Monday, August 02, 2010

Suck it Up, Cupcake

Geoff Roes in the final 100 yards of his record-setting 15hr 07min Western States 100 win. Finish line at Western States 100, Auburn, CA. June 26 2010.

Today I'm going to slit the throat of some sacred cows. First out of the box was this on-line hilarity: "When your runs aren't fun anymore", which cited the following:
  • running not fun
  • tired legs
  • discomfort
Oh my. If I'd quit when "running wasn't fun" I'd never get past the 50-yard line. On a downhill course. Meet our constant companion, homeostasis.

Briefly, it means "The ability or tendency of an organism or cell to maintain internal equilibrium by adjusting its physiological processes." In plain language: never moving off your comfort zone. Common example: people hovering in a Costco parking lot trying to get the spot closest to the door. It usually involves a lot of ass-time. You're going to have to step out in order to move up.

This past weekend I was on a run 20% longer in time, and 100% greater in vertical gain, than I'd been on in months. Was I not having fun? yes. Did I have tired legs? Oh yes. Was I in discomfort? yes.

The main differences with all three was that I knew that these were not the end of the world. I was pounding down electrolytes [old-school Gatorade] and water. This forestalled dehydration, and then dementia. I kept moving [because then my legs wouldn't lock up]. I kept calories coming in, because brains require a steady nutrient drip to keep making good decisions.

When I got back to the car, I broke out a tall beaker, and helped my immediate recovery as follows:

  • 12oz cranberry juice [reasonably organic, non HFCS-tainted]
  • 12oz water
  • 3 scoops soy protein powder

Whisk up, drink fast. I keep the juices etc diluted to 50%, as there's no need to bang yr insulin levels around.

I could feel the recovery start right there. Keep rehydrating afterwards with water as needed through to bedtime.


Part of the conditioning process is going to involve muscle fatigue. You'll have to figure out if you're:

  • too much, too soon physical acceleration.
  • Overstressed and undertrained.
  • Over-raced and under-rested

Are you over-weight and previously sedentary?

If so, you have to s-l-o-w-l-y acclimate your body to the new loads you are placing on it. And that will involve discomfort.

Each sport and activity has its own specificity. You're gonna have to practice at it to get good. Some cross-training is good, but don't count on time away from the discipline to make you fabulous.

Last year I read an unintentially hilarious post about some Cross-Fitters who were talking big about how they were going to blow up a 100-mile race based on their Cross-Fit and 30mpw. They got to 75 miles and dropped, with blisters the size of dollar pancakes.

I don't dispute Cross-Fit's overall strength-building premise. But it was clear that somebody's running training was not equal to the task.

Respect the sport, and respect the distance. I've never cared much for shorter-distance races [ie 5 & 10ks]. It was too much suffering up-front in too little time. The shorter the race, the hotter it gets.


Then, I was recently reading online about "how to break up your long runs". If I'd been driving I would've rubbernecked, and rear-ended the car in front of me. The article was aimed at half-marathon runners, and was fixated on how you couldn't or shouldn't run more than 3 hours. The specters of overuse injuries wafted over the proceedings.

I used to live in that state of fear. Let's take a look at these fears:

Long Runs

Yes, you can, and eventually will, run longer than three hours. And you won't die, provided you take care of yourself. Meaning: you are weather-appropriate, you are well-hydrated, you've conditioned yourself sensibly, and you aren't acting like a dick.

The long run was defined as 2-1/2 hours. You won't be pounding it out at a 90% race pace either.

Also mentioned or implied in the fear of long runs is the prevalence of injury among runners. Once again, refer to the previous list of three.

Injuries do not occur because a god, deity or cartoon-character is angry with you. Injuries are your body's way of telling you that you didn't do something very bright somewhere along the line, or a hidden stress point has been tapped. You then get to fix it, and learn from the experience.

I've known more people than I care to remember who ran while injured. They never let themselves heal properly. This type of behavior is typical of 'wounded persons/injured runners' who desperately need to get a life.


Run nutrition here is liquid-based, or liquid dominant. Back in the day I'd make a "Gator-plex" mutant hybrid of Gatorade and Carboplex. It kept enough calories and electrolytes in me to accomplish what I needed. Now its Gatorade and Clif-Bars, plus some date-expired GU I was comped.

The Great Wall
There is a lot of jabbering about "the Wall" eek-eek-eek!

The Dreaded Wall®™ is when the body runs out of glycogen and then starts hitting your fat reserves. Its not a fun transition, but usually memorable. Adequate nutrition takes care of this problem. Worst-case scenario: keep walking, and improvise.

Once on a training run, I hit so hard it was hilarious. I dragged myself to a hot-dog stand, filled a little paper cup several times with relish, ate that, then got a long drink of water. I stabilized, and continued. I wasn't very fast, but it was passable.

SMELL THE FEAR, Then Draw your own Conclusions

If I was training by the typical "received wisdom" none of what I've done would've happened. Forty years ago the conventional wisdom was that women couldn't run, and that their uteri would prolapse on them. Yes, they'll prolapse if they are in sloppy physical shape.

Don't limit yourself. Find a way to do it smart. And suck up the discomfort.

Smøüldering Midget X: Rise Of The Spin Cycle

A real runner, not me, a long time ago.

Smøüldering Midget X commenced under a brightening gray-light with a breathtaking roster of talent. The event sponsors were pleased at the massive turnout which would maximize viral marketing efforts for D&L Holistic Industries' "Trail Porn Light", Offshore Vacuum Party Gmbh, Hannah Montana Man-Bras, and "Sturdy, the Feral Mule" Outdoor Leadership, LLC.

In the end, this event would yield a surprising new development to the traditional "Thing 1/Thing 2 Kontest fur World Domination®™". Since Ian Torrence was a no-show, I moved up a full 3 places. Full deets below the jump.


In a category all her own, she'd expressed pre-event speculation that as a rapidly-aging, over-the-hill mother of a young daughter, would be slow, etc. In a rare lucid moment, I didn't bet her on the outcome, and so did not forfeit the pink-slip to my car, house, speedboat and ATV. She also played her cards cannily by taking a right turn at the Notch, ostensibly to "save her legs" for some upcoming event, but in reality getting back for the Ratt/Dokken double-header down below the Polyester Curtain.

Local boy who grew up on the mountain, back when his contemporaries were mulletting things over in their fragile, eggshell minds; keeps his visions to himself.

The only member of the famed "Icy Hot Stuntaz 02" Team to show this year, "Jay-G" modestly talked smack about his diminished abilities, yet ran away from his last remaining reminder of running mediocrity on the long approach to the Mt Baldy Summit.

Beneath his signature hat, all cunning and guile behind a genial smile and a killer downhill style. When he takes air, he shows the New Jack how its done, old-school.

Hitching up his 54" waist/18" inseam shorts to his full 4'10 height, he began the run with a full-salvo from the Missing Man Formation of Barking Ducks. His scanty training combined with florid limitations proved fatally comedic for hapless Big-Horned Sheep on the mountain, of whom several expired from the sheer improbability of it all.


Putting on my Big Boy Pants and toy sunglasses, I lurch from the Third-Person Improbable to the First Person Singular. Look out.

I got my head handed to me in a take-out box. Mt Baldy and 3Ts: 6,000' of climb over 20mi, is about 2x my previous efforts, and higher than I've been in several years. Everybody else ran off ahead of me, which is impressive as we were all going uphill. Even the Bighorns mocked me by blowing Lucky Strike smoke in my face, then mooning me. Bristlecone Pines shuffled off when they saw me coming, and the squirrels in the branches cracked their nuts.

Early on, Miss Miwok surged ahead, flinging altitude gain an uphill miles aside like generic kettle-balls. Casino Bingo and Larry "OG" Grill fought gamely to keep the lid on the Red-Headed One. Shooting off the top of Mt Baldy, ignoring the GPS Day Hikers, Hiking Betties, and confused hiking-stick wielders, they blasted down to the Notch.

Miss Miwok and Jay G ricocheted off the Notch, and took the fabled right turn down to Wanker Flats. Casino Bingo and OG elected to take up a hobby while waiting for the tardy Mr Trail Safety. In the fullness of time, I arrived, and convinced me that I didn't look that bad. Pulling myself up to my full 4'3" height, I concurred, without knowing why. Off to the Three T's!

Proceeding eastward on the Trail of Tearz®™, we begin the ascent to Mt Thunder. But before we can get too comfortable, we're on a character-debilitating downhill stretch to a seductive saddle, followed by a long climb up to Telegraph Peak. Bingo and OG surge ahead, and Mr Trail Safety is left with his two remaining brain cells, who aren't talking to each other. Life's good! At the top of Telegraph, I encounter two men who I realize are the grandsons of Bingo and OG. They look just like them, imagine!

[Insert more running poot here; meditative musings about calories, hydration, moral uplift, etc. Then the part about the lithe hottie in the bright magenta jog-bra.]

At Ice House Saddle, Enchanting Lytle Creek beckons, but such was not to be. We chose not to pass the duchy on the left hand side, and instead were sybaritic poodles and made the peloton to the right. This is where the Thing 1/Thing 2 Kontest was revealed.

By an arcane formula, the original Thing 1 was now a fraction of his former self, hereinafter referred to as "Thing 47/64ths". The New Thing One was none other than Larry "OG" Grill, representing' old-school, and shit. Setting a fierce downhill pace, Fractional Thing and Thing 2 could only marvel at his fury. Further demonstrating his Old-School Cred, he took epic air, fell, and left blood on the rocks, then got up, and kicked more ass to the finish. The Ice House Cyn Trail is all technical, with only the finest ball-bearings unevenly distributed for the enjoyment of the hiking public.

At this point, "Smøüldering Midget X" coverage cut away to a recap of Hollywood-rehab softball league coverage, so the finish results are ambiguous. Sponsors are enraged, and there are rumblings of legal action. There will be additional photographic evidence and a sealed indictment by later this week.