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.
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.

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?
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