Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thanks coach

Over the past nine months I've put some serious time and energy towards running and fitness. It's been a great experience and the benefits are clear. Although running is a form of voluntary suffering, I'd define it as a good kind of pain. Unlike my first attempt at serious running, I've been careful to minimize elements that de-motivate me (unrealistic expectations, unfavorable running conditions, unstructured monitoring of progress) and instead focus on those things that promote my interest. A big part of that is the guidance I've received from other, more experienced runners who have helped me set my goals and expectations.

Among those who have brought me along are my friends CK and CMcC who are both accomplished runners who have competed for decades and probably have over a dozen marathons between them. They are both low-key athletes who are long past the surface level fascination with the sport. They don't need a GPS to tell them how far or how fast they've run. They know what works and what doesn't, how to train and how to avoid injury. They are generous in their advice and I listen closely. I am fortunate to have a shortcut to progress. Another big source of valuable information is Adventure Girl, my work colleague and running partner. Although I have some years on her I am definitely the student when it comes to running. She's helped me set expectations and has given me great encouragement over all these months. Her guidance on choosing running gear has been extremely valuable, as has the coaching she's given to me as I prepared for my first races. AG will soon reduce the amount of time she'll spend at the office as she starts her Master's studies at Yale in a few months. The good news is that she'll be part of my team for the next two years. That's great because I still have lots of learning to do.

I have a new coach and he is very focused on my training program. He's my 9 year old son and he's taken it upon himself to design a daily training program for me. On his own he's structured a schedule that includes tempo runs, cross training and distance runs. He tells me things like "Daddy, if you want, you can trade a distance run for a trail run next weekend." When I come home from a long run and tell him I ran 4 miles he'll say, "That's very good, next time you can do 5." He's tough but fair. If I follow his program I'm sure I'll be in great shape for my June 7th 8K. In addition, both my wife, who's been active since I've known her, and my daughter, who is a natural athlete and runs with me occasionally, have been there for me throughout my return to running. They encourage my activity and indulge my interest. Most importantly, they always make sure I never leave the house for a run dressed too weird for public viewing.

This morning I ran 5.3 miles (Gmap verified) at 9:08 although my Garmin under-counted by almost 5%. I can accept the variance but it's annoying that sometimes it over counts and other times it under-counts within a 5% range. I guess I'll need to put it through the manual calibration process to get it as close as it was prior to the battery and shoe switch.

I've been monitoring Adventure Girl's progress through Twitter and they are on the last cycle of the race (12 runners each running 3 legs). The last Tweet is from an hour ago when she was about to start her third and final run, 6.7 miles, just in time for rain. Sounds like the team is doing well and tracking to pace. 182 miles in 24 hours. That will be something to reflect on when they're done. For now it's probably just a lot of work.

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