Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Runners are Strange Creatures

As a long-time listener to running-oriented podcasts I've thoroughly enjoyed Runners Roundtable and Phedippidations.

Through my periodic interactions with Toni Harvey, Steve Runner and BuckeyeOutdoors' Ben Deutschle, I was invited to join a Roundtable panel on June 10th entitled "Runners are Strange Creatures". This episode focuses on the quirkiness of we runners, i.e. counting miles, mapping out runs, agonizing over training schedule or even trying to plan family vacation around running events.

In preparing for the dialog I began thinking about my own running-passion (admittedly bordering on an obsession), and have compiled a partial listing of these behavioral traits below:

  1. Whenever I happen upon any portion of a marathon route that I'd previously run I immediately find myself contemplating the approximate mileage on the course and my physical/emotional condition at that point;
  2. Continually daydreaming about my next training run or race (including while I'm already running);
  3. When reviewing the nutrition information on any meal or snack, I find myself automatically converting the calories into equivalent running miles (and feeling guilty if my morning run distance didn't burn as many calories as the food item);
  4. Frequently reviewing detailed weather information solely to know what's in-store on my next run;
  5. When traveling for business or pleasure choosing a hotel that offers the best nearby running routes;
  6. Calculating all discretionary purchases as multiples of my favorite new running shoes or running-related gadget;
  7. Using BuckeyeOutdoors.com daily via manually recording every run or exercise session within 30-minutes of its completion, then posting a link to my Garmin Forerunner upload. Not being able to fully relax until I perform this ritual;
  8. Upon returning home from a race, regardless of its outcome, of feeling compelled to both perform this Garmin ritual and to post a detailed blog entry regaring the event;
  9. Reading at least one book per month on the general subject of running;
  10. Reading several running-focused blogs per week;
  11. Listening to three or more running-focused podcasts per week;
  12. Obsessively charting every possible element from my running log, from my weight to my pace to my distance run;
  13. Targeting weight loss not for health or vanity reasons, but instead to make myself faster at my next race (P.S. - for each pound of fat that a runner sensibly loses they can expect to be approximately one minute faster over a marathon);
  14. Making the decision about whether to attend a social event on the assessed likelihood of meeting another runner;
  15. Continually dreaming about running at night;
  16. Continually daydreaming about running, including while running;
  17. Maintaining a detailed blog solely focused on running;
  18. Beginning every run by first deciding its purpose (i.e. tempo, interval, hills, distance, recovery), then setting my Forerunner GPS watch's 'Virtual Partner' feature so-as to continually remind me of my appropriate pace;
  19. Whenever hearing the city Boston referenced, immediately thinking about its (fantastic) marathon.
Items I hope to bring-up during the podcast if time allows:
  • I wish 'running advisor' John Ellis a full and complete recovery. I look forward to many additional contributions from John, and am eager to identify how his life experience shapes his training and especially nutrition-related advice;
  • I recommend that all runners - casual, committed (or those who should be committed!) - use the superb on-line running diary BuckeyeOutdoors.com, or find another means of recording their training runs, races, and successes. Notably, failures (either the rare DNF and/or injuries which may occur) provide excellent opportunities to reflect upon the cause, and what we can/should be done differently so-as to prevent such problems in the future;
  • If training for a specific competitive event, then be sure to utilize the wisdom of the most knowledgeable in planning your training. One of the many reasons why I am a BuckeyeOutdoors.com supporter is that by using that on-line tool it is extremely easy to create a training program from one of several top-notch sources. Through the following weeks this will then serve as a day-by-day reminder to you as to what is your appropriate day's activity. Marathon training programs which I personally have used (though strongly recommend that each runner evaluate what's appropriate for themselves) are: Hal Higdon's Advanced Marathon Training Plan; and Hansons-Brooks Advanced Training Plan. I'm currently close to finishing the below-referenced Matt Fitzgerald book, following which I intend to utilize its recommended training program for my next marathon;
  • Additionally, maintain a running-focused blog, or optionally produce a podcast. This exercise will provide you additional means of expression thereby allowing you to help others by sharing your own experiences;
  • Read some excellent running books, which will inspire you, provide encouragement, and help you avoid many pratfalls which would otherwise occur. Highly recommended: Running and Being: The Total Experience by George Sheehan; Masters Running: A Guide to Running and Staying Fit After 40 by Hal Higdon; Lore of Running by Tim Noakes; Why We Run: A Natural History by Bernd Heinrich; and Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results by Matt Fitzgerald;
  • Run, whenever possible, with others. Doing so, especially on casual, recovery and/or long runs will make them more enjoyable, allow you to tap the collective when encountering inevitable running-related challenges, broaden your social network, make your runs fly-by, and improve your personal safety. Additionally, through talking periodically during your runs you will be demonstrating that you are running at the appropriate aerobic cardiovascular zone (where-as when running solo it is all to easy to make an intended long-run become an inappropriate tempo effort).

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