"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

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Rising Cost of Fuel

Shortly after returning home from Las Vegas, where I completed the Red Rock Canyon Marathon, I took a few days to think about my training schedule for the next few months. I had approximately 12 weeks before the blitz of three marathons in 30 days, enough time to make any necessary changes that I felt might help as I continue to learn about myself and running. It was about this time that I heard an interview by Jonah Keri, author of "The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First" that made me think and ultimately decide to change things up. Without reprising the entire interview or the book, Mr. Keri basically said at one point that to take the next step and get to the next level of performance you need to look under every rock and figure out what else you could be doing. The extra 2%.
For more than 18 months I've been running. Just running. What I mean by that is I've just been putting in miles. Fartlek, Yasso 800's and intervals are not words in my running vocabulary. I focused almost exclusively on hills for the past few months to get ready for Red Rock, but that's about as diverse as my running has been. As I examined each of the marathons I've run, looking for ways to improve, I didn't think I necessarily needed to be running any more miles than I had been, but I knew I needed to be running smarter miles. I needed to find my extra 2%.
So I added an extra day, mixed in two days of cross-training and went to work putting together a training schedule for the run-up to the Newport Marathon on June 4th.
Here it is:
Monday: 1 hour early-morning spin class at YMCA
Tuesday: Tempo run, medium distance
Wednesday: 1 hour spin class at YMCA in morning, 5k speed run in afternoon
Thursday: Hills, medium distance, 30 seconds slower than Tempo pace
Saturday: Long run, 45 seconds slower than Tempo pace
The creators of the extremely popular P90X program contend that gaining strength is all about muscle confusion -- that this concept and strategy forces the body to adapt and thus, become stronger. Perhaps that is what I've been putting my body through the last few weeks, I don't know. But I do know that I feel like I'm running extremely well right now. Smooth, fast, and strong.
The unintended consequences of an increased workout schedule? I've been constantly hungry for the last two weeks. I can't eat enough. The other unintended consequence? My grocery budget has been blown to pieces. Yes, paying $50+ to fill my gas tank is shot to the gut (and budget). Even more though, is the increase in the price of bananas, strawberries and oranges.
For the person buying one bunch of bananas a week and enjoying one per day, the increase from $0.45/pound to $0.49/pound (the lowest price near me, at Costco) probably didn't have much of an effect. When you buy bananas 50lbs at time though, and do so multiple times a month, that 9% increase adds up quickly. Add in the nearly 11% increase in the price of a bag of frozen strawberries and the gas it takes to drive to the opposite side of town to get oranges 3lbs for a dollar at a different store, and you get the idea. (Don't even get me started on the price of tomatoes. Actual sign seen at a store I'll call Schmed Meyer last week: "In Store Special! Tomatoes-on-the-vine $4.49/lb!!!" I love tomatoes, but I'll pass.)
But, as my dad says, I've grown accustomed to eating. And I've grown accustomed to running. And so I continue to do both. I just need to do more of the former so I can continue to do the latter.

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