So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


I guess it was as inevitable - Marx would say 'as the collapse of capitalism' - my iPod ate the big one. It's probably a battery issue, which means Apple will take care of it, but not without a price. Who knew it would die, conveniently, over a year after it was purchased by my loving wife?

(In order to show my appreciation, I bought her a white iPod with twice the storage - she doesn't use it too often, was a better deal than my Softride, hindsight being not only perfect but magnified. But that's another story.)

I'm not particularly addicted to my iPod, except immediately before a race or if I'm on the road between point A and point B. I can't use it safely on a long bike ride; swimming is definitely out of the question (although Finis makes a waterproof headphone for those who want to carry their tunes while in the lap pool), and there aren't too many opportunities for me to listen on a solo run, since I don't do that many solo runs. I do like it for those occasional trip to the Y, when I don't want to listen to the early-1980's pop/rock/disco stuff being played over the muzak...okay, it is much better than having to listen to Fox News.

Of course, with the battery dying, I have one of several choices:

  1. I can send it to Apple, who will put a new battery in and send it back. Not as easy as it seems. Have you ever tried to get a RMA slip through their on-line customer service link? I'd rather shove a sharp stick in my eye. I used to think Nike was monolithic and uncaring...not any longer.

  2. I can buy a new one. I think Apple's customer service mentality lends itself to this response. They'd rather have you buy a newer, flashier, sexier and more expensive unit with larger memory and more functions that can go wrong in the course of a year. While I'm jealous of my friend Christian's 20GB iPod, with all the videos he has on there, I can't see having...let's see, 1GB equals 133 tunes, so multiply that by 20 and...well, it's close to my entire music collection, and I do NOT need my entire music collection. Come on, why would anyone in their right mind WANT to run to "Sister Mary Elephant" by Cheech and Chong!?

I've complained about my poor relationship with lets me down by dying at the worst possible time. This is the only time a music player has died without being in the middle of one of my long runs. Thank God. More comments on long runs follow...another Rundown reject. Enjoy!



“I used to hurry a lot; I used to worry a lot...” – Randy Meisner (songwriter, member of the Eagles)

If you want to get better at swimming, writing a business letter, or drinking beer, you have to spend time doing the act. No one starts to run and is immediately able to complete a marathon or run a fast 5-kilometer race without the ill-effects of beat-up muscles, sore joints and a pounding heart. We all start at the same point, adapt to the physiological responses and eventually learn to love this activity. The persons who cannot adapt stop running.

IF I WERE YOUR COACH: I would recommend, as part of your training, to run long one day a week. It proves to me an individual really wants to improve as a runner. During a long run, your heart adapts to the work and becomes stronger; strong hearts pump more blood to your other muscles. The small blood vessels (capillaries) increase and become denser, taking the blood to more areas of your body, especially the muscles. The muscles get more oxygen-rich blood, and also develop more and bigger mitochondria, which produce energy. This means the muscles can keep more of the glycogen it has stored, providing you with a ‘larger gas tank.’ Your mind also learns how to work around the discomfort of running over an extended period of time. Believe me, this helps when you begin to have (and you will!) those bad running days.

“…Who can go the distance? We’ll find out in the long run...”

So, what is the ideal distance? Instead, let’s look at time. Remember we all are an experiment of one; what works for the local running stud might put the mid-life, entry-level runner with spouse, corporate job and two children into a mid-life crisis. Some coaches recommend to their athletes that the long run should be no more than 20 percent of a weeks’ workload: If you have eight hours a week for running, then the long run should last around 90 minutes. That’s probably a good rule of thumb for races up to 10 kilometers. If you plan to run longer distances, your percentage might need to be closer to 25 percent. If you’re a new runner thinking about marathons, look into the Hanson’s training program…better yet, start with shorter distance races first.

The marathon is a completely different animal; it feeds on the flesh of the foolish. Trust me. I have the marks (tattoo) to prove it.

“…You know I don't understand why you don't treat yourself better; do the crazy things that you do...”

If you are fortunate, there’ll be someone close to your pace (hopefully an experienced runner) to run with you. That will help with both motivation and pacing. I’ve been on wonderful morning runs where the topic went from how beat up we were at the beginning of the run to all those other things that only can be discussed among the closest friends.

My wife and I do not run together on Sunday morning; we do the same loop, and then discuss training specifics and gossip over breakfast. We don’t run together because our paces are too dissimilar; I injured myself while on vacation in Hawai’i trying to run at her pace. She wonders why her running partners don’t run with her as frequently as they once did. As she started to recall the pace of the run, I noted something she completely overlooked. Lately, she has run with older men who want to take a fast pace early, turning in when she’s in the mood to tack on two more miles. While not always true, the ego and competitive nature of men can turn the most laid-back of runs into a hammer-fest.

I have hammered my Sunday morning runs; I have also run them at a comfortable pace. Quite frankly, I like the comfortably-paced long run a lot more. Some coaches recommend doing your long runs at a minute per mile slower than your marathon (or goal race) pace. My coach, Dale Fox, used to call the necessary pace of the Sunday long run “kinder and gentler.” If I am going out with a friend, we’ll work out the pacing within the first 15 or 20 minutes. If by myself I will take the iPod in order to keep entertained. Running with the iPod presents its own share of challenges.

A couple of Sundays’ back, I was by myself and plugged in to the iPod. I landed on a particular track that I couldn’t help but repeat over and over and over. I ended up running about 30 seconds faster than my marathon goal pace, a personal best time for the loop. However, I was beat up for the remainder of the week. After that, I decided to set up a playlist specifically for the “kinder and gentler” morning runs, saving my 80’s and 90’s rock for the treadmill or the days nearer the end of the training cycle when intensity is the order of the day.

Regardless of whether you choose to run your long run at a more relaxed pace or decide to “scald dogs,” the benefits are the same. When you are thinking about the pace of your long runs, keep in mind that long, slow distance leads to long, slow runners. A little variety in your pace is a good thing every so often; let your later-season long runs be closer to the pace you intend to race and your earlier season runs be “debate club” conversational pace, where you can hold a good conversation with a running partner.

As always, what works for the local running stud might not work for you.

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