mid-30’s (except those running professionally) tend to focus on longer- distance races, like half and full marathons. Although I know my greatest potential now lies in those longer, grinding-type runs, I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to the breathlessness and lactic-acid nightmare of shorter distances.

Will I be able to tame “the race that got away” those years ago in the peak of my running career? Today, I have a chance to be both well-rested and well-trained for the mile, and I’m looking forward to seeing how fast I can go!  In my next entry I will dive back into my training over the last few months as it lead up to this shift in pace.