I’m an active person. One of those strange breeds of human that truly enjoys sweating, exercising and pushing the limits of my heart rate monitor. It’s one of the things that makes me happiest. I believe it makes me a better person to be around. It’s also one of the things that was most threatened with the diagnosis.
Three years on, I’ve learned a few best practices about how to exercise with Addison’s in a way that doesn’t put myself at further risk. In fact, exercising and continuing to workout is something that can help with many of the symptoms of the disease (bone density, chronic fatigue, irritability), as long as you do it safely. Continue Reading
I’ve been fighting a sinus cold the last few days. Actually almost a week now, this sucker is really holding on. The dead legs I had for my long ride on Saturday? Turns out they might no have just been fried from the mid-week hills and interval workouts. It’s more likely I was half-fried and half-getting sick. Which leads me to the constant runner conundrum: do I continue to work out or do I sit it out until I’m better? Continue Reading
After a decade of swimming in the daily residue of day care, we appear to finally be reaping some bacterial rewards for the kids. Cecilia has been remarkably healthy since about age 3. Ally hasn’t been quite that hardy, but this winter she appears to have turned a corner. No trips to the pediatrician, no major colds, only one extended week-long cough. Michelle, on the other hand, has not been so lucky getting a couple nasty infections over the last six months both of which required antibiotics to clear up. Both of which the doctors believe were happenstance or bad luck.
I will be the last one to bash modern medication as it literally keeps me alive each day and antibiotics definitely have a time and a place, but the downside is that they do not play favorites and do not differentiate in the bacteria they kill. Good or bad, it’s all meat through the grinder and it can take months, or even years, to get that good bacteria humming again and get your gut back in balance.
Here are four simple, everyday habits we have started doing this month to try to keep our guts happy and the antibiotics at bay. Continue Reading
The Half Marathon needs a better name. It sounds like a cop-out, doesn’t it? Oh, you couldn’t do a full marathon, huh? Opted for the halfsie? By the end of 13.1 miles this past Sunday, I was quite ready to take any abuse, any insult, just to be done. I staggered across the line, legs like dead wood, chest heaving, eyes zeroed in on that finish line with a zombie-like stare. Sounds like fun, right? Why would I possibly subject myself to this? Good question.
In the days leading up to the Providence Rock N Roll Half Marathon, I asked myself this question a lot and came up with two reasons. I blame my co-worker and Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run. The co-worker because he innocently handed me the book and McDougall for writing a very convincing and very entertaining book that certainly made distance running seem fun and romantic. Before I go further, let me say I’m not a barefoot acolyte. I do own a pair of minimalist trail shoes and I did make a conscious decision to change my stride this year to more of a mid-foot strike to ease the burden on my knees, but please don’t attack me with do’s or don’ts of barefoot running. My advice? If you’re running without pain (or little pain) there is probably little reason to change. If you find yourself bogged down with injuries or returning to running from a long layoff, you might give the arguments in the book some thought.
The second reason was more esoteric and tangential. I play basketball once a week with a group of like minded, competitive guys. We recently switched leagues from the open league to the over-35 one. Seems rather banal, and definitely a good decision given how the 20 year-olds were buzzing by us like we were playing in cement shoes, but I think it triggered some sort of urge to still prove I could compete. Even if I was only proving it to myself. Like I said, esoteric, but better than buying a Corvette or something, right?
I wasn’t starting from scratch. I was pretty fit and had a solid base of 15-20 miles a week of recreational running. Still, I knew I needed a plan for a half marathon. Sure, I could probably wing it and complete it, but being a type A personality, I had goals and ambitions of running it well. There arenumerousplans out there on the Internet for free. Pretty much a plan for every type of runner, I think. I choose Hal Higdon’s Intermediate plan for a couple reasons. First, it wasn’t overly complex. A lot of plans had days (or multiple days) dedicated to speed workouts or splits or intervals or tempo runs. Undoubtedly that would probably help, but I the more I searched the more I realized I wanted less of a plan and more of a road map on how to ramp up to sufficient miles without risking injury. Second, I have a full-time job, a toddler and lot of other demands on my time. Higdon’s plan was flexible. It allowed for me to slot in my weekly basketball game as cross-training and for flip-flopping training days when necessary.
With the training now in the rear view mirror, I can say Higdon’s plan was successful and the right one for me.
Let me also pass along a few tips on the physiology of long training runs. I did come to welcome these runs (proves how short term my memory is) each weekend, at least until mile 9 or so, and definitely came to recognize a certain pattern: Mile 0 – 3: This is a good pace. Nice and easy. I can do this all day. Mile 4 – 7: Damn! I am flying. Half marathon? Screw that, I’m going for the full monty. Mile 8 – 11: Where did these elves and their little knives come from? Why are they jabbing me in the knees, ankles and hips? Aw, gawd, it hurts! Mile 12 – 13: Mental boot camp. Your numb lower body is on autopilot. A death-march to the finish.
Two final things, having a time goal did help me. It gave me a tangible measuring stick to track my training progress. Second, I always thought the idea of a mantra was kind of silly, but in those last three or four miles when your mind is a blank slate of pain, they do help bring a kind of focused determination to finishing.
When & Where?
On further reflection, picking New England in August for my first attempt, was pure folly. If I had to do it again, I’d aim for September or October. Hot and humid were not just a possibility (despite the 7 am start), but a probability. Not a lot I could do about it. I had trained through August, sometimes timing longer runs at midday to acclimatize a bit. The one thing I didn’t count on? The rain.
Well, I did finish, but Sunday August 7th in Providence was a monsoon. And that is barely exaggerating. Fifteen to twenty mile an hour winds with driving rains for a good three quarters of the race. It did build a sense of solidarity among the five thousands that turned out, but man it was less than ideal, especially for a maiden voyage. Despite a fifteen minute delay at the start, leaving us packed and shuffling in the corral, the race was otherwise well organized on all fronts. They could have used more post-race shelter for runners, but I can’t fault them for not anticipating the storm. I would have liked to see them put the gear bags under tarps or something as finishing and picking up your soaked gear was a downer. The on-course stations, timing, and post-race recovery spread was good.
I made it around the course a few minutes under my goal time and despite some pacing issues (like an eager beaver I went out waaay too fast) will definitely be running another half again in the future. My last piece of advice? Reward yourself. Running 13 miles is nothing to sneeze at. Take a few days off recover and reward yourself. Me? I spent the next day lounging, stuffing my gut with BBQ and cupcakes.