Tuesday, May 31, 2016

300 tempo repeats

Warm, mid 80ºs at sunset w/ calm winds at the Dean Hayes track.  Not much time today, so ... after several hours on my feet cleaning and preparing to host 3 people for 5 days, I hit the track at MTSU.  This is 'championship season' ... the only athletes still training are going to the NCAA Championships or the Olympic trials.   I saw a couple of MTSU Olympic hopefuls from Ghana, John and Atsu.   They're both going to Eugene for the NCAA Div. I championship.

Hoka trainers on 
400m warmup, stretches, drills 
4 x 300m w/ 2min rest - 48.5, 49.5, 50, 50

It was a bitch, especially with sore feet and hot temperatures.  I finished my warmup and to my disgust, my timer was missing so I went home and found it in my spike bag.  Thank you ... I absolutely feel naked at the track without this timer.  This Gymboss has been with me for 3 National Championships and a Silver, since 2012.  I would hate to lose it.

Hips feel better, feet a bit sore.  Weight finally beginning to come toward race weight: 142.2 after workout.  Being on my feet all day definitely burns calories.

Standing next to John makes me think I should do some pushups.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


In Atlanta, didn't race today but did a hill sprint workout.  The hill is a tough one, 12% grade and about 330m.   Last time I did 4, today I did 5.
Saucony trainers on 
100m hill warmup, stretches 
5 x 330m hill
After the first one, I really felt the whole body pump in my arms and chest.  The second one was easier and the last one was a bitch.  Kinda like stadium stairs, left me a bit shaky.

Overall, felt much better today.  Soreness in the hips has faded.  Eating well and should be good to race in 2 weeks in KY.   Probably be best to not to do more than one killer volume workout a week.

Friday, May 27, 2016

brief speed workout

Today, at the Marist School in Atlanta, warm evening, 81º.   I needed to get some fast stuff in and decide if I should race on Sunday.   Based on the way I felt, I've pretty much decided not to race.  I'm feeling the effects of over training a bit.  So much volume in the last 9 days, and today... feeling sluggish.  Made worse by hours of being on my feet doing carpentry work.  By the time I got to the track, I felt achy... feet and hips.  No point in racing Sunday.  Probably be better served doing a some low impact hill sprints.

Nevertheless, I still ran fast today and did some starts.  It didn't feel good.
Saucony trainers on 
400m warmup, stretches, drills 
2x50m striders on grass 
300m - 41.8 
Puma spikes on 
block starts 
200m - ~25.8
I really need to get back on the weights and cross train a bit.

To do the type of workouts I've been doing, I really need that day in between to recover.  I have to be a lazy ass and stay off my feet or I'll be sore when I start the workout, which is no fun.   I need to break up the 'every other day on the track' with a pool, rower, bike, or stair workout.

I may race in 2 weeks, definitely in 3 and 4.  Nationals in 6 1/2.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

4x4 tempo + speed

Did the dreaded 4x400m w/2 min rest tonight.   Was the warmest late evening of the spring so far, upper 70ºs, and a bit more humid.

After a rest, I did some fast sprints for technique.
Hoka trainers on 
600m warmup, stretches, drills 
4 x 400m w/ 2 min rest - 70, 71.5, 75, 76.5 
200m - 26.5 
3 x 100m - 13.5, 13, 13
I ran the 400s opposite direction in lane 5 with a paced off stagger.   So, didn't have the usual markers for pacing.  It was hard, and disappointingly, slightly slower than I was running same time last year.

After a long rest, about 20 min, I decided to do a few fast sprints.  The 200m felt clunky, and made me think I should no way race a 200m on Sunday.   I've been doing no speed work since my break and would not likely be ready to post a decent time.  But, the 100s felt a little better.  So, I don't know if I'll do it yet, we'll see.  If I don't, I may only have 2 races before nationals, the next not for 3 1/2 weeks... unless I go to KY on 6/11.

Friday, I'm hoping to do a light speed work, maybe with spikes and blocks.

144 lbs after workout.   A little beat with all this foundation... 11,100m of volume in the past 5 workouts in the past 9 days.  Almost 7 miles of work.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Foundation - volume tempo

This was a maximum workout.  Nice evening in Sewanee, 73º and calm.  This is similar to a workout I did 11 days before indoor nationals.  A real ball buster.

Hoka trainers on 
400m warmup, stretches, drills
2 x 600m, 2 x 400m, 200m, 2x100m w/ 3 min rest - 1:52, 1:57, 79, 81, 30, 14.5, 14

This 2400m workout would have been much easier if I didn't adhere to a 3min rest in between all 7 sprints.  It was quite a world of pain.  I did all the long sprints going opposite direction and with the new Hokas, the foot tolerated the volume very well.

It is really beautiful in Sewanee right now and very quiet.  Deer are grazing on the campus lawns and very few people around.  I am the only car in the lot at the track.   I slept late today and awoke to a warm beautiful late morning, warm enough to not wear clothes.  With this nice lifestyle and all this time off, I feel that it is appropriate to suffer on the track .

Since I'm not doing any real speed work, thinking I should run an 800m race this weekend, not a 200m.  (I'll probably whimp out of the 800m).

Saturday, May 21, 2016

4-3-2-3-4-1 ladder

This is a new one for me.  This 'ladder'/tempo workout is one that Jaret C. posted on youtube, thought I'd give it a try.

Cool, mostly cloudy and breezy 63º on the Sewanee track on Sat.   This workout offered the same total volume as the 4x400 tempo, but with more rest and the opportunity to run faster... but I wasn't sure how fast.  I probably started out a bit too fast because my last 2 sprints were slower, but still faster than what my last two 400s would be in a 4x400 w/2min.
Hoka trainers on 
400m warmup, stretches, drills 
400m, 300m, 200m, 300m 400m, 100m w/5 min rest - 64.5, 47, 30, 50, 70, 15

It was as hard as any tempo workout I've done.  When I do ladders, I usually just go down... like 500,400,300, etc... but not back up.  The last two long sprints were the bitch of this workout, the last 400 kicked my butt.  There is no way I could do this workout with 2 min rest, at least not at this speed.  Was a bit disappointed my speed faded as much as it did.  Next time, I'll start in 67-68 and try to finish in around the same.   

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hill sprints

Went to Tennessee Ave. in Sewanee, known as the 'road to the cross,'  and picked out a hill.   It was a good one, about 250m, about a 15% grade.   Perfect evening, 68º.
Saucony trainers on 
200m warmup, stretches 
10 x 250m hill sprints
I thought 10 would be good.   I was beginning to feel the lactic after the first 3.  Really feeling it after 6, wasn't sure if I'd make 10.  But I took some extra recovery in addition to the walk down and was able to get 10.  I experienced that '300m phenomenon'  ... where the heavy oxygen debt doesn't strike until shortly after finishing.  It was a good pump.  I'm sure I'll do this again.  Maybe find a shorter and steeper hill.   Like any workout, could always do it faster and with less rest.

Felt ok.  I should be good to go on the track again on Sat.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Back to the oval office

Another perfect day in paradise in Sewanee.  Late afternoon, 70º, fair skies, no wind.

Back after my biggest amount of time off this yr, 9 days of no track.   Still feel some of the same aches and pains but much improved.  I did a pretty solid foundation workout.
Hoka trainers on 
400m warmup, stretches, drills 
2 x 800m - 2:35, 2:43 
2 x 400m - 63, 60.5
I took fairly generous rest between the first 3 intervals, about 10-15 min.  I was about to quit after the first 400m when Eric showed up to do a fast 4x400m workout.  This guy is a talented sub 2 min 800m guy, just a 19 yr old college freshman, he was training in spikes.   I talked to his dad while he turned out 3 consecutive 400s in about 60 flat with a 5 min jog rest in between.   I joined him on his last one, which he ran in 59, me in 60.   I took full recovery between 400s, at least 20min.  It was hard, but it didn't kill me.

With this taste of pain, right at the very beginning of what will be an 8 week cycle, I wonder if I have still have the stomach for this.  I just have to keep reminding myself of how good it feels to get it done and return to my house in the trees.

I'm going to do hill repeats next, probably Thursday, and back on the track Friday.

144.5 lbs after workout.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Today, an unseasonably cool sunny 62º in Sewanee... I hit the road on my bike.   I did the brutal climb up Roark's Cove Rd... and it was just as hard as I remember.   I managed to do it without putting a foot down which is an accomplishment.   Then I did some more smaller hills around campus.  Trying to decide on which hill to run repeats and how far.   I'm thinking a good steep hill between 150-250m.  

May hit the track as early as Tues. for a foundation run.  I don't plan to start quite yet an every other day track regime, still want to mix it up a bit.  Feel as if I'm still recovering.

Friday, May 13, 2016

light stuff

In the weight room for my first exercise in 6 days.  Healing pretty well.  Only still feel the hip on the right side.  Feet are fine.  After a brief workout did a 100m strider as a test.
Concept 2 rower: 2000m - 8:50 
one set of:leg curls, leg extensions, hip flexors, adds, abds, pecks, calves 
15 squat jumps w/ 80 lbs.  
Everything felt fine except I'll probably hold off on the hip flexor machine and squat jumps.
 Hills should be enough.

Great weather, too bad I'm not back into training yet... only mid 60ºs high temps for the next 3 days.   Biking on Sunday.

Asian Masters Championships
The results are in for this meet that included athletes from China, Japan, India, Korea, Nepal, Philippines, Maylasia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, and many other Asian countries.

I guess I shouldn't feel too bad about running a 12.42 100m.... the M55 Asian Champion ran 12.46.   Other M55 sprint times also unimpressive.  Winning times for M55 Asian Champions were:  400m - 57.71,  200m - 26.43 (-2.2).  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

2015 training cycle review

For reference, this was my late season training grid from last year.  
April 11 - July 21 ... 44 workouts in 94 days.  

I was coming back from a hip flexor injury on 3/28 and couldn't run fast til mid May.  That allowed (forced) me into getting a lot of long foundation work.  Also, a brief ankle sprain on 6/15 took me off the track for 6 days.  

My plan is to condense this 13 week regime down to 8 weeks.  

Man.. this was a lot of suffering and mileage.  In an 8 day period from 4/13-20, I put in 12,600m of work.  That's 31.5 laps of the track.  Not listed here are the weight room workouts.  

4/11  - 3 x 800m - 2:48, 2:58, 2:55 w/ 3-5 min rest

4/13 - 4 x 800m -  2:43, 2:52, 2:54, 2:56

4/15 - 4 x 800m - 2:42, 2:45, 2:48, 2:45 / 400m - 68

4/18 - 5 x 600m - 1:55, 1:56, 1:58, 1:56, 1:58 / 400m - 68

4/20 - 2 x 600m - 1:56, 1:57 / 3 x 400m - 70, 67.5, 65.5

4/22 - 4 x 400m w/ 2 min rest - 69, 70, 72, 79  / 300m - 47

4/24 - 800m - 2:30 / 600m - 1:48 / 400m - 64

4/26 - 2 x 600m - 1:44, 1:50 / 400m - 62.5

4/28 - 800m - 2:31 / 600m - 1:43.5 / 500m - 85 /400m - 65

5/2 - 800m - 2:20 (race)

5/4 - 4 x 400m w/ 2 min rest - 70,69, 75, 75 / 300m - 49

5/8 - 2 x 600m 1:42.5, 1:48 / 2 x 400m - 64, 65

5/12 - 3 x 600m w/ 4-5 min rest - 1:45, 1:54, 1:55 / 400m - 62

5/15 - 4 x 600m w/ 6 min rest - 1:52, 1:52, 1:55, 2:00 

5/17 - 400m - 60 / 300m - 43 / 200m - 27.5

5/20 - 4 x 300m with 2min rest - 49, 48, 51, 49  / 2 x 200m - 27.5, 28

5/24 - 3 x 400m, 200m w/2 min rest - 68, 69, 75, 37 / 400m - 62

5/26 - 600m - 1:45 / 500m - 83 / 400m - 62 / 300m - 43 / 200m - 28

5/29 - 4 x 400m with 2 min rest - 71, 71, 73, 73 / 2 x 200m 27, 27.5

5/31 - 300m event run - 40.5 / 4 x 50m

6/2 - 4 x 400m w/2 min rest - 69, 70, 71, 75 / 2 x 200m - 27, 28

6/4 - 300m event run - 40 / 200m - event run - 25.75 / blocks

6/6 - 400m / 200m race - 56.22, 25.29

6/9 - 500m - 81 / 400m - 60.5 / 2 x 300m - 43.5, 43.5

6/11 - 2 x 4 x 200m with 1 min rest - 30.5, 30, 30.5, 30.5 / 30, 30.5, 31, 30.5

6/13 - 500m - 75 (59/16) / 2 x 100m - 12.8, 12.8 / 200m - 25.5

6/15 - 4 x 200m w/ 1 min rest - 30, 31, 31, 31  (wkout cut short - injury)

6/18 - pool - 8 x 90sec

6/21 - 3 x 150m w/30 sec rest - 22, 23, 24 / 3 x 150m 21, 20, 19.5

6/23 - 4 x 200m w/ 1 min rest - 30.5, 30, 29.5, 29

6/25 - 2 x 4 x 200m with 1 min rest 28.5, 29, 30.5 / 29, 30, 31, 32

6/28 - 3 x 300m w/ 90 sec rest - 47, 46.5, 48 / 2 x 400m w/ 10 min rest- 59 (30/29) 61.5 (31, 30.5)

6/30 - 4 x 400m w/ 2 min rest- 68, 69, 71, 72

7/2 -  300m event run - 39.9 / 2 x 500m - 83.5, 80 / 300m - 43

7/5 - 2 x 4 x 200m with 1 min rest - 29.5, 29, 30.5, 30 / 5 min rest/ 29.5, 30, 32, 33 / 2 x 150 - 20, 20

7/7 - 3 x 400m - 57, 57, 58

7/9 - 3 x 200m event runs at 400m race pace - 25.8, 25.8, 25.6 / blocks / 100m -13

7/11 - 56.23 - 400m race / 25.38 - 200m race

7/13 - 4 x 500m - 80.5, 82.5, 85, 83 / 150m - 19.5 / 2 x 100m - 13.5, 14

7/14 - 400m event run - 56.8 / 2 x 100 - 13.5
7/15 - 4 x 300m with 2 min rest - 47, 47.5, 48.5, 48.5 / 2 x 200m event runs (400m race pace) - 26.3, 26

7/17 - 2 x 'Split 400s' - 300m event run at race pace /1 min rest / 100m - 40/14.2,  40.3/ 14.5 // 4 x 200m w/ 1:15 rest - 29, 29, 30.5, 29.5

7/19 - 2 x 300m event runs from blocks (400m start) - 40.5, 41 / 2 x 200m - 26, 26.5

7/21 - 350m event run from blocks - 48 (26.25/40.5), blocks

7/24 - Nationals

Monday, May 9, 2016

Grit, masters athletics, lifestyle

Making the rounds lately is author/psychologist A. Duckworth and discussing her book:

"Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverance"

I heard her interview on NPR, this one for the WHYY program: Radio Times (listen here).

Probably nothing new here but I enjoyed her interview because of the many references to athletics, and the concept of training toward longterm goals.

What is 'grit'?  A ton of adjectives can describe it, although many terms have subtle differences ... willingness to persevere in pursuit of long-term goals, perseverance and passion, discipline, work ethic, willpower, resilience, industriousness, impulse control and self-mastery, fortitude, conscientiousness, pluck, tenacity, persistence, stick-to-itiveness, balls, sacrifice, guts, drive, etc... you get the idea.  It's also a commitment of the 'long term' variety.  Most of all, a commitment to do what is hard and uncomfortable, a willingness to repeatedly leave ones comfort zone on a schedule or on a program.

'Grit' has been a component of my life and athletic training, especially since I started masters athletics almost 10 yrs ago running 5k road races.   While 'grit' in concept is something that sounds good, and can be seen as something one would like to have, in reality .... it doesn't feel good.   For a 55+ 400m sprinter, it hurts ... a lot.  When I'm alone on that blustery cold/hot/rainy/foggy/wet/windy track, and my heart rate is already over 140 bmp, I'm bent over gasping, and that beeper goes off telling me that I have 10 seconds of rest before I must start my 4th 400m, no one is there to see if I cheat and wait another 10, 20, 30 seconds... when it comes true grit, that's where the 'rubber meets the road' ... and doing just that for months, on schedule, no matter what the weather or how you feel.  All the best intentions for most people will fade quickly when faced with the level of pain that a tempo (limited rest) set of long sprint intervals will bring, or a day that is raining and 40º.  All those childish sayings ('when the going gets tough... etc....') don't help much.

According to Duckworth and many others, like K. Anders Ericsson (the '10,000 hour rule)' enough quality practice can make perfect, or at least very good.

I have issues with this concept.   Others do as well.

Culture.  As M. Gladwell pointed out in his book Outliers, in addition to the '10,000 hour rule', other factors such as family, upbringing, culture, and role models play a part in an individual's success and personality.   Learning from a young age that hard work results in achievement can foster grit.  When parents, teachers, coaches, mentors instill values that prevent quitting and promote rituals of hard work, leaving the comfort zone to achieve ... these values can carry over into later life.  That's why lessons learned in sports training as a youth can carry over.  But, such background is not always indicative.  There are individual intangibles in there that can't be predicted.  Most parents nowadays see sports as pure recreation and a pursuit of fun, rather than striving for excellence. Hard work only detracts from the fun.  Parents sometimes allow their kids to quit when the going gets tough.

Innate ability.  A person can have all the passion and work ethic in the world and still not be able to achieve... like sprint a fast 100m.  The 10,000 hour rule does NOT apply.  Nowhere is genetic predisposition on display more obviously than in a world elite 100m race final.  So, in most disciplines, even math and science, predisposition, innate ability, 'talent' ... remains a big factor, a factor that is down played by Duckworth's thesis and Erricson's '10,000 hr rule.'  However, in the case of math, I think the quality of instruction/teaching is a huge factor.  (I was a victim of horrible math teachers).   Physical attributes and body type often contribute to innate ability in athletics.  Sometimes I look at a fit person my age, usually tall, muscular, and think, "if that guy would train, he'd smoke me and everyone else."  I was thinking this just yesterday when I met 58 yr old Mitch, a very young looking black guy, brick layer by trade, extremely tall and fit.  Of course these perceptions are purely superficial.  You can't 'see' grit and fast twitch muscle percentage by just looking.  (I'm reminded that David V. won the USATF Nationals in the 400m last yr and he's only 5'6".  He beat LaShawn Merritt).  Also, part of innate ability for a masters athlete is to have a body that is youthful and resilient.  Joints that are in good enough shape to take the punishment of training.

Opportunity,  participation, and measure of achievement -  lifestyle factors that will allow or be conducive to success, the willingness to participate, and the idiosyncrasies of the process used to identify achievement. Having the time and opportunity to devote to a certain discipline, having the facilities and materials to do so, is a factor.   For something like Masters Athletics, it's all about 'who shows up.'  As Woody Allen said, "80% of success is showing up."  That's why I think National Titles, medals, etc... are nice, but it's about who can afford to travel to the event. You don't see a lot of masters athletes from Kenya showing up at world masters meets.  Then again, perhaps that's cultural... elite athletics in such countries is seen as a means to make a living, and masters athletics has no culture there... perhaps because many track and field pros are African, and masters athletics does not pay.  In fact, it can be expensive.   Masters World Rankings are a little more appropriate measure of achievement, but still not definitive, since conditions vary.  Again, ultimately, it's who shows up.   For example, seems like once every 5 years or so, Willie Gault shows up at a college meet, sets World Masters Records in the 100 and 200m, then you don't see him again for 5 yrs.  He never comes to USATF Masters meets (which I'm sure Alan T. is thankful for).   Where opportunity overlaps innate ability is the ability to avoid injury, to heal quickly, and have joints that are not compromised.  Pain can take away opportunity.


'Grit' is one of a number of necessary elements.  It's tough to be world class on talent alone, or just by showing up... especially in an event like the 400m.

Lastly, what motivates one to have grit?  For me it's the love of participation, the empirical nature of the sport where achievements are precisely measured and quantified.  Pushing my limits.  From the time of my childhood, my favorite toys were measuring devices, stopwatches and measuring tapes...  where me and my brother would 'make and break records.'  I think high jumping over a bar was one of the first things we did, because we could do it in any weather in our basement on Edward St.

Being successful and competitive is another motivator.  As I said before, winning USATF Masters Nationals is nice, but it is what it is... an old man's foot race of whoever shows up.  Very few people outside of masters athletics really know or care about it.  However, I do feel it is an elite group and I feel lucky to participate in such a well organized world-wide sport.  The camaraderie and friends are valuable.   The achievement of awards, titles, American and World relay records, and personal bests are all motivational.  I've missed medals by hundredths of a second, and won them by as much... the nature of the sport.  And, I feel most privileged when I get into the starting blocks as an unattached athlete in a college meet... especially when I don't finish last.

That being said, I'm fairly certain I would not have the motivation and the grit if I couldn't be competitive.  I don't think the pain and hard work would be justified for me, or I doubt I would work as hard if I could never compete somewhere near the top in my age group.   Perhaps, thats why I didn't attend outdoor nationals at age 54.  I admire this guy Will who competes at my local DIII college as a sprinter.  If I were him, I would never stay on the team.  He ran over 26 sec in the last two 200s we raced.  For college, that is very noncompetitive.  I know he does it purely for the love of the sport, and that is to be admired.  I doubt I would receive that much reward if I finished last in every race among my peers.  Certainly wouldn't justify gritty 400m training for me.

Like athletics, I had a serious passion for music, learned quickly and was good at it.   Being good at it was a motivator.  I have seen cases where people commit to careers as musicians who aren't good at it.  It can be done, because ... unlike track, music is subjective.  That is why I'm drawn to athletics at this point in my life... I've seen the musicians achieve success on the force of their personality, marketing, image, and a whole lot of extra-musical things.  The basic fact is that music is subjective and musical ability doesn't translate to success.  The public doesn't value musical virtuosity and 'success' in music is determined primarily by others opinions of how good you are, or how much they like your sound.  Such is art.

Even through the decades that I didn't compete: age 19-47, I still felt the responsibility to stay in somewhat decent physical shape.  I was pretty much a conscientious vegetarian and healthy eater through most of my life.  However, I don't think that health conscious guy is totally me.  I am also a binger and indulger, a hedonist, a procrastinator and lazy bum.  I'm totally spoiled with an easy lifestyle, having about the lowest stress job, and the most reasonable schedule imaginable for someone employed 'full time'.

I recognize the 'path of least resistance'... succumbing to things that make me feel good.  Eating sweet carbs, cereals, pastries, bread and butter, potatoes, fried food, and things that make me fat.  Carbs for me have almost an opiate-like addictive quality... comfort food.  Seems like when I start, I can't stop.  Also, vices like smoking pot and drinking ... which I did for decades (mostly pot).  Relaxing and being sedentary, staring at a screen.  Playing music while stoned (not practicing/learning - big difference).  Part of having grit is leaving these negative behaviors and habits behind for the greater good of a long term goal.  I've gone to bed hungry many times in effort to get to the weight I want.  I've found ways to 'cheat' hunger, by drinking sweet tea and coffee, anything to avoid eating carbs until I get to the weight I want.  Having this self control is part of having grit.  I don't always maintain this level of dietary discipline ... like now as I am on a break.  Have eaten bread n butter, potatoes and most of a Panera pastry ring since this weekend.  I know next week I'll be back to low carb, fish n salad.

 Although I'm still the same indulgent lazy spoiled hedonist, I enjoy such pleasures as my spa on the mountain, my easy work schedule, and my Jura coffee machine... after busting my balls on the track. Would I have the same energy and ability to commit if I worked a 40 hr a week warehouse job and had a family?  Very doubtful.  That's where the 'opportunity' element comes into play.   It's easier to be gritty when you have the opportunity.   For example, some masters athletes like Sonja, Oscar, and Bill C. are essentially professional athletes, not that they make a living from it, but they are devoted full time to it as they are either retired from their careers, or are in athletic/fitness careers where they are training and on the track anyway.

Opportunities are sometimes made by paying dues and having grit.   I have these things that I have now because I had some grit.  I lived like a pauper for 11 years, working menial jobs, living in college dormitories and apt complexes, going straight through to get my doctorate in music without taking anything but summers off ... and not getting distracted by quitting school to enjoy ego boosting endeavors like playing in a rock band... like so many music school dropouts do.

As to the question of fostering and developing grit... yes, I think it can be done but like a language, you have to learn young.  I think in today's society, grit is not emphasized among kids in America as much as it is in other nations.  Asians dominate fields like science, engineering, and music.  Parents today put more value on their kids happiness than on their work ethic, so kids never leave their comfort zone.  They grow up coddled.  Obesity is rampant.  A lot of times I see positive things in students like good attitude, curiosity, etc... but not much work.  Not much 'nose to the grindstone'.  Not uncommon with kids 'of privileged background'... rich kids, often those with the best opportunity.

When I was a kid, I lived in a culture of work and athletics.  My parents were young and hard working.  I swam across the lake at age 5, I was put on a swim team at age 9 and endured a hellish first workout but didn't quit. Did little league baseball, flag football, junior high and JV football.  Dad was an all-conference semi-pro football player.  My mother (still to this day) preparing and directing dance productions.  I later worked hard as a wrestler, and as a landscaper around my parents house.  Had some marginal success as a sprinter / long jumper in my region, and my brother was a 2x state champion vaulter.   Injury limited me and I focused more on music.  I always enjoyed nature and outdoor adventure.  That was my culture.  Both my parents always worked.  It always seemed weird to me that some of my friends' moms didn't work.

In conclusion, success takes grit, but more than that, talent, opportunity, and motivation.  You have to be taught grit and at some point, I think it needs to be forced on you so you know what it feels like.  I often think, only 0.001% of the population knows what the pain of running high intensity tempo intervals feels like.  It's not a natural thing to put yourself in that situation voluntarily.  Many who never leave their comfort zone would think it's a mental disorder.  But then again, for 99.9% of the population, being elite at something is unimportant and/or unattainable.  Being comfortable is what it's all about, expending as little effort as possible.  For some, especially in the mountain community where I live, there are people who have rarely or never worked really hard in their lives, and essentially live off of a trust fund or an estate bequeathed to them by parents/family.  Not to say these are bad people; they are often kind, loving, relaxed, smart, talented ...  just have different values.   I see this fortunate situation as an opportunity to apply grit to a chosen endeavor... although more often than not, 'the path of least resistance' is taken.   For those who don't have that luxury, opportunity and lifestyle can be created by good life choices.  However, grit can be hard to come by if you've never had it.  Then again, I guess there are 'degrees' of grit.  Gritty behavior can be diverse, but in my opinion, true grit requires sustained effort and often, a level of discomfort.

For me, I love having a purpose when I get up in the morning.  Even if it's just to rest and recover before another training cycle ... or do projects around the house... or to practice for an upcoming concert.... or just write shit on this blog.

If my body doesn't hold up in the long run as a masters sprinter, I'll probably find some other discipline.  Passion and goals make for a richer life.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Taking a break

Taking a break from the track.  Was happy to see my parents make a surprise visit to Atlanta for Saturday's meet, so after a subpar 100m race, I bailed on the 200m and went to Roya's to cook dinner.  My hips felt sore just jogging across the parking lot, signaling ... it's time for a break.

The all ages meet at Emory was kind of a bust.   Running into the wind, I got a poor start, was last at 50m but was able come back and not finish last in my heat  - in a slow 12.42.  Most guys in my heat were in their 30s, one guy was 47.   I was the oldest guy on the track.   It was my first 100m race since I seriously injured myself running one 13 months ago, and I guess I was a bit tentative.  Not really my race, but even this poor time would be #9 in the world M55 last I looked.  I won't post it.

Glad I did it, saw my masters colleagues and it was fun to see tiny kids as young as 5 yrs old race.  Makes me think this sport has a future.

Stay tuned, should be back on the track by around the 17th or so.  In the mean time, I'll be doing other things to stay fit.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

brief speed workout

Cool and windy today, 55º at the Sewanee track at noon.  Did not get the spikes on but did 3 sprints in my new Hoka trainers.
Hoka trainers on 
400m warmup, stretches, drills 
300m - 42 
150m - 19 
100m - 12.8
Felt ok.  This will be my last track workout for a while probably for at least 10-12 days as I need a break.   I'm signed up to run the 100 and 200 at the Emory Track Lab meet on Sat.   Expect to do it, but not expecting any remarkable times.  I'm a couple pounds heavier than I usually race at.  Probably mid 12s and mid 25s.

I should have done this 100/200 double at Berry instead of that disastrous 400m.   That was a fast track and my fastest of 3 outdoor 200s this season, still subpar though at only 25.12.

I'm going to start filling in my remaining schedule for the season and do some cross training in my week off.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Signed up to race once more before taking a break.   May run the 100 and 200, or just the 200 at Emory TrackLab series this Sat., May 7.  Hate to miss the Nashville Masters but... the Emory track is better and I enjoy staying in Atlanta with Roya.

I'll go to the track tomorrow with some spikes and see how it feels.   Supposed to be quite cold here tomorrow, only in the  mid 50ºs, cloudy and windy.  This Sat. is forecast to be 83º in Atlanta but with some wind.

I plan to be off the track May 8-16.  I think 9 days will be a good enough rest.

Here are some possible meet opportunities:

May 21 - Nashville Track Classic
This is the most tentative.  Very early in my training cycle, may run the 800m.

May 29 - Atlanta GA Relays
Also tentative.  May race a 200m, probably not a 400m.

June 11 - Bluegrass Games, KY
Tentative due to travel.  This would probably be my first 400m.  Last time I ran this meet I got all the M50 KY State records in the 100/200/400.   Getting the M55 records would be a motivator.

June 18 - USATF SE Regionals Atlanta
This is a definite.  I will likely run the 400 and 200.

June 25-26 - TN State Finals

July 14-16 - USATF Masters Nationals
I'll be there!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hoka Clifton 1 training shoe review

This is the 2014 version of the Hoka Clifton (the 'Clifton 1') - 9/14  "Editor's Choice" by Runners World.  It is an ounce lighter than the newer Clifton 2 which reviewers said was 'not an improvement.'

 Specs / Appearance

From above, these shoes look like any other light weight trainer.  But from the side, you see the considerable - even a 'maximal' level of cushion.  28 mm of forefoot cushion.  These shoes seem impossibly and astonishingly light for the cushion!  I weighed these, they are 7.5 ounces in my size.... only about 1.8 ounces heavier than my Puma racing spikes, and at least 2.5 ounces lighter than my Saucony Triumph isos.  (By contrast, the Triumphs have only 22mm of forefoot cushion).  They are a few mm narrower at the forefoot than the Triumphs, but still wide.  The heal to toe drop is 4mm.  The heal is generously cushioned ... which makes no difference to a sprinter.   These are becoming hard to find and only available in the blue color.

Fit / Finish

They fit true to size. Unlike the Triumphs, the upper is very thin, minimal, and breathable.  Still comfortable enough to wear one pair of socks.  The Triumphs by contrast have a very plush upper and can be hot, especially with the 2 pair of socks I use.  The rubber feels a bit soft, durability may be an issue, we'll  see.


In my first workout, I was surprised at the level of responsiveness.  The cushion felt more 'springy' than 'mushy.'  I hope this feeling continues as the shoes get broken in.  The Triumphs actually felt slower.  I felt that I needed to really tie down the laces to sprint with these so they didn't move around.  The insole is thin and removable.  You wouldn't think by looking at these shoes that they would be good to sprint in, but they are.  The lightness combined with the springy feel will make these good for both speed and volume workouts... which is surprising, because I expected these to be for longer volume workouts only.


On first impression, these shoes rock!  Too bad these 2014 models are getting hard to find ... and as a testament to their popularity, they are still selling mostly for full price ($130) - $20 cheaper than the Triumphs.  These were the very last Clifton 1's in my size available by the seller I bought from.

Makes me curious about how the even more cushioned Hokas would feel.  The Hoka Bondi has 40mm of forefoot cushion, but with a higher weight penalty, still relatively light for the cushion at 10 oz.

Here is a useful review index.

I may add to this as I continue to train in these shoes.  

300, 200, 150

After a week of warm and humid weather, a week of cooler weather coming up.  Dry and falling into the mid 50ºs by sunset at the Sewanee track.  Got there with very little daylight left as I finished my last work of the semester at MTSU this afternoon.  I whipped the new Hoka Clifton 1's out of the box and hit the track.  
Hoka trainers on 
400m warmup, stretches, drills 
300m - 43 
200m - 26.5 
150m - 19.8
Running out of daylight, I didn't take full rest between but close to it.   It felt ok.  The hip soreness is fading and still a little soreness in the feet.   Weight is under control - 145.4 after workout.

Was able to get a brief workout on upper body and hip flexors last night.  Soon, Sewanee will be even more a ghost ship than it already is.  Very quiet.  

Officially now on vacation, probably til late August since it doesn't look like my class this summer will be offered.  Too bad I'm not training full tilt this week.  Perfect weather, next few nights will hit the 40ºs.

I need to really prioritize my rest time.  Now that my credit card bills for the USATF Nationals and WMAC Perth trip have com due, I realize I have a lot invested in not being injured.

I love the new Hoka trainers.  See my review in next post.

Sunday, May 1, 2016


Some steep excellent hills here in Sandy Springs neighborhood of N. Atlanta.  I found a hill that had a steep (12% grade) for about 200m, a brief level spot, then another 150m hill.  In a light rain, I did some repeats.
saucony trainers on 
dynamic stretches 
4 x 350m hill sprints
It was a good pump, and pretty hard.

Approaching a break where I'm going to take some time off.  I'm undecided on racing next weekend.  I may do it, just run one more 200m at Emory and take a break.  Need to decide soon.   Looking forward to trying the new Hoka trainers.   Will probably get in the pool and on the bike during my time off so when I hit the track again, I won't be starting from zero.