Sunday, June 26, 2011

This Week in Running: 6.20 to 6.26.11

Monday - bike 75 min
normal route; 5 mins faster than normal; pounding it
Tuesday - jog 7 miles
easy run; KT tape on left foot
Wednesday - jog 6 miles
woke up at 3:30 am to fit this one in
Thursday - jog 6 miles
keeping this easy so as to not incur a setback with the foot
Friday - lift
Saturday - jog 10 miles
felt good; itching to go faster
Sunday - jog 7 miles
felt good again

For the Week
36 miles of running
75 mins on the bike
4 core workouts + 2 w/ extra calf emphasis
1 lifting sequence
Analysis: Starting to feel like a runner again, although the pace is easy and slow.  That was the plan for June: to run easy miles, not reinjure the plantar fascia/surrounding tendon and build up some miles.  For July, I would like to start running faster.  Highlight of the week was running ten miles on Saturday.  That was my first double digit run in quite some time and damn it felt good.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chapter 33: One Hill

Beads of Sweat is a book about high school running.  This chapter follows the team in their first workout after their loss to Kelrock.

The guys started to lament their geography.  Every time they laced up it seemed like Hartman found another hill for them to run.  Mountain Road, Blue Hills, the undulations of Springvale, and now One Hill.  They’d have the strongest quadriceps and hamstrings in the whole state if they kept this up.  And when, inevitably, they started to whine and crave flatter ground, Hartman told them to move to Nebraska.  Nebraska?  Nebraska…Okay, fine.  How about Iowa?
            Today Hartman drove them out in the van to the One Hill Recreational Center.  Five miles from campus, it was just a bit too far for a high school warmup.  If they were in college, he’d have them do it, but a third of his team just couldn’t handle the miles—yet.  They were pups, PFB’s. 
            In reality, One Hill wasn’t much of a hill.  Its name was the most ominous thing about it.  That and it had a bunnyslope with miniature ski lift along side it for the young kids learning to ski.  No Jackets, however, were skiing down the hill; they were running up it.  But just a couple of times at the end of the real workout.  The majority of Hartman’s workout involved a 1K loop around the circumference of the park.  They didn’t even have to run to the peak.  Yes, the perimeter was composed of hills and dales but it was no straight up Blue Hills workout. 
            On the clipboard:
1) To acclimate body to LT pace
                                    2) To strengthen upper leg muscles
                                    1 x 3K
                                    1 x 2K
                                    1 x 1K
                                    All at LT pace
                                    2-4 x bunnyslope
                                    3K warmup; 2K cooldown

            -You’d think with all this hill work they’d get easier.
            -I don’t know if it’s helping.
            -If we need anything, it’s speed work not strength work.
            Hartman picked up on these murmurs coming from the back of the van and decided to confront them head on after the warmup.  So with the team brandishing a light sweat on its brow, he shared his philosophy.
            -Listen men.  I have a plan.  You need to know that.  It’s not short term.  It’s long term.  We will be running our best in November.  That is and will always be the goal.  We’re building power and endurance now.  We’re not fine-tuning yet.  Yeah, we lost to Kelrock and that pisses me off and it should piss you off too.  That’s good.  You have anger in you.  You carry a fire in you.  That’s good.  You’ll need it.  But you got to know when to use it.  You can’t go pissing it away on some Wednesday afternoon when nobody is watching.  Who gives a shit about some lousy dual meet?  It’ll be in a box score some Thursday morning and then we’ll never see it again.  Listen, I know we live in a please me now culture and that you want to see immediate results, but we have long term goals here.  Everything leading up the class meet is a checkpoint.  Kelrock was a checkpoint.  Paddington will be a checkpoint.  Today’s workout is a checkpoint.  We’ll struggle through some hill loops and assess our progress and we’ll adjust it if we need to.  Nothing’s set in stone.  We are better than Kelrock and we will show them that Saturday.  Unlike every other race up to his point, we are going to run full strength.  We may not be completely fresh, but we’ll be full strength. 
            -Hoop, hoop, from Deo, then general grunts and whoops.
            -Coach Pereira, anything to add?
            -One thing: this man, a point, is one of the best coaches in the state.  Be patient.  You’ll get the results.
            -I got something to say.
            -Okay then.
            -Kelrock played us.  I didn’t run the race so I got to see what happened.  Straight up we got played.  They outsmarted us.  We screwed around on the warmup.  Didn’t pay attention to the course and it came back to bite us.  We were dumb.  They coaxed us into a trap and we fell for it.  The only thing we can do now is get revenge.
            -Step one is this workout.
            They ran in two groups: varsity and junior varsity.  Once both groups began their first 3K loop, Hartman and Pereira discussed what to do about Gales.  Post meet, the Kelrock coach and Hartman agreed to handle the situation in-house without the involvement of athletic directors.  They had a long standing professional relationship and each trusted the other would discipline as appropriate.  In three kilometers Hartman and Pereira concluded to suspend Galiozzi for two meets: Starkfield and the next dual.  Pawgoski would just miss the dual.  Nothing for Hammond.  Breaking this news would not be fun.  Hartman wished that he could just run them more.  Run them to contrition.  But he knew that wasn’t right either.  He had a long standing internal conflict with whether or not it was appropriate to assign running as punishment.  He wanted his boys to love running, not associate it with poor deportment.  Yet the temptation remained.  What better way to get a few more miles out of a guy than to make him run when he breaks rules.  He often thought of the T-shirt that read “our sport is your sport’s punishment.”  That’s true, but he still had to work out the psychology of the whole thing.  Sometimes kids liked being punished.  Other kids would abhor this sentence and in that moment a seed of contempt would germinate.  The coach’s job was to figure out both the kid and the situation and be able to match things up just right.  Forget physiology; this was sport was more psychology. 
            Jenkins came through the 3K first, his form smooth and without bounce.  Looking at his watch, Hartman knew he was hammering at faster than LT pace and let him hear it.
            -No, Jenks said, it felt fine.
            -Bullshit, inaudible.
            But if that was the case, Hartman had a state champion on his hands.  He glanced over his shoulder at his incarnate Pre before redirecting himself to the crest that marked the endpoint of the loop.  Gales ran like a monster, right at the back of Torres, Spidestrom, Hammond, ran like a man trying to impress his coach to abdication. 
            In fifty seconds, the whole varsity finished.  In two minutes, the jv crossed the line. 
            -Huddle up guys, Hartman waved them over.  I’m glad to see you’re all wearing your wristbands.  Too bad, you got them all wrong.  Take ‘em off and try again.
            -We’re all sweaty.
            -That’s right.  We sweat as a team.
            -I don’t want Galiozzi’s sweat near me.  Dude’s got the clap!
            -The clap!
            -Hey, Gales said, one sweat, one blood, one disease.
            They peeled off the bands and threw them at each other then into the centerpoint of their circle.  They picked them up, made comments, and put them on once again.  They repeated the ritual two more times before the practice ended.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Training Week: 6.13 to 6.19.11

Monday - 5.5 miles in 46:12 + core
Tuesday - bike 70 min + chiro in am + calf emphasis
Wednesday - 6.5 miles in 50:55 + core
Thursday - 7 miles in 56:30 + legcore
Friday - left + calf emphasis
Saturday - 8 miles in 60:34
Sunday - 7 miles in 55:41

For the Week:
34 running miles
70 min bike
3 core workouts
1 lifting sequence
Analysis: Obviously, the pace is quite slow but at least I'm running.  I consider this week a step in the right direction.  Purposefully, keeping the pace gentle.  Progressive build over last three weeks: 12.5, 21.5, 34.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chapter 32: Kelrock Bottleneck

Beads of Sweat is a novel about a high school cross country team.  In this chapter, the boys face off against league rival Kelrock.     

     Their junior runners took off like bats.  The Yellowjackets, tiny api in comparison to the insect-devouring bats, struggled to keep the pace in the first two hundred meters.  Coetaine, running in his first dual meet of the year, thought something had gone horribly wrong in the interim of his injury.  Had racing completely changed in the last ten months?  Were full-out sprints the new order of cross country?
            Spidestrom caught Jenkins’ eye and gave him an incredulous look. 
            -What the fuck, blurted Jenkins.  Two strides later he was going wide left in an effort to pass the mass of Kelrockians ahead of him.  Spider jockeyed in behind and followed his captain.  Hamz and Gales took a different track.  Elbows out, they tried forcing their way through the middle of the throng. 
            -Watch it asshole!
            -Fuck you, Gales said.
            -Don’t fucking cut me off again.
            -Eat a dick.
            At that, Claude Hindley extended out his foot and tripped Hammond.  He stumbled, stumbled, stumbled, touched his left hand to the ground but somehow managed to maintain his balance.  Still vulnerable, another runner passed him by and lightly tapped his hip.  It was enough to topple him to immediate abrasions on forearm, shin, and palms.  Points passed in an instant.  Gales turned and slowed but kept going.  But he slowed too much; his concern allowed the herd to eat him up.  He, too, was now in the back of the pack.  Lee sidled up next to Hammond and asked him if he was okay.      
            -Get your ass moving, Hammond told him, we may need you.
            With that Hammond got to his feet, gave himself a once over, and took off into full velocity with a bit of a hitch in his stride.  If Hartman had seen that, he would’ve pulled his ass of the course, but he didn’t see that; he was two hundred yards away and heading for a lookout point.  Neither coach witnessed any of it.
            Gales moved up and shouted at the back of Hindley. 
            -Wait ‘til we get in the woods.
            Gales was pissed. 
            -Let’s get ‘em, he said to Pawgoski, who passed him in the melee.  Paws just nodded.
            Meanwhile, Jenks and Spider were thirty meters ahead trying to move around some jv fatboys.  Anytime either of them attempted a pass a Bat would speed up or nudge left to prevent it. 
            They now ran on a tree-lined single cart gravel path which made passing—either wide left or wide right—nearly impossible, especially if a competitor’s sole function was to prevent that pass.  The two of them were double the distance of the straight-line runners, who increased their lead with every tick of the clock.  Kelrock was dominating.  They had three guys out in front and the barricade of fatboys before a single Jacket showed his face. 
            It dawned on Jenkins a little too late.  What these guys were doing was intentional.  They were trying to steal this meet in the first mile, the first six hundred yards.  And the cart path didn’t widen after that.  It narrowed.  Narrowed into a bottleneck.  We’re fucked, he thought to himself.  Kelrock’s home course was only 2.4 miles to begin with.  Their coach had done his homework.  Box them early and hang on for dear life.  They had one strong frontrunner and if he could drag two guys with him, they might just steal this thing.  It would make their season.  Couple these bold, aggressive tactics with the help Hartman gave them and it was a recipe for Yellowjacket disaster.  Smitty was a healthy scratch and Buck sat out with a gimpy ankle from last Sunday.  The sidelined senior had a bird’s eye view for the start of the race and was jumping out of his skin when he saw what was going down.  He grabbed and pulled at Buck and asked him rhetorical questions.  Buck tried to answer them but was confused and agape.  Smitty started screaming at his teammates and slandered his rivals before grabbing at Buck again and stealing off through a deer path to the next vantage point, which was the fenced-out side of the bottleneck.
            The two of them arrived at the bottleneck before the first runners.  They breathed heavy and put their hands on their thighs.  This narrow defile, which covered a piece of land some sixty meters, came after the mile mark but in front of the halfway point.  It nestled itself between two short seven percent grade inclines.  The bottleneck’s width measured out no wider than the broad shoulders of an average runner in football pads.  Some of the bigger guys could barely manage their own bodies down the path without getting scratches on their right sides.  To pass somebody here was all but impossible, even more so since the brush remained slovenly and unkempt after a summer’s worth of growth.  A tall, rusting chainlink fence on the left side and overgrowth saplings and briers on the other created a sixty meter chasm of stagnation for anybody caught behind a slow body.  Smitty’s heart sank when not one, not two, but three green Kelrock jerseys came into view.  The first two were upfront and booking it.  The third, linebacker like compared to his teammates, labored and moved at a slower pace.  The kid blocked Jenkins’ path perfectly.  Not only Jenks but Spidestrom too.  Smitty got it now.  He slowed his pace purposefully and intentionally, not more than a walk, closer to a waddle.  Jenkins attempted passing by running right.  The briers clawed at his skin and the slim boughs slapped at his face.  The linebacker sped and moved every time Jenkins tried to pass him.  If they were smarter, Jenkins would have moved one way and let Spider go the other so at least one of them could pass, but in the heat of the moment frustration won out over intelligence.  All he had to show for his hassle was a rosed face and scratched legs. 
            Smitty yelled at the both of them, Move it.  Move it.  Let’s go.  Pass.  Pass.  Pass.  Jenkins with those mean, darting eyes shot him a glance of unrestrained futility.  Spider didn’t even look his way.  Just said a few cuss words.  The Kelrock linebacker would be dusted in another twenty meters; that was a given.  The remaining question: did he give his two frontrunners enough of a pad?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Training Week: 6.6 to 6.12.11

Monday - 4 mile jog + 45 min bike
Tuesday - bike 80 min
Wednesday - 5 mile jog + 15 min bike
Thursday - 50 min bike (flat tire + thunderstorm)
Friday - 5 1/2 mile jog
Saturday - fishing
Sunday - 7 mile jog + short bike w/ kids
For the Week
21 1/2 miles running
175 min bike
4 core workouts + 2 w/ calf emphasis
Analysis: Sunday was the first run since the injury that I did over a normal route.  Felt good about that even though it was in the wet.  Cautiously optimistic about the left arch/foot.  Will continue to use KT tape intermittently and massage the hell out of it with a stick and spiked ball -- that sounds masochistic.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gone Fishin

My buddy Monz chartered a boat to do some striped bass fishing on Saturday, so I took the day off from working out to test the sea legs.  Very happy to report that I didn't gaff.  Not everyone can say that.  The
Ave Maria allows for 2 fish per man.  We caught up to our limit and then caught and released for the rest of the morning.  The biggest we caught was a 45 pounder.  All said, we took home over a 100 lbs of fillets.  I guess overcast skies with a light rain makes for some good fishing weather.
Me and the boys w/ our catch
striped bass 30 - 35 lbs
What I learned: bananas are bad luck.  The captain and first mate were adamant about not allowing bananas on the boat and then went on to tell numerous stories of how bananas have jinxed fishermen and sailors alike.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chapter 31: Sam Coetaine

Beads of Sweat is a book about running.  Today's chapter profiles Springfield team member Sam Coetaine.

Sam Coetaine didn’t run cross country his freshman year.  He did nothing that fall; maybe cause some trouble.  Annoying and immature grade nine shenanigans that some boys just can’t keep from embracing.  After about three months in his new school, he got bored with giving his teachers a hard time and at his dean’s exhorting decided to channel his pent up energy into track and field.  Hartman welcomed him with open arms.  He immediately saw in him what the dean had cautioned him about—an unwavering stream of energy.  He bounced between reps; he never stopped moving; legs always jittering; hands always on someone else; jaw and mouth in perpetual motion; the kid had the attention span of a gnat.  The coaches had to keep their eyes on him every second.  He hardly ever focused on the task at hand—maybe one in ten times—but when he did, Hartman observed a raw talent.  Coetaine was a piece of granite replete with jagged edges and acute perforations. Hartman went into his toolbox and pulled out a chisel and mallet.
            He had seen enough of him to know that cosseting wouldn’t work.  Tough love and an aphorism from Hamlet was the only way to go.  Show you like him, show you care about him, and ride his ass until he’s broken.
            It didn’t take long for the Springfield coaching staff to figure out that they didn’t know what to do with him.  His diamond in the rough quality made finding an event which he could sparkle quite a challenge.  They tried him in everything.  They spent the first two weeks of the season rotating him from station to station to station.  He neither floundered nor impressed in any event.  In some of the more technique driven ones—long jump, hurdles, shot put—he lacked the proper mechanics to excel.  He needed serious coaching and he wasn’t the best pupil.  He’d be pinching a teammate or scratching his ass when a coach attempted a mini-lesson on exploding out of the blocks or landing posture in the pit.  Ultimately, the coaches assigned a rare combination of events to Sam: distance and the high jump.  Distance because it kept him occupied and required the least amount of technique and high jump because it was the field event to which he most gravitated.  Primarily, the coaches speculated, because it allowed him to jump into big, cushy, oversized mattresses without getting into any trouble.  So there he was at fifteen, the team’s only high jumper/miler. 
            Near the end of each practice he sprinted from the distance workout (often skipping out on the last one or two repeats) to the high jump area—almost getting downed by a shot put each time he darted the diagonal across the infield.  The high jump coach was thankful for the distance work.  Sam was almost too exhausted to fiddle and distract the four other jumpers.  Oddly enough, his fatigue helped his concentration.  He actually listened to the coach.  Made mental notes.  Took what he learned and applied it to his next jump.
            He improved in halves of inches.  5’2,” 5’3,” 5’4 ½ ,” all the way up to 5’6” by the end of his freshman year.  Every time he cleared a height he’d pause for a moment to make sure it was true before leaping up and sprinting off the mat with an energy only known to teenage boys and puppies.  He’d go right to his coach looking for congratulations and somebody with whom he could share his pride.  If he didn’t clear the bar, well, that was another story.  A morose one.  He’d put his head down, avoid eye contact, droop his shoulders, swear audibly, and sulk all the way back to the deck area.  Despite the rough exterior—the profane language, the jagged facial features, the inaccessible gesticulations—he lived his life like a six-year-old boy.  Not intentionally.  That’s just the way he was.  Emotionally, the kid was a Lenox Hummel and the coaches were the bubble wrap.  Never mind a rock or a stone, if a pebble lay in this kid’s path, he’d look to quit and go the other way. 
            Much like a single student can consume hours and hours of a teacher’s time, Coetaine, unbeknownst to him, devoured that precious resource on a ratio usually only reserved for top athletes, state champions.  For one thing, his technique, although improved, read very much like a rough draft as opposed to a polished manuscript. A second thing, his energy was boundless.  One more, one more, he never got tired. Another thing, his head demanded constant attention.  Ride him; build him up.  Ride him; build him up.  Ride him publically; build him up privately.  Yell at him for tugging at a teammate’s shirt; convince him not to quit in the middle of a meet when he doesn’t clear his first two attempts.
            Of course, his maturity and mental makeup precluded him from any type of long term planning.  Carpe diem dominated.  Asking him to look ahead or plan for the future was not something that he could developmentally handle.  It even said so in his IEP.  Cross-country requires long term planning.  No long term planning.  No cross-country success.  Now in the last two years Coetaine had ameliorated himself in fifteen different ways—no more outbursts, much less touching—but he still couldn’t grasp the concepts of long term goal setting or delayed gratification.  If you could keep his attention long enough to explain this concept to him, he’d smile and nod and understand it in the moment.  Sounded good in theory but he just couldn’t do it.  Well, maybe he’d do it for a day or two then he’d lose interest.  No discipline.  A thorn in a coach’s oblique.  Hence, the summer training dilemma.  When he thought about it, he wanted to do it.  When he was in bed or at work or in any other activity besides running, he wanted to go out and train.  But when he had the time to go out and do it, when he was staring at a four-hour block of emptiness, he’d somehow manage not to do it.  Each night ended the same way: a twinge of compunction and a promise to wakeup first thing and go for a jog.  The morning came and he really wasn’t a morning runner and he’d get in such a better workout if he waited until the afternoon and there he was in bed again after a long and listless day saying, “Tomorrow.  I’ll go for a run tomorrow.”
            The team took measures to get him going.  They’d call and text him.  One Hill @ 5:00.  Coetaine would flake out.  Sometimes sincerely forget.  Other times blow it off.  Didn’t want to be held accountable for what he didn’t do in July.  Simply the potential of being called out kept him away.
            A couple of times the guys ran to his house and knocked on his door.  When nobody answered they picked up pebbles and threw them at his window.  A crude impromptu carillon.  They did just about everything except stand outside his sill with a boombox blearing.  Their efforts paid off once or twice.  They got him out there and he ran well.  Other times he’d open up his window and conjure excuses.
            -I already ran today.
            -I did!
            -How far?
            -…Five miles.
            -Oh come on.
            -Do doubles then.
            -I gotta go to work.
            Or another time: I got a girl in my room.  Tomorrow.  Come by tomorrow.
            Jenkins and Hammond were only willing to halt their run for so long.  All too often they left sans Sam.  In time they gave up trying.
            To complicate and further contribute to his junior summer slack was the girlfriend situation.  He went and got himself one.  In his sophomore year he started dating girls on and off.  His funny, daring personality appealed to an array of despondent and insecure girls from the reserved to the equally extroverted and spastic.  He went to the movies with both Amy and Susie (at different times) from the girls’ team.  Coetaine bragged to the team that he made it to second base in the theatre with Susie, and when Susie heard the news that was the end of that.  His exploits were public record.  He threw modesty out the window and replaced it with exaggeration and hyperbole.  A handhold morphed into a grope fest.  A peck on the cheek became a blowjob.  He couldn’t help himself.  He loved telling tales to the boys.  Some freshmen even believed him.
            But now he had a girl from another city that seemed to stick and his tall tales and exaggerations transmuted into nonfiction.  He himself couldn’t believe his good fortunes.  I can’t believe she’s letting me do this right now…seventh heaven.  He became singular in focus and that focus was not running in hot, humid summer weather.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Training Week: 5.30 to 6.5.11

400 min on bike
35 min on elliptical
12 1/2 miles running (3 easy jogs)
4 core workouts + 2 w/ extra calf work

Being cautious with the left foot.  Tentative plan is to run every other day and listen to the body.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Core Workout Videos

The June issue of Running Times featured an article by Jay Johnson on general strength maintaince. If you know me, you know I'm a fan of core work.  Below is a link to five videos of a progressive routine designed to help runners improve their general strength.

I do believe that core work has kept me pretty healthy.  Consider this: my foot injury occurred in the one area in which I do not perform general strength drills: the bottom of my foot.  I have since learned to increase the frequency of calf and heel exercises (various types of toe/heel raises) to improve strength in this area.  I am also discovering that single foot toe/heel raises are more effective than performing the exercise with both legs.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Training Week: 5.23 to 5.29.11

Training Summary:
346 mins on the bike
120 mins on the elliptical
4 1/4 miles of easy jogging
4 core workouts + 2 with extra calf emphasis

Baby steps.  Getting there.  I have been wearing KT tape on the left foot.  I don't know if it's helping but it isn't hurting.  I continue to massage the foot with a spiked ball (thanks Kathy) and a rolling stick.  Lots of cold treatment too. 

Kinda funny anecdote: I was doing a very slow jog around the perimeter of a park on Sunday morning and a lady walking her pooch stopped me and said, "Wow! What a workout!"  No lie, I probably wasn't breaking ten minute miles and was trying to do this "workout" incognito so nobody would see me going so slowly.  Then, when I got on my bike to leave, she saw me again.  "Wow!  Triathalon man! You're unbelievable!"  Very nice, garralous lady, but c'mon.  If this is what the general public thinks about exercise and fitness, then we are in big trouble.  I can only image what she would say if she saw Ben and I doing 6 x 5 min hard with a 1 min all out kicker all through the park.