Thursday, December 31, 2009

Training Tip Thursday

"Running Tips: With the marathon 18 weeks away, plan the training now that will permit you success. Marathon training works best if you start easy and build gradually: A long run of 8 miles in June becomes 20 miles in September. Most important at this time is to establish a goal, whether that goal is to finish or to run fast. Once that goal is chosen, everything else will fall in place."

From Hal Higdon's Marathon Training Guide, Intermediate 1 Program, Week 1.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weekly Training: December 15-20 -- I'm Back!

After a week of resting my knee, I'm back!  I ran a week of reduced mileage, 24 miles total, running cautiously and at moderate pace.  Any pains were slight, and subsided shortly after running.  I'm planning a similar week for this week, and next week will begin Week 1 of my marathon training schedule
  • Sunday, December 20 - 8.0 miles, 1:23:37, 10.45 pace.
  • Saturday, December 19 - 6.2 miles, 1:06:15, 10.69 pace.
  • Friday, December 18 - 2.0 miles, 20:00, 10.00 pace.
  • Thursday, December 17 - 2.0 miles, 19:59, 10.00 pace.
  • Wednesday, December 16 - 4 miles, 43:01, 10.75 pace.
  • Tuesday, December 15 - 2.0 miles, 20:52, 10.44 pace.
Cold rain was the weather feature of the week, raining almost continuously through Thursday.  Friday through Sunday were cool and sunny, with early morning run temperatures in the 30's and 40's.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2010 Goals

  • Run 1,800 1,500 miles.
  • Complete a Marathon Race.
  • Remain Injury-Free Avoid Serious Injury.
On November 17, I posted Running Goals for 2010.  However, I'm revising Goal #1 from 1,800 miles to 1,500 miles. 

After recent feedback from my body, I feel like 1,500 miles for Goal 1 is more consistent with ensuring I meet Goal 3, which is necessary to meet Goal 2.  Breaking it down, 1,800 miles averages about 35 miles per week.  At the beginning of 2010, I'll be on an 18-week marathon training schedule that starts me at 24 miles per week, and doesn't pass 35 miles until week 7.  It will peak at 44 miles and average about 33 miles over the 18 weeks, including the 26.2 miles for the actual marathon.  That automatically puts me behind over the first 18 weeks, and also doesn't account for several recovery weeks after the marathon.  So, I'm going with 1,500 miles, which averages about 29 per week. 

It looks like I'll finish 2009 at around 1,200 miles. My goal was 1,000.  In 2010, I'd rather exceed a more cautious goal than hurt myself trying to attain a more difficult goal.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Green Living Feature of the Week - Sending a Message to Polluters

Have you seen someone driving a car that is pouring smoke from the exhaust, or throwing trash from their car, and wanted to tell them how they are hurting the environment? 

Yesterday afternoon, on my drive home from work, I observed a car ahead of me that was billowing a huge cloud of noxious smoke.   (GASP!)  This was on a busy six-lane city street, and other cars were either staying far behind this car, or going around it as quickly as possible.  I moved over a lane, to not be directly behind the smoking car, and slowed down a little to increase the distance between us.  As the car turned right at the next intersection, I was able to note the license plate number, and later reported it online.

The state of Texas has two programs that can be used to send a message to polluters and litterers: theTexas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Smoking Vehicle Program, and the Texas Department of Transportation Report a Litterer program.   Since these are based on anonymous reports, neither of these programs result in enforcement activities, but instead encourage citizens to act in an environmentally responsible manner.

Upon observing a smoking vehicle, one can make note of the following information: Texas license plate number, date and time observed, city and location observed, and submit the information to TCEQ online, by mail, fax, or phone. TCEQ mails a notification letter to the registered owner of the vehicle. The letter notifies the owner that their vehicle was reported to be observed emitting excessive visible exhaust emissions. It also encourages them to make repairs, if needed. It also informs vehicle owners that law enforcement authorities  observing smoking vehicles on Texas roadways may issue citations for up to $350. Since the program started, the TCEQ has sent more than 160,000 letters to smoking vehicle owners. Thousands have replied saying they fixed their cars!  Repairs have ranged from minor adjustments to major engine repairs.

Upon observing litter exiting a vehicle, intentionally or accidentally, one can note the following information:  license plate number, make and color of vehicle, date and time, location, who tossed the litter and what was tossed, and submit the information online. TxDOT compares the information to the vehicle registration database and sends the litterer a "Don't Mess with Texas" litterbag along with a letter reminding them to keep their trash off of our roads.

A quick search online showed me that most states have similar programs.  If you are interested in sending a message to polluters, there are probably versions of these programs in your area.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Weekly Training: December 7 - 14

This week, I continued to nurse a sore knee, resulting almost no running mileage.  Monday morning, I set out to try an easy 2 to 4 mile run.  The soreness returned before I completed the second mile, so I ended the run at 2 miles.  I rested Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Friday morning, I decided to resume with easy cross training and no running, and allow plenty of recovery time.  I walked 2 miles, and then bicycled 1/2 hour.  A little soreness returned, and remained the rest of the day.  Saturday morning, I walked 4 miles, with less soreness than Thursday.  By Sunday morning, the soreness was further reduced.  I went for another 4-mile walk, and felt good enough that I couldn't resist testing myself with several short jogging intervals mixed in, followed by very little soreness.  Monday morning, my leg and knee felt pretty strong, but I rested again anyway. 

I feel like I'm about ready to gradually ease back into a regular running routine. :-)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Marathon Training Calendar

I've been running for quite a while using bits and pieces of various different training programs.  After registering for a May 1 marathon, I decided it was time to find a formal, structured program to follow through to race day.  After reading the details of a few training schedules, I decided to use one of Hal Higdon's marathon training programs.  Hal has 6 programs published on the Hal Higdon's Marathon Training Guide website, two each in the Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced levels.  He recommends the Novice programs for first-time marathoners, but I wanted a slight additional challenge and selected the Intermediate I schedule because I think it gives better preparation for the 26-mile distance by using a weekly medium-distance run  on the day before the weekly long-distance run.

Of course, the schedule is written in terms of "Week 1," "Week 2," etc., not in terms of an actual calendar or dates.  After plugging my race day into the end of the schedule and working backward for a day-by-day schedule, I looked for a convenient way to set up and follow a daily schedule.

During this process, I discovered Google Calendar.  This turned out to be a pretty good tool for the purpose.  I was able to set up a custom calendar for the 18-week progam.  The header on each date tells me exactly what is on the schedule, i.e., the miles and the pace.  The Description field let me copy and paste the full detailed workout description from Hal's website.  So, I can see at a glance what is scheduled for the date, and a single click on the header title brings up the full description.  A second click returns it to the header view.  It also let me embed the calendar in this blog, which is a very convenient place for me to keep up with it.  Pretty cool.

The calendar is completely filled in now, and is at the bottom of this page. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Green Living Feature of the Week - Wasted Food

I recently came across an enlightening blog, "Wasted Food," by way of Sharon Astyk's blog, "Casaubon's Book."  The author, Jonathan Bloom, has researched this topic for almost 5 years, and is currently writing a book on wasted food in America.  On some level, I'm sure we all realize that a significant amount of food is wasted.  However, after seeing the details, it's the magnitude of the waste that is so shocking. 

Bloom cites a study that shows that in America, we waste around 40% of the food that is produced for consumption.  WOW!  The percentage may seem unbelievably high, until considering that it refers to a broader picture than just consumer waste.  In addition to the food we waste as consumers, the figure also includes waste in production and distribution chains, stores and restaurants.  A portion of crops raised never even gets out of the fields.  In stores and restaurants, items that are perfectly usable go into dumpsters when they reach a use-by-date, or develop the slightest blemish, or just to make space for new stock.  Since consumers are picky, it is understandable that retailers want to maintain stock that is the freshest and most attractive.  However, usable items could be donated, rather than wasted. 

Our culture is accustomed to relatively cheap, abundant food, making the significance of large-scale waste easier to overlook.  However, on closer examination, the effects are far-reaching.  If anything near 40% of the potential food supply is wasted, the ecological impact is huge.  Fuel and other resources are wasted to grow, package and transport food that is never consumed.  Additional pollution results from the needless consumption of these resources.  The wasted food ends up in landfills, further generating greenhouse gases.

Not the least of the issues related to waste is that the cost of raising food that is thrown away is included in the cost of all food, raising prices.  Inflated price may not have huge effect on all consumers, but it is a big deal to the poor.  And in the poorest nations, a slight cost difference may mean the difference between living and starving.

Personally, I try to minimize waste.  My family eats leftovers and makes every effort to use ingredients before they have time to spoil.  Looking at this issue more closely, I resolve to be even more careful about personal waste, and to support organizations that donate and participate in the "rescue" and use of surplus food.

I'm just scratching the surface of the information.  For more detail, check out this blog!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Physical Activity Is Better than Medicine

Want to avoid getting a cold this Winter?  Keep active!

An article published by the American College for Sports Medicine cites studies that show that there is a 25 to 50 percent reduction in illness among active people who complete 45 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week.

“This reduction in illness far exceeds anything a drug or pill can offer...All is takes is a pair of walking shoes to help prevent becoming one of the thousands predicted to suffer from the common cold this winter.”

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekly Training: November 30 - December 6

This week I nursed a sore knee, resulting in a week of reduced mileage, 22 miles total.  After two days of running very short distances (2 miles Monday and 4 miles Tuesday), followed by two days of rest, I tested the knee with a slow and easy 2-mile run Friday morning at 11.5 pace.  It still felt fairly good Saturday after I ran 6 miles at 10.0 pace.  Sunday, I followed with an 8-mile run at 10.33 pace.  The last mile of this run brought some returning knee pain.

I will continue for now with reduced mileage and additonal rest, and build the distance back gradually.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


After my first two consecutive 40+ mile weeks, and running hard in a race, I still have a little pain and stiffness around my right knee area.  I feel it just left of my right kneecap, and on the back of my right leg, opposite the kneecap.  My waking heart rate Tuesday morning was 57 instead of the typical 47 to 51.  Maybe I overtrained a little.  I took it easy Monday and Tuesday, only running two and 4 miles respectively, and didn't run at all today.  I'll continue to be cautious for a few days, rest as appropriate, and see how it feels.

Have you ever had these symptoms?  Does this sound like Runner's Knee?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Green Living Feature of the Week - CFL Lighting

One of the easiest ways for environmentally conscious people to make a difference is by using Compact Flourescent (CFL) bulbs for lighting.  I've used them exclusively in place of incandescent bulbs for about 5 years now, and love them.  They are more expensive, but they last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.  More significantly, they consume about 75% less electricity.  An incandescent bulb is very inefficient; it is essentially a heating element in a vacuum tube.  Most of the energy is converted to heat; light is almost a by-product.  CFL's run much cooler, converting more energy to light.  Not only do they help the environment, they save the consumer a lot of money.

I saw an impressive statistic, that every household in the U.S. replacing one incandescent bulb with a CFL would result in the same emission reduction as taking 1 million cars off the road. 
Wow-- think of the effect of replacing ALL incandescents with CFL's! 

CFL's do contain some mercury, so they should be recycled rather than thrown in the trash.  I'm taking them to the local Home Depot; all of their stores accept CFL's.   If there is not a store locally, the website shows nationwide recycling locations for almost all recyclables.

The next generation of energy efficient lighting is LED (light emitting diode) lighting.  The LED runs even cooler and uses even less power than the CFL, but is more expensive.  Recent improvements in LED technology should reduce prices as production increases.