Thursday, January 29, 2015


"There is too much negativity and fear in distance running".

The past few weeks have been fairly encouraging-training, professionally, and otherwise. I don't find it surprising that when a number of things are clicking along, so comes the running as well. One thing I will say, however, is that 'encouraging' in no way means easy. Maybe I'm just learning how to let go and respond a little better. I will spare the reader the wordy details of the ABB 5k on 1/17; simply it wasn't a smashing success but it didn't totally suck either. I wouldn't trade that race weekend for the world so I got what I came there for. There are a few things that I did take away from it-and hopefully I can use them to grow. Before I get into that, when I reflected on my past training cycle and race performance, a good amount of things have crossed my mind.....

*Beware of the semi-coherent stream of consciousness that follows*

My reaction to not meeting a goal was different after thinking about it a day or so. By different I walked away frustrated and annoyed, but not at myself, not at my coach, but at the race distance itself. This time, it was less personal. I spent much less time beating myself up and instead forming a different plan to mentally attack better in the future. I believe now more than ever; to run successfully, you have to almost detach yourself from your performances from time to time and just see them for what they are.

Instead of wanting to shy away and avoid the discomfort and perceived under-performance, I felt the chip on my shoulder I used to race with re-forming and it's a pretty deep one. In a sense, over the past couple weeks I seem to have reconnected with the need to be aggressive out there. That sensation of lactate buildup no longer is a warning that I need to slow down or bad things will happen, it means I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing for that distance. Before I had things to be 'afraid of' I raced with guts. I didn't care much how I felt during it. It took a race where I didn't necessarily race with guts to learn to approach things differently.

Coach Doug and I have talked training mileage over the past couple weeks as well. I'm now working my way back up to 50 miles per week, then evaluating from there where to go. Chump change for many, but a big deal for me. 50 to me means getting into a training rhythm. 50 to me means reasonably fit and prepared. It has also been a hard peak to reach in recent times. But that was then. The work I have been doing while stringing together as much run training as possible I think everything else I did in hopes of it coming together- is starting to pay off.

It feels like I am transitioning back onto the path to be the runner I know I can be. Just maybe, over time I will exceed even my own expectations. As Lauren Fleshman wrote recently: "there is no such thing as a perfect training cycle, but there is such thing as excellent adaptation".

I recall that before I became a more serious runner, I was simply an athlete. I could do a number of different things and had an attitude of progress and learning more so than hard and fast goals. This worked. Looking back now, I see that by the years of becoming more 'athletic' again and being limited on the mileage, the running benefits from it. It was only recently that I told my massage therapist that I noticed that I feel different now when I train. Light, yet strong.

This transition is likely a long-term project, but I'm all in and have places I want to go. But not immediately. I can wait and do the work. But it is a cool feeling recognizing parts of oneself that you thought were gone. I have one race per month through April planned out (WITH a requested break afterward)-my next phase is re-learning how to really feel the race experience again.

It's gonna be a fun ride.

Stay the course.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Resilient Runner

I had the opportunity to be an Expo Speaker two different days at this year's Chevron Houston Marathon in addition to racing in the ABB 5k the day before the big show. I have so much to say about last weekend, which will likely come in a later post.

Until then, I thought I'd share a video that accompanied my Saturday afternoon presentation on building resilience. The short video was shot at Hermann Park in Houston, TX and features Oiselle Teammates as well as local Houston-area runners.

 I really wanted to capture the essence of what running in the City of Houston looks like as well as make this a presentation for runners, by runners. Credit goes out to everyone who submitted a video to be featured and for the talented Matthew Murphy at Rugged Riverside Media for putting my ideas to camera and making it all work-hope y'all enjoy!

 Stay the course. #BeResilient


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Override Switch (aka The Shut Up and Run)

*Disclaimer: This title not affiliated or plagiarized from “Shut Up +Run” the much more popular and entertaining blog by Beth Risdon* :) 

This is a post about psychology. And pain. And pushing past that pain and liking it in the end-also called adaptation and badassery. Enjoy!

Ok, now that the disclaimer is outta the way (do we need disclaimers on blogs? Oh, well!)-
My previous post listed some glowing things about my workouts and how much fun I was having, etc., etc. Which was true, until last Tuesday, where I met my first ‘test’ of motivation and toughness. I had my first rough workout of the season….we all have ‘em. And by ‘rough’ I don’t mean a total fail, but it challenged me when I needed to be challenged, and forced me to reach into a level deeper than I’ve been operating on.

It started innocently enough, an easy warmup, cool temps (although humidity a bit more than I would like) and 2 x 1000, 2 x 800, 2 x 600 with 2 mins recovery. On paper I could tell it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk, as I had only done 200s and 400s in lower volumes before with considerable success. The first 1000 went by well enough, with the second one faster than the first. Which is great, except I didn’t have much life in my legs or lungs that day. Chances are, I was too aggressive with my approaches with the longer intervals-likely because I haven’t done them in ages. Seriously-I can't remember when.

It was after staggering through my first 800 when my brain started to spasm-not so much my back or legs, but my thoughts were sputtering. I had missed the prescribed interval by a few seconds; which of course happens and wasn’t a big dea it itself, except it was 800 #1 and I wasn't firing on all cylinders. Crap.  That ever happen to you? With my pulse elevated, my brain started feeding me these doubts that I was in over my head and I couldn’t run like this anymore; fight or flight, anyone!?.... 

....Maybe I should just shorten the workout-no harm done, right?, the gremlins told me- Yes, I was rather uncomfortable, but I fortunately realized that my posture was the running equivalent of a fist and the tension was contributing to the difficulty and feeding into the negativity.  I realized I was letting the workout intimidate, but I was going to give it my best anyhow. We’ll call that an “override switch” moment: when doubts start to impair your judgement, you consciously make a switch in your mental approach to get through the situation. Ok, nerdy banter aside-what I basically did was tell myself to just shut up and run, Who cares if I am not getting my way right then. 

The next 800 took some bargaining with myself, with the second 400 bringing my usual focus and calm back. Instead of focusing on how I SHOULD feel but don’t, I worked on being as efficient as possible. The end result, negative split 600s. I put the pain to good use so I would know what to do in a race if I feel like, well, death. Ok that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but whatever.

The biggest negativity override point was putting myself in a future situation, in this case my race on the 17th: I always do a quick review of what I have done to prepare and knowing I wussed out on a ladder sesh could affect my confidence. This was one of those days where you hold instead of fold,  and I was immediately glad I did. Perseverance wins the day, right? I much prefer to remember toughing it out, even if not as fast as planned vs. bowing out. As a coach I know once said "If it were easy they'd call it football". :) 

A wise sage who runs with us, Dave once mentioned that many of our workouts are not used necessarily to see the cliche of “where we’re at”; but to give us the stimulus to get us to where we need to be to reach our goals. Sometimes its not hitting the splits but putting in the effort that translates better to race day.

Long story short, I had my weekly track session this morning and had a much more enjoyable experience doing “miles in disguise”/300s knowing I had my “bad” session already out of the way.
Sometimes when we have bad workouts or even races, it helps to say to ourselves “well, that sucked; glad it’s outta the way”. Sometimes, it really is that simple.

We have more control than we think we do-all it takes is making that decision when we need to the most. 

Stay the course.