Monday, March 5, 2012

All over the place

This blog post is gong to be a little bit all over the place. There are a few things I wanted to touch on that stood out in my mind throughout the week. The topic I wanted to focus on first is an interview I heard on the radio featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson. He brought up so many important ideas relating to funding research in space, but he also talked about heroes. I liked that he confessed that, rather than look up to one specific hero, he strives to emulate what he sees as the best qualities of many individuals in order to become something new and different in terms of a person. His thoughts can end up being a little controversial, because it means looking past someone's faults while admiring their good qualities. In terms of an athlete who also drinks, why can't his or her stellar skills on the field, track or court still be respected? In other words, take what can be admired and discard the rest rather than try to find someone who has it all. Ultimately, it's impossible to find someone who has ALL the attributes to be cherished in a person. A great example of this in my life is a friend who has so many positive characteristics, yet we are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Do I toss her as a friend? No way, because she has far too much to offer and look up to in other areas of her life.

Now for some

An interesting question about pre-race warm-ups popped up in a forum I used to frequent. Last summer I ran two races. I had forgotten the time line for warms-ups, but it didn't matter for one, as the start was delayed by about 15 minutes. One never knows when a pre-race speech will be delayed or run long. In terms of racing, 15 minutes is a large chunk of time to be standing around or doing strides before the gun. However, most people agree that, depending on the distance, a 1-3 mile warm-up is standard. After this, tossing in some dynamic stretching and strides immediately before the start is a good idea. Most people agree that the warm up jog should be completed about 15 minutes or so before the race gets underway. I aim for about 10-15 minutes, but I always get antsy and start too early. It's usually fine, because the movement blows off some of that nervous energy,  but if the warm-up is done too far in advance, it can leave a runner feeling tired when he or she steps up to the line.

Rules are made to be broken though, because one of the best races I had was years ago when I was living in Utah. I drove about 45 minutes the wrong direction before arriving at the race course with about 10 minutes before the gun went off, just enough time to jog 5 minutes, run to the bathroom, switch into my facing flats and sprint to the start line. Though I don't suggest this short of a warm up, I did end up winning the race.

I was also reading about someone who is having hip trouble and thought it could be tendonitis or a stress fracture. My sister has a hip issue, but an x-ray confirmed arthritis. For her, yoga and some PT are helping. I bring all this up, because I'm starting to realize that injuries happen, no matter what level runner a person happens to be. I thought that because I had pushed things too far, I got injured more, and while that's partly true, there are plenty of people who aren't at an elite level who still get injured. There are also elite runners who don't deal with a ton of injuries. As with everything in life, there are many factors to consider, not just the amount and intensity of a training regime. In fact, I should add that my foot issue wasn't about over-training. Sure I had plenty of injuries that were related to doing too much too hard, but I've had some that were caused by problems completely outside of my training as well. I guess my point here is that we all have to deal with setbacks. It's a mater of getting through those down times and moving forward in new areas when they occur.

On that note, I have been attempting a few moments of jogging after about 3 months on the bike. After one 10-minute walk/run, my body was convinced I had done a marathon. Wow, I was sore and tired! It's crazy how different running is from the bike. Today I actually did a real run, though most would consider what I was doing a jog. I'm calling it a run, because it was longer than 10 minutes, and while I stopped a few times, I was moving OUTSIDE at something faster than a walk. Yay!

I'll bring up one last topic inspired by an ongoing debate several friends of mine are having regarding coaches. Some people are of the opinion that a good coach must be someone who runs at least as much or as fast as the person he or she is coaching. I am definitely not of this opinion and only had one coach who could keep up with me. My best coach in terms of keeping me healthy while running at my best never ran with me and didn't compete. He was fit, but I've also known great coaches who definitely didn't run at all. There are countless examples of coaches who either no longer run fast or never did who are able to get great results from their athletes. I can understand why someone might feel that a coach should have hands on experience, but I look more for someone who has a good understanding of physiology, knows all about the mental aspect of racing and training, can deal with the emotional side of training and racing and knows something about nutrition. Also, it's my personal opinion that a coach should be able to communicate effectively with his or her athletes. Of course, everyone is different and will have different requirements when it comes to a coach. It's interesting to get people's response when it comes to this topic.

As people can probably guess, I'm a little distracted with quite a lot going on lately. It's mostly good stuff, and I will have to spill the details at a later date. Until then, I assume my blog posts are going to suffer a wee bit.


  1. Well done on the run! That's progress.

    Totally agree with you re coaches. They don't have to have been an elite athlete (or even a good runner) to be a great coach. There are local coaches I know who were never great runners but are great coaches.

  2. Thank you, Ewen. I have to take a day or two easy, because the foot is a little sore. Still, I'm hoping it really is coming along.

    I know!! I can think of so many examples of great coaches who don't actively do their sport or do it sparingly. I guess it comes down to everyone needing something different in a coach.