From the beginning.....

Monday, April 30, 2012

Motivation - Golden Gate Bridge style

On the subject of motivation, I mentioned the Golden Gate Bridge. This is just one of the views I've experienced on my days running it.

I actually took a wrong turn, there is construction for the 75th anniversary underway and I got a bit turned around. What my mistake provided was a fantastic and new to me view. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Motorvation's Ugly Step-Sibling - Demotorvation


When you are talking about motivation, you can't forget about de-motivation. As is the same with any motor, an engine can't run without having the right fuel put in it. If you have a high-performance car engine, putting tomato juice in the gas tank instead of high octane gasoline will most definitely discourage it from performing. So goes the human body. I'm not a doctor, trained health professional, or even an experienced or seasoned runner (YET!). My training around running is really pretty limited. In order for me to be MOTIVATED, sometimes the best thing for me is keeping it simple. What I do know after more than 150 consecutive days running is that my habits and consumption in the day or even days leading up to a run, have a direct affect on how I feel before, during, and after a run. You find a balance for what your priority is. As much as I love running, sometimes other things take precedent.

I may or may not be using this a lot in my posts but....CASE IN POINT: Yesterday I found myself not motivated to run during the day. It was a gorgeous day, sunny all day, mild temperatures here on the mid-peninsula. Great for a few miles on the pavement or trail. For me, just as great a day to couch and nap all day. What did I do the day before? A fair amount of driving, and a steady influx of beer (drinking responsibly, of course). What didn't I do? What did I forget to do that is the most important thing to do when you're drinking? Drink water. Drink more water, then, until you're full, finish with some more water. 

I have some of my best friends in town and was distracted by good company, good conversation and visiting my favorite places. For what it's worth, my food diet was well balanced on Friday, though with a bit more french fries than normal, so that helped. I knew well that the choices I was making on Friday would directly affect what I would do on Saturday. For me, it's not really a question of 'will I run' anymore, it's a question of when and how do I want to feel when I do it, so there you have it.

One thing I learned early on last year in running, probably around the late summer/fall, was that if I planned on running a reasonable distance (or sometimes even any distance at all) I couldn't have a big, heavy lunch. Any food, if over-consumed, is bad for you before you run. Combine this with discovering a gluten allergy a couple of years ago, and suddenly I really had to watch what I ate. Consequently, I eat very healthy most of the time, which makes the times I slip up and eat or drink out of the norm stand out even more. FYI, running with a hangover sucks - dehydration, headache, physical exhaustion. Just not fun. Consequently, starting in November, I cut back on all garbage food and beer. This is where the weight loss really started kicking in, which provided faster running times, which MOTIVATED me to keep going. It was awesome.

De-motivation is not all about eating, and I'm sure I'll cover it more in another post (makes note in blog outline to cover de-motivation more later). It's also about your mental state outside of what is affected by your diet. So many things can happen to us in our daily lives, and after all, we're only human (with the obvious exceptions of Dennis Rodman and possibly Elvis Presley, who may or may not have returned to his home planet after giving us great music and gyrating hips).

Sickness, injury, soreness, family events, work stress, relationship problems, country and world events, even sports team losses. Laugh at the last one if you will, I was crushed after the Ducks lost the national championship game to Auburn. I still call it 'the game of which we do not speak' most of the time. At any rate, people react differently to these things, and it's true that running does help clear your mind. It helps clear your mind if you can get over the hump of emotions to get out and put your feet to the pavement. This is not always easy.

Early in January, I developed some serious pain in my right foot, somewhere between the ball and heel of my foot. Having had a self-diagnosed case of plantar fasciitis that was off and on, I thought it may be related to that, however this pain was more intense and focused in a specific area. I was depressed during the day at work because I thought my streak was over and mentioned it to a co-worker. I learned a lesson that day about people and how they can motivate you. He was athletic but not necessarily a runner and his comment was: "well, I'd be the stubborn one who would just run anyway, if I have to stop then I guess I might". This was apparently all I needed, and here we sit, yesterday was day 157.

When I was thinking about my run yesterday, I was really thinking about two things: my hip was pretty sore from some tweak I managed while playing softball, and I knew I was dehydrated and tired from being up late and drinking the day before.

Consequently, I didn't run until last night, after the Giants game was over. I was running out of time to get my run in and was then motivated by schedule, not really anything else. When it comes down to it, my last gasp of motivation for my daily runs, it seems, will always be time. I decided on a two miler, my daily minimum, to just get it done. I had a hint that my hip might feel better after the run, and truth be told, it felt better during the run. Had I chosen my stability shoes over my minimalist shoes when I was getting ready, I would have added another mile, I felt so good.

All this being said, if you read this blog for my experiences or for motivation, don't forget about motivation's ugly step-sibling, de-motivation. It's the little shadow waiting to pounce when you're not expecting it.


So it's true I really only have a loosely laid plan for this blog. Being unemployed right now, I should be 'post-rich' as I have more time than others might have to keep something like this up. Not having internet at my apartment is somewhat limiting, but if I really wanted to, I could post shorter articles from my phone. So far, not into that. To that end, I wanted to post a little something about what is motivating about running, what motivates me, who motivates etc.

Today's post on motivation was inspired by an extreme lack of said psychological instigator yesterday. Motivation (or motorvation...I'm so clever) can really be thought of like the engine that makes things go. Whether it's a combustion engine in a car, plane, train etc, or whether it's an electric engine running on batteries, powered by a person generating electricity, or even self-propelled and non-electric/combustion modes of transport.

Something has to have, at some point, been compelled to create the energy to make it go. This can be psychological or physical.

Running is the same way, by my estimation.

In the past, I've 'surveyed' people on what motivates them to do things, anything. Frankly, offhand I don't remember all of the answers I got, but I do remember the answers being all over the place. I was trying really hard to find an answer, maybe an easier answer than could find on my own. Such is the way with me and my running motivation. It's everywhere.

I was recently asked by a member of my running group, amidst a conversation about the running streak, what motivated me to start running. I was momentarily silenced. If you know me, that's a big deal, as I always have something to say. I thought all the way back to when I was in my early to mid-twenties and what made me run then. So much more simple then. Of course, I only ran once a year so how hard is it to be motivated for that? I ran the Butte to Butte in Eugene on the 4th of July.

Awesome race, awesome event, and the one day I thought I could be vaulted into a running habit. Of course, I was really only fooling myself then. Habits are made over time, not on a one shot event. Races are awesome motivators but you only race once a week, once a month or in my case at the time, once a year, not with enough frequency to actually form a habit.

Initially when I tried to start running regularly last spring (2-3 days a week), it was because basketball was both hurting my knee and limiting my exercise capabilities. The more I played, the more I hurt and I realized that it wasn't sustainable. If you've known me for any length of time, you know how much I love to play basketball. You might also then realize, what it took to come to the semi-illogical decision to try and replace basketball with running. It didn't make sense at first, running is high-impact, so is basketball.

My logic was pretty sound, at least to me, though. When I play basketball, I don't really have an off switch. I play hard, all the time. This means a lot of driving, twisting, turning, leaping, falling, getting knocked over, you get the point. Running, while high impact, is one motion. Forward. Also, you can do it at any pace, and any pace is good. You are burning calories no matter how fast or slow you go. You just have to get out and do it.

I started off very slow, taking it easy. Really, I was walking nearly half of my 'running' distances. I was wearing shoes that were not appropriate, then talked to some fine folks at what became my running store (I'll talk more about them in a separate post, to be sure) and we got me into some great running shoes. Running was instantly easier, I'm not kidding you and you're hearing this probably 8 months after the switch. I'm still wearing the same brand and style for my every day and long distance running. I also motivated myself by using Jelly Belly's and Gu. These little bad boy supplements are full of stuff you can physically use, as well as, for me at the time, motivation.

My pre-run routine, no matter what the distance, was: an appropriate meal, ibuprofen, jelly belly's and plenty of static stretching. I knew if I took the ibuprofen and ate the jelly belly's, I only had about 30 minutes to get on the road or I risked wasting the energy and joint protection. Some of the candy has caffeine too, and I rarely consumed it at the time, so I didn't want to be all wired for no reason. I knew if I ate a huge meal or something too heavy, the run wouldn't feel good (or I just wouldn't do it). That was motivating.

Running also got me out of the office for a while, in the middle of the day or maybe out of the office earlier at night. Pretty good motivation in and of itself, I say.

I also love destination runs. Crystal Springs is a great place to run, Lake Merced is nice, but my most motivating run will probably always be Golden Gate Bridge. Seriously, this is on people's bucket list from around the world and I can run it almost whenever I feel like it. Amazing.

My motivations now are based on people, places, events, physical improvement, running schedule...even my gear. I discovered last week that I just felt better putting on my running shorts and shirt. After feeling slow and only semi-motivated, I put on the gear and suddenly was ready to go. It was a great feeling.

To get back to the conversations I had about motivation, I don't know if it's something you can find or if it finds you. It's very likely more about timing. Motivators are all around us but our minds have to be ready for them and accept them, forced 'motivation' is not likely going to stay with you.

My engine requires both physical and mental fuel for motivation. It's not always easy to find one, the other, or both, but running every day, I work hard to keep my engine running.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

People Powered

It's interesting, one of the reasons I started running is also one of the reasons I've always played basketball. It's something you can do totally on your own. You literally don't need anyone else to participate with you in order to do it.

Even more interesting? I wouldn't be where I am with running today if I didn't have so many great people in my life.

Some of my running people have been friends for a long time, some have become good friends only recently, some are more casual acquaintances and some I have never met in person. Every single one of them is an integral part of my running experience whether it's past, present or future.

Case in point in the present: I'm going to do a 'tempo run' tonight, a faster version of your normal run in order to get your muscles used to a quicker pace on longer runs (or something like that, I know they keep making me faster). There are a few people in my running group that run near or faster than my pace and are willing to drag me along with them. One of them is training for a tri, the other two are not sure they will be there tonight. I'm sure I can do a tempo run without them but not 100% sure, on my own I run near the 7 minute mile mark. With them, last week I ran a 6:23 minute mile average.

Case in point, past: Preparing to run my 2nd half marathon this last November, I had set a goal of 2:10:00. This made sense as I ran a 2:20:00 half at the end of August and I felt like I didn't push myself hard enough. A 10 minute improvement was very reachable considering my previous finishing time and my training since the last race. I met up randomly with a friend from the running group that morning and we chatted about the goal time for the run, she wanted to finish near the same time I did so we ran together. We took turns during the 13.1 miles leading and pulling each other along and in the end finished right around 2 hours. A kick ass half marathon for both of us. Talking about it later, we were both completely dependent on each other to keep up the pace. I felt like she was dragging me through it, she felt I was pushing her. It was a great run.

I'm running every day now, to the tune of 22-26 miles a week (inspired to run every day, by the way, by someone I don't know in person at all). Believe that this gives you an opportunity to run with a lot of people. What I know now is that the people who you run with aren't the only ones that are important. I'm inspired very often, and was in the past as well, by people who don't run at all and that I've never run with. As a matter of fact, some of the people that inspire me, I thought were frikken crazy for running when they were doing it and I wasn't.

Ok, I'm going to cut this short since I have some things to do tonight, including my tempo run and a softball game. More on the people aspect of running when I get a chance.

Just keep running baby!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

151 Days Of Running

Lets start off with a list. I like lists. This is what I've done in 151 consecutive days running, approximately 499 miles.

Is the below bragging? I say...not unless you're impressed by it. I'm impressed, to a point. I know it's been a lot of work, but I have so much more do to.

  • A Runners Mind Running group
  • Beer week beer run group
  • Laurie
  • Joel
  • Lan
  • Todd
  • Eddie
  • Michelle
  • Nova
  • Tahzi (doggie!)

  • Burlingame
  • San Mateo
  • Daly City
  • San Francisco
  • Eugene
  • Springfield
  • Fullerton
  • South Lake Tahoe
  • Portland
  • San Leandro

  • Brooks Adrenaline stability
  • Brooks Pure Cadence minimalist
  • Asics shorts
  • Asics warming sleeves
  • Ninkasi wristbands
  • Nike dri-fit beanie
  • Headlamp
  • Red blinker
  • Nike gloves
  • Calve Compression Sleeves
  • Features medium thickness socks
  • Nike running shirt
  • Asics running shirt
  • Oregon Ducks basketball shorts
  • Sansa Clip - lots of tunes
  • Body Glide
  • Jelly Belly's
  • Gu
  • Gu Chomps
  • One hand water bottle
  • Dual water bottle belt

  • Sun
  • Wind
  • Rain
  • Pouring rain
  • Snow
  • Slush
  • Mid-20's temperatures
  • Intense thunder and lightning

  • Slush inundated bike paths
  • Huge puddles
  • Busted up sidewalks
  • Furniture
  • Garbage cans
  • Low hanging trees
  • Overgrown brush
  • Trees fallen on the path
  • CARS
  • Pedestrians
  • Bicycles

  • Knee pain
  • Strained ankle
  • Undefined but painful heel injury
  • Rib injury
  • Various leg muscle pains
  • Headaches
  • Dehydration dizziness
  • Stomach/side cramps

  • Too tired
  • Too sore
  • Can't breathe
  • Just don't want to
  • Too cold
  • Too wet
  • Not enough time
  • Distracted
  • Had too much to drink

  • Lost 30+ lbs
  • Decreased minute per mile time from well over 10 minutes to under 7:30 minutes, most distances
  • No knee pain (from daily pain)
  • Minimal to no plantar fasciitis pain
  • Stopped taking ibuprofen for athletic activities (was nearly a daily intake)
  • Ran 1st 1/2 marathon
  • Improved 1/2 marathon time by more than 20 minutes (in 4 half marathons, every race has been a PR)
  • PR time in 10k by 10 minutes over a 10 year old mark
  • PR time in 5k (at 25 minutes that race, the next 5k will be a serious PR, expecting sub 19 minutes for a flat course)
  • Ran at least 2 miles on 151 consecutive days (during this time, also ran 10k, 15k and 1/2 marathon runs, PR or beat expectations)
  • Beat estimated run time for 1st 15k race by 5 minutes (7:36 minute average time with a 5 mile uphill)
  • Ran first 6 minute mile since high school

There's something to chew on for a bit. Next up, the why/what/who/when/where/how etc.

My first three 1/2 marathons were completed before the streak. I meant to show the improvement...doh!