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Monday, April 30, 2012

Lifestyle Difference

What's better than talking about how to live one's life is to walk the talk and be an example of how to live. Today, as I was teaching the 3rd and 4th graders, I talked about eating a balanced meal and how it affects individuals. Because I do my best to live a healthy life, I was able to share with them about eating in a more personal way. When you live a lifestyle that is healthy, it's really easy to share with others about living healthy.

Having the discipline to live out your life in a healthy manner promotes the healthy lifestyle a lot more in two main ways. First of all, you have more of a passion when you share with others about your healthy living. Secondly, living the lifestyle itself becomes a way one can share with others.

Today, during class, I talked about how a lifestyle can impact an event, how one goal can change a lifestyle. When you eat meals, you eat balanced so that the energy that comes from the food will provide the best results for the individual. What you eat today will minimally affect you on that day. However, each little daily effect adds up into a big effect. Just as a constant flow of water changes sharp jagged rocks into smooth pebbles, a lifestyle can mold the individual into becoming what they want to be. Today, I wore my NB Minimus all day, standing up as much as I could so that my calves would get used to the amount of stress it would be receiving, making my calves get stronger. I am not working out my calves, but am rather little by little urging it to develop. My meals have slightly changed, adding more carbohydrates to the balance so that I would be able to work on my endurance training.

Now during class, I talked about the importance of balance and why we need it. I had the class balance on one leg. We then had them lean forward as much as they could. Then, I asked them if they could lean backwards as far as they could. I then asked what the 'free' leg was doing. Immediately, they told me that the leg would go the opposite direction, in order to keep the body balanced on one leg. It's the same way with your lifestyle. When you change one part of your life, you automatically need to balance it out, or else it won't work, and you'll fall. For example, when ou add more food to your life, without changing anything else, you will more than likely gain more weight. In order to keep the balance, you need to change with it. Balance is very important, and without that balance, we will just fall.

Our lifestyle should be balance. Our lifestyle should be goal oriented. Or lifestyle should be contagious.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Endurance Training

Since I am planning on running the 12 hour race on June 2nd, I needed to be prepared to go beyond the pain, to continue running no matter how I felt.  In the morning, I went to the gym, cycled for 15 minutes, then did 10 minutes in the sauna.  At night, I went to the sauna for ten minutes, then cycled for 30 minutes (8.28 miles) and then ran 3.26 miles in 30 minutes on the treadmill (average of 9:12 min/mile).  At first, my legs weren't cooperating that well, and I forced it to continue to go on, and as the time ticked by, my legs began to get used to the pain and was able to continue to run.  At first, I started out running at a 10:00 pace, but at every quarter of a mile, I increased my mph by a tenth of a mile, and by the end of the thirty minutes, I was running below a 8:30 pace.  Since my race plan is to run at a 10:00 pace, I was doing pretty well... I just needed to be able to run 12 hours of that.  I still don't know how possible it is for me to do that, but it's a goal that I'm shooting for, and I'm hoping that I could make it.

Last year, the first place runner was able to do 68.2 miles.  The best distance for this course is 69 miles.  I want to do 72 miles.  3 miles longer than the number one person.  Is it impossible?  I'm about to find out.  Just looking at whats been done and the experience I have in running... the probability is really low.  However, if I don't try, the chance I have at beating it is non-existent.  I'm going to have to learn to push myself forward during the times I feel like I could not go on.  When you run an endurance race, you run the first 20 miles or so with your legs... the rest, with your resolve.  The moment you lose your resolve is the moment you lose the race.  The moment you give up is the moment you lose your chance.  Therefore, don't give up, don't lose your resolve.  If you keep it with you, you can go further than you would have if you had lost the hope.

As I am training my body to submit to my will, I am training my mind to go on, ignoring the pain that I would go through, so that when the race starts, I would be able to continue without slowing, keeping a safe pace so that I would be able to achieve my goal.  If I think that the goal is realistic, then I have a better chance at achieving that goal.  If I choose an unrealistic goal, then my body would not be able to handle it, and I would fail to get close.  When running a long distance race, if you run too fast, you'll lose your stamina.  If you run too slow, you preserve that stamina, but you also lose your pace.  My goal requires me to run slow and steady, and not stopping (for anything other than a water/food/bathroom break) for 12 hours.  I believe that if I could possibly do that, then I would be able to compete with the other ultra-distance athletes.  After the 12 hour race, my next step would be getting a top spot in the North Face Endurance Challenge in Atlanta.  Completing the 12 hour race would definitely boost my confidence, as well as motivating me to continue what I am doing.

Endurance training can be tough, but every time you look back, you see the results of your training, and all that hard effort becomes worth it.  Right now, I have a month until the race.  I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can in order to get into the best shape I possibly can for that race.

Endurance training is not giving up and continuing to push forward.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Nashville Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

Last night, I had a big meal before I went to bed, so that my body would be ready for the race.  Waking up at 5:25 (20 min before my alarm), I took a long drink, and made sure that I was fully prepared for the race.  Because I didn't eat anything that would 'run' through my digestive system, I was a lot more ready than one of my other races where I had to make one of those mid-run stops.  I didn't prepare too much so I spent a little bit of time finding a good parking spot, but after finding one nearby, I walked over, handed my gear bag in, and  went off to the starting line.  As I had a light breakfast, I thought I was at least a little ready, but I realized as the race was about to start that I did not water up as much as I should, and my running shoes were pretty loose.  I started untying them as the announcer gave a thirty second warning, and barely tied them tightly as we started the race.  Running on the faster side in the beginning because I was using this as a speed workout, I made sure to tire my body, and by the second half of the race, I was feeling the effects.  All this time, I've been training so that I would be able to do consistent 10 minute miles, so that in the 12 hour race I'd be able to get as close to 72 miles as I could (which would be pretty sweet if I could do that).  By the end of the race, I had run a total of 27.37 miles (funny how running a marathon really is more than 26.2 miles due to all the turns that are in the course) in 3:50:44, an average of 8:26 min/mile, a minute and a half faster than my goal pace for the 12 hour race.

It was a tough day.  The sun was shining, there were a ton of hills... but the race was well prepared.  There were always people cheering you on, a lot of music, the water stations were well stocked and plentiful.  Though the course may have been pretty hard, some of the music played slow (I shook my head when I listened to some of the songs they were playing), but the volunteers were plentiful, and a lot of them really had a passion to help with the race.  I'm thankful to all the volunteers that stood out there and encouraged the runners for the long hours we were all out there.

At the end of the race, I sprinted as hard as I possibly could, pushing my body as far as I could in the last mile, and at the end, when I crossed the finish line, it was all I could do to not drop down and take a break.  I kept on walking in order to let my muscles recover, and I received my medal and water, and found a sidewalk to sit down for a bit.  I noticed that my iPhone had run out of batteries during the long run, so I had to ask a random lady to take a picture of me with her iPhone and send it to me (side note: good way to get numbers).  I also talked to another guy who told me to go to which seems to be my kind of site.  I need to look into it a little more, but it seems to be something that I'd like to be a part of.  After taking my break, I got some gatorade, bananas, and other snacks while I went to get my gear.  After I had gotten my gear, I asked someone if they could show me on their iPhone how to get to the starting line, which was two miles from the finish line.  Planning on walking all the way there, I met a couple guys and started talking with them.  Seemed like a small world when I found out that he was a brother of someone I knew from college.  They offered me a ride which I took with gratitude, and so I managed to get to the starting line and to my car so I could drive back.  It was really a long day, but it was well worth it.  I had a great time.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

An Oak Tree

We are like oak trees, and our goal is like the sun.  You start out as a small seed, and with the right amount of water, nutrients, and sunlight, you can grow into a big tree.  You can't just water the seed one day and expect it to sprout.  You can't give it some nutrients and expect it to become a tree in a day.  It takes nurturing and it takes care.  It takes perseverance and it takes time (which kind of goes hand in hand).  In the same way, in pursuing your goals, you need to have the resolve, which is like the water and nutrients.  It takes 15 years for an oak tree to grow to a decently sized tree, but it still will not be fully grown.  Every year, it grows 2 feet, and the growth is only possible with the consistency of water, nutrients, and sunlight.  The tree only grows up because it reaches for the sun.  It stretches out and reaches up, straining and straining year after year, growing upwards.

When we have a goal so high, like the sun, we strive to reach towards that goal, we grow to unimaginable heights.  Our very own resolve pushes us to towards our goals, our perseverance pushes us forward as time goes on so that we can continue to grow.  We have a choice, to lay low and stay on the ground, or to reach for the skies and stand tall.  Our destiny can be made, and the path towards that is our will.

Running as a top endurance athlete is my goal, my sun, and to get that, I'll take steps to build myself up in order to reach that goal.  My plan to be an endurance athlete isn't something that can be done in one day, so I'm going to be working hard to take the right steps in order to reach that goal.

And I'm not going to stop working towards it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Other than discipline, another word that describes an endurance runner is perseverance.  The ability to never give up and go on.  Perseverance is what puts you back on your feet when you fall down.  Perseverance is what drives you forward no matter what obstacles get in your way.  Yea, life can be tough and throw things at you, but you are given choices, to stop, or to keep on going.  In an endurance race, that question is always in my head, especially when it's been a tough race and my legs starts to feel weaker and weaker.  Your perseverance is only as strong as your resolve.  If your resolve is weak, your perseverance won't be as strong.

Perseverance within a runner can be divided into two areas.  The perseverance of the mind, and the perseverance of the body.  Strengthening both of them will strengthen the runner tremendously.  However, to me, the perseverance of the mind is the most important area.  Training the mind helps with the training of the body.  The strength of your resolve will show in the strength of training, which in turn will strengthen the body.  The growth of perseverance begins in the mind.  The seed planted will grow, and as the individual's resolve gives nourishment to that seed, it will take root in the individual's body and will grow stronger and the resolve will be shown in the individual's life.

Persevering means to not give up.  No matter what.  It means to stick to the path towards the goal.  To take steps forward no matter what obstacles stand in your way.  To the persevering individual, obstacles are something that will help them push forward.  Having an obstacle in the way is like resistance training.  The resistance is there hindering you... but at the same time, it is there to make you stronger.  Perseverance sees the obstacles as training tools, as stepping stones to go forward and become stronger.

Giving up means to stop.  Persevering means to keep going.  Every day gives you a choice.  To stop, or keep going.  So will you stop?  Or persevere?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Before an endurance race, one thing I always do is tapering.  Tapering is when you take a break and let your muscles heal to it's 100% so that race day comes, you'll be ready to hit the road running your best times.  When you taper, you gotta do it right.  There's a lot of ways you can do it wrong, but in order to get optimal performance you need to A) lower your exercise level, B) eat balanced meals, and C) sleep.  Since my marathon is coming up, it's important to me to take that break and taper so that I would be able to work pretty hard.  However, since this marathon is more of a training run to me, I didn't do the usual 21 days of tapering that some experts suggest (actually, in all my years of running marathons, the longest tapering I did was 14 days).

Tapering allows your body to store energy to it's maximum capabilities, repairing the muscles so that the muscle damage that has been accumulated during the sustained exercise would be totally recovered.  Up til now, even after a day of recovery, your body is still not totally recovered because there is a need for rest since running endurance events means that the training continuously wears down the muscles during practice.  Due to the carbohydrate intake, energy has started to be efficiently stored, and with the protein and water that you consume, the muscle begins its journey to its full recovery.

As for me, I'm only doing a slight tapering because I'm using this marathon as a speed workout, going for 1st place in the 12 hour race.  I would like to get to a point where I could cover miles in that 12 hours I have.  I believe I have a good chance of getting first place in that, but I won't know for sure til I try it, so I'll train hard to get to that point.  Right now, I'm only semi-tapering for the marathon, but the real tapering will be the 2 weeks before June 2nd.  The marathon is only the beginning to a series of long runs, and I'm hoping to be able to use that to push myself as far as I possibly can.  Today, I just ate... a lot.  Haha, I ate a lot of carbs as well as protein, and I feel great from all that.

Everyone needs a break, not just one day, but maybe a week or two.  We live in a world that's filled with so many things to do that we sometimes forget to slow down.  Taking that break may not seem productive in the now, but looking forward, taking a break benefits the individual to go stronger and further than before.  It's important to be able to have that break.  Taking time to stop pushing, and just figure out where you are and what you can do, changing plans if need be, or maybe just putting your resolve together, and getting ready for the final assault.

Tapering isn't just for endurance athletes, it's also for every individual that has a lot of things to do in life.  Take that break and grow exponentially from it.

Monday, April 23, 2012


A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace.

I've been training on my own for a long time because I don't have that many friends that want to go run long distances with me.  I've gone out for hours on my own to train and it feels pretty good when I accomplish my long runs... but it still won't feel as good as running with other people.  Relationships have a lot to do in life.  It moves people, it changes people, it is something that definitely impacts every individual.  It's the same in running.  When you run on your own, you are the only person you can rely on for encouragement and strength. However, if another person is there to cheer you on or run with you, they give you that push that helps you go forward a lot more stronger.  Having a community of encouraging people definitely helps out in endurance races.  Having friends that run part of the way with you when you're tired, or cheer you on when you are exhausted is something better than water.  Knowing that they're behind you, pushing you towards that goal... it's comforting and keeps you going.

Today, I had to proctor a test, and had to make sure that all the kids were doing there best, so I walked through the classroom.  I wore my NB Minimus and walked around the class for 2 hours without putting my heel down in order to train my calves so that I would be able to work on my mid foot strike.  It's nice working at school because every day, one kid or another would ask me, 'Mr. Gray, did you exercise today?' because I had told all of school to keep me accountable with my exercise.  I now have 500 kids keeping me accountable with my exercise, encouraging me to always do my best, and take steps in order to go forward.  During the day, I visited a 3rd grade classroom, and talked a little about me and my running, and after that, I was asked to do a lesson about the science of running a marathon.  I was overjoyed and told them that I would definitely do that.  After school was over, I rushed back to borrow a book from the Cedar Bluff Library, and found Runner's World: Complete Book of Running, so I changed and went to the RUSH and started cycling and reading the book (after my good ol' 10 pull ups).  As I cycled semi-leisurely, I saw how many miles I was cycling, and I thought that if I worked hard enough, I could get to 19 miles in that hour, so the last 15 minutes, I put the book down and pedaled as fast as I could.  By the time the clock had run out, I was drenched with sweat, and had cycled 19.1 miles.  Right after that, I thought it would be a great idea to start practice running the mid-foot striking, and so off I went, running for 30 minutes on the dreaded treadmill.  At first, I started running at an 8:00 min/mile pace (7.5 mph) and had this great idea to increase my mph by .1 every two minutes.  As I got tired, the pace quickened, and when I had reached 8.5 mph, I had another great idea.  The increase wouldn't be every two minutes, but every minute.... and then after a while every 30 seconds until the last 2:30 of my run which I went back down to my original speed.  Since it was pretty early in the afternoon, the treadmills were all filled up, and it felt like I was running with a group.  The community of treadmill runners really pushed me to go a little bit faster than I probably would have had I been running on my own.  By the end, I had run 4.08 miles in the 30 minutes (a 7:21 min/mile pace) using the mid-foot striking.  Little by little, my body is getting accustomed to the new form, and I hope that by the time I run the 12 hour race in NC, I would be able to use it for the whole 12 hours.  After walking for 5 minutes, I went to the sauna for 15 minutes stretching as sweat dripped off of me, and I went home and ate some good ol' eggs.

Honestly, without a community, I would have a harder time with my running.  I wouldn't have 500 kids asking me if I had exercised in the morning, I wouldn't have people running on treadmills beside me pushing themselves, and in some way encouraging me to push myself.  A community thrives because of the interconnection they have with each other, encouraging those around them.  A community is important because of the effects they have on the individual, pushing them beyond where the individual could go by themselves.

Endurance running is both individual and communal.  It requires the individual to push themselves as far as they possibly can with the help of others encouraging them each step of the way.  If I were to run 100 miles on my own, the likelihood of me finishing the race would practically be nil, however, with others there to support me and my efforts, the likelihood increases.  At the same time, even though there are others supporting  me, if I did not have the will to go on, it doesn't matter how much they encourage me.  It's not just me, and it's not just them, it's an 'us' kind of thing.

That's what community is to me.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What Makes Running Fun

To me, running is a battle. A battle between you and yourself, a battle between you and the others that are running in the race. A runner's goal is to get as many victories as possible. When running the 50 miler, every step past 26.2 miles was a victory because I was racing into the unknown. When I ran my second marathon, it was a victory for me to beat the time of my first marathon and going under 3 hours. As a runner, I snatch every little victory I can in my run.

The fun isn't just the race, but also the journey to the race. As a runner, I keep on working hard in order to get to my goal of winning, and each practice is a victory as little by little, I get better and better. The victory isn't the race itself, but where I am as an individual, what shape my body is as well as my mind. Each step that I take towards my goal is a battle and every time I go on, I have won that battle.

Running is a passion of mine, and when I practice, it means that I am immersing myself in something I enjoy and like. And the goal of self improvement to achieve a victory in a race is something that I keep on my mind, as I train and as I race. Using that passion to encourage others and inspire others gives me an even better reason to continually push. This, to me, means that every victory I achieve is not just for me, but also for those that I am running for.

Now THAT makes running that much more enjoyable.

Today, as I had had a long night of driving the night before, after church and lunch, I went to bed and slept for a couple hours. After waking up feeling rejuvenated, I worked out with my roommate and after my ten pull ups and twenty five push ups, I cycled. I cycled for 35 minutes when I got a text from him that there was a cute girl running on the treadmill nearby, so I left. Even though I don't like treadmills that much, there was enough incentive for me to run... since I needed to practice my running form (duh). I did 2.5 miles in 19:04 (an average of a 7:38 min/mile) and then went to the sauna. Although I saw the girl walk off and talk to some other guy, my personal victory came with me working on my new running form for the 2.5 miles I ran.

Everyone has different goals, and are passionate about different things, and when you look at each step as a victory, doesn't it make your goal THAT much more fun?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Important Things in Life

Today was one interesting day.  I went down all the way to North Carolina to visit one of my best friend Aaron, and had a surprise birthday party.  We went to the Sky High Trampoline (or something like that) and we trampolined for about an hour.  Doing this really worked out my legs at no cost to my joints.  There was no jarring impact, and jumping as high as I could, really worked on my calves (and the rest of my legs... but because of my previous workouts, my calves were the most affected).  I enjoyed jumping up and down as high as I can, working on flips... which was pretty scary for me.  I realized as I was working on the trampoline, that I was working on my core, because jumping up and down really works on me balancing and maintaining control over my body.  Having that trampoline is really beneficial to me, working on core in ways that I haven't used before.  Jumping up and down works on my muscle coordination, making sure that all the muscles are firing at the right time to produce maximum elevation.  Doing flips really worked on balance and making sure that I am able to use my core to keep my body in the 'right place' wherever that may be.  Both worked on the muscle firing, and core.

After the trampoline, we went to his church to finish out his partying, and we played a fun game which was a mix of capture the flag and tye-dye, and altogether... it was a blast.  I had a great time, running sprints in the field, trying to get the 'king' dirty as possible and running away from other people wanting to tag me.  That was my speed workout.  Overall, today was a fun day, I really enjoyed it.  When combining fun and exercise together, you really do a lot.  I had a great time with my friends, and I also had a good workout (of course, the social time was the most important part... it just so happened that it coincided with working out).

When we have goals we want to accomplish, we don't have to run alone and forget about other people.  Having a goal does not mean losing yourself to the goal.  Whenever possible, combine your goals with the important things or peoples in your life.  Whenever you do that, you work on the important things in your life, and also taking steps towards your goal.  Keep your eyes on the goals, but remember the important things in your life.

Friday, April 20, 2012

New Balance Minimus

So yesterday, I ran a little more than 11 miles with the New Balance Minimus.  It was an experience.  I've never worn shoes like that before, and it really worked me hard.  The Minimus is meant to help 'force' the individual to run properly with a midfoot striking style of running.  When using other shoes, I tend to somewhat use my heel (just a little bit) to land, and some of the energy going forward is lost due to the rolling of the feet.  When I was little, I was taught to roll my feet so that the energy could keep on going.  However, nowadays, we look at the midfoot striking style of running which is eliminating all of the energy loss that rolling has, and using a different part of the calves, move forward faster.

The reason it is called a Minimus is because it has minimum padding as well as minimum drop from heel to toe of 4 mm.  An average shoe has over a centimeter of drop from heel to toe, which helps pad the heel and lessens the jolt caused by those that run with heels landing first.  The idea is that shoes made with the significant drop helps with the effects of the problems.  The Minimus, however, focuses on working with the problem directly and encourages the runner to correct his/her running, not only eliminating the problem, but also creating a faster runner.

Solving the problem is always better than solving the effects the problem has, and the Minimus really helps out with that.  When I ran with the Minimus, my lower calves hurt a lot more because I was running correctly, using muscles that I have not used as much.  It said on the box as well as the reviews to slowly get used to it, and I didn't exactly listen to it because I wanted the results now.  The results I wanted was to correct (improve) my running form as well as run faster.  Yesterday's long runs really helped me understand the value of the Minimus. I know that I will not be able to be used to it when I run the marathon, but I'm hoping that the Minimus would help me take steps towards efficient running.

Being taught one way and correcting what I learned is a difficult situation, and it'll definitely require a lot of discipline to make that change.  Though painful, the outcome is definitely worth it, so I'm going to keep going and work on solving the problem rather than learning to deal with it.  Even if I turn out wearing my old Asics, I believe that the Minimus would definitely help me with my running technique and therefore help me out with my running overall, minimizing impact as well as running faster, using my body efficiently.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mid-Run Crisis... and other thoughts

I woke up this morning, ready to go, and after drinking a little, I went out for a nice and easy run.  I was on a sub 8:00 mile when I was suddenly hit with the need to go to the bathroom.  I was 3 miles away from home so I figure I could make it, but as time went by, the hope that I had came crushing down as I was hit with the need to get rid of waste.  I had to take a detour into the forest...  Totally messed up my pace.  But hey, as Forrest Gump says, "It happens."  It reminded me of when I was running my third marathon.  I trained on and off for this, and after about mile 8, I had the urge to dispose of waste products that I could not ignore.  Having to stop in the middle of a race to find a porta-potty, it slowed me down, and the rest of the race was a push to survive.  Needless to say, I didn't do so well.  Fortunately, this time, it was a training run and all it did was get me lost in the woods when I tried to blaze a trail back to the road.  In the morning, I ran 7.43 miles in 1:03:11 (8:30 min/mile).

During the day, I drank a lot of water (more than a gallon) because I studied a little bit about super hydration, and saw the importance of water being in my system.  I decided that during the school day, my goal would be to drink a gallon of water, and after school, keep up the pace and go for half a gallon.  The benefits are astounding, and the effects are worth it, so although I became a frequent bathroom flier, I knew that my body would eventually get used to me.

After work, I went home and there was a surprise waiting for me.  I had bought a pair of New Balance Minimus, and they had finally arrived.  The last few years, I've been running on Asics because they best fit my feet, (and Brooks for my trail runs).  I used to be a New Balance kind of person, but due to the lack of improvement on the shoe, I eventually changed to Asics (especially the Kayanos), which has been working well with me.  When New Balance put out their Minimus, I was really interested in what it could do for me, and so I  decided that I would try it out.  Now Ashley had contacted me during the day for a run, and fortunately, I was going to be house/dog sitting nearby, so I decided that I would run to the park and meet up with her for a run.  The distance from the house to the park was 4.56 miles, and I ran it in 34:30 (7:32 min/mile average) and it was a pretty nice run.  My legs were burning because wearing a Minimus meant that I would have to focus on doing a midfoot strike.  I met up with Ashley, and off we ran after a minute or two of me being there.  Since I didn't want to wear out my calves the first day I got the shoes, we ran nice and easy all the way to her boyfriend's work, 3.55 miles in 38:32 (10:51 min/mile average) and then went back 3.51 miles in 40:11 (11:23 min/mile average).  Because of those new shoes, my calves hurt by the end of the day, and I was really happy to sit down and relax.

Training myself to use my muscles correctly and run efficiently means that I needed to use the proper muscles in the proper way.  I was glad that I was able to work on that, and I'm hoping that through a lot of practice, I would be able to run and improve my form, so that I would be able to run fast and long.

Sometimes, doing the things that are right hurts, but it's a good kind of pain.  Keep at it, and that pain will turn into accomplishments.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Morning Start

This morning, my alarm went off at 6:00 and I was pretty ready to go run... until I looked outside, saw it was raining, and convinced myself that sleep was more important than the running.  I went to sleep, woke up at 7:00, and went to work.  I worked all day, and at the end of the day, I cycled for an hour and finished reading Ultramarathon Man, and pumped myself up to wake up early tomorrow morning to go for a run.  Now, when I am writing this, I'm not so pumped up anymore... but I plan on running a lot tomorrow morning when I wake up.

The best time to exercise (even though your body may disagree) is in the morning.  Exercising does not work like a simple equation.  Yes you burn calories when you run, but your metabolism does not suddenly go back down to normal once the activity is over.  Instead, it slowly coasts down for the rest of your day, which benefits you more compared to when you exercise at night.  If you exercise at night, your body burns the same number of calories as the morning during the exercise, but after the exercise, when metabolism is coasting down, it'll shoot down even faster because of sleep.  When the body sleeps, the calories used drops significantly, which means that less calories will be used during the day as a whole.  Understanding this, you get a better workout working out in the morning, compared to working out at night.  Also, working out in the morning helps my endurance because I have to stay up on my feet (now that I stand instead of sit at my desk) for the rest of the day.

Habits are going to be hard to break, but I'm going to have to learn to create this good habit of sleeping early and waking early so that I would be able to impact myself and train hard to create a tough body that would be able to withstand a lot of running.  Tomorrow, I'm going to wake up and go run.  My goal is to do more than 2 hours... let's see if I can do that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Roads and Trails

When running long distances, it's important to take care of your feet.  One way you take care of your feet is to not just run on the road, but run off the road and take the trails, or just around a soccer field.  Running on the road can give you a harder impact than what you want.  Because of that, it's good to know about different places you can go run.  I've been a road runner most of the time, and I've gotten used to running on the road, however, it's still hard when I go out because the runs gives my bones a lot of pressure.  Balancing a run on the trails or fields really does a lot to the feet of the runner.  It not only absorbs the shock, but also allows the runner to use full range of the leg motion.

Sometimes, a little change in scenery is all one needs to grow.  Sometimes, when you change where you are and what you run, you push your body in a different way, helping it grow in a more balanced way.  It's important to add that variety, because the variety helps increase the development of the muscles.  There are times when people cycle instead of run because of the lack of impact, compared to the running people do on the roads.  Building a body as a whole helps the individual as a runner, and when you take care of your body by running different places and different speed, it changes the muscle development, and rebuilds the individual's muscles as a whole.

Today, I had a lot to do, so all I did was run in the morning for 5.99 miles, taking 53:11 to do so, an average of 8:51 a mile.  Now this was a slow run, but it was important to me to use this run as a point where I know where I'm at.  I'll probably go a little longer tomorrow, but I'm going to be working on my technique, because every little bit will help a lot.

Monday, April 16, 2012


What are goals? Why do we make goals? What does it mean to make a goal?

Goals are something that we want to achieve. We are not there yet, but we show ourselves, as well as others that we want to achieve something. A goal is something you have not achieved but would like to achieve. We make it to make ourselves accountable, to ourselves as well as with the people around us, so that we may go forward and become stronger. Goals are challenges that help us focus our dedication, our life, so that we have a point to fix our eyes on. Having that goal is knowing where the finish line is. Having the goal provides us with a path. Point A and point B. Point B being the goal, point A being where we are right now. When we make a goal, it's a shout out, a challenge that you declare to show that you are taking steps forward.

Today, as I cycled for about forty minutes, I read the first 75 pages of The Ultra Marathon Man by Dean Karnazes, who is a runner I respect and admire.  Reading his story inspires me to continue with my dreams and run with my heart.  There are always times when I need some sort of motivation that I cannot create on my own, and reading another person's story helps me remember what my goal is and how I ought to pursue that goal.

My ultimate goal is to impact and encourage others to achieve their goals.  I want to continue the inspiration spreading that has been passed on to me via different runners.  Dean Karnazes has been an inspiration to me because his running became his life.  I want to make that same decision and take the proper steps to becoming an ultra runner.  In order to impact and encourage others to achieve their goals, I need to create my own story and make that a reference point, showing others that they too can achieve goals with the proper steps.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping that I would be able to wake up early, go run to the gym, cycle for a little bit, and then run back in time to rush to work.  With a renewed heart, I'm doing my best to take steps that would help me become that ultra runner.  Little by little, I want my body to get accustomed to the amount of training that I will do to train for a 100 miler.  I've done a 50 mile race off of one month of training, but one month isn't going to get me through a 100 mile race.  I'm going to need a lot more to complete that.  For now, my next goal is the Nashville Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, which will at the same time be a step towards the 12 hour race in North Carolina, which will give me the experience needed to run the 50 miler in Atlanta.

Pick a goal, and work your way towards it, but always remember you have an ultimate goal beyond that initial goal.  Take steps towards achieving, and never give up.  Each step counts, and perseverance is always rewarded with achievement.  A plant's goal is to grow as high up as they can, towards the sun.  It never reaches the sun, but with each tendril stretching out, it achieves a higher elevation, and rises high up from the ground, where it started out as a seed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


The human body never ceases to amaze me.  In harsh conditions, the body learns to adapt to the experiences it has received and use that experience to 'perfect' the body.  Every day, these experience changes, and every day, the body adapts in a different way.  One day, I run 20 miles and go cycling and stair climbing.  The next day, I just lay around and not do too much other than what I would usually do on a Sunday.  Both days, I accumulated experience.  Both days, my body used that experience to better itself.  On Saturday, I gathered experience regarding the how much the body could handle when running 20 miles without anything other than water, and efficiently work to push forward.  The next day, I was able to accumulate experience of doing... 'nothing' and the body used that time to take a break and recover.

If I had run day after day, my body would not have had that time to recover... but experience would be piled on to the body to help it grow and adapt to the best possible shape because of whatever I chose to do.  When I did yesterday's run, I ran without that much food in my system, making my body work not just from the stomach, but also from the fat stored, burning it as fuel (as well as burning unneeded muscle).  My body just gets ready for the every day things that happen, and gets used to whatever I do, which is why I like doing what I scheduled or practiced.

If I run 20 miles a day, over time, my body too would begin to get used to it, and be able to do the 20 miles without too much exertion.  Some runners use weighted vests to confuse the body to run with more weight but the same speed.  With that extra weight, the runner's body takes in the experience and information, and works hard to be able to adapt to that.  Due to the adaption goal the body would attempt to build muscles that would be able to compete with everything that is going on, and when used, it would be able to go faster, and the runner would be able to push harder, giving the body yet another thing to experience, getting used to it and going forward.

Now, just as important as the positive adaptation of the human body, there is also a negative side.  When one becomes a couch potato, the body adapts and begins to store energy in fat because the body isn't using energy.  Whatever happens, be it good or bad, the adaptation happens.  In order to change how the body adapts, the job of the individual is to create that experience that would push the body to adapt the way they want it to adapt.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Long Day


So yea, yesterday, while I planned on having a lovely nap because I didn't get enough sleep the night before... it turned out to be a beauty nap which lasted from 7 to 7.  I got my twelve hours, I missed my running and my blogging.  Unfortunate circumstances, but I say it was something I needed.

This morning, when I awoke from my deep slumber, I knew it was going to be a good day.  I looked outside and it all seemed perfect.  Sun was shining, I had a great night's rest, I had a lazy morning.  Something I need every once in a while.  Especially because I've been having a lot of work/running to do.  Putting on my red bandana, I left the apartment a little after one.  I figured running a nice 3 miles would be good, and that I would be working on my form so that I would be able to run as efficiently as possible.  As I ran my first mile, I changed my mind, deciding that I would go out further and do six miles, because I was just... feeling good.  I went to the third mile, and changed my mind.  I was feeling pretty good so I decided that I would run 20 miles, working on my form, so that I wouldn't run too fast and exhaust myself.  The course that I chose was in the West Hills Park.  There was a nice .86 mile (give or take) loop and since it was 3 miles to that area, I thought I should just run til I get to 17 miles, and run back home.  the first 3 miles, I ran at a 7 minute pace because I thought it would be a relatively easy run.  As I changed the distances, my pace grew a little slower, so that I wouldn't ruin my legs before the race.  By the end of the day, I ran 20.09 miles in 2:47:51, an average of 8:20 a mile.  As I didn't eat a big breakfast, it was pretty tough, and it helped train my mind, to continue to go even when there seems to be no energy left.  Fortunately, in the loop in West Hills Park, there was a water fountain, so during every lap, I would make a quick stop to take a 1 second water break, and keep going.  I saw people over and over again, and saw a couple walkers and runners using the loop, and it was nice to know that there are quite a few people using that course to exercise and stay in shape.

When I ran that course, I worked on my form, to make sure that my body was working efficiently as possible, under the state that I was in (not enough food, nothing other than water during the run) and it did take a toll on me, but because I took it easy, I was able to finish the run with my head help high... Now at home, I crashed, and drank Coca-Cola (which may not be the best idea) because I needed the sugar to get in my system as fast as possible because not only was I dehydrated, but I pushed my body so that I was needing energy fast.  In fact, after soaking, showering, and drinking water, I decided to make some eggs and rice, I felt exhausted, and while the eggs were frying, I took a thirty second break on the floor.  I don't advise people to run to the point of exhaustion, because it can be a dangerous thing.  If I had not stopped when I did, and did not get some Coca-Cola in my system, as well as water, I would have crashed and definitely not just ruined my day, but it could have also ruined my body.

Knowing myself is a good thing, but when you push yourself, make sure you are careful about how much you push yourself.  Being a crazy runner is good, but if you don't know yourself and take care of yourself, you could get into some big trouble.

After eating eggs and rice, I made a couple plates of salads.  I needed the greens a lot because it would give me nutrients and help with water consumption.  I thought about going back to school to play soccer with some of the guys... but common sense told me to not do that.  Instead, I waited til later tonight to go cycle in the gym for 20 min, and stairs for 10 at 65 steps per minute.  The cycling got my hammy and quads, while the stair climbing worked on my calves (because I put the wait on the balls of my feet).  After all that, I went in and got a good 10 minutes in the sauna.  Twas another good day.

Finished strong, and finished in one piece.  It was a long and very productive day.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Change of Plans!

Things happen.  Friends come over to visit, car breaks down, your alarm didn't wake you up... something happens, changing your schedule around.  So what do we do about it?  Worry?  Complain?  Those two things won't change the outcome of the situation, but we hear them a lot of the time.  Does worrying solve things? Does complaining solve anything?  No.  What should you do then?

Deal with it.

Things happen when you're least expecting it, and you know... some of the things are out of our control.  What's in our control is how we react to the situation at hand.  If we worry about it and complain, it does no good.  In fact, it will lower the chances of us having a good reaction to the situation at hand.  Don't worry and don't complain.  THINK of what you can do.  Make the right decisions by looking to the options available and making choices.

Whenever I plan different things out, I don't expect it to happen exactly as I planned because I'm used to things happening.  On some of my runs, I change my mind as I run.  I look at how much time I have, and how I feel, and based off of that, I might change my 6 mile run to an 8 mile, or maybe down to a 4 mile.  When things happen, it's good to be prepared to make changes happen, because the sooner and quicker you react, the more time you'll have to make that happen.  I do my best to look at what's going on and make quick plan changes.  Sometimes, it doesn't work that well, and other times, it works just as I had (re)planned, or even better.  You never know what's going to happen, but one thing I know for sure.  I make the best of the situation.

I woke up early this morning, ran 8.37 miles in 1:02:01 which was an average of 7:21 min/mile.  It was a pretty good pace, and I was happy to be able to run that and only stop because I needed to go to work.  As soon as work was out, I planned to go running, but due to different events going on, I decided that I would just run later that night.  I did go to Barnes and Nobles to get myself a book written by Dean Karnazes, and bought two, Run! and Ultra Marathon Man.  Little did I know that things would start to take a turn.  While driving to a young adults group I attend, I looked and saw that I was missing one of my keys... and since I knew I had it yesterday, it meant that between yesterday and today, it went somewhere...  I ended up not running tonight... and after an hour or so of looking, I FINALLY found the key.  My relief was instantaneous, and all was well... except for the fact that I did not get my night run done.  This would mean that I would once again go for a long run tomorrow.  As I have a lot of stuff I need to do in the morning, my morning run would be minimal, but I am hoping that once the afternoon rolls around, I would be able to run outside and enjoy the rest of the day.

It's not exactly the perfect day about to happen... but I'm going to make it the best day I possibly can, and work towards my goal.  No matter what happens, it won't affect me from going to my goal, but instead, HOW I get to the goal.

I'm flexible with the things that go on in my life, and because of the flexibility, whatever situation comes up, I'm usually laid back about it, and am able to work it out.  If you think fast and hard enough, you'll figure something out.  It might not be the best... but it'll be something.  And 'something' is always better than 'nothing'.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

From Sitting to Standing

I had planned on running earlier today, but failed to do so because lately, I have not had enough sleep.  Sleep is definitely important, and today, because of that, I'm writing a short blog so that I could go to sleep.  I will wake up, however, early in the morning to go run, and plan on going long and easy.  As running in the morning is way more beneficial than running at night, I've decided to cut down on exercising at night, and waking up earlier in the morning to start my day off with exercise.

One thing that I changed about today is the fact that I no longer will sit at my desk and work.  I have changed up my office space so that my computer is on a counter and I would have to stand in order to use it for work.  In the morning, I spend most of my time working on things on the computer.  Because of that, I spend a lot of time sitting down in a chair.  I have been noticing that because of that, my body is starting to be accustomed to the sitting, and that's not exactly a good thing.  I have devised an area that would help me from sitting, and using more calories, and putting the weight on my legs, which needs as much exercise as possible.

I learned from that standing uses 50 more calories per hour, compared to sitting.  This is really cool, because I spend about 4 hours in the morning sitting at my desk.  If I were to change that, not only would my legs get more exercise, but I would also be using more energy.  It's a small difference, but over time, it can be a huge difference.  I am also going to make sure that part of my breakfast would contain eggs instead of boring old cereal, because it would give me more of the protein that I would need for my training.  ESPECIALLY if I run in the morning.

I did a little research on different kinds of races that were in the TN area, and I happened to go on the Knoxville Track Club website and see that there was a 12 hour race in June.  I'm curious to see if I could do that... and very curious to see if I could even possibly win that.  I believe that with enough training, I would be able to do well in that race.  I wouldn't know until I try... but I thought it was something else I could focus on after my marathon.  The marathon is only a step, and it doesn't matter too much about how well I do, but it matters to me that I use that to become better in both distance and speed.

Taking steps towards my goal can be big like the marathon I have in a couple weeks... or it could be small like standing at my job instead of sitting.  But as long as I take those steps, it gets me closer to where I want to be.  So we all have to ask ourselves, are we taking those steps?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jumping Off a Cliff

Once you jump off a cliff, there is no way you can stop til you hit the water.

I know a few people that were inspired by someone to go out and exercise.  They worked hard for a week... and by the second week, they stopped exercising.  So what happened?  Did some family emergency cause them to focus on something that was more important?  Well, it was because they lost the inspiration.  The motivation driving them forward dropped, and they lost the will to push forward.  Actually, you might know of people that are like that... or maybe you ARE one of those people that are like that.  You read an article or listen to a speaker, and you're pumped up and ready to go.  By the time the next day rolls around, that feeling has already begun to be depleted, and as time goes on, you end up back where you were.

What can you do if you are one of those people that lose the motivation and get back into your old lifestyle?


Jump off the cliff so that there is no way you can turn back.  Make it a decision that you make that you have to follow through.  For some, the decision is signing up for a 5k and training to run that race.  For others, it'll be telling all their friends about their plans on getting healthy and running every day.  Find a cliff you can jump off of, and make that bold move to force yourself to submit to your choice.  Making a decision and actually following it is a different story.  We have a hard time when it comes to changing habits, and although it can be a good decision, we stick with the traditional things because that's what we're used to.  We're used to waking up later so that we could get that extra hour of sleep.  We're used to going back home and sitting down on the couch and taking a break after a long day of work.  We don't want to get up early to go running, and we don't want to work out after we get off work.  It's hard, it's different, and we want to just relax.  The temptation is sometimes too strong, and we make the choice of not going.  Sure we can be inspired to work out for a couple of days, but after those couple days are over... we just get back to where we are.

I want to encourage everyone to find that cliff to jump off of, to make that decision and go for it.  Changing not just a week or two, but a life.  Changing direction and trudging along is hard, jumping is easier.  Some people can just change direction and trudge on towards it.  Others need a push to get them to that point.

For the things I'm passionate about, I can trudge towards the change that I want to make, but for things that I'm not passionate about, I need that cliff to jump off of.  Fortunately, my running is a passion of mine, and I am trudging along, working towards my goal, one step at a time.  This morning, I ran 5.06 miles in 49:13, a 9:52 average, and at night, I walked around for over an hour.  Each step I take is a step towards my goal.

Let's all jump and trudge on towards our goals!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Application of Knowledge

As I said before, the only person that's in charge of your body and your choices is yourself.  This means that the only individual that can make the decision to train wisely is you.  It's important to study about what you're going to do so that you can apply it to your own life, making it so that you would grow towards the person you want to be.  As a runner, I like to read my Runner's World Magazine as well as browse the web for ideas on training, as well as body mechanics.  I really enjoy getting to know different theories and what has worked, as well as what hasn't, so that I would understand the reasoning behind each, and make my own special training menu.  Creating my own training menu makes me feel pretty awesome.  Not only have I been able to make up a menu, but with the ownership, I feel obligated to train accordingly, and I've been able to learn from my training about how things work, helping me improve not only my running, but training.

To me, reading from my magazine and browsing through the web is something that's fun and exciting because I learn something new.  Once I gain the knowledge, I'm in a hurry to apply it to myself, so that I could first-hand experience what I've learned, so that I could further understand it.  Using the experience, I'm able to little by little improve upon what I already know, and work to train my body to go even further.  The more I know about running, the better I can train, run, and help others.  If I know something and don't use what I know, what's the point of using it?  My brain is more than just a storage space.  It's something that not only gathers information, but also processes it, helping me go beyond the initial information, leading to something new.

Not only should we know about the mechanics or methods of running, it's important to know about yourself, and what your condition is.  Based off your knowledge of your own body, you can make decisions on what to do and what not to do.  If you sprained an ankle, depending on how bad it is, an individual can just walk it off, or maybe even have to go to the doctor to have it looked at.  You're the only one that can accurately diagnose what's wrong and what you could do with it, and based off your knowledge of the situation, you could effectively help yourself recover from injuries.

Today, I just did 35 minutes on the stationary bike, doing my best to have a 90 cycles per minute so I would be able to have the short and quick strides when I go out for my long run tomorrow.  I also did 100 calf raises, and a couple leg strengthening exercises to get the muscles to have a larger amount of fast twitch muscle.  My plan is to wake up first thing in the morning and go out for a long and easy run so that I could just get to the constant running that comes with running a marathon.

Let's make sure we apply what we know, and use it to improve ourselves as best as we possibly could.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Technique Matters

Now, as I've said before, when you are running from point A to point B, the fastest way you can get to point B is a straight line.  It's important to keep that line straight because once it curves, it means that you're wasting your energy.  The energy that could have been used to go forward is used to go side to side, as well as correcting the shifts of weight, constantly using more energy, thus wasting the energy and slowing down the individual's time.  Every second counts, and for a long race such as a marathon, those seconds pile up into minutes.  It's important to efficiently use your body's energy to get from point A to B as fast as you possibly can.

There is a lot more to running than just putting on shoes and going out.  Every day, I'm learning more about the body and how it works, as well as how to use what you know about the body and run as fast as you can.  The techniques that I am about to share is a mix of personal opinion and truth, but as I keep on running, I learn more and add or change the techniques in order to maximize my running performance.

When running, head should be up, chest should lead the way, arms bent at 90 degrees, fists closed but not too tight (I was always taught to pretend you are holding on to a potato chip), breath in through the nose and out through the mouth (if every step is a beat, I breath in through the nose one beat more than breathing out with my mouth in order to balance the muscles around my lungs to prevent cramps... this is a personal opinion, and it has worked for me), short but quick steps to insure that the least amount of pressure would go to the joints, and of course, when striking your foot against the ground, try not to put any weight on the heel as it hits the ground (so it wouldn't break your forward movement), but rather continuously push off midfoot/balls of your feet, so that you can continuously run further and faster.  As I take a step, my arms will push forward with ease, smoothly pushing me forward.  My body would be loose so that all the muscles would be able to stretch out to their max position, if possible, so that I would be able to run faster.

Knowing the techniques and using the techniques are a different story.  I've been able to get most everything, but the hardest technique for me to do is the midfoot strike.  I've always ran smoothly forward using my heel a  little for support, but it was still hard to see.  Today, as I ran 3 miles in 19:06 (6:24 min/mile), I was working on my form, practicing so that my performance would improve.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

You Against Yourself

When it comes to running long distances, there is only one rival.  Yourself.  In every race, the person you want to beat the most is not other runners, but yourself.  It's not about being the best in the world.  It's not about being faster that 90% of the people who run the race.  It's about beating yourself, making a PR (personal record), it's about doing your best and making progress.  The joy doesn't come from being ahead of people, it's from being faster than what you were.  The despair isn't from being behind people, it's being slower than what you were.  Sure racing others help with improving how fast you are and how long you can run, but that doesn't give you the sense of accomplishment that you could get if you look behind at what you were.  I look back and I see my first few mile times.  I see how slow I was, and how out of shape I was a month ago.  I look at myself now, and I see that I've grown a lot since then, and was able to change my body, and run faster.

It's all great to run marathons and get first place in my age group, but to me, I get my pride from my times as well as my distance.  I remember my first (and only) half marathon.  I went beyond the pain and worked hard to finish as best I could, a distance that I have never raced before.  My time was decent, I got that first place in my age group... but I was proud that I finished the whole 13.1 miles.  I remember training for my first marathon, running by myself, pushing myself to go a distance I've never gone before, training my body to race 26.2 miles. The starting line was one of the scariest places to be in that race, because I didn't know what I was getting myself into.  As I started the race, I was taking it easy, running smoothly, and as the race went on, I thought I was going at a decent pace.  I remember the 19th mile when I started getting cramps in my right hamstring, and the 20th mile when my left hamstring joined in, the 21st mile when my calves started screaming.  I remember Doc Reece cheering me on as I pushed through and had a couple miles to go.  I remember the last mile as I slowly and painfully picked up the pace.  I remember finishing the race, feeling accomplished, running that distance...  The memories I have regarding my first marathon is something precious to me because I beat myself.  I ran the longest I've ever raced that April 1st, 2007.  That is what kept me going longer and longer, testing my limits, winning races against myself, running longer and faster.

Having that desire to run and beat myself has definitely encouraged me to grow as a runner.  By far, my number one rival is myself, and beating myself is something I am proud of doing... and I plan on continuing to beat myself, over and over again.

Friday, April 6, 2012


In order to get from point A to point B, you need to go in a straight line.  Now lets add a little more to the problem.  Between point A and point B, there's a sand dune.  If you stop to rest too long, you will little by little go back towards point A.  If you really want to get to point B, you need to do two things.  Stay as close as you can to that straight line, and keep on taking steps so that you won't slide back down to point A.  Developing an athlete's body is the same way.  The individual must be able to step forward the correct way in order to achieve that 'ideal' body.

I'm working hard to mold my body into that of an elite runner.  If I slack, I lose a little of what I am gaining, and fall back.  In order to insure that I keep on going, I need to have the discipline to continuously work to improve myself.  Where does this discipline come from?  I think it comes from your desire, and how you work to remind yourself of your goal and the importance of your goal.  My desire to become an elite runner is pretty good, but at times, I put other things ahead of that, pushing my desire aside.  It isn't that my desire is weak, it's that I let too many things get between me and my goal.  The moment I lose my focus is the moment I lose my discipline.  Therefore, it's important that I build a good habit of working towards my goal as well as trying to make the steps as enjoyable as I possibly can.

There are times when I look at what I should be doing today... and I feel like I don't want to do it.  There are moments where I absolutely have no desire to go on.  This is the moment discipline kicks in.  I look at the benefits that would come out if I keep on trucking along.  I look at my goal, and see that I need to take those steps in order to achieve that goal.  Because of that, I do my best to make what I do something that I look forward too (even my hill runs).  Only I can make myself get up and go forward.  Only I can make the decisions to go or to not to go.  Discipline is me pushing myself any way possible to take that step.  Discipline is pushing aside my personal feelings that tells me NOT to go forward, and keep on going anyway.

Discipline helps me take a big step forward, a step to overcome my psychologically weak moment, building a stronger and determined mind.  A victory of just one day is a gigantic leap towards my goal, because my mind has beaten my body into submission.

Today, I went to the gym for over four hours.  I spent 3 hours cycling.  The first hour I rode 17.1 miles, then I went for two 30 minute rides, I did 8.21 miles and 9.27 miles, and for my last hour, I did 18.2 miles.  Afterwards, I did 300 calf raises per calf, and then walked for a quarter mile, and finished up the rest of the mile with an easy jog.  After all that exercise, my body was starting to get sore, so after taking in a lot of water, I went to the sauna and stretched for 20 minutes... It was a great day, and I was glad that I pushed myself to work hard.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Finding VS Creating

Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself.
-George Bernard Shaw

When I was little, one of my favorite toys were my Lego sets.  I always appreciated what I could do with them. I would be able to create anything I want with my Legos and I would make dinosaurs, houses... anything I would think up of, I'd find a way to make it. Now there were limitations with what I could do with the Legos, but as long as I understood the limitations, I would be able to manage to make whatever I wanted.

We are all born with a desire to create. My desire to create did not die away as I grew older, but it did transfer from creating things with Legos into creating a runner out of myself. Just like the Legos, there were limitations to what my body could and couldn't do. However, just like the Legos, I would figure out what I would need to do in order to achieve my goal. In order to get to that step, I did need to figure out what my goals were, and this needed to find myself. But the journey does not stop at finding one's self. I needed to mold myself into the person I wanted to be. The person I found was not the person I was, but rather the person I wanted to be.

Instead of finding myself and live a happy life, finding myself is the first step towards the life of adventure. Finding who you are and what your passion is is the starting point of a whole new track. When I finally figured out who I was and what my passion is, the world around me took a whole new perspective. The new perspective came with my goal, because I know what my goal is, and how I live my life right now affects my direction.

Now, I am creating a body that would be able to compete with elite athletes, building a reputation as a runner in order to be able to impact as many people as possible, to inspire others to pursue their dreams, their goals, and to achieve them.

Today, I did forty minutes of cycling, ab workout, and planned my day tomorrow. I can't wait til to tomorrow because it's going to be a great day to exercise. Good Friday will indeed be a good Friday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


As of this week, I've been training my body to be able to run faster.  Little by little, I've been able to put in faster miles times, and bit by bit, my time is getting faster.  Back when I was in high school, running 3 miles would seem like a long race, but now with the experience I have, 3 miles is a sprint, and I have a harder time getting into running that short of a distance.  Because of that, I am able to use my 3 mile running as a speed workout.  Since my speed workout involves me running fast on concrete (asphalt... whatever you call it), it means that my bones and joints are getting banged up pretty badly.  I had planned earlier to go cycling in the gym, but due to my responsibilities, I chose to not do that and just stick with not doing anything and working out extra tomorrow, and run long and easy on Friday.

I have 24 days until the race, and it's really important to train for the race properly because I'm going to have to start to time my tapering in order to maximize my training as well as rest.  As resting is just as important as training, I need to balance that, and before the race, slow down my training so that I would be able to race in the best shape I could possibly be.  In a training, there ought to be some sort of peak week that would require me to run/exercise a lot and before the race... between 2-3 weeks, I would slow down my training in order to recover from my harsh training.  Knowing that my body has been going through a lot of training, I believe that the best time to taper would be more on the 2 weeks before the race, because I do a lot of long distance training.  In the next week and a half, I'm going to work hard to maximize not only my mileage but also my speed, training so that I would be so tired that I would like to take a break.  When it comes to tapering, timing is very important, and should I mess up the timing, I would either be tired when I race or I wouldn't have trained enough for the race.

As timing is important, you need to know yourself in order to make the right decisions regarding your training and tapering.  The more you run, the more you know your body in regards to running.  The more you work, the more you know your body in regards to working.  The value of knowing your body is really high, and as you know your body, you realize what you need and what you don't need... including the tapering.

Ideally, tapering would give me the rest that I would need to fully recover, to have all my damaged muscles fixed, while training a little bit to insure that my body would still be conditioned enough to run the race.  It would be the right balance that by the time I would race, my body would be well rested, and in shape to run the best I could possibly run.  To be honest, at this point, I'm a little scared as to where I stand in that, and how fast I could run.  I guess I'll find out the day of the race, but until then, I want to do my best to race a good race, and take that next step towards training for the 50 miler that I would have in October.

It's important to do your best when it's a step you're taking.  Should you not do your best with every step you take, it won't get you as close to the goal as it possibly could have.  Take each step as best as you can, and that way you can reach your goals as fast as you can.  In tapering, I am able to take my next step as best as I can, allowing my body that little break to perform as best as I can.  When I race in 24 days, I know where exactly I stand, and also where I need to be.  Tapering is a really important part of training, and using that, I'm able to make the best next step I can possibly take, and with that, I can eventually reach my goal.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Running the 6.2 and the 20 before it

I usually divide the marathon into two halves.  The first half is the 20 miles, and the second half is the 6.2 miles.  Now it may seem weird to divide the marathon into two unequal groups and call them halves, but it makes perfect sense once you look into it.  The human body was made to run 20 miles at the longest, and once you go beyond that, you go into a new world, where it's common to lose control over your muscles, as they cramp up, ceasing to function properly.

Legend has it that after the victorious battle at Marathon, Pheidippides the messenger ran from Marathon to Athens to share the good news with them, and after running all the way and sharing the news, died because of the amount of work he did, running that distance.

My first marathon was something I will remember clearly to this day.  I was able to run the first 19 miles with no problem, running at a decent pace, but between miles 19-23, different parts of my legs started shutting down, starting with my hamstrings/quads, then my calves.  At first, I had kept a good pace to be able to finish with a pretty fast time, but because of the muscle cramps, my pace slowed down rapidly, and I had to push extra hard in order to continue to run the race.  Never having run a race at that distance, I wasn't mentally prepared to bear the pain that came with the last 6.2 miles of the race.  Running at a considerably slower pace, I felt as if my legs were pulling apart, and struggling with each step I took, I pushed myself as hard as I could, to run to the finish.  That was the longest 6.2 miles I have ever run, and by the time I ran passed the finish line, I was glad to have finished that race.  The week after finishing the marathon, my body was in a lot of pain, muscles cramping so much that I had a hard time even walking because I had pushed myself beyond that limit.

After that marathon, I was able to finish a few more marathons, and using the experience gathered from the first marathon, I was able to train for the second marathon, prepared to train so hard to overcome that 20 mile wall.  Most new marathon runners hit the wall because they have not trained hard nor have taken care of their body during the race to prevent that from happening, and now, understanding what exactly the second half of the race is, I was able to overcome the fatigue and push through to the end.  Being prepared for the race mentally is really important, and with experience comes an understanding of the situation and knowledge of how to deal with the situation.  It's through hard experiences that we grow the most, and become mentally prepared for what is to come.  Understanding the race means that you know what's going on and what's going to happen.

Today was a pretty nice day.  I woke up in the morning and ran 2.97 miles in 19:59, a 6:50 min\mile average.  Although I felt slightly sick from pushing too hard, I was glad to know that I was indeed on the right path of being a fast runner.  Also.  After work, my family was invited to eat out with a group of people, and over there, I met a fellow runner who loved to run.  Connecting with runners is a pretty awesome thing, and because of that, we're planning to run together some time in the future.  It's nice to be able to share a passion with others that have the same passion.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Short and Sweet

Today was a short day.  Being back from break, I was motivated to do... not that much at all.  It was going to be a long day... and it was.  I ran 2.93 miles in 19:48, a 7:04 min/mile average.  I need to start working harder in order to get faster.  All this time, I've been focusing on mileage, so now, I'm going to be adding some speed into my workout, so that my muscles would be accustomed to moving at a fast rate.  I'm needing to make sure that I get enough sleep because I wake up first thing in the morning and go running fast.

This week, I'm going to wake up every morning and run around 3 miles at a decently fast pace.  In doing this, I will definitely get my mile time up.  My goal for the week is to be able to run a 6:30 min/mile average for the 3 miles.  In the afternoons, I will either do a long run or cycle a couple hours to keep the endurance up.  In doing this, I will mold my body into the body I want it to be.

Some days I run a lot, think a lot, and do a lot... but there are other days when I don't do that much at all, but no matter how small the run is, every run counts, and I will do my best, no matter the run.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Importance of Stretching

If there was one thing in my training that was lacking... it would be the amount of stretching I do.  I am horrible with stretching.  I could log in miles of running, but that would outweigh the amount of seconds I stretch.

So why is stretching so important?  It's because it helps with the contraction and extension of your muscles.  Your body comes with pairs of muscles.  Opposite to your biceps, the triceps work, and when your biceps contract, your triceps extend.  The same goes with the muscles in my legs.  When one contracts, the other extends, and vice versa.  If my body is not flexible, it means that my muscle extension is limited.  If my body IS flexible, then my muscles will be able to extend more, removing the previous limits.

Using the biceps and triceps, let's figure out how they work.  First off, if I was not flexible, that means that my extension would be limited.  Secondly, the lack of flexibility would impend my movements, making me work harder to move.  Now let's say I am trying to reach the top shelf which is way above my head.  I would have to extend my arm to reach it.  In order to extend my arm, my biceps would have to extend as my triceps contract at the same time.  If I am not flexible, my biceps would have a harder time extending, and so my triceps would have to work extra hard in order for the biceps to work.  The same goes for the muscles in the legs.  If I don't stretch and become flexible, when I run, I overwork my muscles because they would be working against each other.  In order to run efficiently, you need to have all your muscles working together in a fluid motion.  NOT fighting against each other, because all that energy could be used to run faster or further.

Working together is an important thing when it comes to endurance running, because the body needs to run as efficiently as possible, not wasting any energy.  If you let the body fight itself in that sense, you're not improving as fast as you possibly can.  If you become flexible, your body would be able to move efficiently, able to do more things with ease... which is why flexibility is very important.

Stretching is something that I really need to work at, and this month, I have decided that I will stretch for 15 minutes every day.  No matter what I do, I will stretch and improve my flexibility, so that I would be able to run as efficiently as possible.  Today, I was too sore and tired to run... so I didn't.  I'll have to wake up early tomorrow morning to run before work, so THAT'S going to be fun, haha.