Saturday, September 1, 2012

My 3 Current Experiments

“We Are Each An Experiment of One.”  This is what George Sheehan called marathon training. The results you get from your training are not based on a 'one size fits all', and we are constantly observing, recording the effects, and making choices.

After following so many words of advice and wisdom and training plans I’ve come to fully believe this.

I always cringe a bit when I hear certitudes with certain marathon training tips.  For example, you should never run over 20 miles.  If I had heeded this as a black and white given, I would never have qualified for Boston.  (Here's how I finally did.)

We have to learn about our bodies to figure out how they work best, what they respond to, what is going to cause injury and take us away from training, and most importantly I believe, what is your weakness. Asking other folks what works for them, and doing research, is a great way to learn, but we learn more by examing our own choices and results closely. (Click here for my top secret marathon training program.).  

It takes experimentation to figure out how much weekly mileage we can handle, how long to taper, nutrition, what clothes to wear, what long runs to do and at what pace, interval lengths, recovery time, and which shoe to put on first before we head out each day.  All of these factors I point to as my excuse as to why it took me ten years before I qualified for Boston.

But the experimenting is never over. Some of my experiments are going on right now.
Three of these are:

1. Calf Sleeves. – Should I wear them during running?

I am certain they work and aid in recovery, that experiment is over. I wear them after every hard run.  My uncertainty is if I should wear them while I run or not?

I have worn them many times for a run. My calfs feel so snug and comfy in there.  Like two little babies nestled warm in their blanket..  And I feel the squeeze, which means they are working in pushing blood deeper into the muscle.

But I am not sure if they help during the run,  and wonder if perhaps they even hurt since I have had knee pain after using them (but I do believe this was caused by the hills).  During one run, when my calfs did their typical debilitating tightness, I took the calf sleeves off, balled them up and ran with them off, and instantly felt better.  Of course, with any experiment, cause and effect is not easy to determine.

 It was about 5 years ago when I remember first seeing calf sleeves on runners at events, and since this time their popularity seems to be exploding.  More than once after morning long runs, I have worn them while visiting extended family. I then hear plenty of jokes, including ones about  me wearing my ‘girlie socks.’   'Girly socks?' to which I think:

  1. In my circles, I fit right in and this is standard wear.
  2. I just ran 20 miles, moving for nearly three hours straight, largely on the power of my gonads, so you really can’t emasculate me right now.
  3. If you only knew. They are, in fact “girlie socks."  In order to get a pair that actually fit my tiny Cankles, I had to get a woman's small. No joke.
  4. There are thousands of 'girlies' who run much faster than me, and by default, you too.
So, to wear calf sleeves during a run or not? I will keep experimenting.

2. Kirvana 3’s – Will My Legs Adjust?

These are the 4mm drop, 'light as a plastic bag,' minimalist-leaning shoes I bought about a month ago. So far, I love them.  Kirvana’s are Nirvana. They beg to be ridden fast.  Yet the very area in my leg that they demand a stronger muscle from is my weakness. Yes, my Achilles heel is my Achilles heel.

I have only worn them for 20-40% of my weekly mileage, the longest being a couple 14 mile runs. My legs feel sore in different places after wearing them.

What I’m trying to figure out is:

Will my gait adjust to a more pure running form, especially since I do not wear them during all of my runs?   (I am making a conscious effort to change my form)

Can I adjust in time for NYCM n November?

 I do plan to wear them for the full 20 milers at least two or three times.

3Six 20 milers - Twice the usual - What will this mean?

Since I ran a marathon as early as June, I’ve been able to run four 20 milers to date, with two more scheduled before I run New York.  This is twice what I have normally done.  Will this injure me, tap me out, kill my soul and make me barf out pea soup, or will it leave me with some incredible endurance so that 26.2 feels like a walk through (central) Park?

I expect the results to all of these three experiments to explode into some powerful running.

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