Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fat Run!

Jason Robillard was nice enough to let me test drive his new book, Never Wipe Your Ass With a Squirrel. It's a odd name, but a very good read so far.

One thing he writes about is running on fats. The purpose of this is to ease the transition from carbohydrate fuel to fats. This is what "the wall" that marathon+ runners hit. The idea is that if your body gets used to making the transition it is not so bad.

1 Pound of Fat -

 Yesterday I did not eat much. I probably was around 1400 calories give or take. I did not eat a lot at night and a majority of my caloric intake was from fats and proteins. You see where I am going here?

This morning around 10AM I split an omelette with Whitney and ate a pear. Oddly these eating habits had nothing to do with Jason's writing. I was just trying to practice portion control.

Anyway, around 1PM I was feeling a little hungry. That's when I reflected on my caloric intake over the past 12 hours and decided it would be an excellent time to try out Jason's ideas.

Now, Jason says there are two ways to burn fats while running. 1) Run slow and keep your heart rate below some number a mathematical formula gives you. 2) Fast before a run. Then just run.

"I'll just do a little of both." Guess what people! It worked.

Around half a mile I started to feel depleted. My pace did not change and I didn't feel too bad. This feeling lasted for about 4 miles, then I started to really feel the fat burning.

I could tell I was burning fats because I did not want to run anymore. My mind was telling me to walk. I was not sore, but my brain was scavenging for calories. I kept wanting to drink out of my bottle, which had nothing but water in it. Ha body! I tricked you!

It was at this time that I started craving some stupid stuff. For example, raw oysters. I have never craved this on a run, but today I wanted it. 

I did my best to just keep going. I told myself that if I stopped I would have to run another mile. The last half mile I said, "I wonder how much gas I have left in the tank?" I started running faster and it felt great. I was able to keep a sub 7 minute pace for that half mile and cruise to my destination.

I debated if it was a good idea to eat a meal once I got home. I decided that I would take a shower and eat something really clean. I ended up eating some black raspberries, a pear, some strawberries, and a cup of orange juice. Update: 20 minutes after eating this Whitney brought a milkshake from Chick-Fil-A to share...

Enough about what I ate!

So what did I learn? I think my body is used to making this transition already. It wasn't nearly as bad as described by noobie marathoners, but I can definitely still use some practice. Since 10 miles isn't really long enough for my long runs I am going to try to do the first 10 of my next run slow and low carbed, then eat something(like a peanut butter and jelly) and run 10 more miles. That will put me in a good place and give me some ups and downs during my runs.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Running The Streets of Dahlonega

When running around Dahlonega there are some things to keep into consideration. Of course, some of my suggestions can apply anywhere, but some are more specific to our small town.

1. “Sorry, I Didn't See You There”
Coming through Dahlonega I usually run from Hancock Park to the crosswalk at the Fudge Factory. I make an honest effort to slow down before hitting the crosswalk, since it is kind of hard to see anybody from that direction, let alone a runner. Even with the most caution I have found myself in the uncomfortable situation of waiting and wondering if that van is going to hit me. Sure enough, as I am halfway though the crosswalk the van cruises by and I hear the driver say, “Yeahhh sorry I didn't see you there.” and drive off. Never expect people to stop for you. I have friends that have been hit by cars, and you can too.

2. To The Left, To The Left
When running on the road try to always run on the left side of the road, facing traffic. When possible, run on a sidewalk. Exceptions to this rule are:

a. There are people on the sidewalk.
In this case, make sure you can safely enter the street and go around them. You should be running on the sidewalk that is next to the left side of the road, so you can safely enter the oncoming traffic. Regardless, look over your shoulder when entering the road.
b. You are running up a hill
If you are running up a hill and can see a tenth of a mile behind you and you can't see what is coming over the top of the hill, it may be safer to switch to the right side of the road until you reach the top of the hill. Once you are at the top of the hill and it is safe to cross, move back to the left side of the road.
c. You are running Lake Zwerner in a clockwise direction
If this is the case, I see no point in crossing the road just to immediately cross back again. I believe there is also more room on the part of the bridge facing the lake than on the other side. For bonus points do 5 mile out-and-backs and avoid this problem all together.

3. Closed
A few days ago around 8 PM I decided to run at the park and do some loops. Around mile 9 the lights started going out and a man from a car yelled, “Hey! I'm lockin' the gate.” I was able to finish my 10 miles, but it was frustrating having to leave the park when the man tells you to. It's better to just avoid the park at late hours and run other places. The drill field at the college seems to always be open and welcoming to late-night runners.

4. Well, That's Odd...
Ever wanted to try out those new shoes that look a little funky? Well you can, but the people of Dahlonega will glare at you. See, Dahlonega isn't one of those hip suburbs where the current trends are booming. Nope. In Dahlonega, people keep it simple. That is not meant to be taken as an insult to Dahlonega or it's residents, it's just something I have noticed. I got a ton of odd looks running in Vibram Five Fingers and even more running barefoot.. Just wait until I break out my Huarache sandals and sport kilt!

5. “Hi”, “Hello”, or “Hola”
Something that tends to bother me more than it should is when people don't say “hi” back. For example, I am running along at Yahoola Park and see a woman walking with her dog. As I run by I say, “hey there”. You would expect someone to say something back in this situation. Unfortunately, I mostly get the stupid look and pass by. The stupid look you ask? This is the same look you would get from someone if you walked up to them and asked, “Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like? Why the look? I believe I am saying “hi” too late. Think about it, you have an extremely charming, sexy, and almost barefoot spectacle running at you. Are your dreams coming true? Yes, yes they are! Then he says “hi”. You struggle to find the right words. I am looking at you, your dog is looking at you, you make a face like you want to speak, then it is too late. Prince charming is gone and then you realize the appropriate response. In conclusion, say “hi” about 10 to 15 feet before passing the person. You might get more normal responses.

6. Don't Be A Creeper Around Lake Zwerner.
Story time. One time I was running an out-and-back at Lake Zwerner. I was doing a pretty comfortable, but quick, pace. As I came around a turn I saw two college girls walking in the same direction as I was. They were talking and carrying on. As I got closer they didn't seem to want to move. No acknowledgments what-so-ever. Finally, I got about 10 feet away from them. I tried the ol' clearing the the throat trick(usually they hear you and move). One of the girls let out a yell and ran into her friend. Apparently they hadn't heard me and heard my cough, scaring the bejesus out of them. I laughed and apologized. About 10 minutes later I had turned around and was heading toward them. I noticed the girls through the trees and heard them talking. “They gotta see me coming”, I thought. I turned the corner(I say I turned, they say I popped out) and heard a yell. At this point I didn't know what to say, so I awkwardly said “Uh... Sorry I keep scaring you?” and ran off into the distance. Most people are a little more observant than these girls, but when coming up on people maybe try to clap your hands from a distance? I really haven't found a solution to this one yet.

I hope these tips help you navigate around Dahlonega a little easier. As Jenny would say, "…if you're ever in trouble, don't be brave. You just run, OK? Just run away.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Scariest Competitor Yet, A Dog

I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The end of my run  was approaching, my watch beeped for the 10 mile mark, and I was cruising down a big hill. My legs were getting a little fatigued, but still felt strong. I could almost see my house.

A car passed me and pulled into the driveway a few feet ahead of me. I watched the driver and passenger get out. All normal so far.

Then I saw him. The 70 pound dog I ran past every day was out. Nothing new really. The dog has an invisible fence which has never failed me. Until today.

I kept running, basically ignoring the dog. I don't know if it was because the owners were in the yard or what, but the dog started running, whimpered for a second, and kept running. Shit.

I turned around on the hill and started hauling up it. The dog was right on my tail. I ran faster while keeping an eye on the dog. The dog was literally within slapping distance. I took my water bottle and tried to spray it, but it didn't help. The dog kept chasing me up the hill. Then something happened. I started to pull away. I was actually getting away. I slowed down a little, then the dog started chasing me more. I ran harder and pulled away again. This time I kept running until I was out of the dogs sight.

I waited at the top of the hill until the owners waved me down. They asked me if he bit me. They were sure he got me, but he didn't.They apologized and told me that the battery must have died on the leash. I told them that I was okay and that I understood. Having owned a dog before I know that sometimes things are out of your control. It is the owners responsibility to keep a dog in control, but sometimes bad things just happen. They apologized again and told me they were going to check the leash right now.

Honestly I have more respect for them as dog owners than most owners around here. I have had many dogs chase me, but this is the first one that has been on an electric fence. I have ran past this dog probably 50 times and never had an issue. It was only when the owners were out that the dog got aggressive.

Running home I couldn't help but think, "Man... I just outran a dog." and "This is going to make for an awesome blog post!"

Now that I am reflecting on it, the only thing that I think I could have done different is maybe put my water bottle in his mouth or hit him with it. With luck, I avoided all conflict. I have written about dog tactics before, but it has never come into play as much as it did today.

Since the dog will probably have a fresh set of batteries and won't be as aggressive tomorrow I might try throwing it a treat. This seems to be the only dog in Dahlonega that has a problem with me. Maybe we can make friends. It not, there will be pepper spray in my other hand.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Humans - Built For Speed

Are humans built for speed? "Fast" is relative. A Kenyan can run a 4 minute mile, but a squirrel can still get away from him. So let's assume that we are built for running faster than the average run-of-the-mill 5K runner.

Since reading Scott Jurek's book, Eat & Run I have adopted some of his methods of running faster, for longer distances. But Tyler, why would you want to run long distances and run faster? Well, I am lazy. Not in the sense that I won't get out there and run, I just don't want to run for a long period of time. By running faster I can get in the mileage I need without wasting my day.

So what did I do to start running faster? I started running faster! It's that easy! Previously I had found that if I ran with someone fast, for example my buddy Mitch, I would get comfortable at an 8 minute pace and never think twice about it. I also found that if I started out running around 10 minute miles, it would be a chore to run the 8s. Since I have started running faster a majority of my runs have been started at an 8 minute pace or faster, hills or not. This gets me into the groove.

Yesterday, Mitch Pless mentioned in his speech(which was very good btw) that you need to train at a relatively faster pace at least a few times a week. This is because during an ultra, if you can maintain 10 minutes per mile you will do very well. By running faster during training you actually have to slow yourself down in your race, making ultras easier. I feel the 5k/10k crowd does the opposite by going as hard as they can for the race. This is the right thing to do in a short race, but ultras are a whole different game.

So what did I borrow from Scott Jurek? One of the things he mentioned was a zen-like breathing during running. He says that during his faster paces he keeps long and slow breaths, like a yoga pose. My first thought was, "Yeah right? And run fast?" Well I actually tried it and found that it puts me in the faster paced groove(as mentioned above) much faster than going out huffing and puffing.

I have a few other tricks up my sleeve that I am testing out. I currently and reading The Art of Running Faster by Juian Goater and Don Melvin. I skimmed the book for about 20 minutes and have already shaved a few minutes off my comfortable mile. I will give more tips when I finish it and test some techniques.Thanks for reading!

I Dig Dahlonega Writing

The other day Matt Aiken asked me if I would write some articles for his I Dig Dahlonega website. I thought it was a great idea and told him I would get to work on one. Since I am kind of a slow writer we decided to use my recently posted Reflecting on a Memory From 6th Grade Track Tryouts. I really like what he is doing by bringing local writers together on his page and linking back to their respective blogs.