Friday, July 31, 2015

Galloway Tips: Dealing with the Heat

So today we have our latest round of tips from the Main Man Jeff Galloway and this one hits close to home folks. Dealing with the heat while running is a huge concern, especially if you live in place like Puerto Rico where it's hot and humid all the time. And I mean all. The. Time. Without further ado...

Dealing With the Heat

Training through the summer can not only be grueling, but down right dangerous.  Here are some tips to train safely and as comfortable as possible in the hot summer months.

Slow down by 30 sec/mile (20 sec/km) for every 5F temperature increase above 55-60F ( every 2.5C above 14C)

When the temperature is over 70F (21C) you may take a 5 minute “cold shower break” every 25-30 minutes to keep cool.

Try to complete your run before the sun rises above the horizon.

More frequent walk breaks during hot weather can lower body temperature increase.  If you used to run 3 minutes between walk breaks, run only 90 seconds (walk 30 seconds) at 70F (21C) and at 80F (26C) drop to 60 sec run/30 sec walk or 30/30

When you start to heat up more than normal, take a longer walk in a mall or indoor AC building

Pick shady courses on hot days.

Don’t wear a hat!  Pour water over your head

Have an indoor alternative—treadmill, etc

Run in the deep end of the pool, using a flotation belt

I should point out...

PS from The Fat Runner...

That performance decrease based on temperature is no joke. At both the Disney Marathon and Philadelphia Half Marathon, after doing all my training in Puerto Rico then traveling to the US in winter time, I felt like I had super powers. Running in the heat is VERY different.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Am I Absolutely Insane?

I need someone to confirm this. Please.

Like I don't have enough on my plate. Training for the Goofy Challenge, trying to make cross-training an ongoing part of my routine, becoming a Beachbody Coach, trying to adjust after a huge promotion at work and planning a cruise for next year, you could say I have plenty to worry about. But, when the flesh is weak and the will is strong there is always something else you can add to the stack.

My cousin just came back from this huge trip. She traveled to New Orleans for a volleyball tournament her daughter was participating in. Of course they did the whole tourist thing as well and had their share of Gumbo and Beignets. Then they drove from New Orleans to Orlando and visited some parks. Because really, if you are in Orlando, can you really not go visit a theme park of some sort? 

Anyway, of all the stuff they did, she simply could not shut up about their visit to Disney's Hollywood Studios. I found this weird at first. DHS is undergoing major changes and many attractions are closed. Not to mention that the Sorcerer's Hat is no more. Aside from Star Wars and Toy Story Mania, it could easily be skipped right? Well, no. Not if you are a Frozen fan...

You can see where I'm going with this.

Disney -ever the efficient revenue creator it has always been- has turned what could be a negative (empty, half-operating park) into a positive. Until September 7, 2015 DHS will be celebrating the Frozen Summer of Fun. Without going into the details, it will be everything Frozen. Frozen sing-along, Frozen Royal Welcome, Frozen parade, Olaf's Summer Cooldown, Frozen Fireworks... Frozen, Frozen, Frozen.

"All I kept thinking about was how much fun your girls would have there." she kept telling me over and over. You see, she has three girls as well but they are a bit older and while they had plenty of fun, they seemed to have just missed the Frozen bandwagon so it wasn't such a big deal for them. My girls on the other hand, have Frozen in the head. I think I have established that pretty soundly this past year.  In fact I could use a little Frozen break, really. But, as you parents out there already know, it is rarely about you.

Yeah, this whole Frozen fever is getting really old but my girls love it. Plans started to pop in my head. Ambitious plans. Expensive plans...

I needed someone to talk me out of the ledge. My Dad shows up right at that very moment. (serendipity?) I explain my situation and crazy ideas popping in my head. Surely cooler heads will prevail. He'll think it's crazy, talk some sense into me, end of story. Instead, he pushes me over the edge then jumps himself. Funny thing is my Mom (who also schemed in favor of this by the way) later told me "What the heck were you thinking asking him?" and she is right. I guess he just showed up at the wrong time and I just needed someone to talk to but I can see my mistake. I talked to him as my father and forgot that he is, for all intents and purposes, a GRANDFATHER. In fact we call him Iron Man sarcastically because when it comes to his granddaughters he breaks easily.

As luck would have it, my parents are gonna be staying at Disney's Pop Century Resort the last week of August because of a basketball tournament where my Dad will be coaching the Puerto Rico team. So, we are gonna fly that final weekend on Friday morning, spend Friday and Saturday there, then leave on Sunday. All this to immerse ourselves in Frozen Summer Fun. It's insane.

How did it come to this? There really is no justification but here was my line of reasoning, if you can call it that: We are not gonna be doing a full-on Disney Parks vacation anytime soon. Frozen Summer of Fun is a temporary thing. They did it last year and repeated it this year. Will they do it again? I don't know. As they ramp up work on the massive transformation that will turn DHS into Disney's Hollywood Adventure and permanent Frozen attractions (like the Frozen ride in the Norway pavilion) open, Frozen Summer of Fun could very well be axed. Even if it survives another year, we won't be able to go next year as we have another trip planned. If I wanted to take them to see this, it had to be now or never.

What sealed the deal for me though, was this: My girls will never be the age they are now again. Other films and fads will come and go but that sense of wonder, that sense of magic they have over Frozen and Disney and Princesses, that will eventually go away. Which also means you, as a parent get to enjoy that moment only once as well. Many people ask: "Why take a small child to Disney World? They probably won't remember it later." and they are probably right. But remember what I said at the beginning about parents and it rarely being about you? Well, this is the part that is about you. Getting to experience those thing through their eyes. You treasure those moments closely in your heart.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Challenge is in the Eye of the Beholder

5K's are hard.

I've been following the running adventures of Jenn over at Runs with Pugs for a while now. Incidentally, she is the inspiration for this post so thanks Jenn! Anyway, Jenn ran the Walt Disney World in January and immediately afterwards (Actually, I'm pretty sure it was well before that) made the decision to not run marathons and focus on other things; specifically work on her 5K times. Something she has accomplished successfully by the way. She has already managed to go sub- 30 minutes in training and is about to do so in a race pretty soon I'm sure. You go, girl!

Jenn's journey this year has gotten me thinking about how we set goals and how we, and others view those goals. While it is certainly different for everyone, when runners gather together (whether in person or online) and talk, we can sometimes make it seem like running a marathon is the ultimate goal for every runner. It almost feels like finishing a marathon is the core requirement before you can consider yourself a runner. If Runnerville is the place where all runners live, then the marathon is the gate you have to go through.

Of course, this is totally untrue and not only that, I have personally never heard any runner actually stating something like that (thank goodness, I know some have) but again, when you gather runners in a discussion, invariably some will be marathoners. They will begin talking about how rewarding it is and how challenging. They will talk about how it was probably their greatest running accomplishment (guilty!) and of course this creates unconscious peer pressure. You want to be one of the cool kids. You want to be a marathoner.

It also doesn't help that many people look at 5K's as a "first step" and therefore an easy one as you develop your ability to go farther. We make it look sometimes as if a 5K or even a 10K is just something you do on your way to running Half and Full Marathons. Again, this is totally untrue. I will argue in fact, that training for a 5K is one of the hardest things you can do.

Marathons are in essence, a test of patience. Especially to us slower folks. You train your body to keep moving for hours and hours until you reach the finish. In many ways, it's a grind which is probably why the Disney marathon is so popular: it actually gives you stuff to see and do while you grind your miles for hours and hours. You do something other than running with your time.

Time, on the other hand, is what you don't have on a 5K. It is a mad dash to the finish. It doesn't matter if you are a 20 minute finisher or an hour finisher. A time improvement at this distance requires a gargantuan effort, mainly because regardless of your fitness level, a 5K is a sprint. Sprinting is hard. Have you ever tried to sprint for 30 minutes? You have if you have run a 5K.

Exhibit A: Yours Truly. In the course of a year, I improved my Half Marathon time by a half hour. That is a HUGE PR. (and you will recall, a very memorable moment for me) On the other hand, my quest to run a sub-40 minute 5K was... well, difficult. I finally managed to pull it off in November 2013 and to this day, I have not been able to improve that time despite many efforts to do so. Sure, when I train I don't focus on that distance. I have spent the last 2 years working on Halves and Fulls but it goes to show you: A 5K PR is not something you wake up one morning and simply do. It takes a lot of hard work. Just as hard as training for a marathon. Don't think so? Ask anyone who trains for 5 and 10K's for the Olympics and such to see if it is any less hard.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Road to Goofy

So it officially begins... Sort of.

The actual training plan for the Goofy Challenge begins in September. But the enormity of the Challenge definitely warrants preparation. So I have worked out a long term training plan which includes the preparation of the preparation.

The current agenda is paying off big time. Cross-training in the form of P90X3 is starting to show it's benefits. The program is tough and it has been challenging to get used to the extra work besides running, but the purpose was to come out stronger out the other end and its working. Yesterday, I ran probably the best 4 miles I have run in a long while. I've been losing weight slow but steady, just the way I want it and I've been eating better than ever. Now, it's time to focus all that into the specific task that is the Goofy Challenge.

The main part of course, is the running. I've been running steadily about 3 times per week. Now I need to specify those runs into regular runs, workout runs and long runs. Regular runs are what are usually called easy runs but I refuse to call them that. Nothing easy about running long distances if you ask me. Fun? Of course! Good for you? Definitely! But easy? Not if you are doing it right.

Workout runs have a specific purpose. Tempo runs, speedwork, hills... they all fall in this category. One of my runs per week will be a workout run. I will be very careful in this area as this is what I believe got me into knee trouble the last time.

Long runs are, of course the bread and butter of the training plan. I will be adding distance very slowly. Starting early affords me this time to get my body used to it. Eventually I will add a second long run to start "simulating" the Goofy Challenge conditions so that will be 4 runs a week total with 2 long runs on consecutive days. Again, being very careful to avoid injury. I know it sounds like a lot but it really is alright. In fact, apart from the extra long run, its not that much different from my current schedule.

Then, there's racing. I feel weird even saying it but I've hardly raced this year. In fact I haven't raced since the Puerto Rico Half Marathon but that has been by design as I focus on cross-training and other things. However, racing will be an important gauge of where I'm at training-wise. There will be three races that I consider part of my training plan. First, the Popular Bank's 5K, which I have done every year since it was my first race ever. A PR here is, in my opinion, a step in the right direction. Then in September there will be the Lola Challenge Weekend. This one will be very important as it will involve running a 10K on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday. I call it the "Mini-Goofy". I can't think of a better way to make sure everything is going according to plan than this. Finally in November I will again run the Diva's Half Marathon. Yes, it will be done in a tutu. Can't really back away from that at this point. On both of these instances, I'm not looking for a PR of any kind. I just want to finish and feel good afterwards. If I can pull that off, it would be great. If I can run the Divas Half and wake up the next day without any major ill effects I would definitely hop on the plane to Florida in January with a whole lot of confidence.

In the cross-training department, I'm currently halfway through P90X3. I think I have made enough emphasis on how tough but rewarding this has been. As I reach the peak of run training and therefore, mileage, cross-training has to be brought down in intensity as I focus more on running. I was thinking of doing a second round of P90X3 back to back but after some thought, I think it would be better to try something that is lower impact. There is a great program called PiYo that is lower impact but still challenging that I'm very interested in. If I end up doing it, I'll tell you all about it when I do.

And that's pretty much it. The Road to Goofy in a nutshell. Nothing is written in stone though. I will be adjusting things as I go along and if you guys have any suggestions I'm all ears so bring it on!