Saturday, March 31, 2012

Louisville Papa John's 10 miler Race.

Today was the beginning of my racing after making a lot of changes in my life. I'm eating cleaner, sleeping more and training more intensely. I felt the difference that losing 18 lbs and staying focused made. My training took this new turn at the middle of January after returning from the Disney World Goofy Challenge.

This race is very hilly, it's three miles of flat course through a residential area and then starts up some serious hills for the next 4 miles. Then the course goes back to the flat area until the last mile where there is a long hill over a tunnel. Regardless of the the hills each mile was faster for me than the last.

My goal was to race walk the course under 2 hours. At the 5 mile point, right in the middle of the hill area, I was at 1 hour. I took a quick inventory of how I was feeling and since I was feeling strong I attacked the hills and had a great time passing runners who had resorted to walking up the hills or were running slowly. I keep up the assault on the hills and then back on the flat I kept up the pace. I ended up finishing the last 5 miles in 58 min.

At the end I was glad to see the finish line but kinda wished it was a half marathon instead of a 10 miler since I was on pace to have a good PR and had plenty of energy left. I have definitely reached a new level in my racing ability.

We had pizza, nice Cinnamon buns and a fruit waiting at the end. Highly recommend this race for a fun inexpensive destination race.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lock and Load!

There is a phrase that every member of the military knows, "Lock and Load". It means lock in the magazine and slam the bolt forward to strip a bullet off the top of the magazine and into the chamber ready to fire. It's the prelude to combat. In a sense that is a proper way for an athlete to view going into a race, locked and loaded, ready for combat.

We should look at preparing for a race as going into combat, we are going in prepared to give our all and feel proud of our effort. All the training is great for our body and our heart, but going into a race and giving it the best you have is good for your soul. When you cross the finish line and you know you held nothing back then you won, regardless of where in the pack you came in.

Indeed racing is combat, your going toe to toe with some pretty tough opponents, your facing down your own demons of self doubt, your fighting for true self respect, since no one but you knows if you did give your best effort. You have trained your body, hardened your muscles and built a will of iron, now your ready to turn that inner warrior lose.

Racing is our reward for all the hours and all the miles, we have paid our dues and now it's time to join our brother and sister athletes in this celebration of health and fitness.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Peace Love and the Pursuit of Abs.

Most of us that exercise, indeed most people period look at having definition in your stomach muscles as a milestone on the road to being fit. Once a person has achieved that milestone they love to show off that flat tummy with the well defined muscles. To many of us will never have that tummy like a champion bodybuilder or a fitness model. There are to many factors involved in having that feature.

To start with a flat tummy is a result of reducing your total overall body fat level. You can't just take off the pudge in the places you want to, it's an all over thing and unfortunately our body likes to store it's fat reserves around our middle. You can do sit ups and crunches till you're blue but till you reduce your layers of pudge around our middles the abs will never come.

Once you have allowed yourself to get heavy around the waist it's double hard to ever have that tummy definition. Our bodies will make new fat cells, storage sheds, to hold the extra food we take in since the body looks at our over eating as preparing for lean times ahead. Once the fat cells are produced our bodies will not destroy them, they will allow us to empty those storage sheds of their stored fat but the fat cells remain, ready for refilling when needed. So if you have in the past gone through periods of gaining weight you will have those fat cells for always and forever.

You can have a trim waist but those layers of empty fat cells will hide your abdominal muscles even when they are good and strong from regular exercise. It can be disheartening to work your tummy regularly and not get to see the results but we do pay for our past habits. So a trim waist and strong core should be your goal rather than the definition, when and if that does come it's a plus but don't stress over it if it doesn't happen.

Another roadblock a lot of us face is our body type. Some body types put on weight easier, others put on muscle easier. We are who we are though and we can't change body types. We can however make the most of what we have. Some people will have a harder time of it than others. If you accept who you are and what you have to work with then you will have a easier time making the changes in your fitness and strength.

Finally we have to do our training as our lives allow. Some people will have an easier time fitting exercise and living healthy into their schedule. It's important to do the many activities that being fit requires, the stretching the strengthening and the cardio. Some days are not going to allow it, so no use stressing over it.

The best plan and path? First the best plan is the one that fits your life. Then work on the big three; getting your weight down to a healthy level, cutting out the unhealthy habits, like smoking, drinking sodas and eating highly processed food and finally getting regular exercise. Doing these things will make us healthier and stronger. Once you have made good progress on the big three then you can start thinking about sculpting.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


The hardest part of living an athlete lifestyle is motivation. That is because you have to keep on the right path day after day, month after month and year after year. It's OK to stray off the path occasionally to eat a decadent dinner, be lazy for a few days and rest or just take short trips to pursue other interests. But the motivation gets you back on the path to your healthy active lifestyle after your side trips. It sounds easy and actually it can be, but it does require some thought and planning on your part.

Motivation can and does come in many forms. Your friends are a wonderful source, but you have to choose friends wisely. You want and need to be around people that make you a better person and not hang with people who drag you down into their own pity parties. Someone who is positive and happy will be a good influence on you and keep you believing that tomorrow really can be better.

There is a limitless amount of motivation on the Internet for most anything and everything, especially athletics. I often just read some of the quotations that my positive Facebook and WISH friends have found and posted, to get my own head straight before going out to do my miles or going to work. If your in the right frame of mind everything goes better, the day just seems to flow.

Motivation must also come from within. You have to have dreams and goals that you want to achieve and a path that you can map with land marks along the way. They can be a certain body weight, times for going a specific distance or just finishing an event like a marathon. They can also be lowering your blood pressure, stress level, cholesterol and resting heart rate without drugs.

Many times during the day we have to make choices, the good choices are easier if your not looking for the easy way or the comfortable way. But each time we make the healthy choice we have made ourselves tougher and mentally stronger.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Making Changes.

Most of us say there are things about ourselves we would change if we could. Well since we control only two things in our lives, our own thoughts and actions, then maybe that would be a good place to start.

To many of us grew up with bigotry, prejudices and hatred for certain other people, places and religions. I grew up in Japan since my father was a career Air Force man. As such I lead a very sheltered life. We lived on military bases and had only one TV channel that played programs in English. I went to a lot of movies since they were very inexpensive on the base and there wasn't much for a kid to do. This was in the 50s and early 60s and there were not the sports programs for children that we have now. We went out side to play, that and school was pretty much our life.

So because of my unique upbringing I missed a lot of the prejudices that were going around during that period in our countries growth. But when I returned to Kentucky, my birth place, in the mid 60s I was suddenly exposed to all the hatred and mistrust of others that I had been missing. Wow what a shock to the system. I was now supposed to look down on black kids as poor trash and not play with them, and Japanese, (Japs), we not to be trusted. Well I never did buy into that but I learned to keep my mouth shut since I would get put in my place if I questioned the local bigotry.

Over the last 45 years since then, our attidudes have changed somewhat and we have gone through different people to hate, the Commies, the Chinks, the Gooks and now the Arabs and the Gays. It never ends, seems like we have to have someone to hate to justify us being better. I think that was what Hitler used to get into power, "it's all the Jews fault".

Well if we only control our on thoughts and actions, why can't we change them? Why can't we wipe the slate clean and start over, looking at things properly. Judging people as individuals and human beings just like us. Yes there are some real bad, even evil people in every color, and every size and shape. But there are some damn fine ones in every color, size and shape also. So why not make this the day that we stop looking at people as groups and start looking at them as people.

We can change our thoughts, and we can change our own personalities if we really want to. We can teach ourselves to be more patient, more understanding and more caring. We can teach ourselves to be more helpful and more caring. We can start training to be the person that we want to be. We don't need a life changing event like a heart attack to remind us that we are only here for a short time, we can make a decision to make our selves better and be more the person we want to be.

We can change our level of fitness, we can eat better and we can be the poster children for good health, but if the inside needs a good cleansing that should be a priority also.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

How Bad "DO" You Want It?

"How bad 'DO' you want it"? Wow is that phrase ever powerful. I'm writing this today for my fellow adult endurance athletes and track and field athletes. We are the poster children for the spirit of sport. There are no variables in our game, with all the team sports the outcome isn't entirely up to us, but in our chosen sport it's our bodies and desire against the distance, period. It doesn't matter what the other competitors brought, only what you bring.

There is nothing wrong with working out, running, walking, swimming, biking.....just for health and fitness. I applaud that, it's awesome to have that in your lifestyle. But, there comes a time for most of us when we want to know, "Just how good can I be"? We get that desire, it starts as a daydream and evolves into a need, a burning to know.

With the sport we have chosen, we are a team of one, we are our own champion and we go toe to toe, one on one with the distance. To do that we have to build ourselves into the total package. We have to do it all if we want it all. We have to train in our sport and we have to train those parts of our body that our sport doesn't develop. We have to do the stretching, the strength building and we have to do the miles. We have to build our endurance and our will. When we reach our limits in a race then it's our desire and determination that takes over. It's not the strongest that wins a race it's the toughest.

It's a hard fight to reach our potential. It's a battle with our schedules to find the time. It's a war with our fat cells that often have had their way with us for way to long. It's a fight to control our natural tendency to look for the easy path. But most of all it's a constant struggle to stay the course, to keep moving forward. Motivation must start within then we can look for more logs to put on the fire from our friends and those athletes we admire for their accomplishments.

Let this be the weekend that you take that spark of a dream and turn up the heat till you have the flame of desire burning strong.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Defining Moment

I was a hobby runner from about 1979 to around 2006, a runner not a walker, as most of the old school runners I wouldn't think of walking during a race. Jeff Galloway's teachings were for the newbie without the stamina to keep up the pace. Walkers in races were just runner wannabees or worse in the way. Then one day while running down the hill at WKU, I tore some tissue in my left Achilles tendon. Being a purest I still tried to continue my running. A slow three miles would require a 3 day recovery, PT helped but as soon as I tried to resume running the pain would begin again. My last attempt at running was a local 5K on grass, half way through I could no longer tolerate the pain in my tendon and I had to limp in.

We have a few race walkers here in my town and I would see them doing their race usually prior to the run portion and sometimes along with the runners if there wasn't a separate walk race. I decided to give it a try. So I taught myself to walk within the rules of the sport. I was pretty good at it to and did well in local races. So I decided to go to the state Senior Games that are held every year.

I arrived at the track, at the KY Wildcat's sports complex, in Lexington Ky, ready to do my first judged competition. I signed in early and was doing some easy walking to warm up when I heard a group mention race walking. There was a group from a Louisville race walking school there to compete. I walked up to them and introduced myself. The coach, teacher, of the group asked me where I learned to race walk and I told him I was self taught and this was my first judged event. He said, "Well this is the qualifier for next years National Senior Olympics and my students are going to get the slots to go. The best thing for you to do is watch us and learn and then practice for a year then come back, you don't belong at this level of competition."

I slinked off and kept up my continual slow walking laps around the track to keep warm before our race. Then when it was time we lined up for the race. The judge gave us the rules and then we were off. I was dead last and pretty discouraged, at that moment I made a decision, I was going to go as hard as I could go till I couldn't go anymore and see what happened. I decided it was time to find out if I belonged out there or not. So I did the race walk equivalent of a sprint and started passing other walkers and at the finish I was third and had a slot for the Nationals.

The other walkers were a lot friendlier after the race. I took what happened to heart and vowed to always encourage other walkers especially ones new to the sport of race walking. I went to the nationals the next year and placed 8th in the 5K and 9th in the 1500m. Then life kinda had it's way with me for a few years and this year I'm ready to qualify again for next years nationals and hopefully now as a much better and more experienced walker, try for a medal.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The High

You hear a lot about that elusive feeling the 'Runner's High'. Just what the heck is that and how does one make it happen more often. Everyone who has been involved in endurance sports for a while has felt it. Your running/walking/biking along and suddenly the pace becomes so much easier, your flying along like your not even touching the ground and it feeling effortless. You realize that you are a lot farther along in your distance than you realize and your energy level is amazing.

It's almost as though someone stuck your mind in the body of a stronger athlete. Like there really is a stronger more powerful person inside you and you are finally letting him/her loose and letting them run. You can't believe how far along you are in your distance, you don't even remember getting this far. You're moving so effortlessly, like it was what you were born to do.

Everyone has probably experienced this,' you are going home from work, your tired and the drive is long, all of a sudden your home and you realize you don't remember the trip, like you were transported there'. That is because when we do something that we've done a lot of times like driving at night on a long road that we have driven many times, the auto pilot portion of our brain takes over, the same part of our brain that controls breathing and the other automatic functions of our bodies.

We are uniquely wonderful design, we have way more to us than we understand. It's said by those that study that sort of thing that we only use about 10% of our brain power. I believe that is true for our bodies also. I think we have way more potential than we realize. Were it not for that we would never have athletic records broken the way we do. I believe that when a new athlete starts breaking records that they have somehow learned to stop controlling their every action during their performance and let go.

When we are experiencing that 'High' we have let go and turned our body loose to just do and not be controlled like a puppet on strings. When records are broken and broken badly, often the athlete has made it look effortless. Perhaps it was effortless and that athlete had a peek into that magic that we all posses inside of us.

Thanks for reading

Monday, March 12, 2012


To race your best and peak when you want to for important races it helps to have a plan. Most of the famous runners and race walkers will sell you a plan off their web sites. The problem with those are that they are for that "average' person, whatever that means. They also are on a set time table that probably will not fit your personal schedule. I know a lot of people that used a canned marathon plan and it took so much time out of their lives to train that they never did another marathon.

It's good to have a plan but it needs to be customized to you not that average person. to start with you need to decide how much time you can comfortably spend training and still have a normal life. You shouldn't have to give up having a life to make a life style change. You have to have time for a normal family life, working full time as most of us do and have plenty of time to sleep and recover from hard workouts.

Sounds impossible doesn't it? Well it's not. Making life style changes can be Incorporated into your normal life so you still can enjoy all the positive things you don't want to have to change. To start with look at a daily schedule of you current life obligations. I find that if I do my hard workouts on my days off that I can get everything accomplished and still train. Next look at your goal races. If your only going to be racing 5Ks then you don't need a lot of distance workouts. You also don't need to train like an olympian if your plan is just to finish a half or full marathon.

Even if you want to train to race and be competitive there are really only three basic workouts that you need to make sure you get in every week. The first is a track day where you do measured distance at speed. The next is a long slower day to build endurance. The last is kind of a mix where you go further than your target race, unless it's a half or full marathon, and mix in speed ups. An optional good fourth day for competition training is to do your planned race distance with each mile faster than the last. A fifth day of training if it fits into your schedule is a free form day where you just go for a run/race walk of 3 to 5 miles at whatever pace you feel like, even untimed, just let it flow. Then the last 2 days at least should be active rest. Those are the days you get errands done, do family things and get the chores done.

For marathon training you can combine workouts to get the time in motion. Like doing a slower 10 miler and then your yard work. Or a 10 miler and a walk/bike ride with your spouse. Give it some thought and you can come up with more ways to make a life style change fit your life.

Thanks for reading.