Archive for July, 2011

Marathoning is hard.

No surprise there right?  Lots of miles, lots of cross training.  Lots of wear and tear on the body.

Now add the fact that at 43 years, 342 days old, I have a 10 ½ month old daughter to chase around and do the occasional front porch tiling job on my own, needless to say I get sore from time to time.

Landry's first trip to the beach

In fact, most days I would say that I have some ache or tight area that I’m monitoring.

One of the things that I think has helped me stay as healthy as I have over the past several years of training for and running marathons has been the ability to know the difference between the usual “soreness” that comes from training and when pushing yourself to improve has you on the cusp of injury.

Pain and injury are very different things.

When managing an injury my advice is to head to the Sports Medicine Doctor right away.  Every day that you put off seeing an expert is one day further you are from being back out there running, cycling or swimming injury free.

When it comes to pain management, that’s all part of the game.  To improve as an athlete you need to push your muscles to new thresholds.  Run farther, run faster, run more frequently or even run two times a day.  Your muscles get broken down during these workouts allowing them to rebuild stronger than they were before during your rest and recovery days.

The price of that however is soreness. It’s just part of the deal.

If you run a 5K or 10K race and don’t feel it the next day, you weren’t really racing.

You were just running a race.

Those are two entirely different things.

So what do I do to deal with that soreness?  The same thing the vast majority of athletes do, R.I.C.E.

Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

Ever since my shin splint injury that resulted from a strained calf muscle running hills to get ready for the Boston Marathon, I have become a big believer in the Compression part of the R.I.C.E. treatment strategy.

Without my trusted compression calf sleeve from Zensah, I’m not sure I would have made it through the training for and the running of two marathons just 13 days apart for Dom back in the spring of 2010.

The only thing that I will say about my calf sleeve that is remotely negative was that it is a bit restricting and during my post-race massage after the Austin Marathon in February, the sports massage therapist told me that my “right side” was much tighter than my left from my ankle to my hip.  He thought that it was time for me to discard the calf sleeve and that I should work back to running without it.

I have not run in it since and I am now back to feeling very “even” on my legs and pain/symptom free.  If I ever feel anything in that area again, I would not hesitate to go back to my compression sleeve in a second.

Well a few weeks ago I received a message from the good people at Tommie Copper.  They asked if I would not mind trying out some of their compression gear.  Being a huge believer in the compression therapy, I jumped at the chance.

Not only does their gear feature lightweight and comfortable compression technology, the fabric actually contains Copper – which has long been believed to help stimulate immune systems and to repair injured tissues to promote healing.

I’m sure you have seen people wearing copper bracelets in the past to help with arthritis pain and other ailments.  Their Cu29 Compression Gear (Cu – Elemental sign for Copper, 29 – The Atomic Number for Copper) was designed on those same principles.

I asked to test the compression calf sleeve, knee sleeve as I had experienced some knee inflammation earlier this spring and one of their compression shirts as my left shoulder had been a bit sore from all of the swimming I have been doing training for my first triathlon.

Within a week my package arrived from Tommie Copper and I was anxious to give their gear a try.

Product Review – Knee Compression Sleeve

Knee Compression Sleeve

The first thing I noticed was how lightweight their compression apparel was.  The calf and knee sleeves were extremely lightweight and comfortable.  They provided great compression, but felt more like moisture wicking material than a stiff elastic compression fabric.

Sizing is done in 5 increments, small, medium, large, X large and XX Large, with an easy to follow sizing chart.   Tommie Copper asks that you measure the circumfrence of the appropriate body part (knee, calf, chest etc.) to assure propper fitment.  You can view a sample of their sizing chart by clicking HERE.

I noticed that my knee which was back to 100% strength running over the past two months still bothered me just a bit when I flew on an airplane.  I believe that the change in cabin pressure caused my knee to swell just a bit and that added inflammation made my left knee a bit tender.

I decided to fly out to Charleston, SC wearing the compression sleeve on my knee.  I also wore it after my two post-flight runs as well as a few hours after my 15-mile long run on Sunday after arriving in Charleston.

Due to the lightweight fabric and the comfort fit top and bottom bands that kept the sleeve in place, I honestly forgot that I had it on.  Only when I would see someone looking at it, wondering if I was injured would I remember that I was wearing it.  Part of that was due to me being in the hospital picking up my mother after her surgery.

I experienced no swelling during or after my two flights and ran back to back to back workouts of 8 miles, 8 miles, 15 miles feeling absolutely perfect. 

Two thumbs up on the knee compression sleeve.

Product Review – Compression Shirt

Men's Compression Shirt

The product I was very anxious to try was the Tommie Cooper Compression Shirt.  My shoulder was an area where I was currently experiencing some mild soreness. 

After my third swim day in a row I would notice a sore-tired feeling at the top of my left shoulder, just above my bicep.

After a day of rest, it would subside – but it was there just slightly every morning when I woke up.

I wore the compression shirt prior to my first swim out in Charleston at the Medical University training facility.  It was a fast swim workout as Coach Claudia has me focusing on improving my speed as my distance/endurance is now where we want it to be.

I did a swim workout of:

5X 100 Meter Repeats

500 Meters Free

5X 100 Meter Repeats

500 Meter Pull Buoy (all arms, no kick)

5 X 50 Meter Repeats

A tough 1.4 mile swim workout.  I wore my compression shirt to follow the next day and felt no soreness in my shoulder.

This week I swam back to back to back including my first ever 1.4 mile continuous swim, longer than the half-ironman swim requirement by .2 miles without stopping and still, no soreness in my shoulder.

Great stuff.

Conclusion:

It seems like the folks at Tommie Copper really are on to a great product line.  They managed to couple compression with Copper revitalization technology and launch a great product line.

In addition to the copper element of their fabric, the compression gear alone is tremendous.  Lightweight, extremely comfortable with a wide variety of sizing options so that you are able to really shop for a product that will fit you properly.

Compression without restriction, just tremendous.

As a reminder with any product reviews here at Run for Dom, I am simply passing along my findings after testing out a new product.  I am by no way compensated for my time or influenced by the company to provide a positive review.

If you are dealing with some nagging bumps and bruises or some chronic aches and pains related to training, arthritis, pulls or joint soreness – I think you should reach out to the folks at Tommie Copper.

You can visit their website at:

http://www.tommiecopper.com

Happy trails everyone!

Wednesday night marked the 9th race in the 12 race Sunstroke Summer Stampede 5K series.  It would be my 8th race in the series, which was my goal from the start this year.  I wanted to run enough of the races to qualify for any year-end awards I might be eligible for as the series takes your 8 best times to come up with your series average.

More importantly, I wanted two solid months of speed work on Wednesday nights to get my race legs back into their pre-Austin Marathon condition before training really got started for the NYC Marathon.

It was going to be a hot race for sure as the temperature on my thermometer in the truck read 102 on the drive over to the course.  I decided it would be wiser to drive over and run just a short 1-mile warm-up at the park than it would be to run 2 miles from the house to the race start.

Just too hot for a long warm-up like that as my core temperature would rise too much and it would hurt my performance during the race.

I had run a moderately paced (7:27 min./mile) 8.3 miles on Tuesday morning to kick of NYC Marathon training, followed by a 2,250 Meter continuous open water swim out on the lake Tuesday at lunchtime.  That’s 1.4 miles of swimming without a break, longer than the half-ironman swim distance of 1.2 miles.

I knew I wasn’t going to be setting myself up for a personal course record on Wednesday night, but my pre-race goal was to try to tie that time of 19:14 on the Brushy Creek Course.

Pre Race:  There haven’t been too many times that I knew at the start of a race that my legs just weren’t with me.  But this was definitely one of them.  I stretched, ran my warm-up, even a few strides at a quick pace, skipped and swung my legs and hips but just couldn’t shake that concrete leg feeling.

This happened at the Harvest Fest 5K last October, the Boston Marathon in 2010 and last night.  I suppose that three instances of “dead legs” in more than 40 races is not a very high percentage, but when it happens to you, it certainly isn’t a lot of fun.

Not being an “A” race, I wasn’t very worried about it, but if you are going to bother racing, you might as well race fast I figure.  The plan was to go out as I normally would and hope that my legs “snapped to” after a half-mile or so.

Mile 1:  I was chatting away with my friend Joe McClellon as the starter got us ready to go, instead of my usual squat down as a last stretch, before I knew it we were signaled to start and I was firing out across the timing mat.  The heat was pretty oppressive and I thought about what my opening ½ mile split would be.  I felt like my legs were still not all the way there and I settled into 5th position. 

At the half-mile point my watch beeped with a time of 2:49.   The identical opening ½ mile split I ran two weeks earlier on the same course, but I felt a lot different doing it.

I decided to slow down a bit and lock in to a pace that felt comfortably hard.  A runner slipped past me on my right and moved out ahead of me by 15 meters or so.  I locked in and just focused on my breathing and my stride.  At the top of mile 1 my second ½ mile split came in at 3:11.  A 6:00 minute flat opening mile, which was only :03 seconds behind my race two weeks earlier.

A decent start, but there was still a long way to go.

Mile 2:  We hit the dam and ran down through the switch back and back onto the gravel trail.  The runner ahead of me had stretched his lead out to about 25 Meters.  With nobody behind me to push me, if I wanted to “race” with anyone, I was going to have to close on the runner ahead.

My next ½ mile split came in at 3:02.  Right about where I wanted to be for that split as I had run 3:03 and 3:05 the two races before on the Brushy Creek Course over this interval.  My legs were starting to feel a little more “awake”, but I was far from crushing it out there.

As we made our way up the short hill toward the turn around point which falls right at the 1.85 mile mark on this course I had cut into the runners lead up ahead of me.

I navigated the cone, grabbed a quick splash of water at the aid station and pushed on towards the hill that would take us back up and over the dam.

At the top of mile 2 my ½ mile split was 3:08 – a 6:10 middle mile, :04 seconds slower than the race two weeks ago.

Mile 3:  As we made our way up the hill I was now just behind the runner in 5th position.  The trail is narrow here and there were runners coming down the other side of the course right at us.  I picked a wide spot and pushed past the runner, lengthening my stride a bit as I went past.

I wanted to clear him quickly and not enter into a back and forth pace-quickening duel.  This was the toughest part of the course and I needed to have a little bit left in the tank for the final push across the top of the dam.

My ½ mile split came in at 3:18, exactly the same as two weeks ago which was surprising as I felt like I was running slower.

When I reached the switch back I glanced down over my left shoulder and saw that I had opened up a :05 or :06 second lead on the runner behind me.  I couldn’t hear his footsteps I thought to myself, so if it stayed quiet behind me across the dam, I would be able to hold on to 5th place.

With nobody else to chase it was hard to stay focused on pace and stride.  I tried to think about closing out this last ½ mile as strong as I could as this might be my last race of the series.  As I reached the top of mile 3 my ½ mile split was 3:08, :05 seconds faster than the same stretch two weeks ago.

I didn’t make up all of the time lost, but I was surprised that I had thrown down a pretty solid ½ mile so late on a hot, hot night.

The Finish:  With no footsteps behind me I navigated the final turns and kicked to the finish.  The final 1/10 came in :39 seconds, which is just about spot on what I have been closing out the races in this series with.

19:18 total time, 5th place overall, 1st place Male Masters.

I was :04 slower than my goal time/course record, but given the way that I felt pre-race and the amount of training I have been doing recently including a fast paced 15-miler on Sunday, I was pretty satisfied with the result.

Post Race:  There were 99 participants out for the race on Wednesday night.  Jason, Anne and Bill from my office made it out to race, (all claiming age group awards which was pretty darn impressive), and my good friend Tom was out as well.

I ran a nice and easy 1.35 mile cooldown as we were waiting for the results to be tabulated and awards prepared, then enjoyed a nice frosty adult beverage with my friends.  (Thank you Jason!).

The race series has been great to me this summer.  I was able to get in some quality speedwork once a week for two months, spend some time with some great Austin runners, make a few new friends along the way and head off into NYC Marathon training a healthy and respectably fast runner once again.

This is going to be a special training cycle for me with my Mom battling through her treatment(s) for brain cancer.  I’ve tweaked my plan a bit, added some more miles, some more hills and another race or two to keep me honest.

It’s going to be a tough 17 more weeks of preparation, but the end result I hope will be that I stand among 45,000 runners on November 6th in the greatest shape of my life.

I will have never been faster.  Never been stronger.  Never been better trained and never been more determined.

That is the only recipe I know for how to continue to train for this particular event.

The marathon is a cruel, cruel race that does not discriminate.  There is no room for woulda, coulda, shoulda when it comes to the 26.2 mile footrace.  Whatever the clock says in November I am willing to own 100%.

The time to do the work necessary to excel that first Sunday in November is right now, not 17 ½ weeks from now.

All in once again. 

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

90 runs.

That sounds like a lot.  I guess it is when you really think about it.  I’ll go through almost three pairs of running shoes training for New York on November 6th.  There are going to be a lot of long runs, some short runs.  Fast runs and slow runs, hot runs and wet runs.

Probably not too many wet runs training this summer in Texas, but mother nature usually throws a few my way just to keep things interesting.

Truth is I won’t remember too many of them when I am standing in the starting corral with 45,000 other marathon hopefuls in NYC on November 6th.

Verrazano Bridge - Race Start

But there will be two runs that I will remember for sure.  I always do.

The first run of the training cycle and my final 20+ miler.  To me they mark the beginning and the end of marathon preparation.  Sure I’ll still have about 13 runs left after my final 21 mile long run on October 16th, but for all intents and purposes, I will be a “fully trained” marathoner after that run.  The rest of the time is spent tapering for the race and trying to peak at just the right time to run my very best marathon.

Today was run number 1 of the training cycle; just an easy paced 6.2 miles were on the calendar.

I ran 8.35 miles of hills.

Things have changed for me when it comes to NY in November.

NYC was going to be my fall marathon to build a strong base before really ramping up my training for Boston next spring and taking another shot at 2:59:59 at perhaps the most famous and prestigious marathon course in the world.

But after last week’s surgery that my Mother went through to remove part of her stage II Brain tumor, I got an all too powerful reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed.  Putting off something until April of next year when I have an opportunity right in front of me is foolish on so many levels.

Will training throughout the summer heat here in Austin be difficult?  Absolutely.

Would the mild winter temperatures that lead up to the Boston marathon be better for me to hit the long tempo runs necessary to sculpt my body into 6:52 min./mile shape for 26.2 miles?  No doubt.

But that’s the thing about the marathon.  It’s not easy.  Nothing about it is.  Not the training, not the preparation and certainly not the race itself.  It’s not supposed to be.

So if I have to carry some extra water bottles with me on my 20, 21, 22 and 21 mile long runs this summer tough cookies.

Sunday's 15-Miler in Charleston - 7:24 pace

If I have to put in a little extra effort to hit my paces during the heat of the summer, then that is what it is going to take.  I remember standing in the starting corral here in Austin back in February feeling like I was in the best shape of my life.

I was the best trained marathoner I had ever been, and I was going to go out on the course and prove it.

On November 6, 2011, I am going to make that marathoner look like it was his first rodeo.

I will be stronger.  Faster.  Better equipped and more determined than I have ever been in my life.

On Wednesday last week my mother took her first steps around the hospital ward less than a day after her surgery.  At 82 she was doing laps around the hallway and was ready to be discharged 48 hours after surgery. 

Pretty damn impressive.

Last night Landry continues to pull up on things and work on her balance, she appears to be only a few weeks away from her first steps.

In November my mother will be long past her 35 radiation treatments to knock her cancer into remission.  Landry will be walking along next to her Mom up to Central Park to see her Dad finish the NY Marathon in the fastest time he has ever run.

Today, I took my first strides as well toward Staten Island and the NYC Marathon.

Every one of them counted.  I’m now 8.35 miles closer to race day.

Can’t wait.