When life gives you lemons …

Posted: December 21, 2009 in Training

On Friday I received a call late in the day from Dr. Fernandez at Austin Sports Medicine with my MRI results from earlier in the week.  Dr. F passed along very good news that the MRI showed no stress fracture or stress reaction in my lower right leg – only what we had been hoping for which was irritation and muscle straining around my tibia causing pain (shin splint).  This pain which has kept me from running over the past two weeks is an obvious disappointment with respect to me kicking off my standard 18-week training plan ramping up to the Boston Marathon on April 19th.  But with the proper perspective on our long-term goal of completing two marathons only 13 days apart this spring as we Run for Dom, perhaps this news and set-back is really a blessing in disguise?

Run Less Run Faster - Runners World

A few days prior to my MRI I received a book as part of my subscription to Runners World titled:  Run Less, Run Faster.  Like most marathoners I have a formula that works and I am very skeptical of training programs that tout reduced mileage as a way to improve performance.  But since I had a lot of time on my hands as I rested and recuperated – I thought, why not?  What can it hurt?

The first thing that impressed me as I began the book was that the premise of the training program was not a short-cut schedule or a magic bean – but actually a very precise 3/2 program that removes your two shortest run days from your 5-day program and replaces them with cross training in the form of cycling, swimming etc. that allows for a tough cardiovascular workout but takes a lot of the pounding from your knees, hips, legs, feet allowing you to train harder during your three run days.


Seemed to make sense to me, but I must admit I was still very skeptical.  Then I learned that this book was not simply written by a running guru that trained at a professional level and completed numerous sub 3:00 hour marathons.  It was actually the research work from a team that started the Furman Institute of Running & Scientific Training (FIRST) program.  You can find more information about FIRST and their training programs and seminars here at:  http://www.furman.edu/first/index.htm

Included in the book are countless stories from program participants (these are actually runners who enrolled in the program, traveled to Furman University in South Carolina to be tested and followed the program from start to finish in preparing for a marathon) with amazing success rates in reducing their marathon times by 10%-20%.  These again were not only exceptional runners with previous marathon times in the sub 3:00 category – but also “everyday” marathoners with times of 3:45 to 4:15.

Cervelo P1 Triathlon Bike

For me as I know that logging 50 mile weeks is a far way off for me anytime soon, I am in fact looking to help get to the starting line at Boston as prepared as I can be, but also as “healthy” as I can be with Pittsburgh looming just 13 days later.  What had been my intention of starting the transformation from Marathoner to Triathlete in 2012 has been accelerated by 24 months or so which will allow me to bike 2X per week in preparing for Boston and focusing on 3 quality runs over the next 16 weeks.

Pictured above is my wife’s Christmas present to me (and birthday and anniversary and next Christmas and possibly next birthday).  I spent the last week to ten days driving the guys down at Austin Tri Cyclist crazy with questions as I tried to educate myself in what kind of equipment would allow me to train effectively and ultimately race in a few triathlons in the next 12-18 months.

The guys were great, I learned a whole lot and must say that for the first time in a few years am very excited to be taking on a new sport.  I went from knowing virtually nothing about running and marathoning in 2005 to having a considerable amount of experience and knowledge in that sport.  I hope that the transition to the Triathlon is as rewarding and in the interim will help me through the Run for Dom effort http://www.runfordom.com with strength, stamina and speed to spare.

One thing I will say is that a new pair of $120 running shoes every few months now seems like peanuts to the cost of this new hobby … now if anyone out there knows any swim coaches in Austin please let me know – that will be a lot of fun to write about I’m sure.

Happy Holidays everyone and thank you Dawn for my gift – you are the greatest.

  1. joerunfordom says:

    I’ve gotten a few questions regarding the Cervelo P1 photo:

    1. Yes I really do drive that big Ford Truck.
    2. Yes, my garage floor is really that clean.
    3. Yes, I still have the Harley (Non-negotiable).

  2. Navin says:

    Sweet ride!
    I do a horrible job following any program or sticking to any plan, so hope to learn a lot from your experience. I’m trying very hard to force myself to foolow Hal’s 18 week program for the upcoming Austin Marathon.
    Welcome to Triathlons! I haven’t worked with any swim coaches or anything, but a friend let me borrow a book titled “Total Immersion” and it helped immensely. Truthfully, I haven’t read the whole thing and I don’t do enough, okay ‘any’, of the drills, but it helped me visualize the proper technique. I’ve been contemplating taking lessons at Nitro Swim for some time. With the kids I don’t think I’ll be able to work it in yet.

  3. joerunfordom says:

    Navin – Thanks on the bike – getting used to the saddle, but I really like it thus far.

    I’ll say this about Hal’s 18-week programs, if you stick with it and at least take the Wednesday and Sunday runs very seriously he will put you in a position to reach your goals. He got me to a sub 4:00 in my first ever marathon and a Boston time on my first attempt at qualifying – so I am a believer.

    I’m looking forward to the summer when I take up the swim portion of things, I don’t know if I’ll be ready for a tri before the year is up, but maybe we can work a duathlon into the Fall here in Austin …

  4. Navin says:

    Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a comfortable saddle. Only thing you gotta watch out for is numbness ;).

    I set a goal of qualifying for Boston, but it’ll be tough. Especially on the Austin course and especially my age group. Oh well, it’s a goal.

    You can totally do a full Tri in 2010. Aim for the Austin Tri in September. Focus on the swimming. As I tell people, you can walk the run and pedal slowly. But, there’s not much recovering from drowing. I know you’re competitive and want a decent finish, so I’m sure that’ll play into your decision.

    Have a great Christmas and New Year!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Navin – thanks for the tips and encouragement – the swimming is going to be my focus starting in May – I think by then I’ll be pretty comfortable on the bike – I’ve revised my training schedule for these two marathons to 4 run days and 3 bike days per week. It will help take some pressure off this shin splint issue and also strengthen my quads and calves for the Boston Marathon Hills – something just running would not do as well as adding the biking. 430 run miles, 570 bike miles and we’ll be ready. I’ll be reaching out to you soon regarding the swimming and where I can get with a coach — best of luck with the Austin race – I know you will do great.

      Take care!

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