Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Wicked Relapse

After training since March and pushing myself well past the limit with the marathon, I decided to take time off.  And by "time off," I mean completely off.  No training, no athletic goal, let my mind and body relax. 

I needed to give my ITB time to heal.  My knees have killed me.  My legs need to finally heal from constantly overlooking recovery for continued training.  My right foot still bothers me at times; that should go away.  I started getting constant shin splints...

That went well for 10 days.  

I've gone without running.  I've only done about 20 minutes of spinning.  But the other day I did my first weight training workout in almost a year.  Then today I did yoga and took a core class. 

I admit it.  I'm addicted.  I love working out!
Can you blame me?

I guess if I can't hold myself to my plan, at least I've finally got the motivation to insert weight training into my regime!  #lookatthepositiveside  #optimism 


1.  Do you ever have problems sticking to rest/recovery?
I'm accepting any advice on how to stick to a recovery plan!

2.  What are you addicted to?
Chocolate?  A tv show?  endorphins?

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shift Change

I've been a bad blogger.  Friday HERE was my last post.  Therefore as any blogger does, I must list what has kept me occupied in order to ask for forgiveness.

Let's see...

Friday I worked until 10pm.  
Saturday I had a wedding & reception
(which was awesome)
Given the above activities, I was up late on Saturday.
Sunday I got up early (5:45 AM) to get to work.
After work on Sunday, I went to a friends for dinner.
We ended up watching a miniseries about ghost-zombie-vampire-nazis.
One of us was a little freaked out, so we had to follow that up with Tangled.
You can imagine that this is again keeping me up to a very late hour.
Thankfully I had Monday off.
I spent Monday resting, grocery shopping, cleaning, etc.
Tuesday I woke up even earlier (3:45 AM) to be to work.
I switched from the late shift (2-10pm) to the early shift (5am-1pm) this week.
I thought it would be great!
I got out of work on Tuesday with plans to go hiking all afternoon.
It only took three hours to wake up from my accidental nap.
Spent the rest of the day groggy.
I baked what I call eggplant chips.
(They are delicious!!)
Worked the morning shift again today.
Worked out immediately after work in order to avoid a nap killing my day.
Checked out some triathlon bikes at my LBS.
Wrote this list.

So with Saturday packed with festivities, Sunday at work, Monday recovering, and Tuesday trying to keep up, I finally find time today to sit down and say "hi."  Looking ahead, I've got some big news coming next week, so check back for that!  In the mean time, I will probably post this week about tri bikes since I'm looking at possibly getting one (any advice is welcome!). 

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Funny: Flying Lessons

Thanks to a couple of brothers by the name of Wright, humans have been enthralled by the idea of flying since 1903.  It's not only fast transportation.  It's freakin' cool!  And now that we've moved on from paper mache planes to single engines to fighter jets and 747s, some people seem to want to push the limits...

For the sake of irony, I wonder if this person is related to the Wrong family. 

All major advances in technology come with their own risk of disaster.  Therefore, we need instructions on what to do in such a situation.

That's right.  You sat in an extremely heavy metal container and expected it to fly through air.  Please revisit your physics classroom.  That's if you make it there.

As humans, we've historically been self-centered.  We thought we were the center of the universe.  We claim to be one of a limited number of sentient life forms in existence.  And we also believe we are the only species aside from birds that have considered flight as a means of transport.

Let's see...  It has wings, it has a rudder.  Yup, evolution is a bitch!

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I do this every year.  

And every year someone comes through for me.  

So this year, I wanted you to join in.

What should I be for halloween?!

Here are my stipulations:
  1. I do not purchase costumes from the store (they're always tacky and expensive)
  2. My budget is tight, but I love to be creative (see below)
  3. Given normal temps for CT, I prefer mid to low level clothing.  Anthing multi-layered will get taken off quickly as I heat up.
  4. I have no party lined up, so this may just be what I wear around the apt.

Here are some pics from past Halloweens...

In 2010 I ripped up some clothes from Salvo, picked up some green body paint and went as The Hulk.

In 2009, a friend convinced me to go with the vampire craze.  I went to one party as a more modern vampire (where my teeth wouldn't stay, so they just called me Justin Timberlake). 

And since that costume didn't work, I went to the second party as Edward Cullen from Twilight.  See how the glitter glue shines?!  I couldn't find body glitter at the last minute, so I had to go with glitter glue.  To be honest though, it worked out well. 

In 2008, I went as a 20's cards shark.

So give me some ideas! 


1.  What was your favorite halloween costume you've ever worn?
The Hulk was a lot of fun.  Edward was sly though and I was impressed that some people knew what it was.

2.  What's the greatest, worst, most hilarious, saddest, etc. costume you've ever seen?

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Some people talk about how difficult it is to find time for the marathon training 
and the things they have to give up.

Some people talk about how much pain and anguish they have to go through 
on race day to make it to the finish line.

Some people talk about post-marathon depression t
hat they get when they realize they nothing left to train for.

F* That!  Training is freakin' fun.  Race day may have it's pains, but I enjoy pushing through the temporary pain knowing I'll revel in the finish forever.  And thus far, there is no post-marathon depression.  I knew this was my last race of the season and that I was going to take time off.  You know what I would like to complain about though?  Post-marathon GI issues.

The worst part about the marathon is that my body was screaming for food after I finished, but I didn't have a taste for anything.  Banana, nope!  Apple Crisp?, nah!  Tomato soup?, surely no!  Wheaties Fuel?, maybe... oh, wait.  No!  Bagel?.... wrong!  Nothing tasted good.  To be honest, everything I tried tasted bland like my tastebuds were on vacation.  And anything I did bother to get down caused an upset stomach.  Even chocolate milk, my one Go-To! 

I finished my marathon just after 12 noon and it wasn't until almost 5PM that I could manage to get anything down besides water.  And ever since then I've been nursing ginger ale because my stomach is still on weak legs, both literally and figuratively. 

This is a completely new phenomenon because after my half irons, I was able to scarf down anything in sight and I definitely had certain tastes.  I don't know if it's because I had GI issues during the race that I have them still or if it's just because this was a marathon (read: single sport race) as opposed to my triathlons. 


In other post-marathon news, I managed to fool people into thinking I was able to walk normally yesterday.  So I must be getting better!  haha  I've been making ice like a sweat shop factory and doing cold & hot baths.  They've really been helping with the muscle soreness.

I also have been using the marathon to get to know some of my gym members better.  One member ran the half mary the same day.  Another ran in Newport, RI this past Sunday and has run Boston (jealous!) before.  It's fun being a fitness advocate and hearing everyone's stories. 


1.  Have you ever had persistent GI issues post-race?
Ideas on how to manage or cure it?

2.  If you had to choose, what is your least favorite part about a race?
I love to eat and exercise allows me to continue doing a LOT of it.  What I despise is the window where my body says "I don't want to eat" when I know it should be!

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Race Report: ING Hartford Marathon

Let's play a game!

I'll tell you my story.  You make a tally for every 'athletic mistake' you see.  We'll compare counts at the end.  Ready?  Go!

Overall, my specific training for the marathon was minimal.  I had focused on the 70.3s more and figured that the endurance I had for 6 hours of racing would help me manage the second half of a marathon.   After Vegas, I did push myself to do one 20 mile run just for the mental sake of knowing the full 26.2 was going to be manageable. 

On race day, I woke up at 5:00AM (race start was at 8:00AM) and had my oatmeal with raisins, a clementine, and took my vitamin.  I got to the race about 6:00AM to get a nice and close parking spot.  I found the info booth where I had to meet my training group, found the bathrooms, and then picked a spot on the sidewalk and laid down for awhile to keep my legs rested.

After meeting with the 5k training group, I headed to drop off my bag at 7:30AM, hit the bathrooms at the last minute and I was ready!  Mother nature had cooperated and gave us temps in the mid-50s and low-60s.  I was a little excited, but overall quite calm.

Race plans
My overall plan was to finish in approximately 3:45, or 8:35 pace.  I know I tend to head out fast, so I figured my first half would be faster, but I would try to keep it from being too fast.  I go very much by perceived effort, so I was going to keep watch on my breathing.  If I was breathing too hard to chat, I'd know I was going too hard. 

Realistically, a small part of me knew that whatever goals I set were just that - GOALS.  I had never run more than 20 miles and that was only once.  I had only run 13.1 miles previous to that.  All of my perceptions about what to expect were completely made up based on advice from others.  So a part of me honestly thought that the first 13 miles would be close to approximation and then it was totally up in the air!  But my optimism took over and reassured me that I'd be fine.  Who do you think won on race day?

Actual Race

Now the fun begins!

After racing back to the start line from the portajohns, I looked around the crowd.  My pacer was halfway between myself and the start line.  There was no way I was going to squeeze my way up.  So I started the race in the back of the pack figuring I could slowly make my way up to my pacer.  The horn went off and...  we didn't move.  That's what you get for not being in the front.  Two minutes later I crossed the start line at an approximate 10:00 pace.  This is one thing I don't like about large races; if you don't place yourself right at the start, you have to either reserve yourself to a slower pace for awhile or weave between people.  Well, given that I'm competitive to the core and that passing people super charges my competitive nature, I weaved for about the first 2 miles.

Mile 3
(7:22 pace)
** 3:38 ahead of schedule **

I'll tell you now that I never saw my 3:45 pacer until mile 18 on an out-and-back.  In those first few miles, I must have passed him.  Just passed the 3 mile mark, however, I found the 3:35 pacer.  I was feeling pretty good at that point, so I eased on passed the group and kept going.  I soon found myself with the 3:30 group.  At that point I figured I was going to dig myself an early marathon grave if I pushed ahead any further.  So I held back and stuck with the group for awhile.

Mile 6
(8:02 pace)

** 5:16 ahead of schedule **

My biggest thought when I hit mile 6 was "You're kidding me, I've already run six miles?!"  I remember that six miles last year on my way to the half mary finish seemed like forever.  This six went by like nothing!  I felt pretty good and my time was better than I expected so far.  The 3:30 guy was pulling ahead a bit, but I didn't want to chase him down.  I knew I needed to let my body slow down, so I just kept his bright green jersey in sight and chugged along.

Mile 9
(8:07 pace)

** 6:39 ahead of schedule **

This is where I started feeling my stomach fight against me.  I had already finished one Vanilla flavored Clif gel and was working on a Citrus one.  We made a detour passed a middle school and then my stomach began feeling weird.  I couldn't quite place it.  The vanilla gel had been a new flavor, but I specifically ate it over three miles to make sure it wasn't going to sit badly.  And the citrus was my go to flavor.  And I had only taken water at the aid stations.  I kept pushing on and hoped the issue would go away.

Around mile 10 or 11, the 3:35 pacer caught back up with me and passed.  While a part of me instantly thought "Oh-no, I'm already falling off a cliff," another part of me knew that I was well under pace.  I pushed it out of my mind assuming they were banking time as well.  I pushed on up Main St and let the group run on.

All of a sudden, I see the 3:30 pacer go pass me as well.  "Hey, wait a second!  Why is the 3:35 pacer ahead of the 3:30?  And when did I pass him?!"  I would later see him pass me a second time.  At that point I realized he had made bathroom breaks.  At least I wasn't the only one with stomach issues.

Mile 12
(8:14 pace)

** 7:43 ahead of schedule **

The stomach issue did NOT go away.  It got worse.  At mile 11 I knew it wasn't going away.  At mile 12, I stopped at the portajohn.  It was occupied.  Again, I'm competitive, so I didn't wait around; I kept running. 

Mile 13.1
(7:52 pace)
** 9:36 ahead of schedule **

Thirty-nine seconds past the half mary mark, I found my relief - a free portajohn!  I stopped for a total of 1:34.  I can't say it cured my stomach pain, but it lessened it for sure.  What I gave up in stomach pain though, I gained in knee pain!

Earlier in the race I began to feel a slight pain in my left knee.  I've had the pain since I got home from the Vegas 70.3 and it's not a huge bother, but it's a constant pain after running a couple of miles that I haven't been able to shake.  However, after sitting down in the bathroom, the pain exponentially increased once I began running again!  I'm talking "Hey, you should stop running you idiot!" type of pain.  But after another mile or so it had lessened back down.  I may not be the brightest runner, but I'm stubborn and persistent!

Mile 15
(8:59 pace)

** 6:31 ahead of schedule **

At 13.5 miles, we began an 8 mile out-and-back.  Around mile 15 I could really start feeling my faster pacing take effect.  I was no longer passing most people.  I was the one being passed.  I was still holding my desired pace though - roughly 8:30.  So I began to do some calculations.  I knew I had between 8 and 10 minutes banked.  Even if I ran 0:30 slower per mile, this 11 miles to go, that would only use up 5:30.  As long as I could hold onto this rough pace, I was golden!  At this point, I let myself slow down a bit (no need to push) and I tried to mentally prepare myself for what lie beyond the 20 mile mark.

Throughout this mental math game, I got to see a number of the front runners go by.  They looked like they were out for a fun Saturday run.  No wonder we all look in awe at them.  We're struggling to hold our own paces while they're booking right along at 5-6:00 pace and look like they're in a 5k. 

Mile 18
(9:10 pace)

** 4:56 ahead of schedule **

My stomach came back for round 2 at about mile 16.5.  I fought it for almost 2 miles until I found another open portajohn.  This time I was in no rush.  I knew my stomach issue wasn't going away.  I also knew that I would cut out my bathroom break time afterward anyways.  So 2:18 later, I emerged feeling better in my gut and then battled the searing knee pain for the next mile.

I also knew I was starting to lose some of my banked time.  At 18 miles, I had roughly 6 minutes, which meant I couldn't go much slower than an extra 0:30 per mile.  Having watched the 3:40 pacer pass me and now finally catching sight of 3:45 as he went by, I started really doubting this race.

The earlier pace kept digging at my legs and I reserved myself not to walk until after 20 miles - I had run that distance before and I could do it again!

Mile 20
(8:37 pace)
** 0:27 behind schedule **

After hitting the 20 mile timing mat, I knew that every step from here on was a new distance PR.  I couldn't stop.  I didn't want to stop.  But my legs eventually took over and somewhere around 20.5 miles in I stopped and began walking.

Thirty seconds later I started running again.  And as I always say, the worst thing you can do is give in to walking.  Once your body knows how much better that feels, it wants it that much more!  

Mile 21
(10:18 pace)

** 0:23 behind schedule **

The rest of this race was a complete mental game.  One of my friends racing with me passed me somewhere around 22/23 miles.  That was yet another reminder about why early pacing is so important.

I also began thinking about the Ironman.  How in the world can people run sub-2:40 marathons let alone do it after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112?!  In order to simply finish I'm going to have to really rethink my training.  Ugh!!

Mile 24
(12:25 pace)

** 11:54 behind schedule **

I already knew I was severely behind my schedule and already started worrying about even making the 4:00 mark since that pacer had already passed me as well.  Then I hear something behind me...

"Go Kurt!"

I knew that voice!  Another friend of mine had caught back up to me.  Haha.  I really need to work on my pacing!! 

I was literally alternating running and walking ever 0.1 miles.  For some reason I just could not mental control my body to make it run any further than that.  It would just give up.  The only thing I could do was shorten my walking bouts.  Then with something like 0.75 mile to go, I started running and the crowd kept me going!

Against my persistent insisting, Chelsea - who had passed me back at mile 24 - had turned around and finished the last 2 miles with me.  With 0.5 mile to go, I desperately asked her where the finish line was; she knows Hartford better than I do.  Thankfully it was just around the corner!  I turned that corner and saw the most glorious view I've ever seen, the end to this 26.2 torture session!  haha

Mile 26.2 - FINISH LINE
(9:23 pace)

I got my Mylar which was at the time more important to me than the medal.   Having raced without a shirt (my normal move), I had started getting chilled out around mile 15.  We all got our medals, picked up our bags, got some food, a much appreciated massage, and then headed home.

Most people talk about the pain of having to fit in training or the physical pain of the actual race as being the worst part of the marathon.  The thing that I think is vastly overlooked is the fact that for HOURS after the race, your stomach is screaming for food but rejects everything!

I finished just after 12PM.  I was starving, but didn't have a taste for anything on top of my stomach already being upset.  It wasn't until about 4-5PM that I could start eating again.  THAT is the worst part of endurance events in my mind.

Also, if you read the post HERE about my inability to sleep after my 20 mile run and then the post HERE about how I came to the assumption that it was caffeine, you'll be perplexed to know that after the same amount of caffeine on the marathon, I went right to sleep after getting home.  Figure that out!

Lastly, for anyone new to endurance events, don't plan on being productive the next day!  I've come back to work 2 days after 70.3 races, so I figured the marathon can't be too much worse, right?  Sunday I was up at 5:30AM and at work by 6:45AM.  Not the best idea I've had. 

What did I think of the race?
The ING Hartford Marathon was well run overall.  The course has slight rolls, but overall is quite flat.  Spectators line almost 90% of the course which helped!  As my first marathon, I think I vastly over-estimated my ability and under-estimated the marathon distance.

Did the race scare you?
You bet it did!  The Ironman seems infinitely more difficult now.  Boston is going to be VERY difficult to qualify for.  And the thought of doing an ultra or even the Goofy Challenge is going to be pushed off for a bit.  I love to challenge myself and I often push myself much further than most people do, but this was further from my real ability than I thought it would be. 

What do I think of my time?
With all things considered - my non-specific training, the stomach and knee issues during the race, and what not, I'm happy with my time.  And you can bet I consider it a 4:04:01 (having subtracted my bathroom breaks), NOT a 4:07:53!!  Could I have hit a 3:45?  Maybe.  Could I have done better?, absolutely!  But that will come with better training and better race day mental power.

Will I run another marathon?
You bet!  It won't be any time soon though.  Knowing now how it feels, I will re-evaluate my training.  Next time I'll be better prepared (no guarantee I'll actually BE prepared though). 

The End

How many tallies did you make?

To be honest, I lost count!  Training, not enough pre-race trips to the bathroom, too fast out of the gate, giant optimism, not enough experience, competitiveness...  There's plenty of things to work on for next season.  But for now, I get to take a month off!!  It seems like heaven now, but once I'm recovered, I doubt I'll make it the full month!


1.  For those of you who have run a marathon, how was your first?!
Similar experience?  Anything here remind you of that race?  What was the biggest thing you learned from?

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I'm a Marathoner!

...and it HURTS!!

I won't get into the details just yet - mainly because my brain is running at about 5% capacity - but suffice it to say today was quite the adventure!

I'll leave you with my watch time for you to ponder the possibilities.  I'll be back next week with the full report.

Watch time
(rough approximation given that I didn't stop my watch until after the line)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pre-Race Thoughts

Tomorrow is my first marathon.

That statement should create stomach churning nerves, overactive brain waves trying to think of what I've forgotten, thoughts of self-doubt, worries about what I'm going to feel like at mile 10, 15, 20, 22...   But for whatever reason it is, I've got none of it.

I'm going into this marathon with a shin splint in my right leg, a knee issue in my left leg, a right foot that hasn't completely heeled from a previous roll, a head cold, and the furthest I've ever run is 20 miles.  That should leave me scared and nervous.  Right? 

"Will I make it to the finish?"

"How is my body going to hold up after 20 miles?"

"Will I push myself too hard, fatigue, and have to walk?"

Bu to be honest, tomorrow feels like an inevitable.  It's a step that I already know I'll finish.  A part of me feels like I already have finished it.  It's a weird sensation. 

Maybe I'm "experienced" enough now to not to get worried.  Maybe I'm still naive enough to not realize what's ahead.  Maybe I haven't pushed myself hard enough to really reach what I'm capable of.  Maybe I've pushed too hard and this is my brain giving up and taking the day off.  Who knows!  Who cares!

Whatever it is, I feel like a million bucks! 

Tomorrow is my first marathon!
...and I'm going to CRUSH IT!

Here are my goals:
  1. True competitive goal - 3:30 (8:00 pace)
  2. Realistic goal - 3:45 (8:35 pace)
  3. Safety goal - 4:00 (9:10 pace)
  4. Run a steady pace - don't go out too fast and push myself on the back half
  5. Run the entire 26.2 without walking
  6. Finish

1.  How do you feel before a race?  
Nervous?  Ancy?  Like a wild animal locked in a cage?

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 

Friday Funny: Take Revenge

I was driving back from yesterday's race expo when I saw a bumper sticker...

I'll be the first to say that I love absolute randomness.  And this one was the best I've ever seen!

That's right.  "Take Revenge.  Shit on a Pigeon."

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lunch of Champions!

We all know what Champions eat for breakfast...

Boxes of processed corn with pictures of Macca on it.  Duh!

But what do they eat for lunch?!  What is the "Lunch of Champions"?  Or do they just stop at breakfast?  Is that all champions eat?  Do they only eat one meal a day or do they just eat three (or more) breakfasts-s a day?  Why has a company not pounced on this possible avenue of marketing?!

Well, if they're sick it might be this:

That's right.  Warhol and I are doing product placement for Campbell's now!  Look for my exhibit coming soon at the MoMA. 


1.  What's your go to meal when you're sick/ill/feeling under the weather?
I'm a fan of chicken noodle soup, tea, ice cream, and anything that can be managed while lying in bed.

2.  What - in your opinion - should be considered the "Lunch of Champions"?

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard.

What timing!

Slight sore throat

Stiff and sore muscles

Ear ache

Wondering why I've been MIA?  I'm battling the fringe of what I hope is only a head cold.  I've had a few days of neck and back stiffness that I couldn't place.  Then I woke up with a slight sore throat and an ear ache.  I'll leave out my original reaction to keep it PG, but either way it's come at quite a convenient time! [/sarcasm]

I've been taking multiple hot showers, laying on a heating pad, drinking tea, and covering my ears as much as I can.  Since the symptoms seem to get worse towards the end of the day, I was happy when last night I felt almost normal after work.  So I'm hoping my battle is working. 

No matter what happens though, I'm still running a marathon on Saturday.

No better way to kick a bug by running it into the ground, literally!


1.  Have you ever raced sick?  If so, how'd it go?
I don't think I've ever done a road race or triathlon while ill, but I've done plenty of swimming while sick.  

2.  Does anyone else seem to always get ill around the temperature changes of the season?  
It's always the first cold front of fall or heat wave of spring that get me sick.

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Funny

The Salvation Army, or "Salvo," is a great place to pick up cheap 'morning clothes' for a race or pieces of that halloween costume.  It's also a great place to experience the cultural center of my neighborhood!

Yes, I took this picture myself!

In other news, with a marathon in a week, today was slated to be a long run day, by which I mean 6 miles.  I barely even got myself out the door to do it.  As I crested the top of the hill on my way down to the main road where I begin my runs, I see this person run by - bright green sports bra, short shorts, and blonde ponytail.  Let's just say my long run turned into speed work.

With a good 0.25 miles on me, I took off to catch up.  A mile later I had only gained maybe a tenth of a mile and was cruising at 6:19 pace.  "Man, this chick is cruising!"  The road turned into a continuous uphill for the next 0.8 miles and I slowed to a 7:00 mile.  At this point she turned around early and I could tell she wasn't in my age group (I'll leave it at that).  I stopped at the turn around, took a breather, and ran back downhill for 0.8 miles at 7:22 pace and the last mile in 6:57. 

People need to stop running by and teasing me into chasing them.  It ruins my whole completely last minute plan of a training schedule.


1.  Any big plans this weekend?
After coaching tomorrow, I'm watching the IM World Championships all afternoon.  Then Sunday I found that ABC is broadcasting the Rev3 Quassy in the afternoon.  

2.  Admit it!  Have other runners on the road ever caused you to change your schedule on the fly?
Maybe you simply sped up or decided to add an extra mile or two?

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

180 bpm - More Testing

This past Tuesday I brought up the topic of running at a cadence of 180 bpm HERE.  Your responses were quite varied (as I expected) and I'm interested enough in the topic that I wanted to dive a little deeper into it.

I'd like to dedicate the rest of this blog to Shelby and Amanda!  
You ladies have not even seen true "science nerd" come out of me yet!

I'd like to first take a moment and highlight Ron's comment on the previous post.  Ron treats running injuries first hand and point out that studies have certainly shown increases in cadence to be beneficial in decreasing your ground force reaction.  A 5% increase in cadence - going from 160 bpm to 168 - will decrease the ground reaction force by 20% which can help avoid injuries.  And I can't agree more with how Ron put it:

"The best runners just run at 180 bpm, should you? Not necessarily but are your feet moving fast enough for you? That is a better question...."
Is 180 bpm the best rhythm for you?  It may be, but I would suggest that it is not for everyone. 

Now it gets fun...

I began thinking...  If 180 bpm isn't for everyone - if some people are better at 170 bpm and others at 190 bpm - how you would go about determining what your best cadence is.  And would that cadence be the best for you in a 5k race AND a marathon?  As any runner will tell you, the difference in pace between a 5K and a marathon is quite noticeable.  Even Ryan Hall who ran a mile in just over 4:00 still runs his marathons at a 4:45 pace, forty five seconds slower.  The rest of us age-groupers and recreational runners might have a full minute or two (or more) difference between those paces. 

When I tested my cadence the other day to music at 180bpm, my major conclusion was that my legs moved evenly with that cadence around a 7:00 pace.  However, when I increased the speed, my cadence also increased and vice-versa.  Now, while some people consider me a freak, an animal, or something quite unique in any way, I consider myself quite the normal runner.  And given that fact, I'd be willing to bet that most of us follow that same cadence pattern over a range of running speeds. 

So what if I was to say (again going back to my previous post), that for some runners working towards a "perfect cadence" is like working backwards?  What if instead of changing your cadence, you should change your speed? 

Hear me out!

If everyone runs at a given cadence while at a given speed and cadence correlates directly to their speed as speed changes, then there must be a speed at which they hit their own most efficient cadence.  Right?

So as any true scientist does, I made myself my own lab rat.

Yesterday I got to work a little early and jumped on a treadmill.  The plan was to run at a range of speeds - 6.0 to 12.0 mph (10:00 to 5:00 pace) - and determine my cadence over that range.  In order to mimic road conditions, I ran the entire experiment at 1.0% incline.  Once I felt steady in my pace at a given speed, I started my stop watch for 30 seconds while I counted my strides. 

My hypothesis, given the previous test, was that I'd hit a rough 180 bpm somewhere around 7:00 pace and that my cadence would have a direct correlation to my speed.

It turns out I was spot on!

My cadence ranged from as low as 162 bpm at a speed of 6.0 mph (10:00 pace) all the way up to 208 bpm at 12.0 mph (5:00 pace).  You'll also notice that one of the data points is colored RED.  That is the point at which I hit 180 bpm smack dab on the nose.  You'll also notice that this data point is at a speed of 8.5 mph or 7:00 pace just as I predicted.  So I know that this fits with my previous test which is always good. 

What can I take away from this?
I know now that my cadence changes as I change speed, which I think most people would have agreed with even prior to the experiment based on their own experience.  I can also say that within this range of speed/pace, the correlation of cadence to speed seems pretty close to linear.  I would postulate, however, that as I extend the range, I would find that this is only a small part of what really is a sigmoidal relationship.

Does this experiment tell me what my perfect cadence is?
NO!  I would need much more high-tech experimentation to determine the range of ground force reaction, long term studies to determine my susceptibility to injury, and such.  All I can say is that within the range of paces that I normally run, I hover around the 180bpm mark. 

Does this tell me how to determine your most efficient cadence?
NO!  But in theory, I may be one step closer.  From my own experience, I've always said that I naturally run an average 7:00 pace.  If I speed up, I can feel myself pushing and if I slow down I can feel myself holding back.  That's is not always the exact case, but I would say it is true on average.  And what cadence did I find I run at when I run at a 7:00 pace?, 180 bpm.  Given that I would credit the number 180 bpm as being within the range of most runners and their most efficient pace/cadence, I would bet that for some runners, the cadence at your "natural pace" is your most muscle efficient cadence.  However, I won't say that that is the best cadence for you.  That would require further testing.

And this brings me back to fleshing out my previous thought.

Provided that everyone has an unique 'most efficient cadence' based on running efficiency and that we all have a direct relationship between speed and cadence, I might bet that wherever this cadence lies, it is at what I will call our "natural pace."  For me, that is around 7:00 pace.  I would also bet that as you increase your natural pace through training, your cadence profile will shift.  Therefore, as I try to shift from 7:00 to 6:30 and below, I should focus more on the speed and as my body adjusts, the cadence will follow.  I will be keeping track of my cadence profile from now on to test that very theory!


1.  Have you ever made yourself your own lab rat?
We've all done it in some way.  

2.  Do you have an idea of what your "natural pace" is?  If so, have you ever felt it change?
My natural pace has begun to feel slower this year as I've focused more on distance and less on speed.  I'll be working to speed it up over the winter and into next season.

3.  Any other thoughts on the whole cadence topic?
I'm always interested to hear your thoughts!

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

September Budget

Do you keep a budget?

I keep quite a detailed budget.  I don't have a pre-spending budget where I go into a store knowing how much money I have to play with.  I have a post-spending budget.  I keep track of everything I spend and then make adjustments for the next month based on where I feel I can make cuts.  I wish I'd be able to say "cuts or additions," but thus far I have no room for additions.  (*sad face*)

Overall, I have five types of expenditures - Bills, car care, gas, food, and etc.  I try to cut my gas money down to <$100 which helps keep the care car down as well, my "etc." expenditures to <$100, and I do my best to buy all food on sale, but I don't limit the absolute amount I spend.  

The month of September saw - yet again - some budgetary exceptions!, VEGAS!!  (Many more of these and I will be out on the streets!)

So let's see...

This is easily the stablest column.  I only saw a $5 extra payment this month because I forgot to pay a Verizon bill a couple months ago. 

Car Care
Happily, this hit a grand total of $0 this month.  Nothing major went wrong, though I do need to get my heat/cooling system looked at.  I've been putting it off hoping I can simply live with it, but with cooler temps coming, the heat is going to be more and more of a necessity.

Car fuel shot up a bit this month - $140.  $32 of that was from Vegas and I did just fill the tank this past week since I had $0.20 off per gallon from a grocery store discount card.  So the current tank will last till well into mid-October.  Otherwise, I was pretty close to my target.  I could still make more trips to work on my bike though and save a bit more.  I'll be riding my bike today!

My own fuel is on a constant increase - $286.52 this month, $72/week.  I do admit I splurged a bit with the Lobster bisque after my 20 mile run.  I also splurged a bit in Vegas (duh!), so that might account for a few bucks a week.  And as I look forward to October and my ever present thought of doing a diet (paleo, raw, or vegan), I can just see this increasing a bit more before it plateaus. 

Ok, this is where the big exception came.  The Vegas trip hit me with hotel, bike airline charges, car rental, and some bike necessities.  If you don't count all of those "exceptions," I ran up a bill of $90.  The "exceptions" alone were >$700.  I just have to find a way to pay for my athletic adventures. 

With all of that in mind, and the fact that this month saw three paychecks instead of two, I ended up only being in the hole $150.  In my mind, that's pretty good given my exceptions, but I could still close that gap and be in the green.  My goal is to make October through January an overall savings!  I'm going to need to in order to do what I want to next year with training and racing!


1.  Do you keep a budget?  If so, how well do you stick to it?  If not, why not?
I keep a budget because I had a big cut in income.  It took some getting used to, but I do well with it.

2.  Do you have any areas where you know you tend to spend more money than you should?
Is it a specific store, time of the month/week, category, etc.?  Food is my difficult category.  I eat a lot (always have) and I really do love food. 

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

180 bpm - Why All The Hype?

I'm sure any runner out there has heard or read at one point in time about how they should be running at a specific 180 bpm.  The increases cadence is supposed to shorten the amount of time your feet are in contact with the ground, help you stray away from heel striking, keep your body in a smoother motion, and make you run more efficiently.  I just have one question...

Why 180 bpm?

I've heard that number from friends.  I've heard it from employees at my local running store.  I've read it in articles online and in magazines.  The number seems to be universally accepted as the perfect cadence.  But how many people know why it's chosen?  How many people have tested it?  Have you?

From what I've found, it seems that the number 180 was originally chosen because the great runners hover between 176 and 183 bpm.  Therefore, the experts take that information and claim that every runner should run the same way if they want to be the best or even just improve.  I'm not convinced.

I do agree that the idea behind perfecting your cadence is intriguing and deserves merit, but I haven't read or heard anything convincing me that 180 is spot on for everyone.  So given all the hype - and that I've wanted to test my own cadence for quite some time - I decided to do so yesterday.

I went to the site and found a number of songs that are roughly a 180 bpm and made a playlist on my mp3 player.  Then I hoped on the treadmill at work and tested it out.

I found that the 180 bpm is my natural pace at just over 7:00 pace, approximately 7:10.  I thought "Hey, I'm already running really efficiently.  That's nice!"  But then I started playing around with my pacing. 

I slowed down to 8:30, approximately what I expect to run my marathon at, and found that 180 bpm cadence feels like I'm shuffling my feet.  Then I sped up to 5:27 pace (11.0 mph) and 180 bpm is way to slow.  I felt like I had to continually leap as if I'm jumping over debri in the road. 

So what's my conclusion?  
Without detailed analysis, my primary general conclusion would be that whatever pace you naturally hit 180 bpm would be considered your most efficient pace, possibly your "natural" pace.  There's truth amongst the hype for 180 bpm, but it is not a hard and fast rule everyone should stick to.  The truth is in the theory behind it.  Increasing your cadence to a point will help you run more efficiently.  Should everyone take their preferred pace and change the cadence to 180 bpm?, NO!  Part of me also thinks that a primary focus on altering your cadence seems backwards.  Why not work on increasing your speed with track/speed workouts and keeping track of your cadence at various paces over time.  I would bet money that your cadence at a given pace will decrease as your natural pace decreases.  However, on the flip side of this, I WILL admit that I've seen some people who might benefit from altering their cadence a bit.  After all, I work at a gym and I see quite the range of running styles.  There's always an exception to the rule.
Taking my thoughts into consideration, I'd like to point out that while allows you to search for songs based upon a given bpm, they also allow you to search for songs based upon your pace.  For instance, if I punch in 7:00 pace, I get songs that are 180 bpm.  However, if I punch in Ryan Hall's 4:30 half marathon pace, I get songs that are 205 bpm and a more conservative 10:00 pace returns songs with 150 bpm. 

I have not tested how well that change of cadence works with my personal pacing - that's the next step - but I find it interesting to see that acknowledges that 180 bpm is not universal. 


1.  What cadence do you run at?  Have you ever tested it?

2.  What are your thoughts on the whole 180 bpm hype? 

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What a Weekend!

Let's just say it was a roller coaster.

And as a kid, I was terrified of roller coasters!  The only ones I went on were ones that lacked that big drop, which includes a whopping two out of how many million there are out there?!


As you read HERE, I did my long run on Friday.  I was very happy after that run; thirteen miles up and around my old school.  What you don't know is that I turned it into a bit of an experiment.  Remember how I ran 20 miles a week ago? (if not, check it HERE)  And remember how I was wide awake and couldn't sleep until well after 1AM?  (if not, check it HERE)  I think I figured out why.

After I got home from thirteen miles on Friday, I was tired and ended up hitting the hay around 9:20PM, which is extremely early for me given my recent schedule.  So what gives?  Why can I fall asleep early after thirteen miles and be an insomniac after twenty? 

On the twenty mile run, I had four gels.  Two of them were the same GU Lemon-Lime I had on the thirteen mile run.  However, the two others were Clif gel shots citrus which contains caffeine.  So what might be the reason I was up past 1 AM after three hours of running?  I had the equivalent of one - that's right ONE! - cup of coffee.

That's what you get for giving up caffeine 8 years ago!

After that revelation on Friday, Saturday brought the pain.  No, literally.  PAIN!

I woke up early on Saturday to go coach my 5k group.  It was rainy, so we had a slightly smaller group, but I was happy to see some brave souls come out to run anyways.  At 7:30:00 we headed out on a 2 minute walk & 7 minute run program.  Around 7:32:05, I realized that it might not have been such a smart idea to do my long run the previous day.  I had really bad pain in my left knee.  I ended up becoming the sweeper (coach in the back making sure no one got left behind) and walked 90% of the day's mileage.  That was a huge downer. 

The rest of the day on Saturday was filled with movies, ice, heat, and resting.  I sat in bed with my knees propped on two pillows for 75% of the day and miraculously my knees felt great by mid-afternoon.  I used to have really bad cramps in my calves after long runs.  I've cured those by wearing compression socks, but now my knees take the brunt of the pain.  A part of me is really looking forward to some time off after this marathon!  My body needs to heal these little oddities it's acquired this season.

Sunday wasn't anything exciting.  I worked.  Enough said.


1.  Does caffeine have any affect on you?
I know some people who down two Monsters and then go to sleep.  

2.  What did you do this weekend? 
I've seen a few race reports.  Anything else fun happen?

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard.