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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

I have always found that there is quality in quantity. By creating or accomplishing as many individual things as possible, a person is - in some form - producing a special value. We see it with running in various forms. Running one mile a day is nice for the average as a means to burn some calories and keep his or her weight down. Nice, but nothing special. Running one mile a day for an entire year or as Mark Covert from Lancaster, CA has done, for the last 44 years (or 16,235 consecutive days, to be exact). Quality in quantity. (Special shout-out to Brian Casey from Paramus, representing our home state of New Jersey with a 13,023 day streak of his own! When the Running Pride podcast gets up in running in 2014 - I’ll save that for next year’s resolution - you can bet I’ll do everything to interview him.)

Last year, a runner set out to keep a 9 minute mile pace. Was it you? It could have been as it easily could have been myself for much my injury plagued year. This pace is to be commended for anyone getting off the couch and putting forth his or her best effort. Some might judge that as quality. But when you realize that the runner was Western States Endurance Run winner Timothy Olsen, you now KNOW that a 9 minute mile is indeed quality. It’s other-worldly. (It’s also better than a 9 minute per mile pace.) Again, quantity - in this case 100-miles run at that average pace - can equate to quality.

This is what I’m aiming for with my 2013 New Year’s Resolutions.

1. Take an ice bath once a week. I utilized ice baths often while training in 2011 for the JFK 50 mile. I was running upwards of 60 miles per week and pushing my body’s limits. I had tried taking an ice bath once or twice before, but from everything I was reading I needed to implement this strategy more often. Once a week I plunged my body into the icy depths of my tub and each week seemed to get easier and the pain more enjoyable.

I abandoned this recovery-aiding strategy for my 2012 fall training for no particular reason. I was injured in one particular area and I needed much more than just ice to recover from it. Plus, I wasn’t doing many miles or heavy cardio workouts. I’m essentially in that same position now, but I want to get back into the habit. It certainly can’t hurt.

2. Get healthy and stay healthy. Ice baths are a start. Listening to my body when it needs a break or when a certain activity is causing pain somewhere. Cross-training more frequently in order to reduce the pounding on my knees.

3. Consistently run under 20 minutes for a 5k and/or do speed work and tempo runs. I’ve only broke 20 minutes 2 or 3 times and it was at a local running club race. I was doing speed work for a few weeks and the results were immediate. In order to have such success, I’ll need to get back to the track at least once a week for several weeks or months in a row.

4. Break 1:30 for the Half Marathon. If I can do #3 on my list, then I think I’ll be able to tackle this one. My favorite race, the Seaside Half Marathon, is currently in jeopardy. I’m not sure what the conditions are of Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, or Island Beach State Park after the devastation that was Hurricane Sandy.

5. Log more miles on trails. If you know anything about Ocean County, you’ll know we’ve got the Jersey Shore (no, not that one), Six Flags Great Adventure, and flat, trail-less land. Someone once told me that the highest point in Ocean County is the clock tower on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River. There are a few nice parks that offer hiking trails, but nothing for logging substantial running miles. My options aren’t, but I’ll do the best with what I have in order to achieve resolution completion.

I’ll run the limited miles on the county parks trails. I’ll run behind the development near my home and along the train tracks of the MOM Line. I’ll make weekend trips to Monmouth County, where I’m familiar with more challenging terrain, or to other locations in North Jersey that offer some elevation gain.

6. Listen to more music while running. My apologies to those who cringe at this one, especially since I’ll more than likely be doing so on trails. I typically listen to podcasts while running, which offer nothing in forms of improving turnover or pace. Many times, I simply end up zoning out the comedic beats of the Sklar Brothers (Sklarbro Country), Comedy Bang Bang, or Marc Maron (WTF). I love laughing and I love running; perhaps I’ll try making these two things more exclusive.

7. Publish weekly articles/updates on Running Pride.
While it’s impossible to build a running website brand that could ever match that of iRunFar’s Coca Cola, I wouldn’t mind being in the same business with them even if that meant being relegated to a Mr. Pibb or RC Cola status. Just to have readers checking my site on occasion would allow me the ability to pretend I was a journalist. In keeping with that, I hope to interview ultra runners from New Jersey or nearby locales and even offer race reports of local endurance races. Whatever it takes to sooth this new online ego.

In summary, I want to be healthy this year and I want to be fast again. This might mean getting away from running an ultra. It could even translate to running no more than a half marathon. I want to run a 100-miler badly and I know this is simply what it’s going to take to point me back in the right direction. I feel like I could run a 100-miler this weekend if I had to; my ability to do so is all upstairs and mentally I am strong enough to tackle such a feat. But doing so might mean a major injury to my knees or another part of my leg, not to mention damaging my organs. If 4-time Hardrock 100 winner Diana Finkel can come down with rhabdomyolysis, what could possibly happen to me with my little training? While I’m mentally strong enough to handle 100 miles, I’m simply not structurally sound enough to ensure my safety.

If I should only achieve half of what I set out for, I think I’ll still be pretty satisfied. And I’ll even have a better average than anyone in the history of baseball. Sample size be damned!

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