As promised, I haven't vanished into another seemingly endless "sabattical" from posting. Actually, quite the contrary. I've been actively training and working on getting back into shape.
I've been posting my Training Peaks logs for daily workouts on my Facebook account. That provides some amount of accountability and tracking.
In the past 28 days I've logged 4 hours 40 minutes in the pool, completing nearly 11K yards. Pokey, but progress. That's in addition to the 9 hours spent covering 56 miles running. Since that was over the holidays, during which I managed to actually lose another quarter pound, I'm happy with it.
All totaled, I'm down about 15 pounds since I got back at it, and have another 7-10 pounds to go. That will get me into the proper weight range for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon and whatever I decide to pursue for the summer.
If you DO follow me on Facebook, you might find the post on my main page regarding my New Years' resolution. For each like on that post, I will be completing one mile of swimming, 47 miles of biking, and 11 miles of running. Basically, for every 24 likes, I will complete training equal to 10 Ironman races. So far, I have nine likes. That's 9 miles swimming, 423 miles on the bike, and 100 miles running. Let me know if you think that isn't enough.
Finally, the new Saucony Omni running shoes have been almost perfect. They have addressed both the tarsal tunnel (numbness) and stress issues. There were some minor knee issues, but some gait correction and strength exercises have helped with that.
So things are moving along nicely. All I need to do, now, is get the trainer set back up in the basement, and I'll be back to training in all three disciplines.
An alternative title could be "Heavy Lifting" as I try to get a wide variety of things back off the ground. Things like this blog, my endurance career, my butt off the couch...
Let's start with the excuses so we can get them out of the way. After breaking my foot a bit over a year ago, I was diagnosed with tarsal tunnel syndrome. Basically carpal tunnel syndrome, but in my foot. The impact of running leads to inflammation of the nerve sheath in my foot and my toes go numb.
Outside of surgery, the most effective solution I've found to this issue is barefoot running. Only that has led to the issues with stress on the arch of my foot, likely related back to the original fracture.
Blah, blah, blah, excuses, excuses. With the injuries, I allowed other parts of life to get in the way and presto, I'm not too far off of where I was when this whole journey started.
An out-of-shape former sailor...
A couple things have occurred, recently, to provide the sort of swift kick to the head needed to jar things loose.
First, the 2012 Runner's World Holiday Running Streak and former schoolmate Greg Henneman (aka Perseverance Runner) throw down the challenge to run at least one mile each day from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. Add in the incentive of charity giving with "penalties" for missed days and you have a strong motivator to run.
All of that got me thinking back to a discussion I had on the phone with Scott Rigsby. Yes, that Scott Rigsby. He and I were discussing an idea I had about raising funds for a friend who lost his leg to illness. I had grand plans to run a triple marathon as a way to raise funds to help that friend purchase a running leg.
Scott brought me back to earth. He pointed out that me running 80 miles wouldn't make that guy go run. If my friend were truly married to the idea of running, he'd be doing everything he could to get and stay fit, then pounding down doors to get sponsors. If unable to run, he'd be swimming. He'd be using his good leg to pedal a bike. He wouldn't be looking for ways to make everything "perfect" THEN start running.
It was that last bit that struck me recently. I have lingering injuries. Injuries that are likely to be chronic reminders that I'm getting old. Injuries that make running a challenge. And Scott Rigsby lost both legs and went on to complete Ironman.
It makes my worries about numb toes and bit underwhelming.
I'm going to run every day between now and New Years, or pay an extra dollar to charity for the failure. In January, I'm going to get my feet wet, again, by swimming every day of the month. And I'm going to keep running while I do it. Once open, I'm going to register for a series of races designed to force me to remain active, or at least pay a heavy price for failing to do so.
I don't promise to take this site back to "every day" posting. I will, however, try to post weekly summaries of the workouts and get the rest of the site back into some semblance of sanity.
As commented in the previous post, motivation can be a challenging thing to maintain during the long winter months. Especially when it's a cold, snowy winter that makes training outdoors difficult. This year, members of Evotri have a team challenge to keep things interesting.
Participants in the Evotri Iron Challenge have taken it upon themselves to log at least one Ironman each month, meaning the same 140.6 miles of an IM distance race are completed. Everyone is welcome to complete as many multiples as they want, and each successive success at 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running qualifies for another "entry" in the challenge.
We are using Plus 3 Network to track our training mileage. In addition to providing a convenient (and free) spot to document training, Plus 3 Network allows us to raise charitable funds for various organizations. For each training mile completed, various companies make small contributions to one of many local, national, and international charitable groups.
For increased motivation
One of the most important "benefits" from my endurance lifestyle is when others take it to heart and find something that appeals to them. For two years I have coached junior high and high school youth as they prepare for a sprint distance triathlon. Two weeks ago, my kids completed their first kid's triathlon. And though she didn't officially swim or bike, my wife was right there with our daughter as she raced.
Anyone undertaking endurance events, particularly ultra distance races, has to have something to motivate them during the long hours of training and racing. People tend to fall into one of a few broad categories.
MP3 Maniacs - I grew up in the age of the Walkman. I was lucky enough to witness the entire evolution from boom-box through Walkman and portable CD player to MP3 and iPod. Now, just about any running event, from 5K to ultramarathon, is a showcase of digital players and music. Many runners become dependent on tunes to get them from start to finish.
Socialites - I am always impressed with the number of people who interact with anyone and everyone around them. Who hasn't been in the middle of a race and had someone come up, match pace and start talking as if they'd been there the entire time? These people thrive on the opportunity to spend time with others, whether old friends or brand new.
Zen Masters - The Zen Master is often the exact opposite of The Socialite. Zen Masters work their way into trancelike states and seem completely unaware of anything going on around them. They are focused on the road ahead and block out anything that might distract them. Either that, or they are EXTREMELY rude. (Note: Some people just like to be left alone. They aren't particularly rude, though they may desire to rip your throat out if you talk to them)
Driftwood - In the 2002 release of The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes is named "Zatarra" by Luigi Vampa. When Dantes comments how fearsome the name sounds, Vampa tells him it means "Driftwood." In endurance events, there are many people who fit this category. The drift from group to group, worry little about changing conditions, and generally go with the flow. If people want to talk, they are willing to turn off their music and listen. If they're alone, they enjoy the moment and appreciate their surroundings.
I'm sure there are other categories (everyone is welcome to share their favorite "type" in the comments). And the categories are vitally important. In every race there are people who don't really fit into ANY category. They frequently find themselves lumped together in the very undesirable "DNF" group. Why? Because when things got tough they struggled to find motivation to continue.
I almost ran into that at Ironman Louisville. Fourteen miles into the marathon I was struggling with motivation. I had already seen my family and knew I was unlikely to see them again before the finish. And that was a long way off. I wasn't hooked up with anyone with whom I could share stories. I don't race with music. And I'm NOT a Zen type individual.
As I plodded along in a sea of determination, a life-saving driftwood type crossed my path. She figured that since we were both walking, we should walk together. And we talked. That was enough to get my mind off the many and various issues that were making my trek difficult. And that was what I needed to get myself running, again. With my head on straight, I found the energy to run the final 10K and finish strong.
It was an interesting position in which to find myself. I generally fill the role of "storyteller" trying to help people "while away the time" as they complete their first marathon. Suddenly, I was listening to the tales of another.
So, tales or tunes? It's up to individual athletes to figure out what best fits their personality. Are you the storyteller or the avid listener? Or do you prefer the solitude of jamming to your own playlist? Whatever your preference, be sure to have a back-up plan. Because just like every other aspect of endurance racing, mental game plans can go awry on the course. Having the flexibility to adjust to conditions can be the difference between calling it a day and finding a way to drift to the finish line.
If you are an endurance athlete looking for a new challenge, check out B-Fit B-Day to learn about the Birthday Challenge and meet likeminded people pursuing their own goals.
Many of us have experienced the pride of hearing the words, "You are an Ironman!" And many of us have used our love of endurance events to perform some kind of public service or charitable fundraising. We all hope to act as role models for others.
For some reason, eight has held special significance for me and running. The first time I felt really proud of my pace was when I completed a 3.3 mile route at just under eight minute pace. While sub-8 pace isn't earth shattering, it represented a significant personal achievement, particularly over three miles.
One of the great things about triathlon is that it's an individual sport. Sure, we race against hundreds, perhaps even thousands of others. But at the end of the day, it's all about the individual. How did we live up to our expectations? If we achieve a goal or meet some target, it was a successful race. Podium or not, we win.
Things have been a bit slow the past couple days, as far as blog ideas go. Work has been a bit frantic, I've played full time dad while Mrs. Pol gets some time out of the house, and the kids have kept me hopping. What little time I have had, I've been trying to hit some of the blogs in the Tri Blog Community.
For many, the new year is all about resolutions and promised change. For endurance athletes, the new year is all about continuing down a path, with minor course corrections based on the year's plans. It is also time to start new training logs.
Just who is this Iron Pol?
A former out of shape sailor, who became a marathoner, then a triathlete, Ironman, and ultramarathoner. Now, life has pushed me into short track speed skating. More important than the titles is the lifestyle, and sharing it with others.