Monday, July 31, 2006

Progress Report and thoughts


I've been gearing up for my first hill workout on Tuesday as scheduled on the Katy Fit Red Group schedule. I've been a little aprehensive about this, being for all intents and purposes a total noobie!!! I've always been advised as well as advised others that hill workouts should be reserved for runners with a good base of miles and who have been running for some months (6-12). The apprehension comes from the increased risk of injury from doing these workouts. But, I figure as long as Katy Fit tells me to do hills, I'm doing hills. It's on the schedule, right? The schedule I paid $100 to follow. I'm getting my money's worth and following the experts, right? Wrong!!! After posting on the discussion boards a call out to any Red's that want to get togehter to do hill running, I get a reply from our Red Group head coach that says,

"We don't recommend hills for the Red group -- unless you're a pretty experienced runner. You will notice that the "hills" will disappear from the Red schedule. Right now, running itself is something for people to explore and enjoy so it's a little early in the season to add hill work-outs for the Reds. For the inexperienced runner, there is too big a risk of injury to try hills at this point."

Well, thanks for the notice. I mean this is the day before the scheduled hill workout. And even more funny is that before our Red group long run on Saturday, Coach Sarah announced that we would be meeting at the Hwy 6 aqueduct on Tuesday to do hills if anyone wants to show up. This really pisses me off. So, I guess it's supposed to be an easy run (e on the schedule)? Who knows. I mean of course it's supposed to be an easy run. What about the tempo run on Thursday. Is that dangerous, too? IMHO, no. I think I need to spend at least a little time running above AT.

More on Katy Fit

I was checking out the discussion board over at Houston fit and came across this post from the Red Group:

"I signed up for this program to get fit and somehow convinced myself I could run a marathon. The site says "Whether you are a couch-potato, walker, casual jogger, or marathon veteran, this marathon training program is the most enjoyable, most inspiring, and most efficient way to get in the best shape of your life." After going two Saturdays I believe this. However, I fall into the couch potato group by definition and no group by color. The red lobsters run faster than I do, the walkers walk faster, and I'm more of a 1/5 than a 5/1. I was initially really disappointed but am trying to redirect my goal. My plan is to come out every Saturday morning and travel around that exciting 3 mile circle, hopefully getting better and pushing further. I can't even imagine running 10 to 13 miles with the red group in a short 4 to 6 weeks. My new goal for Houston Fit is to follow the minutes on the weekly plan, push myself by myself on Saturdays then listen with the group, and finish the 28 week program in much better shape than I am in today. Any suggestions would be appreciated."

Then, one of the responses:

"Oh my goodness....when I was reading your post, it sounded just like me. I am the slowest of the slow red lobsters. I joked that they know who will be bringing up the end. I wanted to quit. But you know what the coaches are so encouraging. I showed up to the Thursday run and although I was last, the coach (I can't remember her name, sorry) ran with me and encouraged me to finish. I did. This past Saturday was very scary to me because we were running 4 miles (more than I have even walked before not to mention running) and I had to do it. There I was starting out and already so far behind the red lobsters thinking "Okay, if I can't even keep up with the slow runners, what am I doing here?" But Coach Jane came back and stayed with me and I ran so slow that she could walk next to me. But she kept encouraging me and during the middle I had to walk a little more than the minute but I kept going and by the end I was running again. I made it to the end of the 4 miles to the cheering coaches. The coaches made me feel so great. I felt so excited that I accomplished 4 miles. You know what else, some of the runners that were ahead of me, ran too fast starting out that they fell behind also towards the end so I had company. Which was great because I got to meet a few new people. So keep coming to the Saturday runs because we can encourage each other. I will be the one in the very very back."

I can really relate to this poster. I thought going into Katy Fit that there would be some noobie slowbies in the group. You know, I'll never forget my Fall 2004 PIM coach and now good friend, Andrea Chan. I was the slowest runner in our group and I always was the last to finish. But Andrea ran each and every step with me. We talked about running and nutrition and weight loss. I learned so much about running from Andrea during those runs. She was so encouraging to me telling me that it was good to run at a slower pace and that I was doing good maintaining my pace and staying conversational. I may be wrong to expect the same from some of the Katy Fit coaches and really I am sympathetic that the group is large and they can't give everyone one-on-one attention. Still, I really feel like I'm not part of the group. Heck, the other Red group runners are more enthusiastic and cheer me on more than the coaches. Luckily, I'm not in a place right now where I need a lot of hand-holding and luckily, I have Coach Steeeve and the Striders as well as awesome encouragement from the HRB'ers and other bloggers. Still, if I were a coach for a marathon training program where I new there were new runners and first-timers, I'd make it a point to seek out those that are struggling and give them a little word. I'd definitely make sure I had the back of the pack covered. There are about a dozen or more runners in our group that finish our "group" runs alone. By the time I get in, all the coaches are over wtih the big group visiting with the faster runners. Again, I'm not whining and I'm a big boy. I just think each runner in the group should get just a little personal attention.


Saturday's 5-miler really brings into doubt whether I will be able to do what I have set out to do. I know that doubts are normal at this point in marathon training but I really need to be realistic. To finish Houston in 6 hours...I just don't know if it's possible. It kind of goes back to the whole Katy Fit coach thing. Steeve, Jamoosh, Andrea, Jon, somebody, it this even possible given the fact that I am so slow now? If it's possible, is it doubtful? If I do everything right training-wise, is it possible to do this. I don't need to know if you think I will do it. I just want to know if it's possible.

Belt buckle

Today, I went to the last hole on my belt. Another month and I'm going to have to get some new clothes.


Thanks so much Bill, Cassie, Christy, Doug, Bonnie, Sarah, Wunnin' Wabbit, Barbara, Jon, June, Lisa, Donna, Edwin, and everyone else, especially DW and the kids, for all the encouragement and comments. It's a great community and I really *heart* y'all.


Humble Runner said...

My Uncle Kevin lives in Conroe, so I convinced him into joining Woodlands FIT. We both aspire to run the full marathon in January. Kevin has been disappointed with the FIT program and I can’t help but feel responsible. Kevin "qualified" for the yellow group, but due to reoccurring injuries he decided to join the slower paced red group. He told me yesterday that he would like to talk to the Coach about his hamstring and calf pain. Kevin also told me he has showed up early and stayed late every session, but has yet to talk with the coach. Kevin says the people are great, but the student to coach ratio is extremely high. Plus the “fast” runners occupy the coaches’ time before and after the run. I was shocked to find out that with such a large number of runners he still runs alone with little or no guidance.

Maybe the local USA FIT groups have lost sight of their core values. If they want to be an intermediate or advanced running group that’s fine. I’ve looked over their site and it is common knowledge that they solicit new and non-runners rather aggressively. They can’t just talk about “coach potato to marathoner”, the proof is in the results. This leads me to wonder how many people drop the program for the reasons listed above.

I personally don’t have anything against the USA FIT groups, but I know what it is like to run without guidance. Been there, done that… it wasn’t fun.

Anonymous said...

Hey Vic,


o Training for a marathon is a marathon. You're going to have good days and tough days, you just have to suck it up and fight through the tough days.

o Training for Houston in July/August/September is a whole lot tougher than in October/November/December. Even though your mileage will continue to ramp up the summer weather is well more than the great unequalizer.

o Way too early to think about whether a 6 hour marathon is a realistic goal. Not a lot of data for your demographic - big guy pretty much starting from scratch after an injury but with a running/racing background. The race equivalent charts suggest a 1 mile race of 11 minutes and a 5k race of 39 minutes indicate 6 hour marathon potential. You've done that before, so that's a very good sign. You need to do longer races, however, before you have a high confidence indication of your marathon capability. That's still a couple of months away, so you need to hang tough until then.

We're all suffering right now in the heat. The only advantage the experienced marathoner has over you is that they KNOW they're going to feel great when the first cool snap hits, and you have to take it on faith.

Anonymous said...

Oops, forgot to sign. Bet you couldn't guess who the last post was from :-)


PS - That humble runner dude is pretty sage for a youngster, isn't he? He speaks the truth.

Barbara said...

There are plenty of places to be had with inclines that aren't as daunting.

We have some people in our red group who go to Spring Creek park in Tomball; there are some good hills there to practice on if that's not too far for you.

Most of our coaches seem to get there early (like an hour early it seems) before every long run. We also have assistant coaches along the routes and I distinctly remember last year we always had a coach bring up the end of the group, even though he was training for MCM himself.

Every Saturday there's one particular coach at the last 1/2 mile marker before the end, encouraging everyone in.

I think the various running groups vary around Houston; I hope the group provides what you need - it sounds frustrating at this point.

Anonymous said...

Slog through your miles during August. Steve has given you alot of the same information he gave me 2 years ago, which still is valid to you.

Put another way, now is not the time to wonder if the ditch you're digging is big enough. Just dig and stay tuned.


JustJunebug said...

well crap Vic, all that actually made me cry. that is just sad.

one of the reasons i didnt opt to go with a fit group. i have so many folks that i get inspiration and information from online and even in person now.

i have my training guide and its working. and it will for you too. just keep going. if i can do it SO CAN YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and yay on the belt buckle!!!!!!!!!!!!

TX Runner Girl said...

Hooray on the belt buckle! Kudos to you! I think Steeve covered everything, but I can say that I do agree that every fit-ter deserves a little one-on-one time with a coach!