Running

March 13, 2016

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So, You Have Ridden in a Convertible, How About Wearing One!

Those of you who have been fortunate enough to ride in a convertible on a hot summer day know how nice that cool breeze feels brushing across your face. Well, as a runner we just can't run fast enough to get that cool breeze, but we do want the flexibility to have the top up or down depending on the weather conditions. Until recently, I was just like many other runners who wear headbands and skull caps on a regular basis. However, I got tired of trying to figure out which piece of gear to put on for a run. Give that, and the fact that I am always trying to improve the status quo, I decided to do something about it. I wanted flexibility. I sat down at the sewing machine with a pattern for a hat and some fabric and created a solution: an all-in-one piece of gear called the Convertible. The Convertible is a headband with a retractable skull cap. Now I have both pieces of gear with me at all times in a single unit; top down when it's warm, top up in cooler or rainy weather. Perfect! Now, let's supercharge the Convertible! 

Being a techy guy, I couldn’t stop at the Convertible. I had to add some technology to my new invention. Since I tend to run in the early morning and most days require some sort of illumination, I had found my answer.  I looked at headlamps and realized, other than the LED’s, the technology hadn’t really advanced into the 21st century. Headlamps need to be lightweight, sleek, and ergonomic to appeal to the running crowd. If they could be customizable for optimal illumination, while providing a safe and enjoyable run, all the better. I designed a very powerful headlamp with over 400 lumens that can be customized by the runner to their environment. Using the mobile app, you can also customize the illumination to ensure you don’t run out of battery (and light) while on your run. I used rechargeable lithium ion batteries that will provide up to twelve hours of illumination on a full charge.

After solving the headlamp dilemma, I decided runners needed a better way to share their running experiences. Instead of just telling family, friends, and their running group about an awesome run, they  needed a way to share their runs visually like never before. So, I designed an action camera with the headlamp into a single module. This is no ordinary action camera; it includes a GPS, altimeter and accelerometer so the stats runners love (run time, pace, distance, elevation change) can be displayed right on the video! With the headlamp, runners can even capture fantastic footage in low-light situations. The mobile app allows easy editing of pictures and video as well as quick adjustment of the settings for both the headlamp and camera. 
 
When I added the headlamp and camera to the Convertible, I added HDL to the name. HD for High Definition camera and L for Lamp. To ensure runners don’t have to fumble with buttons, we enabled voice recognition. “Camera. On”, “Camera. Picture”, “Camera. Video” and “Light. Hi”, “Light. Medium”, and “Light. Low” are just a few of the voice commands runners can use without having to break their stride.  
 
The Convertible HDL is a single piece of running gear designed to replace all those headbands, skull caps, and headlamps sitting in your drawer. Our action camera is the first designed specifically for runners. This all-inclusive piece of gear will launch on Kickstarter April 4th. We will offer substantial discounts for early backers, so take a look and be one of the first to order the Convertible HDL. Follow us at https://prracer.leadpages.co/option-1/ for regular updates. We plan to have it in your hands for your fall 2016 training calendar.
 
Watch a fun 74 second animated video to provide an overview of the Convertible HDL. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSwmI-uUyls

Why do I keep running on non-certified courses?

I said over a year ago I was not going to sign up for any more races on non certified courses. I am tired of training my butt off and at the end of the race realizing the course was longer than the advertised distance. There is always the chance the course could be shorter than advertised, but I feel kind of slimy when I tell someone I ran a 10K and it was a tenth of a mile short.

I am a real idiot! I did it, I ran another race on a non-certified course. A year ago I ran the Folsom Blues Half in Sacramento with my daughter and best friend. We all ran it together and it was a really fun race. When it was over, we all realized the course was long. I know Garmins are not 100% accurate and we compared our Garmins and asked a few others around us and the consensus was the course was about .15 miles long. We also found the race director and he would not confirm our claim, but he certainly did not deny it.

That race was in 2014 and when 2015 came around my friend and I decided to run the same race again. The difference between last year and this year is I am going to take the race serious. I knew the course was long, but I thought it would be okay, but it wasn’t. There were over a thousand runners and I finished in 11th place. Yea, I am very proud of my finish place, but I was not happy with my time because the course was long.  

Shame on me for thinking I could live with a long course. I trained by butt off for the race and wanted to achieve a Black Performance Level. I fell short by less than a minute, 46 seconds to be exact.  Let’s assume my .15 miles is accurate. Reducing my time based upon the extra distance I would have achieved a 1:27:00. That’s Black! My goal was Black and because that darn course was long I just missed and had to settle for Brown. Guess what, I am not a happy guy.

As much as I enjoy running a race with a very dear friend I cannot quite stop thinking about what could have been if the course was certified. Sure I can tell everyone who asks about my race my time and include the fact the course was long, but then I look like a person making up excuses. I know I am whining here, but I gotta whine somewhere :).

I love the Performance Level colors. They are a great motivator. If it wasn’t for Black I may not have cared the course was long, but I want the darn black decal. I earned one last year on a certified course and I wanted another one this year. PRracer nailed it with Performance Level colors. They have given me a new goal with my running. I wish I was a solid Black runner and then a long course wouldn’t make a difference. I am not that fortunate and I have to have everything go my way to get into Black and an accurate course is just piece of the puzzle.

I am going to go back to my original plan and only run on certified courses. It only cost about $100 to certify a course and there is no reason why all courses shouldn’t be certified. The Folsom Blues Half travels over four bridges and that is part of the beauty of the course. To hit all four bridges (we actually start on one) the course has to be a bit long. I get it. To keep the four bridges, why not have a timing mat at 13.1 and then another mat at the finish. By doing it this way they can certify the 13.1, keep the course as is and make everyone who cares a little bit happier.

My Inspiration to Run

Running has been part of my life for over 20 years. I am now 55 so I actually got started late in life when compared to many runners. I have always been an avid sports fan and felt I was a decent athlete growing up. I played many sports, but never pursued high school sports placing work and money ahead of athletics. Looking back, I would have done things different, but those are the lessons we learn through life and share with the younger generation.

In college and afterwards I played on many intramural softball and basketball teams. I loved the competition and enjoyed the comradery. When my oldest daughter was born in 1994 I put the intramural sports on hold and took up running. Many people call running a team sport, but I certainly disagree. I have never participated in any sport as lonely as running. I will go out and run ten miles and say hi to a few passersby, but that is it.  When I played “team” sports we were talking from start to finish. Sure, you can join running groups and train with others, but on race day it is all about you.

What has inspired me to run is the desire to compete and know it is all up to me. I love the team sports, but with a team success is sometimes out of your hands. It can be frustrating. With running, my success and failures are all on my shoulders and I love it. I am certainly not the best runner out there, but I will be competitive. In my age group I feel I am one of the best in my region. Are there better runners, of course and I know who most of them are. If they fall back on their training I will be right there to take the crown. I am sure there are many others who feel the same about me.

I miss the team sports, but I have grown to appreciate what running has offered me over the years. I am a stronger person mentally because of my running. It has kept me young and I focus on a very healthy lifestyle to stay competitive. Running has so many benefits it’s hard to rattle them all off, but I will name a couple I am most excited about:

Body Weight – to stay competitive I have had to ensure I stay at a very healthy/competitive weight. I am 5’10” and weigh 160. Maybe a bit heavy for a runner, but I lift weights and would prefer to have an athletic physique versus a runners physique (minimal upper body muscle tone).

Nutrition – It goes hand in hand with weight. If I eat healthy the results will show up in my running. I certainly indulge in the sweets and fats once in a while, but never on a daily basis. The saying is true, “you can exercise until the cows come home but if you don’t eat properly you will just be another cow coming home.”

Mental Toughness – I have learned to be tougher mentally. I am willing to take on challenges I may have backed away from before. If I can get myself up at 4:30 am every morning to run I can certainly take on the daily challenges of life. Break the big picture down into small chunks just like we do with running. The little chunks are much easier to deal with then a mountain. Chip away at the chunks and the next thing you know the mountain is gone.

Goal setting – I set running goals every week. I try to do the same with my personal and work life. Goals give us meaning and something to strive for. Without goals we are a rudderless ship; knowing we want to get somewhere but not sure how, if or when we will get there. Goals can force us to create plans.

Self-confidence – I always feel good after a run. Knowing I put in 5 miles before many people get up in the morning is a great feeling. I literally hit the ground running every morning and I carry that into my profession.

Togetherness – I am fortunate to be part of a very active family. At times we will run together and the bond it forms is amazing.  

I am fortunate to be able to run and will continue to run until my body says stop. I hope that won’t happen for many years to come. I look forward to seeing all of you out there on the road and possibly at a race. I certainly want to win, but if you beat me I will be the first to congratulate you. Competition drives me to train hard and the health benefits of running will keep me going well beyond my competitive years.

Starting the new fitness program - play it smart.

You’ve just started a new fitness program and feeling strong and motivated right out of the gate ready to tackle your goals and become fitter than ever before.

Considering that the majority of adults who start fitness programs never reach their goals, the chances of your new program staying intact are slim. Ensure your fitness program will be successful by avoiding a few common mistakes.

Too much, too soon

Jumping into a fitness program too quickly and trying to do too much too soon will inevitably lead to failure either from burnout or injury.

Setting goals around exercise frequency, duration and intensity before getting started will greatly improve the chances of consistency and success. Your commitment to the program is more important than the type. Making commitment and consistency the priority through goal setting will set you up for long-term success.

No plan

Regardless of whether you’re running a business or financial planning for your future, a plan helps you stay focused and motivated. The same is true of fitness. A well-rounded fitness program should include aerobic/cardiovascular exercise, strength training and function/flexibility training.

When planning your cardiovascular exercise, plan for intensity (enough to challenge your heart rate), duration (30 to 60 minutes) and how often you’ll exercise. Beginners may start at three days per week and work up to six.

A strength-training plan should address the number of repetitions, how often (at least two days per week) and which exercises to do. Target every major muscle group, using compound and complementary exercise.

Similarly, a flexibility plan should include the frequency (three to seven times per week, ideally following a workout), how long and far you will stretch and the types of stretches you’ll perform.

Finally, a fitness plan should track your progress so you can celebrate your results and adjust the intensity and exercises as you gain strength. For further help with building training plan that’s right for you, consult a fitness professional.

Unrealistic expectations

When starting a fitness program, many people give up too soon because they’re not seeing the results they expect. Considering it likely took years to fall out of shape, it’s unrealistic to expect results in a week or two. Changes take patience, commitment and time. Commit to a training program for at least six to eight weeks before determining if it’s right for you. Likewise, be gentle with yourself if you’re new to exercise. You can’t expect to be lifting as heavy or running as fast as the pros. Don’t judge yourself. Stay consistent and focused on small steps forward and improvement over time.

Speed Training is a Must for Serious Runners

Speed training benefits tend to lead to faster race times. In addition to faster race times it also provides:

  • The most obvious is increased strength and speed.
  • Improved efficiency in oxygen delivery to your muscles. In other words, your muscles will be able to function more efficiently with less oxygen, a huge bonus in regards to training your body. This will become more relevant as your race distance increases.
  • A higher lactic acid threshold. Lactic acid comes from a lack of oxygen in your muscles which then leads to a burning feeling. If you don’t train you anaerobic system you will reach your lactic acid threshold faster which will slow you down and tire you out faster. With speed workouts your anaerobic system learns how to use glycogen as a fuel source pushing back you lactic acid threshold and allowing you to run longer, faster. Again, this will be very apparent when running marathons. 
  • You will develop improved running form. As you become a faster runner you will learn to have a more efficient arm swing, increased stride length, and efficient breathing. 
  • The ability to run faster with less effort. The more your training you do at a faster pace the more efficient you will become at maintaining the faster pace.
  • Mental toughness. The satisfaction you will receive after speed training will turn into a mental edge on race day. You will have learned your bodies limitations and with that information you will know exactly how far to push yourself. This gives you a mental toughness and a huge advantage in competitions and even when the training gets rough.
  • Speed workouts helps you work out your race day strategy. It will give you a good perception of what pace you should set for your race. This is incredibly important to figure out well BEFORE your race and speed work will help you figure this out. Keep it realistic!
  • Increases your stamina – your ability to run an even pace without becoming too tired at the end.

Risks of Speed Training

With all the benefits of training for speed come risks that can be prevented if you are careful. The benefits definitely outweigh the risks as long as you are aware of when you are increasing your vulnerability in regards to injuries.

  • Pushing yourself too hard. Yes, the goal of speed workouts is to push and challenge yourself but there is a point where you cross the line and can become injured. There is a limit to what your body can perform. It should be difficult but you shouldn’t be in pain or close to it by the time you stop your workout. Listen to your body’s signals!
  • Too many weeks of speed training. At the most a speed training program should last no more than about 14 weeks (3-4 months out of the year). The type and caliber of the workout places so much stress and strain on your body that after a couple of weeks it needs to rest and take a break from high stress training. Failing to do so will only exponentially increase your chance of injury.
  • Too many days of speed work in one week. Since it is highly stressful you should be doing no more than 1-2 days of speed exercises a week. Your body will begin to lose its benefits of the training if you do more than 1-2 days a week because it makes it more prone to injury and you are not allowing it enough time to rest and repair. Beginners especially should not do more than one day of speed work per week.
  • Failing to warm-up or cool-down. You must allow your muscles adequate time to warm up before workouts since you are going from a state of rest to all out muscle exertion. Your body can’t handle this load without warming up properly so make it a crucial part of the training!

Mental Toughness

Training hard, good nutrition and plenty of sleep are key components in ensuring you are prepared for the upcoming race. If you can master all three of these areas, you are 60% of the way to reaching your goal. No, I didn’t miss-type the 60%. You still have 40% sitting on the table. That last bit is the mental part of the upcoming race. Whether you are preparing for a 5K or a marathon, your mental preparation will be the final piece in putting all the elements together.

Let’s talk about the 4 key elements of mental toughness.

Breathing

When the gun goes off, you begin to place physical stress on your body that increases throughout the event. When done properly, breathing can help mute and manage that stress.

The breath is both a release valve and a trigger for your nervous system. When you breathe in a short and hungry way through your mouth, you are telling your body that you are in fight-or-flight mode. The reaction releases hormones that can help with short bursts of work, but the effect isn’t useful for marathoners.

On the flip side, when you breathe in through your nose, deeply into your belly, and out through your mouth, it has a calming effect on the body and mind. This kind of breathing takes time and training to learn. Slow your breathing and sync it to your steps while you run—breathe in through your nose for three or four steps, then out through your mouth for three. This can help you remain calm and focused.

Positive Mindset

A positive mindset is a combination of attitude and breathing. Deep breathing can help keep the mind calmly focused on breath, and give the runner an opportunity to work on maintaining a positive mindset about performance. If your breathing is out of control, it’s hard to stay upbeat. You slip into negative thoughts like, “I’m falling behind,” “I can’t do this,” “I hurt,”, “Why am I doing this” or “This sucks.”

Negativity destroys performance because you are telling your body that you are not good enough, and your body will follow your mind. Instead, energize your mind with positive thoughts. Creating mantras can help. One of mine is, “I’ve trained hard for this, and I’m ready. The runners around me are hurting and I will NOT show any signs of fatigue”. I say that over and over because it has meaning for me. Synchronize your mantra with your breathing and you’ll enter a focused state of flow.

Mental Imagery

You have to envision achieving your race goal in your mind before you get to race day.

When I say my mantra in my mind, I see myself as a winner. I see myself crossing the finish line. I see myself full of energy and vitality. I see myself just dominating. And it works—your body starts to believe your mind.

Goal Setting

First, you need to understand why you are doing the race. What’s your goal? Is it to finish in a certain time, or are you just running because a friend wanted you to? You have to know WHY you are taking on this challenge because when the going gets tough, if you can’t answer the question WHY, your performance will suffer.

When you know your “why,” you can focus on smaller goals like running one mile at a time, or breaking the distance up into three or four parts. It’s also important to mentally celebrate after you achieve every micro goal. Create a little visual celebration in your mind where you jump up and down and high five people. When you rack up these small victories, it helps maintain positivity.

If you can integrate these four elements of mental toughness into your racing, you will be faster and able to meet your goals more effectively. You are bringing more of yourself—not just your legs and lungs—to the table. You are bringing that extra 40%.

July 30, 2015

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Posted in 10K, 5K, challenge, half marathon, marathon, running


The Testosterone Challenge

Today was a track day

I hate track work. Okay, I said it so it’s out of the way and I don’t need to say it again. I only do track work once a week. It’s plenty for me. I normally have a restless night sleep prior to track work. I push myself hard and I know I am going to be tired when it’s all done. Today was no different. I changed up my plan and did the following:

  • 5 mile jog to the track
  • 3200M with a one lap cool down
  • 2400M with a one lap cool down
  • 1600M with a half lap cool down
  • 800M and done!

I finish with a 2.5 mile jog home, but today was a bit special. As I leave the high school there is an athletic club right across the street and I just happened to inadvertently coincide my run with another runner just starting out from the club. He was going at a decent pace so I thought I would stay on his tail. After about a quarter mile I needed to make a turn and he, coincidentally, was making the turn as well. After the turn I thought I would pick up the pace a bit so I passed him up. He ended up crossing the street so we were running side by side but on different sides of the street. He started picking up the pace and I was not going to let him beat me so I did the same. We stayed together for another half mile or so continuing to pick up the pace. I estimate we ended up running at about a 6:30 pace. He finally turned a corner and I proceeded to go straight. Always nice to have a little informal competition after track work. I don’t know how hard he was pushing but I wasn’t going to go too much faster. I only had a few miles so I knew I could hold the pace as long as necessary.

I hope I see him again sometime so we can continue our testosterone challenge. We may not have said a single word to each other but we know exactly what each other was thinking – you’re not beating me. Next time, I just may turn the corner with him.

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