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Training Tips by The Rage

Planning your workouts with a purpose, and being flexible when you’re not quite up to it will help you stay healthy. That means pulling the chute early and cutting the workout short when you’re fatigued...Now, there are plenty of players like Lee Trevino and Vijay Singh who beat balls on the range until their hands bleed who might suggest that I am understating the value of hard work. That’s not what I am saying. Look at Jack Nicklaus. He thought there was no sense going through every club in the bag again and again. Once he knew he was producing the shots he needed to on the range, he etched them firmly and confidently in his mind come show time. That’s what worked for him…and the last time I checked, he’s got a few green jackets, baby. - Rage

The Rage: Training After 50

Five years after hosing my back, and I broke 37 minutes in a ten klick. Four months earlier, I took five minutes off my personal best in the marathon (3:01) just after I turned 50.

So, what gives? What do I attribute to these results? Here’s my take:

1. Adopt a Long Term Mindset. I almost titled this paragraph “Patience.” My second attempt was “Adequate Recovery After Injury.” These are both true. But I believe these are subordinate to a broader fundamental that is often overlooked when putting that next race into it’s proper context, especially when you get older.

Whenever K.C. Taylor and I reflect on our goals for this sport on one of our long run conversations, both of us agreed you can’t even start preparing if you’re laying on the couch with a bag of frozen peas on your hamstring after trying to force a number you weren’t ready for. And you certainly aren’t going to get any closer to that number next time. That’s why you’ll never see me running hurt. My rule of thumb is that if it hurts walking, I’ve got no business running. I’ll take whatever rest I need to start back running pain free after an injury. For example, last summer, I took all of July off to rest a sore hamstring.

Adopting a long term mindset is probably the single most important thing that has helped me improve my performance. That sets everything else up….my attitude, my work outs, and, most importantly, patience when my body is telling me I need to rest and recover. This keeps me in the game. The back injury spooked me. And I won’t ever forget it.

2. Use your head…and be flexible. Planning your workouts with a purpose, and being flexible when you’re not quite up to it will help you stay healthy. That means pulling the chute early and cutting the workout short when you’re fatigued.

In golf speak, I need to swing within my own capabilities. Nuking driver off every tee isn’t always a good idea. When the caddy sets the bag down in front of the ball, they don’t like the club you picked. Listen to them.

Now, there are plenty of players like Lee Trevino and Vijay Singh who beat balls on the range until their hands bleed who might suggest that I am understating the value of hard work. That’s not what I am saying. Look at Jack Nicklaus. He thought there was no sense going through every club in the bag again and again. Once he knew he was producing the shots he needed to on the range, he etched them firmly and confidently in his mind come show time. That’s what worked for him…and the last time I checked, he’s got a few green jackets, baby.

3. Run with people smarter than you…and leave your ego behind. I felt I needed to say the first to tips before I got to this one…but, this one’s perhaps the most important: I run with some very good runners who are featured in several of the race reports on 10ktruth. Alan Whalen, a sub-2:45 marathoner, uses a program that employs all essential elements of hills, track, long runs and tempos that and is willing to share his organization and knowledge with a lot of us. K.C. Taylor has run for three decades and knows me better than anyone. Thomas Kruzpeintner has the kind of stride that teaches people without saying a word and is willing to share what he knows. And this list goes on and on… These people use the same tested philosophy that Manciata taught me (before dropping me for a friggin’ bike and a 25 acre pasture / ranch / driving range of all things), so I trust them all.

A word of caution about running with your buddies: Getting your ass handed to you week after week can be a bit demoralizing if you don’t think you’re as competitive as you should be. First, don’t run with assholes. Run only with people you trust that is interested in helping you improve…and visa versa. Also, when you aren’t as fast as the others, just be keenly aware of what the clock says and what it means to you. Keeping your ego in check and you’ll keep coming back for more. Coming back for more means you’ll get better…and maybe…someday…you’ll be handing them their asses.

4. Hills and more hills. Probably the best adjustment I’ve made over the last year that I think I contributed to my improvement was joining a Al’s group that liked to do long runs at a spirited pace that have several long hill sections where you could choose to step up your effort for extended periods…8-10 minutes for each pull. Fortunately, there are plenty of hilly roads and trails where I live, and this group knows them all…and kept the variety coming. If you’ve ever tried running up Dillard Road, 30th Avenue or pressing Bailey Hill Road after 16 miles or so, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

We’d go out for anywhere from 70 minutes all the way up to about 150 minutes or so depending on the race we were preparing for. This helped to re-establish and maintain a base I felt I lost when my leg atrophied so bad after my back issue…and I hadn’t been diligent enough in the first couple of years post-surgery in re-building my strength.

Also, my old standby of 90 second intervals…anywhere from 6-10 or so, once a week up Skinner Butte in downtown Eugene was a workout I returned to last year…and it made a big difference in my strength, push off and leg drive.

And lest we forget Kong? In the next few weeks, I will be taking my buddies on a tour up Kong…to introduce them to a workout they won’t be forgetting anytime soon. There’s nothing better than about a half hour+ of continuous up, while hitting yourself continuously in the face with a shovel. They’re going to love it.

5. To the track, baby…to the track. Shortly before I ran the fifth fastest 10k in my life at 50, Al, K.C., Ken and I were at the track. We did 7200 meters of intervals (2x600, 2x800, 2x1000, 2x800, 2x600) and I was averaging about 40-42 seconds every two-hundred meters….and I was usually 2-6 seconds behind them as the intervals wore on. But…I finished. We did this in the middle of the week, to allow sufficient rest and recovery. Some of the guys ran the next day. I took it off. I find I need more rest between intense sessions than when I was younger.

Perhaps the most important change to my track workouts as I get older is that I am doing much longer warm ups and cool downs than I have ever done. For the more intense session, I will do a three mile warm up, followed by a 2-3 mile cool down.

Intervals of 600 – 1600 meters are the typical range we work with. Varying the distances (climbing the ladder and back down again) to manage the mental part.

And I am finding I don’t need to hit the track every week. As I get older and want to keep my speed up, I need to remember just don’t get too far away from it for extended periods of time.

6. Tempo runs are where you measure your progress. Tempo runs are a good barometer of where you are in your training cycle. This is when you get to start cashing all of those checks you wrote on the track and in the hills. And if I’ve done my work in the hills and on the track, tempo runs are where I might finally notice I am not as far back as I used to be earlier in my training cycle. And the closer I get to my buddies on a long tempo run, the more motivated I am to do some more hills and intervals. A month before I did the track workout listed above, I was running my 5 – 7 mile tempo runs at about a 6:14 – 6:18 pace. Since then, the hills and intervals are starting to pay off. I ran a 10k race at a 5:58 pace and two weeks after the race, I ran a five mile tempo at a very manageable 6:08 average pace, which actually felt easier than the 6:14s. I think it was the track sessions that made the difference…but wouldn’t have if I had focused solely on the track. I haven’t felt this good in years…and I believe it’s all attributed to what I have described above. For me, tempo runs are not so much about how fast I ran…it’s about how I felt holding a sustained pace over the full distance.

If it feels like a Donald Rumsfeld (e.g. long hard slog), then I’ve got more work to do. Tempos have been an important part to my improvement and the quality of my race preparation. To get ready for the marathon, we did a three mile warm up, followed by a 12 mile tempo (averaging a 6:31 pace) and finished with a three mile cool down.

Putting it all together…Following the long run over Dillard and 30th and the 12 mile tempo run, I went into the marathon feeling confident…not so much that I did these work outs…but how I felt…physically and mentally. The tempo run was manageable and I felt like I could have run faster…and the long hilly course was so difficult, I knew the marathon course would be much more forgiving.

Come game day, I averaged a 6:56 pace for 26.2 miles…nine seconds faster than my fastest previous average pace. That was in December, 2006. In March, 2007, I was still enjoying the a solid base of training using all of these fundamentals and broke 37 minutes in the 10k for the first time in five years.

All of these things have worked for me. Perhaps they will for you, too.

And that’s The Truth. The Rage (3/31/07)

Mentally, I must confess that I’ve had negative thoughts. Was all the conditioning I had gained all gone now? Will I ever run fast again? Worse yet, was this finally the chronic condition that would send me to the bike shop once and for all? - Rage

The Rage On Injuries: Will They Ever End?

(Note: The following is a response to someone out there who signed in as “Rickety” asking The Rage if it was time to hang it all up at 31 after 5 years of being frustrated by injuries).

Dear “Rickety” Runner:

Yes. I do know someone who’s had some bad running years and coped with injuries. That would be me. Coincidentally, like you, I just happen to be nursing a sore Achilles while I am banging on this keyboard. First time I’ve had that one. What’s my story? I have had a tough time coming back from back surgery only in terms of my desire to run competitively like I used to. This latest injury I actually think I hurt not by running but by trying to stretch my notoriously tight hams that my P.T. worked so hard to finally loosen after surgery.

Aside from the fits and starts I’ve had in trying to get back to competitive age group racing, I’ve been doing real well, but what I sense the first thing that comes to mind when my name comes up these days might be “poor Rage.” Some have suggested I might think about biking. That’s not how I think. I am a smart runner and will always be a smart runner…and am looking forward to quieting the “poor Rage” talk in the future. However, smart runners can make mistakes, too. I need to be continuously mindful of re-thinking my approach as I get older or I can expect to hear more of that “poor Rage” crap. That’s probably the best tip I can give you. Finding what works for me is a continuous process, and I won’t ever give up. As frustrating as it can be…that one day, when everything clicks and I’m hitting fairways and greens and draining putts…and Manciata, Hadley and Durbin witness the whole thing!!!! Need I say more?

Today, I went on a 16 minute run with my 13 year old son. My goal was to finish without limping to the car like the other four runs I’ve done since late January. Running with my son was exactly what I needed. It forced me to run responsibly. This time, I was especially smart not to plan a test run with my usually running partners, because I would have tried to keep up with them. It was a nice trail run…gentle slopes, trees, sunshine and shade… and it felt like butter. Just me and my boy.

Because I was patient and managed my expectations, I now feel the best I have in 6 weeks.

I must confess the Achilles thing has me spooked. At first, I thought it was a deep calf and I’ve had plenty of those. No big deal, right? Ten days of rest or so and I am ready to go. Wrong. My misdiagnosis set me back a month. I finally figured out what it was and that Achilles take at least 6-8 weeks. I didn’t know that. As a result, all I have accomplished from the four runs I attempted in the last 6 weeks has been to set me back almost all the way back to square one in my recovery. Mentally, I must confess that I’ve had negative thoughts. Was all the conditioning I had gained all gone now? Will I ever run fast again? Worse yet, was this finally the chronic condition that would send me to the bike shop once and for all? Believe me, these thoughts cross a 48 year old runners mind from time to time. At 31, you are wise to be asking yourself this question. However, it’s critical that you have a plan. As you know by reading Galloway’s two step advice on injuries: 1. Identify the problem. 2. Attack the problem.

Before I even try running after an injury, I don’t run a step until I feel no pain for several days and I always am extra cautious, providing ample cushion on top of my minimum rest period. However, the mistake I typically make is the belief that this added rest somehow authorizes me to run faster sooner. Wrong. That’s what I did wrong two weeks ago when I last tried to run with my normal running group. I was planning on cutting it short, but ended up with a painful two mile limp back to the pickup. I thought I was ready, and I wasn’t. My bad.

Also, I quickly found out that Mr. Achilles demands a helluva lot more respect than Mr. Calf does. The other thing I learned from Ben E. Benjamin’s “Listen to Your Pain” is that Achilles absolutely doesn’t like to be stretched. I didn’t know that, either. All this time, I’ve been doing so. The book says:

“Your Achilles tendon doesn’t like to be stretched, but for some reason, people are convinced that stretching is good for it. Runners are especially convinced of this and injure their Achilles tendon through poor stretching techniques.”

'Nuf said. That’s exactly what I did. My goal is now to simply be there for my son him and have him in the best possible shape for soccer tryouts next fall. I can’t do that laying on the couch with an ice bag. My goal isn’t going to run a fast 5k by mid-summer. That doesn’t mean I won’t enter a race. I am just not going to let anyone define success for me on some other terms that won’t work for me at any given point in time. I will be the sole judge of that. I’ve got nothing to prove to them.

And just maybe…with no guarantees mind you…because I will continue to be smart and patient, I will have the last laugh on all of that “Poor Rage” talk.

Good luck to you.

The Rage

The Question - Ever come across folks that are just too rickety for running? I'm 31, 6' 2" 185 lbs. I always get geared up to beat the tar out of friends in spring races and I end up cutting my training due to injuries. I make it through the race on race day to hear their mocking 150 lbs. laughter as they beat me year in and year out. I usually finish this April 5k in around 22:30 and they in the 19 - 22 min range depending on which mocking friend it is. I'd like to run a half marathon again.

For fun I hit the track and do quarter miles and I can do that once a week and not get injured. Last year I got down to 4 quarters under 1:20 at the end of the summer. What kills me is the distance running. 1 to 2 miles as I build up mileage, I feel knee aches and pains, but they are manageable. As I train up to 5k, hamstring tendonitis rears it's ugly head, one year it was IT band, currently it's Achilles. I'm training up now for an April 5K. It seems like I can only run 2 days a week before something pops up.

For 5 years I've experimented around. Sometimes gearing up very slowly with running and walking as prescribed by Galloway. I've gotten motion control shoes after having my gait analyzed in Bob Kennedy's store here in Indy. Seems like he's been getting hurt a lot lately too. I've gotten orthotics for slight pronation. And then stopped using them because the same injuries sidelined me that year. I iced after workouts.

When I was a yute, I didn't use to be such a violet. I played football, swam, and ran track as a sprinter/ polevaulter. In P.E. I ran a 5:30 mile as a test back then. I do a sprint triathlon once a year and the running training is always the lagging piece. This stinking deskjob is a lot of my prob as it shortens my hamstrings. But I've been working a lot on flexibility and strengthening my quads the last couple of years. I'm popping fish oil as a natural anti-inflammatory because a chiropractor suggested it. I've taken glucosamin chondroitin for cartilage issues and that worked but then the IT band hit. Soon I'll be shaking a rattle over my knees and rubbing in ground up rhino horn. Time to call it quits? Know anyone who had 5 bad running years like mine and then was able to run happily ever after? - Rickety, 2/25/05

The Answer

The best workout I get is when they let me go first. Since I can’t shake anyone in the group, I have to step it up to my maximum race pace to open up a small gap before South Eugene High School, which is a little over 400 meters to The House. - The Rage

The Rage On Training: Jogging Wars Can Be A Good Thing

On any given Sunday morning around 8:50 a.m. or so, drive down High Street in Eugene, Oregon and somewhere near 11th Avenue, you’re going to run head-on into some aging Eugene runners, such as K.C., Rage, Boz, T-Bone, Thomas, The Dina, Buttinghausen, Helmick, Harris, Doug, Kalen, Coop and who knows who. By then, they are looking all business as they head for the barn at 24th and Amazon. That’s because the start of the last mile split is the parking meter on the west side of the street alongside the credit union parking lot. It gets pretty quiet at that point.

Nobody can beat Thomas, Buttinghausen and The Dina. K.C. pushes all of them when he’s on or hasn’t emptied the tank on Saturday (Yes. They do it then, too). The Rage might as well be The Great Pretender.

It all starts at 8:00 a.m., where we’ll finish after about eight and a half miles or so. We head east and then down Agate Street past Hayward Field on the UO Campus and crossing the Willamette River by way of the Autzen Stadium footbridge. Then, we head down river and cross back over to the south side via the Valley River Center footbridge. From there, the pace usually starts to pick up to about 6:30 or so and by the time we get into Skinner Butte Park, sometimes it’s in the low 6:20’s.

At Lamb Cottage, depending on the pace, how folks are feeling or, if someone really wants to drop the gauntlet (that would be K.C. and T-Bone), they turn right and take the group over Skinner Butte and end up running one block to the west down Pearl Street.

When we get to the start of the last mile, if Scott, Thomas and The Dina decide to go early, it’s all over for the rest of us (but really fun to watch). The best workout I get is when they let me go first. Since I can’t shake anyone in the group, I have to step it up to my maximum race pace to open up a small gap before South Eugene High School, which is a little over 400 meters to The House.

Any visions I have of dropping anyone usually are gone by the visitors’ dugout at the SEHS baseball field, because that’s when Thomas drops the hammer. So how fast is fast you might ask? I saw Scott do a 5:18 one day by himself. If I break 5:50, that’s a real good day for me.

The thing I like about this workout is it teaches me to finish strong after a long, gradual increase in pace. It also gives me a chance to learn from better runners and watch what they do. Finally, I think it’s always good to push yourself at the right times, and stepping up the pace on the last mile after incrementally stepping up the pace seems to be more palatable to me from an injury prevention standpoint.

However, I have found no shame in pulling the chute early on this one, making sure I don’t get too caught up in running over my head with these guys, especially if Im feeling myself starting to flail and fearing I might blow out a ham. It ain’t worth it. Trust me.

It might work for you, too…especially if you know your limitations and are willing to back off when you should.

And that’s The Truth. The Rage (11/22/04)

 
I thought everything I was doing was smart. Then, we slowly stepped up the pace to where we were before the stop, and then-some. About a half mile from the barn, down goes the other ham. - Rage

Training Tip: The Rage On Injuries... (or should I say, "Injuries on Rage")

I like running hard and I love to compete. I don't want to hear somebody telling me that I should think about backing off...and you shouldn't either. As long as I can still run, I know I'm going to slow down, but I sure ain't ever going to go for no jog, baby.

I'm 47 and, while I have backed off of my racing over the last couple of years, I still think I can hold on to a spirited pace. If you’re like me, and have a tendency to forget that you are old and haven't done the workouts you used to do in a while, be careful.

I thought I was (being careful) earlier this year, when I took a few more minutes between a planned 2 x 1 mile workout with the Bone-meister. All the warning signs were there: a cold day, a hard track workout earlier that week with some residual fatigue, a sure-felt-faster-than-it-really-was first mile should have told me to take it easy on the second mile. But, noooo!…. Result: a trashed hamstring (I pulled up lame after 200 meters on the second mile interval and then foolishly "jogged" it in 6:35 thinking it wasn't bad, which was also really dumb). I was off for 6 weeks. It was a much deeper and more extensive strain than I thought.

T-Bone and I speculated that I took too much time between the intervals and allowed myself to cool down too much.

You think I would have learned. But again, noooo!

At least this one wasn't as stupid as the last one:
I'm about 6 miles into a planned 8-miler, having stepped up the pace at the usual point, when a plea arose from one of the group I'm running with, and it was answered with an unplanned restroom stop. No big deal. I just jogged in place to keep the muscles from tightening up while we waited. I never stopped completely. I thought everything I was doing was smart. Then, we slowly stepped up the pace to where we were before the stop, and then-some. About a half mile from the barn, down goes the other ham.

This one was really puzzling to me. I had plenty of base. My speed work had been solid and felt really manageable. I was finishing my workouts with plenty left in the tank, so I didn't feel any fatigue at the start of the day.

I think, if I could have done it differently, I would have skipped the wait, jogging in place, while one of the group made a restroom stop. I can always hook up with them back at the car. Sure would have been better than limping back the way I did.

So, from now on, I'm going to (1) keep stretching those hamstrings just like the P.T. ordered; (2) keep running hills to keep my strength up; (3) keep my rest between intervals to a minimum during speed work and; (4) be a bit selfish when it comes to preventing an injury, especially if it isn’t your bladder.

Hope it works for you, too. The Rage

 
...what workouts have I selected for this latest comeback attempt you might ask? And the answer is: I did everything the same, but this time, I added (drum roll…without the rim shot this time, please): Hills (duh). And more hills. And I really hate hills. - Rage

The Long Road Back from Injury: Take Three

Just when I thought I was safe to go back in the water again. Was I afraid to get hurt again? Am I relegated to a future of writing “you go girl” spew for the junk mile hugger set? Say it ain’t so, Rage.

I must confess I have had my doubts.

In my case, it's been a long 18 months of fits and starts trying to get back into my pre-back surgery racing form. While I had initial success coming back last year in my first races back, I somehow thought this was a green light for me to step up my training to some of my old workouts.

Wrong.

I thought I was being conservative. I stayed away from the track, working instead on re-establishing base. I did runs mostly 3-4 runs per week of 45-50 minutes, with some hills along the way. On weekends, I'd throw in an occasional longer (hour and a half) run, also with some hills and then thought I was ready for my old regimen of mile repeats and track workouts to replace a couple of the 45-50 minute weekday runs.

Things were going o.k. for a while, until I started turning up the intensity on the track with my running buddies. I thought it was just normal fatigue that I could run through, until I tore a hamstring…the latest in a string of leg injuries that I finally and stubbornly succumbed to. Stupid. Should have listened to my body. I took six weeks off with absolutely zero running and let the hamstring heal, and worked with my P.T. to loosen up my hams, which was no small undertaking.

Now, for this latest comeback, I am listening to my body more, allowing my 47 year old body more rest between intense days (from one to two in some cases, depending on the work out). And what workouts have I selected for this latest comeback attempt you might ask? And the answer is: I did everything the same, but this time, I added (drum roll…without the rim shot this time, please): Hills (duh). And more hills. And I really hate hills.

I also added one other thing: Hamstring stretching exercises as instructed by my P.T. ...for the second time, I might add (Note: She wasn't too happy to see me again given how hard she had worked to get me loosened up the first series of sessions).

But guess what? I am racing again. I ran the Steep Hill Chase (5K) last weekend (June 12, 2004) and ran 18:36, which is really good for me. What was really encouraging is that I did it with no speed work in my preparation, which included only a three-mile tempo two days before and some hill repeats once per week (6 @ 90 seconds) for two weeks before the race. That was it.

What do I think was the key this time? I believe that adding sufficient strength building hill workouts on top of my base training…plus, doing my hamstring stretches, has made a big difference in keeping my legs from feeling heavy, fatigued and, worse yet, vulnerable to injury.

Now, I feel like I am ready to cautiously step up my intensity (e.g. back to mile repeats, the track and…YES…you guessed it….KONG!)

Wish me luck! Stay tuned. I will let you know how it goes.

And that’s The Truth. - The Rage

 

Sometimes, the chemistry just ain't there. They might have their own tight group they escape to every week and it doesn't happen to include you or anyone else….EVER!…especially someone who is called "The Rage" on some weird website. - Rage

To Go With a Group or Go Alone?

Recently, I went on a run with some folks I didn't know. Bad mistake. We just didn't click. My repeated attempts at breaking into their conversation just didn't get anywhere. Yeah, I know…so what's wrong with trying to branch out a bit, broaden one's running circle and who knows, maybe even strike up some new friendships? I'm not suggesting these approaches are things to avoid in the pursuit of running. This just wasn't the day to try it with this particular group. From what I could see, that particular group was closed. I sensed no hostility, just a conscious choice to keep me outside their circle. No big deal. Sometimes, the chemistry just ain't there. They might have their own tight group they escape to every week and it doesn't happen to include you or anyone else...EVER!...especially someone who is called "The Rage" on some weird website. Guess I can't blame them…maybe that's why I find myself running alone a lot...hmmmm.

As I whined about it over coffee with my regular running mates, Coop was the first one to suggest that perhaps I had picked the wrong rainy day to stretch that prophylactic over my dome, offering: "You know, I love you, Rage, but aside from the impact your abnormal personality has on most people who don't know you very well, it took most of us a long time to get used to that reservoir tip flapping in the wind on top of your head." The silence at the table was deafening as I slowly and painfully peeled it off.

Just like that, my curiosity for what a true intervention felt like had just been satisfied.

If you ever find yourself in one of these situations, don't over-analyze your approach, behavior or worse yet, start pouring through your Runners World issues wondering if you should have hugged your way into their circle. Let it go, man. Respect their thing and move on to yours.

Mine's at the track, on the trails, on relays, hills and long runs…with runners of all different abilities. We push each other while pulling others along. Most importantly, we tell each other what works for us, offer suggestions and encouragement. I think running with a group you are comfortable with is a large part of how all runners get better. There's also a level of spoken and unspoken respect given the knowledge of what each individual's situation is (e.g. racing success and disappointment, surgery, injury, cancer...).

As I get older, I find myself getting more selfish with my time and who I spend it with. I am what I am. Take it or leave it. While I'm certainly not going to force something that's not there, I hope that when I go to the track on Tuesdays, nobody feels like they're not welcome and can't join ol' Dickhead for some spirited loops.

However, there does come a time when it needs to be just me…especially when I am getting ready to race.

Sometimes, I need to go on a hard run and concentrate on my own pace, breathing and form and get a sense of what race day might feel like when it's just me.

And as the ol' saying goes: "That's where the rubber meets the road."

And that's The Truth. The Rage (11/08/03)

There ain't no shame looking at a good runner's back. Now, if the runner sucks, that's something else entirely… - Rage

Yes! You Too Can Come Back From a Serious Injury

While I wasn't ready to hug anyone in the finishers shoot after my first real road race following back surgery exactly seven months earlier, I must confess I thought about it. I had just broken 30 minutes by a whisker (29:58) in the Coburg Five Miler, and I couldn't believe I had done it.

In my case, the no hugging decision is always an easy one with the profusely sweating Todd Bosworth and Kyle Gee my usual choices. While I have never asked them, I am sure they are thankful I haven't. I know what Bruce would have said: "Don't even think about it, Rage."

How the heck did I just do that?

For anyone coming off a serious injury like I had, here's what worked for me:

1. Doctors Orders. First, I followed my doctor's orders to the letter following surgery. I had surgery on December 20 and got his o.k. to return to running on March 21. Not once were both of my feet off the ground simultaneously until the doc said I could do it…and I was REAL anal about it.

2. Walk and Stretch While-U-Wait. Between February 7 and March 20, I concentrated on walking and stretching…under the supervision of a very good physical therapist. I learned some exercises that would help prevent re-injuring my back (abdominal strengthening and hamstring stretching), which I didn't need any motivation to learn and do after experiencing a level of pain I never want to go through again. I especially don't want to put my family through that again.

3. Patience Is The Key While-U-Wait. I quickly learned what my limitations were while I walked and waited for March 20 to arrive. If I pushed too hard walking one day, I had no choice but to rest. If I wasn't ready to walk up hills, my body would quickly tell me and I'd be back on the couch, wondering if the numbness in my leg would subside to the level it was before…cursing myself for not having the discipline and patience to allow my nerves and muscles to digest how much activity I was feeding them. I picked up about five pounds during this time, which was a lot for me. It was hard to resist the temptation to break into a trot during this time as I watched my waistline grow and my legs soften…but I did.

4. The Treadmill Is Your Friend. In the last month before my return to running, I stepped up my walking on the treadmill. I would do three miles and started to push harder, trying to break 40 minutes. Then, I walked a hilly course in my neighborhood for time, trying to break 50 minutes. By the time I was released to return to running, I was not starting cold by any means. I was ready…physically and mentally for March 21.

5. Keep the First Run Back Solo and Short. I planned a three mile loop course, that I didn't expect to complete. I wanted to run by myself, but at the last minute, joined a friend, which probably wasn't a good idea. I ran the first half-mile in 3:34 before settling things down a bit, wisely pealing off on my own. My legs felt like lead so I cut it off at about two and a half miles. I knew it wasn't going to be easy.

6. Hills, Baby. From that point on, I worked on running slowly up hills for 30 minutes (up Hendricks Hill in Eugene). I'd do this run about three times per week. Same course, same hills…slow and easy. I picked a route that took me past Pre's Rock…the granite memorial marking the spot of his death in 1975. This gradually built the strength I needed to keep up with my friends again.

7. More Hills, Baby. After about a month, my first attempt at running intervals was hill repetitions, which I find very difficult for me even when I am in top shape, both physically and mentally. The workout of 5 x 90 seconds is undoubtedly my least favorite workout, not just because I really have to work at holding pace, but also because T-Bone can kick my ass on hills. I hate it when that happens. However, this was exactly what I needed. There ain't no shame looking at a good runner's back (Now, if the runner sucks, that's something else entirely…). I managed to run three pretty good, faded badly on the fourth and couldn't finish the fifth.

I didn't dwell on not being able to finish the workout. What I walked away with is the first couple were good solid reps and I finished at a point up the hill that was reasonably close to where I normally would after 90 seconds. I tried to remember that part.

8. A Spirited One-Mile Run: It's All Coming Back to Me Now! The next week, I thought I'd try a hard mile and asked T-Bone if he would pace me. I wanted something under 5:50, and he took us out perfectly in the first half: 2:50. It was great to have him there. We even went negative on the second half for a 5:39 mile. The most important thing was that I felt I was on top of my stride and gaining strength.

9. Hold Off On The Track. The other key thing that I believed helped me was I stayed away from the track. I declined many tempting invitations. I simply wasn't strong enough. Instead, I gradually built up to 2 x 1 mile, and gradually worked up to a three mile tempo run. The three miler was disappointing, but I finished. I knew my speed would eventually return. I needed strength and endurance first.

10. Ease Back Into Sundays. My Sunday morning "jogging wars" with K.C., Todd and a whole host of local horses would also have to wait. I re-joined them, soon after my release, but I didn't try to run with them until I was strong enough. Instead, I'd take the short loop (30-40 minutes). Soon, I was making the entire 8 mile loop with the group and holding my own when talkin' became…uh well, difficult…you understand what I'm sayin'? You know what I'm talkin' about?

11. Trail Runs With Bruce. It's amazing how therapeutic a run along a barely discernible game trail in the Coburg foothills in the shadow of Kong can be. It took my mind off everything. I just followed Bruce. I hope I can return the favor to him someday.

12. Steep Hill Chase (June 14, 2003). Todd's race for charity. I couldn't miss it. A 5k trail run. I had a great time, which was my goal, and ran 18:53, which was a pleasant surprise.

13. O.K. So The Track It Is. I went with my old standby: 1600 (5:37); 1200 (4:04); 800 (2:47) and; 400 (1:12). The next week, I went with 4 x 1000 (3:33; 3:28; 3:27 and 3:28). For the most part, I was off about 5-8 seconds on these intervals from my pre-injury days, but I left the track confident, feeling like I could handle the pace and looking forward to coming back and running faster.

14. And Don't Forget Kong. Bruce's nephew Ben's visit required an annual escort up Kong just in time for my recovery. I was very pleased with a 33:17. My goal was to get to the top without stopping. Given how long it had been and the condition I was in, it was probably one of my smartest ascents. Kong forces you to remember how to manage your effort…or die! I am certain Kong was what carried me through the last two miles at the Coburg Five Miler. My point here is once you are ready, find a 30 minute hill.

15. Avoid Difficult Courses Your First Race Back (e.g. 2003 Butte to Butte). Bruce said he'd kill me if I entered this race…packed with a couple thousand runners on July 4. The second mile is a quad buster and ain't too good for someone with a healing back, either. I'm glad I skipped it and waited for the friendly flat confines of the Coburg Five Miler, which loops through the farmlands north of Eugene.

The other nice thing about running the Coburg Five Miler, is that it is truly a runner's event, run by a class group of individuals who want every person to feel welcome and go out of their way to recognize and acknowledge all participants. I have fond memories of running the half marathon out there, and had never run the five miler. This made my return to racing feel brand new all over again, which also helped relax me at the start and take my mind off the real possibility that I might blow up, which was much more likely on a course like the Butte-to-Butte.

Should you find yourself coming back from a serious injury, I hope some of these tips might help get you back running again!

Good Luck! The Rage

All of us should realize that a lot of things have to go right in order for The Number to happen. Especially the weather. For us hackers, the weather is definitely a factor. - Rage

Take What The Day Gives You

Runners are the worst when it comes to denial.

It is really hard for us to deviate from Plan A after spending weeks or months on the hills, on the track and on the road shooting for The Number you have never run at any given distance.

All of us should realize that a lot of things have to go right in order for The Number to happen. Especially the weather. For us hackers, the weather is definitely a factor.

Sometimes, it's obvious, as in the case of the 2001 California International Marathon, where driving wind and rain quickly made finishing my (and a lot of other fellow idiots who decided to run it) Plan B goal. (Note: There were a few exceptions, like a freak of nature named Coop, who PRed. The word on the street was that he was juiced. The controversy still lingers).

Sometimes, however, it's not that obvious. On the morning of the 2002 Scandia Run, the moment I stepped outside and felt the muggy, warm and breezy morning air, I knew the times would be slow. I had a sneaking suspicion that the runners would not pick up on how challenging the conditions were, as the Scandia course is notoriously fast and everyone expects to run fast there.

The breeze would be hurting on miles 1, 3 and especially on mile 4. Sure enough, the leaders (good runners, too) were off a full 20 seconds in the first mile alone from the previous year. They finished a full two minutes slower than last year's winning time, when the conditions were perfect (e.g. cool, cloudy and no wind). As I talked to runners in the finish area, they all were about a minute or two off their times. They were doing what I would have been doing if I ran it: Asking themselves "What happened?"

My advice when you are denied the opportunity to demonstrate your true fitness level: Don't over analyze trying to figure out what happened. At the 2002 CIM, the winning time of 2:22 was one of the slowest times ever on one of the fastest courses in the country. I didn't feel so bad after letting that fact soak in (e.g. literally as I shivered uncontrollably in the finish area).

Yeah, I know when you scan the results, like at Scandia, you can find examples Ben Logsdon who P.R.ed, Manciata and others who don't seem to let the heat bother them.

Bruce always has said I have a small gas tank, and that weakness gets exposed if the conditions call for a little more reserves than I happen to put on the table. However, like anyone else, when my toughness and consistency come into question (two qualities that any real runner gives a damn about), I too start second guessing the adequacy of my preparation.

Having beat myself up too many times already, I guess where I go with that kind of thinking is not going there in the first place.

Bad day. Bad race. Get over it.

Next.

And that's The Truth. - The Rage (9/5/02)

Knowledge of what's ahead of you isn't fun if you're not mentally prepared. What you do mentally is as important as what your legs and lungs are doing. - Rage

Finishing the Workout-The Mental Game

No matter what your ability level is, the sense of dread runners get before a workout happens more than some are willing to admit. Knowledge of what's ahead of you isn't fun if you're not mentally prepared. What you do mentally is as important as what your legs and lungs are doing. If you don't have your head on straight, you're in for a tough go.

I recently accepted an invite from Bruce to run Kong. I knew Kong was what I needed most on my gradual return to hard work following various nagging injuries, but dreaded what it was going to feel like. When I drove up, there was Bruce at the gate waiting to go. I could tell he was feeling bouncy, as he talked smack and stared me down as I approached…which is part of lesson number one on the mental game: Set a realistic goal for the workout. As I struggled to get myself up for the run, I wasn't going to make any bold predictions on my splits or summit time. I just wanted to finish.

As we milled around at the gate, Bruce pumped us up with "what are you going to hate today?" While this is normally a good swing thought for me when I am confident in my ball striking, it's not what came to mind today when I stepped cold on to the first tee trying to suppress feelings of Mr. Snap Hook, you understand what I'm sayin'? You know what I'm talkin' about? If I am going to be pumped up with anger, I need to have some good recent workouts under my belt.

Don't get me wrong. Anger can help block out the sustained discomfort of a long hard pace. However, there is a Time and a Place for this mental strategy. If you're not in the kind of shape to back it up, the Time usually Sucks and the Place is usually DFL.

Which brings me to another important mental note: Focus on what you are going to do, not what you are trying to avoid. For runners, the worst mental mistake is visualizing the blowup to the extent that it finally happens. You fail to manage your pace, you melt down, and have to deal with all of the "what happened" questions. You offer up some lame technical problem and conjure up some phony limp on your way to the pickup. You get home, snap at the wife and kids and kick the dog.

I believe a good way to avoid negative thoughts is keep your mind in the present and keep it busy. Divide your workout into sections and set goals on how to get through each part. On Kong or any hill workout, I keep my mind busy by focusing on (1) keeping my stride short or not over-striding; (2) maintaining steady turnover; (3) pumping my arms; (4) pushing off with my toes; (5) looking for a good path to run (e.g. staying away from "ankle turners") and; (6) staying in touch with where my anaerobic threshold is at the moment. The last one is probably the most important. I find that my anaerobic threshold is the ultimate indicator of my fitness level (with lactic quad attacks a close second). These are my "effort regulators" (as opposed to split times) no matter what kind of shape I am in. It's not a complicated formula. If I double clutch on either of these two indicators, I back off. No big deal.

These thoughts helped me finish my ascent of Kong that day with Bruce and fight off the temptation to quit. And my time wasn't too bad, either. The most important thing is I kept going, which pushed my anaerobic and lactic threshold out much further for the next trip up than it would have had I quit.

Finishing the workout also helps those you are running with who need you as much as you need them. I might add that Bruce ran his fastest time of the season, right on my tail the whole way. Quitting on him was something I was also determined not to do. And that's The Truth. -The Rage

If you have ever experienced the "death march" in the closing miles of a long race, you know what I am talking about. It just took a couple of those experiences to remind myself the importance of not starting out too fast. - Rage

The Day Before a Race: To Run or Not To Run?

The short answer from my perspective is to run, but don't over do it, especially if you're an old guy like me.

For me, for races up to a 10k, I have adopted a pre-race day routine that seems to work.

I do a slow mile warm-up, followed by three 85 second "bursts" at slightly faster than 5k pace. I then do a one mile cool down. That's it.

What I think this does for me is to remind my body the day before racing what to expect, without tiring me out. The 85 seconds, admittedly is somewhat arbitrary. I wanted something a bit longer than 400 meters, and the pace I run puts me about midway through the first turn on the track…probably about 450-460 meters or so. I don't think it really matters. What does matter the day before a race is that (1) I run faster than race pace (which, for me, helps make race pace seem more manageable the next day); (2) I keep the workout short and; (3) I don't do any more than a few of them-three of these seems to be enough for my 45 year old bod.

For longer races, I rest. For example, you won't see me out running several miles the day before a marathon. That might work for some folks, but, other than perhaps a few short stride repeats before the start, I prefer to warm up during the first mile of a longer race, which I believe helps make sure I don't start out too fast in longer distance races. Trust me. If you have ever experienced the "death march" in the closing miles of a long race, you know what I am talking about. It just took a couple of those experiences to remind myself the importance of not starting out too fast.

Like every runner, I have my doubts and sometimes I let negative thoughts creep in the day before a race. If I don't have the bounce I was hoping for during this workout, I start wondering how the heck I am going to hold my target pace. I confess that sometimes after this one, I have asked myself if rest would have served me better. However, by the next morning when I start my pre-race warm up, I usually thank myself for doing it. Try it. It might work for you. - The Rage (3/24/02)

If I come away from this one with some decent splits and can jog back to a shower without seeing spots, I feel like I might be able to hold on to a good hard pace come race day. - Rage

Looking for a Good Track Workout?
Try a "4-3-2-1

For the folks I run with, this is one of our old stand-bys. Basically, you start with four laps, then three, then two and then one, with 200meter recoveries in between. Walking a full lap in between each interval is o.k., too.

This workout seems to be a good one for me when I have not been to the track in a while. For me, when I start with 1600 meters it seems to help get me used to running on the track again, which is always a good place to strain a hamstring if you start out with something a bit too spirited. Put some cool, wet weather on top of not being on the track in a while is always an invitation to injury. I hate it when that happens. I believe the 1600 helps warm up the muscles while keeping your stride shorter than if you started out with a hard 400. Too long of a stride on cold hamstrings does not mix. Trust me.

When I am gearing up for a race, I like to run the 1600 below 5:30, or about 82 seconds a lap. My 800 split is usually in the low 2:40s on the 1600. Next, it's time for the 1200. I believe my running mates would agree the 1200 is the toughest part of this workout. I try to run sub 4:00, or something between 78 and 79 seconds per lap. Next, it's the 800. I shoot for around 2:35 or so. Finally, on the 400 interval, I try for a sub-70.

For me, this workout is a good fitness indicator. If I come away from this one with some decent splits and can jog back to a shower without seeing spots, I feel like I might be able to hold on to a good hard pace come race day. Try it. It might work for you. - The Rage (02/18/02)

It is important not to run it all out, and a negative split dry run goal helps you manage pace. While it should be a good hard run, don't drain the tank this close to race day…especially for you old guys. We need our beauty rest. - Rage

Wanna Be Ready Come Race Day? Try a Dry Run

If you want to put the 'ol bod on notice for an upcoming distance race, I highly recommend a dry run of the distance you are planning to race. I have had success with this method with distances up to a half marathon. Not only does it get you physically ready, it sure is a confidence booster when you nail this workout so close to show time.

Here's how to do it: I generally try to run it 8-10 days before the race. Running the actual course is ideal, but not critical. Just make sure the course you choose is accurate. My most recent dry run was in preparation for a four miler. I wasn't sure I was going to enter the race. I just couldn't get the fire lit. I thought a dry run might help me decide. One of my goals is to try to run the second half of the dry run faster than the first, just like in the race. It is important not to run it all out, and a negative split dry run goal helps you manage pace. While it should be a good hard run, don't drain the tank this close to race day…especially for you old guys. We need our beauty rest.

On the day of the four mile dry run, there was a slight breeze hurting us going out and helping coming back, probably just like race day. I had run this particular course so many times, I knew where the faded mile markers were, which was also a plus. Other than a slow, half mile jog getting to the start, all I did was a couple of strides, and that was it. Then, we were off. I glanced at my watch on the first mile: 6:09. Good. I tried to pick up the pace a bit, but not too much. Mile two was just under 6:04. Now, can I hold pace or, better yet, run the next mile even faster? Just barely: 6:03…with a helping wind. Not so good, but let's see what I have left for the last mile. I ran a steady first half of the mile four and then, picked it up in the second half mile and finished with a 5:49. I had successfully run negative splits, which was a big confidence booster. But, the real question was: How did it feel? O.K., I guess, but I was in better shape last year. Could I beat my time from last year?

You get the idea. Questions like these help get us all motivated to toe it up come race day. A smartly run dry run just helps light the fire. Try it. It might work for you. - The Rage (02/10/02)

Keep in mind, that this workout works just as good if it's just the two of you. The key thing is to pick a realistic goal to hold your interest, plan your pace and go after it. Brace yourself. There's definitely some Truth in this workout. - The Rage

Carrot Relay leader The Rage on Training: Want to Spice Up Your Workouts? Try a Carrot Relay

Carrot Relay - Mel Damewood awaits hand off from Bill Welch...who has widened the lead to nearly a half a lap.

O.K. So either you got into this page intentionally or you are a Master Gardener, looking for some organic tips on growing better carrots. In any case, both of you have undoubtedly already made your minds up to change your search engine. If you are the gardener, you can go now. But for you, the runner, hear me out. The Carrot Relays might sound like more strange ramblings from The Rage, but rest assured, do this one and you will begin to understand and appreciate what hard running is all about.

Once again, Manciata gets the credit for this workout. He's got a million of them, and I'm determined to write them all down. While you and I may understandably allow our mouths to drop and shake our heads at the race times on a runner's resume who has competed at a high level, it's their workouts that are the real mouth droppers. If you know someone like Bruce, listen to them. And take notes.

Start of the Carrot Relay

The Carrot Relay Start: Mel Damewood, Steve Cooper, Will Price Jef Gotfried, Debbie Lawder (Bert Dunn on the track) Tommy, Les, Anita look on.

Carrot Relay Handoff - Hayward Field Track, Eugene, Oregon

Carrot Relay - Les hands off to Jeff Gotfried. Mike hands off to Debbie Lawder.

For this workout, you first need to find another runner…preferably one who is not afraid of hard work. Next, you need a track. While it takes a minimum of two runners to do this one, it's even better when you have a couple of other teams. If the teams are evenly matched and the runners are competitive, this one's brutal.

It's a four mile relay (16 x 440 yards…or 400 meters on a metric track) with each runner doing a lap and handing off to a partner. Therefore, each runner does a total of eight laps and the amount of rest in between laps is entirely up to their partner. Believe me, if you run these hard (I don't think you can avoid it with this format) your partner will be upon you before you know it.

This is a real good way to spice up what otherwise might be just another speed workout. If you are having trouble getting up for speed work, it's a real good way to get motivated, especially when your team mate is tapping their foot impatiently while waiting for the baton or you feel your buddy coming up on your shoulder on the last turn.

Carrot Relay hand off- Hayward Field Track

Carrot Relay - Tommy hands off to Will Price. Bert Dunn hands off to Steve Cooper. (Way in background...The Rage struggles to catch up...manages to pass Les.


Oh…the carrot thing. While you might think I added this part to try to get linked to all the extension service web sites, I was just trying to have some fun. Sensing some blahs from some of my running partners, I decided we needed to put a bit more spice into our Tuesday work out one afternoon at the Hayward Field Track. For batons, I surprised them with some huge carrots each team would carry. It got a few laughs and helped keep things loose. Actually, slapping hands would work just as well, but then it wouldn't be a Carrot Relay now would it? With this many teams on the track (a fifth team joined in for part of the workout when we got there), I was thinking it might be challenging to keep the lap count straight. Just in case, I brought over some cups and lined them up next to the start with a stack of pennies for each team to record their laps. I really don't think this was necessary, but it was there if anyone needed it. Finally, we tried to keep the teams as balanced as possible to keep it interesting for everyone.

Carrot Relay action at Hayward Field Track in Eugene, Oregon
Mel prepares his watch with a comfortable lead. Bill admires his lap time. Bert threatens Tommy with his carrot. Coop, Will and Jeff await hand offs...and The Rage is pretty much out of it by now.

Carrot Relay Finisher, Eugene's Famous Hayward Field TrackIt was quite a scene, with five runners coming down the stretch for the first exchange, extending a carrot. Needless to say, we got a few funny looks, with a bunch of runners flailing down the backstretch all waving carrots wildly as they tried to reel in the person in front of them. I would venture to guess it was a first at this storied track. What was even better, was after the fourth lap, one of the runners from the eventual winning team was all bent over, trying to catch his breath while suggesting we cut if off at six laps. He's a good runner, too, and he was running exceptionally well on that day. I loved his comment. It spoke volumes of the intensity of this work out. The leader wants to cut it short. I immediately had a mental image of Manciata, smiling…as he turned away saying nothing.

The first team came across in 21:18, followed by 22:08, 22:42, and 23:56 (Bill Welch finishing, right).

Keep in mind, that this work out works just as good if it's just the two of you. The key thing is to pick a realistic goal to hold your interest, plan your pace and go after it. Brace yourself. There's definitely some Truth in this workout. - The Rage

Want to See How Fit You Are? Try a Hard Three Miler

If you have a good base of five half-milers on Tuesdays (see Rage article on half-milers below), followed with mile repeats on Thursdays, a good test of how all of your hard work had paid off for you is a hard three miler. Bruce mentioned this as one of his favorite workouts when he ran in college. But here's the catch on this one: You have to run each mile faster than the last, with the last mile being the fastest. The most important part of this workout is no sandbagging on the first two miles. That means, your opening mile should be within a few seconds of one of your faster average 10k paces, and you should shoot for improving between the first and the third by 8-12 seconds.

Can I do that? Not last Thursday, but I was close. I opened up with a 5:52, which was four seconds faster than my last 10k average pace. I tired on the first half (2:59) of the second mile, but managed a 5:53. But thanks to all of those halves, finished strong on the third mile with a 5:41.

If you do this one by the numbers, it is a very hard workout. You can go into a race with a lot of confidence if you hammer this workout. While I missed my goal, I was close and knew that I ran it honestly and hard the whole way. With my next race coming up in three weeks, this is a workout I will think back on to give me confidence as I toe it up for my first race in quite a while. - The Rage

What To Do When Your Favorite Track Is Getting a Facelift? Half Mile Repeats

The short answer to the question in Bruce Speak: Find another track.

Here's the long answer is you wanna talk smack, and ain't got no track:

A runner can get a bit spoiled in Eugene, Oregon, with all the choices on where to run. One of my favorite places to go for a little Truth is Hayward Field. That's right. Pre's House. In case you don't know who he was, he was the best distance runner this country will ever see from Coos Bay, Oregon. He set most of his American distance running records right here. He held every single one of those between 2,000 and 10,000 meters in the late 60's until his untimely death in a car accident in 1975 a short distance from this very track.

Talk about motivating. I used to watch him run on this track. I must confess I think about his mannerisms he used to do when I run over there….turning his head looking through the turns as if he was annoyed at the distance between him and some spot where he thought he should have been by then across the track, relaxing his upper body by dropping his arms to his sides every so often...wow. These memories sure help push me to an honest effort if I am feeling a bit sluggish. So when the track closed down for re-surfacing this fall, my running buddies and I needed to find another place to go for our Tuesday workouts.

Our choice: Five half miler repeats out on the bike path along the Willamette River, where I know I can trust the half-mile markers. While it's true that you don't get the intensity of a track workout, which constantly reminds you of your effort with each lap, half-milers are just about the right distance to keep you honest on holding your pace if you don't have a track or accurate 400 meter paint marks on the asphalt to remind you where you are. For me, my goal is to keep them all under 2:40 out on the bike path. While I seem to run them a couple seconds faster on the metric track (duh…), not getting a 400 split out on the bike path has a way of making you a bit lazier than you might have been on the track, where there is no place to hide.

So what do half-milers do for you? If you run them hard, they teach you to hold pace when you are tired. When I see the benefits of them working for me, it is when I do a run a three mile hard run on Thursday following a few Tuesday's of half-milers. It's nice to glance at my watch at the half-mile splits and know I can handle the pace. Run them hard, and they will work for you, too. -The Rage 10/28/00

Coming Back from Injury or other Running Setbacks

I hate those shirts that say "Running is Life." It might be an O.K. line for people who run for a living, but since you would never see any career athlete wear a shirt this stupid, I say let's just delete them from the catalogs altogether and do the poor folks a favor that actually pay money for one of these.

For you and me, running is definitely not life. If is to you, you need some serious counseling. Don't get me wrong. Running has greatly improved my life since I started six years ago. And when life pulls me away from running for whatever reason, I miss it a lot…especially when I am in good racing condition, knowing how hard I worked to get there. But all is not lost. I'll be back…and you will, too. The key is patience, managing your expectations and not trying to come back too fast.

This is easy to say and I will be the first to confess I am guilty in not dealing well with setbacks. But I have learned a lot since the way I reacted after getting injured five weeks before the 1996 Boston Marathon, which at the time meant an awful lot to me.

Setbacks come in many forms. Injuries are the most common form. The first injury I can remember in my short running career was the one just before Boston, which was a stress fracture, putting me on the D.L. for ten weeks. I actually still thought about running the race up to a week out, and actually tried to do my last long "run" in the pool. That's right. All three hours worth, baby. It only took two laps around a track to tell me what I already should have known before I wasted my time in that pool. Those two laps also probably set me back another three weeks.

Obviously, injuries call for a whole different come back approach depending on what the nature of the injury. But the message remains the same: patience, managing your expectations and don't come back too fast. I elevated and iced my leg every night. After the soreness in my leg went away and I felt ready, I spent several weeks walking up and down some pretty steep hills. While I walked at a pretty good clip, I did not attempt to run whatsoever if there was any trace of soreness. I worked my way up to running again with a walk/run regimen, limiting my "running" to some slow jogs of about 100 feet, or so and gradually eased into running and built my mileage back up again. Once I was ready for speed work, I really needed to manage my expectations on my mile repeats and track work, trying not to get too greedy on my first intervals. I selected paces for the early reps I knew I could carry through the whole workout, which did a lot for my confidence and attitude for the next workout.

The hardest thing about injury setbacks are the one's you are not sure about. My advice here is don't "John Wayne" it. That is, get some help. I like what Jeff Galloway says about injuries: (1) Identify the problem and; (2) attack the problem. If you don't know what you're dealing with, you can't very well attack the problem. So talk to your experienced running friends and get some help from your doctor if you are not sure.

Life setbacks are a bit tougher to deal with. Problems between the ears are really tough. I am not talking about motivational issues. I am talking about distractions that take away from your concentration. You are out of rhythm. It's just not clicking. Times on intervals that used to come a lot easier to you are now a lot of work. But this is where a little Truth is just what the doctor ordered.

As we preach throughout this website, the key to improving your performances is hills and intervals and I believe The Truth can really help you get your head on straight again, especially if the Truth is administered in the company of good friends. For me, it was a trip up "Kong" (better known as Buck Mountain, northeast of Coburg, Oregon, a 2,000 foot vertical climb over about 3.5 miles…basically straight up) with Bruce. Knowing just what I needed, he thoughtfully prefaced our run with some great smack on the heels of one of this season's best ascents up Kong, which pushed me to my best time of the year. As we jogged down together, he repeats "What's my name? What's my name?" (see "Quotes by Ali" on this site). While I had not slept too well for several weeks, that particular night, I slept real good. - The Rage 10/07/00

How to Get To Another Level? Seek The Truth

The other day, T-Bone and the Rage were flailing away on our second mile repetition when a familiar figure approached from the opposite direction. We both knew instantly who it was. Time to suck it up, straighten up the posture a bit and try to force a relaxed look on our faces as if we were running a conversational pace. As she approached, a smile beamed over her face and a friendly wave. It was Mary Slaney. I quickly resumed my flailing after she silently went by.

Oh, what it must be like to have speed. I read in the paper once where Bill Dellinger, her coach, actually had to threaten to cut short her workouts if she would not hold her horses back…probably running sub-60 second quarters like they were nothing and he wanted 62's. Can you imagine having too much speed? Wow. One of the great things about running, it is a sport that you don't have to have a large W-2, as in golf, for example, to step onto the first tee with some of the best in the world. You don't even have to endure that "please, not eighteen holes with this hack" expression from the guy with no handicap and the fishtail handshake (…of course, it never helps when you do the 'ol Jerry Ford tee shot into the gallery). That's what's great about running in Eugene. Running along the Willamette River or showing up at Hayward Field (especially with some front row tickets to the Pre Classic, which is the ultimate in track venues), you will often get to see up close how it's done by the very best. Show up at an All-Comers meet and you might be on the same track as Olympian's Annette Peters and Maria Mutola among others, who might rightfully laugh at your golf shots, but would always appreciate and respect a good solid running effort.

So, what's today's training message from all of this? My Running People will never have to worry about Coach Dellinger telling us to keep the horses in check. And we definitely would not make a team coached by Yale Track coach legend, Bob Giegengack (whose credits include '64 Olympic track coach and 12 out of 24 golds). When asked if training or talent was more important, Giegengack's reply was, "…you don't win a Kentucky Derby with a mule." I would have liked to have asked him if training indeed was a secondary consideration, were all the other runners on the track with Shorter reduced to "Frank's here, I guess we can all go home now?" I also wonder what comments Shorter, Dave Wottle or Steve Prefontaine would add on how much is talent and how much is coping with a level of Pain that nobody other than themselves could possibly comprehend?

Can you imagine hanging on to 26 sub-five minute miles? No matter how much talent you have, that's gotta hurt, baby. While the rest of us will never understand how Shorter, Slaney, Peters, Pre, Wottle and Mutola physically do when they run, my guess is that elite athletes like these grow awfully tired of folks looking at them in awe and asking how they do it. I think they work their butts off to stay with their peer group, which happens to be the best in the world. I believe the majority of My Running People can compete better within their peer group and can move up to another level or two. Who knows, there might even be a sleeper or two out there who could prove Bob wrong.

Nevertheless, today's message for My Running People is that we need to understand: (1) elite athletes are who they are and we are who we are; (2) it does not come easy for them, either; (3) there is a difference between pain and PAIN. (1) Sorry. This means that you won't be able to grow one of those athletic strides and turnover that look so natural on the elite athletes. No worries. Go with what you have. In my case, I have a short choppy stride and the legs of a parakeet. But focusing on turnover has helped me maintain pace on hills and hold pace in the later stages of races. (2) With a regiment of hills and intervals brought on by the Manciata Truth Method, I have traded intensity for junk miles. Not only am I performing better, I have also run injury free since finding The Truth. I also know my weakness is leg strength and as much as it kills me, I have to run Kong….not just for the 30 minutes of 2,000 feet vertical climb, but down as well. Since I started doing this, I cut an incredible 2:39 off my 10k PR last year and about the same amount off my best half marathon time. (3) Before I elaborate, first, you must understand the difference between agonizing discomfort and injury. If you don't get that, read no more. As Jack Nicholson would say, you can't handle the Truth.

If you do get it, I am talking about pushing yourself to another level, assuming you are physically able to do it. Run with people who are not satisfied with just going for a run, but want to run hard. This is about running another mile repeat when your legs are dead. This is the heart and soul of the Truth Method. It's about trying to run down the person in front of you when your legs are on fire. It's about the ultimate badge of honor after a workout or race: spewing. It does not have to be as spectacular as the multiple four foot Bob Kempainen (great name, eh?) geysers at mile 25 during 1996 Marathon Trials, without even breaking stride on his 5:00 minute mile pace. A quiet blow bent over on the infield grass is also perfectly acceptable. Just be more discrete if you didn't catch the guy you were trying to run down, and don't get any on your shirt if you want him to believe you when you say you cruised it and can run faster. Will you run like Slaney? No, but you will run faster. In my case, I ran times that I did not think were within my reach. If you are a mule, you gotta want it, baby. And that's the Truth. -The Rage

The Rage's Tips on Running Hills

Here are my tips on running hills. I can't think of a better laboratory than "Kong " (Buck Mountain), which rises over 2,000 feet above the Willamette Valley floor northeast of Coburg. Last week, Manciata, T-Bone, the Coop, Simmons and Boston ran Kong. All of the people are good runners, but Manciata and T-Bone in particular can make you hate life on hills trying to stay with them. Even Boston has trouble keeping up, and she is a dog. While I have some good speed, these two guys are very strong and a lot stronger than me. Sure enough, while I hung in there on the lower, less steep part of the course, they pulled quickly away on the hills and I never saw them again once I got on top. This was not the first time and won't be the last I lose ground or get beat by these guys on the steepest part of this very difficult course.

It's Kong's natural selection process, and he speaks loudest on two big hills he throws at you just after 15 minutes of some pretty good up just getting to them. While it's only about a half a mile of the 3.5 mile course, time-wise, they represent about 22-23% or so of your 32-33 minute total run time or about 7-8 minutes, depending on who is doing the running (for me, if I absolutely hammer them, the fastest from the bottom of the first to the top of the second is about 7:45). After that, you still have about 9 minutes more of hard running left,…including some more climbing. This particular trip up was especially bad, because the harder I worked, the further behind I fell. I kept saying to myself, "I can run with these guys." Yeah, right.

It was my second worst time up ever up Kong. Only my inaugural trip up was slower. What went wrong? It certainly was not my effort, was it? I worked hard and made it hurt, so what's the deal?

Here's the deal. As I watched them steadily pull away from me, I was thinking, "hey, all I have to do is get up on my toes and push off like they are doing." About 100 feet of this on the big hill and my parakeet quads were toast. My T-Boning went to T-Bonking real quick. Anaerobic. Call 911. Seeee ya. I finished almost two minutes behind them.

Today, I went back up Kong for a solo gut check. I focused on three things: Concentration, shortening my stride on the steep stuff while increasing my stride turnover to help keep pace. The results were much better. I cut two minutes and eight seconds off my time from last week while "easily" breaking 32 minutes, which is good for me on this particular course. Lessons leaned:

(1) I have the quads of a parakeet; (2) I will never run hills like Manciata or T-Bone so I am not going to try and (3) Because of lessons' 1-2, I will focus on keeping my stride short while increasing my turnover on the steepest hills and pumping my arms…and to do that, I will need to concentrate hard on what I am doing and not get discouraged watching two guys run hills who are a lot stronger than me. Oh…did I mention ignore the pain? You might try that on hills, too. It might work for you. It certainly did for me today. And that's the Truth.

The Rage

Manciata's Tips on Running the Mile
(Reprinted from 10k Truth Q&A)

Q: I ran a 5:06 mile on my fortieth birthday, which was the fastest I ever have run, but I missed my sub-five goal. I was right on pace (2:30 at the half), finished strong, but could not hold pace on lap 3. Any advice?

A: Congratulations. Not bad for any age, especially for us blue collar hackers. Ah yes…lap 3. That's when the Truth comes a calling. Bruce has one word about the third lap of the mile: CONCENTRATE! If it feels like you are holding pace in lap 3, you are losing ground. You should always push hard through 3, so it feels like you are speeding up, and then, Bruce strongly advises finding someone to hate on the last lap and let them pull you in, unless of course, you find yourself in the lead, which has only happened to me once at an all comers meet (because I was running the jogger's mile and not the 1500, where all the local horses run). But, in all probability, you will have a couple running a few seconds ahead of you that will seem agonizingly within reach.

Yes, I know "hate" is a strong word. But it's only for about 73 seconds or so, and you can always congratulate them and shake their hand at the finish. They won't have a clue all the bad things you thought about them when you were trying to reel them in. Believe me, that gorilla that jumps on your back on the back straight of the last lap is nothing to fool with. You will need to dig deep. Some good old primal instincts can help get you through.

Remember, it's lap 1-not too fast; lap 2 hold pace; lap 3-CONCENTRATE; lap 4-find someone to hate. Good luck next summer.

The Rage

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   Date and time page last updated: 02/02/2008