I finished with my work for the day and headed to the indoor track to get a workout in. It’s funny, it’s my favorite workout, but also a workout I haven’t done in over 10 years – Fake 8s (or feights), I actually forget what my high school coach used to call them. I’ll go into the details of the requirements of that workout at a later date, but for now what you need to know is that part of the workout entertained the idea of a 60 second quarter-mile.

I get to the indoor track only to find out that there will be a high school meet and there was not enough time to fit the workout in, so I was relinquished to the outdoor track, in the not-so-bitter cold and problematic wind. I toed the line for the first rep and said to myself, “this is gonna suck.” And naturally with that negative mindset came a poor workout. A wholly awful, s—-y workout. The was one of the few workouts I voluntarily cut short, partly due to frustration, but mostly because I just wasn’t ready for the workout — and if I’m not ready, I’m not ready. I need to get the appropriate work in.

I call this workout “This is what 60 seconds feels like, a—–e”

So I came home, fed the dogs, and headed out for a run. I was more than frustrated now, I was angry. I made sure I got a good enough warm-up in before the destruction began. I found a hill nearby and started to go. And the task? To know exactly when I hit 60 seconds while running uphill. Not 59 seconds, not 61 seconds, SIXTY SECONDS – and I had to be able to do it twice (after doing at least 8 reps). This works for me because I can’t necessarily tell exactly how much time has passed while running, even moreso at an especially fatiguing pace.

The workout started out just fine. First few reps I would flip my wrist and snap my head down. “Shoot! 56″…¬† “Damn.. 61” … “58?.. Really?” And then I of course started keying in on where I was finishing each rep, which I then used to “cheat” myself because I just used my surroundings to tell me my time, as opposed to feeling it. And on my 7th one, when I passed the same parked car that had been sitting there with its engine and lights on for the past 20 minutes for some odd reason while its driver smoked a cigar, I looked down to see 60 seconds had past from my hill start time. (I wasn’t timing these individually, just calculating the difference from a running total time.)

Around the 12th rep of this roughly 220 meter, 100+ft incline the fatigue started to set in. I decided to make an active effort of counting the seconds in my head as I ran, which allowed me to be much closer to my target time on average, but since I have the attention span of a young puppy I often lost track of where I was.¬† Like on my 15th repeat, when a third of the way up the hill my running on the street at first startled someone on the sidewalk, and then they proceeded to laugh hysterically at the safety vest I was wearing – you know since I was running in the dead of night and all. Seconds later, a driver of a pick-up truck decided he didn’t need to signal that he was making a left turn, which made me “flying” through an intersection very interesting as I had to dart out of the way. So that rep was a wash.

At this point the pace was starting to suffer. Not that I cared much, that wasn’t the point of this workout. (If you forgot the point of this workout you should scroll back up to the part in bold.) I wasn’t getting as far up the hill anymore. People, that for some reason would sit in their cars for 20 minutes at a time, were probably overhearing me curse the workout, curse the hill, curse my time… curse myself. Runner’s high was definitely setting in, and the fear of not being able to complete the workout started to rear its ugly head.

So on the next one I took note of what had been happening with my counting. Seconds were running long, so more often than not, what I thought was sixty seconds was more like 63 seconds. Climbing up the hill, I continued my count.. “Fifty-four, fifty-five, fifty-.. f–k it just look!” And sure enough, I looked down at precisely 60 seconds.

Because of the wishy-wash nature of hitting both 60-second intervals (both kind of being a fluke, and one being in the first 8) I decided that I had to keep going until I hit another one. And somewhere around rep twenty I started to think that if this hill claims my life, in the least it was a valiant effort. Runner’s high was full blown at this point. Gasping for air, bellowing loudly, finding myself in the distraught hands-on-knees runner’s pose. It was getting viscous. I lost count of seconds on multiple occasions as my head wandered off into La La Land. S–t was getting real, there was no end in sight. And then came the 24th rep.

I essentially crawled down the rest loop that I had created and made it back to the start of the hill, approaching it with so much fear… and hesitance… and disbelief. Climbing the hill was much like the others, and the time in my head seemed to sync up with previous efforts and I just prayed that this would be the one. Fortunately enough I stuck to the count, and when I looked down, exactly 60 seconds had passed.

Too tired to be happy, I just stopped, walked up the hill a little bit and started my cooldown. After my mind started to come back down to earth I remember one of my first thoughts being “You know this means you have to do 24 400s in a few days right?” I shuttered, immediately stopped pursuing any thoughts of how miserable that workout was going to be, and just trudged home.

BeaRebel_3runnerinusall

This is on some hippy s–t in that “love everyone” type of mindset. Some of us seem to get caught up in what a runner is supposed to look like.¬† Some people take on the elitist attitude that only they (with such tiny frames and an amazing capacity for a breath of fresh air) were born for this sport. I get so confused by that idea.

While saying born to run is cliche at this point, it’s hard to deny the logic of crawl-walk-run. It’s a sequence we all follow, that are grandparents followed, that are grandparents’ grandparents followed. Because of that, running has a low barrier to entry, which might explain the lackluster interest and the sub-par pay professionals receive.¬† It’s something a majority of human beings will have the pleasure of embracing — I say “majority” because I’m positive some smartass would be thinking “well, not EVERYONE can run.” And that’s true, not everyone has the physical capacity to run, which means that everyone that CAN run, SHOULD run. Otherwise you’re just taking your capabilities for granted; and sure enough, if you found yourself in a position where you were unable to run, you’d take that neglect back in a second.

And while I despise elitist (notice I said elitist and not elite – elite runners seem to have less of an ego than the guy that won your local turkey trot) attitudes, I’m not sure that I don’t hate the “I’m not a runner” believers more. I’m not sure at what racing distance or pace people become runners, but it’s a ludicrous excuse to give yourself just so you can feel comfortable. When someone tells you that they run you should at no point assume that they’ve run a marathon. In terms of distance, sprinters don’t run much further than a basketball or football player, but they certainly don’t run as far as distance runners. People that don’t feel that they are runners are generally pleasantly surprised when they finally decide to pick up the habit.

Conditioning for your life. That’s all it is.

So how do you respect this fact?

  • Don’t take your capability for granted, no matter how great or small your talent.
  • When you see someone else out there fighting the good fight, show them some support – acknowledge each other.
  • No high horses. Run a mile in their shoes before talking down to another runner. Could you imagine carrying that extra weight, or not breathing as easily, or dealing with that chronic injury that was no fault of your own?
  • Don’t just regurgitate and imitate what the “Big Boys” do, just because it’s in the magazines and the books – do what’s right for YOUR MIND & BODY.

Image

Just so we’re clear, this isn’t the arsonist in me with a passion for flames trying to get people to set fires, though a nice campfire is the s–t. So forget about the pyro in me, the obvious play here is in reference to the classic idiom, which means taking a risk, involving yourself in something that could be dangerous, which is right up my alley. Taking risks and accepting challenges helps me stay above fear. Like heading down a black diamond for the first time (damn, I can’t wait to go boarding) when I knew a nice wipeout awaited me at some point during the downhill. It was best to just suck it up and do it. Clearly I’m sitting here just fine right now, and now I’m terribly certain to do anything but catch the edge of my board. And thus, due to the numerous faceplants, I forced myself to learn the alternative methods of snowboarding survival. And while there are no Black Diamonds on the track or the roads, running has its opportunity for risk-taking.

Play with Fire

So, how do we risk it?

Well, you need a balls-to-the-wall day every now and again. You want to let it all hang out. There are opportunities to play with fire in workouts and in races. When most people run workouts, they run with this fear of bonking, as if¬† a bad workout is the end of the world. Definitely not the case, but I understand the fear of what feels like a wasted workout. So we tread along through our¬† interval workouts until we’re close to the end and we realize we have a lot left and we push it to the limit on the last interval. Funny thing is, whether it’s freshmen in high school, freshmen in college, or people new to this type of training, the same thing always happens. There will be a workout where that person decides today is their glory day and finishes first on the team in the last repetition, though they were nowhere near first throughout the entire workout. It happens every. single. year.¬† That’s one thing I’d bet on if I were a betting man. And the worst part is, you’ve gained so little from that little show, you even end up worse off since you don’t maximize your anaerobic work.

Interval workouts are the best time to give it a go. I look at at this way: Every other sport primarily trains certain skills (in addition to studying film and all the other nonsense I’m glad I never had to do) and it’s all “here’s a situation you will find yourself in on gameday.” And cross-country, track and field, and road runners need to look at their training the same way. It’s all situational and you want your feeling 1/3 of the way through the workout to match that (or honestly feel a little worse) of how you want to feel 1/3 of the way through a race and continue the workout until you are completely gassed approaching your last 1/4 or 1/6th of the work. You want to work past your glycogen depletion. You are teaching both your body and your mind how to react under these extreme circumstances.

Tune-up races are also a good opportunity, since they’re not what you’re truly training for and they are only there to give you a benchmark of where you are at. It’s a great opportunity to teach your brain where your body is at by testing the waters and figuring out the opportune times to go and the best times to hold back.

You can also choose to turn it up a notch during tempo runs, which will help build your lactate threshold, but you must be sure to not make it a race, because then you’re doing too much. Pushing yourself on the occasional regular paced run and/or strength training session won’t kill you, you just have to choose your timing wisely – you wouldn’t want your decision to “push it” to negatively affect a more important workout. Definitely DO NOT play with fire on easy runs or LSDs – you are then defeating the purpose of the run. I think the only to challenge yourself on LSDs are to give yourself a longer distance to survive – every once in a while screw the whole “one mile longer than last week” theory and go out there and lay one down.

Get Burned

OK, so you went for it and things felt like they were falling apart at the seams… It’s awful. It sucks. It can be the worst feeling in the world, but so is brain freeze and that too passes. Maybe you started too fast, maybe you started pushing it too far away from the end of the workout. Worse things have happened in the history of running. You know what didn’t happen? You didn’t give in to the fear. The fear that told you that you weren’t good enough, and that it’s in your best interest to stop. Psychologically, that’s a milestone to cherish. You just pushed your limits from point A to point B because you had the audacity to believe that you could.

Your nervous system is the “hall monitor” of your body that takes its job too seriously. You start pushing the limit and Pocket-Protector Peter (your nervous system) is all “Uhh.. Uhh.. oh my god what’s happening?” and starts locking doors (shutting down certain bodily systems) and stocking up on one-way tickets to the principals office (preserving necessities) to avoid mass chaos (untimely death). It got really morbid at the end of that last sentence, but it’s true, our central nervous system has our best intentions (our lives) in check. It’s what makes you over-react to an iron that isn’t even hot. But what ol’ Pete needs to learn is that running through the hallway is okay. You just have to respect him, and let him know that the occasional forgotten hall pass is quite alright. Just don’t abuse it, there’s no need for mass chaos.

Did I really just compare our central nervous system to a geeky hall monitor? I hope the analogy made sense.

Learn Something

You’re running to learn about yourself. Tell yourself whatever you have to, but at the end of the day this is all it is. There is no more primal and basic activity that can teach you more about yourself. Eating is a close second. When you decide “today’s going to be the day” and you hammer the training you take a step towards figuring out what you can truly be, err I mean how truly fast you are.¬†How was my form during my faster repeats? How did I manage my breathing? I probably should’ve worn spikes. What worked? What didn’t work? What muscles started to fail, and did my counterbalancing muscles perform appropriately. And if you crumble, if you bonk, you can look back and see what it was that put you in bad shape. And guess what, you know what to avoid doing now.

Was that so hard?

Well, yeah it probably was. Christ, it was probably awful and made you wonder why you opted to do this, maybe even why the hell you brought running into your life in the first place. Good… it’s working. You will be sore, but you will be accomplished, you have trained the guts that are necessary to be successful.

A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.
– Steve Prefontaine

BeaRebel_1dicking around

“Don’t be a Richard” I like to say. I feel that some people hold themselves back from true change because they feel that their time or opportunity has come and gone. And then subsequently head down the trail of “lost opportunity” and “I could have been _____”. There’s nothing more depressing in my mind. Listening to people recount excuse-riddled tales of past attempts at glory, and then delve into how they’ll never be able to accomplish XYZ due to CBA always leaves me thinking “Man, F–K THAT!”

I’d rather die enormous, than live dormant. – Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter

I am confident that there are people out there that won’t pursue what provides them with true joy because either they a) set an unattainable goal or b) feel that the timing isn’t right. I know these people exist because I used to be one of them. Hell, I’m¬†still one of them. We can dive into appropriate goal-setting later, this rant is reserved solely for dispelling the myth of the “perfect time” to do something.

That Jay-Z quote above isn’t completely irrelevant. Sure, if we consider what he’s done “enormous”,¬† then 99% of us will never achieve that. But what I find to be enormous is the constant process of betterment and the pursuit of complete joy. I’d much rather be doing something that puts me on the path towards what I want out of life, rather than sit around pondering life’s alternate route, and barely doing a thing about it.

I won’t pretend that I’ve never been there. I’ve been there. Plenty of times. And then I found that a lot of the reasons I gave myself, were really just excuses, and that I really was just dicking around; not putting myself in the right position to achieve what I wanted. I then realized that all it takes is a few minor tweaks the schedule (and mindset) and life would start rewarding me with the goals I wanted to achieve. Paolo Coelho once wrote “One day you will wake up and there won’t be any time to do all the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” Sure, it might serve the purpose of striking fear into the hearts of wanderlusts and underachievers alike, but it certainly has merit. Since time is our most valuable resource it’s in our interest to make the best of it. That means doing the things that you want to do, that you should do, and that matter to you. As the impulsive among us open new internet tabs to find flight and hotel prices for destinations far far away. I’ll take this time to remind you it isn’t easy. There are no shortcuts. Things will suck. But it will be worth it.

I feel timing is a honed skill in life as it is the arts. You have to study it and you have to practice it. And while we may not be in control of the timing per-se, we are certainly in control of what we do with our time. And what we do with our time leads us to certain opportunities because of our choice to use time to practice a certain skill. And that time can be in small or great amounts, but it must be consistent.

So what am I saying right now? Find out what’s really a reason and what’s actually an excuse. You can use the old “In ten years from now will CBA matter?” question to guide you in your decision making as to what you will need to sacrifice for your pursuit. And I suppose, since this is a running blog, that there is this underlying “Stop being on the internet, dilly-dallying (can’t believe I used that word) around when you know you really wish you were running” theme, but this entirely true for anything. Don’t get caught up in the past, concern yourself in the present. It’s never to late to stop dicking around.

You cannot afford to live in potential for the rest of your life; at some point, you have to unleash the potential and make your move. – Eric Thomas

Blogs on Fire!

Posted: August 21, 2012 in Rebel Running

So recently a fellow blogger nominated me as a ‘Blog on Fire’ within the community.¬† The premise of ‘Blog on Fire’ is to nominate 8 blogs that you’d consider your favorite. You know, the ones you love to read, live to support, and gain from mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Okay… I definitely went overboard.

I was fortunate enough to be nominated by Muddy Mommy, a cool-ass mom who somehow finds the balance between having a full time job, being a wife, a mother, and kicking butt on trails, roads, and MUD! She just started blogging not too long ago and she’s set on bringing her love for fitness and nutrition (and life) to your eyes. Definitely check her out (click the link above, I’m way to lazy to make another clickable link).

So I’m operating under the assumption that there are no “tag-backs” and with that in mind I’m going to go ahead and nominate:

There. I’ve now opened your eyes to what’s out there. Enjoy the blogs as much as I do!

 

To the blogger in you,
Dels

A Cup Full of Calories

Posted: August 9, 2012 in Rebel Running

For all you coffee junkies, here is a good read..

A Cup Full of Calories.

Some people have been doing some really cool s–t with running. A rebel runner forges their own road. They run for a cause bigger than their own. They might go against conventional wisdom or they might just make a habit of bending the rules, expectations, and limits.

Ever run at night? Letting the stars, the street lights, and your neon gear light the way? Well this is the pic that caught my eye scrolling through Tumblr once upon a time.

run dem crew night run

I’ve since learned that this picture came by way of Sarah Mei of I’m Running I Promise. She’s a part of a running crew (that’s a running club for you noids) across the pond, aka London, called Run Dem Crew. One day I’ll have to write something up about this crew and spread the word about what they’ve got going on, but for now let’s focus on one person:

Rebel Runner: So what made you want to start running? How long have you been running?
Sarah Mei: I started running for a combination of reasons. Firstly, I work for a sports brand, and therefore I am surrounded by SPORT. It’s pretty hard to not let that influence your life. Secondly, a lot of people I know outside of work had started running which made me realize I was supremely unfit and I realized it was the cheapest and easiest method of addressing my health. Thirdly, there was a challenge at work to win free running trainers if you ran 30 miles in 30 days, so I got involved. Lastly, and most significantly, Charlie Dark, founder of Run Dem Crew had asked me on a couple of occasions to join RDC. I had politely declined, but he challenged me to run the Berlin Half Marathon. I spent 5 months panicking and haphazardly running before flying out to Berlin, running a 2 hour and 47 minute race, partying all night and meeting some really fun and amazing people. I was, by then, totally swept up by crew vibes, the familial support, and felt emotionally indebted to Charlie and Bangs (of #TeamBangsOnTheRun)¬† for getting me through a pretty tough start to my year. I didn’t want it to end, so I continued to run with RDC after Berlin even though most people thought I would give up after the race.

RR:Your blog says you’re learning running… what would you say you’ve learned since you started?
SM:I’ve learned, or rather, accepted, that you’re constantly learning. Perspective has been my greatest lesson since joining RDC. I run with people that have lived completely different lives to me, and have experienced things that I don’t think I could handle. It humbles me. In terms of actual RUNNING, I’ve learned not to ignore injury, not to panic when you struggle to breathe, and that you cannot easily run a half marathon with essentially only 6 weeks training.

RR: Any personal times, personal bests or improvements you care to share?
SM: 
At one point I got my fastest mile down to 9 minutes, which is a HUGE achievement for me. My fitness definitely improved, but, mostly, it is my attitude to exercise that has experienced the most dramatic improvement. Meeting people who love to run and cycle has had a great influence on me and I now genuinely like running with the crew and cycling whenever I can.

(Beer runners, you may want to avert your eyes)

RR: Do you drink? If so what’s your favorite drink?
SM:
I don’t drink, no. I’m so allergic to alcohol. It has earned me the nickname ‘Grandma Mei’. I’m still always the last on the dance floor though!

Just so you know, Run Dem Crew hosted a 10k out in London a few weeks back. To sum it up without doing it much justice, the weekend included drag racing (sprints with parachutes), partying, and a race. Check out the Day 1 recap

RR: How’d you find Run Dem Crew? What did you like about them?
SM: Run Dem Crew is well known within my social network in London. I had heard about them 2 or 3 years prior to meeting Charlie Dark (the creator). I saw my friend Peigh start running and lose weight due to his perseverance. I still wasn’t about to join though, as a non-runner. It took 2 or 3 chance meetings with Charlie at work, where he visited to design running footwear¬† and he asked me to run with the crew. Initially I was reluctant as I am a slow runner and thought I would be left behind, but once I joined I was overwhelmed by the amount of support that many individuals and the crew as a whole gave me. Charlie gave me a totally embarrassing introduction in front of RDC and I have experienced nothing but love since then. RDC is essentially a group of very different, but very dynamic individuals who run through London, supporting and providing one another with great opportunities. I have seen so many peoples’ lives enriched through the social aspect of RDC, including my own, and the running provides challenges and rewards, encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Win win.

RR: How much fun was “London Calling” weekend? I mean HOW MUCH FUN? Drag Race, Party, 10k… a lot going on.
SM:
This last week has been amazing. Totally different to Berlin as it was on home turf. I partied for 3 straight days, watched my friends achieve great things and developed international relationships with individuals from crews from around the world. I didn’t get to run as I was injured, but I cycled with the crews on Friday’s run and made sure I was partying at every opportunity.

RR: What do you like about running at night?
SM:
I love running at night. I like the cooler air and clearer streets. It feels a tiny bit badass and no one can see me struggling. I also have much, MUCH more energy in the evenings than I do in the mornings and I like to look forward to a run, rather than feel like I have to get it out of the way (something I found I have in common with Mike Saes, NY Bridge Runners founder). RDC run every Tuesday evening, it just feels right.

RR: Do you listen to music when you run? If so what’s your “pump up” song?¬† What music do you listen to in general?
SM: I do sometimes. I don’t really run on my own so much, as I prefer the sociability of running with people, so I don’t really need music. Also, I’ve found that I run so SLOW that fast music usually messes up my pacing. I keep it super chilled with neo soul tracks and relaxed vibes to keep me calm as I still panic about my pacing and breathing from time to time.

Sarah Mei is definitely a rebel. Loving the night runs, the partying, the dance floor… Starting out as someone afraid to run,¬† then coming to terms with it and learning from it shows true tenacity. She’s got a sick sense of style and I’m glad she found a home with Run Dem Crew, which seems to be a fresh crew.

Connect with  Sarah Mei:
I’m Running I Promise
Instagram: @essmei
Twitter: @missmei

To the rebel in you,
Dels