Monday, September 19, 2016
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
I'm a huge Joseph Campbell fan and love reading his works. I view my own existence here on earth through the lens of his “Heroes Journey.” Most myths and epic stories follow this pattern, revealing the struggle we all face on a daily basis as humans. Within myths, stories and religions lie metaphors that help us understand who we are. The journey involves facing an inner or outer struggle which helps us unlock something within ourselves we didn't know was there. As someone who loves the pursuit of endurance, it's easy to compare my evolution with running to the cycle of the “Heroes Journey.”
Similarly Carol Dweck's “Growth Mindset” fits into the notion that we are flawed and learn by the process of striving for something greater.
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.— Brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”
My running journey in Hawaii began years before I moved to the Big Island. After completing my first 100 miler, I wanted a new challenge. The driving question for me is always “Can I do this?” It can sometimes feel scary when attempting a new challenge but the mystery is always what drives me, I want to know. I stumbled across a description of the HURT 100 and thought, “Wow, that sounds BRUTAL.” Little did I know what was in store for me on those muddy, rooty steep trails. I was 21 years old and just started running the year before. After being on the course for 27 hours and only covering 70 miles, I dropped out. That was the only time I have hallucinated while running and I said for years that I would never return to those godforsaken trails. Really I had a fear of 3am voices in the bamboo and slipping down the sides of muddy cliffs. I knew I had to face the fear, last year I completed the 100 in 34 hours but part of me was not satisfied. I didn't give all that I could on the course. Those trails still have some lessons to teach me.
This summer I wanted t run a 100 miler. Travel expense from Hawaii was not realistic so I thought of my nemesis, the trails of Oahu. I wanted to go back and kill my fears of those trails once and for all. The foe came in the form of the Tantalus Triple Trek 50k, on the same trails as the HURT 100. The time was right to finally slay the dragon of those trails which meant preparing for vertical and technical trails. For 2 months I sort of obsessed over transforming my running approach in order to be efficient on those trails specifically. Early in my running, I read the philosophy of Arthur Lydiard which goes for the "run slower to get faster" approach. Over the years, I have pretty much done just that. Health has been the number one goal for me and I realized quick that running hard often is not a very good idea. Recently I have been reading the works of Phil Maffetone and think what he says makes the most sense of anything I have read related to Exercise Physiology. I studied Exercise Physiology in college and thought most of what I read in the books was completely off, my experiences told me otherwise. I even got reprimanded by the Dean of the school for calling one my professors an idiot when I was shut down for asking a question. I was told I was on thin ice. I'd rather be standing on thin ice than a solid ground of ignorance.
(Hapalua Half Marathon)
I was curious to know how my heart rate fit into Dr. Maffetone's aerobic threshold formula. That means not getting your HR above 180- your age. Ever. I thought “All right, I will get to go even slower now” My aerobic threshold is 148 bpm. I went out and picked up a HR monitor and discovered I usually run around 127 beats per minute on my daily runs. Years of easy running have built up my aerobic base. I started running intervals at aerobic threshold (148 bpm) I discovered this is one piece of the puzzle. When your HR exceeds threshold you burn mostly glucose opposed to fat, thus craving carbs and sugar. That makes so much sense. I would say I had a major sweet tooth! I made the decision and put in the effort to adopt a high fat, moderate protein, restricted carb diet. This allowed my body to use fat as fuel. The combination of not letting my HR exceed aerobic threshold and eliminating carbs and sugar from my diet is a magical combination.
The past 4 months I have been feeling in the past shape of my life. Within a few weeks of committing to this method, I ran a personal best half marathon of 1:15. I went on a 37 mile adventure run up 10,000ft. Haleakala on Maui and felt amazing the whole way, needing no recovery time. When it was time for the 50k a few weeks ago, I was feeling confident in my ability to put in a hard effort on those trails. The day of the run, I felt amazing and was able to move up and down the gnarly terrain like never before! I'm ready to tie it all together for a big effort for a 100 miler!
(Volcano Rainforest Runs Half Marathon)
Last weekend's Ka'u Coffee Half Marathon
This is an excellent film about the Heroes Journey
Saturday, February 6, 2016
It has taken me 13 years of running to figure out the whole nutrition for long runs thing. I finally admitted to myself that I am stubborn. I have never really cared that much about the performance side (racing at optimum level). Also I don’t like to plan, so it makes sense that recovery and bonking towards the end of long races has always been an issue for me. There have always been a few shining moments which allowed me to justify doing the same thing over and over (Not recovering properly or thinking about nutrition/hydration during long runs). The main reason I never paid any attention to nutrition, pace or planning is freedom. Overly obsessing about details can get in the way of the experience but I am learning that a little thought will go a long way. Also I haven’t wanted to contribute to spending money on running related products. I have realized that type of thought process is itself a limitation. I decided to put my new found anit-cynacism to the test.
I had run the Hilo to Volcano 50k two previous times and after each I vowed never again would I participate! The 31 miles starts at Hilo Bay and gradually climbs 4,000ft to Volcano Village. This year I decided to do a little planning! Plan #1: I wore a watch and tried to not run under 7:20 min/mile for the first 20 miles. Plan #2 Drink 3 scoops of CarboPro every 5 miles which = 300 calories. I have been using CarboPro for a little over a year and I must say I love how I recover quicker and feel better at the end of long runs when I drink it. The plan seemed simple enough and at the end of the race, I had a new 50k PR and a course record in 3:46! I am excited to try out my new planning skills at longer runs, time for 100!!
I was recently asked to speak about running at the Hilo Health Co-Op. Last year I started working out there and reignited my love of lifting weights. I came up with a short presentation:
Running Simple! I started off by talking about the over abundance of advice out there related to running. I always say the best advice is to not follow any advice, just go experience and adjust. The below quote is from a great old book called “The Zen of Running.”
Some things that have worked for me in races and long runs. CarboPro has been the best way for me to take in calories. Their recovery amino acids and V02 formulas have helped me tremendously with recovery.
Recovery is the name of the game. Simple things that have been crucial for me are: A protein smoothie after runs, drinking turmeric and ginger juice to reduce inflammation, taking magnesium and trace minerals. I do not have the lingering fatigue I experienced before paying closer attention to details.
Finding inspiration to get out and run on days when I am mentally exhausted is something I am constantly seeking. Inspiration is everywhere! In books, photos, music, movies, colors, thoughts………..
A few simple things have allowed me to run a descent amount for over a decade injury free. Doing low intensity runs most days of the week has been key for me. There is something to be said for slowing down and enjoying! I plan on feeling healthy and running well into old age, high intensity is not the way for either. When I do run hard, it's usually uphill for less impact and pounding on the body. Also, I love doing strength exercises. I feel so much healthier when I am lifting, opposed to just running. Deadlifts, Shoulder Press and Squats will do wonders for your running!