"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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Back To Yurtopia

The new and improved Yurbuds site is back up and running. I bought and reviewed my own pair a month or so ago, continue to love them and would recommend them to everyone.

My affiliate code is now working again also. Use it to get your Yurbuds shipped to you for free!

Just enter Coupon Code WJPX5 in your shopping cart!

You can also connect with Yurbuds on Facebook in order to receive information about various race expos and other events they are taking part in.

For a limited time you can get a bright pink pair of Yurbuds. For each of these purchased Yurbuds will donate $10 to the Susan G Komen for the Cure Foundation.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Back On My Feet Update

I wrote about the Back On My Feet organization a few months ago. Great organization. They've expanded to five chapters in the East now and are looking to add five more chapters in 2011.

I just received the following from Sandi Maro, Vice President, Growth and Expansion, Back On my Feet:
Tomorrow (Wednesday, 5/26) morning during the 9 a.m. hour on the NBC Today show, a segment on our organization, which was shot 5/21 at a Baltimore MCVET team run, will air. On Friday, as a follow up, Anne will be on Today LIVE, with a small group of other nonprofit leaders, in the 8 a.m. hour. As is always the case with media, times may change, but look for Back on My Feet and Anne then! Please share this exciting news with friends and colleagues who you think would enjoy learning more about Back on My Feet.
If you'd like more information regarding Anne or BOMF, please take a look at their website. If you'd like to contribute to their existing chapters or to their expansion efforts, I've set up a Mind Over Body Marathon fundraising page where you may do so. I am compensated in no way by BOMF, I just think their message, purpose and approach are outstanding. Take a few minutes to check them out.

Treasures In The Amazon

Back in March when I purchased a pair of Adidas Supernova Glide 2 shoes from Road Runner Sports I was a little nervous about what to do when they were worn out. To that point, all of my shoes came from the Adidas Outlet store for $40 or less. My wife and I live on a budget and the thought of having the conversation every few months about needing another $100 pair of shoes wasn't something I looked forward to.

I started looking around on Ebay and found some savings here and there. After shipping though, the final price got to be up around $75 anyway. For a little more I can go buy them in the store and have the 60-day return policy.

Then I searched on Amazon.com. I don't know how things are priced on Amazon, but the same Supernova Glide 2 shoe I've been wearing, in the same color and the same size was listed at $27.99 this morning (other colors and sizes are varying prices -- I don't know why). With free shipping. From Road Runner Sports (60-day return policy still in effect).

So I bought 3 pairs. My wife's response? "Good find."


(p.s. I just checked Amazon again a few minutes ago, just three hours after my purchase -- back to $70/pair. Good find, indeed.)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Born To Run 15k Recap

Just two weeks to go now. As part of my final preparations I decided to run the Born To Run 15k in Eugene this morning. The distance was what I needed for my Saturday run this week and I wanted to do sort of a final walk-through of all my pre-race and race strategies I've been experiment and training with.


The weather was threatening. The hour leading up to race time varied between drizzle and downpour. And it was cold. I debated whether to wear a short sleeve or no sleeve shirt, jacket or no jacket, gloves or not? How about my head scarf? So many last minute decisions. I finally decided I would go without sleeves, jacket or gloves. Headscarf, yes. Fortunately, the rain tapered off as the race begun, and except for two cold hands for the first few minutes, I made the correct choices (the headscarf came off around mile 4).

I actually warmed up for the first time also. I've been struggling lately with my first mile of any run. Just sore and uncomfortable, but then it all goes away and I felt great. I took a light half mile jog a few minutes before the start and I'm glad I did. Once the cowbell was sounded (and is some cowbell is good, MORE cowbell is better), I was ready to go right from the start.


I went out too fast. And I knew it. But darn it, I felt good. I managed to keep the pace for the first mile and then slowed slightly into a good pace (7:30-7:40) for the next two or three miles. As with most of the races I run, I somehow found myself all alone for the bulk of the miles. The last person to pass me did so in mile 3 and I didn't see another person until about mile 6. But it wasn't someone coming up on me -- I was coming up on them.

The guy I could see a half mile or so up the path had passed me in the second mile. He seemed pretty far out, but with 3 miles still to go I picked up my pace slightly and kept an eye on him. For the next two miles I made up a little bit of ground, but he was still probably a quarter mile in front of me. I was still feeling great though, and made the decision at 7.5 miles that I was really going to push myself the rest of the way.

Side Note: I fully intended to run the entire race at the pace I hope to run in two weeks. (7:45-7:55). After feeling so good the first 6 or 7 miles though, and knowing that I had a seemingly full tank of fuel left, and seeing this guy in front of me, my competitiveness overrided all other systems and said run this guy down.

And so I did.

I caught up to him around the 8.25 mile mark and just to make sure he knew I wasn't slowing down once I did, I zoomed by him and kept on going. He wasn't going to pass me again.

I came to a pond and had about 0.6 miles to go. This distance is significant to me. I'll talk about about "Finishing Fuel" in the next few days, but every training run I do that ends at my house has a final stretch of 0.6 miles that I push myself as hard as I can. I've run this distance dozens of times over the last 19 weeks and I visualized the last portion of the race as nothing more than running home.

I finished strong and crossed the finish line a 1:11:48, good enough for 19th overall.


Only running 9 miles today feels weird. After so many Saturday runs of twice that (or more), I feel like I haven't done anything today. I guess that's the taper though. And I trust my body will thank me for it, come June 5th.

I'm glad I got one more race in though. It gave me a chance to focus on my thoughts, running tangents (something nearly impossible to do on my regular routes), negotiate aid stations, when to eat something during the race and a few other things I've been thinking about.

All systems are go for Newport in two weeks. I need to keep myself busy this week though, as I'll only be running 3, 5 and 3 miles on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. My goal this week is to just not hurt myself.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mentally Managing Pain And Fatigue

I've tried to be more conscious about what I'm focusing on since my tough 21-miler a few weeks ago when I slammed into the wall around mile 18. I again went back to the study of 1996 London Marathon runners and the conclusions the authors came to regarding mental race strategies. This time I was struck with their observation that elite runners tend to spend a great deal more time focusing on how they feel (internal disassociation) than non-elite runners. Basically they focus more on what they're doing and less on distracting themselves.

As my Saturday runs became longer I tried to pass the time by distracting myself. It wasn't that I was particularly bored, I just didn't know how or what to think 2 1/2 hours. I could cheat and get by on my shorter weekday runs because I knew I wasn't in any danger of crashing, so I found myself struggling once I was out on the road for longer periods of time.

For the last few weeks I've made a conscious effort to make my shorter runs more effective. Consequently, my longer runs have benefited accordingly. Running Within contains a couple of excellent chapters on mentally overcoming fatigue. Briefly, here are my interpretations of six mental strategies the authors discuss regarding the management of pain and fatigue:

1. Focus on small, manageable goals. One mile at a time, running to the next light post, one more lap, whatever it may be. It will take mental training to be able to truly focus on running one mile, and then doing 10, 15, 20, 26 times, or whatever your distance is, but if you can break your run into small segments and focus on achieving these small goals, the larger goal won't seem as daunting.

2. Focus on your form, pace and breathing (my addition). This is 100% internal association and it's what I've been focusing on the most over the past few weeks. Whenever I catch my thoughts wandering, whenever I start up a hill or whenever I start to feel a little fatigued, even on a short Monday afternoon run, I block everything out and think of three things.  First, is my form efficient? This most often involves me dropping my hands, which creep higher and higher as I get tired (making for tense shoulder muscles, which wastes energy). Second, is my leg turnover smooth and light. If my heels are scraping the ground, I need to pick them up and run light. Third, is my breathing in sync with my body movement. Breathe in on the left foot. Breathe out on the left foot. It's a rhythm I've been in since day one last summer. It's natural now, but when I get tired, I almost always find that my breathing is not in sync with my leg turnover. Arms, legs, breathing. Let your body run like a well-tuned, efficient machine. Not a clunker.

3. Visualization. Call this internal disassociation if you'd like. Our bodies respond physiologically to images. Visualize yourself finishing your race or approaching your family and friends along the course. Visualize your muscles relaxing. Put yourself back in an exciting or happy moment. Some of these images will produce a smile, some may produce a tear, some may give you goosebumps. By learning to focus on these images, you will be prepared to do so when fatigue sets in and you need a bit of physiological stimulation to reset your body and mind,

4. Change your beliefs regarding pain and fatigue. Do you view these feelings as feelings of failure? Or do you view them as an opportunity to experience a breakthrough in your personal level of achievement? You're only feeling pain and fatigue because you have pushed yourself closer to your perceived limit of ability. How great will it be to push through these feelings and come out on the other side, now with limitless possibilities as to your potential? Shift your mindset from the negative to the positive and all of the sudden pain and fatigue are no longer enemies, but friends. Friends running with you on your way to achieving your goals.

5. You're not alone. Particularly in a race, look around. Chances are you're not the only one feeling these things. But you will be one of the few who knows how to handle them -- and that will set you apart. Take confidence in this.

6. External disassociation. Certainly there is a time and place for it. Sing a song, create a rhyme, hi-five the aide station volunteers, tell your life story to the runner next to you (only with their approval of course). For some runners, this is what gets them over, through or around the wall.

I encourage you to find what works best for you. It's going to be different for everyone, but hopefully I've given you some options to work from.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Welcome To The Dude Room

The hard work is done. And what a way to finish it. Saturday's 21-miler was far and away my best run in my short 10-month running career. I effortlessly breezed through the first 14 miles, ran past my house to get another bottle of water and finished the last 7 miles strong, completing the run at a 7:53 pace. There's been days when I've though to myself, "I could have done it today. I could have run 26.2 miles." Saturday was one of them. Great feeling and big confidence boost as I move into my tapering period these final three weeks before Newport on June 5th.

Credit to a couple of things:

First, after dealing with stomach cramps during my long runs just about every week (nothing too bad, more annoying than anything -- but I was always afraid they may get worse), my pre-run Saturday breakfast this week consisted of the following: 8 ounces of water. That's it. My weekly diet was the same as it always is, and I didn't sleep any more than normal (actually a little less than normal for a Friday night). Maybe I'm crazy (don't you have to be at least a little crazy to find running 3 hours at 6am on a Saturday enjoyable?). And I can't explain it, though I'm looking into it. What I do know, is that I've never felt better during a long run.

Second, The Dude Room. It's long overdue that the Dude Room be introduced (stay with me here -- I promise there will be a running-related point made).

In the fall of 2003, there were six of us that returned to college after having recently completed serving two-year missions for our church at various locations around the world. Five of us had lived in the dorms together as college freshmen prior to those two years, so we all should have known what we were getting ourselves into. We welcomed ourselves to the crummy, run-down, overpriced (did I mention hideous?) Park Place Apartments (they've since been remodeled I'm told) and immediately went to work carving out a niche as the (we thought) coolest, most likable group of 21-year old bachelors in the greater-Provo area.

There isn't time or space to recount all of the Dude Room successes or triumphs, but there are a few worth noting (there will be a point, I promise):

1. Sticking it to the man landlord. After the mess of a completed construction project sat outside our door for many, many weeks and after repeated requests for it to be cleaned up (try woo-ing a member of the opposite sex when your front door is surrounded by construction trash AND other tenants trash that they decided not to throw in the dumpster), the landlord notified us of an upcoming apartment cleaning check (with fees assessed for uncleanliness). We eventually did clean our apartment, but the landlord couldn't have known it. The morning of the check, as we all left to go to our classes, we hauled all of the trash up to our doorway, making our apartment completely inaccessible. We also left a note that in no uncertain terms said that we would clean up our mess, when they cleaned up theirs. The mess was gone the next day. And we never had a clean check. Point, Dudes.

2. BYU-hosted talent show. Brown paper bags in place of identities. Minimal coverage. Epic.

3. The Dude Room "Boy Band" Christmas card and photo shoot. Yes, we spent an hour on campus doing this and yes we printed dozens of these (as a joke....or maybe not...). Also epic.

4. Rich's Magnum P.I. 'stache grown for Halloween.

5. Impromptu middle-of-the-night concerts. Some nights Greg would break out his best Jack Johnson impression. Other times T-Weed would join him on the guitar and whoever was in the room would break into a Good Charlotte song. On a really good night, the guitars would remain stabled and "You're the Best" from the Karate kid soundtrack would have everyone yelling and jumping around (doors and windows open for all to enjoy).

We didn't do too badly at Park Place. In the year spent there, four of us met, dated and became engaged to our future spouses (three of whom also resided at Park Place, which consisted of just four men's and six women's apartments -- a pretty impressive success rate I think. The fourth's future spouse lived just up the block).

Now, six years later, our neighbors at Park Place (as well as our landlord and residents of the neighboring apartments) would probably fall out of their chairs if they knew the original Dude Room now consisted of MBA graduates, aspiring dentists, Ph.D. candidates, Teach for America alumni, financial advisors, triathletes, fathers, homeowners and generally upstanding citizens (and marathon runners).

The point of this is that when the run started to get difficult around mile 17 my Ipod conveniently dropped Good Charlotte's Motivation Proclamation, a true Dude Room classic. Not only was I reinvigorated, but I found myself running down memory lane, where I hung around for a few miles. I found myself thinking of the good times had by a bunch of dudes looking for a little fun. And about some tough times as well. And about how awesome it was and is to associated with such quality dudes, despite being spread all over the country and unable to get together very often.

When I next looked down at my Nike+ sportband, I was pushing myself up a steep hill, approaching the 20 mile mark. Whatever fatigue I had started to feel three miles earlier was gone.

I've heard people speak of "losing miles." I wasn't sure what that meant until Saturday. Internal disassociation. At the right time and in the appropriate manner, it can be very effective.

The hard part of my training is now complete. It's three weeks to race day. In terms of my training, I've reached the top of the baddest hill around and only a downhill run to the finish line lies ahead. It was important for me to have a good run last Saturday, my third 20-miler of my training. And like times before, it was the Dudes who were there to pick me up, brush me off, back me up and push me along when things got difficult.

Greg, Rich, Carter, Trevor and Matt -- You're quality Dudes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Some New Blogs To Follow

I've added and subtracted a few running blogs from the Blogs I'm Following list. The blogs I've removed just haven't posted enough content in the past few months to make it worth it to keep on the list. The good news, though, is that I've added two new ones.

First, The Fruitarian blog. I've mentioned Michael Arnstein multiple times before. He ran his first marathon 15 years ago at the age of 18 in 2:52. He has been an 80/10/10 athlete for a few years and runs marathon-distance runs (or more) just about every weekend, sometimes in races and sometimes just for training. Recently he has transitioned to a diet more heavily focused on fruit (hence, The Fruitarian blog). He won the New Jersey Marathon a few weeks ago and ran his first sub-2:30 marathon this year in Boston, finishing 57th overall. I have followed Michael for sometime now and find his approach to be inspirational and effective. His website is currently being constructed, but there's definitely enough information available to introduce you to him while anticipating his posts. You can also check out his Youtube channel for more information.

Second, the No Meat Athlete blog. I don't remember how I stumbled onto this blog, but its got some good content if diet is your concern, but its more than just a bunch of posts on nutrition. Blogger Matt is a Ph.D. student in Applied Math and has been running for about eight years. He's been a vegetarian for a little over a year now and qualified for his first Boston Marathon in October 2009 at the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY (with a time of 3:09:59....1 minute to spare). His nutrition information is pretty good and he doesn't come across as preachy at all (nor does Michael, by the way), but it's not all about food. There's a lot of other worthwhile content as well. I particularly like his Qualifying For Boston series and even teared up a bit as I read his recap of his last four miles and the determination and mental strength it took to finish under the qualifying time. There's a short 10 second video his wife shot of him crossing the finish line at Wineglass that will draw a tear or two as well, when you realize that all his hard work has paid off and he's an official Boston Qualifier.

A few other quick hitters while I'm thinking about it:

A great week of training this week after the disappointing run last Saturday. 5 miles on Monday and Thursday and 8 on Wednesday, all three of them at a 7:27 pace or better. The 8-miler was especially gratifying, as I've been trying to run this route under an hour for weeks now. I was close last week, but missed by 25 seconds. This week I did it with 22 seconds to spare. It's got two fairly intense hills that make you feel the burn and added to that on Wednesday was a hailstorm, thunder and lightening, rain, some wind, and finally, some sunshine at the end. Springtime in Oregon.

I got my hands back on Running Within this week. Our library only allows one renewal extension at a time when someone else has reserved it, so I've waited three weeks for it to come back in. I'll have some more thoughts from this in the coming days and weeks.

I'm debating whether or not to include a 15k race as part of my taper on May 22nd. I'd like to get another race in prior to June 5th and the distance is right, so we'll see. It may be a race-day decision.

Mapmyrun.com has course profiles of the Newport and Seattle Rock and Roll races. Thanks to ChezJfrey and dave0 for posting them.

Here's a couple of calculators to help you determine a realistic Time goal for your race. I'll delve into these further during my taper weeks. Runworks is my personal favorite because of all the variables you can play with.

I continue to LOVE my Yurbuds. If you're a music-listening runner, then a comfortable pair of earphones is just as important as a comfortable pair of shoes. Check them out and use Coupon Code WJPX5 for a discount (*the Yurbuds website is currently undergoing some revision and the coupon code isn't working right now. I'm aware this and will update as soon as possible).

The blog redesign was something that needed to happen. I'm still not set on the colors so it may change again. It's an evolving thing.

A continued thank you to those of you who continue to check in from time to time. You know who you are. And welcome to those who are finding their way to Mind Over Body Marathon for the first time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The 21-Miler Crash: Assessing The Damage And Picking Myself Up

Of the 64 training runs over the last 16 weeks, and of the 750+ miles I've logged since I began running last June, the final three of Saturday's 21-miler have been the most difficult. Maybe it was just a bad day. Or maybe I should have stuck with my normal 2000 calorie pasta dinner 36 hours beforehand instead of going with some homemade raisin and cinnamon oatmeal. Or maybe I stayed up a little too late on Thursday night (screaming and yelling in vain as I watched my beloved Blazers get eliminated from the NBA playoffs) and couldn't make it up on Friday night. Whatever it was, the the final three miles left the realm of "this is fun" and ventured into "why the heck am I doing this" territory. Definitely slammed right into a wall. I'm not too concerned with having a bad day. I've had some really good weeks of training of late and I'd certainly rather get it out of my system now rather than on race day. It would be a wasted opportunity, though, if I didn't try to figure out what happened and how to prevent it from happening again. I've spent the last 48 hours reflecting on what I was feeling and thinking pre- and post- wall crash. I've also gone back and reread a few articles that I've archived the past few months.

First and foremost, it was back to basics: Energy 101. I pulled out a great article by Sara Latta written for Marathon & Beyond magazine in 2003. A quick refresher about the way carbs and fat are used for energy: fat must have oxygen while carbs can be used with or without oxygen (aerobically or anaerobically, respectively, though anaerobically is much less efficient). The body uses a combination of carbs, in the form of glycogen, and fat to produce energy (75/25% at a reasonable pace estimates Dr. Dave Martin, as cited by Latta). Extended exertion begins to flip these percentages until the body is out of glycogen and must rely completely on fat.

Latta then writes the following:
"Even if you’re racing at a reasonable pace and you’ve done a good job of carboloading in the days before the marathon, you still have only about 2,000 calories worth of glycogen stored in the muscles and liver; that’s about enough to get you to—surprise!—mile 20. If you manage to deplete your glycogen reserves, say hello to The Wall. As mentioned before, burning fatty acids requires plentiful oxygen, so as fatty acid metabolism increases, your heart must work harder to pump more oxygen-carrying blood to the muscles. It may be difficult or impossible to maintain your pace, especially if you’ve lost enough water through sweat to become even slightly dehydrated (this causes your blood to become thicker and therefore harder to pump). In addition, fatty acid metabolism itself requires glucose; as someone once said, “Fat is burned in a carbohydrate oven.” "
As 150 watt light bulbs started going off in my head, I did some quick math. My Nike+ sportband estimates I burned 2,383 calories over my 21 mile run. That's 113 calories/mile. I crashed at mile 18. 18 miles x 113 calories/mile = 2034 calories burned. Certainly there was some fat being burned along the way, but more than anything else, I think I just ran out of energy, or more accurately, burnable fuel. Plain and simple.

On any run longer than 5 miles I've been carrying a handful of dates with me. They're basically pure carbohydrate and I can chew and swallow them with a gulp of water as I run. I don't particularly like the taste of them, but I tolerate them and they're practical. At mile 18, in addition to crashing, I also popped one in my mouth. It tasted so good. So I had another. And then another. I wanted to eat the rest of my supply then and there but decided against it, instead rationing the remainder for the final few miles. I've concluded that my body was begging for the carbs, completed depleted at this point.

So what to do?

I need to do a better job of hydrating on longer runs. It's difficult because I don't want to carry a gallon of water with me. On Saturday I used a three 8oz water bottles stashed at various locations along my route. I could have used three more bottles. I also need to carry more dates (I packed 14 for a the 21 miles) and I need to begin eating them earlier in the run (usually I don't even think about tapping my supply until mile seven or eight). Hydration on race day shouldn't be a problem. Aid stations every two miles or so will offer ample opportunity to get as much as I need. I'm also confident that if I can figure out how many dates I need to carry, that the aid stations will be solid constant reminders to be eating them (pop one in as the station approaches, take the water to wash it down).

The second thing I need to improve is my mental strategy. I got lost in what I was doing Saturday, and not in a good way. I turned back to the four types of mental strategies discussed in a 1998 study which described by runners in the 1996 London Marathon (a study which Latta also cited). I've written about them previously, but to review, they are internal and external association and internal and external disassociation. Lately, especially on longer runs, I've been caught up too much in internal disassociation thinking. In other words, I try to keep myself distracted by thinking too much This is making me bored. I need to focus more attention on internal associations (how do I feel? How's my breathing? Am I relaxed? Are my arms too high? How's my form) and external associations (things like running the tangents, looking for the next aid station, smiling at race volunteers, etc--things easier to do during a race than at 6am by yourself on a lonely road, by the way).

Too much internal disassociation invites a crash. To quote the researchers, "It is likely that being distracted from sensory signals and important aspects of the task meant that runners were not able to judge their pace very well and failed to stay fully hydrated, contributing greatly to ‘hitting The Wall.’ ”

I'll have the chance to work on these things during the next two weeks. After that, it's time for tapering. I'm really looking forward to that time, actually. I still have some building to do the next few weeks, but I'm also excited to see how my body will respond after giving it extra time to rest and recover during the last few weeks. After that, Race Day! 33 days left. It's coming quickly. I'll be ready.