Wednesday, March 10, 2010

All the little things

So I do, as probably most us do, get asked by folks on how to train.  After getting an understanding of what a person is doing, what they want to do, trying to assess how willing and capable they are to get to that want to do, I feel I can give them some feedback.

But the feedback usually is pretty much the same principles.  Actual output varies, depending on the person, but the principles are this:

1.) Run more in general
2.) Occasionally run hard (and this is tied to number one in the fact that how much that is depends on how much running they are doing to support that running hard, as well as their schedule, etc)
3.) Periodically run long (also ties to number one)
4.) Train specifically (so if it is a track race, get on the track, a mountain race, you need to be doing hills)

And then there is number five.  Number five is all the other little things.  All the little things are all those other things that you can do that are extra.  You know, like doing core work.  Or getting a pair of racing shoes that make you a tiny bit faster.  The little things don’t mean shit if you have not trained, but they can add up.

Hypothetically, let’s say if you religiously applied a “little thing” and it gave you a 1 second advantage per mile.  Now let’s say you did 10 of those little things.  So that is 10 seconds per mile.  Or 262 seconds in a marathon.  Or 4 minutes and 22 seconds.  Which is a nice little bump.  Particularly if it gets you from a one “ten-ish” number to another (like 2:4x to 2:3x).

I think I’d have to give myself a D- on application of the little things.  So, as part of the reason why I maintain this blog, is to maintain some level of accountability, I am going to try to improve that grade.

Here is how … I going to blog here a little thing a day for …oh, let’s say the next two months, that I will then begin to do.  How much, how frequent, how hard, when I start that – it is all up to me (my blog, I make up these rules).  So for example, I might say one (as I have done in the past) is to give up beer for the summer racing season.  I get to pick when I start that, and if there are exceptions in order to keep some life sanity balance with all this.  So it might be something like I will give up beer for the months of June – Pikes race day in August, except post a race, and then not to exceed two.  You get the idea.  I will add on to this post as I do this, but then I will also put the update in the daily post as to what I am adding.  Every week in my week in review post on Sundays, I will also speak to how I am doing on these little things.

1.) 03112010 – This one is VERY basic, but one I suck at very bad:  Hydration.  Here is how I know it is bad:  the pee is ALWAYS YELLOW.  Well, except on bender nights.  I need to start carrying the water bottle around at work, and getting in 2-4 more liters a day. 
2.) 03112010 – More basic … core work no less than 3 days a week for 20 minutes a shot.
3.) 031210 … I could probably post one little thing called diet, but there are so many aspects of this, it will be much more effective for me to do it as a bunch of little things that are habits I need to manage.  This one is the “Do not eat this because it is left over.”  Since I was a kid, there was always this mentality of “eat this … there is only a little left … and we don’t want to store it.”  So there was a little spaghetti left over after we had all eaten dinner.  Give it to GZ so we don’t have to deal with the left overs.  Great – we ain’t storing it in the fridge, but I am storing it (somewhere).  And I really didn’t need it … I had already eaten dinner.  I get much less of this as an adult, but it does manifest itself a bit … mostly with stuff left on the kids plates when they are done.  They may have a few left over bites of something, that I will feel fine taking in – rather than saving it or pitching it.  Little things indeed, but it adds up.
4.) 031310 – always take the stairs.
5.) 031510 - get a good night’s sleep.  This one is a bit more in my mind today because I did not get a good one last night.  Usually, I am pretty good at hitting the rack at 9ish, and I rarely see the far side of 10.  Last night, even with the time change was no exception – but – I started doing that thrash about thing at 4AM.  The reason this occurred this time was very clear:  before bed last night I had prepped a raisin bread in the bread machine that started up around 2AM.  The house was filled with the wonderful aroma of this by 4 and it had me up.  Good way to wake up.  Not a good way to get that extra hour or two.
6.) 031610 -  I will go with an other diet one:  seconds.  Nothing against seconds at the meal table, but well frankly, I need to ask myself if I need them as a summer of racing comes up.  Often the gut is often already full, I have the fuel I need to replenish and seconds are really just about making my mouth happy.   So it comes down to looking at the food as fuel.  Is it necessary?  Will it help? 
7.) 031710 - most of my little things are about some exercise outside of running, or diet, etc.  This one is a bit more about your head and it is have a goalThis might seem obvious but – it is important.  That goal does not have to be a race (but it is for many) but could be something like running a certain number of minutes, or completion of running some distance, or climbing some mountain every day for 100 days, … or some level of health.  Generally speaking, I would not encourage a goal of a certain weight, because that can be achieved as an unhealthy goal.
8.) 031910 - … this definitely related to a mental thing … and is reflective of where I have been over the last few days.  It is this:  the more you get out there, the more you get out there.    Over the last couple of days, I decided to push my mileage a bit, just to see how I would respond and if I could handle it.  I did, and I think without issue.  I am pretty certain that the last three days are my highest total for 3 days ever.  And so when you do this, you suddenly realize that  you are probably capable of a lot more, with the right focus, at the right time, and the right organization of it all.  Pushing the envelope occasionally gives you a renewed perspective.


  1. do it! myrtl, core... all of it. and don't worry about the beer taper. pointless. life is too short. enjoy it all... in moderation. and taper on race week!

  2. One of the things that has helped me aside from all the physical stuff, is educating myself. Magazines, books, videos, experimentation, talking with people...etc I'm always hounding for more information about running.

    I got a chuckle out of the food business... I tend to be the cleaner-uper at the dinner table, too :)