Monday, July 18, 2011

Chicago Marathon training update

So, with a bit less than 12 weeks until the Chicago Marathon I've received a few questions from my running-oriented friends concerning how my training is going, and what will be my race goal. To the first question I'm happy that my training has gone fairly well, thanks to the Kenyan Way Saturday morning long run and my perfectly steady-paced training partner Alison. While I've also managed to get in good weekday training runs (thanks to the well situated 24 Hour Fitness Center that's close to the scenic and well shaded Rice University outer loop) my refusal to do speed or tempo work on the cooler indoor treadmills will compromise any realistic shot for an ambitious Chicago goal. So, presuming ideal Windy City weather (i.e with finishing temperatures no higher than 70F) my goal time will be an easy 3:29, running at a steady 8:00 pace with the Nike pacing group.  

Looking deeper into my proverbial crystal ball in the subsequent three months between Chicago and Houston, if all goes well my Houston ambitious goal will be to P.R. with a 3:19. We'll see!  

Olympian Paula Radcliffe: “I can't imagine living and not running.”

Friday, July 8, 2011

Americans are Fat and Getting Fatter. The "F as in Fat" Report

By CDC. via Wikimedia Commons
Earlier today a fellow blogger and Runners Round Table podcast friend Pete Larson wrote another thought provoking post. He referenced Trust for America's Health recent report entitled: F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future. Pete referenced his prior successful weight loss and subsequent maintenance through an active lifestyle and good nutrition, and encouraged the running community to increase the awareness of others to this growing problem.

I committed permanently to lose weight in my early 40's. While then leading a largely sedentary lifestyle, and enjoying the nutritional intake more appropriate to my former high school swim team days, I accommodated my ever-growing waist line by periodic shopping trips for new clothes. While aware of my weight, I wasn't concerned until I was shocked by the sales clerk who informed me that he didn't carry "my size", and in turn I'd need to go to a "big and tall men's store". Finally realizing that my 50+ lbs. of surplus weight would force an expensive change in my complete wardrobe, I was also reminded of the likely consequence of my continued lifestyle through observing my obese father's painful hip surgery and recovery. So, with a double dose of fear, but the inspiration and encouragement provided by a long-time friend's successful loss of 65 lbs. I made my commitment on that day. In the subsequent six months, despite a continued lack of exercise I was nevertheless successful in reaching my 165 lb. goal weight owing to my continued determination and motivation.

Upon reaching my goal weight a colleague made a statement then asked me a question - the combination of which helped determine my more important subsequent success: "While it's great that you've reached your goal weight, it's a shame that you're almost certain to re-gain it all. I know you're not a runner, but why don't you join me tomorrow morning for a run?" While I initially felt angry at the perceived slight, I was well aware that the vast majority of Americans who lose a significant amount of weight, but who don't make a substantive and permanent increase in their activity level, in fact do re-gain. So, with a quick trip to the sports store for the necessary equipment I did take him up on his suggestion and ran the next morning. Now, nearly twelve years later, with well over ten  thousand pleasurable road and trail runs under my belt I'm even more thankful for that friend's timely input. I've found through the sport of running a fun activity which I enjoy year-round that has provided me many friendships, positive life experiences and a tremendous amount of stress reduction - with absolutely certain positive health benefits far surpassing merely helping to effectively control my weight.

I encourage all runners to quickly read through the shocking F as in Fat report and to then use your influence to increase the awareness of others to this vital problem. It affects ourselves, our families, our economy and our society - both in the short and long-term. Here are two short but good motivational and informative videos entirely on-topic:

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Use your Alarm Clock to Beat the Heat

To prevent another self-interrupted long-run swelter fest I decided to start my run an hour earlier than Kenyan Way's normal 6:00 AM group start. I'm glad I did!

To comply with Sean Wade's bot-generated Chicago Marathon training plan I wanted to get a full 15 miles in today. With pre-dawn Houston temperatures forecast - again - to be hot and humid (77°F with a 73°F DP), and with the rising sun quickly worsening those conditions, I arranged with my wonderfully steady paced training partner to meet an hour early. Besides the earlier start we agreed to back down a bit on our pace for the first half of the run, to ~8:15 or so. The combination clearly helped, demonstrated by our achieving our target negative split and feeling strong throughout.  When faced with hot and humid conditions use your alarm clock and a somewhat slowed target pace to help you achieve your training objectives nevertheless.

Side Bar. Read this fascinating Globe and Mail article on running in the heat.  Also, if you don't already follow these excellent blogger runners, here are two especially interesting recent ones: Pete with Runblogger and Jaymee with Run Away Fast.