Are We Really Born to Run?

Are we really born to run?

I don’t know.  Wish I knew the answer, but after reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, I think I will be a lot closer to the answer.  You see, McDougall’s book is about the quest to find the answer to the question.  He ironically states:

“These were very good questions.  But as I was about to discover, the only ones who knew the answers – the only ones who lived the answers – weren’t talking.  Especially not to someone like me”.  – Christopher McDougall, Born to Run, p 13

Clearly I am only thirteen pages into this book and I am captivated.  Whether it was chapter one’s tail of find “El Caballo Blanco” or the strange commonality to my own quest for the same answers, I really can’t wait to see how this book unfolds.

Before I go, let me leave you all, my loyal readers, with one last quote from the book.  I found this to be very motivating and might blow it up really big and hang it in my cubicle for inspiration:

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.  It knows that it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.  Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle – when the sun comes up, you better be running.” – Christopher McDougall, Born to Run, p 13

With that said, more to come as I explore the world of Born to Run.

Happy New Year & My First 10k of 2010!

Now that 2009 is history, I want to wish everyone, triathletes, runners, bloggers, swimmers, etc, a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2010 is already off to a great start.  In fact, I ran a 10k this morning with a friend. While the overall pace was 12:37/mi, I had tons of fun getting out there and running nice and easy (run data via Training Peaks).  Not only was I there to help encourage her, but I also learned a lot about myself in doing so.  2010 is going to be the best training year yet!

How have you welcomed 2010?

Vote: Which Route Should Aric Run?

With my impending 8-mile endurance run coming up tomorrow, I thought I would allow the world to vote on which route I should run.  All routes are roughly 8 miles in length and all have flat and hilly areas to them.  If you are familiar with the greater Santa Barbara/Goleta area, you will have better insight into these routes.  If not, just vote randomly.

This poll will remain open up until 5 minutes prior to Aric’s departure for the workout, which will be sometime Dec 27th morning (PST).

POLL IS NOW CLOSED.  Thank you to all who voted!   Looks like the winner was the Airport/UCSB route.  If you are in that area, look out for a slow moving runner. 😉

The Hollister/Cathedral Oaks Route linky.

The Airport/UCSB Route linky.

The Mission/Upper State linky (with gnarly hill!)

The Waterfront/Mesa Route linky.

Looks like the Airport/UCSB route is winning…

Thank you very much! I will post the run workout results shortly after I recover!

One Picture, Seven Months of Training

For those of you who have been watching my journey from office potato to triathlete, the following picture shouldn’t surprise you.  You already know how far I’ve come.  In fact, the picture below really, really inspires to make 2010 the best year ever, better than 2009!

Aric in Training April to November
April on the left, November on the right

On the left, April 2009 was the Chardonnay 5k.  On the right was the NewsPress Half Marathon 5k. For more comparison on the two races, read Tale of Two 5k Competitions.

7 months of training in between.  You can see:

1) I’ve slimmed down, a lot.  Lost about 25 pounds from left to right.

2) My posture is better and my muscles are more built.  Thanks to lots of strength workouts, including plyometrics.

3) I’ve embraced technology!  Gone is the polar HR on the left, replaced with a Garmin 305 GPS hr monitor on the left.

4) I dress better.  Having a decent body makes me want to show it off more.  Wearing clothes that fit is awesome!

5) I shunned the shoes!  On the left, I am wearing FiveFingers.  In fact, I’ve now completed two 5k’s and numerous running workouts wearing FiveFingers. I love ’em!

6) I am far more confident in my abilities.  I look so much more relaxed on the right compared to the left.  The right was my first competition ever and you can see it on my face.

At the end of 2010, I hope to have a similar picture that shows my progress.  I definitely have some inspiration to make it happen!

A New Milestone: 6-mile Run

On Tuesday night, I reached another milestone in my training by running a full six miles, non-stop!  I even did it wearing my FiveFingers!

This week, instead of doing another strength workout with my trainer, I decided that it would be good to try something new, so we went out for a run instead.   While I initially balked at a six mile run, I knew that I could do it if we kept the pace to 11:00 or slower.

Well, we ended up running a little faster than that in the end.

Aric's 6-mile Run Milestone
3-miles out, 3-miles back, nice and smooth!


Distance: 6.03 miles ~ Time: 1:03:43 ~ Pace: 10:34 ~ Avg Hr: 170

While the next day, I felt quite fatigued, knowing that I can go the distance is awesome.  6.03 miles is not that far off of a 10K run and the 10:34 pace is not bad at all.

So, what’s next for me?  You are just going to have to stay tuned.

The Welcome Home 5k

Spending the last five days in Texas, celebrating Thanksgiving with the family, I am happy to be back in California.   Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where all diets and common dietary sense goes out the window. In fact, the triathlon training comes to a halt for 48 hours as well.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I enjoyed a lot of turkey, mash potatoes, green beans, cranberries, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and ice cream.   Yep, I had many plates of luscious edible goodness. As did my brother, my aunt, my grandmother, and my uncle.

Even with all of the family love and food, I am still quite happy to be back in California.  Where else can you train for triathlons year round in 65 degree, sunny weather under the breathetaking palm trees, bright sun with the sweet smell of ocean?  Only in Santa Barbara, California you can!

The Santa Barbara waterfront near East Beach
The Santa Barbar Harbor
The Santa Barbar Harbor

It wasn’t long after I got off the plane that I threw on my running shorts, FiveFingers, and favorite hat to head down to Santa Barbara’s waterfront for a run.  Coming off a long weekend of fun, excessive food consumption and treats, my trainer recommended taking it slow and enjoying it. So, I did.  I decided to concentrate on a pace no faster than 10:00 and without regard for heart rate.

Click image for interactive data

In the end, I finished 3.11 miles at 11:24 pace and with an average heart rate of 160 bpm.  Not my fastest run, but certainly one of my most enjoyable:

1) I like how smooth the heart rate line is, very consistent but building endurance.
2) The only stops were for stoplights or picture taking.
3) Pace was more sporadic as I caught myself running too fast, then slowing down.  Consistent pace requires concentration and I was enjoying the scenery a bit too much.
4) Using the spring type form of running with my FiveFingers barefoot running shoes was exhilarating as I could feel the power of each stride!

As a kick-off to my holiday triathlon training schedule, I am excited.  This 5k run was smooth, leisurely and enjoyable.

What run is your favorite to date?  Where was it and what did you enjoy most about it?

Exercise Deprivation and Turkey

I am in Kerrville, Texas visiting family for the long Thanksgiving day weekend.   I will say though that we had a fabulous meal with turkey, sweet potatoes, mash potatoes, green beans, and pecan pie (this is Texas!).

The 2009 Monts Family Thanksgiving Table

I will say that I did eat a lot, especially the turkey that came out so perfect.  It had a beautiful golden color and the meat was juicy, tender and flavorful.  The only better was the pecan pie that I ate.  I knew the diet was going to be tough to maintain on this day, but I didn’t eat much leading up to the meal, I didn’t go back for seconds and I only had one piece of pie.  (tonight I will skip the pie altogether, much to the horror of the family)

I love my family, but they are not exactly the most outdoorsy types or most active.  The three people I am visiting are actually quite overweight, which makes it hard for me to get my exercise in.  I really want to spend time with them, but at the same time I need to maintain my active, fit lifestyle.  Triathlon training does not stop for me, I must maintain my base as I head into the 2010 triathlon season.

After two days of travel, cooking, and eating, I really felt the lack of exercise.  I get a little foggy headed, a little low on energy and a little grouchy.  This continues to build until I finally push myself to go out for a run, bike, or swim.

So, finally I got out this morning for a trip around the loop, which is the circular lane that my aunt lives on in Kerrville, Texas.  It is 1.4 miles in length, has a number of shallow, but long hills and provides for a very satisfying workout.   I also did a second run this afternoon, here are some stats (this is a training blog afterall!):

Morning: 10:36 pace ~ 14:52 ~ HR: 160/170

Afternoon: 9:54 pace ~ 13:36 ~ HR: 161/171

Not exactly the fastest or longest runs ever, but they did get my blood flowing and providing a great way to keep up the training while detoxing from all of that pecan pie and goodies I ate yesterday.

Even though family and holidays usually lead to exercise deprivation for me, the company and the fabulous turkey was worth it!