Following the Prime Directive

20 06 2016

Starfleet General Order 1 states: “As the right of each sentient being to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of an alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely.”

Basically it means you should leave well enough alone.  Sage words on any planet, I’d say.  But when it comes to running, it is a thought process I have often failed to follow.   The normal evolution of training progress and healthy development of greater endurance have been so thwarted by my fantasies of superior knowledge (mine over the coach’s) and strength I didn’t really possess, that I’ve spent part of every one of at least the last 5 years somehow injured. This year I decreed I was done with that cycle and gave myself a Prime Directive: follow a training program from start to finish and deviate from it only to do less when necessary but not more –not ever– no matter how easy and harmless it may seem.

I actually started the year with a flare of the left plantar fasciitis that I’ve battled since 2015 August (the last time I let my brain overload my ass) but decided it could heal while I trained.  Oddly enough, it has just about done so.  A couple of times the chronic right Achilles tendonitis that has long plagued me also became an issue but the days off directed by the training plan allowed that to stay in check as well. With the half-marathon coming up Saturday, only one more training run left and no disabling aches or pains, I will proclaim “so far so good” as of now.

This go-round I’ve been using the PEAR app for heart-rate based coaching and following Matt Fitzgerald’s “New Rules” at the Beginner Level, which I chose not because I’m a beginner but because it had fewer total running days each week.  With its standard tempo runs, long runs, speed play, short intervals, long intervals, mixed intervals and basic foundation runs all based on my heart rate and coached in real time, it was the closest to a live trainer I have ever come (and probably ever will).

Level 1 provides fewer Foundation Runs which Fitzgerald defines as “a steady, moderate-intensity run to build basic aerobic fitness” but my long-time favorite trainers from FIRST/Furman Institute label “junk miles” in their book Run Less Run Faster, a  regimen I’ve previously employed but not faithfully followed because of all the planning and mindfulness it requires.  Honestly if Furman had an app that talked in my ear to tell me “go faster” or “go slower” I would have used it instead, but they don’t so I went with PEAR and have not regretted it.

In addition to following a training schedule with 90% compliance from start to finish, I have also done weekly weight training on a 3-day split and some, but not enough, flexibility work.  Taking the longest Long Run up to almost 12 miles for the first time ever is another necessary step I made sure not to shortcut this time, since I plan to continue training for a full marathon in the fall.  I don’t want Saturday’s half to cause an injury for lack of thorough preparation.  I’ve done 13.1 in the past on as much 10 miles max and as little as 7.5 , but this year I was not taking any chances.

Fitzgerald’s training plan is based on his book “The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition,” which I’ve read at least twice.  I have not adhered to the nutrition portion over the past 16 weeks, but will do so in the next few days until  the race.  As counter-intuitive as it may seem for a runner, I don’t do well with the higher carbohydrate diet he and others espouse. For me, a lifelong carb-sensitive endomorph, a 40/30/30 carbs:protein:fat ratio akin to that of The Zone Diet works best.  I strive for that on most days because it helps me avoid food cravings and thus control my weight better.  Three days of carbo-loading before and some energy gels or chews during a race have gotten me through everything over 10k up to now, so I haven’t considered changing.

Along with training, I enjoyed some races around town over the past few weekends and posted a few highlights below.

MAY 28, 2016 – Soldier Field 10 Miler:
an old favorite that I haven’t done in a few years.  Because it was 10-mile Long Run day on my calendar, I took it very slow and just enjoyed being out there in sweet home Chicago.



June 4, 2016 – Sweetness 8k in Aurora IL:
honored Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears and supported charities sponsored by his family. I WON MY FIRST EVER AGE GROUP AWARD!

sweetness collage

June 11, 2016 – Foodie 5k at the Joliet Speedway:
It was hot as friggin’ hell!  I was slow as hell.  No coincidence, that.

Foodie 5k Collage


June 18, 2016 – Minooka Summerfest 5k:
I WON SECOND IN MY AGE GROUP!  But I didn’t even know until later in the day because I left right after the race to go home and clean the kitchen.  I walked away from an actual trophy to do stupid effing housework.  How crazy is that?!  I’ll never leave a race early again!  Now that I’m in the 60-64 age group, suddenly I’m “fast?”  I LOVE IT!  Little ole 12:00 miler me.  Hahaha!



So that’s it.  I did a 45 minute tempo run this morning and have 25 minutes of speedwork on Wednesday, and then I’m done until the half.  As long as I continue to follow my personal Prime Directive, I believe I will remain uninjured when the miles get longer and training progresses all the way up to that 26.2 in the fall.

Next up:
American Fork Canyon Half Marathon, Salt Lake City, UT – June 25, 2016



Godspeed, Mr. Chekhov

19 06 2016


Away Missions report: Las Vegas and Washington DC

9 06 2016

Spring running season is just about over and here I am showing up late with a couple of race reports.  Nothing unusual there!

APRIL 2, 2016 – PURPLE STRIDE 5k,  Las Vegas NV


Photo credit to the event’s website.

I went to Las Vegas for a conference and, having not yet raced in Nevada, found this one with an incredibly worthy cause to run while I was there.  Since northern Illinois weather is hit-and-miss but mostly chilly in early April, I was looking forward to several consecutive days of running while out west.  Unfortunately trying to run out on the Las Vegas strip is also hit-and-miss because of crowds and non-continuous sidewalks, so it was nice to have an actual race to give me 3.1 hassle free miles.

The race was held near a mall and was a fundraiser for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  Just like the Avon walks wish to cover the streets with a sea of pink, this event definitely arrayed a sea of purple across the roadways.  Purple shirted people, purple balloons and even purple clad dogs were everywhere.


The survivors had their own section for the pre- and post-race festivities.  We’ve really got to put more asses in these seats!


There was a lot of pre- and post-race food (which I’m not used to seeing before an actual race) as well as entertainment.  Survivors gave talks, singers sang, and various character impersonators cavorted with participants.  The race actually started about 10 minutes late because survivors were still speaking. I didn’t mind.  Thank goodness they are alive to have a voice.  It was a nice race and one I would highly recommend for someone looking to do a short distance in a festive venue.  I had a good time but for some reason I was slow as hell!  LOLUntitled


MAY 1, 2016 – RACE FOR HOPE 5k, Washington DC

On the first weekend of May during a pleasure trip to visit a friend and fellow runner, I ran this 5k benefitting brain cancer research on a rainy Sunday morning in the nation’s capital.  I don’t usually run in the rain.  I have signed up for more than one 5k and when the skies opened up before leaving the house, have changed my mind and skipped out on it.  I don’t particularly like being soaked to the skin and splashing through puddles but when you fly halfway across the country to hang out with other runners, this is what you do. And I actually enjoyed it!

The weekend started on Saturday with some wonderful Trekkie space geek fun — a trip to the Air & Space Museum and a photo at Warp Drive:


Finishing with a cool and rainy (but much faster than Vegas) 5k jaunt was just icing on the cake.  I can’t speak about pre or post race festivities because it was pouring most of the time so I was either hiding under a canopy somewhere or running.  I’m glad to have done it and given money/time/attention to a great cause.  And I did take a couple of pictures:


My friend and I ran as members of Team BT which was founded by Beth Tolleson, a brain cancer survivor.  I did a lot better than the Vegas outing too.  Maybe I should run in the rain more often!


With these two races under my fuel belt, I now have 30 states and DC off the bucket list.  I have only 20 more to go to reach the goal I set in 2009 as a newbie runner: racing in all 50 states (and 7 continents which is still a work-in-slow-progress).  I have probably written about most of them here over the past 7 years of this blog and will continue to do so, sooner or later (quite notoriously later most of the time).


Next up:  half-marathon training for the AF Canyon Half-Marathon in Salt Lake City, UT on June 25.