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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Next Steps

After taking one week off to let my blisters and bruised knee heal, I took to the streets of Mérida for a nice 30 minute run--it felt amazing.  One week off was the longest I had gone without running in almost two years.  My only pains I felt were in the bone bruise on my right kneecap and a little tenderness in my right Achilles tendon (probably due to calf tightness).  What I certainly know is that I felt right with the world again once I was on the road again.

In the week I took off, I did some post-race analysis, new goal setting, and ideas on what my focus should be over the coming months.

  1. To realize my potential, I believe that I need to seek support from a coach.
  2. I want to signup for my next 100 mile race.
  3. Start physical therapy sessions.
  4. Investigate whether yoga would be beneficial to my training.
  5. Develop a modified training plan for my next event.

To Find a Coach
Thus far, all of my training plans, dietary choices, and running techniques have been self-taught.  Not to say that I just guessed everything--I've read numerous books and blogs, joined online runners groups, and asked the advice of more experienced people.  Yet something inside of me says that if I want to start to improve my running to new plateaus, I can achieve it much more efficiently with the guidance of a professional.  This is not something I take lightly.  I realize that a coach-student relationship is dynamic and that there needs to be a certain level of compatibility.  Rather than just dive in with the best one I think I have found, I'm taking my time to interview a handful before I decide.  My hopes are to have a mentor to help me refine my training program for my next event, to have someone to bounce questions and ideas off of, and to provide insight on parts of running in which I have no real experience.  I am an athlete but all my previous athletic experience was primarily focused on baseball.  When it comes to training for an event or race day strategies, I'm learning as I go.  I do have the confidence that I can continue to improve on my own, but I would rather not waste time with certain failures that I need not endure where a coach could help provide the necessary guidance and path.

The Next Race
Ideally, I would like to run another race in the August/September time frame but I have much more important family events about to happen.  In late July, we are expecting our newest member of the family to arrive so my focus needs to be with the family.  I will continue to train during this time but I do not want to be away from the family for a race.  The earliest time for another race should be around December.  It is important that I lock in a race--I know from the the last race that it provided a very high level of motivation and focus for me.

Physical Therapy
From many of the books I read, it is important to regularly seek the support of a physical therapist and not because of injury.  The idea is to work on flexibility, break up scar tissue, and identify any potential problems before they turn into full blown setbacks.  I have been very fortunate over the past couple years in the sense I have avoided major injury.  My expectations by seeing a physical therapist, is that my body will be more responsive to training and realize improvements quicker.

Yoga
On many levels I have thought that yoga could be an important piece of the puzzle in my life.  From a spiritual level, it seems to have a grounding effect to keep one centered.  From a physical standpoint, the balance and core muscle groups needed are very beneficial to a runner.  From a mental standpoint, I see much in parallel with ultrarunning.  There is a sort of peacefulness and calmness the mind must undertake to run for 5, 10, 20 or more hours continuously.  Regular practice of this mindset in a yoga setting should be helpful.

Training Plan
This ties into the coaching idea but with or without a coach, I made observations from my race experience that make me want to modify my training.  I feel as if my training plan I followed was plenty sufficient for base fitness.  I had more than enough left in the tank to finish the 100 miles.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I could have run for at least a few more hours.  However, I felt as if I didn't have "another gear" to access during the second half of the race.  The pace I kept was decent and I ended up being the 5th fastest from miles 50-75 and 7th fastest from 76-100.  Yet while I was out there, I never felt like I could get any bursts of speed.  It was analogous to those diesel transport trucks going up mountain passes.  You can hear their motors churning away while they carry heavy loads up steep inclines.  The trucks are never in danger of stopping and will eventually make it up the mountain but at a slow speed in a low gear.  That was me in the race.  I would like to modify my training to allow me to have some faster gears late in the race.  It may be through speed work sessions, through tempo runs, intervals, fartleks, or some combination thereof.  This is where a coach could be beneficial.

Ending Notes
I started my physical therapy sessions and it went great.  I did some specific stretches to help with my mobility and post-race recovery.  The therapist helped work on my mobility as well and provided me with some homework.  I will be going every two weeks to start and probably shift to once a month.  As I get closer to a race, I will up the frequency to help prep my body.

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