Saturday, July 24, 2010


A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900 - 1944)

Hi guys - Thought I'd get up early this morning to beat the heat. Guess I had to get up a little March! I mean, it was 81 degrees when I woke up at 4:30. Went to Oak Mountain to run on the trails and let me tell you, trees make for a nice blanket to hold all that 80% humidity in a tidy bundle. I know, summer in Alabama and all that stuff, but I'll tell you this, though. With all the experience I have with running and teaching other runners, I keep learning that you have to always pay attention to the heat. Years ago, I came up with a simple thing I call the "Al Scale". Simply, you add the temperature and humidity and if it's above 160, you better cut back and stash any quality workout (distance or speed) in your back pocket. When you have a long run planned and you're dead set to get the run in, the best chance you have to get your distance is to cut way back on the pace from the start. Make sure you drink enough (12-16oz) within an hour of starting and try to drink constantly during the run. For many years, I have carried a hand-held water bottle so I can sip along the way instead of having to hope there's a gas station around the next corner (there never is in the woods!). When I run on the trails, I'll also wear a belt that carries another water bottle. Once you're water level dips below the "uh-oh" line, you're a goner. There's no catching up and your run turns into a trance-like shuffle/walk. Yeah, that's real pretty! Back in June, somebody said to me "it could be worse", and I said to him "Yeah, it could be July". Well, here it is, and I have a feeling that August is going to be like...well, August in Alabama. RESPECT THE HEAT!

Now, about that quote above. As we get a little deeper into our schedules for the fall marathons, we have to be sure that we have a good plan spelled out, and we have confidence in that plan. You don't want to get on a plane and have the pilot say "I wonder where we'll go today". Many of you are following a schedule that me or Ken have put in front of you and you're following it on blind faith alone that we know what we're doing. Well, let's not dwell on that assumption, ok? But, it's hard in June to think that what you doing then will actually have an effect on what happens in 4 months. Your biggest concern in October is going to be "what cold weather clothes should I pack?" - that's hardly your primary concern today! But, by coming out consistently and training through the hot summer, you will adapt to the rigors of turning your body's energy system into an acclimated machine. YOU CAN'T HELP BUT IMPROVE! Your body may not be crazy about what you're doing, but it knows it better adapt because you just may continue doing this for a while (this doesn't apply to running out of fluids on a long run). Then all you have to worry about is believing you can do this. Most of you won't believe that until you're going under the balloons over the finish line, but we'll work on that. What you have to get out of your mind is negative thoughts that you CAN'T finish your race, or you CAN'T get through the training, or you CAN'T eat another one those awful Powerbars (OK, I'll cut you slack there). If you come to the start line of a training run or a race with the attitude that "I'm too slow, I'm not in shape, I'm a slug of an athlete, etc, etc" you will literally block yourself from having any kind of a positive experience. I don't think there's a run that your body doesn't learn something - it might not learn anything good, but it'll learn something. When you have a bad training run, you'll learn how to cope with it and what to do to salvage the run. You can't learn to deal with trouble if you don't experience it. But you have to keep telling yourself that you're strong just be out there and although you may not be the fastest runner out there, that doesn't matter - you have to feel good about yourself and that you did the best job you could do when all the cards have been dealt. 100% doesn't mean collapsing at the finish line - it means that you can honestly say to yourself "Well, that was all I had today". You never have to look any further than that. You NEVER, EVER have to answer to anybody else but you. I've felt better about some marathons I've done in 4:30 than others I've done in 3:30. And now I'm beginning to accept that my "comeback" marathon from ankle woes will be in the 5 hour range - and although I'm not crazy about it, I'm OK with it because I know I'm lucky as hell to be running at all! Just hang in there and (here I go again), be consistent, take planned rest days, and believe in yourself.

I recently read in the VULCAN RUNNER (the Birmingham Track Club Newsletter) that Ken & I will once again be leading the Mercedes Marathon Training Group. Came as sort of a surprise since we were actually considering not doing it this year because I was afraid I couldn't keep up with the young pups. Oh well, I'm glad we'll be doing this again because it's such a rush to see you guys train for your first marathon or half marathon and through blind faith that training actually works, you fulfill your goal. I may not run with you every step of the way, but we will provide a schedule, maps, drinks, and motivation to complete your event FEELING GOOD (yes, it's a relative term). I'll tell you the particulars of the program in a couple of weeks (or you can email me at . I'll answer the first question - it's free. OK, I'll answer the second question - you don't have to sign up, just show up. OK, OK, I'll answer the third question - you don't have to be registered for Mercedes to run with us (but we encourage it!).

Alright guys, it's time to get out of this heat and put my feet up. Despite the century level temperature, it still hasn't broken my resolve that I hate cold weather. Early in the pre-dawn hours I would still rather say "Man, it's humid this morning" rather than "Holy Crap, that wind is freezing my cheeks off!". Keep reading this blog till winter and you'll see I can whine with the best of them. Until then, I'll see you on the hot and sticky Alabama roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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