Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reality check?

So what is my reality check?

I was looking through my past years and months of this blog and I noticed a trend, I am injured more than I like. My self appraisal is that it's about a 65-30-5 balance, where 65% come from trauma (my clumsiness on trails), 30% from overuse (maybe insufficient cross training and too many long runs on a minimum base) and the final 5% from non running activities. What caused this self reflection, well, it's January 30th and barring a 20+ mile run tomorrow, this is one of my worse mileage totals for January ever. Since I started running (20 years ago), it is my 16th best (or worse, all depends on your perspective) mileage month for January, a grand total of 41 miles, in the summer that would be a normal week. I lost 2 1/2 weeks because of spraining my ankle yet again and it is still on the mend (it's different than before and believe it or not, these two recent sprains are the only time that I have lost time running due to sprained ankles at least sprains that occurred while running).

Can't remember if I have commented about the fact that I have been running for 20 years and to top it off it's our 30th year of living in MN. I have to admit that when I first started running, I never gave it a thought as to how long I would run or that one day I would do marathons and beyond. I can say when we moved to MN, I figured 5 years would be about as long as I thought I would be able to take the weather and now it's 30 years and I think running is part of the reason I have made it so many winters here (that and I don't think my wife would have moved from here). My running keeps me sane in the winter and gives me peace and satisfaction the rest of the year.

Ok back to my recent running, I was able to run 10 1/2 miles today and the ankle held up, I also had calf tightness from where I tore it last fall. So besides an ankle rehab, I will need to do some calf stretching too. I had hoped to really get in the mileage this week, things didn't work out early in the week so I figured it would be give the ankle a few extra days. I ran 5 1/2 with Wayne and Karen last Thursday and that as it turned out meant I got to take Friday and Saturday off as the ankle was sore the next day. I should define sore, trouble walking stairs is my primary benchmark along with 90 degree turns, if I can go up and down stairs without using the railing then it's good. I probably could have run on Saturday but I know if I had tried I would probably have only made it 4 or 5 miles and I needed (ok wanted) to run at least 9 miles. I need to get the mileage up and I knew if I ran shorter on Saturday then Sunday might be a 0.

Sorry I have to whine so much about injuries, I guess it's part of the reason I have this blog is to keep track, normally I forget such things but with so many of my posts on injuries, it's time I face reality and consider maybe doing some other sport than running, like biking, swimming or something that doesn't get me injured.

Just kidding, truth be told, after 20 years, I am hooked, I love running and even with all of my recent injuries I wouldn't trade what it does for me for anything else in the world.

Friday, January 21, 2011

2010 year in review

I held off on writing my normal year in review post as I was a bit disappointed in my year. I have worked through it and I am now fine as I had an educational year. As many of my favorite quotes remind me, you learn more through failure than success even though success is much more enjoyable.

Top 3 lessons
1. Training is important - My training was good and bad, too inconsistent to lead to good results and a lack of cross training, yet I was able to complete races through May and felt great, from June on, injuries were my problem.

2. Fueling takes practice - I worked early in the year at figuring out my fueling, McNaughton didn't go great, the two marathons weren't terrible but still not good. FANs was great for 9 1/2 hours, when too many S caps, too many hours of rain and probably too many hours on pavement did me in.

3. Take time off if you are injured (x-training is ok to do) - Failed to do this after FANs and Superior. I am not sure it mattered, meaning I am not convinced I made anything worse but I did beat myself up for not pushing through the injuries which probably wasn't needed.

Most Enjoyable - running Lincoln and Fargo with my wife, Red Wing 1/2 with my wife and daughter, Gobble Gait with my entire family.

Race I most wanted to complete - believe it or not it really was McNaughton. It got Illinois as a state and I was able to work through an injury.

Biggest disappointment - Superior - had doubts about my training, injured myself after 2 miles and didn't make the cutoff at 26.7 miles.

Biggest Surprise - I actually enjoyed FANs at least up to the medical tent and even that was interesting.

Some other interesting tidbits:
  • Miles after 3 months - 375
  • Miles after 6 months - 815
  • Miles first 8 months - 1077
  • Miles last 4 months - 261
  • Total for the year - 1338
  • Most miles in a month - May - 168, March - 167
  • Fewest miles in a month - November - 53, September - 67 (Interesting side note on September of the 67 miles, all 67 miles were run in the first 10 days.)
  • Most miles in a week - 58 (3 times in the 50's)
  • Fewest miles in a week - 0 (2 times with 0)
  • Weight lost - 15 lbs, Weight gained - 15 lbs (give or take a pound or so)
Races completed - McNaughton 50, Lincoln and Fargo marathons, Turtle Trot Triathlon, Red Wing 1/2 marathon, Surf the Murph 25k, Gobble Gait 8k
States added - Illinois and Nebraska
Race partially completed - FANs 12 hour - ran for 10, 2 in med tent
Races DNF - Afton 50k - dropped at 25k, Superior 50 - dropped at 26.7 miles
Race DNS - TCM - I really wanted to run injury prevented me from doing it

Injuries - strained calf at McNaughton (early to mid April), back after FANs (June through August - more of an overuse), ankle (deltoid ligament tear) and calf (tore something, doctors disagreed on which calf muscle) during Superior (September through December) although technically the calf tore after but was strained during Superior

Mileage summary by month:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quotes to remember for 2011

I added a daily quotes to the right side of my blog, I have to admit that I love reading quotes. They make me think through what I am doing whether it be running, work or life.

Another thing that I started doing this year is reading an online one year bible. Nick (TeamCrossRuns) had posted about and I checked it out and it is working out real well for me. I am now 5% complete, I usually read before work and if I don't do it then, I do it later when I get home from work. I have looked for a better way of reading the bible and had not found a way that seemed to work for me. I am not a structure kind of person and often struggle to accept and follow routines. Ok, I admit that this also carries into my running. Although once I commit to things I do tend to stick with them, I just don't always follow a conventional path in getting there.

Back to the quotes, here are a few quotes that I found that I think capture my reasoning for running long distances.

The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible. - Arthur C. Clarke

One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again. - Henry Ford

To conquer oneself is the best and noblest victory; to be vanquished by one's own nature is the worst and most ignoble defeat. - Plato

Monday, January 17, 2011

Which one is normal?

Playing a bit with my cell phone camera, so can you tell the difference?
(The line in my leg above the ankle is from the ankle wrap.)

As ankle sprains go, I think this one will heal up fairly quickly as the swelling is only moderate and I am now back to walking almost normally.

Someone at work was kind enough to suggest that maybe I am too old to be running trails at dusk in snow or maybe to old to be even running trails. I told him that I am not sure that I am too old, maybe to clumsy, maybe to unfocused to pay attention, maybe to stupid to wear the right shoes (or snowshoes as the case may have been).

It's been an interesting last 3 or 4 months dealing with all the running incurred injuries, the one consolation of this ankle injury is that we are about to have the one week of the year that I can live without running in MN and actually if this is as cold as it gets, it wasn't a bad winter for temp. Here is our forecast:

After this week, the forecast is back to the mid 20's which can be almost balmy compared to the above. Hopefully, I will be back to running by the weekend and will be able to enjoy the warmth.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Running log and injury updates

I have been using multiple applications to track my running - SportTracks, Buckeye Outdoors, DailyMile, Garmin and the time has come to drop one of them.

So SportTracks will be history for me. The main reason is that it appears SportTracks is discouraging it's free side and focusing on making money on the application. I noticed this when I wanted to switch my SportTracks info to another computer, since SportTracks is an application that runs on a computer while Buckeye and DailyMile are web based. Can't blame SportTracks for that but Buckeye Outdoors can directly sync with my garmin now which is why I originally started using SportTracks. Buckeye added that last fall and it is nice as you can get mile splits plus you can track shoes, weight and other things. I am not sure if there is any advantage to DailyMile but it too syncs with the Garmin directly so I will continue to give it a try as well.

Quick injury update, I think that it is a simple sprain and not, I repeat not a re-injury of the previous tear. I have no significant pain on the deltoid ligament and last time I learned where to poke so this makes me fairly happy, the real test will be when I run on it. The ankle swelling is more on the right side of the ankle, top right and a bit behind, lower right, a traditional ankle sprain. I am almost walking normally as the pain is manageable, so I plan to cross train (bike probably) today and see how that goes, hopefully I will be able to run later this week. The one thing I may need to do is to avoid uneven surfaces (meaning trails) once I head back outdoors. I am not pleased by this thought but I can't afford another injury to this ankle before the snow melts. I have to remind myself that I do have some races that I want to do and I want to do them healthy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A minor setback, I hope?

I went for a run with Wayne and Karen yesterday in Lebanon Hills, I was late getting there as a combo of work and traffic intervened to slow me down, so called Wayne and said I run from Jensen Lake and towards them, they had parked over at Schulze lake. There was an inch or two of new snow, not enough to bother with snowshoes I thought, so I went for my YakTrax. A minor problem, I had my wife's not mine. Re-thought the snowshoes and instead I decided to go for my screw shoes.

I was slipping a bit and rolled my right ankle just a little bit on the way to meet them. After we met up, I rolled it again, a bit more than before. I thought to myself that I need to be careful. We stopped by my car so I could double check for my yaktrax, no go, so we went ahead and continued our run.

We were almost around Jensen lake when I mis-stepped and really rolled my ankle which caused me to do a really good tumble. I would have loved to have seen it as it had to be pretty funny. I haven't wiped out in snow in quite awhile, I had forgotten how soft it is to land in as I slid along the ground. The fall was kind of poetic as Karen had just mentioned how pretty it was and how she enjoyed winter running, I said I do not enjoy winter running and I strongly preferred green. A few seconds later, I was on the ground, was this revenge on me for my anti-winter comments? It took me a minute or so to get up, frankly I didn't want to as I knew it was going to hurt. As we walked along the trail, I told them that it was ok as it was the other side of my ankle at least that is what I thought, what I hoped, what I wanted to believe.

This morning, it is pretty sore, right where I tore the ligament last fall and walking is a bit problematic. This time I am following my wife's advice and will try to do a better job of taking care of it, I am also hoping that I am wrong about re-injuring it and it is nothing but a minor sprain and a slight setback.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Running Stress?

I started this post last year when I was thinking about work, running and family. Since I have a major project ending next week at work (we go live with a new system and I am sure that will not cause me any stress), I thought it might be useful to finish the post. As I need to give thought to what I am willing to take on in 2011 and where are my priorities. If I really want to meet my running goals then I need to find a better balance.

The questions are "Did running in 2010 relieve stress?" or "Did running in 2010 cause stress?", the answer is of course obvious, yes, it did both.

This past year, I had a new job (same company) which allowed me to adjust to a new boss and to take on many new projects. Of course these weren't projects I started and hosed up, these were ones I got to finish. I generally am better at starting than finishing, heck that's a future post. Anyway, my work stress was high and since I failed to find the right work-life balance, it brought stress to my running as my time was limited so I was always trying to find the time. The truth is it was poor time management and lack of a focus on my running goals but it also added stress. The phrase that comes to mind is "paralysis by analysis", I spent more time thinking about finding the time and instead should have found the time. It seemed like every day I would have a plan to get in a run and then a crisis would come up and my plan would change and my run would disappear from the schedule.

I think though that by having the extra stress and trying to run longer, my mind and body broke down as I didn't take the time to protect myself. Even the injury at Superior, I think was caused by my stress, I was running tight, not with the free spirit belief that comes with good training and cross training. I went into the race with doubts about my back, my conditioning, my training and myself. So when the ankle rolled inward, was I stressed about other things and not paying attention which didn't have me react fast enough and made the injury worse or was it just a matter of bad luck?

So as I continue into 2011, I need to make the commitment to my family, my running schedule and my work and find a better balance.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Running Goals for 2011

Since we just finished our 2011 work goals and they had to be SMART and I was pinged appropriately for not having SMART running goals, I thought I would post a few SMART goals. For anyone not familiar with SMART goals, here is the definition
  • S - Specific
  • M - Measurable
  • A - Attainable
  • R - Realistic
  • T - Timely
Here are my goals:
  • Run or Exercise 17 times in the remaining 23 days in January (min 20 minutes)
  • Run or Exercise 80% of available days in February and March
  • Lose 12 lbs by April 1st
  • Run a 7 hour 30 minute time at Chippewa 50k, course conditions assumed acceptable
  • Lose an additional 10 lbs by July 1st
  • Run a 7 hour 5 minute time at Afton 50k, heat conditions assumed to be manageable
  • Lose 5 more lbs by October 1st
  • Run 12 hours at Surf the Murph 50, weather and course conditions acceptable
  • Run 1500 miles during the year
A couple of other goals that will be schedule dependent are to run a sub 5 hour marathon and to finish at least 6 races of marathon to 50 mile distance during the year.

For all of the races, I must enter them healthy to achieve my time goals. If I end up injured again through fate or stupidity then I will need to take the time off required. This is more of a resolution than anything else.

I believe all of these goals meet the SMART definitions and I will provide an update on the shorter term goals like days exercising and weight loss every few weeks. Time to get to work.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Am I an ultrarunner or a marathoner or something else?

It was funny, I was asked a question on the Runners Round Table the other night and my answer got me to thinking, yes I know I said I would get to doing in my last post and I will but this one I found intriguing to my inner self.

Joe the host for the show asked me "if I was an ultrarunner?" The show was on recovery, episode 110, give it a listen, the rest of the folks on the show including Joe are some pretty good runners. I am not sure exactly how I answered his question but it wasn't a yes, it was a well, kind of, I think maybe, but not really answer. I have done 8 or 9 short distance ultras (50k to 50 miles) yet I paused and didn't feel comfortable to say yes. I thought about it a little more, what if he had asked me "if I was a marathoner?", again, I think I would have paused and answered the same way. I have done 30+ marathons, why do I think this way?

I think the answer is I get wrapped up on all of those in front of me, when I ran 4 hour marathons it was the 3, sub 3 group that I considered marathoners. Yet I considered everyone slower than me to be marathoners, just not myself. Same thinking works for today except I am at the back of pack of the ultras I do which makes me have even more doubts. I consider everyone else to be an ultrarunner regardless of where they finish, I just pause and have to think am I one? Do I really belong to this group? I haven't done a 100 mile race but even if I do one, my thinking will probably be the same.

I am sure I could probably get analyzed by the folks that do that and I am sure that it will go back to some childhood trauma, a parent or some other personality issue that I have that causes such thinking but I am curious, am I the only one who thinks this way?

The truth is and I think most would agree, I have been a marathoner and am now an ultrarunner.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011 Updated Plan

I got to thinking more about 2011 and what do I really want to accomplish, unfortunately maybe I do too much thinking and not enough doing but today I have a good excuse. I gave blood and I don't run after giving blood. Now come tomorrow, I need to get doing but for the moment, I am thinking and planning.


Over the last few years, I have had a lot of different objectives and I do not think they all have worked well together. I also think that my different objectives have led to me to not committing or focusing on an event or following a plan. I also have limited time but is that because I am just not committed to any single thing or event? I also think these are real close to just excuses and the problem is in the mirror and I just need to start putting up or shutting up.

Bur first, as a reminder to myself, last year I wanted to lose weight, run marathons, run 50k's, run 50 milers, run 12 hours, work, have time with my family, stay healthy, avoid injuries and so on. Now I think I did ok until FANS, where work, conditioning, bad luck, maybe over training or racing and the weather all started my demise. I need to avoid that this year and I do think looking back I was a wee bit over committed and yet not committed.

Here is what I want to do this year:

I want to run longer races
I want to get faster
I want to add a few more states
I want to avoid injuries from over training
I must lose weight
I need to train

I am hoping to run the Potawatomi 50 miler
I am running the Chippewa
I want to run a few marathons
I am planning on running 5, 8 and 10k events with my family
I am hoping to run FANS
I am intending to run the Afton 50k
I wanted to run the Superior 50
I intend to run the Surf the Murph 50

Oh what am I thinking, this looks like last year.

So if I focus on all of the above goals, the one thing I have to do, no make that the one thing I should do is lose weight (last year, I lost 15 lbs by mid May, gained some back in June, more back after Superior. The lesson learned, yet again is that I failed to adapt after injuries to reduced running). So this year, I need to shed the weight and that requires commitment and I need to adapt to changes. It all starts tomorrow, thinking ends. Real goal setting begins and it begins like this, with diet, core training and base run training. To make sure it's clear to me, my goals for January are:
  1. Diet
  2. Core training
  3. Base run training, targeting Chippewa
That will be January. If I am successful, I will commit to a plan for February, look at additional shorter races and possibly consider longer races. If I fail then I should repeat the plan until I get it right, it's that simple.


Saturday, January 1, 2011


A week or so before Christmas, I mapped out my must have goals as:

Must haves
Run for at least 12 hours at FANS (finish healthy is a must)
Finish the Afton 50k (enter healthy is a must)
Finish the Superior 50 (enter and finish healthy is a must)

Well they lasted until January 1st, technically December 29th as we have a conflict for Superior, my niece is getting married and we plan to head down for the wedding. It is in Indiana and on Saturday so there is no logistical way to overcome the date conflict and it is a neat date to get married on 9/10/11, yes it also would have been a neat date to finish the Superior 50.

So instead I will simply do a reset and give some thought to what I want to accomplish as a runner in 2011. I do know one goal I have is to PR at Chippewa, now this assumes no snow on the course and a decent running day (no torrential rain, etc...)

Speaking of Indiana, we were there over Christmas, I ran in shorts (it was almost 40 on that day) and the day we left it got up to 61F, oh yeah, on that day all the remaining snow melted away. Could you imagine our trails being clear of snow on January 1st, sweet thought. Today, I checked and their high was still 53F today. As to Minnesota, I think it got up to 9F today. Enough said about that.

Speaking of living in MN, we have lived here for 30 years as of tomorrow. Yes that is right, my wife and I moved here on January 2nd, 1981 and I think it was something like -5F with a windchill of something completely insane like -40F, suffice to say, we never would have guessed that we would be here 30 years later. Just goes to show that we do have more going on here than cold temps and a little snow.


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