Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review: My Life On The Run by Bart Yasso

The free time I have that is not devoted to running is often spent reading. As a runner, I am attracted to literature about running, particularly when it involves adventure. I am easily entertained by books in the genre, such as Christoper's McDougall's Born to Run, and Dean Karnazes' Ultramarathon Man. My Life On The Run is the story of Bart Yasso, Runner's World Chief Running Officer. 

In his book, Yasso tells tells how he came to running and the great impact that it has had on his life. As the Chief Running Officer of Runners World, Yasso has a job that 99% of runners would love to have. He makes a living traveling across the globe to running related events. My Life On The Run guides the reader along to some of his more memorable running adventures, such as races in Anartica, Africa, Europe, and Nepal, as well as a nudist colony is Washington. 

As a vegan I was especially interested in Yasso's discussion about being a longtime vegetarian, and how he handled it while traveling, such as sharing meals with the carnivorous Inuit in Quebec and Russians in Antarctica. Yasso also includes practical running advice, such as his info about his well known Yasso 800s, which can be used to calculate one's marathon race time, and he concludes the book with a set of running plans for distances of 5k up to the marathon. Yasso's sense of humor and love for running make this both an entertaining and inspirational book to be included in a runner's library. Now, how do I apply for his job?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Daily Multi-Vitamin: Smoothies!

The photo above shows my breakfast following an 11+ mile run this past Sunday. I almost always have a LARGE (40-70oz) smoothie at some point during the day, typically for breakfast. Smoothies are great in many ways, including being convenient. Simply place your desired ingredients in the container and blend. Pour it in a bottle, and you can take it with you to work, the gym, or wherever you need to go. Smoothies are also a great way to pack in raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, AKA nutrition. Blending breaks down the cell walls of plants, enabling easier digestion and unlike juicing, the fiber is retained.

This particular smoothie has approximately 2 bananas, 4 dates, 2 tbs of chia seeds, a several leaves of rainbow chard, 2 red beets, 1 cup of berries, as well as a couple cups of water. In terms of nutrition, it is packed with over 18g of protein, a large % of my RDI of 5 B vitamins, 70% of Folate, 70% vitamin A, 100% vitamin C, 30% vitamin E 1300% vitamin K, and large percentages of minerals, including 40% calcium, and 100% of iron.

If you are serious about smoothies, it is worthwhile to invest in a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix or Blendtec. These high quality blenders are not cheap and I consider myself relatively frugal. However, after struggling with and breaking numerous inexpensive blenders that did not work well, we invested in a Vitamix, which comes with a muti-year warranty, and quality customer service.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Heart Sole & Glove 5k Race Report

After a few weeks of casual running, cautiously returning from injury, I longed for a test. The Heart Sole & Glove Run, a 5k, a local 5k at Coldstream Park in Lexington, was a perfect opportunity. I was unsure of what to expect, not only because of limited training, but also because I had not raced a 5k since 2011. I would have loved to break 20 minutes, but considering the circumstances, I was not sure that was realistic.

On a sunny, but chilly February Saturday morning in Central Kentucky, 263 participants lined up and completed this 5k. Much of the course was on paved trail. However, parts were on also on roads, open to traffic. I am not a fan of open courses, but as far as I know, there were no issues with traffic.

During this race, I was reminded of how short and intense 5ks are, if you truly race them. I went out a little faster than I probably should have, running the first mile in less than 6 minutes, and my pace faded toward the finish. In addition to fast start, and a mild elevation increase in the 2nd half of the course, my lungs held me back. Partially due to the cold air, they felt on fire as I finished the race. I'm sure they also had not completely redeveloped after having to take a couple months off.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 20:30, which I deemed acceptable. Most importantly, I finished healthy, having no issues after returning from injury. My overall result was a top 20 finish (19th) and 2nd place in age group.

Returning from the DL (IT Band)

"Hitting the wall" was what I hoped had happened at Columbus during the last several miles. To an extent, I think I did, but I probably could have pushed through it better if the lower right side of my body, foot and knee, had not started to deteriorate. I wasn't simply fighting fatigue for the last 5k or so, I was also battling pain. A day or two after crossing the finish line, most of the pain had had subsided, but something remained not quire right with the knee. Once I attempted to return to running, following a marathon recovery plan, I knew I had a lingering issue. After a several weeks of not being able to run more than a couple of miles without my knee stiffening up and feeling strained, I came to the conclusion that I was likely suffering from IT band syndrome.

Sometimes not running is the hardest part of running. Yet, out of frustration I decided that I ultimately needed to hang up my running shoes for a while. I had run, without taking a significant break for the past year and was seeing improvements in both speed and endurance. As much as I wanted to continue training, my body had other thoughts.

Becoming a couch potato was not an option either. I need to be active in one way or another. Plus, I wanted to speed my recovery. One thing that was lacking in my Columbus Marathon buildup was significant strength training. Strength was what I decided to focus on for the last couple of months of 2012 and into 2013, following scheduled workouts in Mark Lauren's You Are Your Own Gym.

Finally, in January, I cautiously began to ease back into running, while continuing to do strength workouts. Additionally, I consciously zeroed back in on my form. When I first started running, I developed plantar fasciitis in my left foot, and recovered from it by adopting barefoot running. However, I worried that overtime, after returning to shod running, my gait might have slipped up.

At this point, I have confidently returned back to training, having raced a local winter 5k as a test run, and now preparing for a 10 miler and half marathon in March. I am continuing to focus on my form and including at least two days a week of strength training.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Columbus Marathon Race Report

Better late than never. I raced The Columbus Marathon back in October. These were my postrace thoughts that I initially posted on Daily Mile:

This was the largest race that I have participated in thus far (18,000) and it went relatively smooth. Officialy chip time was 3:37:59, almost a 40 min improvement over my first marathon 4 months ago (Hatfield & McCoy). It helped that this time the temperature wasn't over 80 degrees and there were no mountains, trails, or swinging brideges (compared to my first 26.2). Held up well, until around mile 22, when I seemed to hit the wall and my right foot started to feel tender, forcing my pace to slow. After the race, my right knee felt tender as well. Maybe I ran too much near the sides of the roads? However, both seem to be recovering relatively quickly. Trained with 3:45 in mind and decided the at the last week to attempt 3:35, so I'll take 3:37 for my second attempt at the marathon.

Overall, I was impressed with this race. I thought it was the perfect size, in terms of numbers. It was large enough to feel like it was a big event with good crowd support and I specifically remember being amazed as I turned the last corner before the finish line and saw, as well as heard the spectators. It was also well organized, with everything seemingly running smoothly. However, if it were much larger, I'd guess that it would be a little more chaotic. During this race, I experienced running with a pace team for the first time, and even though I lost them near the end, they still helped me get though 26.2 miles with a pace that I was happy with. The course was relatively flat, helping with fast times, yet it wasn't boring. Columbus seemed like a nice college town, and despite living in Lexington and graduating from the University of Kentucky, I have to admit that it was fun to run through Ohio State's football stadium. Would I run it again? Yes.