Saturday, November 13, 2010

Everything in a Nutshell

"Victory or defeat is not determined at the moment of crisis, but rather in the long and unspectacular period of preparation" - UNKNOWN

Just finished a trail run at Oak Mountain on an absolutely beautiful morning. Last week, it looked like we were headed straight into the throws of winter, but this is the kind of weather that I wouldn't mind if it lasted forever. However, the weather is going to deteriorate from here till springtime (don't get me started), so you may as well get out there and get acclimated when it does turn awful ...I mean colder! I love when some new trainee tells me he (or she) cannot run in the cold weather because their lungs will freeze, so they just train on a treadmill. Well, the last I checked, those treadmill marathons are hard to find! OK, if you're having any trouble or questions getting out there, email me @ and I'll probably just tell you to call 1-800-GET-OVER-IT.

As much as I don't care for cold weather - OK, I absolutely hate it - I must admit that it does help your running. If the air temperature is cooler, your body doesn't have to work so hard to keep the engine heat down. People are always saying to me "I'll bet you can run a mile without even sweating!". The truth is that I can work up a sweat just THINKING of running hard. As you train your body, the sweating mechanism gets more efficient trying to cool you off, so with activity, you actually begin to sweat sooner than the untrained runner. When the ambient temperature is down, you can divert some of that precious energy to other running further, faster, easier! Running is not that difficult, though books, magazines, videos, coaches, etc will make it so hard to understand that Einstein would've given it up. First, you don't need much equipment. Sure, if you're like me, you get sucked into the techno age of watches and gizmos that don't help me run any faster, but give me a nice graph of how slow I actually am running. Shoes, shorts, socks, a couple of shirts and you're good to go. The local weather will dictate what else you might need, but then you can fall into the (other) techno age of waterproof, windproof, breathable, and sweat wicking, etc. It's all just hot fudge on the sundae.

OK, so now you have clothes. From here, it's fueling the body so it can go. Tomorrow, our marathon trainees go 13 miles and from here we enter 12 straight weeks of running a weekly half marathon or more until the Mercedes Marathon!! There are several in our group that had run one or two half marathons in their life and now got the itch to dive into the full. Essentially, I said "Ok, dive in. Saddle up. Hold onto your hat because here we go". We better learn how to get "coal" down the pipe becasue coal is burned and feeds the engine. Despite all the articles in all the running magazines in all the world, here is a pearl from Coach AL - PRACTICALLY EVERYTHING YOU EAT IS CONVERTED TO FUEL!!! Sure, some things are better energy producers than others, but the bottom line is that you have to get some kind of coal to the engine to be burned and it really doesn't matter what! If you eat too little, then amigo, you're on thin ice. Calories in, calories out. Got it? As complicated as some of these "fuels" are, I really believe that this is one of the areas that can benefit runners and endurance athletes as a whole as much as they want to be helped. You can burn carbohydrates really good, fats not so good, and protein is the pits for energy. But, there are different forms of carbos - some convert fast and some much slower, different forms of fats, and the protein you need for recovery. Some combinations are good to store for later use, some are better to get you down the road or trail right now, and some are good for right after you finish. Guys much smarter than me have developed drinks, gels, bars, jelly beans, and whole slew of products to fit your every need. Do you need all this stuff? Goodness no. You'd go broke faster than it takes you to do your run. My love is endurance. I want to go far, and lately, don't really give a flip how fast I get there. So, I look for what products will keep me from hitting the wall like a raw egg hits the floor. I know that and are great sites if you're interested in the physiology of this stuff. I love it and I really don't understand why everybody doesn't!

So, now you've got clothes and some kind of fuel. Next is the hardest thing to get, and the hardest thing to get is going. It's really pretty simple...right foot, left foot, and repeat a few thousand times. When new trainees want to know if I'll teach them to run, I usually tell them God taught them how to do that. I'll just teach them to run further. (If that doesn't work, Danny & Micki Haralson have an absolutely great program called COUCH TO 5K. You can check it out at .) Anyway, every week you add to previous training and pretty soon (well, relatively soon) you're doing distances you didn't think you could do. You're doing this because just like that efficient sweating mechanism that has me sweating just thinking about running, all the other systems are getting efficient at burning fuels, getting blood to the muscles, getting oxygen to the cells, strengthening the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and most of all you're building your confidence that "Yes, I can do 26.2".

So, in a nutshell, there it is. Train right and you will improve. I kind of bounced around this week violating any writer's creed to have a direct point you're trying to get across. My direct point is always the same...enjoy what you're doing, work as hard as YOU want, and above all, thank the heavens above you have the ability to have a BAD run.

Tomorrow, our Mercedes Marathon group lines up to do 13 miles as we enter Coach AL's 12-week-whirlpool-of-doom. For the next 3 months, we will do a half marathon or greater EVERY Sunday morning. So, hold on to your hats, kiss your family goodbye and tell them you'll see them on the other side. No, it won't be bad at all. Every week the body adapts to the stresses you put upon it, and getting out there week after week is the key to a successful long distance runner. Our half marathoners will be doing 7 miles. Remember, next week, we will meet at the Trak Shak in Homewood for our run, followed by our exclusive Sunday morning shoe and clothing sale. Thanks to Val, Jeff, and Scott for putting this on.
Have a great week guys, and I'll see you on the roads - AL

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

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