"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Monday, April 26, 2010

It's 5am Saturday Morning...Where Are Your Running Shoes?

"No one sees the lonely run at 5am...."

This is a true statement. But it shouldn't be. 5am on Saturday morning is a great time for a run. At least it was this past Saturday.

My wife was running her first 10k the same day at 9am. I worked backwards to account for her check-in and warm-up time, the 45 minute drive, 10 minutes for me to shower, change my clothes and grab a bag full of fruit and water to last the rest of the day (I was leaving from the race to go to the Portland Trail Blazers playoff game) and get 16 miles in and 5am became the time when I needed to be out the door. I toyed with the idea of running in the evening, but ultimately decided that getting up early would be far better than trying to do a long run after a long day. I've gotten into a good Saturday morning routine over the last few months -- one that I will rely upon come June 5th -- and didn't see any reason to mess with it if it only meant getting up a little bit earlier.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

2010 Boston Marathon

I meant to get to this earlier today but didn't. Tomorrow is the 2010 Boston Marathon. You can watch it live on Universal Sports Television (Comcast channel 303) or at www.universalsports.com/. 9:30am Est.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ball Don't Lie: Breaching the 20-mile Barrier

I'm a huge basketball fan. I also live within an hour of Portland, so I'm a huge Trail Blazers fan also. There was a time in the not so recently past when Rasheed Wallace was arguably the best player on the team. I didn't care. I can't stand him as a person or a basketball player. In some basketball encyclopedia yet to be written, the entry next to his name will read something like this: "Freakishly athletic, yet frustratingly lazy. Could choose to be the best player on the court, or the worst. Or the dumbest. Or the loudest. Complete waste of basketball talent."

Despite my dislike for Mr. Wallace, he has provided three of the best quotes/phrases ever uttered. And by best I mean worst.

#3: "As long as somebody CTC, at the end of the day I'm with them. For all you that don't know what CTC means, that's 'Cut the Check.' " Nice attitude. It should be noted he was making $17 million to act like a moron that year.

#2: "It do what it did." Glad that free education at the University of North Carolina is paying off.

#1: "Ball don't lie." I'll let you look it up on Urban Dictionary for its roots. I just like it.

In much the same way, the road doesn't lie. 20 miles is 20 miles (I assume this holds true for 26.2 miles, or any other distance). There's no hiding from it, no shortcuts to the end of it and no way of avoiding it. Like any distance, you're going to run (and earn) every single step.

I set out intending to run 18 miles this morning. The first nine were fairly uneventful. I thought a little bit about running 20, but decided I would let my body tell me how it was feeling. At mile 11 I passed a husband and wife from church who are training for a half marathon together. We exchanged "Good Morning's" as we approached and then the wife asked, "What mile are you on?"

Without thinking about it, the words, "11 of 20" slipped from my lips. The next thought was something to the effect of, "well, I guess I'm running 20 now."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Week 13 In Review: Saturday 17-miler

Good week this week. Two highlights to mention. First, I ran a PR 10k on Wednesday. My goal was 47 minutes. I did it in 46 minutes even (7:24 pace). Good times. I felt good throughout the run, never had any problems or felt like I needed to ease up.

Second, I did 17 miles this morning and did so at a 7:42 pace. For those of you familiar with the Mid-Willamette Valley, I parked my car in Rickreal and ran an out an back to Main St. in Monmouth (12 miles round-trip) I then ran a 5-mile out and back towards the Rickreal Dairy.

I've been maintaining the same Saturday-preparation sleep schedule and diet for the last 5 weeks now. This includes a large pasta meal and a late night on Thursday so that I'm able to go to bed by 7:30pm or so on Friday, allowing 9-10 hours of sleep prior to a long run. I'd rather not have to force myself to stay up so late on Thursday, as it makes for a long Friday, but I don't know of any other way to get to bed (and fall asleep) so early on Friday.

Miles 9-13 brought excruciating stomach cramps. They were in three distinct locations, the worst of which was immediately below my bottom right rib. Not a lot of fun. I've never been stabbed, thankfully, but I imagine it feels something like what I was feeling in mile 10. It got to the point where I had no choice but to stop for a few seconds, breath deeply and try to stretch things out. This worked for about a mile, and then all three returned with a vengeance. Cramps are interesting creatures. Some people think they're caused by dehydration, others have recently shown this theory to be incorrect (looking for the link, I trashed the email). Whatever the reason, they just sort of disappeared as I ran through them.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Giving Up: Neuromuscular Safety Mechanisms (Part 2)

Giving Up: Neuromuscular Safety Mechanisms (Part 2)

(If you haven’t read Part 1 of this post, it will be helpful to do so before continuing on with this post).

I’m currently working my way through another piece of Dr. Marcora’s work which looks at the effect of mental fatigue on physical performance. As with his perception of effort study results and conclusions, I find these ideas fit well with what I’ve been reading in Running Within. I’ve posed the question in this space previously, but I think it’s worth restating: what could we accomplish if we removed our self-imposed barriers and allowed ourselves to perform closer to our actual potential rather than our perceived potential?

Giving Up: Neuromuscular Safety Mechanisms (Part 1)

Another intriguing research study and interview hit my inbox a few weeks ago. This one comes from researchers Samuele Marcora and Walter Staiano of Wales’s Bangor University. You can find the full text of the article on the Journal of Applied Physiology’s website (it’ll cost you $8 to read it…or you can wait until it’s free). It’s a surprisingly simple study. Don’t let that fool you though. The results, consequent discussion and possible applications are potentially breakthrough in nature (though the researchers have met opposition from colleagues and more research needs to be done). In a nutshell, here’s the experiment:

10 male athletes were asked to pedal on a cycle ergometer as hard as possible for 5 seconds and power output was recorded (maximal voluntary cycling power, or MVCP)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Welcome To Yurtopia!

I must have weird-shaped ears. At least that's the conclusion I've come to after going through pair after pair of earphones. I hate buying new ones. I hate it even more when those new ones no longer work. It's a good thing I have my trusty generic earphones that came with my Ipod shuffle (my original one--the one that also went through the laundry). These things are indestructible. Unfortunately, it also feels like I'm jamming rocks into my ears whenever I'm forced to use them. That uncomfortable feeling doesn't last long though--they typically start to slip out of my ears within about 10 steps, so it doesn't really matter anyway. The point of all of this is simple: I either don't know what to look for in a suitable pair of earphones, I'm too cheap to buy a "really good" pair or I just have weird ears. I had resigned myself to never being comfortable with my earphones and thought many times about ditching my Ipod altogether. To have to fiddle with the darn thing every few minutes isn't worth the hassle or the energy.Then I discovered Yurtopia.

Yurtopia is a St. Louis based startup company that makes two products: yurphones (your basic earphones) and yurbuds, an earphone "enhancer." in 2009 they were named the 9th Most Promising Company in America by Forbes Magazine.

You can read about Seth Burgett, Yurtopia's President and CEO, but in short, he's a runner who struggled with uncomfortable earphones that always fell out of his ears. He also has a background in minimally invasive surgical devices. Put those two things together you have the creation of yurbuds -- a custom-fitted piece that slips on over a basic earphone and sits comfortably and securely in your ear.

It's a very simple process. Tell them what you want (personally I ordered a pair of yurbuds), take and upload a picture of your ear and submit your order. They'll use their patent-pending scanning technology to determine a size and shape that's made for you.

I put my order in on a Friday afternoon and on Monday I pulled them out of the mailbox, slipped them on my generic Ipod earphones and headed out on my run.

Best. Product. Ever.