Training for a Half Marathon and Saving Lives

Hello there! Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

My girlfriend Megan signed up with Team in Training to run a half marathon in Kaua'i over Labor Day weekend as a warm up for the NYC Marathon in November. She started with TNT in 2006 and has already trained for the Chicago and San Diego marathons. She loved it everytime, so I was glad to see her sign up once more.

That said, I was always happy to watch from the sidelines. For years, I've been scared of running because my knees gave me trouble after playing high school baseball. My mind was made up: I just don't run. This year, however, I felt inspired to give it a try. After seeing the final four on The Biggest Loser run a marathon a mere 16 weeks after entering the show in much worse physical shape than I'm in, I realized that my excuses were lame. I'm also frankly reaching an age where if I don't get my health in order soon, it may just be all downhill from here.

So, I'm in. And better yet, I get to train while raising money for a great cause- supporting research to find a cure for blood cancers that claim all too many lives too soon. My application is still being processed, so my fundraising page is yet to arrive, but in the meanwhile checkout Megan's page.

I'll also be using my page to provide updates on my training. In the meanwhile, I thought I'd dust off the trusty old blog to record my experiences. So without further ado...

Day 1- Saturday, June 6- Coach's Run

The group met at Kezar stadium at 8:30 a.m. I was terrified. The week 1 run for BEGINNERS was listed at 2-3 miles; a distance I haven't run in 10 years. I had a million questions and peppered Megan with them on the way there. Some were serious, "will you be my emergency contact should I drop dead en route", others less so, "2-3 miles is like once around the track, right?" She was amused.

Luckily, it wasn't nearly as scary as I'd imagined. I thought everyone would be semi-pro runners who would leave me in the dust and never look back. I had images of getting lost in Golden Gate Park and eventually being trampled by a bison. Scary stuff. Instead, I realized that there were actually a bunch of other beginners and the coaches were happy to teach.

We started by covering some of the basic of running: cadence and the "five L's." Cadence is just a fancy word for the number of strides you take per minute. I learned 180 is optimally efficient, so we practiced running and measuring our natural cadence, then trying to bring it closer to 180. I started out at 160 and got up to 172 by the end of the drill. Megan got hers up to 176. Can anyone say rock star?

The Five L's are more about the mechanics for running:
1. Long - keep your body long ad your spine straight, run tall
2. Lift - many people run by shuffling their feet, which makes your calves to all the work; lifting your legs puts the burden on your quads, which are much bigger and stronger
3. Loop - as you run, focus on making small loops with your feet, putting one foot in front of the other
4. Lean - lean forward from your ankles to get gravity on your side
5. Loose - Keep your arms loose and in an L shape themselves

We practiced each for a half or full lap, and before you know it we'd completed our first mile. Woohoo!

Then the fun began. Group stretching and off into the park. We did the 2 mile loop, but I couldn't get the full way running. I probably wound up walking ~1/3 of it, but for a first try, I was happy just to make it. It was hard to keep up with the 5 L's on the run, as I was focusing more on breathing, but I suppose that's why I'll need to practice more before Kaua'i.

View Kezar Stadium Practice- 6/6/09 in a larger map

By the time I got home, my muscles were already sore and tightening. We went to see a movie in the afternoon and it was an interesting walk there. But, again, I made it.

Day 1 stats
3.2 miles completed (3.2 total)
0 pounds lost
2 blisters
0 fatalities
1 post workout bagel

Day 2- Sunday, June 7- Rest

Oh, and I did. The soreness probably doubled over night, so even minor amounts of walking were tough. Luckily, I had plenty of work to keep me occupied and stationary.

Day 3- Monday, June 8- Cross-training solo

I almost missed out on this training session as I was working hard with my head down and lost track of time. Looked up just in time to see I had 35 minutes before the last shuttle left, so I ran downstairs and somehow still got in a shower before the shuttle. (If you know me well, you know that showering within 35 minutes is quite an amazing feat in itself.) The training calendar called for 20 minutes of cross-training, so that's what I did. Cycled for 20 mins, but felt the burn after 2. My legs were clearly still tired from Saturday.

Oh, I also made an effort to improve my eating habits throughout the day. After going through the pain of running on Saturday, I reasoned that I should focus on dieting to lose weight, so running will be easier.

Day 3 stats
6.5 miles completed (9.7 total)
? pounds lost
2 fewer pastries consumed vs. average day

Day 4- Tuesday, June 9- Gear workshop and Coach's workout

We met at the Sports Basement in the Presidio, where we'll be spending Tuesday evenings throughout the season. I'd honestly never heard of it before, but that's not surprising given I'm new to this whole running thing. Apparently runners in the Bay Area all know and love this place, though.

We were supposed to start with a gear clinic, but the schedule was flipped. My cabbie didn't know where the place was either, so I arrived a few minutes late and behind already. I rushed to catch-up to the group on the "warm-up jog," which turned out to be ~3/4 of a mile, up hill.

We wound up in a big parking lot in the Presidio, where we did some "5 L" drills, only a new L was announced: "Light," as in be light on your feet. "Loose was mentioned briefly, but I think has been officially kicked out of the 5 L Club for lameness compared to the others. Basically, for each L we ran up hill the length of the parking lot practicing it, then back. After that, we did a couple of laps around the lot practicing random combinations of L's, then jogged back in. Turns out we did 2.78 miles, and I ran probably 95+% of that. Already a significant improvement from Day 1.

View Sports Basement Practice- 6/10/09 in a larger map

Inside, we got our learn on about running clothes, shoes and hydration. I learned a lot about sports bras, in case you need some pointers. They key lesson, though was "Cotton is rotten." I'd already begun discovering this first-hand, as I tend to workout in all cotton. Hence, the blisters and some other side effects I won't mention. Afterwards, I got a sweet pair of new running shoes and some non-cotton socks. Will need to follow-up with some new shirts and shorts next time, but after the shoes it was late and dinner awaited.

In honor of our motivational show, The Biggest Loser, we went to Subway and had 6" subs with apples on the side. Advertising dollars well spent, Subway. Although you could've spent less online to reach a larger audience; give our display ad sales team a call; they'll hook you up. :)

Day 4 stats
2.8 miles completed (12.5 total)
? pounds lost
4 shameless plugs for Google products
0 minutes til bedtime

1 comment:

Ada said...

This is great! I found biggest loser really inspirational lately too.

Keep it up and can't wait to read more about your progress :)