It was raining, cold, and muddy. And I loved every minute of it. I ran a little over 13 miles on the technical portion of the Northshore trail to prepare for my upcoming milestone race .
My legs, lungs, and laughs (mental state) are all great.
I am learning about layering to address the rain and cold and testing products to counter chafing.
Where is everybody? Usually the parking lot is
packed on a Sunday morning. Just me here now. Rain/cold?
Length: 13.34 miles in 2 hours 44 minutes (12:18 pace)
When I awoke this morning I looked out the window. It was raining. Not what I wanted to see. I stepped out my back patio door and it was cold. Not what I wanted to feel. I thought about staying at home and running on the treadmill. Not what I wanted to do. I really missed the trail. So I decided to brave the elements and head out to the Northshore Trail .
I am five weeks away from my next milestone race, the Cross Timbers Half-Marathon . To prepare, I am focusing my runs (now including my long runs) on the more technical portion of the Northshore Trail, the section between the MADD Shelter and Far Gate. Cross Timbers claims that they are the toughest little trail in Texas. I've not been there yet, but I've heard the same from other trail runners. We'll just have to see about that!
I plan to do a training run at Cross Timbers sometime in the next three weeks. I will run the full half-marathon distance to see the entire course so I know what to expect.
Anyway, back to my run.
My goal was to maintain around a 12 minute per mile pace. I am not doing anything right now to try to increase my speed. Instead, my focus is on increasing my endurance. My goal is to complete my first ultramarathon in 6 hours (50K), which is around a 11 and change pace. So over the months to come, I will gradually reduce my pace to about 11 mpm, which will give me some extra time for quick stops along the trail.
Limbs: Strong and Solid
My legs feel great. I have not had any problems with injuries since I started practicing my ChiRunning form . I can't say enough about the change--ChiRunning has totally transformed my running. If you have been following my progress, you will recall that I struggled for months with calf muscle injuries . Once I changed my form to align with the ChiRunning techniques, the injuries immediately went away. With the ability to run injury-free I am now 100% confident I will achieve my ultramarathon goal .
I made another change that I think is helping my legs. I have long heard about the virtues of ice baths after a long run. However, I read in ChiRunning about using heat instead of cold. That was music to my ears because I HATE the cold. So I switched to having about a 15 minute hot bath after my runs. Ever since I have not had any issues with stiffness in my legs. I am also stretching a little more and also elevating my legs for about 10 minutes after my runs, so those are also contributing factors. But bottom line, I've found a combination that allows me to run injury free and without post-run pain or stiffness. Not gonna change it!
The bamboo forest.
On this run I seemed a little bit out of breath at times. I wasn't coughing like I used to initially after quitting smoking . I noticed that I had an unusually runny nose. Maybe the extra cold and damp weather affects the degree of runny nose. I know my runny nose affected my ability to breath. I just couldn't seem to clear it out. Maybe I am coming down with a cold or something. Not sure.
I do carry Kleenex in my hydration pack . But instead I did a little work on mastering the skill of the farmers blow! OK, I just lost 2 of my 3 readers. DOUGH. But hey, it is what it is. During a timed event I won't want to stop and take off my hydration pack, dig through the plastic bags to find the Kleenex, blow my nose, stuff the snotty rage back into my hydration pack, put it back on, run for another two minutes and have to repeat the whole thing all over again. Instead, isn't it much better to just turn your head and let 'er fly (as long as there isn't another runner down wind!)? Would be interested in your thoughts on this one.
OK, I'm done with that one. Keep reading...
The cat is actually watching a couple of
white tailed deer running into the woods.
On the mental side, I am very excited about each of my runs and can't wait to get out there (with the exception of the hesitation this morning due to the rain and cold). I remember when I was experiencing some of the symptoms of overtraining that I was at a point where I had lost my enthusiasm. So I pay close attention to that now to ensure I am not overdoing it. No problems--I am excited and enthusiastic about each and every run. And my body is finally getting into the physical shape needed to go the distance. I'm a happy camper!
The one mental battle that I still have is sticking to my training plan. Again, I have no problem getting out there and running. The problem is stopping at my planned distance. I just want to keep going and going. I know my mind is much stronger than my body. So I need to stick with my plan so that I don't overdue it. My good friend, Daniel, reminded me of this the other night. During my run today his words echoed in my mind each time I tried to come up with a logical justification for why I should tack on an extra mile or two (or ten!). But I realize that I can not achieve endurance without patience (Yiannis Kouros). I will get there in time.
One of my favorite parts of the Northshore Trail.
Learning: Layering and Chafing
As mentioned earlier, I continue to focus on my ChiRunning form. During most of the run I rotate through a mental list of the forms and check in with my body to ensure I am doing what I should be doing. Danny Dreyer refers to this as body sensing. I am also working on my foot-eye coordination on the technical portions of the trail. I am trying to keep my cadence consistent while picking my path through the rocks and roots. I have absolutely developed a love for the technical portions of the trail, especially the technical inclines and declines.
The weather also provided three additional and unexpected learning opportunities: layering, keeping dry, and anti-chafing.
Layering: My concern for my run today was how to keep warm and dry. My legs usually don't bother me in the cold or wet, so I just wore my normal shorts. But my upper body seems to get cold easily. So I wore three layers, a short sleeve Dri-FIT shirt , a long sleeve Dri-FIT shirt, and a breathable therma-fit pull over. My legs did fine the entire run. But I constantly struggled with my upper body. About a mile into the run I had to remove the pull-over because I was too hot. But within another mile I was too cold. The cold feeling seemed to come and go, depending on where I was on the trail. I would get colder during the more exposed portions and warmer in the sheltered sections. Maybe I should have warn a third Dri-FIT shirt?
Keeping Dry: I quickly came to the realization that I can't keep dry while running trails in the rain (it was more like a mist than a rain). But I did think about it before hand and decided to bring a change of clothes. I also wore a breathable hat to keep the rain off my head. After running my first loop from MADD to Far Gate and back (about 8 miles), I stopped at the Jeep and changed into dry clothes. That was a really good call. I felt much warmer with the dry clothes and it seemed to create a new pep in my step.
Managing Chafing: I've had chafing in the past, but never really done anything about it. A few weeks back I purchased a BodyGlide anti-chafing stick and put it into my hydration pack. I am glad that I did. About three miles into my run I could feel irritation developing on my back near the bottom of the hydration pack. The pack was a little heaver than normal because I had attached my pull-over to it after taking it off earlier in the run. The pack was creating a little more friction than normal. Add to that a wet shirt and you introduce a chafing situation. So I stopped and applied the BodyGlide and it immediately stopped the irritation. I didn't have any more chafing issues in that area the rest of the run. I had to stop another time to address some chafing developing in other areas. Same result--applied the BodyGlide and resolved the problem.
Would love to hear additional suggestions on layering, keeping dry, and managing chafing.