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Chafing is something that rarely comes up in conversation among friends. However, as a runner, it’s something that I think about everytime I run for longer than an hour.

60 minutes seems to be the minimum time for chafing to begin on my legs. If I know that I’m running longer than 60 minutes, I’m lubing up with vaseline and praying it lasts the run.

The heat and humidity of the past few weeks hasn’t helped. Within a few miles, my running shorts have resembled a swimsuit and my shoes squish w/ pools of sweat. These are the days where I know I’ll be walking bull-legged for the rest of afternoon trying to avoid any unnecessary friction for my thighs.

I thought that chafing was just something that I’d have to deal with – an unfortunate, unavoidable side-effect of training in the summer. The best that I could hope for would be to minimize it.

Then Michelle told me about Body Glide. She used it last summer while training for the MS 50-mile Walkathon.  She had actually given me the rest of her container, but somehow it got lost.  I was able to find some at the Hyannis EMS on Saturday and busted it out before our 2-hour Sunday run.  I’m not sure of the proper application technique, but since it’s shaped like deodorant I just rubbed it on my legs – specifically the back of my left thigh which has been the hardest hit area recently.

When applying vaseline I was always left w/ gobs on my fingers and a greasy feeling on my legs – it would stick to the inside of my shorts and bother me for the first 10 minutes of my run .. really, it’s a nuisance. With Body Glide, I couldn’t even tell it was on – I was concerned that I didn’t apply enough.

While running, I couldn’t tell if it was working or not.  Generally, I start to notice any chafing towards the end of a run.  I really notice it after when I’m in the shower and the hot water and soap hit my legs.

With some apprehension, I stepped into our outdoor shower (one of our best home improvements).  My legs looked OK, but I’ve been fooled before with chafing.  The water hit.  I was poised and ready to flinch, but there was none of the usual stinging pain.  OK, I thought, it’ll come w/ the soap.  I lathered up, washed my shoulders, chest and arms – the soap rinsed down over my legs.  I tensed again – ready for the sting.  Still nothing.  OK, it’ll come when I actually wash my legs.  I gingerly washed my legs and not once did I feel the usual chafing sting.

Even looking @ my legs was different – gone was the  familiar angry redness.  Instead, my legs were a light pink color, w/ one or two small scratches – not bad for 14 miles.

Body Glide has definitely earned a spot as a running requirement.

Body Glide

… Damn!  this really sounds like an infomercial.  I don’t mean for it to sound that way, but I am so happy to be able to walk w/out chafed legs I thought I should share.

Monday morning – an official day off from training ….

I used to subscribe to the philosophy that improvement comes from constant training.  Over the past few months, I’ve radically changed that way of thinking.  I now understand that improvement comes from variety – including days of rest.

When I first started running, all my runs were training runs – only the distance varied.  I had a 3-mile, 5-mile and 7-mile route.  I’d run these with equal (or as close to equal as possible) intensity.   If I was tired, I’d run the 3-mile loop.  On Saturdays (always Saturdays) I’d run the 7-mile loop.  If I didn’t have a good run, it wasn’t due to overtraining, it was because I was weak and needed to work harder.  I know better now (@ least I’m starting to .. this is a work in progress).

Today is my day off from running.  In the past, a day off would have induced something close to withdrawal symptoms – shakes, excess engergy, irritability … seriously – I’d be a huge pain in the ass.  However, at this moment, I couldn’t be more relaxed.  I’m developing my workouts for the rest of the week.  I have my bike next to me and I’m figuring out a way to work it into a Thursday or Friday workout.  I’m enjoying today for what it is – a chance to recover, reflect and prepare for the days ahead.

Mentally and physically, accepting a day of rest into my training has been my biggest improvement.

This might be the week that I look back on and say, “What the hell was I thinking?”

Or, it could just as easily be “Thank god I listened to Paul.”

Either way – this was the week that I decided to modify my training program for the marathon. I don’t know if I’d advise anyone else to do this, but there were some things that I didn’t feel were working for me – specifically, too much speed work. I’m too big and too slow for a lot of speedwork. One day/week is enough for me. These huge, slow-twitch muscles need long slow runs.  I found the speed work was exhausting me.  It was leaving my leg muscles drained and weary.

I don’t have all the particulars worked out yet, but the training will look something like this:

  • Monday: rest
  • Tuesday: 60-90 minutes
  • Wednesday: speed work or hill repeats
  • Thursday: rest (maybe 20-30 minutes of crosstraining)
  • Friday: 60-90 minutes
  • Saturday: 45-60 minutes easy
  • Sunday: long run (2-3+ hours)

This plan should give me between 40 and 55 miles of training each week.

I’ll play with the pace on Tuesday and Friday – probably mixing in some marathon and 10K paces. Saturday will be @ > marathon pace. Wednesday will be @ 5K pace. The long run on Sunday willl be @ whatever I feel is right, but no faster than marathon pace.

At this point, I define my paces as:

  • 5K: 7:15
  • 10K:   8:00
  • 1/2 Marathon: 8:20
  • Marathon: 8:40

The 1/2 marathon and marathon paces might be wishful thinking, but it looks good on paper so I’m sticking with it.

Rest day tomorrow .. wooo-hoooo!

I took Coach Paul’s advice this morning – I ran slow.  I drank water.  I didn’t push too hard, but I still put forth a solid effort.

In the end, after two hours of running, I felt like I could keep going.  That is exactly what I was hoping for.

There was plenty of opportunity to go faster.  Keith was running @ least 30 seconds ahead of me all morning.  However, I wasn’t even tempted to catch him.  I wanted to run @ a pace that was comfortable.  I knew where we were going, and I knew that the last time we were on this route I totally bonked on the last two hills.

One of the benefits of the Service Rd is the mile markers.  I’m not sure how accurate they are, but I was hitting the marks in the 8:45 – 8:55 range. I know that it was this consistency that carried me through the last 25 minutes of the run.    I could have easily picked up the pace during the second half, but was happy doing what I was doing.  I thought about the struggles that I’ve had recently; the struggle that I had on the Service Rd last time.  I also reminded myself of Coach Paul’s advice – go slow .. be consistent.  It was this advice that carried me through today, and I think it will carry me through on October 29.

I know there will be days like this.  I’ve had them before, and no doubt, over the next 14 weeks, I’ll have them again.  I just hope and pray that October 29 isn’t like this morning.

30 seconds into my morning run I knew that it was a waste of time.   My legs were tired.  My breath was shallow.  My head kept on telling me to turn around and go home.

I thought that I’d plod on for another 15 minutes and see how I felt then.  Generally, 15-20 minutes is my warmup time.  I don’t even need to look @ my watch to know how long I’ve been running.  Something magically happens after 15 minutes.  My pace quickens. My breath slows down. My arms are in sync.  My legs feel weightless. Those are the moments that get me out of bed and onto the road.

Today was not one of the days.  The air is still heavy on the Cape.   I didn’t drink enough water yesterday and I’m struggling with revamping my training plan (more on that in a later post).  After 20 minutes I stopped to walk.  I walked 5 minutes in the same direction that I had been running (away from the house).  By the time I got to Old Post Rd (about 2.5 miles from home) I knew that I didn’t have it today.  I turned around and walked another mile before slowlyy jogging the rest of the way home.

Tomorrow is another day.

The first two weeks of my training called for Tuesday mile repeats.

I went to bed last night at 10:30 anticipating a drive to the track this morning for “the usual.”  I warned Michelle that I wouldn’t be home when she woke up, but should be back around 7:30.

While sitting down with my first cup of coffee, I glanced @ my printed training plan – today’s workout is actually:

  • 15 minute warmup
  • 4 strides
  • 8-10 miles
  • 15 minute cooldown

I don’t know which is better – 4 1-mile repeats, or a 10-mile jog.

Fortunately, I unknowingly prepared for a long run by eating my own weight in food last night @ Ardeo in Hyannis.  I can actually see the garlic fumes in the air around my head.

If anyone in the Willowbend area of Cotuit/Mashpee happens to be reading this – I’m sorry for the stench I plan to leave through your neighborhood.

My legs feel fantastic right now! This was my third Sunday morning ice bath and my legs have felt great all day.

I’ve written about my first experience with ice baths. I’ve reached a point where the bath is one of the highlights of my running schedule. I’ve only been taking them after my longer Sunday runs, but I’m considering them for my tougher mid-week workouts, too.

Monday Morning Update: The legs feel great this morning, too. If I didn’t have the extra consulting work to finish up this morning, I probably would have gone out for a short run.

So, is it good news when your running coach looks @ the race results and asks your friends, “What the heck happened to David on Saturday?” (he’s one of the few people who can get away w/ calling me David.)

This morning, Keith and Rick reported that Coach Paul was surprised by my time in Saturday’s race. His comments were something along the line of “the guy has been running 7s next to me for the past 6 weeks .. what happened to him?”

Now that I’ve had a full week to think about it, I can point to four reasons for my performance:

  • I had done speed work on Tuesday AND Wednesday that week. My legs were just tired – no turnover
  • I didn’t have any time to run a warmup
  • I hadn’t run a race in 8 months
  • I wasn’t mentally prepared

Now, I feel like I have extra incentive to do better in my next races (I have @ least three more before the marathon.). Between Coach Paul watching out for me, and my own internal motivation, I will definitely work harder and do better in the coming weeks.

I believe this qualifies as the fastest two weeks ever.  I can’t believe that two weeks of training is already in the bank.  14 weeks to go.
Keith,  Rick and I ran 11 this morning through the ever-present humid air.  Poor Rick – he’s still having leg problems and pulled up after 5.5 miles.  He walk/jogged back to the cars while Keith and I continued our run through Cotuit.

Physically, I felt great the entire run.  We covered the first 5.5 in under 8:00 pace (a possible reason for Rick’s leg troubles).  For the entire run, we were a little over 8:00/miles.

I think I made some wise decisions this week.  I skipped the Wednesday night track workout.  Instead, I did my own speed work on Tuesday morning (mile repeats @ 7:30).  On Thursday, a day I would usually take off, I ran 11 miles @ different paces trying to get a better feel for what the paces felt like.  My warmup was 9:00 pace.   I did 2 miles @ 8:30; 3 miles @ 8:00 and 2 more miles @ 8:40.  The cooldown was back to 9:00.  Overall, the 8:30 felt most natural for a long distance.  the 8:00 felt too fast, and the 9:00 too slow.  I plan to continue playing with different paces over the next few weeks.

It’s 7pm on a Saturday.  I’m not doing anything strenuous, but yet I feel the beads of sweat on the back of my neck.  Michelle’s sitting on the couch.   Her hair has to be 4 inches high in all directions.  She didn’t appreciate it when I called her Sideshow Bob.  I’ve made a mental note to buy her a big hat for her next birthday for days like this.

We’ve been living through tropical weather conditions for the past week, and I’ve had enough.

This summer has been one of the rainiest for the Cape.   The humidity the past week has averaged about 80%.  Running in this weather feels like I’m breathing through a wool blanket.

I’ve lost pounds of water on my runs this week.   On Thursday’s workout, I sweat out over 3 pounds.  I lost another two this morning.

I keep telling myself that this training will carry me through the marathon in October, but for now, I struggle with the weather and remind myself that better days are ahead.