Friday, December 17, 2010

Running, Can it Truly Be Fun?

Okay, so maybe today is a funny day for me to be writing about running. Or maybe it isn’t seeing as if the weather were a bit better outside I would be running rather than writing. That thought process is starting to turn into one of those guys looking in a mirror at a guy looking in a mirror etc….

Anyway, running and me aren’t always the best of friends. Usually I see it as a bit of a chore, one that needs to be done or why bother trying to compete in Tri’s and Du's. Running hurts. Running never gets me that far from home like cycling does. And running in the winter can be hazardous at best. 

I started running close to three years ago (give or take). It was really just an idea I had to do a little cross training off the bike. I would run 1 or 2 kms or (as I would say) for a good solid 15 minutes. I tried the whole run 10 walk 1 thing. That didn’t work as it meant looking at my watch a lot. My feet and legs would hurt and I would come back into my house sweaty with very little reward. Still on I went.

Then I tried my first Du 3 years ago. It was in Riverport, NS and I showed up never having run more than 3 kms at one time. This was going to be tough for me with two 4km runs to complete and me in a 10 year old pair of squash shoes. Needless to say I hurt for days after that and didn’t run again until the following Spring when I foolishly signed up for the Bluenose 10K run.

Fast forward to now. My running training has increased. But I have still being classifying myself as a short distance runner, with speed being my main focus. Long running distances (anything above 10K) seemed too much. But I figured I needed a bit of a change and began training for a half marathon next season.

Now I am not on a structured plan at the moment. I am really just trying to get some base miles (kms) in and get my legs used to running for more than 50 minutes at a time or so. What used to be my weekly 5 km runs have changed to 8-10 km runs. And what was my “long” run of 10-11 kms has become my new epic journey. Last weekend I managed a 19Km run for the first time ever.

Now as I said this is base training. I am sticking to a comfy pace 9for me) or around 5:15 kms. And this has been great. In fact so great that after I get warmed up a bit I really like running. By km 3 or so my legs lighten up, my breathing calms down and I relax. By km 8-9 when I turn around to come home I feel just as good and don’t get tired until I reach my house.

So it turns out I pigeon holed myself into the short distances and turns out I might just be more suited to the longer runs. Maybe, who knows until I try some, especially at speed. But until then I think I will really enjoy the idea of the long slow run (not to mention my new New Balance 759’s in place of those old squash shoes). Perhaps we can head out for one of these long slow runs before the winter obscures my running path too much. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

The 2010 Sporting Year in Review – Part 4 – Multisport

Yes, it all culminates in this doesn’t it, multisport events. For me that is generally considered to be Duathlons, though this year I get to add Triathlon to the list as well.

Looking back at my goals for the year I see that I what I wanted to accomplish was pretty simple. Do better than last year. Well as this was only my second full year doing the Du’s that seemed to be a rather good goal.

My knee problems couldn’t have come at a worse time though. Du’s are early season events generally, as they happen when the open water is too cold for most. Still these are my favourite events and I wasn’t going to let a silly problem like a failing knee keep me down. No sir. So I entered all the events and competed. I didn’t train much as each event seemed to follow the next right away and I needed that weeks time to rest up my aches and pains before the next one. Ya know what? I did pretty good in most of them. My knee did mean that my final run was usually a bit of a let down, but my cycling improved over last year and my first run was pretty darn good.

In the end I managed a 1st place in age group for the Greenwood event (though sadly like last year with a small field), much higher placements than last year in all other events and a lot of new knowledge. I ended up 3rd in the final age group standing (35-40) but fell short of my goal of a top 3 overall. Seems there was a few new speed demons that partook in more of the events this year. That’s fine with me. Competition is a good thing. No sense placing well with no one to fight against. And that gives me a greater fire for next year.

Triathlons? Like I said these are a new thing to me as swimming is a recently introduced sport to me. Well I entered the Wolfville Tri Festival. Why this event? Simple, it was a pool swim and it didn’t conflict with my Duathlon events. Plus I also needed an event with a short swim. At this point I was still confined to the breaststroke.

So I did it and I really enjoyed it. I know what the heck I did wrong and what I did right and what I will need going into the future with triathlons. And I really see myself doing more next year, especially open water. Oh, by the way I managed 2nd overall at Wolville. If my swim wasn’t the second slowest time I might have actually won. It was fun though and a really great event.

A good year? Yeah, not bad. A few years back I was happy with 30 minute bike rides. Now I am not happy unless I feel like throwing up when I cross the finish line.  Here’s to next year. I understand the Tri NS memberships for 2011 are available already. I guess I better get on that.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The 2010 Sporting Year in Review – Part 3 – Swimming

Well, much like cycling this year, I never intended my swimming goals to be grandiose. I think ultimately I fell a little short on my goals here. Yes, this was in fact the first year I have done any real swimming, having just learned how to even do proper strokes. And yes, my water phobias / issues are for sure not easy to over come. But I really had hoped to be much further along by this point.

I didn’t get many chances to do open water swimming this summer. And without a wetsuit I was stuck swimming outdoors when the water was warm. As well, my lack of endurance meant that I could only swim so far outside of the pool.

Of course as it turns out my lack of endurance was partly due to a lack of proper swimming technique. And thanks to the website I found some of my issues were pretty easy to fix. Oh if I had only found this website long ago. Still I suggest anyone check it out for some great tips. Thanks to it I can all of a sudden swim 1000 m with very few stops for rest. Yeah, it isn’t fast and the last few laps aren’t pretty but I get there.

So I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I have discovered a weakness, figured out how to work with it and hopefully eliminate it. Here’s looking to a great winter of pool swimming and maybe the purchase of a wetsuit next year for some early open water workouts.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The 2010 Sporting Year in Review - Part 2 - Cycling

Okay, looking back on my cycling goals show that I pretty much accomplished what I wanted to do on the bike. I had no real competitions in mind this year, as far as just cycling goes, so it was pretty easy. I got loads of distance in and had some fun as well.

My major goal was to do a century ride this year. I did a proper 100 mile ride this past August in the Valley. The Middleton Century ride is a great event and I suggest anyone who is contemplating such a long ride to go try this one. The only issue is heat. August and the Valley make for a warm day. But with rest stops each 25kms it wasn't too hard to get through. This year was better than last year which itself was really nice. You get a route map and the corners are all well marked with spray paint.

I also managed to get a metric century in thanks to the Heartland Tour. A ride from the Halifax Commons to Peggy's Cove and back for me was 110km or so. Very nice. Yeah, I tried to to push the pace. Yeah it was fun for most of the ride. But the end was killer and I just collapsed. Still a nice day.

I also wanted to get group rides in. I actually got fewer of these than I had hoped. But things come up, people don't get out or get out at times you can't work with. But this is more of a constant goal in life and therefore I will always be looking forward to rides with friends. And now that my wife has found cycling to be enjoyable I see some great trail rides with people as a real possibility.

My injury didn't prevent my cycling very much this year, which is a good thing. Perhaps my cycling didn't help my injury? I don't know but what is passed is past.

Next season? Same old goals. Long endurance rides, group rides, family rides, a century or two. All good fun. Yeah, sure I train hard for my multisport events, but that is a different kettle of fish (and it is hard to get a fish in a kettle).