Week 1 & 2 Update

Yes, I realize I haven’t posted an update on my training since my first day. It’s not that I haven’t been blogging regularly per se. I actually have a number of posts in draft mode. I’ve been typing out something whenever a topic comes to my mind, but leave them incomplete, hoping to get back to it later and brush it up. That hasn’t quite happened. So this post will serve as multiple posts combined into one just to provide an update. I’ll add links and such at a later time.

I’ve been a bit preoccupied with other activities, mainly reading, watching some documentaries, and of course, running. The first Wednesday, there was the nationwide one day screening of the documentary, The Spirit of the Marathon II, about the Rome Marathon. I had just watched the first documentary the weekend before my training started and really enjoyed it. I think I liked the second one better, as the show began with the Rome marathon starting, and then going to profile each of the runners at different points over the course of the marathon, as opposed to the build up to the start of the marathon and then spending the last section only on the marathon like the last installment. In any case, it was another inspiring show to watch about what the marathon means to different people. I found the Marathon Goddess really annoying in the movie, but am impressed that she ran 52 marathons over 52 weeks to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and I contributed to her fundraising with a symbolic $26.2.

The first and second week have been relatively light with a total weekly mileage of 15 miles or so. The 3 miles are not a fixed target, and I often end up running about 3.15 miles so that I can cover 5K distance at the very minimum and also I need to log at least 30 mins of run. My Garmin Connect workout is fed to RunKeeper, which is then fed to GymPact, which is a site that tries to encourage people to commit to working out the number of days you’ve made a pact to yourself ( can be any from 1 to 7), if not, a self imposed fine is levied on you (ranges from $5 per missed day of workout to like $50! I figure if I’m going to be running for sure anyway (motivation to run isn’t an issue anymore, as opposed to when I started running initially), might as well run for 30 minutes to obtain workout rewards, however little it may be. So far over the first 2 weeks, I’ve earned about $10, which isn’t bad at all. The other reason is that I’ve joined a new running group on Wednesday runs with the West Midtown Running Club, which I got to know about from some of the people I’ve met through my Thursday group runs with the Midtown Big Peach Running Co. We usually cover just over 4 miles on those Thursday runs, so it’s not significantly different. In any case, the people I’ve met through the West Midtown and Big Peach groups are really nice and fun, I’ve obtained a lot of insights on running and such from other people who’ve run Chicago and other marathons and they have given me tons of encouragement on my training.

On the weekends, I’ve had to adjust my long runs a bit as I’ve been joining the Big Peach Running Co’s training runs for the upcoming Peachtree Road Race. We basically run along the actual Peachtree route on the sidewalks, so I ran a bit more than 6 miles the first week while on the second week, I ran past the finish at the store and covered some extra distance to cover the 7 miles. I’m wondering how I’m supposed to adjust my 4th week as the race is on a Thursday when I’m supposed to run 3 miles. Do I adjust the other 2 runs earlier in the week and maintain my total weekly mileage? I figure I have to run less the day before the race to rest? Would that mean I 4 miles on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday and then do the race on Thursday?

If there is anything I’ve learned from the first 2 weeks, it’s that I’ve been running too fast. I’ve either been trying to keep up with the other faster runners in the running group or the pseudo race day feeling running among hundreds of runners practicing along the Peachtree route and kicking it up a little. I noticed it because I have felt really winded at end of most of my runs and my shin splints have started acting up again, to the point it was aching even as I was walking. I’ll start to actually use my Heart Rate monitor on my Garmin Forerunner 210 and set an alert when my heart rate moves into Zone 5 (I’ve been constantly hitting Zone 5 according to my run data – sometimes inching towards 95% of my maximum heart rate). This will mean I’ll have to run a bit slower, maybe by a minute or two slower than my usual pace, but that will allow me to run further and not be winded running in the Atlanta heat (it has been around just over 90 degrees most days). There is no point pushing myself that hard in the first 2 weeks and feeling constantly winded and struggling to push myself when I’ve got 16 more weeks coming up.

I was a skeptic of the compression gear movement before. Just out of curiosity, I decided to give some a try after hearing from other runners through the running group that it doesn’t aid performance per se, but that it aids in recovery. I had some REI dividends from last year, so got myself a Zensah calf sleeves and I did notice that my shin splint pain would go away faster if I wore them during my run or even overnight when it was really bad. I’ve gotten a full sock through  a promotion at GearBuzz.com and got a Mojo recovery pair. Since my latest spell was pretty bad, and it just so happened that a rep from CEP was at the post training run celebration of sorts going on at Big Peach Midtown, I got myself a CEP calf sleeve pair as well (though I bought mine from another local running store West Stride as I had a discount coupon from my Publix Half Marathon). I actually measured my calves and I was right in the upper end of Size III and low end of Size IV, depending on if you measured by centimeters or inches (you’d think they’d be the same). A store runner said he goes up for socks but he goes down for compression gear since you want the compression to really work in wrapping your calves. As a result, I got the Size III. It feels good and my bad bout of shin splints through Week 2 have almost disappeared. I was a skeptic. But I’ve felt the difference for myself. I’m a believer in compression gear now.

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Here we go

Today marks the first day of my 18 week training for the 2013 Chicago Marathon. I have been using Hal Higdon’s training plans for almost all of 2012. I’ve used his program to ramp up from 5K to a 10K and to train for the half marathon with miraculous success. So it’s only natural that I stick with his plan to get me through to my first marathon.

I finally got around to watching the documentary ‘Spirit of the Marathon’ on Netflix which talked a bit about the history of the marathon and went behind the scenes of 6 different runners and how they were training for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. I’m not gonna lie, I found myself tearing up a little as they showed the different runners through the race and across the finish line. The documentary did a really great job in capturing the emotions going through a runner during a race and it was also relatable for me since I will be running in the Chicago Marathon in a few months as well. I think watching the documentary served as a good ceremonial thing to do to begin training for the marathon.

There is a sequel of sorts of the documentary by the same producers behind it called ‘Spirit of the Marathon II’ but going to the Rome Marathon this time. From what I’ve read it’s another good show and since there is a one day screening across the country this Wednesday, June 12, I got myself a ticket to go catch it. I’ll probably have to rush after work, get my 3 mile run in, take a shower and leave for the theater, but I’m very much looking forward to it.

I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m optimistic. I’m scared shitless too. But I’m going to do this.

Here we go.

Before you start running, you need shoes

If there is anything that makes the biggest difference running, it’s your shoes. It’s really the only thing you need to invest in if you are thinking of running. A good pair of running shoes is critical. I used to run in a pair of regular cross training shoes, which used to make my shins hurt and I would be unable to continue running for more than 5-10 minutes sometimes. I found out that my foot overpronates, which is apparently common among most runners. It’s this that led to the pain over time for me. Running shoes with stability support tries to correct this by making your foot be more neutral, so that this doesn’t become an issue. My first pair of shoes dedicated solely for running, the Nike LunarGlide+ 2, was like a charm for my legs. It was relatively light, soft cushioning for my heels and most importantly, got me running much further with not as much discomfort as running in cross training shoes.

My beloved first running shoe… Nike LunarGlide+ 2

I logged just over 600+ miles or so in the 2 years that I ran in my LG2. At the first half marathon I ran in at the 2012 AllState 13.1 Atlanta, Give Your Sole had a booth where you could donate your shoes which went to benefit The Gateway Center. So in a ceremonial thing of sorts for me personally at having completed my first half marathon, I donated my worn shoes in exchange for a pair of flip flops, so that at least I could get home.

Donated my LunarGlide+ 2 after 13.1 Atlanta

I had such a great experience with it that I decided to continue using the same line and got the LunarGlide+ 4 for the next half marathon I was going to run, which was the 2013 Publix Georgia Half Marathon, and what was supposed to be my first foray into triathlon, which was the 2013 TriPATHlon (which ended up calling off the bike portion due to water on the course from heavy rain the previous day), I’ve logged close to 500 mi on my current pair of running shoes and am ready to ‘retire’ this shoe from running and use it for regular activities.

LunarGlide+4. I thought I got it in Georgia Tech colors, turns out it was their LIVESTRONG model.

I went a bit crazy hunting for new shoes in anticipation for training for the next challenge and beyond, which is the 2013 Chicago Marathon in Oct 13. It’s generally said that a pair of running shoes will last between 300-500 miles, depending on how you run. For example, the more weight you put in your heel, the more it wears the bottom out, but since some shoes have a really thick sole at the heels, that might get you through 500+ miles or so, while on others, it might not be so. I’ve read in some forums that Nikes tend to wear out faster. I didn’t think so with the LG2, but I think I might have noticed some difference after the 300 mile mark with the current pair of LG4.

February and March is like the season for new running shoe models. This is when you’ll likely see many articles on the best running shoes for the year and such. For the budget conscious, this can be a bit daunting, as many new running shoes tend to start at around $90 and the mid range ones can be around $150 (such as the new Adidas Energy Boost). I can certainly understand that dropping that kind of money on shoes that you can only use for running can be concerning. There are alternatives, however, that won’t require you to use cheaper cross training shoes and suffer the same fate as I did. The key is to wait until the new shoes come out, which usually means the older and outdated models go on sale. You may be able to find them at regular sports stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods or Sports Authority, or if you have tried them out and know what size is good, you can go to online stores such as RunningWarehouse.com and other shopping portals and get them for a really good price. I’m not trying to say take your money from your local running stores, since they are very nice and can provide you personal recommendations which are worth it, but if you’re going to buy a number of them as I will soon discuss, you may need to conduct your own cost-benefit analysis.

I was looking at dropping another $100 or so on a pair of Nike Air Pegasus+ 29 or the Mizuno Wave Rider 16, but once I had seen that I could get Saucony ProGride Guide 5 and New Balance 890v2 for about $45 instead, I pounced on them. If I can get 2 shoes for the same price I was willing to pay for a single pair, why not? Of course, this can be tricky, you should definitely try out the shoes at a store before you try to get them, as each version can differ slightly (I see many reviews commenting how different brands can differ by half a size for so), so be careful. Anyway, as I said, I went a bit crazy on this, my local running store, Big Peach Running Company, has a branch over in Brookhaven that was closing to a new store and was having a clearance sale, so I went to check it out and got 2 more (Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 and Mizuno Wave Inspire 8) for $60 each! Nike’s Outlet Store in Dawsonville was having a sale of sorts, and I got the pair of Air Pegasus+ 29 I originally was looking at for $45 as well (though getting it in bland colors I don’t care for, but hey, for that price…)

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 and Mizuno Wave Inspire 8 for $120? Yes please!

In any case, I’ve got a choice of 4 running shoes (I got the NB890v2 to replace a worn out cross training/regular shoe since it’s a neutral shoe and I need a bit of support for my mild overpronation) for the 2 upcoming marathons over the next 10 months. I figure I could rotate between 2 shoes between the shorter runs and the other more geared towards the slow longer runs so that I can somewhat even out the wear, so that I’m not hitting close to the 500 mile mark as get closer to the marathon. I certainly wouldn’t want to be finishing the last few miles of the marathon with a shoe that’s close to worn out and may be failing, would I?

So here’s the dilemma. Runner’s World has a few neat tools to help find your shoe according to your attributes, or find shoes that are similar to ones you’ve run in before. By my attributes, it seems I should be running in the Mizuno Wave Inspire 8, but by going with shoes that are similar to my LG2 and LG4, it seems I should use either Mizuno Wave Inspire 8 or Air Pegasus+ 29. By that, it seems at least one of the 2 choices is clearly involving the Mizuno Wave Inspire 8, right? I ended up getting the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 at the running store clearance since I was trying a bunch of shoes in my size and they actually felt fairly comfortable during a light jog in the store. Since it was 50% off, I ended up getting it. While when I went to my local running stores, be it Big Peach or Phidippides, it seems the recommendation came down to Saucony ProGrid Guide 6 (ended up getting the 5 on sale online) and Nike Air Pegasus+ 29 (the other recommendation was Asics GT-1000 which I didn’t end up buying due to my size not being available). So by that, it seems I should go with the Air Pegasus+ 29 and Wave Inspire 8.

Nike Air Pegasus+ 29 in ‘team’ colors. What ‘team’ I wonder. Duke? Kentucky?

While looking up the profiles, it seems while both are good for long distance runs, the AP29 might not be good for the shorter tempo runs that I’ll inevitably end up doing. In that case, it seems logical that I use the WI8 for my shorter mid week runs and rely on my AP29 for the longer weekend runs. So that’s that then. Those are my 2 shoes going forward for Chicago, and I’ll try to think about how I can rotate the Brooks and Saucony for the Georgia marathon next year since the course is much hillier.

I’ll wear my good old LG4 til the first day of marathon training on June 10, and then I’ll ‘retire’ that shoe and start switching between the WI8 and AP29 and see how it goes.

I have also dabbled a bit in minimalist/barefoot running shoes with the Vibram FiveFingers Bikila LS for a bit, after reading about it in Christopher McDougall’s bestseller ‘Born to Run’ (a fun read if you haven’t tried), which changed the way I run. I used to be a heel striker, in that I used to land on my heels a lot, which I’ve found out isn’t good for you, and using those shoes, I’ve become more of a midfoot striker, at times forefoot. I’ll caution though, you can’t just wear them and get going right away, you’ll need to slowly try a bit further every time, as learning how to change the way you run takes a bit of time. You can easily injure yourself if you don’t do it carefully and as a result, barefoot running isn’t for everyone. I took about 10 weeks or so to slowly get myself used to running in these shoes and still have some soreness in my calves when I run in them after a long time. I used it when I was working out indoors as it gives me a really good grip when doing strength training and other activities. I still think it’s a good alternative to have every now and then for running as well. I might use it once a week for some of the shorter runs to strengthen my calves.

2013-05-24 19.59.31

New pages added

I’ve added some new pages accessible from the top bar – briefly updating the About page, adding some of the books I’ve read or planning to read on running, as well as a list of races I’ve run in or registered for.

I was having a hard time trying to find the official results from races more than 2 years ago as the registration/results site is no longer there or no longer accessible on Active.com (You’ll probably see future post on what I think of Active Network – in short, it’s akin to Ticketmaster/Live Nation almost-monopoly of the running world) so I used the time I had on my Nike+ profile and approximated the time using the pace on a Pace Calculator site for that distance.

At the Starting Line

So I haven’t blogged in a while.

In a long while, in fact. (According to my last blog that I was using during my high school days and parts of college, it has been more than 1.5 years ago)

I thought it would help to have an outlet for me as I begin training for my first ever marathon. As I’ve found out, there are many thoughts that goes through a runner’s mind during those long weekend runs, and it might perhaps help to type out some of those thoughts here, while offering some insights I pick up through this journey to readers and others curious to learn more about running.

The title of this blog is inspired from my favorite author Haruki Murakami‘s memoir on running titled ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running‘ that inspired me to go for distance running as I had been running mainly 5Ks at that point.

I begin my 18 week marathon novice 1 training by Hal Higdon on June 10th, with the conclusion coming in the 2013 Chicago Marathon on Oct 13. I also signed up for the 2014 Georgia Marathon on March 23 with a view to completing the 2014 ATL Challenge 39.3 which is accomplished by running the marathon and the 2014 13.1 Atlanta Half Marathon. I would have attempted the ATL Challenge 26.2 again (I completed the 2012 challenge with the 2012 13.1 Atlanta and 2013 Georgia Half), but since the 2013 Atlanta is taking place the weekend prior to the Chicago Marathon this year, I am unable to do so. I am also registered to run in the 2013 Peachtree Road Race 10K on July 4 and the runningnerds Virtual Half Marathon & Treadmill Challenge 5K Summer Heat Series during the 18 weeks training period.

So there. Welcome.