Tuesday, September 02, 2008


If you read last week’s article, you might remember I was telling you about my marathon training. After a pretty successful 18 mile weekend run, I had a pretty messed up 14 miler, due in part to wearing the wrong shoes!

This was the toughest week yet, with 4 runs on the schedule: a 5 miler, a 10 miler, another 5 miler, and then the big one—20 miles on the weekend—for a total of 40 miles. This sounds pretty impressive to me until I remember that real runners often rack that many miles up every week.

For me it was what we’d been working up toward, as preparation for the big one, 26.2 miles in 3 weeks. There was another wrinkle. I was down by St. Louis all week for some police training.

It took some finagling, since I normally work out on Mon, Wed, and Fri, and do cardio on the other days (just like I recommend). I keep it scheduled, so the routine itself keeps me making progress.

I ended up doing both the first 5 mile run and my workout when I got free on Monday afternoon, since I was going to be tied up all day and night on Tuesday, which became a rest day. Sometimes you have to make adjustments (just ask a chiropractor).

There weren’t any nice trails or tracks or anything down where I was so I ended up tracing out a 5 mile loop from the hotel in the car. That way, I’d know where I was going.

It was kind of nice, running some new territory and seeing some new faces go by. Then I headed down to the local Gold’s Gym and hit the weights for 30 minutes.

When I travel, I always make it a point to find out where you can work out. If there’s no place to work out, I’ll do pushups, crunches, and body squats in the room. There’s always a way to get it done.

Tuesday was a rest day, due to the training all day and that evening, so Wednesday I had the big mid-week run—10 miles. I traced out a different route, using part of the course I’d run on Monday, but going in a different direction.

It was exciting, knowing I’d be in newer, more difficult territory, especially since I wouldn’t have access to water on a regular basis. To counter that, I took a bottle of water with me, and took a drink every 20 minutes or so and threw it away when I got to Lowes.

Then, it was just 4 miles back to the hotel, and a 20 minute stop in the Jacuzzi down by the pool. I took some heat from my wife for that.

There were also a couple of long hills that I knew would be a challenge. It went really well—better than I expected. Apparently, the 14 mile shoes debacle from the previous week had actually helped me out, because I was stronger.

That’s a principle I’ve noticed here in the gym. If you ever have a bad workout, don’t worry too much about it. Your body doesn’t really know the difference. It just knows it was hard, and that’s where all the gains come from.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re running, lifting weights, or just in life. If things are easy, there’s not much reason to change. When things get tough though, look out, because change is on the way—it has to.

The next day, Thursday, was going to be like Monday. I had both a 5 mile run, and my workout to fit in. So, after work, I went to the gym. Ready for something different, I ran a mile on the treadmill and then hit the weights—20 pull-ups and 15 shoulder push-presses, a pretty lethal combination.

Then I ran the 2nd mile and then did the pull-ups and push-presses again. Then the 3rd mile, more pull-ups and push-presses, 4th mile and weights, and then finally, I ran the 5th mile, and a ¼ mile walk to cool down. It was pretty cool, since I’d never done that before.

That’s another principle that works for several reasons. Exercise regularly—on a planned schedule, but change things up when you do. It’s good for your mind, since it’s fresh and exciting, and often times, a challenge.

It’s also good for your body. Do the same thing, over and over, and your body has no reason to change—it can already do it. That’s why I like to shake things up.

When I’m training people, I’ll often have them run ¼ or ½ mile, and then do some exercises in the weight room, going back and forth. It really gets you in shape. It also helps you keep the weight off, cause it burns tons of calories and has a wicked long after burn.

Friday was a rest day, since I finished the school and was traveling home. Then Saturday was more training at the police academy. That brings me to Sunday, and the long weekend run—20 miles.

It’s funny how your mind works. I’d decided to run at 4pm, when the sun started going lower in the sky. I’d be running into the sun for awhile, but then turning around and going the other way—giving me a break, and keeping me from getting burnt.

After spraying on a ton of sun-block, I hit the road. It went pretty well for the first 10 miles. I was running a 2.5 mile loop that took me home for a drink every 25-30 minutes. At mile 7.5, I had to take a bathroom break (that’s the good thing about the loop that takes you home).

After mile 10, I had some cramping going on. Don’t know why. Just know I didn’t like it. Having to slow to about a walk, it finally went away after about a mile. Perhaps I was dehydrated. I’d had my potassium with a banana earlier. Oh well.

At mile 15, things started slowing down. It’s funny, but I remembered the long 18 miler a few weeks ago being easier. It always seems to work that way. You have a good one, then a not so good one.

The real trouble hit me at mile 19.5 when my right knee started developing the same old ITB syndrome that I’d fought through the previous year. Yikes. That wasn’t good. I tried to run through it for a little while, but ended up walking the last half mile home.

That didn’t bode well for the marathon, coming up in three weeks, since this is exactly the same thing that happened last year. It was the same knee, on the last long run of training, three weeks out.

I remember hoping last year that the 3 week taper before the race would give it enough time to heal, and it kind of did—until mile 17 during the marathon. So now, there is a big question mark. Will it or won’t it? Here we go again.

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