Monday, June 25, 2007

Ego, get out of the way...


Over the past few weeks, among other things, I've been reading "Jeff Galloway's Book on Running". For those of you not familiar with Jeff, he's been running for four decades, is a former long distance Olympian, and writes a regular column for Runner's World when he's not writing his own bestselling books. I have to think that what Jeff has to say holds a bit of weight.

Jeff is a great believer in walk breaks for all runners, regardless of ability. He's trained thousands of people from elite athletes to those who would be considered not-so-elite, myself being a proud member of the latter. Galloway has documented thousands of cases where veteran runners have improved by 10, 20, 30 minutes and more in marathons by taking walk breaks early and often in the race.

So why all of a sudden the great belief in walk breaks? I must admit, it is born more out of necessity and not so much because of the scientific arguments in favour of walk breaks. You see, the recent problems with my back/pelvis have been causing more trouble as my training program takes me out for Sunday runs lasting more than an hour. At about 30-40 minutes, I feel a sensation in my pelvis that slows me down to a walk, and as most distance runners know, stopping after 3 to 4 miles makes getting going again quite difficult as the legs are pretty much spent.

So today, on a short training run, I decided to try Jeff's method thinking that walk breaks early and often will keep the pelvic pain at bay long enough for me to finish an upcoming 10-mile event. I went out with the group and planned on a 5 minute run/1 minute walk strategy. The result? My overall pace was about 30 seconds per mile faster than usual; maybe Jeff is on to something here.

Galloway also makes no bones about the fact the hardest part of running/walking is the fight one has with his ego - the feelings of not being a runner because of the walking apparently tend to hit hard.

I'm going to give it a serious go this Sunday during a scheduled 90 minute run. I'm not too concerned about battling my running pride - even at my pace, I can out run my ego.

Friday, June 1, 2007

And Susan makes four...


Originally published November, 2006

I received an email from my oldest sister today announcing that she too has taken up running. She wrote that her reason for doing so is because she was getting tired of being left out of family gatherings that more and more have been revolving around running events.

I think it's terrific that my oldest sister has made this decision and it confirms my belief that running is about so much more than sweating, hard breathing, and pounding the pavement - leave that for the athletes. In our case, it has become a real connection point for our family. Separated by miles, schedules and other commitments, running has become a common thread, keeping us together, and a force gravitating us closer to each other.

My sister asked if there was any advice we could offer her as a newbie to running. I've given it some thought, and here are my best ideas for runners just starting out, in case she happens to read this:

Read John Bingham's "The Courage to Start" and then read "No Need for Speed", also by Bingham;

Start easy - a walk run approach is best to get your body ready for the new stresses it is about to experience;

Go to a good running store and get fitted for a pair of quality shoes. It's worth spending the money here - you need a comfortable ride;

Before getting started, accept that there will be bad days - forget about them;

Before getting started, accept that there will be outstanding days - remember them always; and,

Enjoy. Take in the sights, celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they might seem. New runners see great gains in fitness and endurance in a relatively short period of time - keep track of your workouts in a log or online so you can easily look back on how far you have come.

Most importantly, put one foot in front of the other, shut-up, and run.