All posts by Eric Hunley

RRCA Certified coach. Started to change lifestyle in 2012 when weight was up to 283 lbs. Eventually started running later that year and racing in 2013. Has run in dozens of races and has been featured in some podcasts. Full Bio on About Page.

Review: Topo Fli-Lyte

topo-flilyte-side2

Founded by the former CEO of Vibram, Tony Post, Topo Athletics is a portmanteau of his name. Keeping to his minimalist background, the company focuses on a range of athletic shoes catering to different sports from running to Cross-fit. They originally came out with a tabi, or split-toe design as shown below, but have now shifted to a more traditional shoe form. The Fli-Lytes are an example of these – a nice lightweight speedy trainer. They are spec’ed out to weigh 8.2 oz for size 9 and came in at 10.1 oz for my size 13.

topo-athletic

 Upper/Fit

topo-fli-lyte-top

I received the Black/Mango color way on my pair. Honestly, I think that they are one of the coolest looking pairs of shoes I have. They look both fast and aggressive, kind of reminding me of a muscle car.

The fit is very comfortable with a spacious toebox, without being too swimmy and I had no trouble feeling locked in at midfoot. I also like how they are using 3d printing to form the uppers, it’s definitely futuristic. Tony Post talks about this in the Gearist Podcast #3 which can be seen below:

Midsole

The Topo Fli-Lytes have a good firm ride, without being too stiff. They feel very similar to the ride of the Skechers GOrun 4s that I reviewed here. They are neutral with stack heights of 22mm at the rear to 19mm at the front putting them solidly in the minimalist category with a very small 3mm drop. I personally prefer drops right around the 4mm mark and I find them to be very comfortable. I definitely have solid proprioception when wearing them and that is very important to me.

topo-flilyte-side

Outsole

The traction on the Fli-Lytes is very solid. I feel like there is good grip without the shoes being sticky. I run roads and sidewalks primarily and they have a nice balanced feel.

I have over 40 miles in the shoes and don’t see any wear at all. They honestly don’t feel as if they have been broken in. I can see easily getting a good couple hundred miles in. With my weight of 200ish lbs, that is a good number for running shoes.

topo-flilyte-outsole

Conclusion

As a whole, the Topo Fli-lytes are really solid trainers. They are comfortably wide without being swimmy, light without being fragile, and tough without being clunky. Pretty solid all around. I personally feel comfortable with them from 10K – half marathon, but can see many wearing them all the way to marathon. They are one cool looking but solid all-around trainer.

You can find them at Amazon at our affiliate link below (the site gets a small commission if you buy through it at no cost to you).

Review: Addaday Type C and Junior Massage Rollers

For the past several months, I have been using a couple ingenious massagers created by Addaday. While the massaging stick popularized by the company The Stick has been around for years with a its very popular product, Addaday has taken the concept and improved on it.

I am currently using two of their products, the Type C Massage Stick and the Junior+ Massage Roller. I’d be hard pressed to say which one I like better. Honestly, I favor one over the other and then change my mind frequently.

The Type C Massage Stick is brilliant in its design. There are a series of “Gears” with one being “pinpoint precision”. The gears have different densities of surface to simulate different pressures. The Type C has “Surface Skin Technology (SST)” and is considered medium density. I find it to be a good amount of pressure when I use it. I especially like the pinpoint precision gear. With its placement along with adjacent gears, I really feel like I can comb along the muscles. I actually prefer using the device over the foam roller.

Between the larger gears and the pinpoints, I am able to shift back and forth to target specific problem areas. This is the first device I have been able to use on my shins. I found this to be possible because of the spacing between the gears. When using a traditional massage stick, I hit bone very frequently and it is too painful to proceed. And while using the Foam Roller, often, I can’t get enough precision. The Addaday really allows me to target specific areas effectively.

addaday-work

One of the most common places I used the Type C Massage stick is at work. I find that it works really well over my slacks or khakis. It doesn’t pull hair per se on my legs, but I find it more comfortable over material.

The other Junior+ Massage Roller is almost always with me. I keep in in my bag with electronics and also take it to races. It is so small that it is truly portable. I find that it can almost completely replace the lacrosse ball for hard to reach spots and it doesn’t roll away.

addaday-lacrosse

Also using the combination of the Type C stick and Junior Plus roller gives me nearly all the options for pressure density with the stick being of medium density and the Junior Plus being softer. I really can’t recommend these highly enough. Addaday also makes it a point of trying to support local running stores, so please check their site to see which stores near you carry them at http://www.addaday.com/.

Fit Challenge 2015 – June

Fit Challenge 2015 continues into summer with the June challenge, push-ups, led by Meredith O’Brien of fitnicept.com.

Meredith is a certified coach with a wide range of disciplines including USATF Level One, ACSM CPT and Crossfit Endurance.

An avid and passionate runner, Meredith relishes guiding members of the Hampton Roads running community on their journeys from beginners to experienced athletes. She also enjoys supporting local events including the Shamrock Marathon, Half Marathon and 8K, EquiKids Cross Country 5K and also travels in an effort to run 50 Half Marathons in 50 States (and Washington, D.C).

Always active, Meredith was a competitive equestrian for many years as well as competing on her high school Cross Country team and being a part of intramural athletics each season during her undergraduate tenure at the University of Delaware and throughout her graduate program at Old Dominion University. Being a part of various fitness communities led Meredith to develop a love for helping people achieve their goals and she has dedicated her career to making people’s fitness dreams into reality.

Check it out! http://www.fitnicept.com/blog/june-push-up-challenge-30-days/

Review: Apple Watch for Runners

There has been a ton of excitement for the Apple Watch. So much that I had to wait for two and a half weeks for my wife’s to arrive before I could test – they were sold out within minutes of being available for pre-order. So, with all the Sturm und Drang in the wearable industry, should Garmin and company be worried? Let’s find out.

I took the Apple Watch out for three runs. Each time, I wore another device to compare the results. I made it a point of taking my iPhone as well so I could have the most accurate tracking possible by giving the Apple Watch the GPS assistance.

My first run was an easy 2 miler and I also wore the Microsoft Band to get a GPS comparison. The results were as follows:

apple-watch-first-run

The Apple Watch results are on the left with the MS Band results on the right. There was a bit of a discrepancy with the time. I had some trouble getting the Apple watch started and then there is a countdown with the Workout App when you press Start. This would explain the time difference along with the pace difference – I was shuffling when trying to make sure I had the Apple watch recording. I also struggled a bit pausing it with similar results. I really should have learned to start testing things before hand, but it seems against my nature.

first-workoutLooking at the data overall though, they seemed to agree with the Heart Rate at least. The Microsoft Band had me at 164 with the Apple Watch coming in at 163. This too I have to verify in more runs because the Microsoft Band was not accurate on heart rate to start, but has vastly improved since I got a smaller size and applied updates.

After the first run, I got my first Achievement badge. This particular one was a Star. There is a full screen of achievements you can receive in the Activity app on the iPhone (note: the Activity App is hidden until you pair an Apple Watch, then it mysteriously is findable). As you collect achievements, the faded badges fill out. You can tap them to zoom in and see what you did to earn the award. It’s interesting and kind of fun. It definitely adds a little gamification to encourage activity.

Acheivements

For the rest of my workouts, I wore the Apple Watch and the Garmin 920XT with the HRM Run heart rate strap. Each watch was on an alternate wrist. For my first run, I ran for 60 minutes easy. Unfortunately, I was bitten by the battery life of the Apple Watch. I had charged it the night before and had over 30 percent when I started. But, it went into power saving mode after it recorded just shy of 4 miles. Sigh.

aborted-run-apple-watchFor my next run, I was set to do 30 minutes with Fartleks. I thought this would be a good test and a way to get some feedback on how the Heart Rate monitor functions. I also was running very different paces throughout and wanted to see how this would be reflected with the Apple Watch. The overall results are below. You can see where there starts to be some variances between the devices. The heart rate average looks really good. Overall, it is only two beats off of the Garmin with a heart rate strap. This is excellent. If there were going to be a large difference between devices, I feel this is the type of run that would do it because of the varied intensities in the workout. However, the pace was off by quite a bit. This was because the distance was off between the two devices. The Garmin had the distance at 4.22 miles versus 4.04 on the Apple Watch. This is troubling. I really would like to have as accurate of a distance as possible. I was running with my iPhone and had it at my waist inside of a FlipBelt – my preferred way to carry for shorter runs. It is possible that having the iPhone next to my waist caused me to partially block the GPS signal. This is unfortunate, because I absolutely don’t want to wear it on my arm.

fartleks-apple-watch

The other issue I have with the results are in the details. If you look at the data I captured from the Apple Watch, you learn only a few things – I ran over 30 minutes with an average pace of just over an 8 minute mile and an average heart rate of 173. Considering the type of workout, this is not helpful. Here are some of the stats that are captured by the Garmin 920XT and available on Garmin Connect:

garmin-screens

This is where things really fall apart when using the Apple Watch for runs. There is a lot of information about the workout. Here is a basic list of items that are missing.

  1. A map showing where I ran.
  2. How the laps broke down. This is especially important because it was a Fartlek workout and done in intervals.
  3. Elevation information.
  4. Cadence information – how many steps per minute did I average.
  5. Other running dynamics available on high-end modern Garmin watches including Vertical Oscillation, ground contact time, stride length.
  6. Graphs that detail the progress of the run. These show the effects pace and elevation against my heart rate.
  7. Other features that are available on high-end Garmin watches (some of these features are also on Polar and Suunto watches as well) include recovery time and VO2Max. Actually, the Microsoft Band also offers recovery time advise in both the Health App and online dashboard which also offers an estimated VO2Max.

 

Elliptical Workout Tracking

One thing that is a very welcome feature of the Apple Watch is the ability to track elliptical workouts. This is a feature that is not native to any Garmin watches I have tried. The best I have been able to do is set them as an indoor run and then change the type of workout. The Apple Watch on the other hand has Elliptical as a choosable workout type and does a nice job of giving you actual data on the workout. Sadly, it has no way to know what kind of resistance was set or the ramp, but it does at least track the basics with both a time and distance (getting distance is rarer than you would think) as shown below. Oddly, the distance is only shown in the Apple Health App shown on the right below, not the actual Activity App, which seems to be a strange oversight. Hopefully that will change in the future with firmware updates.

elliptical-activity

Conclusion

There is a lot to like about the Apple Watch. But sadly, not much of it has to do with tracking runs. It is a really well designed smart watch that is super comfortable and works seamlessly with an iPhone, but for anyone who is serious about training and tracking endurance sports workouts (run, bike, swim), it falls woefully short. weekly-activitySome of this may improve with updates to the built-in Apple apps, but they seem to be directed more at overall fitness. Third party apps seem to be unable to pick up the slack either because they are not accessing the built-in heart rate monitor. This limits them to only getting pace and distance from the phone since the Apple Watch does not have built-in GPS. If you want heart rate, you will need a bluetooth capable strap. And in that case, there is no benefit between the Apple Watch and a Pebble watch that can be purchased for less than $100.

On the other hand, if you are primarily focused on endurance sports tracking and just want basic notifications on your watch, Garmin, Polar and Suunto all have solutions that will do this. The Garmin VivoActive at $250 is an excellent starting point.

The Apple Watch is a nice watch with a ton of features, but the endurance athlete is not its focus. More the general consumer who wants to add a little activity to their lifestyle. It is very encouraging for wearers to fill up all the targets in the week with basic fitness and activity goals. But until there is a built-in GPS chip and more thorough application support, it is more for a dabbler than someone who is trying to train seriously for running or triathlete goals.

Review: Aminoskin

Getting nutrition down during a marathon can be a tricky thing. This is especially true in late miles when your stomach has shut down and you are hanging on for dear life. That is why the products at Aminoskin got me curious. Aminoskin offers a line of products developed in Germany that profess to supply amino acids during a workout from skin absorption.

I was eager to give the products a try. I had heard of vitamins and nutrients being applied to the skin for absorption and thought that might be an ingenious way to get some needed nutrients during a race. Previously though, amino acids were not thought to be absorbable through the skin.

Amino acid absorbtion through the skin is dictated by the size. Aminoskin has found a way to decrease the size enough to make absorption possible. Aminoskin points this out on their Facts page and The National Institute of Health study Interaction of nanoparticles and cell-penetrating peptides with skin for transdermal drug delivery appears to back the science up.

Before taking a chance on the product and skin allergies, I applied a little bit to my forearm and had no reactions of any kind for the day. It is very mild and has a very light citrusy scent. I then applied Aminoskin for two races on back-to-back weekends – a full marathon followed by a half marathon. For the full marathon, I applied Aminoskin Endurance.

Aminoskin Endurance contains taurine which helps to delay muscle fatigue during the activity. I dutifully applied the lotion to my quads exactly 20 minutes before the race in the porta-pottie. The consistency is very interesting. It is not as viscous as a standard lotion, it is almost frothy. That is good for me because I have always found lotion to be slimy. My wife likes to tease me about that. The product absorbs into the skin very quickly and was not noticeable as I exited the port-a-pottie.

There are other ingredients like mint in the product that may have exaggerated the effect, but I honestly didn’t feel my muscles as I started the race. It’s not like they were paralyzed and I had no control, but rather like they were gently held in a stasis and super relaxed. This may have influenced my decision to go out harder than I should have and I ran with a pace group 10 minutes faster than my goal.

For the first several miles, my legs felt outstanding and honestly I hadn’t run that well for a while. The miles were just clicking and felt effortless. Was this all the product? No. But I do think it made  a difference. Even if there was a placebo effect. The reason I credit the product is because I could tangibly feel the tingling and then numbness after application.

I shared my experience with Aminoskin and was advised to take a hot bath and apply some of the Recovery to help me the next day. I did this with Epsom salts and I will say that I recovered from the race better than I could have imagined.

The day after the race, I was able to walk down my stairs facing forward, not sideways (I still had to be gentle and used a handrail, but the difference was palpable). I saw my chiropractor the same day, and he was completely surprised. I was in better shape than I had been in 18 months of treatment. Was it all the product? No. But I do think it was a factor.

The rep at Aminoskin also advised me to use both the Power and Endurance product at the same time in my next race.

Amino skin Power contains Arginine which as described on their site as follows:

Arginine is used to make nitric oxid (NO) in the human body. NO dilates the blood vessels, faciliates an increased blood flow into muscle tissue and improves thereby the supplementation of oxygen and nutrients to increase the muscle power. AminoSkin Power is particularly suited to support your performance during sport specific interval and strength exercises, which are characterized by alternativ exercise phases and recovery phases (so-called intervals).

The rep also said to make sure I apply it to all muscles I will be using in the race. So, I made a port-a-pottie trip 20 minutes before the start of the Shamrock half-marathon and applied both to my quads, hamstrings and calves.

This time when I raced, I felt much the same as before. I started out the race tentatively because I was only one week off a marathon, hadn’t run a step all week and have a spotty injury history. My legs felt very good and I was able to set into a rhythm. I even was relaxed and comfortable enough to catch up to a friend that I sometimes run with and we ran the rest of the race together. I felt very good throughout the race and managed to get a 3.5 minute PR out of it.

I repeated the same process of recovery afterward and was feeling fine the next day. I actually was feeling so good that I was complaining that I wasn’t being allowed to run because I was in the middle of the recovery.

Again, the big question is are the results of my races and quicker recoveries caused by the Aminoskin? I would answer again. Not completely but they are a definite factor. But here is the bottom line, will I be using the product in the future. Absolutely. I will be applying some for my 20 miler this afternoon and I will be dutifully sneaking off to a port-a-pottie in 6 days for my third marathon and am very thankful I have this extra tool available.

Aminoskin is sold exclusively on their site at http://aminoskin.com (for English, click the American flag on the top right of the page).

Fit Challenge 2015 – April Challenge

steve

Fit Challenge 2015 kicks off April with a brand new challenge, burpees, from Steve Carmichael of RunBuzz.com.

Steve began road running in 1987 at Ft. Benning, Georgia while attending Infantry School for the U.S. Army National Guard. After returning from training, he continued running for about 3 years and ran many short distance road races up to a 20 mile run. In 1991, he gave up running and lived a sedimentary, fast food lifestyle until a health scare woke him up in 2006 when he took up running again to lose weight, lower cholesterol and to get back into shape. He has gone on to complete numerous 5k races and half and full marathons. Steve is a RRCA and USA Track and Field – Level 1 certified running coach and has coached runners locally through his running club as well as privately coached runners all across the United States and abroad.

Steve runs the RunBuzz Radio podcast, where he shares running tips, and interviews everyday runners and experts so that we can all learn more about the sport.

Steve’s own story has been featured on two podcasts Diz Runs With … Steve Carmichael as well as Concious Runner Episode 20: Steve Carmichael–From Overweight, Borderline Diabetic to Passionate Runner and More Part 1 and Episode 21: Steve Carmichael–From Overweight, Borderline Diabetic to Passionate Runner and More Part 2.

Please make sure that you check out the challenge page http://hamptonrunner.com/challenge to like the RunBuzz page and get directions for Final Surge so you can be eligible to win a monthly prize. Here is a burp demonstration:

Review: MilestonePod – Running Dynamics for $25

Not long ago, I saw a screenshot from Pete Larson of Runblogger showing results from a run that were collected from a device called MilestonePod. I immediately knew that I had to get my hands on one.

MilestonePod was initially introduced as a crowd funded Indiegogo project in early 2013. The initial devices were very straightforward. They automatically tracked the number of miles put on a pair of shoes. This was a valuable feature at the time because many running logs and sites were not tracking shoe mileage. Garmin for one just added this ability late in 2014 as an example.

While MilestonePod did not meet their funding goal, they were encouraged enough to release the product anyway. The original pods track shoe mileage and display the information in an app as shown below:

milestone-pod-version-one While the information is definitely useful and welcome, things have gotten really exciting in version 2. In this new version of the MilestonePod, the device tracks several valuable metrics. These include the following:

Distance: How far you ran
Pace: Average pace
Pace (peak): Fastest Pace
Duration: Total time of workout
Cadence: Average Number of steps per minute
Cadence (peak): Maximum steps per minute
Stance Time: Also known as ground contact time. Amount of time on average your foot remains in contact with the ground
Stance Time (peak): Average ground contact time taken from the fastest minute of the workout.
Stride Length: Average length of each step from the right foot and left foot touching the ground.
Footstrike: The percentage of time your foot contacts the ground first with the heel, midfoot, or heel.
Runficiency Score: A metric derived from cadence, stance time and stride length.

MilestonePod was kind enough to send me one of their version 2 pods and I excitedly put it on a pair of shoes to try out.

First Use

syncingWhen I received the MilestonePod, I immediately installed it on my pair of Skechers GoRun 4 and synced it with my iPhone. When it found the device, it started to update. I took a couple Facebook Messages and then went off to the gym and ran on the treadmill.

 

When I was finished, I tried to sync the data and there was nothing there. I popped the battery and replaced it and finally got the phone to see it. Unfortunately, it seemed like there was no data. I then reset the device to go with another pair of shoes, my Kinvara 5s and started to sync it. The app advised me again that it had to update the footpod and this time I was patient enough to see that it was asking me to not interrupt the process while it was happening. I didn’t and it updated successfully. It also gave me the option to set the number of miles that already existed on the shoes. This was a nice touch.

Second and Third Use

Now that I got the MilestonePod synced up and ready to go, I took it out on two long runs with my Kinvara 5s.

The first of these runs had the following results:

milestone_1st_run

 

I have been working on my foot strike for a while and increasing my cadence. I have been trying to hold a bit more of a mid-fore foot strike. Well, it appears that I may be missing the boat in the results.

I wore the footpad again and had slightly different results as shown below:

milestone_2nd_run

Well, there at least was some sign of a midfoot strike. Also, this was a 20 mile run and I was impressed that it got as close as it did for the distance. This was with no calibration, and the cadenced match my Garmin for both runs. After contemplating my foot strike issues, I decided that I should check the placement of the pod on my shoes and discovered that there may be a problem.

MilestonePod-placement

It appears that I suffered a case of failure to follow directions (it has happened in the past). I placed my MilestonePod between the first and second eyelet of the shoe instead of between the second and third eyelet as recommended in their video below:

So, I corrected the issue and put the MilestonePod on my shoe in the manner prescribed by the company. I then went on another run with the results below:

milestone_3rd_run

Sadly, it appears that my foot strike issue wasn’t caused by the placement of the footpad, but it is nice having the information. And that is the bottom line about this product. For $25, you are able to not only track miles on a shoe but also get some running dynamics to see if your form is as good as you would like it to be.

Keep in mind that getting this kind of information on a Garmin watch requires at least a Forerunner 620 which costs $400. Just this fact alone makes the MilestonePod an incredible bargain. It is inexpensive enough that you can buy more than one and have them on multiple pairs of shoes. You can then just reset them as you replace the shoes over time.

The MilestonePod can be bought at Amazon with my affiliate link below:

It appears that Amazon has sold out but more are on the way. In the meantime, you can visit the MilestonePod site at http://milestonepod.com/product/milestonepod/. Use coupon code “hamptonrunner” to get $5 off until 06/30/2015.

Review: Motigo App

motigo-logo

Sometimes in a race, you can find yourself in a very dark place. You are having to dig very deep and facing your own inner demons. It’s times like these, that a word of cheer or support can really help you find the light. Unfortunately, your family likely can’t be at every point in a race, or may not be able to attend an event. That is where the Motigo App for iPhone (Android coming soon) can be invaluable.

Motigo is an app that enables loved ones and supporters to record messages of up to 30 seconds that are played back for runners at different points during a race. These points are selected by whomever is recording a cheer.

The runner just starts the app at the beginning of the race, and as they cross the selected mile markers during the race, the music will fade and the message will play.

I used it in two races on back to back weekends.

In the first race, a marathon, things were going great for the first, but then I started having problems. As the race continued, I got cheers from my wife and my nephew. These really helped give me something to focus on. They were a lifeline. Especially when I was hurting so badly that I was walking at many points. Hearing my wife cheer me helped give me the motivation to get it together and start running so I could see her sooner at the finish.

In the next race, things were going extremely well. This time, getting messages from my wife just made the day more complete. They really enhanced an already great run for me and helped me maintain my effort all the way to a personal record. I love how the app can be there for both good and bad runs.

Another use for the app that I haven’t seen advertised could be for coaching. By having the ability to record messages at specific points during a race, coaches could offer guidance and strategy throughout the race.

These cheers remain available for future listens and that may its greatest feature. I lost my parents recently and they were very thrilled about my races. Unfortunately, they were unable to attend the events. I would have loved the opportunity to not only have heard from them during the races, but also I wish I had them recorded to hear now. I don’t know how long the cheers will be available and hope that we will be able to download them at some point, but having them archived with the service is a great start.

The only option I would request is the ability to change how the cheers are delivered. Currently, the music fades and the cheer is played over it. I would like to have the option of setting the app to pause the music and play the message. I had trouble hearing my nephew because he spoke softly in his cheer. I also know that I would have definitely struggled hearing my mother because she had Parkinson’s disease and her voice was very faint.

I highly recommend this app. It is very inexpensive to buy some cheers – about the same as a greeting card. And while you can’t hand your loved ones a card on the course, you can put a cheer in their ear.

You can find more information about the app in iTunes, or at http://getmotigo.com/. It is currently iOS only, but an Android version will be announced soon. You can sign up to be notified at http://getmotigo.com/.

Fit Challenge 2015 – March Challenge

Fit Challenge 2015 continues with a new challenge for March, Lunges conducted by the amazing athlete and coach, Rebecca Adamson of KR Endurance.

As one of the head coaches and founders of KR Endurance, Rebecca has numerous certifications along with a B.A., including International Triathlon Coaching Association (ITCA), National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) Sports Injury Specialist and Lifestyle Weight Management Specialist, and is a US Masters Swimming certified Level 1&2 Coach.

In addition to helping many athletes find their own personal best, Rebecca has massive racing experience herself, having run the Boston Marathon in 2010, 2011, and 2012, New York in 2014, and has completed two Ironmans – Lake Tahoe 2013 and Coeur d’Alene 2014. Her race history can be seen on Athlinks.

Rebecca demonstrates proper form for the lunges below. Please make sure that you check out the challenge page http://hamptonrunner.com/challenge to like the KR Endurance page and get directions for Final Surge so you can be eligible to win a monthly prize.

Setting Expectations

rock_and_roll_halfI am within three weeks from my goal spring marathon and it’s time for me to start second… And third guessing myself. Time to think about setting my goal.
This race is going to be interesting. I’m super-excited because it is an inaugural marathon (I haven’t run an inaugural race before) in the city next to mine. It’s practically a hometown marathon. I’m also looking at the race with trepidation. I have had a nice dose of humility this past fall.

A little bit of history…

I was trying to train up with my eyes on the big prize – a Boston Qualifying time.
I was hitting training hard. Harder than ever before and something started happening. While my training runs seemed like I was getting strong and my Garmins showed my estimated VO2Max to be higher than I imagined, I started to fall apart at races.
It all started with the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach.
I had some issues in training. Early warning signs like a shin splint. I was pushing through it and decided that I would run the half marathon at a 7:15-7:26 pace. 7:26 being the BQ time for my age group. I started out on track with my first mile at 7:19 and my second 7:12, but it wasn’t coming naturally. Between the heat, humidity, and my shin splint, I was having to push myself. I held on through the 5K mark slipping to a 7:30. Then things just got ugly – 7:48, 8:11, 8:35, 8:48, all the way to 9:28 on my slowest lap. I was having to stop at aid stations to get water. Then I had to just stop and walk intermittently.
I wound up with a time of 1:51:27 – Rock ‘n Roll Half. This was a typical workout time, not a race.

 And things kept going downhill…

A week later, I ran an 8K and turned in another poor performance, albeit much better than the week before.
Two weeks later, I was running another half marathon. This time, I decided to just keep my pace around 7:30. Try to just turn in a respectable race that is close to my goal marathon pace.
I was starting to feel that there might be hope. I was holding the pace pretty well and felt like I had a good rhythm. I was in the zone and the miles ticked off until mile 10. Almost the second I crossed the mile 10 mark, my hip gave out. I’ve never had the sensation before, but it was quite distressing.
I never realized how complex it was to force your leg to track on a swing. I learned that morning. I forced myself through the last 5K of the race.

And the wheels fell off…

A couple weeks later, I was scheduled to run a challenge of a 5K on a Saturday with a Half Marathon the next day. This was a really important race for me. The half marathon course actually runs in front of my house and it is really exciting for me to have a real “home race.” I ran the 5K on Saturday and it was slow, but expected. I was trying to heal up for the half marathon Sunday.
Sadly, I woke up Sunday and was hurting as I got out of bed. As I stood in the shower, my legs were shaking and I could barely climb the stairs. I was done. There was no way that I could run the race. I bundled up and walked outside later that morning to wave at my friends running by.
I then deferred my goal marathon for a year.

Rebuilding…

I stopped running for a month and hit the pool for aqua-jogging. I also started to ride my bike and used my elliptical. I finally started to jog a couple miles here and there. After rebuilding for a few months, I am finally at the point where I feel that I can finish the race. But, I am in no shape to attempt a Boston Qualifying time. It’s time to reset my expectations.

Setting Expectations

I have a few basic principles that I try to follow. I am not perfect at doing so and have to often remind myself of these things, but I do attempt live by these views.
  1. Be audacious, not ridiculous – I believe that a goal should be big. There are two ways to set a goal. It can be tiny and easily achievable to build confidence. Or it can be a giant challenge that will strain your abilities to their fullest. I try to do the latter, but sprinkle some of the former on the path to the big goal.
  2. Don’t be in too big of a hurry – One thing about having a big goal is that it should be very difficult to achieve. By its nature, it should take a while. Why rush it? Consider the fact that once you achieve it, you will have to find another goal.
  3. Find satisfaction on the way – You often can sustain your journey by turning in little victories. There is a philosophy that it’s about the journey, not the destination. There is a lot of truth to this. I really try to find the joy in workouts. Try a different route. Tackle a tough workout. Find a new running buddy.
  4. Your goal is for you. Don’t focus on others – Whatever your goal is, it is your’s. Don’t worry about someone else’s. If you are trying to break 5 hours, get a BQ, or break 3 hours, it doesn’t matter. Your goal is meaningful to you. You are competing against yourself. Very finish is a victory.
Those are my thoughts and what I have been trying to use for perspective as I get ready to tackle my second marathon. I’m not always successful and a master at second guessing myself, but I am trying to grow.
How about you? What are your goals? How do you tackle them? What do you recommend? Please comment and share.