Monday, November 22, 2010

16

I am currently ranked 16 in the national 10 km road race rankings. I am quite pleased with this!

I was planning on a good training weekend but instead I went skiing and read the newspaper while doing laundry. I ran today in the chill that has taken over Vancouver. I hate training in this cold but I love easy off day runs in this weather. I feel like I am home in Nova Scotia or back at the University of New Brunswick. In total I ran 6 miles tonight.

Tonight's run provided an opportunity to think back to the hours and hours of training I completed as an undergrad. In extreme winter cases my team would run blocks in the city in minus 20 degree weather. Our shoes would freeze as well as the perspiration on the inside of our jackets. There were times when my eyes would nearly freeze shut due to the extreme cold. Many of my summer routes in Fredericton would be converted to groomed cross country ski trails in the winter. I spent many, many, many hours on these trails building a cardiovascular capacity I continue to enjoy today. I can even remember running through knee deep snow drifts to get to our 'track' workouts held at the high school in their 100 m hallway. This is where I obtained my agility dodging people, pedestrians and custodians while running at full speed. I hated these workouts with a passion but they made me strong.

Although I hated winter training I knew it was the key to make me a better runner than those who beat me the prior cross country season. I credit the rain/snow/hail/-20 or-30 runs with making me the person and athlete I am today. There is something scary about stepping out of the door before a 16 mile run knowing that you are going to freeze the first 2 miles and for the last 4. Those runs really sucked. Those runs are why I am the 16th fastest Canadian man over 10 km on the road.

Sufjan Stevens!

The concert was stunning. I have never been to such a spectacle before. There were times when I had to wonder if Sufjan was brilliant or insane. There were times when I could not figure out if what I was listening to was brilliant or insane. In the end it was brilliant.

I was quite familiar with the releases prior to the concert and was already a fan of his new work. His 2 newest albums are a voyage away from previous work and are not at all folky. The Age Of Adz on the surface seems quite experimental but with exposure becomes more accessible, although not for a pop music fan who needs a hook to listen. There are multiple layers of sound and expression that take hours of listening to fully understand. There are also complex emotions related in the music. Of course he sings of love and love lost. He also manages to express rage "I'm not fucking around" being one of my favorite lyrics. My favorite tune on the whole album is called Impossible Soul. This 25 minute title encompasses a diverse compilation of styles and emotions with lyrics that make my heart ring.
Seems I got it wrong, I was chasing after something that was gone
To the black of night, now I know it's not what I wanted at all
And you said something like, "All you want is all the world for yourself"
But all I want is the perfect love
Though I know it's small, I want love for us all.
With a 25 minute song it can be difficult to isolate a particular lyric so I will include another whole verse with a few repetitions removed.
It's a long life, better pinch yourself
Get your face together, better roll along
It's a long life, better pinch yourself
Put your face together, better stand up straight
It's a long life only one last chance
Couldn't get much better, do you wanna dance?
It's a good life, better pinch yourself
Is it impossible? Is it impossible?
Boy, we can do much more together...
Boy we can do much more together, it's not so impossible
It's not so impossible.
At the end of the concert I was speechless and amazed. He literally had the audience dancing in the isles. I am biased as I am a huge fan of this artist but I feel it is my duty to cajole you to pick up some of his music. It will take a few tries but I bet you will love it. Think of it as starting to run. It does not feel that great to start but one day you cannot live without it! As an added excitement his brother is a prominent American Marathoner!

Happy Training!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Elastic Effect

My life is starting to settle down.

I was out for an easy and wonderful run today when I started to contemplate my dating history over the last 6 months. I almost feel like dating is a bit like running a race sometimes.

I have written before on the elastic effect when racing. There is an invisible elastic between the runners in a group. One has to maintain that elastic in order to keep with the lead group. The further one drops behind the longer the elastic stretches and consequently the higher risk there is of the elastic snapping. Once the proverbial elastic snaps there is little chance to regain the lead group. Conversely, as we often see in a race, the chasing runner can keep the elastic taut until the approach to the finish line. At that moment they can use the energy of the 'elastic' to sling shot into the lead and win the race.

What I have found with dating is an elastic effect of sorts. I like a bit of tension between me and a prospective long term partner (long term for me at present is a second date). I need to have a bit of a chase. I want to be challenged. If there is too much challenge though the elastic will start to stretch. If it stretches too far then there is a snap and I will give up. If someone chases me too closely then the elastic is too soft. Without tension there is no energy to slingshot. I need the energy.

My general experiences in 95 % of the dates I have been on has been one of no elastic whatsoever. That may have something to do with my own personal fulfillment and generally great life. I am not a person who needs someone else to make me happy. It has taken a bit of a journey to realize this. Now that I am happy and older I am realizing more that I want a partner for the sheer practicality of the endeavor, not as an emotional crutch. I really wish I had someone to share the rent. Unfortunately for my bankbook I cannot abandon my romantic notions of love to satisfy practicality. There needs to be energy. I need an elastic. Practicality must be measured with passion and fire.

If dating is not going well at least I can still workout. Today I hit the trails for a run after a session in the dentists chair. I may have been drooling down my frozen cheek as I was running. I felt good although I continue to suffer through foot pain. Tonight I hope to hit the gym and tomorrow run and swim. The snow is in the mountains so I also hope to hit the trails this weekend as well.

Happy Training!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Flying Tempo

Turn up the treadmill as fast as it will go and run.

I am now running my tempos on Wednesdays as I have decided to alter my training plan. My body will can no longer withstand up to 3 hard running workouts a week so I have decided to cut out one speed workout in favor of one tempo. Yesterday I ran 12 minutes at tempo pace.

The gym I attend has treadmills that do not go fast enough for me to run my actual tempo pace. What I have been forced to do is turn the machine to it's highest setting then push the incline. I feel like a bit of a tool running hard in a giant downtown gym but I figure people should see what an actual athlete looks like and what real training is. Most of the people at the gym do not even sweat. My tempo felt really good although my foot is still sore. I have a surprising amount of pop to my stride and I feel very strong. My exercise compulsion has helped to maintain my fitness! Upon finishing my tempo run I was able to finish my workout with chin-ups, core and push-ups. My goal is to be able to do 30 wide arm, front grip chin-ups.

Another reason for Wednesday tempo is so I can continue swimming with my swim club on Tuesday and Thursday. I am loving swimming at the moment and I am getting very comfortable in the water. At present Fly is my favorite stroke. I had a great workout tonight although while getting out of the pool I noticed a bit of what looks like road rash on my wrist. While in the throws of a particularly intense set of medley I must have hit the lane rope hard.

I got an e-mail from a member of the New York Front Runners club. Front Runners is a running group comprised of gays. There are chapters all over the world! They have done a video for the "It Gets Better" project. I really wish we did not need to have videos saying it gets better, but it does get better! The best part of growing up is being able to choose what we do. Clubs and organizations like Front Runners, my swim club and triathlon club ensure that we have a place to meet and train with people just like us. For years I have been the token gay on numerous cross country, track and athletics clubs. I love being able to swim, bike and run with other gays. It does get better. There is a whole world of homos out there who have the same interests, drives and passions. One just has to find them.

I am not quite ready to ramp up the training although I have toned down the partying. I do not think my confidence can take another knock. I love music and dancing but the whole scene can be a bit hard to tolerate at times. Although I tend to be a touch superficial I must admit that one must have substance to their character. I have not scene a great deal of substance while out on the town. Where I continue to see heart and substance is in the pool, on the trails and track. I think this is where I belong. This is what has enabled my life to get better.

I will need to ensure I maintain balance though!

Happy Training!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mixed Training

I have started run training in earnest.

I ran my first tempo run and have had some quality work over the past week. I am gaining some consistency and I am gaining some ease with running again. Unfortunately my foot is acting up a bit and today I found myself in pain for most of the day. The key to ensuring my foot is healing is to not walk. This is not an option.

Conversely, swimming is going very well. My feel for the water has returned and I am feeling very strong. A bit of evidence for my improved stroke is where I am feeling my workouts. Although the arms are what pull one through the water it is actually the core/lats/traps that provide the power to swim well. I thought my lats were going to seize up and break off my body during my Saturday workout. This is a good sign I am doing things right.

As I have noted before, the key with training is consistency. If one is able to balance consistency with recovery then they are on their way to best times. A key for me in the next few months will be to increase my consistency while improving fitness. I have also grown to realize that my body cannot withstand high mileage while having a career. I can no longer spend all day on my feet solving problems then go home and run 10 miles.

I also believe swimming will help with maintaining my fitness. I do not actually feel that out of shape. I have at least 3 hard swim workouts a week with another couple of easy swims where I am content to swim 4 km at a good pace. It is nice to get in the pool and work on technique and fitness without having to hammer a hard workout.

The big test will be when I get back on the track or run a workout on a measured course. In the next couple of weeks I may head to Beaver lake to test my running fitness. I doubt I will be running sub 3 minute kilometers!

I am hoping to gain enough fitness to run an early season race or two. I also need to get a bit of speed work under my belt before an up-coming beer mile. Although past experience tells me that the most important skill in a beer mile is drinking the beer.

Happy Training!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pain?

The good news is that my arch is no longer sore. The bad news is my ankle is sore. Throbbing sore.

I had a great long run yesterday with a good friend of mine. The pace was steady yet relaxed with a few hills thrown in. In total we ran around 11 or 12 miles. Running at this time of year is wonderful. I love the crispness of the air and the amber tinge to the light. Summer is my favorite time to run with heat and sweat with hot shirtless men. Although this time of year is not quite as hot as the summer it is still fun. It always gives one an idea of who the real runners are. It seems like most people who are running by these days are flying!

The result of my long run yesterday is substantial pain in my foot. It was not too bad but I spent the day walking around the city and now I am in pain. I am hoping it feels better in the morning.

Happy Training!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Losing Control

I like to be in control of my own life.

When I began running I had little to no control over my life. Starting running was starting to take control. By taking control of my life I gained confidence in myself and my abilities as a person. Losing control is scary and uncomfortable. I am beginning to lose a bit of control of some aspects of my life.

Control can sometimes be interpreted as self determination. Each individual in society has the will to determine their own future. We do not like when others control our destiny and the response is usually one of stress. A large part of development as a child is learning to determine ones own path. We are engineered to demand independence and challenge rules. Ask a parent with a teenage child and you will gain an understanding of pushing limits of control. As much as we desire to control others we do not want to be controlled.

There are individuals in society who are free thinking. I am fortunate to know a large number of well educated free thinkers who have worked years to develop a comprehensive skill set of making informed decisions. What happens when the ability to think is taken away in favor of a drop down menu?

Each runner at a start line has had the control to get themselves to the start line. Each of those athletes had the self determination to work hard to get to a position to compete. The runners all had guidance but each of them took the responsibility to complete the work necessary to train at their best and compete well. A good coach or leader has an ability to provide their athletes with the tools needed to succeed without pulling away their self determination. The athlete must feel in control of their life to ensure optimal performance. An athlete smothered will not perform to their potential. We have all seen the smothered athlete. This is the individual who does not rise to the occasion. This athlete cracks under the pressure of competition. This athlete quits their sport at their first chance. This athlete is miserable.

I am starting to feel like a smothered athlete in one very important part of my life. It is not sport and nor is it relationship based (I do not have a boyfriend or a date). Losing control over something I feel very passionately about is very distressing. I work hard and try to do a good job with every challenge I face. I believe in the power of an individual to change the world, even if it is done one life at a time. My goal for my life is to effect positive change. I feel this goal is being threatened.

I am on vacation for a week and I will be using this as an opportunity to begin training again in earnest and do some hard thinking. On this road to growing up I must make some difficult decisions. I may be at an important time in my life. Do I want to run at the back of the pack or do I was to lead?

Happy Training!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Flying

I am loving swimming.

Tonight we had a particularly difficult workout with a lot of fly and fly kick. In total we swam around 600 metres of fly. Ouch! I feel like my swimming has gotten quite strong and I am even starting to feel very comfortable on my back, which is an aberration from the norm.

I am thinking of swimming a swim meet. I want to compete again. I need a goal for my training besides physical health and mental well being. I love competition and I am naturally very competitive. I need a venue to express my competitiveness prior to being able to run a race again. Something that is very nice about swim meets is that I have no expectations. I am not expecting to place or actually do well. It is a challenge against myself and to support my swim club. I am looking at an 800 free with a bit of excitement.

Running and training hit a bit of a road bump this weekend with a surprisingly disabling tooth ache. My tooth is very sensitive to sensation and thus I have been reluctant to run. Cycling to work is even painful and I must breath through my nose. I have an appointment to have it fixed but it will be a while. As is the norm for me I will have to train through a bit of pain again. As one painful body part heals another appears.

Thankfully my foot is almost better. I believe switching shoes has been very beneficial. My new Nike Pegasus are super. They feel very light yet soft. Paradoxically they also are quite responsive and enable a great feel for the surface I am running on. During the past 8 to 10 months my body has been very sensitive to running on hard surfaces. Running on a concrete sidewalk made my feet and legs ache. The discomfort is remarkably reduced with my new runners. My friend and sometimes running partner bombshell also runs in these shoes. Both of us have a similar forefoot running style. Both of us love these shoes. There must be some extra forefoot cushioning or some kind of magic. I have always loved Nike racing shoes and spikes. Now I also love the trainers. Yikes, I have become a Nike man.

I am struggling a bit with consistency with my training. I am noticing the difficulty of balancing my new 'gay' life of late nights and partying with working out. There is nothing more discouraging than the thought of a long run while recovering from a late night of misbehaving. While in university I had a team of equally tired and nauseous runners to motivate me to head to the Lady Beaverbrook Gym for our long run or workout. Without the team morale it is much nicer to roll over for a few more hours of sleep. I will need to find a balance.

Next week I have a week off work and I am planning on staying in the city to plan for Christmas and train. I am hoping to get into a bit of a week long training camp to get into the rhythm of running daily with some efforts in between. This will be the first test of my healed foot in a long time. I am excited though a touch nervous. I know my body will not respond as it has in the past as I am getting a bit older. I just hope I am able to walk next week.

Happy Training!