July wrap-up, making progress

July has been an interesting month of running on a number of fronts.  Overall, I’d have to admit that it has been the most challenging month of running I’ve had since beginning this journey last September.  Now that it is nearly over, I can also say that I’ve made the most progress during July than any other month so far as well.  Here’s why.

  1. Marathon training really kicked into gear.  While my official training plan started at the end of May, I had already been running the types of weeks that the plan called for up until the end of June.  That last week of June and then all of July has been pushing further than I had gone before, both in terms of absolute mileage as well as the other aspects of training.  Towards the end of July, two of my long runs were personal records for me in distance since they both went further than the half marathon I ran in May.
  2. The weather.  I’ll admit it:  the weather kicked my butt for the first few weeks.  Since I only really began running last September, I had never experienced a real summer training.  So far I can say that I prefer the winter.  I’m an educated man, yet it never occurred to me that running in the heat and humidity would be more difficult.  I had a handful of runs that I just considered failures because I just couldn’t finish, and that really took a toll on my motivation and confidence.  As I sit here today, with just a couple days left in the month, my confidence is back and I attribute that to figuring out how to overcome this new challenge.  While I doubt I’ll ever love running in the oppressive Cincinnati summers, I now know how to handle it.
  3. Travel.  I’ve had to deal with fitting my training schedule around more travel than usual, so I’ve had to juggle days and times for my runs.  I do better when I’m on a more predictable schedule.

One cool thing that happened this month was a run through Central Park in New York City.  Running in Central Park and Golden Gate Park are two that I had put on my mental running bucket list, so I was very happy to make one of them happen.  I had to fit a long run (15 miles) into my travel schedule, so I figured, why not make it in Central Park?  When I run early in the morning at home, I may see one or two other runners out there but not many.  Running through Central Park was more like running in a race.  I got to the park at about 6:00 AM and I was shocked to find hundreds of runners out on the paths and their were dozens of cyclists too.  I had been worried about doing 15 miles all on my own without anyone for motivation/support/pacing, but with so many people out there, I always had someone to keep up with, or try to beat to the top of some of the long hills.  The time and miles flew by like they have during races.  Here’s my run:

Careful observers will note that the Garmin distance shows 14.82 miles, not the 15 I claim.  If you watch very closely, you’ll see a bit of a jump during mile 11.  I stopped to get a drink of water at the fountain, had to wait in a bit of a line, so I stopped my watch. When I started running again, I forgot to turn it back on for about 2 minutes, so I estimated that to be somewhere around a quarter of a mile.  MapMyRun.com helped confirm it.

So, now I’m looking forward to slogging through the heat of August and really getting up to mileage numbers I’ve never done before:  17, 18 and 20 miles.  I’m doing a half marathon in Columbus, OH on August 29th as well.

Asking for help

Marathon training has been going well.  I think I’ve finally learned to take it a little easier on long runs in the heat and humidity, so I’m feeling stronger throughout the run.

This Sunday will bring a new milestone for me:  a personal record for distance.  My training plan calls for 14 miles and to date, the longest I’ve ever run is the 13.1 in May’s Flying Pig Half Marathon.  And it only goes up from there.  I’m looking forward to pushing myself further and further, but at the same time, I’m nervous about failing.

I have always been terrible about asking for help when I needed it.  I believe that stubbornness has an upside: self-reliance.  However, I’ve also noticed that I run better and more confidently when I’m with others.  So I think I’m going to have to reach out to running friends to see if anyone is crazy enough to run with me for some portion of these hot Sunday long runs.

Good riddance to June

It’s (obviously) been a while since I’ve posted here, so I’ve got a lot to cover. Let’s get to it.

I hated June.  It’s not really June’s fault, but the weather around here was tough to run though.  Many, many hot and humid days and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying it’s very difficult to breathe in those conditions.  Lots of rain, too, just to keep things interesting.  I know that this is good for me to tackle, but I’ve got to say that I found it much easier to run through the winter than I am finding it running through this heat and humidity.

Shoes.  After having finally found shoes that I love, the Pearl iZUMi SyncroFloat III, I was told that they are discontinuing the model in preference to the SyncroFuel model.  I tried the SyncroFuel for a few runs but didn’t like them at all, so, I hopped on Zappos (a site I love) and ordered 2 pairs of SyncroFloats to at least get me through the Chicago Marathon.

Back in February, I wrote about my penchant for killing iPods.  I can only assume that my brain must be fuzzy due to lack of oxygen at the end of a run.  I killed another iPod this past week.  I’m worried because I had ordered 4 refurbished Shuffles from Apple and I’m now down to only one!  I like the previous generation Shuffle much better than the recent one, so they’re no longer making them.  Panic will set in sooner or later.

After  having a few too many runs where I found myself getting light-headed, I decided to seek some help from a nutritionist.  I was a bit floored by the results.  I got an analysis of my metabolism, my body composition and my caloric needs.

  • My body composition was measured (three times) at 7% body fat and 93% lean weight.   Which means of the 172 pounds I weigh, 12 lbs is fat, 160 lbs is lean.  While I shouldn’t lose more weight, I can up my lean body weight.
  • My resting metabolic rate is about 2300 kcal/day.  This means if I did nothing else but lay in bed all day, I’d burn about 2300 kcal per day.
  • If you average in typical daily activities, I’m currently burning about 700 kcal per day.
  • My workouts have me burning about 650 kcal per day (when averaged across the week).  That will increase as the marathon training progresses into more weekly miles.
  • When you add that up, I am burning roughly 3650 kcal per day.
  • Here’s the bad part:  I am only eating about 1800-2000 kcal per day.

So, it should be no surprise that I have been getting lightheaded occasionally.  I’ve been under fueling by nearly half of what I need for quite a while.  So, I am beginning a whole new dietary plan that will not only get me how much I need, but what I need, when I need it.  I’ll report back once I see how this new eating program progresses.

Something else I’ve begun to work on is mental toughness.  Pushing through the times where my body is telling me to stop.

Finally, a couple of suggestions:

  1. Follow Sara Santiago on Twitter. (@sarasantiago).  Absolutely brilliant and just hilarious.
  2. Read Runnrgrrl’s blog.  Great stuff.  Always opinionated.  Always tells it like it is.  A must read.