Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Over the weekend I was looking at a bunch of my old blog posts, including race reports and quotes of the day. I reread my Grandma’s Marathon race reports from 2007 and 2009. Both were hot days. I PR’d in 2007 and ran negative splits in 2009. It was kind of cool to go back and look at that stuff.

Some of the QODs were from Dr. George Sheehan where he talks about being a runner, rather than just someone who runs for fitness. John “the penguin” Bingham says “if you run, you are a runner”. Technically, that’s true. But I have to agree with Sheehan, there are differences between the two. Neither is better than the other, they’re just different.

It can be hard to explain the differences, but it seems to make sense when I think about the things I’m not. For example, when I was busy cross-training with P90X, spin classes, roller skis, etc., I enjoyed those activities, but I wouldn’t say I’m a fitness guru or a biker. Heck, I love skiing, but I’m not sure I’d define myself as a skier.

One way I can tell I’m a runner is that even though I may allow my mind to think about other fitness goals while I’m injured, as soon as I’m healthy, they all vanish and are replaced with thoughts of running. Just two weeks ago I was thinking about the ski season and what races I should do. Now that I’m running again, I’m already passed ski season and looking at 2012 road races.

That doesn’t mean I won’t be skiing this winter. It just means the running season won’t be far from my mind.

Quote of the Day;

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.... then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health... and then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” - The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity

Monday, November 28, 2011


As you probably know by now, I’m not very good at following my own advice. I recently talked about the benefits of running for just 30 minutes and how it’d be a great way to ease back into things. Well, Saturday I ended up running 10 miles, which gave me 33 miles for the week. I took Sunday off because I had exercised 10 days in a row, including 6 days of running in a row. And this morning I ran another 8 miles.

I guess I’ll keep those 30 minute runs in mind for those days when I don’t feel like running at all. Getting out the door for 30 minutes will be easier than telling myself I need to run at least 6 miles or it’s not worth it – something I’ve done in the past.

One of the things Jack Daniels talks about in his DVD is doing the least amount of work that gives you the biggest gains. For example, if you get 100% of the gains by running a particular workout at, say 6-minute pace, why would you ever go faster than that. You’d just run yourself into the ground without any added benefit. Sounds great. However, how many people know what that correct pace should be for each type of workout?

Another thing he talks about is the pace of our easy days. When we’re base building and working on Mitochondria development at a cellular level, he says time on our feet is the key and that pace does not matter. Again, that sounds great, but doesn’t it have to matter to some degree? Are the gains the same at 8:00 pace vs. 10:00 pace vs. 12:00 pace? What if I just walk – do I get the same gains? And what sparks those gains? Does running have to be involved or can I boost my Mitochondria by cross-country skiing, spinning, and any other activity that increases my heart rate?

I don’t have the answers – I’m just the question man today.

Quote of the Day;

“What I think about in my mind is never give up. I tried to push my body because I know today I was not in good shape but I push my body until the last kick.” – Sammy Wanjiru

Thursday, November 24, 2011


In that Jack Daniels video I mentioned in my last post, he’s actually pretty funny. He mentions how lucky we are when we get injured. It’s not because it’s our body’s way of telling us we need a break. He says it’s because it extends our running careers because we tell ourselves “Just wait until I get back in shape, man, I am going to tear it up.”

That’s where my mind is at right now – looking ahead to getting back into shape and tearing it up.

Last year I wrote a lot about not wanting to look back on my "career" and just see a bunch of 5K and 10K performances, with some marathons mixed in. So I started putting together a list of other things I wanted to try. I have marked a couple of things off my list and now I find myself missing road racing. Or maybe I’m missing being in the shape I was when I was racing more than I am now.

At the time, it seemed like I was never as fit as I wanted to be and I never seemed to be as fast as I wanted to be either. I was consistently so-so. Looking back, I can see that I was really just taking my fitness for granted. Being able to consistently run 30-minute 8Ks and 1:25 half marathons should have provided satisfaction, rather than frustration because I wasn’t running 29 minutes and 1:23 consistently.

Now I find myself struggling to get fit and stay healthy. Thoughts of running those old times are now appealing, but seem light years away. With these thoughts on my mind lately, it has me considering 2012 and actually putting together a road race season - complete with a training plan and, dare I say it, some real goals. Jack Daniels’ video has me convinced that even when I was running well, I wasn’t nearly maximizing my training. I mean, just thinking about intervals, I haven't done a hard interval workout in probably 5 or more years. I’m curious to see where a proper training plan will put me – hopefully not in the Doctor’s office.

In addition, I’m kicking around the idea of treating 2012 like my first year of running. I won’t compare my current fitness to my all-time PRs, my times from my 30s, or even my 40s. I will only compare myself to where I am right now and I’ll seek to improve from here and get faster as the year progresses.

Quote of the Day;

“You don’t think about the finish time. It is like the Olympics or World Championships; everybody thinks about the medal. Today was like that, I was thinking who was going to finish first. Kebede is my friend but today was about fighting together. He is my friend but when you go to the race you must fight each other.” – Sammy Wanjiru

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Well, so much for jumping back into running conservatively. After last Thursday’s 1 mile run, I went 4 on Friday and then 9 on Saturday. The foot is feeling fine and my knee is even feeling pretty good. Maybe there’s hope after all.

Last weekend I watched a DVD I got for Christmas last year that basically shows Jack Daniels lecturing on his thoughts about running. One thing he talked about was the gains achieved from running vs. the risks. For example, a 10 minute run has low risk, but also low gains, whereas a 2 hour run has high risk and high gains. He talked about 30 minutes being an optimal range where your gains are fairly large, while the risk is still fairly low. Sure your gains for a 60 minute run are better, but you increase your odds of injury.

Of course, you’re not going to get super fit on 30 minutes a day, but I thought it’d be a great way to ease back into running – and I mean it this time - except for longer group runs on the weekend. The nice thing about 30 minutes is it’s easy to squeeze in just about any time of day and even twice a day; morning, noon and/or night. Or I can spin or ski in the morning and run 30 minutes over lunch. With that in mind, I ran 4 miles yesterday and this morning I took a spin class for an hour and then jumped on the treadmill for 3 miles.

Finally, congrats to the Wisconsin Badgers and Georgetown Hoyas for winning the men’s and women’s cross country titles yesterday. The nice thing about growing up in Wisconsin and now living in Minnesota is that I can root for both states. I recently heard someone say something like, “Show me someone that likes more than one NFL team and I’ll show you someone that doesn’t really like any team.” That’s probably true for me when it comes to pro football. However, as a fan of running, I like both programs – so it’s great to see the Badgers dominate.

Quote of the Day;

“NY Marathon is famous for the energy of its crowds, but since the pro women start 30 minutes before the other 47,000 participants, everywhere we go there is a feeling that we are a bit early for the party, the hosts still mixing the guacamole and figuring out where the guests will put their coats.” – Lauren Fleshman

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I mentioned briefly that I’ve added some biking to my routine in the form of rides on my trainer during football games on Sundays, as well as spin classes once a week. Each of the last three Thursdays I’ve started my day at Cycle Quest. As a runner, I tend to try to exert roughly the same amount of effort throughout a race. If there’s an uphill, I’ll slow down and keep a similar effort to the flats and vice versa on a downhill. That’s great for running, but I find it puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to biking or skiing. These athletes are constantly going hard and recovery, depending on the terrain. So it a ski race situation these guys are going hard up hills, knowing they’ll be able to recover at the top, whereas my “steady as she goes” philosophy gets left in the dust. I’m hoping these spin classes will help with that.

I’ve kind of been itching to run lately, so after spin class, I hopped on the treadmill for 1 mile. I’m being overly cautious because I haven’t run in 6 weeks and I want to avoid a setback. Plus my doctor gave me some metatarsal pads to add to my inserts and I want to be careful with adding something new like that to my shoe.

By now I’m sure you’ve all added Flotrack’s Run Junkie to your favorites. If not, here’s the latest episode;

Watch more video of Run Junkie on flotrack.org

Also, the 8th episode of Ryan Sutter’s season is up on Universal Sports. In this episode he takes on a half ironman with a goal of sub-5.

Meanwhile, I didn’t even know Adam Goucher had a blog, let alone a book. Has anyone read it? I’d be interested to hear what you think.

Finally, watching all the NYC Marathon coverage a couple of weeks ago has definitely moved that race up on my “must-do” list. I know it’s a hard race to get into, but they do have guaranteed entries based on half and full marathon standards. The problem is that they’ll be tightening those standards for 2013. Currently, a 40-44 year old man needs to run a 1:30 half. I don’t think that’s overly difficult - it’s about a 70 on an age-graded scale. After 2012, that time standard drops to 1:23, which is closer to 75 on an age-graded scale. Much harder, but I guess it’ll give me something to shoot for. Otherwise, there’s always the lottery route.

Quote of the Day;

“I like the high pace. You must do that tactic to kill the other people.” Sammy Wanjiru

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Quick update on my foot; I don’t have a stress fracture. The foot feels about 98% and I could probably start running on it again. However, with no running races on the horizon, and since I have the ability to roller ski and bike/spin, there’s no reason to rush back.

What’s been bad for my running has been awesome for my skiing. I’ve already spent more time roller skiing this year than I spent on real skis all of last year. I try to stay on as flat terrain as possible for roller skiing. While that doesn’t help me work on my hill climbing, it helps keep me upright. I think it has also helped me figure a few things out when it comes to technique. When you’re on similar terrain on roller skis, you don’t have the same variations on the ski trails that come with the terrain and the snow conditions, so you can really feel the things that make you go faster. I feel like I’ve made improvements with the timing of my arm swing, getting my hips forward, and getting my weight over my glide ski and letting the ski do the work. I can’t wait for the snow to start flying.

Cool story of the week; while in New York City for the marathon, Minnesota’s own Erin Ward ended up rooming with the women’s champion, Dado Firehiwot.

A few years ago I used to mention the Runnerville website that used to post podcasts with Toni Reavis. It was a great site, but it disappeared as quickly as it showed up. This morning I came across House of Run, another website with running podcasts. I’m currently listening to Flotrack’s Ryan Fenton (one of the guys from the Run Junkie videos I’ve been posting) discuss his thoughts on NCAA X-C nationals.

I haven’t listened to any of their other podcasts, but I’ll check them out. I do like the bio the guys wrote up;

Mediocre high school runners turned podcasters, Jason Halpin and Kevin Sully, co-host the weekly House of Run podcast. Jason and Kevin analyze and discuss the latest news from the world of track and field, road racing, cross country. If running is a metaphor for life, then this podcast is pretty much about your life.

I can relate to the “mediocre high school runner” part.

Quote of the day;

“Hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard.” – Anselm LeBourne, 52, old person to break 2:00 for 800m

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Watching all the NYC Marathon coverage over the weekend has definitely moved that race up my list of must-do races. I know I mentioned that the Chicago Marathon was live-streamed this year. But honestly, the coverage at NYC is head and shoulders above any other marathon. Not only is it streamed live, but they also have tons of other live segments, as well as on-demand videos leading up to the race, as well as post-race. Great job, NYRR.

Since I don’t have much to write about running at this time, it seems like sharing links and videos is the way to go.

I found a couple of new Team USA Minnesota member blogs, so I thought I’d compile a list;

Matt Gabrielson
Josh Moen
Meghan Peyton
Emily Brown
Andrew Carlson
Heather Kampf
Chris Rombough
Matt Llano

Awhile ago I found a tribute to Sammy Wanjiru that my college coach wrote for Track & Field News.

While digging around on the T&FN website I came across a photo gallery of the last 10 or so NCAA champs for men and women. It’s kind of cool to look back over the last decade. I think they should try to find as many past champions as possible and add them to the gallaries.

Quote of the Day;

"My plan was to push the limits, push my body. Our Kenyan bodies are not used to a slow pace, and a slow pace would have been suicidal.” – Sammy Wanjiru

Saturday, November 05, 2011


Hope you were able to check out some of the links from yesterday. I totally forgot to include Carrie Tollefson's Daily cooldown;

nyrr on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free

These were really good last year, and they're even better this year. As she describes it, these are sort of like the Entertainment Tonight of distance running. Her espisodes are a lot of fun, so be sure to check them all out.

Not only is it NYC Marathon weekend, but this weekend also represents the State x-c meet. I was pleasantly surprised this morning when my daughter Katie said she wanted to go and watch the meet with me. I thought she'd be a little bored having to wait 45 minutes between races. However, she did great and even seemed to enjoy the whole thing. She has expressed some interested in running x-c next year on the team I coach, so we'll see. Maybe I'll have a runner on my hands after all.

I've been having some thoughts lately about what else I can do to help improve coverage of our sport in Minnesota. I've mentioned Flotrack's Run Junkie videos a few times. I think it'd be fun to do something like that for just the Minnesota Scene. Watching today's meet has me thinking about a Running with the Buffaloes type project covering either a local high school team or a little bit of all-things Minnesota cross country. I haven't worked out a single detail, but it seems like these ideas could have some legs.

Quote of the day;

"Make friends with pain and you will never be lonely." - unknown

Friday, November 04, 2011


Just a quick update before I share a bunch of links with you. I had a great week of training which includes about 5 ½ hours of roller skiing (bumped my longest ski to 90 minutes) and 2 hours of biking – including my first spin class.

Since not much else is going on with me right now, I thought I’d share a bunch of link and videos I come across lately. First, here’s the latest episode of Run Junkie;

Watch more video of Run Junkie on flotrack.org

Flotrack has become my new Reality TV. I just go there and start clicking all kinds of videos. The other night I was watching a bunch of interviews of elites running the NYC Marathon this weekend, including Minnesota’s Jen Houck;

Watch more videos on Flotrack

My only gripe with the site is that I have to watch the same 30 second commercial prior to each video. I wish there was a way to skip it if they knew I already watched it. I will say that the commercial did pique my interest. It’s for a series that follows Ryan Sutter throughout the year while he trains for different endurance events. You may remember him from the Bachelor a few years ago.

Finally, with NYC Marathon this weekend, here’s a nice interview with Mary Wittenberg. She’s awesome for our sport!

Quote of the Day;

“Life is not a straight-up trajectory. There are going to be peaks and valleys. I remain utterly convinced today that climbing out of a valley gives you great strength and opportunity you wouldn't have had if life had continued on a straight path up. You don't always get what you want in life. You just don't. Hard work doesn't always translate a hundred percent to outcome. You have to know that in life. The journey is what matters.” – Mary Wittenberg

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


As usual, I go 2 weeks without blogging and I have a ton of things on my mind. First, an update on the foot. It feels A LOT better, but still not 100%. The Dr. said to transition back to normal shoes once I’m pain free. I’ve done that even though I’m about 98% pain free. I still can’t push off of my big toe. I go back on the 11th for (hopefully) a last evaluation and maybe even a follow-up x-ray.

Not running in July or August doesn’t really bother me. Not being able to run in October really sucks. The good news is that I’ve been able to roller ski without much pain – again, I can’t fully extend my right leg because of the strain on my right big toe.

Typically, I think of skiing in terms of hours spent skiing, rather than miles or kilometers. During the 2009-2010 winter I roller skied about 10 hours before the snow arrived and another 40 hours on snow. The result was a 2:53 Birkie. Last winter I didn’t bother roller skiing at all and then I only spent 23 hours on snow. The result was a 3:25 Birkie. This season, with my foot injury, I’ve already been able to roller ski for 12 hours. So the ski season is off to a good start. Speaking of, I signed up for the Birkie last night - all $115 of it.

I’ve been hyping Lauren Fleshman’s website a lot lately. Sometimes it’s hard to explain why you like something. Luckily, Lauren did it for me in her recent interview with Runner’s World.

RW: Your blog has more of a two-way street going than most athlete blogs do. You have a lot of respondents and you address a lot of the content to them. What's the overall purpose of the blog, and have you learned things from the comments and queries?

LF: Definitely. I think most athlete web presences are very unidirectional. They're more like, "Here's what I've done, here's information about me," and it's generally to promote yourself and get sponsors and things like that. I just felt if I was going to do a blog, I wanted to add value and create content that people could get something out of on a fairly regular basis. I waited until I knew how to do that. I didn't have a website the first six years of my professional running career. And just the name of my website alone, asklauren fleshman.com instead of laurenfleshman.com, is meant to signify that there's a two-way street. You're going to get something out of it and I'm going to get something out of it. This is a communication. It started as an experiment. I didn't know what would really happen, but it's gone really well. For me to get feedback from athletes across the world is so cool, it's such a gift. And I'm really excited to do that, because running is a pretty lonely sport sometimes.

Another thing is to provide information on the successes and failures that I've had, in the hopes that other people don't have to go through the same thing but can learn from my mistakes so they can skip over those sand traps. And the last thing is to connect the recreational running community that's more interested in marathons and half-marathons and road races with the track community because most people have no idea what we do and we hardly exist in the collective consciousness. I think our sport needs to reach out to those marathoners who do love to run but don't understand track, and I'd like to be a connecting point for them. I think on all those accounts, I'm happy with where it's going and I'm going to keep working on it and see where it goes.
She gets it!

Unfortunately, she’s planning on running NYC this weekend and experienced some sharp knee pain within the last week. Hopefully, it’s one of those phantom injuries that we’ve all probably dealt with.

Quote of the Day;

“If I boiled it down, my major objectives are to provide something of value for the running community, to inspire young athletes–female athletes in particular–to grow their relationship with running in a deeper way, to let it into their life.” – Lauren Fleshman