“Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
Albert Einstein

If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey,
start here.

7/1
Week 2 Day 5. Today is a 30 minute cross-training day. I worked on installing the pool for 3 hours, digging and moving dirt with a heat index of 105*. Tonight, momma and I walked for 20 minutes in the park while the kids played with CMM. Not much of an actual “cross-training” day, but I burned the calories off in sweat alone, so I’m content. I weighed today…down 4 pounds since last Monday, 21 pounds since March.

7/2
Week 2 Day 6. Supposed to be a 4 mile run. I intended to wake up at 6:00 and get it done early because the temps are gonna be in the high 90’s with heat index near 105*. Not so much. I took two Nyquil at bed last night because I was so sore from my Thursday workout and digging all day Friday…I wanted some great sleep. I got it. Started running at 9:50.

At the 3 mile mark, my mind and body were done. It felt like I was running, but when I looked down, it was a slow walk. I tried to keep going, but couldn’t. I finished the last mile at a walk, and I still haven’t gotten my breathing under control…10 minutes after stopping at the house. Before I made it back, I gave myself a level of alertness test, and only scored 2 out of 3. Does the fact that I was alert enough to give myself the test make up for it? I hope so. I’m so thirsty. My body feels like it’s burning from the inside out. My head hurts. I can tell I’m way dehydrated. I need to start taking water with me or stopping to buy one along the way. Honestly, I don’t think I can do this half marathon.

7/4
Week 3 Day 1. Today is a 3 mile run day, so I ran the O’Fallon Firecracker 5K race. It rained for most of the run, at least a drizzle for all of it. It was actually refreshing to run in the rain…cooling. So much so that my legs are still cold three hours later. No complaints though…the cooler temps are a welcome relief from last week’s triple digit heat index. Ran my fastest time, officially clocking in at 37:30 and averaging a 12:15/mile pace. I feel good. As people passed me, I tried to keep up with their pace each time, sometimes staying with them for awhile, and other times not so much. When the older lady power walking caught up to me, I told myself, “no way am I getting passed by an old lady walking again”, and I kicked it up and kept it up.

I know that about the last .1 mile or so was a good pace…your mom was there cheering for me as I came into the parking lot, and it was very encouraging to see her there for me. I pushed the last leg about as hard as I could because she was there, and it probably knocked about 20 seconds off my time. It really makes the whole run worthwhile to see family at the end cheering for me. Below is a picture of me finishing this race.

2011 O'Fallon Firecracker 5K

7/5
Week 3 Day 2. Today is a 2 mile run or cross-training day. I’m at work today, so I did 2 miles on the treadmill. Ran the first .5 miles at a 6.0 pace in 5 minutes, and was winded and started having discomfort in the sides of my chest and lungs. Slowed down to a 4.8 pace for 2:30 then back to a 6.0 for another 2:30 and finished the last mile at a 4.8 pace. Feeling pretty good, with some chest discomfort still as I write this 30 minutes after completing the run. That’s the farthest or longest I’ve run at that pace to start with, so I’m happy. Did the run in the evening, though, and I’m wishing I had time to get it done earlier in the day. We had several calls throughout the day that prevented an earlier run, so I’m happy to just get the run in at all. I’m happy that even though I did not pre-run stretch (only a 5 minute walk), my shins do not hurt like they always have in the past during and following a run on the treadmill. Maybe I’m making some progress in that area?

What I’m not making progress in is my late night craving for sweets. A thankful citizen brought a pan of sweets to the station yesterday…brownies, cake and gooey butter cake. I don’t usually fair well with that kind of temptation. As I write this, I just finished a small piece of gooey butter cake and a brownie. What is it about firefighters that makes people think, “let’s bake them some fat-filled, sugar-loaded sweets to fatten them up as a way of saying thank you for what you do.” I need to find a marketing strategy that has them thinking instead, “let’s pick them up some fresh fruit and vegetables or whole-grain breads to say thank you for staying fit enough to do your job effectively.”

7/6
Week 3 Day 3. Today is 3 mile day. Ran the first .1 mile at a 6.0 pace on the treadmill then backed down to a 5.0 pace for the remainder. I wanted to knock out a full 5K, though, and I did it in 36:57, which is 37 seconds faster than my race time on Monday. This is a treadmill, though, so it’s easier to keep the pace consistent, there are no hills and no wind resistance. I’m feeling pretty good afterward. For curiosity sake, I added up all of my running to date to see how many miles I’ve logged. 87.1 miles logged to date since March 25th. That’s the equivalent of running from our house to Columbia, Missouri!!

7/7
Week 3 Day 4. Rest day. I like rest day. 🙂

7/8
Week 3 Day 5. I really need to get used to the training schedule. Its basically the same thing every week, but today I thought it was a 4 mile run. So I ran 4 miles on the treadmill, and then an hour later saw the schedule actually called for 30 minutes of cross-training today and the 4 mile run tomorrow. Now I gotta run another 4 miles in the morning. Oh well…what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger right? My run this morning was really good. I did a 5.2 pace on the treadmill, a 11:45/mile pace. The first mile was 11:45 and 2 miles was 23:30. At the 2 mile mark, I slowed to a walk for 30 seconds, long enough to take a quick drink. Did the same at the 3 mile mark. Did the 4 miles in 36:31, which still came out to a 12:10/mile pace. Having the short 30 second walk to look forward to at every mile was encouraging, because I had shorter goals to look forward to, rather than seeing 4 miles and psyching myself out with how far that is. I think I may have found a way to get over the “hump” of the longer runs, and I’m encouraged. Even when I finished the 4 miles, within 30 seconds of walking I felt like I could push through another mile. I’m encouraged by that and looking forward to repeating it as I add miles to my longer runs.

I read an article today about how to improve my running stride and took some good pointers from it. Things I need to focus on:

With knees bent, landing with gentle contact on the heel, moving immediately to mid-foot, so that the shock of landing is absorbed into the muscle rather than my skeletal system and joints.

  • Keeping head looking forward, not up or down.
  • Relaxing my shoulders nice and low.
  • Pushing my chest slightly forward so that gravity works to pull me forward when I run.
  • Keeping my elbows bent to a 80-90* angle and bringing my hands up to the lower breastbone.
  • Making sure not to lift my arms backward, so not to overwork the posterior deltoids and triceps muscles.
  • Pelvis should be tucked gently under my hips, so my butt is not sticking back or my stomach arching forward, like I’m sitting on a stool.
  • Proper body alignment should put my chest, knees and feet on the same plane when my foot makes contact with the ground, with the foot landing aligned with the chest.

Basically, I need to picture how a child runs when I run, and envision that running posture…relaxed and fluid and easy. If I take a few of these tips at a time and work to incorporate them into my running posture and stride, I should start to see improvement not only in my run performance, but in my post-run recovery and pain level. One suggestion in the article recommended running barefoot on grass or at the track. Doing so should lead to a natural tendency to land more on the center of the foot than the heel and help to train for better running stride and stance. Maybe I’ll try that someday. Maybe.

Looking back through my journal, two things stand out. First, I need to find a way to stay hydrated and fueled on the long runs. As I start adding miles to the long runs, I really need to make sure I have water or a sports drink available. It should be easy since I’m going to start incorporating a 30 second walk into every mile after the second mile. As the schedule starts to intensify closer to race day, my shortest run every week is going to be 4 miles, which takes me 45 minutes. Running for an hour or more with no hydration is too long…beyond safe. So today, I bought a water bottle that’s designed for runners. It has a handle that fits around my hand so I don’t have to actually hold onto it the whole time, and it has a small pouch I can store a Pre-Workout Gel in to use in the longer runs for fuel. Second, I remember being discouraged last week. Six days ago, I tried my first 4 mile run…outside in the 105* heat. I remember that feeling, and I’m glad that I’m experiencing more positives than negatives. Today, while surfing online, I came across the following two quotes:

  • “It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.” – Vince Lombardi
  • “Don’t be discouraged. It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.” – Author Unknown

Both offer me the encouragement to keep going through the hard runs. I’m sharing my goals more and more with people at work, and for the most part, I’m receiving encouragement from them. There have been a select few who have tried to discourage me. Whether their comments are intentionally meant to discourage, or they just don’t know how to respond, I don’t know. Either way, I’ve finally reached the point in this journey where I’m not reliant upon anyone else for motivation. I could honestly give or take encouragement from others. Don’t get me wrong, I do find satisfaction in receiving encouraging words of affirmation, but I don’t need them as much now as I did when I first started. I’ve finally found the motivation internally, and that gives me a pride that no external source can provide. Having found the internal “drive” has me in a mental place where I can finally take any discouraging words from coworkers and push them aside, block them out, ignore them altogether. I know I’ll have ups and downs in this journey…times where I struggle to find the drive to press on…times when I get knocked down. What I’m finding great joy in is that I can internally apply Vince Lombardi’s words of advice above and get back up…get back up to run another day…to press on. The joy and drive that comes from within is from God…I know it. I can feel Him running with me, strengthening my body…and my mind and spirit. I find reassurance from Him in the Word:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:12-14

7/9
Week 3 Day 6. “Long run” day…4 miles today. I went to the track at the high school, because I wanted to work on my pace…keeping it steady across a long run without the treadmill. The track was locked up tight, though, so I ran a 4 mile circle around the school and surrounding area. I did the first mile in 12:20 and 2 miles in 25:30. At the second mile, I walked for 30 seconds. At the end of 3 miles, I walked another 30 seconds and then had to interval run the last mile, running for 2:00, walking for 30-45 seconds. I finished the 4 miles in about 55:00, although I don’t know the exact time. I inadvertently pressed the “discard” button on the program. 😦

7/10
Week 3 Day 7. Rest Day.

7/11
Week 4 Day 1. Hard to believe I’ve been training for the half marathon for three weeks already. Time’s moving. Ran 3 miles on the treadmill today at an incline of 1. First mile in 11:40, and second mile in 23:07. At 2.1 miles I stopped to walk .1 mile. Then ran .4 miles, walked .1 and finished the last .4 running. My treadmill pace for each run segment was 5.2, and the whole three miles took 36:07. Did this run about 30 minutes after dinner…should’ve waited longer…or done it earlier in the day.

7/12
Week 3 Day 2. Today is 2 miles or cross-training so I did 2 miles on the treadmill at an incline of 2 in my turnout gear. I could only keep a 5.2 pace for a minute or two at most, then had to go back to a 4.5, which was about my pace when I first started in March. The extra gear on me is about equivalent to the weight I’ve lost to date, so it’s like running at my starting weight…very difficult. My legs feel like lead weights, and my head is playing mind games on me…very difficult to stay mentally focused. Total time for the 2 miles was 28:32.

7/13
Week 4 Day 3. Took a rest day today instead of tomorrow.

7/14
Week 4 Day 4. Ran 3 miles around the neighborhood this morning. It’s a beautiful morning! Did 3 miles in 42:30. It was a very slow pace…probably because I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. I never had breathing issues, but my legs were hurting a mile in.

7/15
Week 4 Day 5. Today is supposed to be 30 minutes of cross-training. It’s also our annual family float day, and we’ll be spending the whole day on the river. I’m counting that as my cross-training. Between rowing the raft and a 10 minute swim about 200 yards downriver and back up, I’m happy. At the end of the day, I’m sore and tired. Eight hours on the river…great day!

7/16
Week 4 Day 6. Today is supposed to be a 4 mile run. After the day on the river yesterday, I’m exhausted. Today, is the family picnic, and it’s hot. With the humidity, it’s over 100 degrees. Even after the picnic, it’s just too hot, and I’m too exhausted and sore from yesterday to do anything. I succumb to my weakness and take the day off. My body is so sore, that I reckon it won’t kill me to take an extra day to recover.

7/17
Week 4 Day 7. Today is supposed to be a stretch and strengthen day. I’m at work, and again I’m still exhausted. The weekend’s activities have really taken it out of me. I had a blast, and I’m going to count it as a reward for 4 weeks of solid training for the half marathon…on top of 2 months of running in general.

7/18
Week 5 Day 1. Today is 3.5 miles. I’m at the firehouse, and I want to run outside instead of on the treadmill. The temperature is over 100* again. We’ve been under an excessive heat warning for two days, and will be for 2-3 more days. In the evening I ran for 51 minutes around the parking lot at the station. The GPS on my phone doesn’t track well when I run in such close circles, so I’m guessing by my pace and my time that it was between 3.5 and 3.8 miles. It felt like a good run, and though I could have pushed the pace a little harder, it’s hard to make that decision when I’m on duty. That’s the drawback for running on duty…I have to have something in reserve when I’m done running, so that I can actually do my job when I’m called to fight a fire in this heat after running. I’m glad I took the extra days off over the weekend, because it seems to have refreshed me.

7/19
Week 5 Day 2. Today is supposed to be a short 2 mile run. Not so much…had a lazy, sleepy day all day. My body is beat.

7/20
Week 5 Day 3. Pain Day. Punishment Day. I hate Wednesdays in this training program. It’s a 3.5 mile run AND strength training. To make up for yesterday, my plan is to run the 2.9 miles to the firehouse, do an upper body workout and then run home. This triple-digit heat is a plan killer. I ran all but about a quarter mile (combined over several walking breaks) on the way there and did it in 46:13. Running in this heat is like starting all over back in March…slows me down. I did a 20 minute upper body workout and then left for home. I jogged the first mile, walked for a minute and then alternated walking and jogging the next mile with my runs being .1 mile at most. When the last mile hit, I was done. My hamstrings and quads started locking up, so I ended up walking the last mile. Tried cold water immersion therapy (ice bath) when I got home. It helped with the soreness, and two hours later my legs are still cold.

7/21
Week 5 Day 4. Rest day. I should probably run 2 miles to make up for taking Tuesday as a rest day. However, with the over 5 miles I logged yesterday, I think I’ll write Tuesday’s lazy day off and move forward with the training plan as scheduled. The last thing I want to do is push it too hard and risk injury. Rest it is. I weighed in today. Down another 4 pounds since last week. Probably all sweat from yesterday.

7/22
Week 5 Day 5. It’s hot again today…over 100*, and it’s a 2 mile jog day. To the track for some interval training. I’m reading that doing interval training once or twice a week is good for building up stamina and endurance at faster speeds. My intervals today are 100 meters each (1/4 lap)…at a comfortable speed that is below a full sprint, but above my normal race pace. My intervals were:

  • Lap 1 – 32.1
  • Lap 2 – 33.6
  • Lap 3 – 35.4
  • Lap 4 – 37.9
  • Lap 5 – 41.2
  • Lap 6 – 42.2
  • Lap 7 – 38.3
  • Lap 8 – 36.1

The entire two miles took me about 29:30, which is a weak performance. Each 100 meter interval for the first mile (4 laps) was followed by 300 meters at a jog just slower than my normal race pace. Starting the second mile in lap 5, I followed the interval with a 100 meter jog, 100 meter walk, 100 meter jog. Following interval 6, I walked 200 meters then jogged 100 meters. After interval 7, I walked 250 meters and jogged 50 meters. Following interval 8, I walked 100 meters, jogged 50 and walked 150. I would have liked to have been able to jog each of the “cool down” periods following each interval, but just couldn’t. I was getting sick to my stomach, and when I finished, my arms, legs and face were tingling…a sign that blood flow to my extremities was being shunted to my core…an early warning sign of dehydration and heat stroke. Time to get home and get cool.

7/23
Week 5 Day 6. Long run day. At the firehouse, I did 5 miles on the treadmill. Had 3/4 of a breakfast sandwich and an orange juice for breakfast at 6:45 and a Gatorade Pre-Workout Gel at 10:45, 5 minutes before starting. Ran the first 3.1 miles in 39:40 then walked .1 mile. Jogged another mile, then walked .1 mile, jogged .15, walked .5 and jogged the last half mile. Total time was 1:05:05, and calories expended was 1106. I don’t usually pay attention to the calories burned, but seeing over 1100 burned was a surprise, so it stuck in my head. What really floors me is that I ran for all but .25 miles…about 5 minutes out of the full hour. That’s a milestone in itself for me…if someone would have told me 2-3 months ago that I could run for an hour, I’d have laughed at them. And yet here I am…just ran for an hour, and I feel great about 15-20 minutes afterward! And while it’s something I’m proud of, it’s not even half of what I’ve set out to do. At a pace that’s comfortable for me, my half marathon will take me just under 3 hours. Oww!

7/24
Week 5 Day 7. Should be a stretch day. It’s a rest day.

7/25
Week 6 Day 1. A birthday jog of 3.5 miles. Very hard to find the internal motivation and drive today. Getting out the door was a struggle. I jogged the first 2 miles, then hit a mental wall and lost the mental battle. Ended up walking 4 short segments in the last mile and a half…not because I was struggling to breathe, but my legs and back were sore. It was a mid-morning run, about 10:00-11:00 and took me 55:54 pretty pathetic.

7/26
Week 6 Day 2. Intervals at the track. Alternating 100 meters at my fastest pace with 100 meters walking for 2 miles:

Lap 1: 33.9 & 30.8
Lap 2: 27.6 & 30.3
Lap 3: 29.6 & 29.7
Lap 4: 28.9 & 28.9
Lap 5: 27.9 & 29.9
Lap 6: 27.1 & 28.1
Lap 7: 27.6 & 31.6
Lap 8: 33.1 & 28.6

Again in the heat of the day, this run felt pathetic. It’s getting extremely difficult this past few days. I’m constantly tired and groggy, and I don’t know why…very frustrating! My energy level should be improving, but instead it feels like I have less energy than ever!

I’m not a morning person…never have been. Waking up at the butt crack of dawn has never been my thing, let alone to run. I know the early bird gets the worm, but I just can’t pull the energy out for some reason. I need to find a way, though, because my current training schedule (and lack of energy) is robbing my kids and wife of my time and passion. I feel like my commitment to this half marathon has become a burden on them, and I hate it. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. I’m right in the middle of a huge wall, and I’m becoming discouraged. Up until about a week ago, I was looking forward to each day’s run. Now I loathe them. I need to find a way to break through this, because it sucks! Not sure how much longer I can keep it up.

7/27
Week 6 Day 3. I tweaked my left hamstring/butt muscle doing the sprints yesterday. It’s still sore today, and hard to walk up and down stairs. Living in a split-level house isn’t conducive to this. Instead of running 3.5 miles, I’m calling a rest day to let this thing heal.

7/28
Week 6 Day 4. My butt and leg still hurt. I slept for about an hour on the concrete sidewalk outside of the school for Upward gym rental signups. Long night, and I’m exhausted. Another rest day.

7/29
Week 6 Day 5. Seriously. I apparently either need to stretch better before doing sprint and interval training or not do it. This hurts! Today, a co-worker and I did a circuit workout at work. Using mostly my own body weight for 15 various exercises, it was a good 30 minute workout. It hurt and got my heart pumping at the same time. I like it, so I copied his notes so I can repeat this workout. Finished with 15 minutes on the elliptical machine.

7/30
Week 6 Day 6. After two restless nights at the firehouse, I’m tired. An early morning call at 6:00, has me up…it’s long run day. 5 miles. To the track behind station 6 I go. This run stunk. It took me 01:15:20 to do 5 miles. My first mile was about a 13 minute pace, and the second mile was about 13:30. After that, I dropped to about a 18:00/mile pace. Pathetic. I gotta find a stretching routine that works for me, because my legs are killing me. My problem isn’t my breathing or heart rate…it’s the pain in my legs and back. I also need to start eating better. I’ve not really been cracking down on the food I take in, and I think it’s showing in my performance…and lack thereof. I’m sure if I fueled my body with better choices, it would perform better. Twelve weeks to go…time to do it.

7/31
Week 6 Day 7. Rest day.

Total miles logged in July = 55.5 And that’s it…my July of running. Hope it wasn’t too boring. You can continue following my running journey with my August Run Journal

Love,

Dad

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