Sunday, November 23, 2008

A much improved hamstring / Training week 11/17-11/23

According to my Web counter, readership of this blog is really starting to take off. This inspires me to keep going and I just hope that what I write makes even a little bit of a positive difference. Thanks to all who read my blog.


In racing news, congratulations to Connie Gardner on leading all women at the 46th annual JFK 50-Mile Race with a time of 7:15--a full 17 minutes ahead of the next woman. The race was held Nov. 22 and more than 900 finished, making it yet again the largest ultra in North America. Connie lives in Medina and many of us have the pleasuring of running with her on Saturdays in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (though I don't get to the Valley much anymore). Connie is as tough as they come.

This week there was a lot of trash-talking among a few Southeast Running Club members about the Richmond Marathon results. Yes, I engaged in some of the banter because that's SERC for you. Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t run Richmond because it sounds like the weather in the River City was pretty rough – 75 degrees, sunny, humid and double-digit windy. Those are not PR conditions and it’s no wonder most every SERC member who ran Richmond came back bitterly disappointed. Many trained hard for Richmond and it’s unfortunate that Mother Nature plotted adverse weather.

It’s easy for those who didn’t run Richmond (myself included) to claim that such conditions wouldn’t have slowed them down. I ran a 100-mile race in 90-degree heat, which is manageable because you’re going slower and you have shade. But 75 degrees for a marathon is a bit on the hot side as you’re running at a faster pace. In such weather, all you can do is your best – and that’s exactly what the SERC members at Richmond did.

If you run races long enough, sooner or later you’re going to get slammed with bad weather and it’s going to be a tough pill to swallow. Case in point: There are super-tough guys in SERC who usually easily break 3 hours in a marathon and yet went over 3 hours at the 2004 Boston, where the temperature reached 80 degrees.

Congratulations to all SERC members who finished the Richmond Marathon.


A lot of people ask me how I eat. I’ll save the details for a later post but for now here’s a quick run-down of the do’s and don’ts of my diet, with the understanding that like almost anyone I have the occasional slip-up:

  • 3 meals per day with nutritious/semi-nutritious snacks as needed
  • Apple every day
  • Yes to whole grains (brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain bread, etc.) – no to refined starches
  • Yes to sweet potatoes - no to white potatoes (though on Sunday mornings I allow myself hash browns after my long run, along with a danish)
  • No sugary juices or sodas – only diet juices and sodas are allowed
  • Lots of spinach for the iron
  • Yes to olive and canola oils - no to other oils
  • Daily dose of broccoli
  • No pork ever – that means no ham, sausage, bacon, etc. “The other white meat” is just a marketing slogan.
  • Red meat maybe once a month
  • Turkey, chicken and fish allowed
  • Lots of egg whites
  • Lots of garlic and veges, such as bell peppers, celery, carrots, etc., in almost everything we eat. Onions, too, but I'm not sure if they have any health benefits.
  • Splenda allowed in iced tea and coffee - little to no pure sugar
  • A graham cracker with peanut butter and honey is my usual dessert
  • Total cereal topped with granola, Smart Start, or something else tasty. Total is loaded with almost everything I need and is a great source of nutrients for runners.
  • Real oat meal, a whole-wheat bagel, whole-wheat pancakes, or eggs on the mornings I don't eat cereal
  • Very limited intake of creamy products
  • Pizza only with whole-wheat crust
  • No restaurant Mexican food - only homemade Mexican with whole-wheat burritos
  • No fried foods
  • No MSG
  • Supplements – daily: L-carnitine and vegetarian glucosamine & MSM; after races – glutamine for muscle repair and fresh pineapple for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Anne adheres to pretty much the same diet. In fact, our emphasis on whole grains originated with her. I think the year was 2002 and I weighed about 220 lbs., wore size 38 pants and size 48 suits, ate fast food for lunch almost every day (Burger King, KFC and Wendy's were the big culprits), and had too much iron in my blood due to over-consumption of red meat. Anne felt some diet changes were in order and we made the transition from refined starches to whole grains, along with implementing a whole bunch of other modifications such as cutting back consumption of red meat and other high-fat, high-sugar foods. By the end of 2003 I was down to about 185 lbs. and poised to begin my long-distance running "career." Today I'm anywhere from 168-173 lbs.--about 50 lbs. lighter than my all-time high--and I wear size 34 pants and a size 42 suit. I've also gone from wearing XL to large and, in some cases, medium.

I still have far to go with my diet. I continually struggle with not drinking enough water and consuming too much coffee. I eat too much cheese. I also need to quit drinking diet sodas and I need to stay away from the sweets that can be found around the office almost every day. My biggest vice is chips. I cannot control myself around chips, which is why I don’t buy them. I allow myself to eat chips only during ultras and immediately after races. I continue to explore the possibility of a vegetarian lifestyle, or at the minimum a mostly vegetarian lfestyle with allowances for fish as often as I like and turkey on Thanksgiving :).


My hamstring is remarkably better. But I know from experience that even though it feels good it is not, in fact, healed. I am avoiding doing anything that could re-aggravate the muscle, and this includes intervals and super-fast tempo runs. My strategy is to stay at 70 miles per week until year-end, and then scale back to under 50 miles per week for the first 5-6 weeks of 2009, before beginning my Mohican 100 and spring marathon training. Hopefully my well-rested legs will be ready for weeks of 90-110 miles.

Here’s how the week shook out:


AM: 8.2 miles on my treadmill
I woke up with unexpected flu-like symptoms and almost didn’t run. But I forced myself out of bed and onto my treadmill, because I wasn’t inclined to brave in this conditions, and eked out 8.2 miles, feeling much better by the end. Unfortunately, Anne and Noah were victims of this bug.

AM: 8.1 miles at 7:25 pace
I felt much better than the previous morning. Weather: 26 degrees and clear.
PM: 5.3 miles on my treadmill
Total miles for day: 13.4

AM: 8.1 miles
I felt pretty tired and sluggish. Weather: 33 degrees and fairly windy.

AM: 8.8-mile tempo run on my treadmill
When I woke up, we had about 8 inches of snow and it was still coming down. So I headed downstairs and ran on my treadmill, managing a somewhat relaxed tempo run and not feeling any pain or discomfort in my hamstring. I averaged about 6:35 pace from miles 2-8.

AM: 10.5 miles on my treadmill
My original plan was to go to South Chagrin Reservation for a 2-hour trail run with Tim C. et al. But when I woke up at 5:30 our driveway was covered by about 6 inches of snow and our plow guy hadn’t come yet. Plus, the thought of running super snowy trails and risking re-aggravating my hamstring just didn’t have a whole lot of appeal. So I went downstairs and hammered out 10.5 miles on my treadmill.

AM: 17 miles in Solon with the Southeast Running Club
I wore my UnderArmour Cold Gear base layer pants and shirt, my Brooks running pants, a long-sleeve technical tee, a ski mask, heavy gloves, and my North Face jacket to weather the single-digit temperature. Fortunately, there was no wind. I ran about 3 miles by myself and then hooked up with the group at 8:00 a.m., running most of the 12-mile loop with Paul and then adding on a few miles in the end to get to 17 for the morning. Maybe it was the extreme cold, but I was starving when I entered the bagel shop and wolfed down my breakfast like I hadn’t eaten in days.
PM: 5 miles on the treadmill while watching Rocky II
Sometimes I think Rocky and I are the same person.
Total miles for day: 22

Total miles for week: 71.0
Total miles for month: 239.11
Total miles for year: 3,560.37

I am now beginning to doubt that I’m getting to 4,000 miles for the year. I would need to up my weekly mileage to about 80-90 to get to 4,000 for the year, and I’m just not inclined to do that just for a number. So it’s now looking like I’m going to finish 2008 with about 3,900 miles. Oh well…..


My 2009 schedule continues to shape up as I’ve made two decisions. First, I have registered for the Lt. J.C. Stone 50K in Pittsburgh on March 21 – my first “road” race over 26.2 miles. Actually, the course is a paved path and consists of six 5-mile loops around North Park Lake. This is the same course as the former GNC 50K/50-mile/100K race, which a few years hosted the national championship for at least the 50K. I am excited about the J.C. Stone and if I’m feeling good will try to break 4 hours.

Second, I have decided not to run the 2009 Boston Marathon as of now. Without going into the specifics, there is simply too much economic uncertainty for me to commit to forking over a few thousand for Boston. When it comes to finances, I always play if safe. So, at least for now, I’ve had to make the very tough decision of forgoing the 2009 Boston and will hopefully be back in Beantown for the 2010 race. My suspicion is that I’m not the only one skipping the 2009 race due to the economic uncertainty. If the economy rebounds, Boston may be back on. For now, it's off.

I now need to decide which spring marathon I’m running – the Flying Pig in Cincinnati, Cleveland, or some other race. My concern about Cleveland is that it’s so close to the Mohican 100 – about 4 weeks. I still have plenty of time to decide. The priority is being ready for Mohican.

Onward and upward!

1 comment:

  1. You covered a lot of ground in this post - literally and figuratively.

    The Flying Pig is a well-supported race and faster than most expect. I've set two PRs there, including one training enroute to Mohican 100.

    Hope your hamstring issue turns the corner towards healing up.