Saturday, July 10, 2010


“The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
Thomas Alva Edison

Hi guys - As I've often said, running (or walking) is the simplest of activities until some coach makes it complicated, so I really try to keep it simple and keep hashing over the most important aspects. When you boil all the fat of any program away, the most important key to ANY training is common sense. When some runner asks me a question - I mean a really off-the-wall training question, I take great joy in turning it around and saying "OK, pretend I just asked you the same question. How would YOU answer it?". Usually, they just nod their head and walk off and I congratulate myself on what a great coach I am! You know, I read last year in USA TODAY about the University of Tennessee football team. Just that sentence gets some blood riled up around these parts, but wait, it gets better, and it actually does have something to do with my theme. It seems that because the UT team has a rather tainted history (OK, they're a bunch of thugs, thieves,etc) and before they are given a playbook, they are given a "THINK CARD". This is a wallet size card that spells out for them what to do to avoid getting into trouble. I guess like "DON'T PUNCH OUT A POLICEMAN", "DON'T STEAL A CAR", "DON'T GET DRUNK ON CAMPUS", you know that sort of thing. The tie-in to marathon training is USE YOUR NOGGIN. If you're tired, back off. If it hurts, there's usually a good reason. If you've got a thousand miles on your shoes, it's probably time for a new pair. Remember, your body is a well designed machine and it will do what it can to keep you happy, but if you push TOO far beyond what you've trained it for, it will come down like a house of think cards. We train for 5 months for a marathon or half marathon. You think that's a long time, but I shutter every time I start a new group. It's a real balancing act to get those muscles to adapt to this crazy habit in such a short time, but the real culprit to injuries is the ligaments and tendons. The ligaments connect bone to bone and the tendons connect muscle to bone. These take years to adapt to the rigors of training and they are the usual sites of overtraining pain. Of course, as I've told you so many times, the proper treatment (because it works) is ice, anti-inflammatories, light stretching, and rest to the degree that allows you to actively move without hurting - COMMON SENSE!!

Concerning that, fairly recent research is pretty strict on not using anti-inflammatories (advil, aleve, etc,- but not Tylenol...that's safe) during or before you go running. Mostly, these studies look at running in hot conditions (Hmmm, Alabama?) or participating in long distances (Hmmm, half marathon, marathon, ultramarathon?). Ok,what can be so bad about using these? Well, several things, but here you are, trying to stay hydrated, pumping in the fluids, your kidneys are churning away like some steam locomotive trying to flush this fluid through the filters and then you muck it up by taking this anti-inflammatory that can actually close the small tubes that the fluid is rushing through. So now, the drains are plugged and you're still pumping the fluids in like crazy and what do you think happens? That's right - the system backs up and you blow up like a water balloon. When you can't get rid of fluid, the electrolytes (like sodium) become diluted, and the percentage of electrolytes to fluid goes down, and BINGO! You're a prime candidate for hyponatremia, and you can expect a trip to the medical tent. I'll talk more specifically about hyponatremia in a future RWA, but let it be said it's not a good thing! Now, let's go back to that common sense thing. As a coach, I try to keep things as simple as possible and I'll try to tell you ways to cut corners to make this endurance journey a little easier (not necessarily easy). So, why the heck would you take the risk with anti-inflammatories when you know the possible consequences? You wouldn't text on your phone in the middle of the downhill portion of a trail run, would you? My mantra as a coach - DON'T DO ANYTHING STUPID! I always picture God sitting on his throne, looking down on the world saying "I gave them common sense - why don't they use it?".

Well, after 63 games and four weeks, the World Cup is just about over and I have to admit, I am going to miss sneaking away to the break room at work to watch some early morning or midday soccer. La Furia Roja (Spain) and L'Oranje (Holland) will settle it all tomorrow and 80% of the world can get back to non-soccer things. Then I can settle into following Lance and the boys peddling 2500 miles around France for the next two weeks. I love it. I'm hooked on sports and feats of endurance. And speaking of endurance, this Monday begins the "World's Toughest Footrace". The Badwater 135 is a race from Death Valley, through the California desert for 135 miles in up to 125 degrees, to midway up Mt Whitney. The winner will do it in less than 24 hours! Man, you talk about being broiled, bar-b-q'd, dried up and spit out! It's these kind of races that leave me in awe. Nobody from Birmingham is doing it, but we have one Alabamian there - William Ansick from Auburn. If you want to follow the race, or just read some really cool (no pun) stuff, go to . Not sure where this race fits into the "common sense" category, but...oh, nevermind, it doesn't!

OK guys, that's it from the Batcave for this week. Stay cool, stay hydrated, use common sense at all times and I'll see you all on the hot and sticky roads - AL

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

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