Training plan in shambles? Try my 6 suggestions to getting back on track.

Try these 6 suggestions to get yourself back on track.

Get into a training routine long enough and your bound to face a few obstacles. Anyone who's followed a training plan knows that situations come up that take you off course and threaten to derail your fitness effort. Life/family moments, emergencies, injuries and work responsibilities can conspire individually or team up against you. Let your training plan take a beating too long and you risk a loss of fitness and before you know it, lapse in to couch-sitting, channel surfing mediocrity.

Be ready to face training adversity with these simple strategies -

Let whatever is derailing your training run its course. Sometimes life happens and you just have to go with it. We often start to beat ourselves up for not exercising adding stress to the situation. Ask yourself if the added stress of not exercising is making the situation worse. Of course, if  you can slip in a good run or strength session during these times its best to do so. But when you can't you may feel that added stress on top of whatever the situation is you're dealing with. Rather than compound the stress - let it go and try not to worry about your training until the situation is over. Short breaks in training don't necessarily spell catastrophe for your overall fitness.

Get out and start again, start over if you have to. But back off. After even the briefest of time away from your exercise routine it would be wise to return to activity at a slower pace or lower intensity. Jumping back into your training where you left off may sound like a good idea but puts you at risk for injury. Worse, when you notice you're not at the level of fitness you were before the break, you may start to focus on how much you "lost" and risk further discouragement. Instead, give yourself a warm up period, a taper up. Go back in you training journal (you do keep a training journal, don't you?) and find a favorite route or workout from a few months ago and start there. You may want to simply do what feels comfortable for a few days, just to get back into the swing of things. By doing so you'll feel better, reduce risk of injury and build back your confidence.

Work on the parts of your routine you can. Can't make that 10 mile run this week? Missed your yoga class? Too tired for your favorite cardio session? Stop looking at what you can't do and discover what you can do! Find parts of your program that you can do, perhaps at home or at work, and give those movements renewed attention. During a recent injury-related break from running, I was able to focus on my core routine without aggravating my injury.  Doing so let let me feel like I was doing something to keep my routine and level of fitness going in a good direction.

Revisit and revise you goals to adjust for the change. Reality check: based on what you've gone through and whatever it is you're facing now, are your goals still valid? It's a tough question to ask yourself, but it has to be done. I recently lost five weeks of my current training cycle putting my 2:00:00 half marathon goal in jeopardy. Reviewing my goals reminded me that the (original) goal was to finish four half marathons this year (I added a time goal after half #3) and to stay out of the casket if at all possible. Going back to my original goals reminded me that I am still on track to achieve what I had originally set out to do. If your goals don't match todays reality, can you safely ramp up your training to reach them? If the honest answer is yes, then go get after it! If not, retune your goals with the benefit of knowing your overcoming obstacles and still moving forward.

Rewrite your training plan. Rewriting your training plan goes hand in hand with revisiting your goals. Your plan (and you do have a training plan, don't you?) is exactly that, yours. Keep the motivation but dump the stress in your plan. If your goals change, then change your plan to match.

Learn from it. What, if anything, could have prevented the situation in the first place? Can you anticipate future problems? Learning from where you are now is the best way to prevent a "next time" from happening. Add a plan B, a set of alternate routines or optional plans that you can pull out when your training plans go up in smoke. Having a go-to list of training alternatives will save time and decrease stress when you need them.


LRW: Running, Writing and Interruptions


This has got to be a conspiracy. As if being behind the eight ball with training and writing isn't enough. I'm now called to carry out my Civic Duty for the next few days...or so. Did I mention I'm working this weekend as well?


The good news is two sic-fi pieces are well into draft, both having potential to be NaNoWriMo worthy 50K words or better. On the bright side, there should be some time over the next few days to work on a couple of articles and shorts that have been sitting around.


Getting out from behind the eight ball

Behind the eight ball

In a bad situation, in a losing position. 
The phrase comes from pool (or billiards). When the cue (white) ball is behind the eight (black) ball, a player usually has no shot. (Urban Dictionary)

My view from behind the eight ball 

Whatever was damaged during my stumble at mile 8 of the Shoreline Half is still giving me problems. Pain in my left calf at night, during the day, and now a fair amount of numbness on the outside of my leg persists five weeks after the injury. Thats five weeks of discomfort. Five weeks of not sleeping well. Five weeks of limited running. I haven't hit a double digit miles training run since July 20 and with the ROC Half now four weeks away, I am locked and loaded squarely behind the eight ball. My training plan is in ruin. My attitude is starting to suffer. My motivation is draining.

The warning lights are flashing

A relapse into mediocrity is a real potential in situations like this. We can all appreciate how easily one could slip back into poor eating habits (hey, I need the extra calories to heal this injury), sedentary life (hey, I've got stay off this leg for a while), and simply not running (I'll run when I feel better).

I've been on the verge of this relapse for a while. I felt great after a short run several days ago and was looking forward to increasing miles again (having self-declared the injury gone) only to be shocked awake that same night by intense, stabbing pain and muscle fascinations. I was demoralized until last night.

Getting around the obstacle 

The daughter of close friends just had surgery on her ankle to repair some serious damage. At the ripe old age of 16 or so, she'd sprained her ankle so many times that the joint had become unstable. Her she is just a few days after surgery, casted from toes to knee, trudging along on crutches, at the end of summer vacation. Sad? No. Discouraged? Nope. Quitting? Absolutely not! This young lady talked about changing sports from a soccer focus to softball. She even sat on a overturned bucket and put on an amazing display of pitching...casted leg, crutches on the ground.

Heres the lesson; her attention had shifted from looking at the injury to looking at the next thing she could be great at.

Looking around the obstacle even if its a big one 

We all end up in the unenviable position of a bad situation, a schedule snafu, or an injury at some point during training. The blogs are full of suggestions for athletes (even mature ones like me) on how to get over an injury or get their training back on track. Some of those suggestion may work, some may not. All the information people give you are things that worked for them. You are not them. You have to decide for yourself how to get around your obstacle.

Get over it. Injury is reality. Stop blaming yourself and stop the excuses. Yes it hurts, but sitting around isn't making the situation any better. In fact, its getting worse. I'm not going to jump back into the miles and risk further injury, I'm simply going to...

Change the plan. If you're training plan is trashed, maybe it should stay in the trash for a while. Cutting down the miles and intensity for a few more days won't ruin my chances of finishing the last half marathon of the year but I may have to let go of my 2:00:00 time goal.

Shift focus. Limited running is going to leave a void that could easily be filled by surfing the net or sipping coffee in the Adirondack chair. Not. Instead lets pick up the cross training and get a few good distance rides on the bike and hit the core training hard. A good bombing for the hips, glutes, and abs sounds like a winning idea.

Thankfully, this is the first true injury I've had to deal with in two years. I guess I shouldn't gripe about it too much.


Just one of those days

One of those days. 

How many times have you and me said that with more than a little disgust? 
Sunset over Rochester on a humid night
Today I had one of those days...but it in this case it was a lot different. 
Work as really been knocking the life out of me lately. I'm just coming off a long stretch of shifts in a row and have been looking forward to a well-deserved two days off. Today is day one of those days

I made it home and into bed well after 1 am this morning and was up with the sun at 6. The return of that pesky leg cramping, muscle pain issue kept me tossing and turning for most of those precious few sleeping hours so you can imagine how surprising it was to be able to get up on time. But I was determined to start my those days as planned!

As soon as a break in the morning aches and pains gave me permission I was out of bed and onto my plan. Today is a full day and it went like this - 

6am. Coffee in a quiet kitchen. Holding a hazelnut scented cup of steamy goodness makes any day start well. Garbage and recyclables down to the curb. Get the kids up. Get myself ready for practice. 

8am. Our first cross country practice of the season is today! I love coaching. It gives me one of the greatest joys of life. I am energized. 

11am. A meeting (interview, actually) that turned into great conversation and went exceptionally well. Sorry, no further details at this time. 

12:30pm. Volleyball practice. No, I don't coach this but I do have two girls playing on this team. What a gift it was to be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy watching your daughters display their God given athletic talents. Simply one of those proud dad moments. 

5:45pm. Speed Camp Time! Coaching adult speed workouts with our local Fleet Feet store has become one of the highlights of my week. I look forward to the sweat, the heat, and the challenge. The participants are fantastic people and the atmosphere is so invigorating. I come home from coaching (both high school and adults) refreshed and positive. Coaching gives me a totally different view on life. 

7:45. Around the table with my wife and kids. Yea, we eat together most nights of the week. We talk. We listen. We are a family. Our family meal time is a perfect wrap up to this one of those days. 

8:50pm. Writing. I haven't talked or written much about my writing projects lately and most likely haven't worked on those projects as much as I should be, either. But this is one of those days and I'm making the time to take it to the keyboard...even if just for a little while tonight. 

You see, I've had one of those days and just had to tell someone about it. I hope to have another tomorrow. 

Training Video Blog August 17, 2015

Got a hot run done today with 88 degrees, a dew point 67 and humidity at 55%, todays run reminded me of conditions during the Shoreline Half...and that race kicked my butt and injured my leg. 
No whining, its the first running injury in two years. I'll consider myself lucky. 

Anyway, today was indeed a hot run. A mid-day run. A run I needed to get in, needed to do. Have you ever had those? Just a workout you had to do. 

Common sense told me it was too hot and I should've run earlier. Running later is out because of a 3-11pm shift. So rather than nap before work, I ran. I felt better. Accomplished. 

Accomplished not because a had a good run in the heat, but because I broke inertia at rest. Thats the real accomplishment for you and me. Getting out the door. Getting it done. 


What would you be doing?

The above Tweet (from @runnerbliss) caught my attention this morning. Not because it purports to be a quote from Steve Jobs, but because it made me stop and think.

Actually, I almost ignored the whole thing. After an immediate mental knee-jerk "I wouldn't be going to work" answer, I looked a little deeper inside. I found more questions and just a few answers.

If I knew today was my last day of life, what would I do?

I'd wake and spend a few extra minutes in bed looking at my sleeping daughter and wife. Yes, our little one still creeps into bed with us almost every night. She can be difficult to sleep next to but truly adorable to wake up with.

I'd get up, shower, dress and look in on my other kids, all of whom would be sound asleep.  Yes, I said dress...I mean for work. I'd feed the dogs, make breakfast and lunch and I'd go to work. And I would go to work. Its not that I'm overly thrilled with going, but if today is my last day I'd want to do all the things I'm supposed to do. Who knows, this may be the day I can make a difference for someone. Not by starting an IV or pushing some medication. The place is full of people that can do that.

I'd come home and go for a run. Yes, I think I would! Hey, if my heart is about to stop, I think I'd like to hear it beat loud and strong for just a little while longer. I'd want to fill my lungs with air, my blood with oxygen and feed it to my brain. I'd want to hear each breath, feel the sun or rain or snow on my face. I'd like to see the world go by at my pace...just for a little while. Running lets me know I'm alive.

At home, all six of us would be around the table for an evening meal. And we'd talk about our daily actives. I, of course would dispense valuable "dad" information pertaining to life and school and sports. They'd smile and nod from time to time. Maybe they'd listen.

We'd "watch" some television together later while the kids surfed their phones. But we'd be together. I'd be able to sit there and enjoy our family just as it is and dream about how they'll grow.

And then, as each good night is said, I climb the thirteen steps to my bed. I think I climb those stairs a little slower than normal. I'd listen to the familiar pops and moans of the stairs under my feet and feel the cool hardwoods...for just a minute or two.

I'd get in bed, covered with my favorite camping blanket. My wife would be next to me (chances are our youngest would be, too). Books would be read and songs would be sung. I'd listen and I'd smile.

And as I waited for the last tic of the clock, the last systole to occur, I'd close my eyes and kneel before Christ in my mind. I wouldn't need to say anything...He already knows.

In the end, its not about "doing what you want to be doing". Its about doing what you're supposed to be doing. In my case, I'm supposed to be dad...and this is what dad does.


No Pain, Time to Gain

Today's the first day I woke up without pain in my leg since the Shoreline half marathon. That was three weeks ago for those of you don't have a calendar app on your iPhone.

More importantly that's three weeks of training that has suffered...and there's only nine weeks in this training cycle.

Because of a misstep at mile eight of the Shoreline I've had to contend with nightly leg cramps and spasms that have prevented a good night sleep and made walking for the first hour or so of each day intensely difficult. 

How has an injury changed your training program?

I've backed off running. I've taken it easy. I've been worried.

Having logged only 10-15 miles each week (and done so slowly) I've been preparing myself for the eventuality of not making my time goal in the next and final half marathon of 2015 and the Four Seasons Challenge.

As I mentioned, today was a lot better. After three weeks (and a conversation with Dr. Ted) I finally feel like I can start putting some miles on and picking up speed. 

How have you fixed your injury?

There's no quick fix here. No secrets to fast recovery. I just focused on a few simple things:
I backed off the miles and the pace. This was the hardest thing to do but giving myself permission to be injured and the needed time to heal was vital. 

I kept calories and hydration up.  A period of injury is no time to cut calories. The body needs good nutrition to repair. 

I increased sleep time as much as possible. Sleeping was difficult due to interruptions caused by pain. Adding in extra sleep time as often as possible made a difference. 

Foam rolling helped. Self care is always vital and periods of injury are no exception. 

Test email post

Good morning


Hot, Slow, Generally Uninspired

Another hot training day.

We"re two weeks into training cycle #4 of 2015 and getting ready for the Rochester Half Marathon. This race is about 7 weeks away and I'd the 4th and final run of the Four Seasons Challenge 2015.

I'm still dealing with an injury from the Shoreline half marathon and not running my best. Whatever is going on in my lower leg is waking me up with pain at night and making it difficult to walk in the mornings.

Here are a few things I've got to get after and fix early in this training cycle -

  1. Sleep. My sleep has been horrible. I'm waking several times each night for a variety of reasons including pain in my left lower leg. It may be muscle spasms at night or soft tissue tightening and reacting to movement while sleeping. 
  2. Diet and nutrition. Boosting my calories (while still eating as clean as possible) improves my daily performance. I have gone off the wagon a little and started snacking and eating some stuff I probably shouldn't every now and then. 
  3. Warm up and cool down. These have both suffered a lot recently. Being crunched for time (who isn't?) has pushed the bad habit of not warming up well. Now that I think about it, that may be part of my leg pain issue, too. Cooling down, stretching and self care have also fallen off. I used to spend a few minutes every night and morning with my foam rollers. Not so lately. 


Race Report: Shoreline Half Marathon

Heat and Humidity Dominate

One of the warmest days of the season played host to the Shoreline Half Marathon. 
Held on the shore of Lake Ontario at Hamlin Beach State Park, the Shoreline Multi-Sport Festival offers a half marathon, 5K, kids races, a triathlon and a duathlon. The sprint distance triathlon is one of the oldest tri's in the area. 
Athletes are treated to fantastic scenery running and biking through the mixed hardwoods and pines of the park. 

The breezes coming off the Lake Ontario usually offer relief from summertime heat and humidity. Usually, that is. 

The weekend of July 18 was a continuation of a recent heat wave that has settled on the Rochester area, and after a brutal winter, the heat is certainly welcome.

I found my customary back-of-the-pack starting spot and was enjoying the pre-race social time that comes with talking with other runners. There were several runners I'd coached at Speed Camp, many new friends I'd met through working at Fleet Feet, and even a couple of friends from high school who I'd not seen for thirty years.

Impressive as always was the variety of participants; fast, slow, large and small...but all going in the same direction. I was particularly impressed with a former colleague who was running the half with his wife and daughter; doing this race as part of the Four Seasons Challenge.

The mood was in tune with the event; festive...despite the heat and humidity.   

A familiar voice signaled the start of todays ordeal, wishing us luck and promising to see us at the finish line. 

And we're off, running through the park as the atmosphere hung heavy around our necks. The temperature at the start was 78 degrees, dew point a sticky 74 degrees. 

The course leaves the park around the 5K mark and heads out to the surface roads of Hamlin. It also leaves the relative protection from the heat as the lake breeze and shade become scarce. It was at the 5K mark that I noticed a lot of people walking and it was here that I first felt that today was not going to be the PR I'd wanted it to be. 

The route continued through flat, exposed farms. Despite the climate of the day, I was feeling strong at mile 5, 6, and 7. I'd done my homework and run through all kinds of weather, hot and cold, I'd stayed hydrated and well nourished. I also took full advantage of the aid stations every two miles. Garmin tells me that I was spot on pace approaching mile 8 and I was indeed feeling strong despite the heat. By now the air was so dense you'd think you could touch it or poke a hole in the sky and have water pour out. 

And then a misstep. 

I took my sunglasses off approaching the mile 8 aid station, wiped off my head and was getting ready for a drink and maybe a 30 second walk break. I fumbled my glasses when putting them back on and lurched forward trying to keep them from hitting the ground. Thats when I felt it.

A ripping pain ran down my left leg from glute to mid calf so intense I actually felt short of breath for several minutes. I thought I'd pulled a hamstring in attempt to recapture my sunglasses. 

I walked (limped) through the mile 8 aid station and continued to do so for the next five minutes. The thought off sitting down  and asking for a ride back came to mind. But the Shoreline Half Marathon is the third installment of the Four Seasons Challenge and dropping out would mean a DNF for not only this race for the entire years work...and that's not happening. 

What kept me going? My wife. My kids. 

My wife has been such a motivator and supporter during my training. She puts up with the added laundry and the hours I’m out running. She’s always there to nix the excuses I seem to come up with on a regular basis, too. When I gripe about the weather she is there to remind me “if the race were held today you have to run”…and that gets me out the door. My kids are likewise there and remain the cornerstone of these activities. I don’t want to let them down. Besides, I’d encourage them to finish a race when they’re hurting and I don't want to be a hypocrite. 

Limping the last five. 

I just did it, as the saying goes. Limping an ever slower pace over the last five miles. The heat and humidity continued to pound away at all of us on the course. 

I’m thankful to have finished with a time around 2:33:00 - certainly not the time I’l wanted, but given the circumstances, I’ll be happy with it…for now. 

Onward and upward. 

This is not where the story ends. The Four Seasons Challenge has one final installment left to go; the Rochester Half Marathon to be run on September 20. It seems further way than a mere 7 weeks, but there it is…

I’ll be aiming for that 2:00 mark this time!