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.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wasting Our Time Running?

I have a coffee mug...well, actually my wife has a coffee mug she allows me to borrow...which has the face of a lady in her early-to-mid-thirties on it and the phrase: 'today was a complete waste of make-up.' I've taken it on many occasions to my work place, where the sentiment is all-too-notable. Never fails to draw a laugh, especially from my manly-men-slash-ultra-conservative co-workers...not certain yet whether the laugh is one of nervousness at me taking a good long hold of my feminine side or at me having the chutzpah to say right out loud what they are thinking.

But, heaven forbid that when we begin to look at our running we feel that at many times it's a waste. If we're doing the wrong type of training at the the wrong time of the training (or racing) year, however, this could be true. Today's Coach Pat McCrann installment, the second of thirty from his Marathon Nation site, talks about how we can more effectively spend the time we have available to run...doing something which will improve our running.
Setting the tone for a great run starts well before you hit the pavement. A great run requires the alignment of many things, some of which are even out of our control. Here's what you can do to set the stage for a great run effort:
* Know Your Workout & Goals -- One of the biggest reasons why folks fall into a running rut is because they have no idea why they are running. Could be they have no plan; could be that their plan is poorly written. Regardless of the cause, this higher level understanding will enable you to place your workout - and your mind - into the proper context (hard intervals or endurance day, etc.).
* All Geared Up -- Have all of the proper gear laid out and ready to go well before you need to run. Nothing saps my energy like wasting 15" looking for a pair of running that only means 15" less of running time.
* Know The Conditions & Terrain -- Simple enough, but many folks pay little to no attention to the weather forecast. In addition to the weather, the type of run I am planning helps to dictate where I want to run (the what first, then the where). Having a few options for each "type" of run can go a long way towards making running fun.
I start thinking about the average run workout about an hour before I am due to hit the start button on my Garmin. This is when I take the final steps to make sure my body will be ready to run the workout I have scheduled. From eating to stretching, here are my personal steps (in order of execution):
* Turn the Phone Off -- This is the only thing that has the true potential to end a run before it starts.
* Last Meal -- I spend most of my day grazing, which means I frequently make the wrong food choices before my runs (hummus anyone?). To help counteract this habit -- and to prepare my body for the demands of the workout, I make sure I have a solid meal/snack about 1 hour before the run. This is predominantly carbs with a little bit of protein for good measure.
* Water Replacement -- If you are even remotely like me, you drink too much coffee (or tea, or pop). That's not really going to make your run very enjoyable, so about 45 minutes out I make the switch to drinking water only as a means of Critical Task and/or Email Sweep -- With hydration taking place, I have a few minutes to check in on critical work areas to see if there's any big issues still pending. If so, filing that into my head on a long run really helps me review and analyze the issue. I typically return with some really good insights.
* Final Pit Stop -- Of course, we don't want to spend 50% of our run searching for a place to go to the bathroom...
* Light Stretching/Yoga -- I wouldn't call it stretching as much as I'd call it loosening up. Just a light routine that targets your hips, lower back, glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves will be great.
Proper running is an amazing thing to watch. Catching a glimpse of a great runner is much like watching poetry in motion. Regardless of their speed, a great runner seems to effortlessly glide across the landscape. Spend the last 15" before your run focused entirely on your run. If you have your gear ready and your schedule is clear, you can devote these last few minutes to getting your mind -- and body -- ready to run with greatness. Here are a few images I use to get ready:
* A Horse At Full Gallop -- It's no secret I am a bigger doode, and for some reason the image of a horse flying along at full speed strikes me as both powerful and smooth.
* A Waterbug Skipping Across A Pond -- Watching these little guys on the Nature Channel really stuck with me. Seeing how these creatures were made to skim (literally) across the surface of the water is just awesome. This image helps me remember to stay smooth and focused.
* A Stream Flowing Down A Mountain -- This really helps me when running trails or downhill sections. In particular, how smooth the water is despite the speed and any resistance. This image helps me avoid pounding my way to an uncomfortable workout.
What about you? What do you do in your last hour? What's your double top secret mental image? Let us know!

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