Friday, December 22, 2006

Continuing saga of sore back running

I ran 6.6 miles on Wednesday. It's the longest distance in over 8 weeks. Started slow and basically stayed slow. Okay, we did get up to cruising speed for about a mile but....

The run felt pretty good but after.....ahhhh, the back was barking!

That said, I can feel the back getting better day by day. Will attempt a longer run on Sunday...maybe 10-12 miles with lots of stretching breaks.

My physical therapist watches me run for about 10 minutes every visit. This morning she said that my back is pulled in too far when running. I recall my good friend Anna telling me once that I ran with a, "sway back." I used the same term with my therapist and she agreed. This has contributed to the irritation and pain. I'm now working on exercises to help correct this.

Moral of the story: Listen to your friends...they can save you money!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

26 days to the Houston Marathon I missed the annual JP long run. For those of you not BCRR members, the JP long run is ~21 miles, a great breakfast, and lots of comraderie every year about 3-4 weeks before the Houston Marathon.

The good news is that I plan on running long next Saturday or Sunday (22 or 21 days to the marathon). Maybe only ~15 miles but hey...if Lance can run a marathon on a short long run.

Physical therapy (PT) seems to be going well. Although the exercises make my back sore, I am increasing my range of least that's what Barbara, my physical therapist, says. Of course, Barbara wants to believe she's helping me as much as I want to believe it. The fact that we/she has identified specific weak muscles in my back is enough evidence for me to continue the PT visits. I've upped my visits this week to 3. Hopefully, there will be more improvement by Friday!

Other good news is that I'm learning more and more about, "proper" running technique. Something I thought I understood. What's really interesting is that the proper technique is the result of appropriately strong back muscles. So...I have to strengthen these muscles so that the "proper" technique occurs. In other words, one should not attempt to fix the technique...the technique becomes evident as the back muscles strengthen.

What does this mean? Well, when I suggested to Barbara that I was going to run on a treadmill, in front of a mirror, to monitor my running style; she said, "that is fine...just don't try to fix it." If I were to try to fix it, I would likely create some other problem.

More later

Friday, December 08, 2006

A new beginning

Okay, I'm back to the blog...who knows, maybe I'll get motivated enough to update

Today was my second physical therapy session. So far, my take on physical therapists (at least the one I'm seeing) is that they induce less pain than massage therapists. Don't know if this is a good thing or not. That said, my back feels sore but better today.

Wednesday, I did some light upper body weight training and ran for ~24 minutes. My first run in seven, count 'em, 7 weeks. You know you've been away from running when the times are approximate and there is no mention of seconds...

Today will be ~40 minutes of running. Very slow with some walking involved if necessary.

With only 5 weeks to the Houston Marathon, the plan now is to be able to complete it within the 6 hour cutoff time. I know my running club friends (go BCRR!) will probably be gone by the time I finish. All I ask is that someone leave me a cold beer in my running bag. A Shiner Bock would be great but no doubt, anything that can wash down 800mg of Ibuprophen is gonna be welcomed!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

2007 Houston Marathon training

Training for the Houston Marathon in January 2007 has begun in earnest.

This is a 26 week program I've developed that utilizes theories and workouts from Coach Daniels' and the late Arthur Lydiard's programs. This year, we'll be doing a few things differently than last year. Notably, the 200s and 400s workouts will not be included. It's not that they're not beneficial but, for the marathon, you just don't need that kind of speed. I also feel you can get strength and technique in other workouts that are more suited to the marathon distance.

The program is a four (4) phase program (each phase lasting 6 weeks) with a two (2) week taper. Details of the program can be found at I've got the workouts for the first two phases up on the site.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Belated Boston Marathon report - 5 weeks later

Okay, I'm not normally a superstitious person. However, four weeks before Boston, I wore a 2006 Boston Marathon jacket. Several folks told me this was bad luck. I didn't believe them but here is what happened leading up to the race.

Two days after the, "jacket," I managed to strain my left hamstring. This caused me to to miss out on several very important workouts leading up to the race. In addition, it affected my running stride and I did some minor damage to my calves. Then I strained my back lifting a lawmower into a truck.

In Boston on Sunday morning, we were unable to get pancakes for breakfast. Long story, but we were also unable to get to Fenway Park for the ballgame (a tradition I hold dear). On Monday morning of the race, in a different restaurant, we were unable to get pancakes again. Oh, yea, this was my 13th marathon finish.

Here's a very short report.
Because of all the bad luck leading up to the race, my goal of a sub-3 hour Boston finish was out. That said, I did want to pace my buddies for as long as possible. I was pain free until just after the half-way point. That's when the first back pains started. Somewhere around mile 15 or 16 I dropped off the pace and was on my own. After Heartbreak Hill, there was so much cramping in my hamstrings (likely from altering my stride to protect the back) that I had to stop several times to massage it out. The marathon turned into quite a challenge and I managed a very respectable 3:07.

Oh yea, I'll do it again!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Post Boston Marathon - recovery

A week has gone by since the Boston Marathon. Many of us ran quite well as the weather cooperated for the first time in several years.

Except for my lower back, I feel like I'm recovering quite nicely. Have done some upper body weights and spinning on a reclining stationary bike but no running yet. Running can wait until the soreness in the back subsides.

Many thanks to all who have provided advice for lower back issues. I've settled on diagnosis of strained muscles. So, it's a daily dose of ibuprophen, very light stretching when the muscles are warm, and lots of couch riding...and no more lifting lawn mowers into trucks!

The good news is that I have no desire to run. None whatsoever. After training since mid-June of 2005 for two marathons, this break is necessary and most welcome!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Racing superstition

It's now 4 days to the Boston Marathon.

I'm not normally a superstitious person. However....

A few weeks ago, I received a Boston Marathon jacket in the mail. Courtesy of my employer, HP. It's a very cool looking jacket and I decided to wear it to a running club function. Well...a few of my running friends pointed out that wearing such a jacket BEFORE one has actually run the race is very bad luck. As I said earlier, I'm not a superstitious person, so I laughed it off.

Here is what has happened in the last 3-4 weeks. First I strained my left hamstring and had to cut out my threshold runs to rest it and prevent further damage. The hammy took it's time healing and I had to skip one of my favorite 5K races, the Bellaire Trolley Run. As the hammy healed, I noticed my calves getting tight during runs. Fortunately, they are not an issue anymore. The issue now is my lower back. Yep, I strained it last Sunday loading a lawnmower into my truck.

So, yesterday I went to a specialist to see if a quick cure was possible. After $100 of treatment, I've learned that a cure for strained lower back muscles in one hour is not possible.

Today is Thursday. My back hurts. I can barely stand up after sitting. And the marathon is 4 days away. I really did want to run Boston did Bagwell want to play this season. At this point, I'll be lucky to finish.

If there is anyone out there who knows how to "reverse the curse," please let me know.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

T-minus 10 days and 18 hours...

There are less than 11 days to the Boston Marathon. 10 days and ~18 hours to be a bit more precise.

And it's begun...the obsessing and stressing over everything.

I haven't started reading Boston weather reports but my buddy Scott is emailing them to me and it's driving me crazy. I mean, no way they can predict weather any better than here in Texas. So what's the point? That said, it's only a matter of a couple of days before I'll be checking weather sites...

Am taking a daily inventory of every single ache and pain. That's not so bad but I'm reviewing my running log to see what was up 10 days and 18 hours before last year's Boston...and the year before that. The good news is that the aches and pains are normal; the bad news is that I'm still worried about 'em. The good news is that they went away by the time there was to 5 days and 4 hours to the marathon. The bad news is that I think this time it might be different. Guess I'll have to wait.

I've also been surfing the BAA web-site. It's obvious everyone else going to Boston is doing the same thing...that darn site is S L O W

Anyway, I find myself wondering why their sorting and searching cababilities aren't better. It'd be nice to search and sort by mulitple state and bib number, age and bib number, multiple cities, etc., etc.

No, I don't have any real reason to search for stuff like that but it sure would help pass the time.

Whoops, it looks like the latest forecast calls for a bit of rain and a slight tailwind. I wonder what some of the other weather sites are saying. Gotta go...

Friday, March 24, 2006

24 days to Boston and I'm tired

I'm worn out...physically and mentally. Except for the 2 week break after the Houston Marathon in January, I've been training non-stop since mid-June 2005.

It's been months and months and months of training.

Running almost every single day.

Logging the runs, counting the miles, loop after loop, workout after workout. The aches and the pains...they're taking their toll.

In other words, I'm tired.

It's now less than four weeks to the start of the Boston Marathon. Actually its exactly 24 days and 25 minutes if you consider CST and if you're lucky enough to start at noon.

What to do?
Time to focus that's what.
It's about closure. Yep, this is the hard part. It's work.

Fortunately, tapering starts next week. There is relief in the taper. The aches and pains will slip away. The mileage will drop and the mind will clear.

A week before the race, I'll start checking weather reports, focusing on my diet, and, of course, staying away from absolutely everyone who might make me sick. Four days before the race, I'll go to work, lock myself in my office and conduct business only through email or conference calls...there will be no face-to-face meetings.

The plane flight from Houston to Boston will arrive earlier than scheduled. It'll be a full flight, of course, but everyone on the plane will be a skinny runner. Planes fly much faster with runners on board. Excitement will be in the air, lots of chatter, and there will even be a line to the toilet during the entire flight.

The plane will land and the Boston experience will officially begin. This what all the work was for. Gosh...I'm getting excited just writing about this stuff!

That said, I can't wait 'til the marathon is over. To sleep past 6am two days in a row will be as good as it gets.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Running: A religion or addiction?

Is running a religion? Is it an addiction? What do you think it is?

Argument for running as religion
We congregate on Saturdays and/or Sundays for long runs and/or races. During this time we join each other in the fellowship of running. We talk running, racing, & training. What sports gel to eat, what sports drink to...well, to drink?

Some of us get together on other days for shorter, ah, workouts.

We talk incessantly about the trials and tribulations of running related aches, pains, injuries. The treatments, the cures, the comraderie of runners with similar ailments.

Then there are the training programs. Do such and such workout on this day and blah blah on another day. And if someone should dare to ask why, the answer is, because in the book of Daniels (aka Running Formula by Jack Daniels), it says to do blah, blah, blah. Or, in the book of Lydiard, it says...blah blah blah. You just have to have faith in these programs.

Argument for running as addiction
We run all the time. We say that if we were hurt we'd stop but we don't. We sneak in early morning runs before the family knows we're gone. Some runners feel they need to run every day...I mean every day.

We enter race after race after race...for what? Many of us have no idea why. However, races give you a runner's high plus post race parties satisfy your munchies.

Some of us run for charities..."I'm running for those that can't," Would someone tell me what that's supposed to mean? Or how about, "I'm running to help raise money for, 'fill in the blank' disease." Are you kidding me? Just give the folks $20 and they won't have to buy t-shirts.

No, running for charity is just an excuse to run because we can't stop...because we're hooked.

I know there are more arguments for either position...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Thinking of Boston...

4 weeks & 5 days to Boston...but who's counting?

We're in the last two, very hard, weeks of training before we start a 3 week taper. This week and next, our mileage will be high and the workouts tough. And, we may just be a bit tired of the whole training thing...physically and mentally.

So I thought of a few things to think about. Of course, there is the standard training rants:
Run easy/slow in all other runs, sleep as much as you can, eat well and often, stay hydrated, cut back on alcohol (it dehydrates you and increases your recovery time between hard workouts), cut back on caffeinated drinks (you need your sleep!), blah, blah, blah.

Here's some other stuff to think about:
  • Check the BAA web-site often...they've got to post your bib number soon!
  • Spend a lot of time wondering if you did the right training. It won't help any but it keeps your mind off your sore legs
  • Around the end of the month, start talking incessantly about the marathon to your co-workers. In a short time, they'll be sick hearing about it and avoid you. You won't want anyone around you during the last week anyway as they might make you sick ;)

Okay...the floor is open. Feel free to comment ;)



Friday, March 03, 2006

Amateur Racing and fun

I raced the Rodeo Run in Houston last Saturday under the name, Chip Tyme. I use the pseudo-name sometimes just for fun....

One of the things I really like about amateur racing is that it really is all about your own personal reasons for running and do your best, to have fun, be with your friends, or just to get a t-shirt. After all, it doesn't really matter. It doesn't put food on the table and there are certainly more things going on in this world that are more serious.

Anyway...that's how I see amateur racing.

Some folks however, take it way too seriously.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Speed/Quality workouts per week

The Runbayou philosophy is to do two (2) speed/quality workouts and one (1) long run per week.

The most important of the speed/quality workouts is designated as the primary workout (and is usually the first workout of the week). The other speed/quality workout is designated as the secondary workout. What is actually done in each of these workouts depends on the phase of training. See the runbayou website for phase details (

For example: Suppose we're in Phase 2 of the program (repetition phase). The primary workout might be 6x400s at repetition pace. The secondary workout might be a 20 minute tempo run. And the long run might be done on Saturday or Sunday. We'd do the primary workout early in the week (to make sure we get it in), run easy for a day or two, do the secondary workout, run easy for a day or two, and then do the long run.

Okay; so far, so good. Now the exceptions.
  • If circumstances dictate you can only do one speed/quality workout during the week, do the primary workout.
  • If you're going to race on the weekend, skip the secondary workout during the week.
    For example: If your race is on Saturday, you might do your primary workout on Tuesday or Wednesday. Take it easy for a few days and then race. Skip the secondary workout.
  • What about back to back speed/quality sessions during the week?
    For example: Suppose your schedule says speedwork on Tuesday and Thursday and a long run on Saturday. What happens if you miss Tuesday? Can you do a primary workout on Wednesday and secondary on Thursday? This is a tricky situation and requires a lot more individual information. That said, this can be done in some situations but certainly not on a weekly basis. With very few exceptions, I would not recommend it. It would be better to put an easy day between the speed sessions and move your long run to Sunday.

That's it for now.

Good running and have fun.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Overdoing it

Today's workout was tough. Not on it's own mind you. But, when combined with the last two days of running, it took me over the top.

Okay. I overdid it this week. Hey, it happens.

Here's the story
Tuesday, we worked out on the track. 6x200s and 6x400s at repetition pace (~5K race pace) with full recoveries. The workout went well and life was good.

Wednesday was supposed to be an easy day. Well, I got a new position at work and was a bit excited. So, instead of taking it nice and easy on my evening run with the BCRR folks, I ran about 30 seconds per mile too fast for just over 6.5 miles. Again, it was easy to do and life was good.

Thursday morning came darn early...4am early. Hill bounding. Somehow completed the workout but it was not fun. In fact, it hurt. Hurt like in race hurt. No fun at all.

The thing is. The hill bounding should not have been hard. But with no recovery run on Wednesday, the body was not quite ready.

So...I'll rest on Friday...and maybe even on Saturday. No point in taking any chances. Boston is only 8 weeks and 4 days away!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Why hill bounding?

What good is hill bounding?

The short story is that hill bounding will make you faster. The longer story requires reading my boring diatribe.

First, hill bounding builds up your ankles and quads and helps you focus on form. This, in turn, allows you to "leap" a bit higher/further on each stride. In other words, it helps you lengthen your stride. That means you have the strength to go further with each step...with no increase in effort.

Wanna hear an interesting perspective? If you normally run a 5K at a 7:00/mile pace, you can shave 25 seconds off your time by doing the hill bounding workout for ~6 weeks. Think about it. You can go from a 21:36 5K to a 21:11...just in stride length! How you ask?

Okay...follow me here. Suppose you are able to increase your stride length by 1 inch. At 180 steps per minute (the "rule of thumb" turnover rate), that's 180 inches per minute; which is 15 feet. At a 7:00/mile pace, that's 105 feet per mile. Over the course of ~3 miles, you'll go 315 feet further...about 100 meters. How fast can you run 100 meters? Well, at 7:00/mile pace, it takes you ~25 seconds. At a 6:00 pace, you'll shave ~18 seconds off your 5K.

THAT'S why we do hill bounding! The late Arthur Lydiard knew something about training! Now, of course, your mileage may vary, but a 1 inch increase in stride length is not unrealistic if you've been used to doing the long distance runner shuffle.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Prepare for Boston: First hill bounding

This morning was the first hill bounding session. Getting up at 4am is a real pain.

There weren't many of us this morning. I guess not everyone is going to Boston this year, or 4:45am is too darn early, or the Austin Marathon & Half Marathon is close.

Thursday is a repetition day on the track. I'm racing on Saturday (Buffalo Wallow cross country) so I'll get up at 4am but will probably modify my part of the workout.

For those folks who aren't racing Saturday, the workout starts at 4:45am and is as follows:
Warm-up of 2-3 miles
3x200; 5x400; 3x200 at repetition pace with full recoveries on the track
Cool-down of 2-3 miles

As always, details of the workouts and training program are at


Friday, January 27, 2006

10 weeks to Boston - Primary workout

Runbayou: Prepare for Boston - 13 week training program; details at:

Date: Tuesday January 31, 2006
Time: 4:45am
Location: Memorial Park Tennis Center, Houston, Texas
Specific workout: Hill bounding (week 3 of 13 week program)

4:45am - Leave from Tennis Center for 2.5 mile warm-up. We'll run to the hill at the corner of Memorial Park Drive and Shepherd (across from St. Thomas High School)

~5:10am - Begin three (3) sets of the following:
  • 10 minutes of Lydiard style hill bounding (details on web-site)
  • 3 minutes recovery jogging
  • 3 minutes of 10 seconds fast, 20 seconds easy
~ 6:00am - Leave from the hill for a 2.5 mile cool-down back to Memorial Park
~6:20am - Finish at the tennis Center.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Recovery from the Houston Marathon

It's been 11 days since the Houston Marathon.

I've been a bit more conservative in my recovery from the marathon than I was last year. Have been spending most of my *workout* time stretching, core strength building, and some upper body weights (light of course). Am running between 4-6 miles when I do run. Nice and easy at about 1.5 to 2 minutes slower than marathon pace.

Each day, the legs are feeling better but I know there's a lot of damage

Next Tuesday (January 31st) will be the first actual workout as we prepare for Boston. It'll be 16 days post-marathon so will likely take it very easy on the hills.

Boston Marathon Training Program

The Runbayou: Prepare for Boston training program will begin Tuesday January 31st.

We'll meet at the Memorial Park Tennis Center (Houston, TX) at 4:45am (yep, that's darn early).

Our first workout will be a hill bounding. You can review details on the Runbayou web site at: Go to the, "This Week" link for updates and details of the training program.