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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Review: Meb For Mortals: How to Run, Think, and Eat like a Champion Marathoner

Worth Every Penny: Meb Knows His Stuff

As I was reading "Meb for Mortals," a non-runner friend saw it. "I don't know what a Meb is," she said. To runners, however, Meb Keflezighi is a household name. Why? Because he is winning in a sport we Americans haven't won very often. His credentials as a marathoner are long and deep. Even as he has turned 40, he is still among the best.

But why this book?

Meb finds that space between inspiring and informative.

It is unlike other distance running books. "Meb for Mortals" isn't filled with detailed workouts 18 or 20 weeks out from race day. Nor is it a long dissertation on the merits of a quality diet. And you won't find it going on and on about some philosophy of running. That said, there's a little of all that in here.

Ghostwritten by Scott Douglas, it is better than most other books on writing. Douglas is a senior content editor at Runner's World (same publisher as the book). The guy knows running and isn't just another hack.

Tony Dungy wrote the foreword. You can skip that. Dungy doesn't really say anything interesting or unique to his relationship to running or Meb. It feels sort of pasted on. But no worries, you are reading the book for the rest, not the foreword.

The chapters:
Think Like Meb
Run Like Meb
Train Like Meb
Race Like Meb
Eat Like Meb
Strengthen Like Meb
Stretch Like Meb
Cross-Train Like Meb
Recover Like Meb

Like the chapter titles imply, we get this from his point of view, from his personal experience as a runner. He's not (yet) a coach, nor does he necessarily have expertise in nutrition and so forth. But he wins. That means it is worth learning how one guy is getting it done.

Within each chapter, he relates the content to his own life. When discussing diet, he tells how much he weighed when, and what weight his physician told he should weigh.

Among the things you'll gain from this is a sense of his personal discipline. He stays on the game even when he's resting. By that I mean he takes seriously the process of making good choices. He doesn't take his success for granted. He reminds us of three simple keys in life:

Good goals
Hard Work

This shouldn't be the only running book you read. Bob Glover's The Competitive Runner's Handbook: The Bestselling Guide to Running 5Ks through Marathons  is a great one, as is Hal Higdon's Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide: Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half and Full Marathons. There are too many others to name, but Meb's book is worth your money and time.

Anthony Trendl

Friday, August 8, 2014

Secretly (But Now You Know)

Running regularly, consistently has been a challenge since I rebooted several years ago. Any reader of this blog knows I've stop-started too often.

So I am starting again. 100+ people already know. Following the basic 100 Day Challenge successfully accomplished in early 2014, I decided to begin a 50-day version. Same thing, only shorter.

I needed company. So I asked a few friends to join me. And they asked a few friends. 111 people have started. A few dropped off, but 107 are still at it. I only know 20% or so.

Today is day 12. I'll workout tonight. Ran a treadmill 5K yesterday in 28:28 (9:10/mile) as part of my run.

The general plan is 30+ minutes a day. I'm trying to add five minutes each day, per week. That is, each day of Week 1 I'll try to do 30 minutes. And each day of week two, I'll do at least 35 minutes. My true goal is the 30 minutes, and hope to well-exceed it as time goes by.

So far, mostly so good, but I'm getting there. Gained a little weight, but I'm not concerned. My mileage is still low, as it the intensity. Some of my workouts are walk-runs. It will accumulate.

To all of you who struggle to keep at it, you can do it. So can I.

Join me on Facebook, whudja? 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing

Pray for Boston

As many of you know, I am a runner. I raced this weekend. I won my age group. I ran a 24:10 after starting too fast. That's what this blog is all about: running. Today's Boston Marathon bombings, though, are bigger than running. It could have just as easily been a football or basketball game, or a parade or shopping mall. It wasn't. It was, instead, at the one of the most famous races in the world.

Many runners dream of racing the Boston Marathon. I do. I watched it this morning as a fan, and preparing for a client call (an Olympic runner who might want help writing a speech).

The explosions that blew near the finish line are frightening -- leaving the door open for all kinds of rash speculation. I won't entertain any of that here. I am a runner, and like any distance runner, have known a lot of people who have raced the Boston Marathon. My first thoughts weren't about politics, but about my friends.

My friends are safe and I am thankful to God. That's why I'm saying we should pray.

  • Pray for those injured and their families. 
  • Pray for the businesses who are seeing material damage. 
  • Pray for the authorities to learn definitively what caused the explosion. 
  • Pray for our national leadership in both parties to be wise and careful. 
  • And if you do not believe in prayer, hope.

(originally in a different form posted here)

Monday, March 4, 2013

High Schooler Mary Cain Wins National Indoor Mile Title

May Mary Cain become who Mary Decker never became. Decker started with excellence, but injuries and other matters pulled her career to a halt.

Runner's World:
High Schooler Mary Cain Wins National Indoor Mile Title:
16-year-old defeats field of pros in tactical race.
By Peter Gambaccini
read here

 Fan of the mile race? See Bring Back the Mile on Facebook.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

50 Days of Working Out (and more) into the 100 Days Challenge

51 days are behind me in the John "The Penguin" Bingham - 100 Days Challenge.

I have not skipped a day.

I did weigh myself. I said I wouldn't. But I did. It looks like I have lost 7-8 pounds. I could stand losing 10-15 more pounds.

I have run 79.20 miles, and walked 74.65 miles. That equals 153.67 miles.

101.391 miles were within the last 31 days. That includes walking.

I'm still having "walk days," meaning I do not run on that day, but walk usually around 15:00/mile.

7.25 miles run yesterday (Day 51) in 62:09 (8:34/mile)

5K in 24:17 (7:53/mile)

All on a treadmill, so all times are adjusted when I run outside. See this chart to convert treadmill times to outside running.

Given the treadmill factor, I have no idea how fast I can really run, but I am pleased with my progress. It is cold here in Chicago, and running during daylight is logistically not possible. I am anxious to try.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Toughest Race Distance

A post on Runner's World's Facebook page asked, "What do you think is the toughest race distance?"

I said:
800 meters. Pure power isn't enough, nor is sheer, sleek endurance. The elite 800 meter runner must race for all 1:45, with a mind tough yet strategic, full of rage but also completely lucid. The body is subject to pain most of the way, but the runner must steer it hard just the same.

Arguments can be made for any distance, but what the 800 offers is different.

Look at Usain Bolt's races. There is no strategy. He is not genuinely competing. Is he fast? Obviously. But does he care, strategically, what his peers are doing? Only as far as mind games go. For the race, he positions himself in the blocks, waits for the gun, then runs until the race is over. He might see a runner next to him and push harder, but he should push hard anyway. If that other runner inspires him, it only means he wasn't going as tough as he could.

Moreover, so often Bolt slows at the end. He has not demonstrated the kind of focus an 800 meter racer must have.

What about the marathoner? Surely they run a difficult distance. Yes, they do. 26.2 miles is a long way, and, to train properly, the runner must be focused for months on end. However, watch the elites race. By the 10K mark, they are relaxed, in a good rhythm, just cranking out the miles. Granted, these are 4:45 miles, but, for the front runners, a pace they can handle. There is plenty of speed and strategy, but much of the race itself is just getting it done. They run step-in-step for much of the way, and might not "race" until after the 20-mile marker.

Tremendous athletes, to be sure, with incredible desire to run hard and long. They do not, however suffer throughout the distance, not the way an 800 meter runner must suffer.

A similar defense could be made on behalf of the elite 1500 meter runner. He must be fast, with strategy and a strong mind for almost twice the distance. And many race both 800 and 1500 meters. Seb Coe made an incredible career of this, as did Steve Ovett. But strategy matters more in the 1500. An 800 race balances both.

There is no taking away from what the elites endure and accomplish in any distance. The right genes + the the right training + the right mind + the right racing opportunities equals greatness, and whether a 100 meters or 26.2 miles, that's a lot to have.

Me? I was a mediocre 800 runner, with a personal best of 2:07, the slowest by far on a relay team of sub-2:00 runners.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The State of Fitness

It has been a strange road I have traveled as a runner. In shape, out of shape, in very good shape, on very poor shape. A lot of start-stop-starts.

I miss being in great shape.

As 2013 came forward, having dealt with some challenges that knocked me pretty hard, I decided to take a different approach. John "The Penguin" Bingham posted on Facebook his 100 Day Challenge. The gist, as I understand it, is to exercise 30 minutes a day for 100 days in a row. He defined what counted loosely, and offered that a person could break things into two halves of 15 minutes apiece. I decided to try this, unworried about workouts as a runner, and think entirely about mere exercise.

I started a day or two early, believing any good resolution starts the moment you realize its value. Officially, I am only counting from January 1, 2013. Day 100 will be April 10.

At first, I only walked, then mixed running and walking. My walking pace in at, or a little slower than, 15:00/mile. My running pace is usually 9-10:00/mile.

Today (Sunday, January 20) I was tired from previous days and so I just walked two miles. Since there are no rest days, I'll walk as many days as it takes to find fresh legs.

20 days -- one fifth of the challenge is complete. Harder days are ahead.

About all of this -- I am not weighing myself until April. I am not planning my workout, at least for now, taking each day as it comes, desiring only to complete 30 minutes.

While I am also not counting calories, I am trying not to eat until I'm full, and otherwise ignoring basic hunger if I have already eaten. And so on, about my diet. I'm eating a little less. Not much less.

100 days is a long time and know simply that if I eat less and am diligent about exercise, I will lose sometging by April.

I'm planning some races this spring. Maybe three or four 5ks. No expectations.

Friday, December 14, 2012

New Naperville Marathon to be qualifying race for Boston Marathon

New Naperville Marathon to be qualifying race for Boston Marathon - Chicago Sun-Times
"They’ll be running through the streets of West suburban Naperville.

The 2013 inaugural Naperville Marathon is scheduled for next fall on Nov. 10, and will be a qualifying race for the famous Boston Marathon. While Naperville enthusiasts have kicked around the idea for years, Kris Hartner, owner of the Naperville Running Company, said “somebody needed to come forward and take charge.”"

Read the entire article at the link above.
This is huge news as the Chicago Marathon fills quickly and area runners often travel far to qualify. For those of us in the immediate area (I'm in the next town over), it also means avoiding the trip to Chicago's Loop. That means a better night's rest, and less inconvenience on family and friends who want to watch.

Presumably, there will be fewer runners and thereby less race congestion, meaning a runner will be better able to run his intended pace. In massive races, everyone but the front runners is forced into a bottleneck, often chugging through the first few miles far slower than they should.

A marathon certainly is a long race, and maintaining quality throughout will be a challenge. The people sponsoring it are sharp folks, so they know what they are up.against. Hopefully corporate sponsors will come through.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Man Runs 2:46 Marathon In Flip Flops (Keith Levasseur)

Man Runs 2:46 Marathon In Flip Flops

Really, Keith Levasseur did. For you non-runners, 2:46 is pretty fast. Though the top guys run around 2:04-2:07, this guy is still quick. He did this at the Baltimore Marathon. His PR is a healthy 2:38, meaning he was in range of his best run.

Me? I wear the ASICS 21 series (I wear last year's, but see the 2170s -- this year's model). And I've yet to run 26.2 miles. Gotta give him props on several levels.

As quickly as I do not recommend flip flops, there is always Abebe Bikila's story. He ran, and won, and set the World Record the 1960 Olypmics... barefoot.

Read Runner's World's take on this.

See my thoughts on minimalistic running.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Passing the Lovely Lake Foxcroft in 3.5 Miles

3.5 miles run
0.2 miles walk

total: 3.7 miles
course: Briarcliffe Loop

62°F | °C
Scattered Clouds
Wind: N at 13 mph
Humidity: 58%

Warm day in Chicagoland are growing rare.Our summer was dreadfully hot, but autumn is unpredictable. Today was much sunnier than the weather I posted.

The picture, not take today, is of a small lake -- more of a pond -- Lake Foxcroft. As a neighborhood park, backing up to Glen Ellyn, IL homes, plenty of families stop by for a quick walk, or weekend anglers look for dinner. I came across it around two thirds into my jog. (Read my thoughts before the run.)

As for the running, as I swing back into a routine, I found it more humid than I'm used to, and went slowly. No watch. Too early to care about time. No headphones. Too many interesting things to hear. No running tomorrow, but I'll be back at it Tuesday.

Catch me on Twitter.
Follow my writing on my Facebook official page.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Running Inside (with regrets) - 1.5 Miles

1.25 miles run
0.25 miles walked

total: 1.5 miles
course: home treadmill

I wanted to run outside. As I reported on Twitter, it is a gorgeous day. But I can't. Well, I could, but the reality is, I knew I'd run more on my treadmill. Few beautiful days in Chicago remain this year, so I'm kicking myself.

Broke in a new pair of ASICS 2160s. Last year's model. Too early to review, but so far, so good. Barely a mile and a half into them. The real truth will show up in 50 miles.

My whole run has little to describe. What can I say about a run that, all said, last under 20 minutes? One important thing: I did it. No, I'm not proud. I know most runners reading this are consistent in their training. None of this on/off business. I wish I was there.

Catch me on Twitter.
Follow my writing on my official Facebook  page (lots of fun discussion, videos, pics)

Friday, September 14, 2012

What I Ain't Is Pretty - 1.0 Mile

1.0 miles

total: 1.0 miles
course: home treadmill

A Chubby's Lament
by Anthony Trendl

I looked in the mirror and what did I see?
But a blob, a chub, a fatter version of me.
I was me, I was certain you know,
this was my gut that started to grow.
Bigger today than ever before,
would my dear gut grow any more?
I decided to run, nay, I should walk.
I'm logging off, no time for talk.

There you go. I ran/walked a mile after a look in the mirror. Nothing about me looked good.

Catch me on Twitter.
Follow my writing on my Facebook official page (lots of fun posts/discussion)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Running Life (Running Books)

The Running Life
by Nicholas Thompson

The first sporting event that I remember caring about was the 1982 Boston Marathon. I was six years old, which is an age when most sports make no sense: the players wear masks, are freakishly tall, or contend with complicated matters like strike zones. But children know how to run and they know how to race. There’s little competition that’s purer than two men—Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley, in this case—racing side by side for 26.2 miles. Beardsley wore a white cap; Salazar wore red shorts; they ran so close together that they seemed like one.

Read more

Friday, January 13, 2012

Zola Budd to run in ultra marathon

Zola Budd was one of my heroes in high school. Unlike many runners, she was not flashy or whiny, like high maintenance Mary Decker (Tabb and later Slaney).

She disappeared for years, only reappearing in public long after she was past her elite prime. Humble, loves running and now, is going to run a 56-mile race.

Read the ESPN piece: Zola Budd to run in ultra marathon