Thursday, November 20, 2008

Back on the Track - No More Speed Runs

After a 5 days break, I resumed running two days ago. My legs are much better. I did 10K with the first 5K in 23:15 and the 10K in about 46 minutes. I wasnt sure about the 10K time though my running mate, Sikuku, insisted it was 46mins.
I was weak even though after the run I managed 30 push ups, several crunches heel/toe walks and one legged hops. I had no energy but I weathered a stitch and some pain below in my shoulder blades between the 9th and 16th laps.
I chalked my weakness down to a low-carb lunch and so today I will take proper carbs for lunch. My quads are aching and I am surprised but I will go again today and see how it goes. I figure its the speed runs that fucked up my knees so I will steer away from them until I can manage a mileage of 50Kms per week - hopefully by March next year. In the meantime, I will stick to a staple diet of long runs, recovery runs, tempo runs and test runs. Meanwhile my weight is 77Kgs. Sometimes 76.5. Recall that 76 is my ideal weight. I will maintain at 75 if I can get there. I have lost 14Kgs since August.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Taking 5 Days off

My hamstrings, knees and calves have been painful. My leg muscles feel generally stiff. I guess the 11X2 kicked the shit out of them. Lesson learnt.
I resume on Tuesday next week. I am enjoying Obama's book.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tryin out new stuff and relaxin

I ran 11K yesterday and 11K today. Its mainly my knees that are suffering when I run two consecutive days. At any rate, it went well and I am not bearing any injury. I will rest tomorrow and run again on Friday.
This week I will probably do 33Kms tops because I am not doing a long run over the weekend.
I started reading Obama's book, Dreams From My Father yesterday. I had bought it close to two years ago but put it aside after reading the introductory chapter. I had plenty of other interesting books to read at the time so I let it gather dust.
I had thought that whereas Obama was a gifted speaker, his writing was not engaging. After a review I read in a newspaper on Sunday, I retrieved the book and cracked it open.
Obama wrote it when he was 33. His insights into the human condition are astounding. His introspection and artistic rendering of the events that surrounded his early childhood is astonishingly rich. In fact, his brilliance and artistic prowess dwarf that of several accomplished writers.
I am still in the first chapter. All I can say is that Obama is a gifted writer and the book is beautifully written.
Which brings me to my next point. What have I written lately? I am quickly growing old. Will I end up as a mediocre character who lacked the imagination and mettle to make his dreams come true? I am becoming someone who spends his time planning to write without ever getting any work written. Time to stop procrastinating. Friends tell me I am pissing on my talent.
Its time to act.

Friday, November 7, 2008

November Week 1 Done 42Kms

I went yesterday with colleagues for a speed run which we did in the rain on the rugby pitch. It was drizzling but we didn't let the rain Daunt us. Today I woke up at 8.30 am but after resting, decided to go for a 7K run, which I did, bringing my total mileage this week to 42. My right knee was painful at 500 metres and I seriously considered turning back but I pushed on and at the 1K mark it was gone. Another lesson to mean that you should not pay attention to your body pains too much especially if you know no proximate cause for a pain or injury.
I will be traveling and relaxing the next two days and may not run until Tuesday.

November week 1: 26+5+4+7=42Kms.

Next week will be tricky because my baby is coming and I will be traveling but lets see how it goes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama's Acceptance Speech Brought Tears to My eyes

His speech is here and the last part here.
I shed tears. God damn. What he says, the thoughts he provokes, the perspectives he brings out, the poetry, the tapestry he weaves reaches in and takes my emotions away.
This guy is incredible. The story about the 106 year old woman, Anne Nixon Cooper, who voted and how he walks us through her lifetime, an entire century, is riveting. It drained me with its deepness. The question about what changes we can make in the world for our kids is just too deep. What change will they see. He asks. What progress will we have made? He continues. This is amazing shit. If you are drunk while listening, I am sure the alcohol will evaporate from your soaked brain and leave you fresh and alert to contemplate the implications of what he just said and the serious role we have and duty to generations to come. And how far Americans, and humanity, have come. From the dark days of racism and disenfranchisement of women. Its too much. Obama is the culmination of the social progress made by mankind in the past centuries. He is a collection of our fears, our pain, our dreams, our hopes and our joy.
I have cried with Oprah and Jesse Jackson. Obama has done it.
Now excuse me while I blow my nose and dry my eyes. I am choking with emotion.

Starting My Training - Why Negative Splits

I started my training for next year yesterday with an initial test of 5K. We started it too fast with my running mate of Sikuku and cleared it in 22.55.
This means we have 4 minutes to slash off our 5K time. We are using this as the baseline.
4 whole minutes. Yes, we were with a rookie (Wendy) who asked. "Why are you guys worried? 4 Minutes only? That should be easy". She should read Lance Armstrong's story.

Our strategy is to concentrate on speed and tempo runs for the next 4 months.
So below is my training plan. Towards the marathon next year, I plan to be clocking between 50 and 60 Kilometres a week. So this is a slow build up but more importantly, speed! Speed speed. If we can do a sub 19 5K, the better. I am ready to lose the remaining 3Kgs to reach my ideal weight, which is 86. At any rate, we have the fire burning in our belly and the hunger to be fast and strong.

Why You Should Run Negative Splits

Negative splits refers to a running strategy where one starts slowly and then speeds up in later stages and finishes faster than they started. Lance Armstrong, the former biker ran negative splits in his 2007 New York Marathon which he ran as follows and completed in 2:46:
Split, Time, Pace
5k, 0:20:01, 6:26
10k, 0:40:08, 6:27
15k, 0:59:54, 6:25
20k, 1:19:27, 6:23
Half, 1:23:41, 6:23
30k, 1:58:40, 6:21
35k, 2:18:00, 6:20
40k, 2:37:47, 6:20
Finish 2:46:43, 6:21

Even Marilson Gomes Dos Santos who won the NY Marathon 2008 ran negative splits. So its the best strategy to ran a marathon.

Negative Splits: Use Them to Perform Better in Your Next Marathon explains the reasons why negative splits can help you better your performance. Jim Fortner explains that you should not start out fast for the following reasons:
Why you should not start out fast

(1) Starting fast leads to faster consumption of glycogen, which means that your body becomes more dependent on fat for fuel earlier in the race;
(2) you reach your AT/LT earlier in the race, so a greater portion of the race is spent running anaerobically, i.e., the wall arrives earlier and harder; and
(3) it allows for less margin of error in case you miscalculated your ability on race day or any of many other variables bite you in the butt. You wind up running a greater percentage of the race in the less efficient mode, which exacerbates your late race “decline” and can lead to a hard crash.

Why You should Run Negative Splits:
1. “Ideally you should run the first portion of the race a little slower than your expected mean pace, thereby conserving carbohydrate supplies. Later on….adequate supplies will be available to provide energy for pace increases as well as a strong finish. This is the concept of “negative-splitting a marathon….” Martin and Coe
, Better Training for Distance Runners.

2. " is always preferable to speed up in the second half when others are slowing down. It gives you the impression that you are running faster than you really are, and the mental lift of passing others is great.” Tim Noakes, The Lore of Running.

3. If you go out a bit slow, you have adequate time to make up for it. So it’s better to err on the side of caution. Glover in The Competitive Runner’s Handbook.

But he concludes, "this stuff ain’t an exact science no matter how much we theorize it.".

Celebrity Runners
Here are some times set by celebrity runners:
2:59:37 - Lance Armstrong, cyclist - lowered to 2:45 in NY Marathon in 2007
3:30:18 - John Edwards, former Senator
3:31:00 - Michael Dukakis, former governor
3:44:52 - President George W. Bush (In January, 1993, George W. Bush finished the Houston Marathon in 3:44:52)
3:45:35 - Kristin Armstrong, ex-wife of Lance Armstrong
3:52:00 - Kim Alexis, supermodel
3:54:00 - Roger Craig, football player
3:54:40 - Justin Leonard, golfer
3:55:40 - Anthony Edwards, actor
3:56:12 - Will Ferrel, actor/comedian
4:12:06 - Kerri Strug, Olympic gymnast
4:14:54 - Sean (Diddy) Combs, rapper
4:29:20 - Oprah Winfrey, talk-show host
4:54:36 - Bill Frist, former Senate majority-leader
4:58:25 - Al Gore, former Vice-President
6:04:43 - David Lee Roth, rock musician (Ati?)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bursting my bubble - No More Excuses

I have written several times in this blog that running is just a hobby and I can never be that good a runner because I started running late and because my profession cannot afford me adequate practice time to be a runner worthy of mention. And I have other ambitions and all other kinds of manure excuses that are basically a whitewash of a man afraid of hoping, aiming and risking failing to meet a set goal. And of course the world being witness to that failure. So keep expectations low and manage them safely. Bunk.

In fact, I wrote last week, "I can never run like Wanjiru and I have no interest to ever win any money in a running event."

I have had some time to reflect about it and realized that this is loser talk. This is pure bunk and I have realized I have been rationalizing myself into having a safe little bubble wherein I live comfortably without having to exert myself too much or risk failure. This has been my way of avoiding something too challenging, something too difficult, something that would take something out of me. Unfamiliar territory. Something that would test me and stretch me to the limits. Something that would become my failure, or my greatness.

Today I realized that what I have lacked is someone to push me and encourage me. Someone to tap my bubble and tell me "Come out." But I did have that someone all along. Except I probably expected that someone to be Paul Tergat or some other accomplished runner. That someone came in an unexpected form of a plus three hours half marathon finisher. Last week, one of the people I practically persuaded and convinced to run in the Stanchart Marathon told me, "Why don't you just lose a few more Kgs and go for the jackpot". I dismissed that instantly and took it to be a mistaken inference that if you lose weight you automatically become fast. But I forgot that it is practically myself who pushed her to go for the race. "I cant do it. I will not" she had persisted earlier and I prevailed on her that she could do it and she would finish. "No way!" she insisted. But she finally showed up for the race. And when she finished, she remarked that one thing she realized was that she could run. And now she is fired up to improve her time next year.

There is a saying I have lost track of which says that nobody ever accomplished something greater than they could without someone else encouraging them and believing that they could.

I have been looking askance at running as if it will take away something from me if I let it in my life fully. But this has all been a cop out. My rationalizations don't withstand close scrutiny. I think I have just been afraid of failure. So I aim low and act like an outsider. How will taking running more seriously impact on my life plans? It wont stop me from achieving what I want. So I have decided I am bursting my bubble and making no more excuses. I want to see how good I can get at this. So sub 1:30 or better is what I will be going for. No limits. I want to break all barriers.

I ran 26Kms in 2:20 mins yesterday. I want to start keeping a log of the mileage I cover every week and every month. Hopefully, by September next year, I can cover more than 60Kms a week and I hope to clear that distance in under two hours by June. It has a hill and its long. Just what I need. I should be running that circuit every fortnight or three weeks trying to reduce that time minute by minute till I get below two hours. If that happens, I will be close to my best.
November week 1 mileage: 26Kms

I just discovered a great site that is authored by Constantine Njeru. He was with me in the Stanchart Marathon and he finished in 2:54, striving to maintain a 4min per Km pace. He is 28, Psyched to death and aiming to run sub 2:45. His site is full of tips for beginners and masters alike. I feel as if I found a soulmate. He has great tips on Hill Running, training plan and a running mantra. Check out that site.