Cleaning Up a Few Odds and Ends

Even with my latest set-back on the hamstring front, time marches on and I still need to get ready to start my marathon training on Monday. It seems as though the elliptical and I will remain training buddies for a little longer and while it is definitely frustrating to start this marathon training cycle injured, that does not mean that I won’t be successful – it just means that I have to do train things a bit more creatively and smahtah.

So I want to get some thoughts out of the old noggin, reflect on a few changes I have made and just make a general nuisance of myself as I talk some more about getting ready to start my marathon training.


Part of getting getting the marbles and rocks in my head wrapped around what I need to do to finish a marathon this fall and make it something other than a fantasy.

I have been re-reading “How Bad Do You Want It” by Matt Fitzgerald and it is forcing me to to think about my past failures and what I really want when it comes to running another marathon. The following quote from the book, pretty much sums how I see many of my struggles:

…a large body of psychological research has demonstrated that the more time people spend fantasizing about desired outcomes — everything from passing school exams to losing weight — the less effort they put into pursuing them and the less likely they are to achieve them. Distinct from mental rehearsal, or practicing a sport in the mind at rest, which is proven to enhance performance, fantasizing about desired outcomes is a maladaptive coping skill that may be associated with a lack of confidence in one’s ability to make these outcomes happen through one’s own efforts.

Yep, sounds pretty familiar to me. Fantasizing about how great I will do and by how much I will be under the Boston Qualifying time is something I have done too much of over the years. After all I “know” I can finish a marathon, it was always a question of how fast.

Even before I started re-reading “How Bad Do You Want It”, I knew that I had change how I viewed my training for the marathon and that I had to make it reality based. Which meant that I had to stop thinking that I could finish a marathon just because I thought I could. The book reinforced that the direction I had already started going intuitively…was the direction I needed to keep going.

Being willing or “knowing I can” are separate concepts that need to be made into me actually doing the work, all while listening closely to what my body is telling me during this marathon training cycle.

The other thing that I need to focus on is that training for a marathon is a process. It is not about being willing to work hard, because I already know that training for a marathon is hard work, otherwise it would not be an accomplishment.

However, my training this cycle has to avoid my propensity to do too much, too soon, which results in being overtrained, fatigued and usually injured. I have to keep focused on doing the proper work in training for me – not anyone else. So that I am prepared, healthy and confident – in other words ready to run when I toe the marathon starting line.

Re-reading “How Bad Do You Want It” by Matt Fitzgerald meant much more to me this time and made me look at the journey I am on quite differently. Now to stop fantasizing about how I should be able to finish a marathon just because I think that I can and get my arse in gear to do the work necessary.

This has to be my focus this training cycle.

Running Log Spreadsheet

I have made some changes to the spreadsheet that I use to officially track my running – Stava and Garmin Connect are just repositories for my GPS data and places where I can see how some people I know are presently running. I did a bit of reorganizing to make things easier to read, deleted columns that I didn’t really need and focus more on what is important during this training cycle for me.

My old Spreadsheet fields:

Updated Spreadsheet

I added fields for planned mileage/workouts, elliptical run equivalent and steps. The Planned column is important for me to keep track of what comes next, which is something that I tend to wing too much. I need a set of safety rails to keep me mostly on track and having the daily training plan in this spreadsheet does that.

Something I took out a couple months ago, but I added back is the daily step amount. The guesstimate on the number of daily steps that my Garmin gives me, gives me something tangible that I can track regarding how active I have been.

When I look at those two columns to see what’s going on versus what I am going to be doing, hopefully it will give me a heads-up if I am headed down the slippery slope of doing too much. They might even help me avoid some of the overtraining or overuse injuries that seem to happen when I train for marathon and get caught up in feeling too good, then do too much.

Errr in other words help me to avoid a case of the stoopids.

I would like to stay between 15,000 and 25,000 steps per day, that seems to be my sweet spot, with my day before a long run or race on the low end for obvious reasons.


Even if I could run without any issues (damn hamstring), I knew that I was going to use the elliptical as a part of this marathon training cycle. A small concession to being 60 is that I can’t always train harder and have to train smarter. However, I wasn’t sure about how I was going to incorporate the elliptical into my training plan.

When I re-read “Overthinking the Marathon” by Ray Charbonneau, the idea of using a portion of the bike mileage as part of the planned marathon regimen and have them count towards my total marathon training miles seemed like a reasonable idea for me. It will sooth my ego, let me still have the higher mileages I would expect to run during marathon training and hopefully allow me train more effectively than I would be able to otherwise.

Unfortunately, I hate riding a bike, I will use one to get from point A to point B, but as far as using one for regular training – it just does not interest me. However, we got a nice elliptical last year and plus I have access to them at the gym if I want to do some weights too.

Converting elliptical miles to approximate running miles, made it so that the idea of using the elliptical as an important part of my marathon training became much more palatable. After fiddling around a little with the mileage equivalence numbers, it seems that if I use a .5 multiplier on the elliptical mileage it comes out close enough for my purposes as a running equivalent.

Another important factor that I for using the elliptical is that while I was using it this winter, I noticed that I had a lot fewer issues with the niggles. So somehow it strengthens muscles that I also use for running. Plus even though my hamstring bothers me when I am running right now, I can go for miles on the elliptical without any issues – except: I am not outside, it can get boring as hell (the iPad is a lifesaver) and I am not running.

Therefore, I plan to use the elliptical:

  • as my primary aerobic exercise until the hamstring quits complaining
  • on my recovery days versus another run,
  • if I am feeling more fatigued than I should be, but want an active rest day
  • if I feel like a niggle is turning into something more than a minor irritation use the elliptical until it clears up. That and changing around some planned workouts to ensure that I do not miss the long runs.

While primarily using the elliptical is not an optimal way to get started on this marathon training cycle, it is a helluva lot better than not being able to do anything. Especially when otherwise I would simply be blowing a lot of hot air about how I am going to run a marathon, while I am sitting on the couch talking nonsense.

That all talk, no action kinda stuff.

Time will tell if the elliptical is part of the answer for me.

The reality is that

I do want to finish a marathon this fall and know that I cannot keep doing the same things, the same way that I have done in the past – that will only lead to another failure and more disappointment. I have a pretty decent idea of the theory of how to get to the finish line, but now I have do actually do the work.

I have get out there and do more than fantasize about how great I am and how I will easily achieve the coveted BQ the first time I run a marathon in more than 30 years. However, when I am honest with myself I cannot do both this fall, so I must focus on the most important thing – the process I will be using to finish this marathon.

There I got a bunch of odds and ends out of my head and put them someplace where I can go back and re-read or reflect on what I have writing as I go through this marathon training cycle.

I know that I will keep “How Bad Do You Want It?” On my dresser until I finish my marathon this fall.

After all training for a marathon is a process and I am pretty good at setting up and following processes.

May 2018 – A Not So Great Month

I guess it is time to talk about May 2018. A lot happened and yes, I got injured again and haven’t been able to run well for the last two weeks of the month. Which sucked.

Photo by Sam Winebaum – Road, Trail, Run

However, I got to run with and talk running Sam over at Road, Trail, Run who is my favorite blogger during the first part of month. While down there I got to see a bunch of shoes (I tried out the Vapor Fly 4% – great shoe) and came home with a few more from his used shoe pile.

Towards the end of the month I made the startling decision to run in a marathon in the Fall. I did that inspite or is it despite I am currently not running and have to rehab a balky hamstring – which is always an adventure and one that usually has more setbacks than progress at first.

That damn rollercoaster effect. Continue reading “May 2018 – A Not So Great Month”

Stress Testing the Hammie – PMT 6/1/18

Well the good news is that the hamstring wasn’t as big a setback as I thought it was going to be yesterday. No, I can’t walk without that tugging sensation in the right hamstring, but at least it is not out and out pain. Plus there was no bruising, so a day or two off and then start to SLOWLY get back on the roads again.

Bennie wasn’t too worried about much of anything, except getting the bed ready for him to relax on.

Although this morning I did a Harold being Harold and stress tested the hamstring pretty good by walking Bennie two miles down to the stop sign and back up the big hill, then almost immediately mowing the road frontage down to our property line around the slight corner. While I knew that the hamstring was off a little more than it had been and it barked a few times during the mowing, it didn’t complain enough that I thought about stopping. Continue reading “Stress Testing the Hammie – PMT 6/1/18”

Just A Little Frustrated – PMT 5/31/18

Yeah the title says it all.

Let’s start at the beginning of the day. I did Bennie’s first walk and for the first time since I screwed up my hamstring, there was no pulling feeling in it. I was able to walk free and easy – it felt great!

Even on our 2.5 mile walk down-back (after they just got through grading the road), the hamstring felt damn near normal – finally. I was heartened to say the least that I was on the other side of my rehab.

I still did the elliptical and did an easy 4.0 miles on it and then planned on doing another 2.0 miles outside. I still ran conservatively and didn’t attempt to stretch out the stride at all, even though the pace was a bit quicker than yesterday. I even thought about doing another mile, because everything was feeling so good. Unfortunately, about 1/2 a mile from the finish the hamstring decided to complain a little. Continue reading “Just A Little Frustrated – PMT 5/31/18”

Good Day and I Was Bad – PMT 5-30-18

What a gorgeous day outside – of those top 10 days that we never have enough of. Right around 70*F, bright sunshine, low humidity and just hint of a breeze. Nice!

However, I am really attempting to baby the hamstring by doing most of my “run” on the elliptical and then immediately doing the last part out on the road, so I don’t over do things. Which I would never do, ummmphhh yeah right.

So I did 8.0 miles on the elliptical, which with my running equivalent is 4.0 miles, so I need to do a couple more outside to get to my planned 6.0 miles for the day.

This was the part of the work-out that I really enjoyed. Like I said the weather was gorgeous. I purposely am going slower than I normally do and working on activating the glutes and relaxing the hamstrings when I am running. Which is tough, like too many runners I tend to use my quads and hamstrings too much and not enough of the biggest muscle in the body my arse. 🙂 alias the glutes.

Continue reading “Good Day and I Was Bad – PMT 5-30-18”

A Little Ray of Hope – PMT 5-29-18

PMT – Pre-Marathon Training 😉

It is was just a beautiful day outside this morning, too damn nice to be stuck doing a workout inside on the elliptical! However, it is not time yet to go full hawg and have yet another setback to slow the progress I am making with my hamstring. It is slow, but there is progress.

That is the thing about hamstrings, they are a bear to take care of and treat/rehab to the point where you will not reinjure it again. If you watched the NBA playoffs and noticed that Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets suffered a hamstring pull and had to sit out games 6 & 7 of their series loss, you can understand a little better how frustrating a hamstring pull can be. He is a professional athlete with the best medical care in the world and could not play no matter how badly or how tough he was.

It doesn’t matter how much you want to run on the injured hamstring, when you do and it ain’t ready or if you are too aggressive with how you attempt to come back (I will raise my hand on that one), all that you will do is screw it up again and be even further behind. That being said, there is not a runner or athlete who has suffered a hamstring pull that thinks it is feeling good enough and attempted to get back on it way too soon and took 2 steps forward and 5 steps back.

From my experiences with a pulled in the past (several actually), they take about 4-6 weeks for someone who is not under medical care and not going through physical therapy and screwing up the rehab by running too hard too soon a few times. So I am about 3 weeks into this recovery phase and as long as I do not screw it up too badly, should be back to fairly normal running in about 3 more weeks.

Which means for me, even on beautiful days like today, I am in on the elliptical. Today I wanted to get in 45:00 minutes on the machine and I did the work. However, while I was on there I got this great idea of heading outside to do a mile on the pavement. The hamstring felt really good and I just had to get out the door.

I also learned that the “other” setting on my Garmin is useless when used on the elliptical. I think in the future I will use the indoor running setting and at least get a good timing of what I did, even if the mileage will be way off.

I headed out the door for my run — Ominous music please.

The legs were a little stiff from the elliptical stride and it took a quarter mile or so, to get back to a running stride. No, I wasn’t going very fast and just let the body do what it wanted. Initially there was a little tugging sensation in the hamstring, but no pain or discomfort. I didn’t try to pick up the pace, but naturally did better coming back to the house, I was warmed up and things felt pretty good.

However, I could still feel that little tugging on the hamstring, so I stopped at the mail box and smiled. I had done a mile, didn’t break anything and could have kept going. There was a time in my life when running a mile was a big deal, but now I am greedy and want a lot more miles. I guess that is a good thing 🙂

As a part of this I did change up the running equivalence of the elliptical to .50%, it is just easier than running by about half. I have been doing most of my miles on the elliptical in the 4:40 to 5:00 minute range and do most of my running in the 8:30-9:00 minute range. So I think that calling it half as hard is a bit more reasonable and when I went back and updated my spreadsheet with that change it made the numbers much more in line with how I run.

So I think I have the running equivalency tweaked to the point where it is more usable. I could probably go down a little more, but this is more about rough estimate than statistical accuracy.

I was going to mow the lawn and do some other outside stuff, but I got messaged by D2 and needed to talk with her about what to get the granddaughter for her Birthday out in Minnesota.

I still think it is pretty damn amazing that I can “talk” with my daughter, get a link, go to a website, order the present and it will be sent to their house within 48 hours. We do live in amazing times and sometime we just take for granted the times we do live in. I know that I have it pretty damn easy and a much better life the 95% of people in the history of the world.

After that Bennie and I decided that taking a nap was a better way to spend some time this afternoon and then it was time for a little walk with him. Then I got back on the elliptical for another 20 minutes. I wanted to check out if the run had done anything to the hamstring, but everything felt fine.

I just have to keep things slow and steady for a while longer.

Overall, I got in the mileage that I wanted today, by combining a real run with time on the elliptical, did a second easy workout just to stretch the legs a bit. I have a feeling that this is how the initial weeks of my marathon training plan will be achieved, until the hamstring gets back up to snuff. There is not a whole lot that I can do to speed up the healing process – this is one of those things I will just have to be patient and it will be ready when it is ready.

Yeah, it sucks, but it is the way it is and there is a ray of hope gleaming that I will persevere through this injury and get back to where I want to be in a little while.

Getting Back to Finishing A Marathon

So I have decided to run in the Maine Marathon on September 30, 2018.

Now just because I want to finish a marathon does not mean that I will not run into problems, nay sayers, Harold being Harold activities, life getting in the way or other obstacles, especially the ones that I have between my own ears and a seemingly fragile body when it comes to marathon training.

However, providing the crik, don’t rise too much and make a drastic change of course, I plan on being in Portland, ME that morning to start, run and finish my second marathon. That’s right, when I finish this marathon it will only be my second marathon finish and third marathon start after 40 plus years of running – kind of strange in this day and age of people seemingly running marathons “all the time”.

Which means that I have to work on a few things before I get any further down this road that I have started on so many times before. However, I get a different feeling about what I am going to do this time, almost like it is finally the right time to do this marathon thing.

Well like they say, let’s start this journey and the adventures that will come with it, by taking my that first step towards finishing marathon number two. Continue reading “Getting Back to Finishing A Marathon”

Updating My Goals for 2018

2018 has been a good year so far, only one injury – a little hamstring strain that just doesn’t want to go away. However, this injury has slowed me down a little and caused me to re-evaluate what I want to accomplish the rest of this year, versus where I was in January.

Simplifying my goals a lot, but if I can get this marathon monkey off my back…well it will be a good thing.

Keep Running

What do I want from my running?

First and foremost, I want to to keep running. Which gets harder as you get older and as much as I hate to admit it being over sixty is getting older.

So I have to treat my body and think differently if I plan to keep running.

I know that I will always tend to push a little harder or a bit before the old body is completely ready, but that is also who I am. I just have to find a happier medium between the two extremes – “wanting to just run, to too much too soon” and the usual couch potato status due to injuries cycle – that I seem to repeat far too often.

Not really a measureable goal, more one of those holistic ones. However, if I accomplish the next one, I think that will be evidence of succeeding on this one.

Goal: Listen to the old body better.

Run a Marathon

Second, believe it or not I do want to finish another marathon, it is something that has been sticking in my craw since my last one in 1983 and the want part is moving to more of a need thing as I get older.

The thing is I gotta get and keep the old body healthy enough to get to the starting line.

Finishing the Maine Marathon on September 30, 2018 would put to bed a few storylines that have been kept open for far too long. A big reason that I have chosen the Maine Marathon is it is after the 2019 application cut-off for Boston, so even if I trained for a BQ time, it would not do me any good for the 2019 race.

That and I had a did not start for the Maine Marathon back in 2007, when I hurt my right knee a week before the marathon. Which is curious to me when I look back, since it was the same knee that I hurt back in 1983 and do not really remember how I actually hurt it. Coincidence???

Getting to the starting line has been a problem ever since 1983, but I think that getting rid of the need to train for a BQ pace, will help take some of the stress out of my marathon training and keep me healthier.

Save that BQ goal for another day on a different marathon course, this year I have to prove to myself that I can successfully train for and finish a marathon.

The above image is a screenshot of the Maine Marathon home page.

My primary training goal for the Maine Marathon will be to get to the starting line healthy. Which means at some point I will have to think about a training plan that I will use as the basis of my training – not that I will follow it exactly, I never do. However, having one will give me a foundation to build from and some guide rails to keep me from getting too far off track.

Once I get to the starting line, I tend to believe that everything will work itself out, because I will be properly prepared to run the distance and the time will not be the big thing, I will just need to focus on getting to the finish line.

I need to erase the agonizing memories (read about it here) of my last marathon finish and put those ghosts to rest for good – it is time.

Goal: I will finish the 2018 Maine Marathon on September 30, 2018.

Running Shoes

When it comes to my running shoes what is it that I want?


That is all.

I want to be able to run in running shoes that do not cause discomfort or pain for the distances and speeds that I still run. I don’t much care which style, model, Brand’s name or logo is on the side as long as I run comfortably in them.

The shoes that have worked the best for me this year have been the Skechers GoRun Ride 7’s, so instead of attempting to re-invent the wheel, as a part of this running shoe re-focusing/shift, I am planning on doing the bulk of my marathon training in that model.

Over the summer I am planning to have a five shoe rotation:

  • GoRun Ride 7 – I will be alternating two pair for the bulk of my training miles, I have one pair with just over 170 miles on them and another pair that I just got. I imagine that I will probably go through 3-4 pair of GRR7’s over the course of this marathon training cycle. I plan to pick up another pair when the newest model I have reaches 200 miles and retire the older pair to walking shoes, then repeat this shoe replacement cycle until after the marathon. I will in all likelihood run the marathon in the GRR7’s and will buy another pair for the race and get about 75-100 miles on them prior to race day.
  • I honestly do not see me getting enough miles on the rest of the shoes in my rotation to need them replaced.
  • GOTrail – OG – trail running/hiking. I do plan to run the Quarry Road and possibly Bond Brook trail race series using them.
  • GOMeb Razor 2 – tempo or faster paced training – I still plan to do a faster workout at least once a week – but faster is faster for me and maybe use them as my half marathon race shoe if I attempt to go for sub 1:40 – I plan to do at least one half this summer, whether I race it or run it is a different question.
  • Brooks Green Silence – for the occasional 5K/10K race or if I decide to go beat myself up on the track.

The rest of my stash of running shoes will head for storage.

I am hoping that reducing my running shoe rotation helps to keep the body in one piece longer, since it seems the more choices that I have with running shoes the more issues my body seems to have.

Not always looking at or surreptitiously getting yet another pair of running shoes will be the hardest goal for me, since I have been a shoe whore for such a long time and there are still so many great running shoes out there that I still really, really want to try. I imagine that I might slide off the rails of this goal, once or twice ;-), just being realistic.

However, running shoes do not make the runner – genetics, good training, attitude and yes, the brain make the runner, with a little luck along the way, although the wrong pair of running shoes still does suck donkey balls.

Goal: I will stick with my five shoe (2-GRR7, GOTrail, Razor 2, and Green Silence) rotation and only change shoes in this rotation when these shoes need replacing.

The reality is that

I do have to listen to my body better and take care of the niggles before they become major issues and time away from running. I also need to try a more practical view of how I look at and use running shoes…

I have to see them more as tools to run comfortably in, not as a primary part of my blogging.

These goals/comments might seem to be very common sense things for a runner to do, but often-times this particular runner hasn’t had a lot of common sense about running or running shoes…maybe it is time to look at and do things a bit differently.

Which also means being smart about doing this marathon thing.

Oh sure, I could go ahead and register today, that way I have a real incentive to get myself going on my second goal. However, part of goal #1 is to listen to the body and get it healthy enough to start goal #2.

Right now I know that my body is not healthy enough to start marathon training.

So I will wait until the end of June to see where the old body is before registering and taking off on my marathon training adventure. I do not want to set myself up to fail to get to the starting line – again.

Everything between now and the end of June are geared towards getting myself ready to start my marathon madness – once again.

Now to get working on some right hamstring and left Achilles rehab, a lot of walking, a bit of cross training on the elliptical, doing some weight work, a little brain retraining, putting away the shoes that are not listed above and look around to see what kind of marathon training plan best fits my goal to finish the marathon.

This should be an interesting summer.

I know Mary ain’t gonna be thrilled with this marathon idea, but I gotta go with it, otherwise it will be one of those I should’ve things that will just stick in my craw.

No excuses this time.

Week in Review – 12/15/13

Looking down the driveway this morning 12-15-13
Looking down the driveway this morning 12-15-13

This week I decided to not run a marathon in 2014. You can read about my reasons here.

When you add in that my Achilles just doesn’t like long runs – still. It is getting better, but still not where I really want it and the base mileage module helped show me that.

Could I have run a marathon in 2014 – probably, but when I really thought it through, I really don’t want to do one right now and need some time away from having one on my plate.

I am still playing around with the McMillan base mileage module, but I am not sure how closely I will follow it through the end of the year, but it does give a framework to work within, instead of just winging it completely. I did make a change to go back to my running week being Monday to Sunday – it is how I have “always” tracked my mileage and when I went back in and changed week around in my spreadsheet, this is how it worked out: Continue reading “Week in Review – 12/15/13”

Do I Really Want to Run a Marathon

The "joys" of running in winter sometimes
The “joys” of running in winter sometimes

I was feeling a little off the other day and just generally, tired and beat. It was just nasty out that morning as far as the footing goes.

So instead of running my planned 80 to 100 minutes, I sat most of the day in my easy chair either sleeping (with a dog and cat in my lap most of the time) or sort of watching the baseball winter meeting coverage on the MLB channel.

That day gave me a chance to do something that I really needed to do – think.

I thought about many things that have been on my mind a lot lately, about my running and what I really want versus what it seems that I “should” want to do.

What in the hell are you talking about this time Harold?

I have been really trying to figure out if I want or need to run a marathon in 2014. Continue reading “Do I Really Want to Run a Marathon”