Friday, September 23, 2016

Run Fast- Train Hard- No Injuries

Racing when you are older-- 59 years old in my case--is risky business.   Injuries are a part of any sporting activity, whether you are running on the track, the sidewalk, or driving a car very fast.  You are going to get hurt if you take enough chances and in many cases do not take the right precautions. 

The hard part of the entire process is to know how to challenge your self and perform training that will address your weaknesses and make you more competitive.   And when meet day arrives,  running at the best of your ability and not exceeding  your capability is very tricky.   When we arrive at capability and ability the waters get very muddy and experience is the best teacher if you listen to your body properly.  The real difficult part of this process is that there is almost no material that has been published to address training as a senior athlete.  I have looked, it does not exist.  The material currently available is for younger athletes that are still growing, not on the decline as senior competitors.  Now what?  Get a coach?  That is just as tough, because the training as a senior is way different that I did as a high school track athlete.  I was looking at some old documents and we raced 2 or 3 times per week and trained between the meets in high school.   When did I ever heal?? 

What options are available to the senior athletes for training programs? 

  • To design a good training program, you must first establish your goals.  How do you establish your goals?  Getting beat is the best way to find out where you need to get better.  Go racing and watch how you get beat or if you are winning, what is it going to take to compete on the next level??   Who do I need to beat?
    • I have a two ways that I track my progress.  I train with a heart rate monitor and record the calories and time per training event.  I typically like to train from 55 to 75 minutes and I will cut off the session quickly if I feel any dehydration issues. All this data is on an Excel document.  I also add weight, training times, sets, location and other info regarding weather and altitude.   I also have a note pad that I track the training session with notes about the sets and anything else relevant.
    • All my races times are on the Excel sheet along with a lot of other race information. One click gets me a lot of info.
  • Have a time frame in mind.  If you have a race in 6 weeks or 6 months the options are very different for the prerace training program.  If you race soon, you are basically going to be doing track work with minimal work in the gym and fitness training. If the race in 6 months, you can work on your weaknesses--where I am losing races?  What are the others doing better....
  • Have a time you are looking to achieve.  What is your competition running?  How much do I want to improve?  Be realistic.   Time are improved by 0.1 of seconds for my sprinting distances. 
  • Make absolutely sure you address injuries and other aging related health concerns.  Go to the doctor or specialist, talk about your meds, your weight, your blood pressure, your diet, your injuries and what you are trying to achieve.  You would be surprised at the help they can provide.  
  • Injury prevention is the biggest challenge of all.  I had my worst injuries early in my senior racing career.  I have found that the fast people will get injured and this is typically from a training incident or improper race prep. 
    • Dehydration race week is a very easy way to get injured.  Cramps and pulls are just lurking for those not properly hydrated. I have trained after a long day at work and was not properly hydrated all day and this has resulted in several big time cramps that ended that entire week.  Hurts a lot too. Find a good source of electrolytes and take them race week and during training in hot weather.  A great insurance policy against injuries.
    • Stretching and warm up are very often not properly performed by at least 2/3 of the athletes.  Get a program that works--yoga is a great start. My warm up takes 20 minutes and at the end, I can go 100% with confidence that my legs can do what I ask.
    • Overtraining race week will get you eventually.  Make sure you have several days of rest to get the juice back in the body. Many times I will work race week and I make sure I get plenty of rest and eat properly. Just have the discipline to "Don't Do It"
    • Another way to get hurt and this is how I managed to really kill my racing for over a year and miss a Nationals--run at race speed in training to see how fast you are..   Race speed is only for races. Period...  You should never go harder than 95% in practice.  You should run under control during your training, the speed will follow.  Again, have the  discipline to keep the accelerator off the floor.
    • Find gear that works.   I have a rather large budget for racing and I am constantly experimenting with new compression wear, shoes, training aids, etc. I am currently addicted to compression sleeves on my calves and compression racing tights. The sleeves prevent foot cramps that have been a problem for me for decades.  I also keep a supply of soft shoes to train. I rarely use spikes for training. Saucony Guide 9 is the shoe of choice currently and it works very well at 10.5 ounces.
    • Limit your racing.  Every weekend?  That is crazy and those that do that do get hurt and it is serious stuff.   Take break to rest and do something else for entertainment--play with the family.
    • Under training is also a way to get hurt.  You cannot show up race weekend without the proper prep.  Getting out of your car and going racing will put you on the shelf in a hurry.
  • Why is not getting hurt such a big deal?  Because the seniors heal very slowly and we may not heal at all.  Also surgery is many times the only fix for some injuries and that also will take the fun out of racing.  Coming back takes months/years and in the meantime you get to watch and typically gain a bunch of weight that needs to be removed later.
I have had my share of injuries and I will more than likely have something go bad again.  But, I have been disciplined the last 5 years and I have really limited my injuries that have prevented me from racing and competing at the national level. I may not win every weekend, but I give them a run for their money and put on a good show trying.    Am I racing to my capability yet?  No.  Am I racing to my ability??  Yes,  and that is all that can be asked. 

See you at the track!

Monday, September 19, 2016

That Was Fun !!

Saturday was the Greater Nashville Qualifier race for the Tennessee State Finals next summer.   It was probably one of my best meets.   The competition was not the best, but there was plenty of incentive to put up some fast times and I did get in one really good race that was incredibly satisfying to win!  And winning a great race is what the sport part of this is all about.  This is racing in the most basic form. 

Saturday started as a very nice day at Brentwood High School track.  A light wind out of the South and that is great for sprinters,  a tail wind down the finish straight--my favorite wind when racing.  But right after that race, the rain started and it kept coming down for the rest of the running events.  We were lucky that we did not get a storm with lightning, just rain and everything  was soaking wet.  I do not get to run in the rain much, but it happens and you race through it the best you can.  It started to rain hard right around the 200 meters race, and I just looked at the situation and thought I am going to be wet, and just embraced the wet.  Linda was in the stands doing a lot less embracing and I cannot blame her, it was a horrible spectator day.  I had on gear that would not carry much water and I raced through the rain without any problems.  I did add a hat so I could keep the water out of my eyes. 

My first race was the 100 meters and I was stunned at the time I posted.  It was a new personal best for me in the senior games--13.20 seconds.   It was hand timed by three people and the two times that I trust were a 13.19 and 13.10 with the official timer getting a 13.4.   The official timers struggled all day--more on that later.   But, the time was legitimate in my mind.  Did I go for a record?  No.   I just got a decent start and worked on my speed with a little pick up at the end--trying to play Olympian racer like on TV where they pull away with at the finish.  But I felt great and did not really strain it, and that may be the biggest help.  It was also the only dry race for the day.  13.2 is the All American Standard for 60-64 year old men in USATF competition.  I will be 60 in 8 weeks.  That time would put me in the top 20 in the US this year!  I may need to start running the 100 more, it appears to be coming to me now.   What was different?  I am lighter by 6 pounds that my previous race and I have worked harder on the track part of my training. I have also been doing some training with Lyon Fleming who has been very helpful in getting me on the track with someone else that is very fast.

The next race was the 200 meters and it was raining hard at this point.  I just wanted to get in a good run and ran a 28.5 seconds unchallenged and feel really good.  No tie up or lactic at the end--just like it is supposed to be.   That time would be in the top 30 this year for 60-64 group.  Another good race.

Next up was the 50 meters and it was still wet, but the rain had slacked off some.  There was two heats and I was in the second heat.   I got a good start and was passed on the left at 15 meters and just mashed the gas and won going away at 7.20 seconds.  I am not sure about the time, just a little quick for me.  The heat before had a guy at 7.09 and 7 flat I think!  The 7.09 time almost fell on the start and maybe broke 8 seconds in real life.  Who knows, but I finished officially in third.  At this point, the starter could not use the gun because it was too wet to fire and he would yell 'bang' into the radio at the start and we would take off and the timers would click the watches.  I have no idea who won that race or what the times were.  I felt good and that is what I wanted. 
Racing in the rain


 
The final race was the 400 meters and at that point, I thought I had won all my races and wanted to finished the day 4 and 0.  David Schmanski was in my heat and he has a World record and a whole lot of State records in the 400, 800 and 1500 meter events.  He was recovering from a hernia surgery, but he is always dangerous because he runs with a stalking style and has a really great finish.  He was THE competition for this race. I have beaten him only a few times and he hates getting beat. Not a grudge match or anything, I hate losing too.
 
I was in lane 7 and he was in lane 5 and I could have moved to lane 4 but stayed outside, so I could run my race, not his.  I did not plan on going for a fast time, I just wanted to be in the 60's and comfortable at the finish.  And the finish was quite a finish!   I just ran along with a very even pace thru the last turn ( 300 m) and at that point David made up the stagger.  I could hear his shoes slapping in the water and kept watching for him.  80 meters to go--dead even!   Here we go! I know how much he hates to lose and I wanted to finish the day with a clean slate, plus at this point I felt pretty good.  I am tingly just typing this!  So I opened up my stride and put all the power I had left into the strides and pulled away and won by one second.  Man that felt good!!!  I finished in a 65.78 which is pretty solid and that time would be 25 th in the US this year in the 60-64 age group.  The most important part of the race was my legs did not tie up at the end and I had some power left at the finish.   The training lately has been working and losing the weight is definitely the biggest part of the success.  I am getting better as I age. 
 
We were done by 12:30 and I was starved and sore.  That afternoon my hammies and  buttocks were sore and I needed to put on some steroid cream at night to knock down the pain so I could sleep.  The next day I went to the gym early and warmed up in the hot tub and did a normal race day warm up and stretch routine.  That really helped and two days later, I am feeling pretty good, but my hammies will need a few more days rest.   They did what I asked, that final stretch really put them to the test. My hips and abs are typically sore after a race weekend and they are fine.  So I am addressing weaknesses as they come along--I need some more strength in the back part of my legs now and a couple more pounds need to be shed.
 
I thought that was my last race for the year, but I may race the 100 and 400 or 200 (not both) at Chattanooga Oct 16.  Our son will be here helping out with Linda's recovery and I may see if I can work it out where I get a play date.   I would like to back up the 100 m and do one more 400 or 200 this season.  Now I am curious if I can back up the 13.2 second 100....
 
 

 


Friday, September 16, 2016

Meet Ready

The District Qualifier is tomorrow.   I did my last day of race prep this morning.  I warmed up at the gym and did a very thorough stretch.   Ran a few cool down laps and that is it for today.  I feel pretty good, although my left buttock has been a little tight for a couple of weeks.  Nothing bad, but I think the lactic will show up there first tomorrow.  

The weather should be warm and sunny--which means dehydration issues.  I will be drinking a lot of water today and working on some electrolytes as well.  The running order for me is 100, 200, 50, 400.  The 100 is right at 9:00 and then a small break before the 200.   I am not that concerned about the 100, but want to run hard for the 200 to see if I have made any progress with the training this summer.   The 50 is always crazy fast and what is left will be used on the 400.  

My weight is stabilized at 194 pounds and that is as light as I have been in years.  I have reduced my waist size by 2 inches and hopefully that is a permanent body change.  I am curious to see if lighter is faster--only one way to really tell and that is a stop watch and some competition. 

Once we get thru this race, the next thing for me is to experiment with the triple jump.  I long jumped in high school and really had fun with it and won a lot.  My left knee will not  take the long jump take offs anymore, so I may be able to do the triple jump which appears to put a lot less stress on the knees.    Who knows?

Hopefully the local stars can run tomorrow and we can have some fun and get everyone qualified for the State next season.  Good luck to all.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Meet prep

Greater Nashville qualifier meet is coming up and it will be next weekend at Brentwood High School on Sept 16. I have been doing some training with Lyon Fleming as he recovers from a nasty heel injury.  He is getting up to speed pretty quickly and actually looking at doing the 400 as part of his sprint racing.  Taking on the 400 is just crazy in my opinion, but he is actually doing pretty well.  He ran a 67 second 400 the other morning and I think he should be very competitive in the younger man's group --55 to 59.    He is going to do fine. 

I have been running about every other day with a lot more weight training this cycle.  My weight is around 194 and I am actually feeling some gains at the lower weight.   My recovery for the 400 meters is much better now when training.  I have actually done a lot more 400's as part of my training this summer.  I recovered so poorly in the past, I basically avoided any 400 meter work.  I can run several under 90 seconds in the same session.   I feel a little better on the track and I actually stay on my toes longer during my work outs. Last night I ran at the Raptors track and started out with 1200 meters.   I think my fitness is fine.  I have been wearing a little different shoe design--Saucony Ride 9 which are very soft--I love soft shoes--and still weight in at 11 ounces each.  The shoes should take some of the credit, because I have had very little foot pain and I have actually run with minimal taping of my feet, which is a huge change for me.  The only nagging issue is a sore left butt cheek and I will blame that running a little too hard at the track in recent weeks. I have a massage today, I will get my therapist to work on the sore butt.

 I will train the best I can this week end, we are out of town for a wedding,  and see how things go next weekend.  I feel great.

 
 
 
I included a picture from last weekend's annual chili cook.  I like to stock pile chili in the freezer for football season or days when you just need to have something warm in your belly and not want to do any cooking.   This season I used a lot of peppers and onions from the garden--shown-- and added some black beans, ground turkey and spicy Italian sausage.  I also used up the last of our canned tomatoes.  The chili is yummy with just enough heat to keep your attention, but perfect with some melted cheese on top.   The new stove made the chili cook a breeze, the griddle makes this sort of frying really easy and you can really keep an eye on your work.  Plus it looks really appetizing!
 
The final countdown is starting for the knee replacement for Linda in 3 weeks.   I got a flu shot yesterday to make sure I do not bring anything nasty home to mess up the recovery.  The primary care giver does not need a 103 fever while helping his wife get back on her feet!!  She is finishing up the final paperwork for the doctors and insurance companies to comb through and we will be getting the recovery supplies rounded up.  Canes, walkers, wound care.....   Hopefully we get a great recovery like we did for the left side!
 
 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Oregon





 
 
 
I made a trip to Oregon this week and stayed in Eugene a couple of nights--that only means one thing to me--Hayward Field.    I did not get to run on the track this trip, it was only open in the morning the day I had a chance to work out.  I checked the track out in the morning and it was open and busy with runners, but in the afternoon when I returned to do my work out--it was locked up.   U of O has a lot of very nice field right behind the track for intramural soccer (4) and also a warm up track that is square and 3 lanes wide. I think it is used for events at Hayward Field when they hold the meets. 
 
Running conditions were about as good as you can imagine.  No clouds anywhere, 85 degrees, breezy and humidity under 30% !!!!  The lack of humidity was very noticeable the entire trip.   As soon as the door opened in Nashville, that blast of wet air reminded rather quickly about living in the South.  
 
 I wandered around the back  of Hayward and ran some parachutes on the soccer field with some law students who were back in school already.  The duckling are not in school yet, so the fields were relatively empty.   It is very apparent that Mr. Knight--aka Nike, has spend a lot of money on the campus.  All the fields are very modern and well kept.  Since the NW is know for great growing conditions, I was surprised that all the fields were artificial surfaces.  But, if you look at the bigger picture, you do not need to line the fields or water them.  It was the dry season in Oregon and any grass not getting watered was brown and dead.  There was also a lot of dust in the air from the farming activity and wind from the West.   In this season, keeping these fields ready would be very time consuming and expensive in terms of labor and water. Interestingly,  I was traveling to a mill located in Linn County.  Linn County is known as the 'Grass Seed Capital of the World'.  Somehow there is a misalignment somewhere in this situation.   The grass seed fields were basically brown and dead unless they were getting irrigated. 
 
I also visited one of the kids who just moved to Portland and got to hang with he and his girlfriend who was in town on a little vacation.  That is one of great perks of the traveling, seeing the babies when I get into their neck of the woods.   Portland is treating him well and it appears the change from Milwaukee to Portland is for the better.  The Left Coast as it is aptly named,  is a different pace than Milwaukee, with a lot less emphasis on keeping warm and dug out in the winter.  This area seems to embrace Mother  Nature and go a little more with what she in mind and not fighting for survival 6 months of the year.
 
I still have one more meet in a few weeks and I will continue to train thru the Greater Nashville qualifier.  After that race, I probably start to prep for the USATF indoor Master meet in 2017. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Michigan Senior Games



150 mark and we are bucking the wind
 
I made a short trip to Oakland University in Michigan for their Senior Games State Qualifier  the last weekend.   Linda was supposed to join me by taking a later flight on Friday that was cancelled by Southwest. Her flight was scheduled leave Nashville at 8:40 PM and was delayed until 3:40 PM takeoff !!! before it was cancelled.   She missed the show.   And I missed my cheering section.
 
I got into town on Friday afternoon and made it to the track to stretch and check out the facility for shade, restrooms and all that stuff you need to survive a meet.  I got in a good stretch and shot the breeze with another sprinter who was from Ohio and was in the 70-74 age group.  He still refs high school football and had a bad injury a few years ago when his patella and quad separated on a inception play where he planted his leg at the goal line and it just went. He looked pretty good in his races and he looks to be recovered well.  The wind direction at that time was from the North and was nice and cool and was right down the finish straight--which is always a gift for sprinters.  
 
Saturday was race day and it was threatening rain all day and it did rain periodically from small cells as they passed thru.  The biggest change was the wind was from the South and the humidity was off the chart.  I thought I got away from the heat, but the Mississippi Delta in August was hiding in Michigan.  It sucked.  The wind was now directly in your face as you round the final curve for the finish--and it was strong at 20 MPH.  Crap--just took all the fun out of this deal.  But, I came a long ways to get in some racing--suck it up princess...  
 
I got warmed up and ready for the 200 which ran around 1:30 PM.   The meet had electronic timing which really is a challenge for the heats and there was absolute chaos getting lined up.  It took forever and was really aggravating to the more elite runners--we do not need the organizer from a junior high meet to run this deal.   I was not happy about this mess.  My heat was 3 guys with the next heat with 4 guys in the same age group.  No idea who won anything until the times were posted later.   Put the heats together and get going--nope.    I got a good start in the 200 and tried to get some speed up around the corner and just hit an absolute wall when I finished the stagger--I get better speed when I run with my parachute.  I finished in my worst time in my Senior career-29.25 and a close second to an elite athlete from Ohio.  I was pretty gassed, but happy I made it around the track.   As I started to cool down the skies opened and we got a very nice cool down shower.  It actually felt good, it was warm rain.  The storm was short lived and in maybe 30 minutes I was back into line for the 50.  Same mess of waiting forever. 
 
I like the 50 because I can work on my starts.  With the wind, the start was the whole deal.  I think I false started, I came out of my blocks after at least 3 seconds and the starter chewed me out. She had not shot the gun at 3 seconds.   By the way starter, we are old guys--once we are set--shoot the gun.  We are not going to break any world records.  She implied I was out, I offered to get off the track, but the other guys told me run, I am not sure if I was DQ or not--still don't know.    I checked my time later and it 7.57 seconds which was decent and according to the person with the clip board a gold in my class.   Ok, I got my medal and was done.  No 400 meters due to the wind and incredible chaos around the starters--nuts. If you get enough crazy shit going on, something bad can happen--like getting hurt. 
 
I was still confused when I left--ran poorly and won two medals with bad weather and poor meet organization.  Ok, I guess this was a great way to learn.  I think I will run as many USATF meets in the future as I can.  They are organized and the chaos I experienced at this meet does not exist. 
 
I came thru with some minor soreness in my hammies and upper abs.  But nothing some compression wear could not help.  I ran at 194 pounds and felt fine, but with the weather, I have not idea if I have made any progress.  
 
With the Olympics going full tilt now, I noticed some of our veggies that were also trying to get into the act.
 This squash is doing a bar routine and the pumpkin below is doing the balance beam.  These vines have been real wild this year and come up with these routines on their own. 
 


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Beyond Busy

 
 
Linda and I made it last weekend to the Pro Football HOF induction in Canton, Ohio.  Brett Favre was going in along with Ken Stabler, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Kevin Greene and Dick Stanfel and Eddy Bartolo.   Some of the well know Raider fans were there as well.  I really feel bad for the Raider Fans. Stabler died just before the announcement that he was going in the hall.  If you get inducted after you die, the speech is eliminated and you get short changed.   We enjoyed ourselves and met a lot of great football fans.  The Raider fans were really good fans and were fun to talk football.  The majority of the fans were Green Bay and most were drunk. It was game weekend to them.   PARTY !!!    We attended the induction and the roundtable.  The roundtable was a great way to get some off the cuff stories and get a feel for the real person.  The game was cancelled, but that was not such a big deal to us.  We had great seats, but a really early flight the next day would have been even more difficult than it was.  We got real lucky on the game scenario.  We were staying about an hour from Canton, near the airport in Cleveland.   On the way to the game, we turned on the radio and there was talk of issues with 'field conditions' and Linda and I just headed back to the hotel.  Eventually they cancelled the game because the paint was not properly dried and it too sticky to be safe.  We watched the Olympics on TV instead.
 
This weekend we are going to Detroit to run at the Michigan Senior Games and we are visiting Linda's aunt.  This is a quick trip, Linda is going to work on Sunday--so it is a hurry up deal.  But, I would like to get in another meet this year.  All my events are after lunch on Saturday--so I will need to be ready to run run run.   My training has been limited somewhat, but I think I am strong and my weight is coming down a little and I should be able to run at 195 which a little lighter than the TN State Finals.   I am hopeful the lower weight can make the stopwatch look better.  
 
I did do some running in Cleveland at a National Park in the Cuyahoga River valley.  There is a scenic rail line, abandoned Ohio-Erie canal works and also a few pieces of an old paper mill.  The Jaite mill was started in 1904 and closed in 1984 and demolished in 2006.   The mill was started by a Polish gentlemen who recruited Polish immigrants to come settle at the mill and work.   The mill provided housing and apparently it flourished through WWII and after the war, the southern mills could make much lower cost bag paper and they were finished.  During the depression they had 250 people working at the mill and it looks like it was a hopping community.  Today the mill is just a concrete pad with pieces of an old bag machine on display.   I hopped the fence to check it out and found a couple of pieces of machinery that my current company sold in 1958 and 1965.  They would probably still work if needed!  
This is a Kadant name plate from 1958 on a dryer doctor blade.
 
In a couple weeks we have a wedding in NY state and I need to mow the yard really bad.  Today is catch up day on the yard --I hope.    I does not stop.  Hopefully I can have a good race weekend  and then watch the big boys and girls in Rio race !!