Train As Much As Possible

Intro by Jannine Myers

What if your running coach told you to train as much as possible? That’s a no-brainer, right? I mean, we all train as much as possible, don’t we? But what if training as much as possible went beyond the scope of what most of us understand it to be, and actually entailed something much more. An article I read recently reminded me that even though I train most days of the week, and rarely, if ever, miss a scheduled training run, it doesn’t necessarily mean that my training is going to produce the results I’m looking for. Especially if in the mix of all of my training, I am also dealing with a stressful and busy homelife, and/or I occasionally run on days when my body is screaming at me to take a day off and rest.

I’m not so naive that I don’t recognize the foolishness of trying to train through times of stress or illness, BUT, I’ll admit that I’m often too stubborn to acknowledge those times. So, when I saw the following article by Bradley Stulberg, I emailed him immediately and asked for his permission to share it with you on our blog – Brad tells us what it really means to train as much as possible, and why sometimes it’s necessary to scale back, or perhaps, to turn things up a notch and actually increase your training. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated Brad’s article, and I’m sharing it with you because I know that I am not the only stubborn fool out there (no need to mention names).

Racing (I mean, “jogging”), at the Kinser Half, Oct 2011 (right after the Portland Marathon)
Risner 5k Winner (summer 2011) – initial plan of “taking it easy” got lost somewhere
Silver Strand Half Marathon 2007 – “Sprained ankle? It doesn’t hurt that much, it’ll be fine.”

“Hey girls, it’s my birthday coming up, wanna run 50 miles with me, for fun?”
“I know I’m supposed to run SLOWER on my long run days, but it doesn’t feel right!”

No need for comments here – it’s obvious these girls know how to train. But wait a minute – they do figure contests, AND run marathons??
 8 mile Kadena Perimeter Run – a great effort, but racing with a nagging cough isn’t recommended (diagnosed one week later with pneumonia)

I kept my word – no names mentioned above. Seriously though, no criticism intended – I am in awe of all of my amazingly talented and strong athlete friends. Our dedication to what we love doing, is however, sometimes our downfall, and I’m sure we can all learn from Brad’s advice.

Post by Bradley Stulberg

I love a quote that I was made familiar with by ITU Long Course World Champion triathlete Jordan Rapp. In the context of being asked his opinion on a whole manner of training and recovery methods, he simply said that the best approach is to “train as much as possible.” Breaking this statement down into its two component parts makes it even easier to understand:

1) Train as much: More volume and more intensity is good, so long as…

2) As Possible: The body and mind are in a position to successfully adapt to the applied load
Smart, structured, and long-term training is all about introducing physiological stimulus to the body (e.g., your sport-specific and functional strength workouts) which triggers adaptation over time (e.g., getting faster, stronger) . Most athletes fully understand the first part of Jordan’s statement — introducing escalating levels of volume and intensity into their routines — but not as many understand how it is enabled by the second part.

The body’s ability to take on more training in a positive way (leading to fitness gains, not injury) is contingent on far more than an individual’s current fitness level. This is not to say that current fitness levels don’t matter, because they do; it would be irresponsible to prescribe a 4-hour ride for someone with a current max ride duration of 2-hours. The same goes for intensity. No doubt about it, the body must be aerobically and structurally ready to take on increased levels of training stress, and an incremental “building” approach is the only way to get there…But that’s just one part of the equation and I find that many don’t place enough importance on the other parts of the equation, if not overlook them altogether.

The “as possible” is a 24/7 type of thing, influenced literally by everything we do, both inside and outside of sport. To better illustrate my point, imagine two athletes with the exact same fitness level at the start of 2012. Now, I am going to differ a few critical “as possible” variables. Note that I am really going to extremes to juxtapose the two, and this is to make my point clear and obvious.

Sleep: Athlete 1 is a graduate student taking a very manageable course load, and is able to sleep 8-hours a night, and also has the time for naps on strenuous training days. Athlete 2 just got promoted at an investment bank, and thus, has had to stay up later and wake up earlier in order to manage increased responsibility at work. Athlete 2 sleeps 6 hours a night, and napping is not an option.

Nutrition: Athlete 1 has the time to think about and prepare most of his meals. He almost never misses a meal, and always fuels his workouts properly. Athlete 2, constantly cramming workouts in wherever they will fit, is often forced to eat sub-ideal foods, and unfortunately, even finds himself missing [the most important] meals after workouts due to the generally rushed nature of his life.

General Life Stress: Athlete 1 has a job lined up for when he finishes school, is in a supportive and loving relationship, and is also in a good financial position. Athlete 2 is working through some tough things with family, feels an internal pressure to beat the guy next to him at work, and consistently has partners [at the bank] in his face about meeting deadlines.

Acute Recovery: Athlete 1 can wear compression tights to class, ice his body while taking care of reading assignments, and works with a great local massage therapist. Meanwhile, Athlete 2 would be hard pressed to wear compression tights on Wall Street, let alone even have the time to get the damn things on!! Icing is an option, but only on weekends, and massage therapy rarely fits into Athlete 2’s schedule right now.

Long-Term Plan and Comfort: Athlete 1 works with a coach he trusts, and has a plan that he is confident in, and is constantly tweaked as a result of his response to it. Athlete 2 also works with a coach, as a matter of fact, the same coach as Athlete 1. That said, Athlete 2 just doesn’t have the time or energy to communicate frequently, and even his virtual updates are short, and often lack qualitative feedback from workouts.

Imagine that each of these athletes has 15 hours available to train weekly. If they execute the exact same workouts, I would almost guarantee that Athlete 1 becomes fitter (and races faster as a result) than Athlete 2. As a matter of fact, Athlete 1 might be able to take on even additional training (e.g., 18-20 hours a week). Athlete 1 can up the “train as much” part of the equation, because the “as possible” part enables it. Following the same logic, Athlete 2, on the other hand, would likely be wise to decrease his training load (e.g., maybe to something more like 10-12 hours a week). In short, a baseline fitness level (remember that in this example, Athlete 1 and Athlete 2 had the same ingoing fitness) is only one component in determining how much training an athlete can take on and respond to. Therefore, it is important to account for, and to the extent possible, manage the other components too.

Although some of the “as possible” variables are out of our control, many of them are within it, and it’s really just a matter of prioritizing what is important at certain times of life (e.g., do I take on the crazy job with the equally as crazy compensation, or do I max out my athletic potential). It is also important to remember that so many of the “as possible” drivers are constantly changing; two-years from now, Athlete 1 (from our example above) may have 3x the “as possible” limiters as Athlete 2.
“Train as much as possible” really helps simplify things in an era where there is increasing complexity and variety on the market for training programs. So, what to do with all of this?

Constantly take stock of your “as possible” limiters and be sure that your training plan reflects them. At times, this may manifest in a window of opportunity to really up the training volume and intensity, while at other times, it might mean doing the opposite. Along those lines, realize that a decent amount of this is within at least somewhat of your control. To the extent that you find yourself in and/or can create a situation where the “as possible” widens, don’t be scared to take advantage of it by getting aggressive in your training. That said, have the courage to do the reverse if required too.

And the best part about all of this: next time someone asks you about the secrets to your training program, you can simply respond, “I train as much as possible.”

Have fun training and racing ladies, but let’s try and be realistic about how much training our schedules actually permit time for, and what our bodies are truly capable of doing, given our current circumstances. If life gets too hectic or stressful, or you feel your body starting to “slow down” and easily give in to fatigue, then go ahead and cut back on your training – you can pick it back up again when your situation or health improves.

Brad is a graduate student studying public health at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a competitive age-grouper, and extremely passionate about all things multisport. You can reach him at http://x-msg//15/

Nago Half Marathon – What to Expect

Post by Jannine Myers

Since so many of you ladies have registered to run the Nago Half Marathon in just a couple of weeks, I thought it might be a good idea to write a post about the course, and the event as a whole. I’ve completed the Nago Half Marathon twice now – the first time I ran it at a nice, easy pace, simply for enjoyment, and the second time I high-geared it and ran it competitively. Two different race strategies with two vastly different race results, but one thing remained the same: I finished each of these races determined to run it again.

The Nago Half Marathon has become one of my favorite races in Okinawa for various reasons:

1. The time of year in which this race is scheduled is perfect for two reasons: a) the temperature is typically cool, but not so cold that staying at home in a warm bed is more appealing, and b) the cherry blossoms in the northern part of Okinawa are often still in bloom, greatly enhancing what is already a beautiful half marathon course.

You know you have good friends when they plan their long run route near your race event – thank you Anna! Nago Half Marathon 2011

2. The race route takes runners on a scenic tour with beautiful coastal and forest views – both times I have run the course I have immensely enjoyed the scenery! The added bonus of running in a less traffic-dense area is also a nice change.

3. If you’re looking to challenge yourself and aim for a PR, this may just be the perfect course for you! With relatively fewer runners than other heavily-populated half marathon events, it’s not too difficult to weave your way out of the crowd fairly quickly. And the course itself is, for the most part, nice and flat. Be mindful of your pace throughout the first 7 or 8 miles (run at a “comfortably” hard pace), and slow down when you reach the bridge in the latter half of the course. You will have to endure a bit of a climb up the bridge, but if you have been careful to reserve enough energy, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. Once you reach the peak of the incline, it’s all downhill and flat from there on in. In fact, if you pace yourself well and think you can manage a negative split, this would be an ideal time to dig deep and start picking up the pace. My fastest miles in last year’s race were during the final three miles of the course.

4. The atmosphere of this event is a huge drawing card for me – the race organizers and their crew of volunteers are extremely courteous and friendly, and the crowd support is wonderful. In true Okinawan spirit, many of the local people venture out of their homes for the morning to encourage and cheer on the runners. And because a large part of the course takes you through uninhabited areas, you get to enjoy the benefits of being motivated by supporters at the start and end of the race (when you need them most), but also by the peaceful and sometimes isolated landscapes throughout the race (time to draw yourself inwards and let your mind propel you forwards).

5. One final reason to look forward to the Nago Half Marathon, is that there is a fantastic restaurant nearby which serves the best post-race soba noodles! Anna and I, and our good friend Mark, have made it a yearly tradition to go with our families to this particular restaurant immediately after the race. Now I’m sure some of you have already been to Ufuya (the name of the restaurant), but if you have never heard of it before and would like a great place to dine after the race, I highly recommend it.

Ufuya literally translates to “Big House,” or so I’ve heard. And that’s exactly what the restaurant Ufuya is – a large, traditional style house with lots of rooms to dine in. What makes it so unique and worth visiting however, is that it is set amidst a backdrop of beautiful man-made waterfalls. Once you’re done eating, you can enjoy a hike up some steps which take you on a short trek through the greenery and surrounding waterfalls.

Keep in mind too, that the ambience and beauty of the place is not the only reason to visit Ufuya – the soba noodles (their specialty) are delicious! They also sell some of the best home-made “chou creme” on island; chou creme pastries are a French style pastry puff filled with a sweet and creamy custard filling. We usually buy three or four and take them home, although on busy days, the chou creme pastries often sell out very quickly. If that happens, there is one more enticing dessert that awaits you as you leave the restaurant. There is a little souvenir shop just down the path on the way to the carpark, and at one end of the store you can buy ice cream. Since there is also a vinegar distillery on the premises, one of the more popular soft-serve ice cream flavors to sample is the black sugar and vinegar (although the pineapple flavor is also very good and I would give it a thumbs-up too).

See you in a couple of weeks ladies, and remember, the faster you run, the greater the odds are of getting a table at Ufuya – it’s a very popular establishment on regular days and twice as busy on race-day!

Motivational quote for those of you contemplating a race strategy: “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park!”  David Ogilvy

Kinser Girls Set the Bar High for 2012

Post by Jannine Myers

Just last week Anna and I posted about setting running goals for 2012, and already some of our amazing WOOT ladies have taken up the challenge and tackled what is undeniably an incredibly difficult feat. When I first heard last weekend about the small group of Kinser women who had just completed a 50 mile run from Camp Kinser all the way up to Okuma, I have to admit that I thought I had been misinformed. But as a steady thread of Facebook messages regarding the event slowly began to trickle down my page I realized that what I was reading was no mistake at all.

At the age of twenty three, just three years ago, Kinser WOOT member, Jenny Nates, describes being the victim of a “near-death” experience which resulted in a temporary paralysis of her legs. Through months of rehabilitation Jenny eventually learned to walk and run again, but the process was slow and sometimes quite painful. Determined to live her life to the fullest once she made a full recovery, Jenny vowed that she would celebrate all future birthdays by giving herself some type of challenge that would  a) acknowledge her appreciation of life, and b) test both her physical and mental strength. Hence the idea to run fifty miles on her 26th birthday was not some crazy ill-conceived self-dare; it was a seriously considered notion that eventually gained acceptance from her husband and not surprisingly, her favorite group of running friends.

Jenny’s running friends, in fact, even went as far as showing their support by promising to run either part or all of the distance with her. With just over a month to plan and organize the logistics of such an event, Jenny began to search for tips in the book “Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters. Since neither she nor any of her running friends had ever run an ultramarathon before, and with little training under their belts, Jenny wanted to ensure that the run would at least be safe for them to do.

In preparation for the day’s event, Shanna Diep, who ran twenty two of the fifty miles, says that vans were loaded up the night before with food and water, changes of clothing, coolers, shoes, towels, and chairs. A support crew consisting of husbands, friends, and family members, met the girls at pre-designated rest stops; it was because of these stops every ten miles, and the fifteen minutes they took at each one to replenish themselves, that Shirley Thomas believes she was able to stay motivated. “Knowing we were stopping every ten miles,” said Shirley, “made it easy to break down such a long run.”

Enjoying a fifteen minute rest

That’s not to say however, that running fifty miles was “easy.” Bear in mind that these ladies began running around 6am last Sunday, from camp Kinser in the south, until just after 7pm that evening, when they made the final turn into the gate of Okuma Campgrounds in the northern part of the island. From before sun-up until after sun-down these girls continued to run forward, each one refusing to give in to the pain and discomfort that inevitably racked their bodies after the first thirty miles or so.

I was going to try and sum up for you everything they felt and experienced on their journey, but as I read each of their accounts I realized that the only way I could truly convey the emotion that permeated throughout the group, was to let them say it themselves:

Jenny Nates – Initiator and Planner
Total distance Run – 50 Miles
My initial plan was to run it alone and have the hubby follow me in the car to make sure I survived . Now all I can say about that, is what was I thinking?! BUT THANK GOD for these ladies I met on this tiny island. They have become so dear to me, such amazing friends! I was so happy they joined me on this journey. Stopping every 10 Miles, 15min breaks at each stop tracked by my NAZI timekeeper husband – food, drinks, chairs, hugs, kisses, positive re-enforcement – these were all KEY parts of this SUCCESSFUL and exciting journey. Throughout the run there were times where I was ready to quit but never did I say it out loud because the girls around me kept running and looking STRONG … that kept me going!

Bri Poore
Total Distance Run – 48 Miles (“I lost two miles because my left heel was in a bit of pain”)
I decided right away to go on this amazing adventure because I’ve been wanting to do an ultra for about two years now. Honestly, the first ones to rope me in were the WOOTers  – y’all got me hooked! Tons of tears from this crazy island girl, all throughout my run. I started out with mixed emotions, and then as I ran with all of “my big sisters” I felt strong, happy, and confident.. and everything I saw along the way…Amazed me Tremendously!! I thought about my upbringing, of how cruel, distrustful and ugly it was and I never thought there were beautiful, good people and places in this world…But, this right here, was WOW!! It is Real and it Exists!! This lady Jenny is an amazing God-send! She brought us all together and she planned it out perfectly!! It was an awe-inspiring experience, one that I will never forget!

Shirley Thomas
Total Distance Run – 50 Miles
It wasn’t until about the 30 mile point I that started to feel the muscles cramping in my quads. Then another thing started ailing me as we entered Nago…my stomach! I had nausea really bad and felt like my stomach was on fire. This pretty much lasted the rest of the run and well into the night. Not sure why that happened but it affected the last leg of the journey for me and slowed me down quite a bit.
Emotionally I felt really good, I was happy & excited to be doing this with some of the strongest and most encouraging women I have ever met. I kept asking how can a 50 mile run feel so good? I’m positive it’s because of the amazing friends I ran with, and the way we supported one another as we finished this AMAZING goal. I thank God that I am healthy and able to accomplish such things. I look forward to more challenges like what we’ve just done and many more running days with these phenomenal women.

Shirley gets a much deserved hug from her son

Shanna Diep
Total Distance Run – 22 Miles (Shanna’s farthest distance prior to this runs was 13 miles!)
Shanna describes the scene as the girls finish their last few miles: I drove to fhe finish line and waited for the rock stars to make it in. It was very dark and we could barely see down the road as there were no street lights. I don’t know how they were running like that. I was actually a little worried because I knew they didn’t have any lights on them. But…. they made it and it brought tears to my eyes. Allyson was the first to come in as she had met them about 7 miles before the finish line. She had been at scuba training all day but drove up to support them at the end. Then came Jenny our first 50 mile finisher. She was in tears. I have never been so proud of one of my friends. She did it, it was her birthday and she made it. I could feel the love from her and how blessed she felt to have all the support she did. Benita, Shirley, Jenny, Bri, and Krista all completed the 50 miles. As each and everyone of them started coming in we were all there to cheer them on. Many tears of pain and excitement were shed at the end but all in all they were happy tears. The event for me was very exciting and I was so happy to be a part of it. Having friends that you share a passion with is great. We will forever have a bond that will never be broken or forgotten.

Lola Atkinson
Total Distance Run – 30 Miles

When we got to the first rest point I still felt wonderful so I decided to run the next 10 miles. This part of the run was incredible; the view was breathtaking. To my right was the forest, to my left the clearest, bluest water. I was completely lost in the beauty of the island. Before I knew it I was at the second rest point, which was 20 miles. Now it was time for me to take off the running shoes and join the pit crew/cheerleading team. So for miles 30 & 40, we stood on the sidewalk cheering and waving as the girls came in. The final stretch, the last 10 miles, it was time to put the running shoes back on! It was dark by this time! I remember thinking how blessed I was to be able to run from sun up to sun down with thirteen of the most amazing, strong, beautiful woman; without each of them I would never had made it that far. And without my husband James, cant forget the guys. We had the best pit crew EVER!!! Now next year Im doing the full 50!
Krista Hambley
Total Distance Run – 50 Miles
At about mile 45 the darkness set in and mentally I started to fade fast. I was thinking I can’t do this and there is no way I’m going to finish this run. We had about five miles left at this point and all of a sudden “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band came on my ipod. This just happens to be my dad’s favorite song and I started thinking how much I miss my family and how these girls, in the few short months I have known them, have become my family. Wiping away the tears on my salty, sweaty, unshowered face, I told myself how much my family of ladies was counting on me to finish the fifty. Writing this now, brings back all the emotions from that day and I am again sitting here crying like a baby, as usual! Hugging all of the girls and my husband at the “finish line” could easily be compared to post-deployment hugs.
(Final note: McDonald’s fries never tasted so good on Sunday!)

Benita Delacruz
Total Distance Run – 50 Miles
All of us learned something about ourselves, or our partners, or what we are capable of achieving. Anything is possible. I received this message from a friend at work, who said the description fits me perfectly. Bible verse Isaiah 40:31 says, But those who trust the Lord will find strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired. I really do believe God was guarding each and every one of us. It was at mile 48 when I think my mind started playing games; Krista kept reassuring me that we were almost done. When we saw Bruce, Jennys hubby running towards us, I just started screaming with joy. I was very happy and overwhelmed to have accomplished our mission for the day; a 50 mile birthday run for Jenny! Thank you again to all the pit crew, WOOP/ WOOT ladies, and my family for your support.

Judy Otero
Total Distance Run – 10 Miles
I only ran the first leg with the ladies (Judy joined the support crew for the remainder of the run), but I can say for the first 10 miles we were all excited and ready to go. I liked what my husband said as he drove by all of us…”IMPRESSIVE sight seeing all of you on Highway 58 and let’s just say, there was a lot of pink out there!”
After the 40 mile rest stop, as soon as the first runner got up to go back to pounding the pavement, the rest all just followed without any questions or hesitation. I don’t even know if these ladies realized how much their bodies and minds were in unison at this point.

Mile 50 – Once you exit the City of Nago there aren’t any street lights so it was PITCH black on the highway. You could hear their shoes scuffling the pavement before you could actually SEE the person, so as each runner appeared it was if a black curtain had just been lifted for them to take center stage. And that is what each of them deserve – CENTER STAGE with a spotlight on them (we had a flashlight). It was emotional, it was beautiful, it was ABSOLUTELY surreal.

Allyson Snyder, Lola Atkinson, Jenny Nates, Bri Poore, Krista Hambley,
Shirley Thomas, Benita Delacruz, Judy Otero, Shanna Diep

If I had to say three things about this day it would be.1) Combine “I” and “We” and anything is possible; 2) we will all be forever friends; and 3) YES, hell might have frozen over on January 8th because for the first time I ran before the sun rose! Why? Because it was for my dear friend Jenny’s birthday; she had a goal and was so gracious to share it with all of us.

Final thoughts from Jannine – a) I’m not sure I would have the will, strength, or endurance to do what these girls did last Sunday, and b) I love what WOOP member Kelly Mulder shared with us when she posted the following:

Absolutely right – just because these ladies are wearing PINK,
doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taken seriously…….

Congratulations ladies, on an amazing run and incredible accomplishment; we are all so proud of you! 

Running Goals for 2012

By Anna Boom

Goals! I love goals and checklists. Is this just me or this a part of our female psyche? I keep my training schedule in my car, on the dash, so I see it every time I drive. In one glance, I know what I am running today, tomorrow and next week. Then when I have completed the task, I check it off, or if I haven’t, I write in what I missed like if it was short or slower or faster (hey, I can always dream!).

A recommendation I often read and hear and adhere to, is to have a race planned. Sign up for the race, pay for the race, get your training plan in place. For so many of us, without a goal we are striving for, we can easily roll over and dismiss our alarm at 0430.

Here is where having your training schedule ready will help. Print it out, post it to the fridge, scribble all over it, just use it. Most generic training plans you find offer anywhere from 12-16 weeks from start to race. It takes this long to get your body trained to run extended periods without pushing too fast, which often leads to injury.

For races in Japan, you have to sign up months in advance. The sign up for the Naha marathon, for example, begins August 1st. The marathon race date is the first Sunday in December. This can be motivating for some, especially if you have the long view. For others, it can work against as it seems like so far in the future, why not wait til next week to start training.

Nago Half Marathon Application (Feb 2012) – did you sign up??
If you are searching for a basic, generic running plan, offers some easy options. If you are looking for something more personal, there are a few women running coaches available (*alert, alert, I am one of them).