Friday, October 28, 2011

The Results Please....

Today, I had an appointment to get an ultrasound of my groin/lower abdominal area to try and pinpoint the source of my pain and rule out a hernia definitively. Of course I also got my hopes up that the sonogram tech would magically pinpoint the source of my pain, correctly identify both the ailment and the cause, as well as prescribe a treatment plan to get me back on the road. Alas, of course, this was not to be. In fact, the exam lasted all of ten minutes, with the tech saying that everything looked OK to her and that the doctor would send the official results to my primary care physician next week. Just like that I was done, and still no closer to resolution, but still in pain. Needless to say, Monday will be another call to the doctor, and the start of another wait for an appointment and the next test. Upbeat, but frustrated because I have not run in 15 days and the pain is no less than it was the last time I ran. On a positive note, it’s not any worse either.

The kids Tebowing while practicing music

So…… in other news, there is a new craze sweeping the nation called Tebowing.  In fact, there is an entire website dedicated to the act of Tebowing (, and the more austere or creative place you Tebow, the better.  The definition of Tebowing as defined by the site’s creator is “(vb) to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different. I won’t get into any religious aspects of the act of Tebowing, but I will say that I think it’s a great tribute to a great dude and a damn exciting player. Since we are huge fans of the Florida Gators and Tim Tebow, we knew it was only a matter of time before we got in on the action. Here’s Julie and I “Temowing.”

Julie and I Temowing!
I even won a $25 gift card from Go Sport ID on their Facebook page for submitting our Tebowing picture! Talk about cool huh? I’m pretty excited to get one of their bracelets since the dog chewed up my Road ID, and I’ll be sure to post a review for you once I’ve got it in my hot little hands!

Anyway, I’d like to see your Tebowing pics if you are so inclined, so drop them on my Facebook page or tweet them to me!

Have a great night! Run long this weekend and enjoy it! For all of you running the MCM, good luck and may the wind be at your back!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why run anyway?

Why do you run? What are the real upsides? Sure you can increase your level of fitness and overall health, but it takes an awful long time and a whole lot of work to achieve that. On the other hand, running can kill you instantly; you can be hit by car, have a heart attack, etc..., and if running doesn't kill you, it can damn sure hurt you.  Excluding me, just scan the entries on the DM to see how many people are in various stages of injury. In fact, I'll take it one step further and ask you how many runs have you ever been on where you did not hurt at all when you were finished; soreness, niggles, tightness etc....? Be honest, it's there. Running is also expensive for most of us, especially the novice runner. While it is advertised that you don't need any equipment to run, this is not true for the vast majority. There's shoes, socks, shorts, shirts at a minimum (sure you can knock off socks and shoes if you are a true minimalist); GPS watch, heart rate monitor, foam roller and more if you really want to be prepared. Also, once you’ve been running for some time you have to race right? In fact, many articles for beginning runners suggest you sign up for a race at the same time you decide to start running so that you will have a goal to train for and thereby stay motivated. If you think running gear is expensive, races can be even more so depending on what your goal race is and where you live. Just check out Jeff's analysis over at Detroit Runner as to what it might cost him to run the Chicago Marathon. $1800 for a weekend and a race is staggering huh? So to sum it up, running can increase your life expectancy, but it takes a while, and while you are working on achieving this benefit, your cost is potential instant death, pain on a near daily basis, and bankruptcy (or at least poverty).

So why not just sit on the couch? It won't kill you (at least not instantly); it doesn't hurt at all (in fact it's quite comfortable); and best of all, it's free! The downside? To be honest, it will kill you....eventually. You'll have plenty of years to figure this out though and ward off your slow death from obesity and decay.  After all, you don't gain 100 lbs overnight, so it’ll take you at least several months of concerted effort to do this, and by that time you’ll probably be sufficiently motivated to do something about it. Wait. What? If you’re morbidly obese and want to live you have to do something about it? Well yeah, duh! Damnit! So now I'm 100 lbs overweight and have to run and workout to lose it all? Yup. So maybe this running thing isn't all that bad. 

Even given the potential risks and pain and cost (should you choose to spend the money), running is a good thing. Hell, running is a great thing. Even my worst day running is better than one day not running. I never thought that I would feel this way about running, but like most who find running later in life, it really is a life saver in many ways.  As I have struggled with this injury, what I realize more and more every day is that even though I am remaining positive and looking for different challenges, I have lost something by not running. I am lethargic, unfocused, and unmotivated and the one thing that I know would cure it is a good run. For now though, that nice long run is not to be. What I hope to gain from this experience is a greater appreciation for the ability to run; a greater appreciation for the machine that is my body that allows me to run; and an increased willingness to back off the intensity when my body asks me to, as I realize that it is not weak to rest or to cut a run short.

So what say you? The road or the couch? It's your choice...

Monday, October 24, 2011

On to the next one? Not so fast!

Many of you have asked how my visit to the Doctor went on Friday, so here's a quick recap. I didn't get much information, though honestly I was prepared for that.  Effectively, he told me what I already knew, which was mainly that he did not think it was a hernia, but more likely a strained (or torn) groin muscle. I have to call this week to schedule an appointment to have an ultrasound done on the area to try and determine the true injury and extent of the damage, as well as how to fix it and how long it will take to recover. To be sure, it is somewhat painful and no doubt limits my performance, but I can run on it. I’m just not sure how much or how often I should.  For me, complete rest is a non-starter and unfortunately everything you do physically uses the groin muscle to some degree or another. Given all of that, my strategy has been to significantly reduce my exercise (and intensity) instead of completely eliminating it. Once I see the Doc again, we can negotiate a new agreement if need be. 

So with all of that said, I still have not given up on TNF 50 in December. If the docs think that I can run without damaging myself, then I will probably choose to run. However, I have been conditioning myself for a DNS at TNF 50 just in case, and have begun to look toward goals for next year with an aim of taking the time now to heal up for a strong comeback next year. Believe it or not, I am remaining pretty positive with this whole situation and am embracing it as an opportunity to do some new things fitness wise that I was afraid to undertake previously for fear of screwing up my running. So for the near term it will be swimming and biking with a few very short runs (3-5) until I get some closure and a treatment plan. 

In other news, I am already filling out next year's event calendar and training goals. Unfortunately, the calendar will include a move in the middle of the summer back to the east coast, so acclimation will also play in to the training plan!

What about you? With marathon season nearly over, what are your early plans or goals for next year?

Finally, if you want to be cool you need to become a follower (just click the follow button), "like" Just a Little Run on FB, and join me on Twitter! The next "Just a Little Giveaway" will be once I hit 50 followers, so tell your friends!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I run to be...

As Julie ran the Nike Women's Marathon this past weekend, both the runners and the spectators were inundated with Nike signage exclaiming "I run to be ________." Since it is a women's marathon, these signs were focused on building confidence and "girl power" if you will; both super important.  The correct answers to fill-in-the-blank are strong, sexy, fit, etc..., but I as I reflected, I realized that none of these answers fit for me (especially the sexy, lol). In fact, for much of the time I chased Julie around the marathon course trying to support her and cheer her on, I became quite perplexed about what exactly I run to be. Then it happened, I had an epiphany. I run to be accepted. Better yet, I run to be approved of.

Don't get me wrong. I love running, I truly do. I love the feeling of the wind against my face and the rhythmic breathing and footfalls as I cruise down the road. I love the sweat and exertion and the way my legs feel after a hard run. I love the sense of accomplishment from completing a long run or a race or new PR whether speed or distance. What I realized though is that I run so that other people will accept me. I run so that other people will think I am worthwhile. So what, right? Many people run for others. 

Well the difference (in my mind) goes back to a couple of my recent posts (here and here) where I talked about some injuries and my thoughts on them; resting, listening to your body, and running through them. Well, that's when I truly realized that I was not running hurt because I wanted to finish TNF 50. I was running hurt so that all of you would not think I was weak. Pretty stupid huh? I still have not learned how to run for me. I'm trying, but i really run for the acceptance of others; the "congrats," the "wows," the "I can't believe you ran that far," etc.. and that's it. If I have to drop out of the race, I'm not that bothered by it. Sure, I'd like to do it, but I really only want to do it so that you guys will think that I am cool, or a "real runner." In fact, if everyone on the DM started running 5Ks tomorrow, then I would probably jump on the bandwagon and do them too.

Anyway, they say it's about the journey, not the destination, so I'll chalk up my psyche to the fact that I am still on my journey. I am learning everyday what it means to be a runner, what my niche is, where my true passion lies, and what I run to be. I'm done running for now. I'll see the doctor on Friday and begin a new journey to heal, so that I might come back stronger, with more desire and a truer sense of self. 

Thanks for reading.

By the way, if you want to get this priceless wisdom daily, become a follower (just click the follow button), "like" Just a Little Run on FB, or join me on Twitter

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Today was her day!

As most of you know (or have seen), Julie ran her first marathon today. She completed the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco, CA in 4:39! She did awesome and I could not be more proud! I won't bore you with words on her performance (hopefully she will write some herself in the coming days), but will instead share some pictures.

Sorry these aren't in order, but Blogger is being difficult and I've been up since 3 am.

At mile 10, looking strong!

Here she is at mile 15, still smiling!

Mile 26!! Almost done, and a huge smile of accomplishment and relief.

Marathoner! In her hand is her Tiffany's finishers necklace.

A close up of the necklace. On the front it says "NWM 11" and on the back it says "I run to be"
Here's the finisher's tech tee, necklace and her bib.

At the expo waiting to pick up her bib!

She runs to be....

Her name in bold on the L&L wall. It had every runner's name on it!

Here we are at mile 10 getting ready to cheer her on!
Well, there it is, her day in pictures. I am so glad that I was there to be a part of it! She was epic today!

Friday, October 14, 2011

So I'm not perfect...

So in my last post I talked about some recent injuries that I had suffered and how I was OK with this and looking towards long term goals such as running for the next 50 years instead of the next 50 days, meaning that I would gladly give up the 50 miler this year if I was hurt. Well, I took some time off and didn't run. I rode my bike, I tried cross training, and I did sulk a little, but not much. Anyway, this week I was feeling pretty good and decided that I would test out the hip with some short runs. On Sunday, I went for 3 miles and felt really strong. I ran it with an average pace of 8:49, which is admittedly faster than I should have run, but it felt great. On Monday I decided to do another 3 mile run. Stepping off, I felt even stronger and ran at an average pace of 7:48 with the last mile at 7:01! This of course, was also way too fast and a definite recipe for trouble. Fortunately all went well and I ran 4 miles Tuesday (slowly) and 8 miles today (slowly).

So what's my point? Well, I am human. I wanted to be smart and take it easy, but I couldn't. I tried, I promise. We constantly talk about listening to our body when training and not doing things when our body is signaling that it is not ready. Well on Monday and Tuesday, my body told me to run fast. My mind said it might not be the best course of action, but my body said "Do it," and I did. As you can imagine, I caught some flak on the Daily Mile for this. I knew I would, and I totally appreciated the response from my virtual training partners out there. They only want what's best for me after all, but I'm human, what can I say? As my friend Andrea likes to say, "sometimes you just have to rip off the band-aid." Well that's what I did and damn did it feel good! Am I a hypocrite for running injured, or doing too much to soon? I don't think so, and I hope you don't either. Sometimes you just have to listen to your body.

By the way, if you want to get this priceless wisdom daily, become a follower (just click the follow button), "like" Just a Little Run on FB, or join me on Twitter

Please leave a comment (here, on FB or on Twitter) and wish the HeadThinker (Julie) good luck on her 1st marathon this Sunday! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

TNF 50 Weekly Training Update: The Week That Wasn't

No real running this week. I went today and ran 3 miles and the preliminary report is that it went pretty well.  Why no running you ask? Well, truth be told, my left leg feels like garbage. Having only run 3 times in the last two weeks and 3 miles in the last week, I can really tell how much pain I have been carrying around. The trouble started early in the summer with some sort of pulled groin muscle or lower abdominal muscle. It was a minor inconvenience, and besides being very tender when I ran, coughed, stretched, etc…, I didn’t pay it much mind and continued to run.  Then, in early August following mile repeats, my hamstring felt a little tight and painful. Again, no reason for alarm, I just stopped doing any speedwork and tried to take it easy with the pace.  Last week though, my left hip brought me to a grinding halt. I initially attributed the hip pain to running a 24 miler down the shoulder of the highway with some serious road camber and took a few days off. After trying to run on it again and again feeling some pain, I decided to rest this entire week.  My hip felt fine without running for the week, but my leg pretty much aches constantly, and I believe that the hip injury either came from the Combat Fitness Test (completed in boots and cammies) or is a progressive injury from the groin/ab strain and the hamstring strain (you know, like a compounding sort of thing).  Needless to say, I had to call the doctor so that we can get some resolution on these issues and get back to running. Military medicine being what it is, I can’t get in until the 21st unless I want to crash sick call before then.

All in all, I have kept my spirits high with not running. Like I said though, it’s interesting not running 60+ miles a week as now I can feel all the little nagging injuries that I have been ignoring. I am trying to take everything in stride, while enjoying some rest and trying to re-evaluate this year’s goals as well as look ahead to next year. For now, I am not considering abandoning TNF 50 because I do believe that I have an excellent training base, so even if I have to take a few weeks off, I should be able to still complete the race (it’s December 3rd). However, if it turns out that I have a significant injury, I am ok with postponing my date with 50 miles in the interest of longevity.  What I mean by that is that I am finally mature enough to realize that I am not defined by how hard I train or how long I can train hurt.  If I have to give up the 50 for this year, so be it as long as it means that I’ll be back strong come the first of next year. After all, I’m more interested in running for the next 50 years, than the next 50 days! With all that said, we’ll see what happens.

In the good news category, I got a nice package from the guys and gals at Injinji this week!

It was awesome! Remember the video contest that I entered and won third place in? Well this was the prize that they sent me. 5 pair of socks, two water bottles, and a bunch of cool stickers. To say I was elated would definitely be an understatement. Not that there was ever a question, but I am firmly entrenched in the Injinji camp now.

Also, the HeadThinker is now only 1 week away from the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, so we’re all excited to head up there next Sunday and cheer her on to her first full marathon finish! The 1st ever “Just a Little Giveaway” was also a big success, with John Bingham’s excellent book, The Courage to Start going to Travis at the Slow Progress Runner. With the success of this giveaway, there will definitely be more to follow! Thanks to everyone who participated!

Anyway, as the reality that I may have to take some time off from running has set in, I have started thinking of other ways to train (without further injuring myself) and stay in shape. I am trying to see this as an opportunity to do some new things like finally complete P90X, get back up to doing 25 dead hang pullups in a set, pull my road bike off the wall (and ride it), as well as learn to become an efficient swimmer. Can you spell triathlon???? Oh yeah, we picked up a sweet road bike for the HeadThinker today as well as a trailer for the BabyThinker, so tomorrow is family ride day!

This seems to be the time of year for injuries as all the end of season marathons are happening, so stay safe and train smart! Also, if you haven’t “liked” us on Facebook, please do! And if you tweet, you can find us here!

As always, thanks for reading and congrats to all those who rocked the Chicago Marathon today!

Mon – Rest
Tue – 5 x 10 pullups, 10 pushups, 10 squats, 10 military press, 25 crunches
Wed – Rest
Thu – Rest
Fri –Rest
Sat – Rest
Sun – 3 @ 8:49

Total miles for the week – 3 and feeling OK.

Next week’s goal:  Take it easy with shorter runs and a total for the week of about 35….if it feels right. Also, I am gonna jump on the bike a couple times and do some more pullups and pushups. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

First off, an enormous thank you to all of you who entered this giveway; I realize that in the grand scheme of things, a book is not a huge prize, when others are giving away much more. Secondly, books and words mean more to me than most material things (just ask the HeadThinker how many books are currently sitting on my nightstand), so there is some special meaning behind this giveaway for me.  In fact, words are what keep many of us training and aiming for our goals. Think about how much a “Nice run” or “Whoa! That’s some serious mileage” goes.  Doesn’t it boost your ego just a little bit to know that others are impressed by what you did, no matter how small you might think it is? Doesn’t it make you feel great to know that through your actions and words, you might inspire someone else to be great? Well that is just one of the reasons that I love reading about running. It’s the words. They inspire me. They make me want to be more.  With that said, I hope they do for you as well.

The winner of John Bingham’s The Courage to Start is……

Congratulations Travis! Please e-mail me at justalittlerun(at)gmail(dot)com with your shipping information.

Thanks again to everyone who participated! 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

TNF 50 Weekly Training Update: An Ode to the Treadmill

This week was a mixed bag to say the least.  On the good side of things, the HeadThinker reached her fundraising goal with 2 weeks to go, so if you still want to donate, you still have time! Also, while my running was not great (keep reading), both the Injinji mid-weights and Mizuno Rider II tee I got last week have a lot of promise (will review soon).  In other good news, the blog now has a home on Facebook, so please go like it and spread the word to your friends! I am also up on Twitter, so if you tweet, please follow there as well! Lastly, Wednesday at 11:59 pm (Pacific Time) is the deadline to enter the “Just a Little Giveaway” for a shot to win John Bingham’s excellent book The Courage to Start.

The bad. My left hip/hamstring/leg is still wonky.  It felt great all week, so I decided to test it for a short run today and it was not great. Not terrible, but got some pain again around mile 2, so I shut it down and hobbled home. So while I had a forced recovery week this week, next week was a scheduled recovery week and will remain so.  There is still plenty of time until TNF 50 and I think I have a pretty solid base, so another slow week shouldn’t kill me (physically – lol)! Also, in the bad category, the Gators lost to Alabama, but that was expected, and honestly, a win would have given false hope. I just hope that we can be more competitive against LSU next week.

So on Friday, I put a quick poll on the Just a Little Run Facebook page asking for your thoughts on running on the treadmill. This question was derived from my observation that most people on the DailyMile abhor the treadmill. Day after day I watched as people posted about their “horrible runs on the dreadmill” and it got me wondering if people really felt that way, or if they were just posting that because they felt like “real runners” did not use the treadmill. The HeadThinker and I got to talking about this and why people so disliked the treadmill. She thought that since many of my friends on DM are ultra runners, their mentality would not allow them to run on a treadmill as a run in any weather/terrain condition is better than a treadmill.  Also, given that most ultras are conducted on trails, the treadmill is not necessarily the best replicator of those conditions. Both of these are astute observations and made complete sense, but still I was not convinced.

Here is a screen capture of the FB poll with the 16 responses. Once I culled the comments on the DM note, I had 20 total responses. Unfortunately not enough to draw real conclusions, but for our purposes here, it’s good enough for government work.

The breakdown is as follows:
Can’t do without it =       10%
Use it sometimes =         30%
Use as a last resort =      45%
Avoid it at all costs =       15%

I won’t bore you with any further analysis of why I think the poll turned out this way, other than to say 1) I’m not surprised and 2) I’m a little disappointed that more people do not think the treadmill is a valuable training tool. With that in mind, here is my attempt to capture the good and the bad.

The good (in no particular order)

Hill training – For most of my life, I have lived on the east coast in places with no elevation change whatsoever. Given this, if I wanted to run hills, the treadmill was my only option. Not only that, but a treadmill has built in hill training plans.
Speedwork I don’t like to run fast. I would prefer a 20 mile run to a 200 meter sprint any day. Given that, speedwork on the TM is easy peasy and ensures that I either hit my goal or fly off the back and into the wall. When I run Yasso 800s, I hit every 800, every time, because the treadmill will not let me slow down or speed up. Now you can say that Yassos are easier on the TM and that I may be cheating myself,and I will concede both those points to you, but I still think it’s a novel way to hit speed goals. Additionally, what if no track is near or you don’t have an accurate way to measure your distance on the road (I know - excuses, excuses).
Recovery days – On the days when you need to hit an easy recovery run, the TM can be your best friend. Lower impact surface and you can set the speed to ensure you don’t go out too fast and spoil your recovery run.
Kids at home – I have 3 kids and sometimes, it is impossible to get out of the house to run. I am also lucky enough to own a TM and am therefore able to turn on the TV for my youngest and rock out my run with him in the same room munching fruit snacks and watching Thomas the Tank Engine.
Time crunch – See above. Sometimes, the logistics of getting to your favorite spot to run are impossible to coordinate due to time. The TM is ready to run any time.
Bathroom / water / fuel nearby – Have bladder issues? Hate carrying a water bottle or gels? No bathrooms or bushes on your fave route? The TM is close to all the bathroom, water and your kitchen!
Returning from an injury – If you are returning from an injury, the TM can be very useful. It is compeltey flat (no camber), is lower impact than the road or sidewalk and can help you to keep your speed in check. It also won’t leave you miles from home if your injury flairs up again forcing you to stop running.

The Bad (in no particular order)

Time –If you don’t own a TM, it is definitely quicker to head outside for a run.
Cost – this one goes two ways. First is the cost of a TM. While lower end models are pretty affordable, they generally have less capability than their higher priced brethren; narrower (and shorter) decks, less incline, less speed, less programs and less power (for larger runners).  The second aspect of cost is having to purchase a gym membership in order to use a TM if you don’t own one. They (gym memberships) can be costly if you are only going to use a TM.
False confidence  - I also think that running on the TM a lot can give you fase confidence as to your true ability. It is easier (minus the boredom aspect) to run on a TM, so you have to compensate for it by increasing the incline to 1% or 1.5% and realize that an 8:00 minute TM mile is not equal to an 8:oo minute road mile.
Lack of destination – for many (including my buddy Andrea @ Run to Run to Be Me) running is all about the journey and the destination. Whether running from something, or to something, you are heading somewhere; but on a TM, you finish in the same place you started (physically at least).
In conclusion, for me at least, the TM is an invaluable training tool and I do at least one of my runs every week (and sometimes most) on my TM. It is convenient, low impact, and helps me to meet my goals.
Are you convinced? Either way, I’m looking forward to some good comments on this one!

Mon – Rest
Tue – 9 @ 8:37
Wed – 6 @ 9:35
Thu – Rest
Fri –Rest
Sat – Rest
Sun – 4 @ 10:17 (hip hurts again)

Total miles for the week – 19 and hurting

Next week’s goal:  Rest, and get over this hip/hamstring/leg owwie thing I have going on. Gonna try to do some cross training to stay sane!