Know when to reevaluate your goals (running update)

I thought I'd do something a little different here and move the post to early in the week, since the podcast posts at the end of the week. I'm not really sure if I can keep up a new publishing schedule like this, but there's only one way to find out, right? If need be, I'll just go back to Thursdays.

Anyway, onward.

Some of you might be aware that I set a goal to run 1,000 miles this year.

It's been almost 11 months since I started training for a half marathon, which I ran last November.

I went into that training with no time expectations, and by the time I got through the summer heat and really settled in, I decided I'd set a goal of 10-minute, 40-second miles (which from now on I'll format like 10:40 so as to not only sound like I know what I'm talking about, but save some space). I was right around that (a little behind — I finished in 2:21:12, which is a total of eight seconds behind over the course of 13.1 miles, if my math is correct).

I've kept running, which, I understand, is unusual for someone *cough cough* my age who only just started running. And like I said, I set a goal of 1,000 miles for the year.

I'm going to keep that goal, knowing that, as it gets warmer, I'm going to taper some miles. Sure, I'm still putting in some miles while it's 85 and humid, but given how early in the year the heat's hit, I expect we'll see some 100-plus weeks.

I'm also going to have a couple of weeks when I know I'm going to not run or maybe just get out for a few miles once or twice. My typical week consists of three, maybe four runs for a total of between 22 and 27 miles. This week will be more like 5 or 6 runs at a total of around 20 miles. Those weeks we have friends coming into town, we'll wind up walking 25-30 miles, and I won't run at all. I'll be out of town on vacation for a week and a half, and I'll run sporadically and enjoy myself instead.

That said, if you watch the progress on the right side of the website, you'll see I'm averaging more than the 2.75 miles a day I need to reach 1,000 on the year. I'm also well over the 85 miles per month, so I'm giving myself some breathing room.

All this time, I've been maintaining my goal of running at 10:40 a mile, and I realized on a run Monday that I need to stop that. I need to give myself the opportunity to fail as the weather gets less runner-friendly. I've been setting PRs almost every week at one or more of some of my more common distances (2, 7 and 12 miles).

I'm moving my goal up to 10:00, and I'll revisit that in September. That'll also make the math easier for me along the way (I have Runkeeper tell me where I am every quarter mile — just time and distance — and I calculate where I am compared to my goal to keep myself focused a little bit).

This is a good reminder to reevaluate your other goals, too. If you're knocking your goals out of the park, maybe it's time to set more difficult goals. And...go!


Ah, the sweat: My running these days

#running #sweaty

A photo posted by Josh Shear (@joshuanshear) on

For the first time in about a year and a half, I've been putting in miles this week, and it feels great. I'd been running sporadically since I did that 31-day run streak in Oct. 2013, but lately it's been about 1.5 to 2 miles twice a week. I'm already over 10 miles this week, and I feel fantastic.

It's not real hot out yet, it's not super-humid yet, and I've been doing some conditioning and strength training. I haven't been running fast, but I haven't been crapping out at longer distances. I'm not setting any distance goals, but the fact that I can now do 5k several days consecutively is encouraging, both from a cardiovascular standpoint and the fact that my legs aren't overly fatigued.

I've been running with a hydration pack, which is a big help; I like having my hands free and two liters of water distributed over my back is not a lot of weight.

What are you up to? How's your running?

Allow your plan to change

Among other books, I'm reading The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson. It's a collection of essays, some published, some unpublished, all Thompson. One of the essays is the jacket copy from his classic book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

I've read Fear and Loathing, but I read it in paperback, which means I didn't get the jacket copy when I read the book.

It's a good reminder that the book started out as an assignment for Sports Illustrated, which wanted Thompson to write a 250-word caption for a motorcycle race in Las Vegas.

That's right. It's a sports book.

It's also a true crime book. The lawyer on the trip was an L.A. lawyer Thompson was using as a primary source on an investigative news piece about a shooting by sheriffs in the Hispanic community, and because Thompson wasn't a member of that community, it was clear to the reporter the only person who wanted him interviewing the lawyer was the lawyer.

Thompson took him to the motorcycle race so that they could get out of the community and could talk.

There were plans for the trip highlighted in the book, and while maybe the objectives laid out – the investigative news piece and the race caption – were achieved, at some point for Thompson the plan changed and the book that became the legacy of that trip was something else altogether.

Just because it wasn't the plan, doesn't mean it didn't get accomplished. In fact, something bigger came out of it.

The lesson here is that you need to allow your objectives to evolve.

I saw this with some running this week. I was going to see how many days in a row I could run for 30 minutes, but it only took two days to realize that wasn't a sustainable plan. Day 1 I ran for 30 minutes and some change then couldn't get much of a resistance workout in because I was just done. Day 2 I did a great resistance workout and puttered at 17 minutes of running.

Rather than let it get to me, I've changed my goal to 120 minutes of running a week for three straight weeks. I don't care how far I go, or how fast, the cardio, joint and muscular endurance are important to me.

Day 3 I knew two things: I was returning to the tennis court for the first time in 15 months, and I was dropping my car off at the shop. So what I did was drop my car at the shop and run 15 minutes to work, then after work I ran 15 minutes back to the shop. That gave me plenty of rest and recovery time for tennis, and got me 30 more minutes for the week.

That left me 43 minutes of running to do in 4 days; an easy enough average that I could take a rest day (or 2!) and still hit my goal.

I adjusted my goal downward, yes, but certainly didn't make it easy on myself.

Start off with a plan, but don't quit when it looks like that plan isn't going to work out. Be willing to evolve with the circumstances, otherwise you're just going to keep running into a wall.

The weekend's coming. Don't forget to do something important and to make the time to create something.

Two Weeks With the Vibram FiveFingers

For the last couple of weeks, I've been sporting a pair of Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport. I tend to get mid-foot and rear-foot pain (my plantar and my heal) once tennis season starts, and since I started standing much of my day and working out four or more times a week, it's been getting worse.

A couple of trainers and a massage therapist recommended them to me, so I thought I'd try them out. I went over to Fleet Feet (which I can't recommend enough, by the way, in terms of professional knowledge and personal attention) and gave them a try.

They take some time to put on the first time (I also tried the Bikila, which have a harder top, making them even more difficult to put on), and they feel odd, since our toes don't tend to spend much time spread out.

The point of the shoes is to make your body operate essentially like you're barefoot. There's no ankle support nor arch support, and depending on the model, there is varying amount of tread (the TrekSport has a really good tread on it, and I'm not worried about slipping on anything). They're machine washable (but not machine dry-able, since rubber melts), which is pretty awesome, too. I've noticed a bunch of things.

Standing posture. I'm standing more on the ball of my feet, like I do when I'm barefoot at home. Doing that eliminates a lot of slouching, since that would throw me off balance. It means I'm standing up straighter.

Walking. I don't love walking in them, but I don't mind. I tend to be a careless, wandering walker, and with these shoes, I need to be a little more careful about what I'm stepping on and how I'm landing. Which is probably a good thing, just it's a lifestyle change – a pretty big one, it turns out.

Running. They change my whole running style, which for me was the primary thing I was seeking. The sports I play (tennis, racquetball, softball) require short, quick bursts from a standstill, along with changing direction. I'm running more front-foot and mid-foot now instead of rear-foot, which means that the optimal starting posture is something of a squat. And if you're standing up and figuring out what I'm talking about, you're recognizing that the start comes from your glutes (your butt), rather than from your quads and knees, which is where the initial push comes from if you're starting on your heal. Strictly speaking, I'm a little faster, my foot's in less pain, and I'm working on building up my glutes, because, to be crass about it, my ass cheeks were sore for the first three or four days.

Machines. I don't mind these on the stationary bike, but I don't like them on treadmills (even walking) or other elliptical-style machines. I feel like I want more ankle support. I tend to prefer the bike and running on the track anyway.

Reaction. Some people hate these things. Mostly they're people who understand, from an athletic perspective, why one would wear them, but who have an aesthetic dislike for them. Fair enough. Then there are the people who have actually stopped me in stores to ask about what's on my feet. This is cool, as long as you're not in a hurry.


If you're thinking about getting a pair (or 2 or 3 – they have a bunch of models with varying purposes), first decide what they would do for you, then consult people who understand those things. Go to a local shop and try them out. In Syracuse, Fleet Feet even has a treadmill they'll let you hop on (in fact, if you've never been before, or haven't been in a while, they'll put you on the treadmill to see how you run).