This week I found two great ways to make a greater impact with your running.  This first was mentioned to me by Tony B. over at Daily Mile.  
When you sign up with Plus 3 you pick one of their sponsored charities. Then you begin to upload your workouts,either through your GPS unit or manually to their site. Based on your workout the sponsor of each charity will donate money to the charity you selected.  While the amount is not incredibly large (a 10 mile run and 5 mile bike ride netted me $0.90 for my charity) the overall impact can be great. The site also features challenges that can lead to prizes for participants.  The best part is, your really not doing anything extra.  As an added bonus, the site also provides you many of the stats (such as pace, BPM, speed, etc. as your Garmin Connect) when you upload from a GPS unit. 
The second site is The Movement Challenge, sponsored by New Balance.  Again, when you sign up you pick a charity.  In comparison with Plus 3 there is a much wider variety here. There is also the option to name your own charity, although you must have the tax ID number for the charity that you choose.  When you sign up you are also given the option to enter a referral code, (I'd love for you to enter mine: ff283bf2-23ce-4799-b8fb-47a708c360e8 (save your fingers and copy and paste)).  You don't even have to be a runner to help support the cause.  If you are a runner, The Movement Challenge only tracks the races that you compete in.  Once the race is over you log your bib number, time and distance.  The winner walks away with $25,000 for their charity (plus opportunities along the way to win swag from New Balance) so it makes since that the challenge is a little more difficult.
For Plus 3 I went with The American Red Cross.  Back in 2005 I was a minister in Baton Rouge, LA that opened up a shelter for those affected by Hurricane Katrina. I appreciate all the help that the Red Cross offered, including coming to our church to help those in need.
For the Movement Challenge I selected World Vision as my charity.  If you have been reading this blog for awhile now you know that this year I running for Team World Vision in order to provide wells for clean water to families in Africa. 
I would greatly appreciate your support in both of the causes.
Also if you would be willing to support my personal efforts with Team World Vision you can go to my donation site.

Chasing After...

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This weekend I'll be heading home to Franklin, TN for a family reunion and the opportunity to see my grandfather after his recent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from outside of his colon. I should be a great time to see a few cousins, visit with my aunt, but most importantly, to see him.
To get the point, my grandfather is my hero, the reason that I do so much of what I do. He embodies gentle strength.  Prior to college he served in Army, stationed in South Carolina.  After getting out he became a coach (for baseball and football, although he also served as a track coach when needed and started the wrestling program at Franklin High School, for which is was honored with induction into their sports Hall of Fame earlier this year). Coaches and drill sergeants tend to give full vent to their anger, but I have NEVER seen my grandfather yell at anyone. He has always seemed to lead by example.
I lived at my grandparents' house for about 2 years when I was 13-14. During that time I learned a lot, simply by watching him live.  Through middle school and high school my grandparents attended almost every sporting event I was ever involved in.  In middle school I ran track, and he came out to teach me and a friend how to do the high jump and run hurdles. I came to almost every school soccer game I ever played (from middle school-high school) even though he probably still can't explain offsides or many of the other rules.  He even traveled to cross-country meets, some that were a couple of hours from home. Why, to watch the number 5 or 6 runner from BGA make his way through the 3.1 mile course.
It's dedication, its love, its pride. It's what makes me a runner. I hope I have what it takes to chase after him.

What Do You Believe is Possible?

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Last night I saw the movie Inception (quite a treat for me since the last movie I saw in a theater was Star Trek- the one from last year, not the ones from the 80's). Great movie! Since I was trained as a therapist and had class dealing with creative choice (ie. hypnosis) I really loved the concept of this movie, but the part I what to focus on today is a quote from Mal to her husband Cobb.  She says, 
"You keep telling yourself what you know. But what do you believe? What do you feel?"

As a runner, her is what I know. I run consistently at an 8:30 pace. There are times when I run faster, days when I have been really in the zone, the weather is perfect, I got enough sleep, etc. and I run faster. But if you look at my weekly average, I run at 8:30. This is what I know.

What I believe is that I can be faster.  Earlier in the summer I set the goal of qualifying for Boston at the marathon in December.  For my age group that means I have to run a 3:10 (or 7:10 pace). I believe it is possible. I'm 20 weeks out and this week I will have run 32 miles (if everything goes well with the 9 miler tomorrow morning). Last year, for my first marathon I didn't break 30 miles until week 10 or so.

What I feel is...uncertain.  I don't think I will know the realistic possibility of the goal until I run the half marathon in October. It's the uncertainty that drives me. I feel like I can do this, however, at the moment the evidence indicates that it is unlikely I'll be ready by December, so do I follow what I "know" or what I believe?

Additional motivation for today: "You're going to fail eventually, why fail at something mediocre?" -David Duchemin
(thanks @bellphotog and @ShootRunTri for posting this on Twitter)

Plan a Workout with Your Garmin

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Photo by AA7JC
It has taken me a year, but I have learned a new (and valuable) way to use my Garmin 205.
Plan my workouts for the week.


When I first got the watch I simply wanted to know my distance and time, which would give me my pace.  At the time any pace was good because I hadn't been running in about 10 years.  Now, as I try to improve my running I am looking for ways to get the most out the tools I am using.

Earlier this year I started creating some custom workouts that I could download to my watch, but I didn't realize that I could plan into the future with it.
Here's what you do:
1. Take one of the pre-programed or custom workouts from your workout tab in Garmin Training Center.
2. After you left-click on it, drag it to the date when you want to do the workout.
3. Sync your watch with the Garmin Training Center (Go to "File" and click "Send to device").
4. Now when your watch is on hit the mode button and go to "Training," next go to "Workouts" then "Advanced."  On the Advanced screen you can choose "Today's" or select from the list by going to "View All."

Knowing about this feature would have really helped last week when I selected the wrong workout on Thursday.  I was 10 minutes into the run before I realized that something was wrong. If had simply set up the training for each day all I would have needed to do would be to select "Today" and I would be set.
This is a really great feature to have, especially for those of us who are still half asleep when we head out for that early morning run!

Brain Training for Runners

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Over the last month or so I have become a big fan of Matt Fitzgerald's approach to training.  I started when I checked out The Runner's Edge from the library (a title a quickly went I bought for myself a week later).  Since then I have added Matt's Racing Weight and Brain Training for Runners to my running library.
Matt style is every straight forward and easy to read.  I love that in the second chapter of Brain Training for Runners entitled "The Running Brain" he tells readers to skip most of the chapter if they aren't interested in reading about the more detailed physiological aspects of the brain.  Brain Training is based on the idea that it is really your brain, not your muscles, that limit your performance.  Your brain will not allow you to go the point of complete exhaustion.  Therefore you must train in way that syncs the mind and body for optimal performance.
In order to achieve this Matt provides a running plan that looks quite different from anything I have seen, here's part of his rationale:

1. Develop objective performance goals for each workout. This stimulates the brain to allow higher levels of muscle output.
2. Gather objective feedback.
3. Pursue key workout pace targets which increase as you move closer to your peak race.

Matt's plans for marathons feature recovery runs and 3 key workouts each week (hill work or intervals, fartlek or intervals and long runs). The 3 types of workouts are found in the majority marathon plans one can find online (Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, Runner's World, etc. although in some cases not until you get to the advanced). There are however a few key differences:
1. Information regrading pacing.  One of the draw backs I have found to many other plans is that the author will say, "at an easy pace" or "marathon pace." When I was preparing for my first marathon I had no idea what my marathon pace would be and easy could mean walking 14 minute miles! Since running 14 minute miles would not really help improve my times I needed something more objective in order to help me improve as a runner.  In Brain Training, Matt provides the reader with a chart based on previous performances to help determine the pace for runs during training (The Runner's Edge provides and more detailed chart).  Therefore when a run says "base pace" I know exactly the range I need to running at during this phase of training.
2. Specific resistance workouts. I love adding other types of workouts to my training besides running.  However, I have found that I can easily over work my body during these workouts and not be ready for running the next day.  Also, since lifting weights is the main source of training aside from running, I need to be careful not to bulk up.  The resistance workouts for each week are specific to runners, can easily be done at home (with no equipment), and help improve running economy.
3. Finally, each week you focus on a specific proprioceptive cue.  These cues are connected to your running form.  While Matt is not try to remake your entire form, there some subtle changes that can be made that will make you a better runner.

In preparation for the St. Jude Marathon this year I have switched to Matt's Level 2 Marathon Plan. Unfortunately I am a little behind.  The marathon plans call for 24 weeks of training. By the time I got the book I was a week behind, no problem, then I messed a week and a half due to injury, only a slight problem. Hopefully it will be smooth sailing from here on out.
Obviously you can keep track of my training here or at DailyMile.

Running Mantras

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There are countless reasons why I run without an iPod, but my number one is:
running is my time to clear my head.That doesn't mean that I'm not thinking while I am out on my runs. In fact, running sans music means that I am typically thinking clearly more than any other time in day. It would be rather easy for me to simply let my thoughts flow, but I know the outcome would be a poor running. So when I run I have to think about running.
No, I don't think about moving, breathing or any of the other things that making up the running motion, rather I have to think about my motivation for running. And so I have a mantra.  It changes from time to time, but for every training phase I have gone through I have had a mantra.

For my first marathon it was: "Just get through this."
For the hilly, Music City Half it was: "Hills for Breakfast, Mountains for Dinner."
Now, I all of my workouts (strength training, running, cross-training, even waking up) begin with: "Only I can defeat the Voice."
The Voice is that part of me that wants to sleep in, take it easy, not push the pace. The Voice is the part of me that wants to give up and declare my goals to be unobtainable. The Voice wants me to be a loser. The Voice affects other areas of my life as well, so everything is a battle.  But each time I hit my goals it like I am telling the Voice to "shut up."
I realize my mantra may not be for everyone, and you may not want people thinking that you are hearing voices in your head. However, it connects with me.  

What mantra has connected with you?

Here are some other favorites:
Relax and Flow
You're a runner, this is what you do.
Pain is temporary. Quit is forever.
Harder, Faster, Better, Stronger.
Tenacity. Ferocity. velocity

Here are a couple of forums on running mantras:

Road ID Contest

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I wanted to pass on a contest that I found on another blog that I follow: Beyond Fatigue, Pain and ACTN3.
The prize is an item of choice from Road ID.
Go check out the blog, its great stuff focused on ultra running and living green.

Looking Injuries in the... Foot

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Photo by Pizzo Calabro (note this is not my foot)
This week I faced the fact that there was something seriously wrong with my foot.  For two weeks now I have dealt with a injury to my right heel.  At first I thought it was simply my Achilles tendon tightening up on me after a hard 8 mile run.  I pushed it out of mind, thinking that an old football injury from senior year of high school was coming back to haunt me.
My intentional thoughts in regard to training were to simply press on. It would continue to run, but not try to push the pace until my foot felt better. I had fallen into the trap that many runners succumb to:
Sticking with the plan, even when your body says to do something different. 

You see, my plan said to run, so ran. This mentality has been with me forever.  For example from the time of pre-K until graduation of high school I missed exactly one day of school (3rd grade- food poisoning, I still can't eat roast beef sandwiches from on fast-food chain). I even took 3 exams in isolation because I had chicken pox my junior year!
But after 2 weeks of running, and no improvement I figured it was time to give it a rest and hope that it heals quickly. (I should add that it took some prompting from my fabulous wife to actually get me to stop running for a few days).
Then I had to promptly diagnose my condition in order to know how to treat it. Fortunately I have couple of close friends that are PAs and they talked with me about...PLANTAR FISCIITIS.  NOOOOOOOOOOO!
This has been described by Christopher McDougall as the "vampire bite" for runners.
So what is plantar fisciitis?
Basically it is pain in the heel of your foot.  It can be caused by adding too many miles, too quickly, wearing the wrong shoes or running too fast.
I believe mine was caused by the combination of factors:
1. Wearing the wrong shoes.  Earlier this spring I was at a running expo for the Little Rock Marathon and I found a great deal on some New Balance shoes.  I thought I was buying the 769 which has been great for me (a stability shoe, for those with normal arches) instead I bought the 1063 (a neutral cushion shoe, for those with high arches).
2. The speed work plan where I was trying to push myself everyday.  I have learned that there is a reason to have recovery days. Planning to get faster as fast as possible led me to the (wrong) conclusion that I had to faster at every workout.  Taking a day to do a recovery run so that I can back the next with greater intensity would have been a better approach (it also might have kept me injury free).

As far is treatment goes, I would follow the plan from Runner's World. I have been using it the past 2 days and I feel a ton better.
Hopefully I'll be ready to run again this weekend.  Today I got on the elliptical for 30 minutes and didn't have any issues, although it doesn't create the same pounding sensation you get from running.

Good luck to all the runners out there. I hope you stay injury free, but if you do get injured, remember to take some time off! Trust me, you'll be okay!

Side Note: You get some strange photos when you search for images of foot injuries!

When Results are Lacking...

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The last two weeks I have felt stuck.  I haven't seen much improvement in my running.  Maybe I am being too critical, too impatient, too stressed out to push it like I know I should, too hurt (although not willing to take a break for fear of losing more fitness).
Over the last two weeks I have been dealing with some type of ankle injury. At first I thought it was my Achilles tendon that was just sore, so I tried treating it with ice, rest and ibuprofen.  A week later I still feel the soreness when I get up in the morning, but usually within an hour its gone.  However, if I sit with it elevated for too long I get the same soreness when I start walking again.  This makes my early morning workouts (a necessity in this heat) quite difficult. I've also noticed that its not the tendon that appears to be hurting, rather its something in the space between the tendon and the ball of my ankle.
It has also resulted in me being more cautious about pushing my pace. I simply don't won't to do more damage. However, I want to see progress. I am wondering if I was pushing too hard, and that's what caused this pain. And now I am beginning to stress because I had my plan for speed work developed so that I could try to qualify for Boston in December.  I'm not sure that it was a realistic plan, but it was a least a plan. Now, if two weeks of lackluster results, I'm wondering if I can recover.
The good thing is my best form of stress management is... to run.

5 Books on Running

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The posts have not come as frequently this week because I've been tied up with VBS with the kids, meetings at work, and training.  But I have also been busy reading some great (and some not so great) books on running. So here are some of the highlights and thoughts from what I've been reading:

1. Runner's Edge.  Of the books I'm talking about today, this has by far been the most beneficial to my training.  Matt Fitzgerald (one of the authors) is a Training Peaks coach and regular contributer to both Runner's World and Triathlete.  This books highlights many of the technologies that can be harnessed to help track, evaluate, and improve your training.  With detailed charts, sage wisdom, experience from runners, and an easy to read style, this book is worth the money.  I had checked it out from the local library, but after reading the first half of the book there was so much I wanted to highlight that I had to purchase the book. This is a great reference book that you will come back to again and again if you are trying to improve as a runner.
2. Once a Runner. On to something different: a running novel. While novels are typically not my favorite type of reading material, I was appreciative of RunAddicts for sending me a free copy of this book for winning one of the contest. Having just received it earlier this week, I have just started it, but have quickly gotten wrapped up in the story (something which is necessary for me to finish a novel). I think most runners will enjoy this book, and judging by the fact that it has been a New York Times bestseller, several non-runners have enjoyed it as well!
3. Born to Run. If you follow enough barefoot runners on Twitter you are bound to have heard of this book. Really I think everyone has heard of this book as it investigates the Tarahumara tribe and the movement towards minimalistic running shoes.  Right now I am about half way through this book, enjoy the storyline before the book shifts to understanding the barefoot movement. So far it has been interesting, although I am not a fan of the profanity. I get it that you cuss when you hit your thumb with a hammer, but profanity for profanities sake isn't cool. Get a bigger vocabulary (I that in most cases of the profanity the author is simply reporting what was said by another party, I fact that for me, actually makes it worse, because he could have chosen to omit these quotes. Overall, it has been a good read and I have enjoyed learning the background of races like the Western States 100 (which is coming up soon) and some interesting people who make up the ultra running community.
4. Brain Training for Runners. I use to be a therapist (currently in the process of renewing my license after moving out of state for 4 years) and I love the study of the brain. I just wrapped up a class with UMass on psycho-pharmacology that focused on the effect of drugs on the brain. This also happens to be another book by Matt Fitzgerald.  Again, we have an easy read for a complex subject.  I have only just started this book, but I have found the insights to be very helpful and I look forward to digging deeper into this book.
5. Run with Champions. I found this book on Paperback Swap and thought I would really enjoy it. Unfortunately, I was a disappointed.  The subtitle to the book is : Training Programs and Secrets of America's 50 Greatest Runners. The book lists the Top 30 Men and Top 20 Women in US distance running history.  I thought the book would have spent more than 9 pages (at the end) looking directly at the training for these athletes. While each runners profile also ended with a half page training tip, I was expecting a little more with some of the tips. For example, Abel Kiviat's tip that he only trained 1 or 2 days during the week and then raced on Saturday and Sunday wasn't that helpful to me. Even the tips that were more structured (ie. actually looked like a workout) were sometimes devoid of context, so you won't know where to add this into your plan for maximum benefit.  I guess I probably shouldn't be a critical of the book since I will be posting it on Paperback Swap for someone else to enjoy, but I really think this is a book to check out from your local library, not own.

Have you read of of these books? What are you thoughts?
Are there any other great books of running that I need to add to the summer reading list?

Running Report [6.14-20]

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Week 4 of Hal Higdon's Spring Training is now done, so here are the numbers:
Monday: 4 Miles, 36:30 (9:10 pace) Not really much to say about this easy workout.
Tuesday: 4X Hills, 3.83 miles, 40:02. This week I was back on the big hill. My warm up and cool down runs of 1.5 miles went much smoother, especially the cool down at the end. This hill simply drains you, but it really helps build strength.  While I didn't run up the hill as fast as my previous workout on it (48 seconds vs. 45), I also added one more repetition into the mix. Also my overall pace was 20 seconds faster per mile than the previous effort.  Mainly this is due to the fact that I actually ran the 1.5 miles back home instead of walking half of it like I did last time.
Wednesday: Rest. I was tempted to get up and workout at home, but I stuck to my plan to rest.
Thursday: 3 Miles, 27:05 (9:02 pace). I followed up this run with P90X Core Synergistics which is about 50 minutes of actual workout time.
Friday: 35 Minute Fartlek. 3.88 miles (9:06 pace). I love using my Garmin to create my fartlek workouts. On Friday I built up from moderate aerobic all the way to VO2 Max. For the most part I stayed within the appropriate ranges for each transition, although I learned a couple of tips I need to apply. 1. Switch from Smart Recording to Constant Recording for this workout.  Constant recording takes measurements every second, making the information more accurate during the 1 minute intervals when I was running at my VO2 Max.
Saturday: 7 Miles, 59:49 (8:33 pace). This was a great workout.  I barely felt like I was running.  Running this good on Saturday made me realize that I need to be pushing the pace more on my 3 and 4 miles runs during the week. While I don't want to press too hard on those easy days (because the day after them is really the workout I want to focus on). However, I'm running almost 30 seconds a mile faster on a run that is twice as long. I need to pick up the pace.
Sunday: P90X Chest and Back. The plan was to try and get another 3 miles in, but some time on Saturday (not during my run) I tweaked my right ankle. My Achilles tendon has been tight ever since.  So I've tried resting it, Icy Hot, and now an ibuprofen routine to be ready to run this next week. Even when I woke up on Monday morning it was still sore, so I did my Core Synergistics workout and hope to get a run or another workout in later today so I don't get too far behind.
Overall another great week of training!

The Perfect Father's Day Gift

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The world of running changed for me a year ago on Father's Day.  First the back story:
At the beginning of 2009 I left my job as minister in Baton Rouge and began working at a Christian drug treatment center in Arkansas called Capstone. With the move I decided that I need to lose much of the weight that 4 years of catfish, crawfish boils, and other Southern Louisiana cuisine had added (not to mention the fact that during those 4 years I did 0 hours of exercises).
My 3 months in Arkansas I lost 15 pounds simply by changing my diet and working out about twice a week with Wii Fit.  Then Meg and the girls joined me here, we got our own house and decided that before we turned 30 we would run a marathon. The challenge was on. We started running, not really having a plan. A good friend of Meg's who was trying to qualify for Boston at the time (and was successful) recommended that we get Hal Higdon's book on Marathon training and then she showed us on of the greatest toys a runner can ever have: a Garmin.
photo by zingersb

At the time my wife was unsure about the Garmin purchase. How serious were we about running? Would it continue after the first marathon? Would I prefer something else for Father's Day?
Ladies, I'll give you some help here, guys always love gadgets! 
Right now we have a ForeRunner 205, which met our needs (and our budget). It has been a great addition to our training. Even a year later I am still learning new things I can do with it.  It has been highly accurate (I've checked with the car and with websites like MapMyRun.
So if you haven't bought anything for the running dad in your family yet, and he doesn't have a Garmin, let me recommend that you get him one.  You can: 
1. Go to my Amazon Store at the top of the page and find a selection of Garmin watches there. 
2. Or you can Search for a watch through the Amazon Search on the right hand side of my blog.

As for Father's Day this year, I got a Team World Vision shirt to go along with goal of raising $3,100 for families in Africa.  I'll proudly be wearing the my upcoming races.  Hopefully it will inspire others to join to cause.
I hope everyone has a great weekend, especially all the fathers.

What Makes Me a Dad

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There are certain blessings and curses that come from being the father of 3 girls.
Blessings:
1. My girls are beautiful.
2. They are the biggest daddy's girls in the world.
3. Each of them has proven to be athletic.
4. They can truly be the sweetest kids in the world.
5. When I'm old I know they'll take care of me and their mom.

Curses:
1.My girls are the chattiest creatures on the face of the globe. I've heard howler monkeys that make less noise that my girls.
2.I am an only child. While I now have 2 step brothers, I never lived with them growing up. In fact I only have one first cousin and she is twelve years younger than me. Having 3 girls ages 5, 3, and 2 really changes the social dynamic in our house in way that I am really not use to at times.
3. Clothes. Girls have tons of clothes! And EVERY clothing decision is very important.

This morning the war of clothes entered into the world of training.

Meg went out for her run this morning while I stayed at home to do my P90X Core Synergistics (tonight I'll also do my 3 mile run). It was only 6 AM, so I figured I had time before the girls got up, but as soon as I started the video Gabie (our oldest) came in. Being the oldest, she is your typical type A personality, the leader of The Sisters.  Gabie quickly informed me that one of the girls in the workout video was not wearing appropriate clothing. This is our own fault really because we have talked with Gabie for a long time about what is appropriate to wear in public. (The offending attire by the way was a girl whose midriff was showing.) Anyway, Gabie let me know that since there were boys in the video with the girl that we needed to change it. Apparently its okay for Meg to watch if the video doesn't contain any boys, but my video was offensive.
At first I resisted. This was my workout. I'm busy doing the workout, not worrying about what the girls are wearing. Those are workout clothes (by the way, the same rule applied to weigh-ins on Biggest Loser). Anyway, I sat there for a second with the video paused wondering what I was going to do.
In the end I turned the video off, grabbed the P90X book and flipped over the the World Cup game between Argentina and South Korea. It ended up being a great decision. Gabie and watched as Argentina scored their first two goals and Gabie's sensibilities remained intact.
I think I am may have also taught her something about priorities.
Caring more about my girls, than myself is what makes me a dad, not just a father.

Also, you have had a chance, check out the Father's Day Contest.

Father's Day Contest

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UPDATE: This Contest is now closed.


Is your dad a runner? Would you like to give him a running gift this Father's Day? Then look no further than this contest.  Thanks to Runner's Lounge I will be giving away 5 copies of The Ultimate Runner to readers of this blog.  The contest will run through Friday @ 12 PM (CST) (so I can't guarantee that it will arrive at his house by Father's Day, you can always tell him it's in the mail).

In order to enter the contest here's what you need to do (you can do any one of the options):

1. Email me a picture of your dad (or you and your dad together) running at jdeddins@gmail.com.
2. Link to a picture on Twitter of your dad (or you and your dad together) running. Be sure to add my twitter name @cruciblerunner so that I can see the photo.
3. Share in the comment section why your dad deserves to win this book.

Winners will be selected based on creativity by the awards committee (consisting of my wife and myself).
The photos will not be posted/distributed/used in any way without your permission.
Good luck and remember to honor your father this weekend!

Running Report [6.7-13]

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After 3 weeks of using Hal Higdon's Spring Training speedwork plan I have to admit that while I am running faster, I have yet to do any two weeks the same or according to plan.  Such is the life of husband and father of 3 who has other things besides running in his life.  So far I have only missed one workout, but I have learned to make some modifications in order to get everything done.  This week Meg started running again in order to get ready for the Soaring Wings Half Marathon.  We also went with our girls to Hot Springs in order to spend the weekend at the lake with some of our best friends in the world, the Smiths.
Here are some shots from the weekend:
The husbands beat the wives by one stroke.
That's me making sure the kids don't get us kicked out.
As you can see, I'm really paying attention.


Even at the 10th hole we're still trying to teach Lucie the rules!

Overall, a great weekend! A big part of life is simply figuring out how to balance everything you have going on. So here's how I moved my running around this week in order to get it all done:

Monday: Easy 4 mile run. I only went 3.71 in 34:37 (9:20 pace). I took a wrong turn and ended up a little short on the distance, but this was suppose to be an easy run anyway, so I wasn't too worried about it.
Tuesday: Hill Day.  Today the goal was to hit 4 hill sprints after a 1-1.5 mile warm up.  The over all pace for the 3.04 that I ran was 27:15.  The sprints were done over a 1/4 mile at an average pace of 6:18.  No breaks, just get to the top of the hill and jog back down.  Over the next few weeks as I continue to do this workout the two things I am looking for are: 1. Faster total average pace and 2. Faster pace on the hill sprints.
Wednesday: Easy 3 Miles. 3.14 in 26:21 (8:24 pace). Not bad considering that after this workout was over I went home and did P90X Core Synergistics for another 50 minutes. Today the 3 miles just seemed easy.
Thursday: 35 Minute Tempo Run. The goal was to do three 12 minute sessions at different paces. I ran 4.51 in 38:53 (8:37 overall pace).  Looking back at the workout thanks to Garmin Connect I was able to see that I hit my target paces for each of the 3 sessions.
Friday: P90X Legs and Back. Meg and her friend Angela had not had a chance to run together in several weeks, so they got up early to run and I stayed at home and focused on a weight lifting session instead.  It was good to do something besides run today, but my glutes were dying after the workout!
Saturday: 5.65 in 53:14.  I forgot how many hills there were around Hot Springs! There also weren't any paths where we were at, although now that I am writing this I can remember a trail that winds through the back part condo complex we stayed at this weekend. Anyway, again I ended up a little short because I miss calculated how long the return trip would take, however, I also knew we would be going out on the boat and that I needed to get back.  It all workout out because we ended up swimming and being on a paddle boat for about 45 minutes-1 hour, so I got my workout in.
Sunday: A day of rest. I needed it after this week.

Overall, another great week of training. I have been using the book, Runner's Edge to really help me improve my goals for each training session.  Thanks to the advice found there I feel like I have a better plan in place that will help me train better.  

So how did your week go?
Any summer 5k or 10ks coming up?


Links of the Week

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I think the title is enough of an introduction, so here we go:


  • Anne Jackson has become one of my favorite authors.  This year she is following in the footsteps of another favorite author of mine, Donald Miller and riding across the USA with RideWell. The goal, like my goal with Team World Vision is to help raise money/awareness of the poor water conditions in Africa and help communities there drill wells so they can have clean water.
  • This just makes me sick.  I can't imagine eating this much food, especially after watching Supersize Me and Food Inc.
  • Good news for Triathletes looking to track their swimming leg.
  • Seth Godin does not write about running, but he's a genius! His Fear of Shipping and Cheating the Clock have so great implications for endurance athletes. If you haven't read his latest book Linchpin yet, you really need to buy it this weekend.
  • Want to make sure you are drinking enough water during your workouts, here's a helpful post from @cyberpenguin.
  • A review of Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. I've been working for awhile to lose the last 10 pounds in my weight loss goal.  Week to week my weight ebbs between 5 lbs. I really need to cut the amount of sugar I take in, mainly through my sweet tea addiction! Needless to say, I'll be looking for this book soon.
  • Continuing with the weight-loss theme, here's a post from a friend, The Nashville Nutrition Expert on healthy eating for the summer. If you like what you heard in the video then look for her page on Facebook. Sarah is also trying to gain a spot on Oprah's new network, but she needs your vote.

What Do You Drink At a Race?

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Imagine if the water in the bottle below was handed to you at the aid station at your next race:

Imagine that this is were you go to get your water for the day:


Looking at the imagines breaks my heart because everyday I have clean water to drink, and honestly I'm not as thankful for it as I should be.  Two weeks ago my family took a vacation to Disney, here they are playing in  countless gallons of clean water.

                                    
When I wake up the mornings to go for a run I just turn on the facet, I don't take a 10 mile hike with 10 gallons jugs at the start of each day.
That is why, today I joined Team World Vision in order to help raise money Africa, so that people there can have clean drinking water.  My goal is to raise $3,100 by 12/4/2010, the date of the Memphis Marathon.  The goal of $3,100 is significant because it also matches the Boston Qualifying time for my age group (3 hours, 10 minutes).  I'm sure that I have enough time to get the training in that I'll need to qualify for Boston, however, that is much smaller goal to me than raising the money to help families have clean drinking water.  If you want to help me in my effort to make this happen you can go to Participant Page and make a donation.  If you are a runner yourself, you may also want to sign up yourself or create a team.  Team World Vision has some great races throughout the year that they help support, so check it out.

Cytomax Review

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I am continuing to use various types of supplements and sports drink to aid in my training, especially at this point when I am focused on building speed.  Right now I am training 6 days a week so I am really for the supplements that will help me with recovery so that I can get out there tomorrow and achieve the goals of each workout.

The latest sports drink that I have added to the mix is Cytomax.  I was introduced to Cytomax at the Country Music Marathon in Nashville earlier this year.  Having never had it before (and knowing that it would be used during the race) I had sure to find their exhibit at the expo and try the stuff out.  At the expo they featured both the citrus and tangy orange flavors.  There was also a sample that came with the race packet of the citrus flavor that I could take home for later use.  Immediately I liked the taste! It doesn't have the chalky taste that is associated with many powdered sports drinks.  In fact, as far as taste goes, Cytomax is by far my favorite!  It is also easy to mix and doesn't stain my containers.

One down side to Cytomax Performance Drink is that it lacks protein to help aid in recovery (however CytoSport does make drink mixes that are targeted to recovery). In the Performance Drink formula, there is also crystalline fructose, which is essentially a powder form of fructose corn syrup (maybe that's why I really enjoyed the taste).

I have enjoyed using Cytomax Performance and it will probably remain my drink of choice to take out on runs with me.  However, when it comes to looking for a recovery drink to have once the run is over, I think I'll be looking for something else.  Not sure what yet, any suggestions?


Also, here are a couple of other reviews of Cytomax that might be helpful:
1. Coach Levi
2. Kmax Trax: this review also features Acclerade, which I am also using, which I my start using as my recovery drink after workouts.

Running Report [5.31-6.6]

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This week was a little hectic, but I found time to get the all of my runs in except one.
Here we go:

Monday: Easy 3 miles. Went 3.12 @ 25:33.
Tuesday: 3 X Hills. 3.67 @ 40:06.  I started of with a 1.5 mile warm up at a 9:30 pace. Then I went out to the big hill behind the house I did repeats.  This is major hill.  I still need to check the grade on it (anyone know how to determine that?) so I can compare it with other hills, but needless to say its a beast. Sprinting up this thing 3 times really took it out of me, so on the return trip to house I was "running" at a 10-11:00 pace.
Wednesday: Rest. I moved my rest day because Meg and the girls returned home from Florida today. It had been a week and a half since I had seen my girls so I wanted to spend some time with them without anything else to distract me.


Thursday: Another Easy 3. Went 3.12 @ 27:50, returned home and did P90X Core Synergistics.
Friday: 30 Minute Fartlek. 3.64 @ 31:00.  This was a fun run of varying speeds. I loved using the workout feature on my Garmin, which would beep when it was time to change speeds.  I just need to create a more individualized plan for future workouts.
Saturday: 7.01 @ 1:02:00. Missed the heat of the day this time and had water waiting for me at the halfway mark, still it was hot.  We left mid-morning to go camping for the weekend at the lake.  While we were there we took in a mile hike with the girls.
Sunday: I missed my 3 miles + strength training session for this week.

This week will be crazy again as we leave on Friday to go to another lake and spend the weekend with great friends from Louisiana. I think I am going to skip the day of rest on Thursday and move everything up, but we'll see how the week goes.  Today's run was pretty easy in prep for the speed workout that will come tomorrow on the hills.

Good luck to everyone in your training! 
What resources do you use to analyze your training?

Running Links of the Week

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Over the last month I have tightened the focus of this blog to examine running/training.  Since that time, I have also added more running blogs to my reading lists.  As I continue to read and get a better sense of who these writers are I'll be adding their blogs to my blogroll (right now there are none on there).  In the meantime I wanted to share a few links from running blogs that I thought were particularly good:

1. Beyond Fatigue, Pain and ACTN3.  Right now Thomas is running a contest to give away Win Green, a laundry detergent that is great for sweaty clothes and does less damage to the environment.
2.Last Saturday I had an issue with not taking water on my run.  Coach Jenny highlights some of the options for taking water on your runs.
3. I've written my own post about what to do on vacation, but here are some good thoughts from Fitness for Life.
4. I began this week with a review of Ajinomoto Endurance and will have a review of Cytomax next week.  here's a review from Jill Will Run on the new Gatorade G Series.

I hope these links are helpful.  If you know of any great running blogs, drop me a comment or send me a message on Twitter (@CrucibleRunner).
I hope everyone has a great weekend! Good luck to those of you who have races!

Running for A Reason

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This morning I wanted to highlight Running for a Reason because it ties in with one my core values as a runner.  I run to try to make a difference in the world.  Sure, there are plenty of people faster than me, with greater popularity, who can get bigger things done, but that doesn't mean that I can't make a difference.
The goal of Running for a Reason is to help bring together charity runners.  Since it appears they are still in the beginning stages of organizing this project I think it is the perfect time to jump in and offer to help.  It will be exciting to see where things go with this organization in the future.  Right now you can go to their site and sign up for their newsletter or their Facebook page or on Twitter.
For you cyclists out there, there is also Riding for a Reason.

Giveaway at Jill Will Run

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This morning I was thinking about what to post today and nothing was coming to mind. Fortunately, I got to work early and read through my RSS feeds and found a contest at Jill Will Run.
As part of the lead up to the Las Vegas Rock N' Roll Marathon Jill is giving away a Sony Walkman MP3 player.  To enter, just go the previous link and follow the directions.  There are 3 simple ways to enter the contest:
1. Comment, on her blog.
2. Tweet "I’m entering the Sony MP3 Walkman giveaway from @jillwillrun http://ow.ly/1SMl0 You should too!"
3. Post a comment on your blog about the contest (like I'm doing now).

It's pretty easy.  The contest ends Friday, June 4 at 6 PM PST. Good luck to everyone, but I really hope to win it!

How the McMillan Running Calculator is Working for Me

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I'm two weeks into my Hal Higdon-based speed work training program and I just came across The McMillan Running Calculator, which I think will greatly help me measure my workouts more effectively.
Like most pace calculators, McMillan asks that you enter the time from a previous race and it will predict your time for other racing distances. However, unlike other running calculators, you are also provided with a wealth of information about how you should be training.  He covers everything from your pace on long runs to your speed workouts (there are even variations for long distance and middle distance runners).  This information is quite helpful for novice runners like myself who aren't quite sure what to do with Hal Higdon's more general advice on pacing during runs.
An added advantage of McMillan's Calculator is that now I can plug in my desired time for a future race (ie. the 3:10 I need to qualify for the Boston Marathon and see what I should be running in other races).  The Hal Higdon plan calls for me to run 3 races: 5K, 8K and 10K over the course of the next 12 weeks.  I also plan to run The Soaring Wings Half Marathon in October.  According to McMillan a Boston Qualifier should be able to run the following times for those races:
5K: 19:29
8K: 32:07
10K: 1:07:50
1/2 Marathon: 1:30:05


Looking at those times right now, I feel a little crazy for thinking I can do this. At the same time, I have a plan in place that is helping me increase my speed.  Ultimately, the goal is to simply become a better runner.  If I miss my goal in December I will still have plenty of time to qualify for the 2012 Boston Marathon.
After reading this you may be wondering why I'm not switching over to McMillan's training program.  Honestly I think it is superficial reasons for sticking with Higdon:

1. I have read his books and used his plan for my first marathon.
2. A good friend in town used Higdon's plan and qualified for Boston last year.

While those may not be the greatest reasons ever, they are mine.

I'd love to hear your input:


1.What training plans have you used in the past/ or are using now?
2. Have there been any plans that you have been unhappy with or any that have really stood out as excellent?

Running Report: May 30

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This week I wrapped up my first week of speed work training.  Overall it has been a great week.  The daily regime of P90X has gotten me ready for running everyday (with one day of rest each week).  So here are the details from this past week of training:

Monday: 3 Mile Run: 8:44 pace. This is suppose to be an easy run, the purpose is just to build up miles.
Tuesday: 3 X Hill: I picked out a quarter mile section of a hill near my house.  Running up the hill my average pace was 7:00/mile.  I jogged back down the hill and then repeated. I did a total of 3 miles on this day becasue there was about a 1 mile warm up and then another mile for cool down.
Wednesday: 3 Miles: 8:12 pace. One hour of strentgh training.  For my Wednesday strength training sessions throughout the period of training I'll be using the P90X Core Synergistics DVD.  This gives me a near full body workout that focuses on my upper thighs to my lower chest. I have talked about the impotance of a strong core and now I'm applying it.
Thursday: Rest. I think we all understand this one.
Friday: 30 Minute Tempo. The first time I have prepared a tempo run before. After a 10 minute warm up at an easy pace I did a steady build up to a 7:45/mile pace over 10 minutes.  The wrapped up with a 10 minute cooldown, dropping my pace back to 8:45/mile.
Saturday: 6 Mile Run. The plan was to make this an easy run.  The first 4 miles were easy, and then I realized it was like 95 out and I had no water. Not a great combo, so rather than risk injury I slowed down. The pace over the total 6 was 9:49, but the first 4 was at 8:45.
Sunday: 3 Miles, 8:57 pace. One hour of strength training. I did another full body workout, this time with weights. Moves included incline press, leg press,donkey calf raises, hammer curls and standing row. I wish I had kept a more detailed log on the excerises and weights that I used, but I missed it this time.
I'll repeat the same schedule agian this week, except the Saturday run will be 7 miles, and I'll be sure to have water this time (as well as running earlier in the day).

Ajinomoto Endurance Review

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A couple of weeks ago I signed up for a another running community: Athlinks.  So far I haven't done much with it because I have spent more time interacting with Runner's World Forums and DailyMile.  But when I signed up with Athlinks I also requested a free sample of Ajinomoto Endurance. It arrived this week, one packet of each flavor: Lemon and Fruit Punch, and I decided to try it after my run on Friday of last week.  First, some things you should know about Ajinomoto Endurance:

1. This is the first time I have heard of this product. By no means am I an expert runner, but in the last year I have been at running expos for St. Jude's in Memphis, The Little Rock Marathon, and the Country Music Marathon in Nashville. I don't remember seeing Ajinomoto at any of these events, however I could have simply missed them.  The reason I bring this up is because people gravitate toward products they are familiar with, not ones they have never heard of before.
2. Ajinomoto Endurance is used by elite athletes. Going to the site of the maker, Amino Vital, you'll find that Hunter Kemper, who recently won the Escape from Alcatraz, uses it.
3. It reports to improve concentration and focusEvery drink out there makes claims about helping improve performance, increase endurance, help with recovery, etc. but this is the first that I remember claiming to help with the mental aspect of running.

Here are my thoughts on the Ajinomoto Endurance:
1. Taste: Taste is probably the most subjective factor when it comes to drink. On one hand, it's the least important when it comes to how a product works, yet on the other hand, you have to like the taste.  On Friday I tried to the Fruit Punch flavor and it taste like a package of Smarties had been smashed up and mixed into water. While it is not my favorite, as far as taste goes, at least it doesn't have the chalky taste of many endurance drinks.
2. Percieved Effect: On Friday I ran a 30 minute tempo run, came back and had my drink (waited 30 minutes) and then did P90X Ab Ripper.  I could tell that Endurace helped with the recovery from the run.  I had no problem going through Ab Ripper without stopping.
3. Would I buy it? I want to the lemon flavor before I commit to anything.  I also have a couple of other products that I am testing (and will be reviewing soon). I quick look at the local GNC and I couldn't find it. I doubt I'll find it at Walmart, leaving the Internet as my access point. I also need to want to do more reading of the scientific studies about Endurance.

If you have used Ajinomoto Endurance, what are your thoughts?
What endurance drinks do you use?

4 Ways to Make Farleks Work for You

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Runner's World's latest issue features an article on speedwork focusing on fartleks. For those unfamiliar with the term fartlek, it is Swedish for "speed play."  The basic concept is to alternate between periods of fast and slower run. 
Here's how it works:
1. Run at your average pace.
2. Either pick a specific point in front of you, or a specific amount of time at which you are going to pick up the pace. While the increase doesn't need to be a sprint, it should be 30-40 seconds faster than your average pace.
3. After you reach your distance or time goal, slow back down to your previous pace. Continue running at this pace until you are ready to run fast again.
4. Repeat.

I think the best way to do this type of workout is to have a specific total run time or distance planned.  In order to get the speed work benefit of this workout you also have to be disciplined about picking up the pace.  Don't cheat yourself on this workout.  Sure, there are times when this could be the easiest workout of the week becasue of the slower pace, but you need to push the pace in order to improve.
In order to help me track those periods of increased pace I use a watch with a lap function (my Garmin 205). 
There are a couple of things I would recommend you track when you do your fartlek workouts:
1. What was your pace your pace during the periods of when you were running faster?
2. How long were your recovery periods? 
3. What was the total run time?
4. What was your total distance?

By tracking these parts of your workout you can make some great comparsions between your workouts.
I'm currently working on a spreadsheet that will help me track and compare my workouts. Once I get it ready, I'll make it available for anyone who is interested, just look for an updated post.

Cutting Two Hours From Your Marathon

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I hope to receive on of these in 2012:

In order to do it I need to cut more than 2 hours off my first marathon time.  The Boston Marathon requires runners to qualify and for my age group the qualifying time is 3:10.  Last year, when I ran my first marathon I finished at 5:13.  At first glance that doesn't inspire a lot of hope.  However, here are the things that I have working in my advantage this time:
1. Last year I was "injured." Okay, so I had boils. I thought boils were something only mentioned in the Bible, I didn't realize you could still get them today. Well, I did.  Monday before the race I couldn't even put my left shoe on because the boil on top of my foot.  I hobbled around the house because it was too painful to put the full weight of my body down on my left foot.  While things were a little better by race time, I still had problems with my feet during the race.
2. I stopped following the plan. My wife, Meg, and I had agreed to run the race together (and we did for the first 6 or 7 miles until I told her to go ahead because of the injury mentioned above).  As first time marathoners we got the books, read Runner's World, talked to friends who had run one before. We tried to be as educated as possible.  But as the weather got colder, my excuses got better and I stopped doing all of training runs during the week.  I allowed myself to think that having the long runs on the weekend would be enough to get it done.  When the first boils started to appear after our 20 miler (which for me was more like a 16/17 miler) I should have known that this was not going to end well.
So there are my excuses for the poor performance last year, but more importantly, here's what I have learned:
1. I can run a marathon. In Memphis last year, I wasn't in pain as I ran, but I certainly wasn't comfortable either.  The boil on top of my foot popped while I was running and I could feel the puss oozing out.  But you know what, I still finished.  Only prayer and the thought of "what I will Meg do if I don't come across that finish line?" kept me going. I proved to myself, that even when things do go as I had wished, I can still accomplish my goal: finish.
2. Follow the plan. We had done the work in order to have a good plan, I simply lacked the discipline to follow through.  This spring I have worked hard everyday, getting ready for the mileage build up that will be coming this fall.  P90X has helped me strengthen my body, as well as provide the discipline for working out everyday.  Hal Higdon's Spring Training Plan will hopefully help me increase my speed (I'll be updating my progress on this, so be sure to check back in).
3. In order to cut 2 hours from your marathon time, first you need a really bad marathon and then I really great one! I don't know if I will really be able to cut 2 hours from my previous effort at St. Jude's, but I do know that I will run better this time around.  I know the course.  I have been training for a year now, versus the 18 or so weeks that I had trained in preparation for St. Jude's the first time. 

Now is just a matter of working and waiting for the St. Jude Marathon, December 4, 2010.

The Ultimate Runner Contest

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Jill Will Run, a blog I just started following, is currently running a contest that will give away 3 copies of The Ultimate Runner, a book she just reviewed.  Here are details on the contest.


Jill also appears to be a cause runner.  She is currently training with Team Challenge for a half marathon in Napa Valley to support those with Crohn's and Colitis.  You can also see her and her mom in Running for Hope documentary for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

The Necessity of Speed Work

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This week I have a started a new training program focused on speed work. Making this changes now does mean that I have only completed 60 days of the P90X challenge, however it also means that I can get in 16 weeks of work before I start my mileage build up for the St. Jude's Marathon in December.
The main reason for the switch is quite simple: I want to run faster! I basic common sense, if you want to run faster, then you must run faster.  While more running will improve your conditioning and allow you to run longer and harder, focused training on speed work can provide better results.
As I did with the marathon training last year, I've started with a plan from Hal Higdon. My plan is modeled after the Intermediate Spring Training Plan.  The changes I am making include increasing the plan from 12 weeks to 16. First, let me explain the core components of the schedule and then I tell you how and why I am making the changes.
Core Components of Hal Higdon's Speed Work:
1. During weeks 1-6 the focus is on hill work.  Running hills can be draining. It will drain in during your race, so running them in training is a necessity.
2. During weeks 7-12 the focus switches to repeats of 200 meters and 400 meters on a track.
3. Two days a week you run 3 miles and then focus on strength training (here is where I can add in some moves for P90X).
4. Two days with easy runs, one about 25% longer than the other. This simply helps you get more miles in without wearing yourself out.
5. One day each week alternates from week to week with tempo runs and fartleks.
6. A day of rest. You need it if you run hard.

The Changes
Really the only change that I am making is increasing the number of weeks from 12 to 16. One reason why is I want to focus more time on the hill work.  My next scheduled race is the Soaring Wings Half Marathon which has a lot of hills on it, a couple of which really took it out of me last year.  The additional weeks will also give me the opportunity to use two different hills.  In explaining the hill work Higdon says, "Select a hill about a quarter-mile long, but don't worry about pitch or the exact distance." I have several hills near my house, one which is a steady increase, but rather low pitch and another that I call a "soul sucker", because you are exhausted by the time you get to the top of it. They are both about the same distance, but the pitch (elevation change) is dramatically different.  My thinking is, I'll encounter both types of hills on the course, so try for what I'll race.  The additional weeks will allow me to run one hill one week, and then another hill the next.  The extra weeks on the hills will also give me more opportunities to compare my running stats from week to week.
As far as the strength training goes, I'll be working on a plan tonight to figure out what exercises I'll be doing to help me maintain the work I have already done as well as help me improve my speed.

How have you used speed work in training?
Do you feel like focused speed work has helped or do you prefer to simply log more miles?


[image by netdogg1103]

Soaring Wings Half Marathon; 3 Reasons to Run It

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So I have only been back into running for about a year now, but by far my favorite race has been the Soaring Wings Half Marathon in Conway,AR.
Here are some of the reasons it's a favorite:
1. It's for a great cause.  Helping kids in need is what I'm about.  It's why I ran St. Jude's as my first marathon, it's why I work with teenage boys who are battling addiction, it's why I've renewed this blog: to bring my passions of running and helping others together.  Soaring Wings Ranch provides a permanent place for children who have been victims of difficult circumstances.
2. It's a great race.  Some of the hills on the course are grueling, but the support is awesome!  Last year at the race, kids from the Ranch had gone out and written messages in sidewalk chalk along the race course, they are also present at the aid stations and finish line to present you with your medal.  There is also plenty of fan support from the community, with lots of people coming out from their homes to cheer the runners on.  The food afterwards is also pretty amazing!
3. The Cost.  Today is last day to get the early bird cost of $30 dollars.  Tomorrow is jumps up to a whooping $40!  This is one the cheapest races I have ever been a part of, ever!  But don't let the cost fool you. The finisher medals are nice, the long sleeve tees are great quality, and like I said, the food afterwards is great.  One of the things this tells me is that Soaring Wings Ranch has sponsors that really believe in them and that the race organizers know what runners like.  Quite impressive for a race that is only going into its 3rd year!

Our Disney Marathon

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Okay, so the official Disney Marathon is not until January 2011, but this past week my family was there for vacation, and believe me, we logged the miles! Before left I wrote a post about how to train while on vacation, now that I'm back I wanted to share the results.
Over the course of 5 days at Disney we walked over 33 miles.  I used the pedometer feature built into the my Timex watch to track the miles.  I did have a couple of issues with the pedometer not always tracking my steps, especially as we stood in line for rides and did more of shuffle than a walk, but overall, I think it kept a pretty accurate count of what we did.  Each day also offered extra workouts:
1. Pushing the stroller (at times with 100 lbs worth of kids aboard)
2. Swimming
We same every night at the pool for about an hour.  This was great because it gave me an opportunity to get off my feet and still get a good workout in.
My one regret is that I didn't get my ab work in like I planned, but after having 10 hours days while on vacation, I felt like I deserved the break.
This week as I am a bachelor with the rest of the family in Florida for a wedding I plan to hit the road every day, once I catch up on some sleep!
Tomorrow, I be posting about my plan for the next 12 weeks: Speedwork!

6 Tips for Exercising While on Vacation

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This next week I will be on vacation. The family is going to go visit the Mouse at Disney.  My girls have been looking forward to this for awhile.  Add to it the fact that they get to see nana and papa while we there and the trip is over the top!
But going on vacation can be hard when you are use to your workout routine at home.  Here are some of the tips I plan to implement on our trip this year:


1. Have a plan. I know it sounds simple, right.  You have a workout plan at home, why not take a little extra time and plan for your vacation.  Going to Disney means lots of time walking and simply being on my feet as we stand in long lines, so I'm not even going to worry about trying to get any runs in during the time we are at park.
2. Watch what you eat. Because vacation can mean lots of fast food, you'll want to be informed about what you are ordering. The Fast Food Explorer can provide you some great information about many of the most popular fast food restaurants.  I also make the extra effort to drink water and stay away from the empty calories found in soda.
3. Realize that something is better than nothing. I am not a world class athlete, I do not need multiple hours of training everyday.  Before leaving for vacation I was doing P90X or running everyday, but one week off is not going to kill me.  I am sure I will miss working out as normal, however, I will be walking around 4 theme parks with my wife and 3 girls (ages 5, 3, and 2). I know from past experience that when these girls get tired they want to be held. Holding 25-40 pounds for 30 minutes is a workout, especially when they fall asleep in your arms.  Walking around the park isn't the same as running 8 miles on Saturday, but I'm taking my pedometer to keep track of how far I walk this week.
4. Think of exercises you can do with minimal equipment.  Part of my plan is to do my ab workout in the hotel room each morning.  I also plan to mix in some push ups so I can get in some upper body work.  On vacation you could also take resistance bands with you (much lighter than your dumbbells).
5. Take it easy on yourself the next week. Don't try to double your workouts the next week in order to make up for one missed week.  Chances are if you do double up you'll end up getting injured and miss more time.  Simply return to the level of workouts that you were at before vacation.  If at any time you feel like you are overdoing it, back off a little bit, remember you've been away for a week, your body needs to adjust.  If you are 3 or 4 days into the week and you feel really good then push your workouts on the next 2-3.
6. Enjoy your vacation. Chances are it has been too long since you took one.  The last time I took a week long vacation was 2 years ago. I need this one. And because I really do need it, I'll also be taking a break from the blog/email/Twitter for the week as well. Talk to you when I get back!

How do you exercise while on vacation?

[photo by: Capt Kodak]

P90X Day 60 Results

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Two months ago I started P90X.  At the time I had been running quite a bit, but hadn't done much strength training since my senior year of high school.  From my experience I believe that P90X will make you a better runner.  I know there is a lot of debate about that in the Runner's World forums, but my 30 Day Results and my performance at the Music City Marathon in April indicate to me that it works.
Here are my body stats at the beginning of P90X:

Weight: 191
Chest: 36.5"
Waist: 36"
Hips: 36.5"
Right Thigh: 24.5"
Left Thigh: 24.5"
Right Arm: 13.75"
Left Arm: 13.5"

After 60 Days:
Weight: 189
Chest: 39.25"
Waist: 34.5"
Hips: 37"
Right Thigh: 24.5"
Left Thigh: 24.5"
Right Arm: 15"
Left Arm: 15"

Clearly my upper body saw the greatest benefit from using P90X. But overall my entire body has gotten stronger. My time per mile has dropped by approximately one minute, while I have only been running one or two days a week.  While certain wouldn't recommend only using P90X as a runner, I do believe that it can dramatically help improve your running.

If you have used P90X, even if you aren't a runner, what have your results been?
If you are a runner and have used it, what benefits, if any do you see in your running?

The Why of Running

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There are countless reasons why anyone might pick up running. It may simply be because you do it as a part of staying in shape for another sport. Maybe you love the simplicity of not needing tons of workout equipment or a gym membership in order to get it.  Maybe your goal is weight loss, or just getting out the house for 30 minutes a day makes a big difference in your life.
This past week I started a 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project with Church Web Trends.  The community effect of going through this together has been awesome.  I have found some great blogs that I probably would have missed had I not been involved. However, I do feel like an odd man out because the majority of the other writers involved are writing for church/ministry type blogs.  Today I wrote the guest post for the project I am hoping that many of my other writers will be stopping by here to check out my blog. So if you are a first time reader of the blogger let me recommend that you start with my About page.
When I was a minister I put on an extra 20 lbs (living in southern Louisiana didn't help much either). The why of running for me started as trying to get that weight off.  I weighed in 189 this morning which means that I have kept the weight off for a year now.  I still would like to get down to 180, but I am happy with the progress I have made.
Having been running for a year now, the focus of why has changed.  In my first half marathon my wife, Meg and I ran for Soaring Wings Ranch in Conway, AR.  Soaring Wings is a Christian group home for children in need. Then in December we ran are first marathon for St. Jude's in Memphis. As I continue to run I am finding more whys.  I recently found out about Operation Jack and I am still on the hunt for more charity runs and ways I can use my ability to help others and promote causes, especially those that help children.

First, let ask, why do you run?
Maybe another great question is, why have you stopped running?
Finally, if you know of any great causes drop it in comment section below. I love finding new causes to support.
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