Tuesday, November 22, 2011

RUN: Simplicity

I have been a runner for sixteen years.  What started as training for soccer during high school years, quickly converted into a passion for racing Triathlon in college, is now an obsession.  My running has grown over the years and several factors led me to where I am today.  The first few years, distance was a cruel punishment and speed was the goal. It took me a long time to realize that I was never going to win a 5k and the same amount of time to realize my gift lay elsewhere on the running scale.
videoMy inspirational Trail Runners... At Lair 'o Bear.

When I told my wife Nicole that I had taken two full days off from running in October, she didn't believe me, "You never take days off."  I know, but it was a needed break, and I did have a huge rides those days.  Nonetheless, something has given me the staying power to continue to hit the pavement day in and day out.  Running is not a chore for me and finding the motivation is never the problem.  Over the last two years, I have realized that those former "punishment" runs have become my forte.  Running more minutes for recovery and longer distance for enjoyment.  My personal running scale has tipped and I feel great.

Knowing so many exercise enthusiasts and endurance athletes over the year has given me perspective to understanding consistency and what drives people to be great. Any person that takes a step in running, competes in a race desires to be faster.  But how do they shave minutes and seconds off if they are prone to injury.  I have been fortunate that my running form has been closer to good than bad over the last decade and a half, rarely injuring myself through mileage alone.  Yet, I am always looking for ways to increase my efficiency and effectiveness while I run, tweaking positioning and foot strike.  After reading Born to Run, talking with many other runners and witnessing the positive gains from running barefoot, I set my Simplicity, or minimalist plan into action in August of this year.

After two months, I now run in Vibram Five Fingers two to three times weekly, for recovery runs of 5 to 7.5 miles. Yes, the goofy shoes. You can't accurately depict the feeling of running in VFFs or what it does to your primal instincts and running.  But it feels awesome.  At first I thought the Vibrams would be a testing ground and I would eventually settle into another racing flat or less silly looking minimalist shoe.  Now my feelings have changed and I can state with certainty, that I will always run a few times a week in the VFFs.  The way you can dig your toes into the ground is unparalleled.  No other soled sneaker can replicate this, the closest thing to running barefoot. Which don't get me wrong, I would do if it weren't for all those little prickly goat-heads we have around here.

On trails, I now run in a ridiculous, super light, low profile trail runner, the Inov8 X-Talon 212 for up to 2.5 hours. The freedom and sense of 'oneness' with the trail is great, but the minimalist nature changes where you land, how you propel off rocks and go downhill. You are forced to quickly pick your way through rock gardens, looking for flatter, more stable ground. No more leaping on to and off jagged edges and landing on singular small rocks.  Those do make an impact and you can feel it on the bottom of your foot. I continue my hard charging downhill, but with more finesse, upright torso and high revolutions of the legs.  All of these stylistic alterations are positive for my trail running and have given me an edge as the distance wears on.

I feel my minimalist form will allow me to run longer and more efficiently.  The additional training miles are going to be needed for years to come.  I urge runners to flip off their shoes and run through the grass barefoot.  Notice how light you are on your body, landing mid foot, torso straight upright, not even grazing the back of your heel. Take your time when you convert and look to many resources for exercises in Form, Strength and Consistency.  I routinely seek out new advice, mostly in video format to glean information regarding minimalist running.  Here are two of the most helpful videos I utilize.
Lee Saxby: Learn to Run Barefoot
Running With Eric: Runs Drills and Technique

Go SIMPLE and don't look back.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ADDAERO Partnership

Chimney Gulch Sunset - June 2011

I am thrilled to announce the formation of an amazing training and racing partnership with Addaero.com for the 2012 racing season.  Addaero is a premier online coaching platform designed to optimize the Coach - Athlete relationship and focus on accomplishing goals and race results.  I have utilized Addaero as my conduit between my coach, TriEndurance and myself for years.

Receiving my workouts for the weeks and days ahead via email is crucial for life scheduling and training execution.  That is only the a small portion of Addaero's capabilities.  I upload workouts with applicable metrics of pace with heart rate for running and power output/wattage with heart rate for cycling. The results I provide are sent directly to my coach with feedback based on how I felt, the planned workout versus actual and my thoughts on my progress.  My coach will then adjust my intensity, distance and progression accordingly to keep me working towards the ultimate goal.  This back and forth is integral to my growth as an athlete and builds my confidence as races near.

The partnership with Addaero will help me execute some fantastic goals in 2012.  I will be able to keep my racing and family life in balance while I increase the amount of training to levels that I have not encountered.  I plan to provide Addaero with some fun content over the year and hopefully inspire others to take on some great challenges.

Thank you to Addaero for believing in my mission and supporting the cause.  This is going to be fun.

In other news...
Rocco (4) gets faster with each loop, talks of strategy and carrying momentum with his coach!
video

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kick Start, Leadville Leadman 2012

The last 11 months have been an amazing journey. What began as a close friend's transformational story into a Push-Up King (120,000 in a calendar year), kick started a fire inside me to go after more. Seven months later, I PR'd a marathon, finished 3rd in my first 50 mile run race and achieved even more satisfaction through motivating and pushing many friends to do even better with their own lives.

I feel so blessed to have the most amazing support structure surrounding my endurance lifestyle. An amazing wife who knows what I can accomplish and won't let me settle, two incredible sons that are now under the impression that running and cycling are my job and a life balance that allows me the flexibility to enjoy my family and fitness.

Reviewing my plan from this last season I needed to determine if I was prepared physically and mentally to take a large step forward with my endurance challenge. I structured last year's race dates and distances to reflect a smaller version of the penultimate goal, Leadman 2012. Looking back I feel like I was able to build the right amount of strength and endurance to physically withstand the test of multiple running and cycling events of substantial distances. By the end of this race season I was tired, but the last 2 months of reflecting, resting and planning have me more fire up than ever.

These 60 days of "off" time I was still able to log 400 miles of running, enjoyable single speed mountain bike rides, mountainous road bike rides and spectacular trail runs. The Lifetime Fitness Leadville Race Series announced the dates that would make up the summer of 2012 race series, a.k.a Leadman Epic Challenge. Plugging those race dates into my calendar was step one, rounding up a team of supporters to fuel my obsession is step two and my final step has already begun, commence this ridiculous fitness training quest. Again, I will start to chronicle my journey as I push myself beyond previous assumptions of my physical limits. Thanks to all for the support, this is going to be fun. Feel free to come along for the ride.

Continually repeating to myself...
"To give anything less than the best is to sacrifice the gift."
- Steve Prefontaine