Defining the right path towards Fitness

So after much thought on how my current state of fitness is not where I want to be, I am trying to define a path that will change this. There are several key points that come to mind:

• The Diet: I have reverted to bad eating habits, junk food, too much processed food, bingeing etc. I need to get back to eating healthy, lots of fresh fruit and veggies, lean meat etc.
• Crosstraining: Largely neglected, this needs to be incorporated into my training plan, especially over the winter. I need to (re)develop core strength.
• Speed work: You don’t get faster by running slow runs like I have been doing.
• Balance: Life keeps happening, as Neca recently wrote – “Something is always happening – that’s life. The trick is to find the balance to do the things you NEED to do, plus a few you want.”

Last night’s training: 8K in 56:52 (7:07/km, 11:26/mi), with Running Club

On the wrong path

Last night I was thinking about my next race, the 80 km (50 mi) Fidelitas Night Run, and looking over my race reports from past years for this race. I have run the event 7 times already, but the last two times I didn’t prepare a race report, which disturbs me as I like to use these to document what went right or wrong. This led to thoughts about why I started blogging in the first place back in 2005, to document my running journey, especially the training aspects which are a valuable tool in training for and running races.

In the last couple years I guess I have had blogger burn-out, which I now find regrettable as I now have a very large gap in documenting my running journey. In the same timeframe my running has changed, the running flame has gotten dimmer, partly due to other commitments in life, but also partly due to a lack of motivation. After running the 100 mile race in 2010 I was tired, physically and mentally. I have kept training and running races, but only half-heartedly, really not striving for anything more than to run “just to finish”.

As I stand in front of the door of my 55th birthday next month, I ask myself whether it is because I’m getting old or what? But when I look at the older members in my running club I know that’s not true, they may not run marathons any longer, but what they do run, they run with their heart in it.

No, I think I am just getting soft and lazy, unfortunately quite in the literal sense, my weight has crept up, the muscles lack the tone they once had, the clothes are too tight, terrible, just terrible. Even without having documented my training in the last years, I know what the problem is, I have no real plan, I run mostly at casual speeds, I rarely do any crosstraining, and my eating habits are way too similar to before I started running.

My training this year began with good intentions, I was going to lose weight, I was going to cross train, I was going to do speed work, I was going to blog…yeah I was going to. Now midseason and only 3 pound lighter, and still 20 pounds too heavy, I need to make some changes, and I need to stop putting it off any longer.

So as I taper for my race on Saturday I have some time to work on a new training plan.

Last nights training: 10K in 1:06:12 (6:37/km, 10:39/mi)
Weight: 77kg
Weight at beginning of 2014: 80kg
Goal weight: 70kg

Blogging is like dieting,…

I have come to the conclusion that blogging is a lot like dieting, it’s hard to get started again after procrastinating for a long time, there are lots of good intentions, false starts and downright frustration when you realized you have slipped up again.

Anyways, at least I have been running, training, and even completed my first marathon for the year, albeit with only mediocre performance. Again like dieting, you only get good results when you are willing to commit to meeting your goal.

Since I completed the 100 mile distance in 2010 I have been pretty much without a particular goal, other than to keep running and do some running events. The old Jack model that completed the 100 miles is badly in need of an overhaul…the weight needs to come back down (at least 8 kg), the speed needs to come back, and the endurance needs to be reprogrammed in the old running machine.

Currently my condition is equivalent to that of 2005, the first year I ran marathons. I needed 4½ to 5 hours to finish a marathon that year, but I managed to bring my time down to 3:36:13 by 2009. This year I started competing in the Male 55 age group, so it is going to take a lot more effort to improve.

Anyway I figured since I am more or less starting over, I may as well document my journey. Who knows, there may still be someone in Blogland left out there…

Jack (is back?)

Back to Basics

I have been having a hard time trying to get back to regular training and blogging. The former is taking place, but not at a level that is showing any real improvement. The latter has obviously not been taking place, so I am going to try to return to the basics with my blogging, providing shorter entries which will act as a training log for my own benefit, and then see where it goes from there. Now how long does it take for something to become a habit…

In loving memory…

Yesterday was Totensonntag, or roughly translated the Sunday for commemoration of the dead, kind of like Memorial Day in the USA. My running buddy RB lost her mother this year, I pray that she will eventually find peace. The Sarah McLachlan song Angel often comes to mind when I think of my own mother, who passed away 3 years ago:

Angel by Sarah McLachlan

Spend all your time waiting for that second chance
For the break that will make it ok
There’s always some reason to feel not good enough
And it’s hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction, oh a beautiful release
Memories seep from my veins
Let me be empty and weightless, and maybe
I’ll find some peace tonight

In the arms of an angel, fly away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
You’re in the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

So tired of the straight line, and everywhere you turn
There’s vultures and thieves at your back
The storm keeps on twisting, you keep on building the lies
That make up for all that you lack
It don’t make no difference, escaping one last time
It’s easier to believe
In this sweet madness, oh this glorious sadness
That brings me to my knees

In the arms of the angels, far away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
In the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

Missing in Action

Sorry I haven’t posted lately, I have a ton of excuses, but I’ll spare you.
I’ve been running regularly over the last couple months, but only about half of the weekly mileage compared to the last 3-4 years. Most of my cross-training has also fallen to the wayside, another victim of a very busy year at work and at home. Luckily, I have kept my weight in check, but it hasn’t been easy.
Despite my lack of training, I still managed to complete a couple races: A marathon on June 5th, which I finished in 4:22:17 and the annual 50-Mile race in our area in 9:59:58. The latter event really surprised me, I decided to run it at the last minute and finished much faster than I imagined I would. I will try to get write a couple brief race reports and get them posted.
In two weeks I plan on running another marathon, a hilly forest marathon in the Black Forest. Since I haven’t really trained for it I will run it “just for fun”. Nothing like a relaxed marathon to easy the stresses of life.
While I’m writing a big congratulations to the race director of my 100 mile run last year, Wolfgang Hoefle, who just completed the Hardrock 100 in colorado! He just made it under the 48 hour cutoff, in 47:30!

Going into Hibernation Mode

Life seems to be going in slow motion at the moment, the aunt my wife has been taking care is losing quickly against the cancer she has been fighting, it’s only a question of when now. In a couple days I will be flying to my dad in Upstate New York, but the visit will be clouded by my concern at home. I offered to wait until next year to travel, but my father is advanced in the years and my wife said I should go now. I cut my visit down from two weeks to one, I hope the aunt holds on so long.
On the positive side the concerns in life have not left time for the normal post-race depression that I usually suffer at the end of race season.
Next year I plan on reducing my training and racing to give my body a chance to recover. I have been pushing it hard for five years and I think my back pain this year was a sign to slow down. I also need to make it a wife year, spending a little extra time doing what she wants to do, working on the repairs and renovations that I have neglected at home, and so on.
So for now I am switching to hibernation mode, reducing my running to 2-3 short runs a week, and starting up my winter crossfit, swimming and other cross-training. My emphasis will be on strengthening the back and reducing fat, I’m curious how that is going to work out. But first a week of rest and relaxation in NY, a quick pause before the storm of life blows with all its furry.

On the Mend

The muddy shoes are clean and dry, the pile of running clothes washed, and the race report posted. My blisters have dried and don’t hurt any more when I walk, my ravenous hunger for food is slowly under control and I ran my first recovery run (10K) last night with Brigit and a few other friends at our running club last night.
Our friends at the running club last night were awed by our “accomplishment”. Though I am overjoyed at finishing the 100 miles, I don’t really feel like I accomplished anything out of the ordinary, I think with the right training a lot of my running club could do it too.
From my perspective, what I accomplished was the dream of completing the 100 mile distance, nothing more. I’ve read 100 mile race reports where runners have said the race changed their lives forever, some had spiritual awakenings or at least walked away with new perspectives on life. I walked away with sore feet, a big smile, and the satisfaction of completing the race with a friend.
From reading other blogs I know a lot of people are searching for something in life when they enter a 100 mile race, maybe that’s why they “find” themselves. I don’t knock them, but I guess I wasn’t searching for anything when I ran, I just ran (and walked).
Well, I guess I did find some things at the first annual KuSuH, namely new friends, friendly helpers and much kindness at the aid stations, not to mention a well organized race, a tough but beautiful course and a caring and dedicated race director and crew.
I also didn’t experience some things that I had expected. I expected being stretched to my very limits, physically, emotionally, maybe even spiritually and having to crawl over the finish line with my last strength before collapsing in a heap. I had a few issues to be sure, like blisters and fighting to stay awake, but my legs remained in good shape, my energy level was never critical, and my attitude remained positive. Hmmm, maybe I didn’t run fast enough, something to think about anyway.
I think the training that Birgit and I did was just about right for the race, at least for the pace that we ran it. Our finishing time of 27 hours 14 minutes was about 45 minutes slower than what we estimated we would need, but I blame this on the lousy weather. I believe if it hadn’t rained we would have finished in 24-25 hours, maybe even faster. Only one way to find out I guess.

Recovery going well, lots of running coming up

I now have a 50K and marathon behind me for this year and I am getting a feel for how my race year will probably progress. My progression is kind of a good news – bad news scenario. The good news is that I have completed the first two events at reasonable finish times with 30% less training mileage than last year. The bad news is that I was at the doctor’s last night concerning my morning back aches and he could do nothing more then confirm that I pinched a nerve and recommend a neurologist, my appointment is on May 14th.
In the meantime I will continue to train with Andreas and Birgit for our 100K race in June. We are planning on running a 50K trail race on May 1st and another on May 13th, as I mentioned a couple posts back. Both are low key events with limited participation and both offer lots of hills for our running pleasure.
Life continues to be busy in other areas of our life, it’s garden season for example, somehow my back didn’t disagree to digging up the garden – much to my doctor’s amazement. The weather has warmed up significantly, I spent some time last night getting my bicycle ready for cycling season – I would like to take a spin tonight, but rain is forecast. I will probably do a recovery run instead, or maybe swimming (or both).

Are Ultrarunners lousy bloggers?

I am still having trouble dropping back into my blogging routine…Mark at Mark Tanaka’s Trail and Ultra Running Blog logged an entry the other day that pretty much sums up my feelings about blogging lately:
“Obvious to me for quite some time, but increasingly so as the problem continues to worsen– blogging about ultrarunning is inherently difficult.
If I have time to blog, then I have time to run. Because of my schedule and a general lack of time to run as much as I’d like, if I have time to run, I need to take advantage of it. For those who don’t run ultras, training runs usually take hours, and many ultrarunners get addicted to racing…”

From my perspective I’ve never met an ultrarunner that is NOT addicted to racing, but I guess there must be a few out there 😉
In any case I will try to get back to somewhat of a blogging routine, after all the main purpose that I started blogging was to document my training for my own reference…