Adam Culp Endurance Training Marathon Training Running sports nutrition sports psychology training ultra running

Clarity From Training Lunacy

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to tell a “runner” from a “normal every day” person?  I mean, sure you can look at someone and tell they are not a couch potatoes.  But unless a person is a workout fanatic who makes you sick to your stomach they look so good stands out in a crowd, how can you really tell if he/she is a runner?  I came to this realization after my son painfully pointed out that people walking down the street would not know I am a runner.  I guess I do not stand out in a crowd, unless my shiny head forces bystanders to reach for their sunglasses.  Leave it to the honesty of children (and wives) to really make you feel good about yourself.  Sheez! (Picture below is NOT me.  I make it look much better.)

I am only 5 weeks away from running my first 100 mile ultra, which means I am running mega miles each week. (70+)  A little crazy I know, but aside from the many hours spent running it is not bad at all.  In fact I can say I have more energy than at any other time in my life, I experience less muscle soreness than when I was running 30 or less miles, and my appetite seems much more leveled out and predictable.  Another things I notice is how I do not feel as clumsy or fragile as I once did when I was running in 40 mile range.  I remember evenings at judo practice feeling like a piece of crystal on a table about to be turned over.  I would opt out of certain activities during practice because I simply did not have the reflex to prevent myself from being hurt from feeling stiff and brittle.

So, why the change?  I am not sure, but I like it.  My heart rate while running an 8:30 pace is a solid 146 (8:00 is at 152 and 7:30 is at 156), I don’t feel the need to take a nap due to fatigue, and I feel pretty agile with less pains and stiffness.  Oh, and one other thing, I seem to be more clear minded.  Not sure if it is true or not, but it seems to be the case.  My memory is a little better, as well as my ability to process thoughts and ideas seem to be faster and less prone to errors.  All in all my body seems to like the 70 to 80 range of miles each week.

When I created my current running schedule 17 weeks ago I remember showing a friend and both of us said it was very aggressive, and was a lot of miles.  While in fact it turned out to be fairly easy despite the normal fatigue I feel on the Saturday and Sunday back to back long runs.

I will post more later, after I can be more sure of the results, but felt that I should post this while things were going well…for history sake.

Adam Culp Endurance Training Marathon Training Running sports psychology training ultra running

Taper mental games begin!

I am 2 weeks away from my next marathon, the 2010 Space Coast Marathon, which means I am in the second week of my taper.  For me, this is when the mind games begin prior to a race.  Did I build enough prior to the taper? Should I really taper 3 weeks, or is 2 sufficient? I have a bunch of energy, how fast should I run during the taper? Should I do a little more speed work this close to the race? What should my pace be for this race? And the questions continue to add up every minute…

So, all of these questions and a little doubt really start to wear us down and try to destroy our upcoming race.  Stress builds by the day, we are super hungry even though we are not burning as many calories, and we start to second guess decisions we made prior to the taper.  What I really need to do is RELAX!!!

OK, now that I have a little more of a grip it is time to put my thoughts into this blog post before they change.  Yes, they will change.  However, I will need to return to this post and read it just to get myself right and return to sanity, or at least less hysterics.

First, we must not let our current “taper madness” cause us to change our plans.  Whatever pace we planned on running prior to the taper is what we should do. Yes, we trained well and stuck to the schedule all the way down to the full 3 week taper which is proven to work.  No, extra speed work at this point is pointless.

Second, stick to the plan.

Third, remember to follow the second point and STICK TO THE PLAN!

Now that I have that out of the way, I am feeling much better. In the second week of my taper I am feeling strong, running like a champ, and looking forward to my first race since the February 50 mile Iron Horse.  It feels so strange to be running 37 miles in the 2nd week of taper, but to put it into perspective I did reach a peak of 63 miles in the week prior to starting the taper.

My goal loosely is to run a 3:30 marathon.  Am I sure I can run that fast for a marathon?  No! But I am going to give it my best.  Ultimately I believe I am physically ready to do it, but it will be a great mental battle to push into uncharted territory for me.  I am so ready!

Anyone else out there running the Space Coast Marathon this year?

Adam Culp sports psychology training

My mind and the storm past


As many of you know I truly enjoy the mental games of training, as well as race day.  I love to analyze things, and the minds reaction to stimulation of any type is particularly entertaining/interesting.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do NOT enjoy stress and politics that are the negative effects usually caused by other people, and are not the type of”mind games” I am talking about.  Here are some recent examples of what I dealt with these past two weeks.

Recently I went on a vacation with my family to the Grand Canyon.  Prior to leaving I was forced to change up my training schedule to accommodate the travel and also to spend as much time with my family as I could. (My wife said, “NO RUNNING while on vacation!”.)  This meant that I had to somehow fit as much running into less days as I could before leaving, while at the same time not getting injured from over doing it.  My mind really kicked into high gear and tried to turn the entire thing into a losing situation, and “just forget about training”.  I am the type of person that NEEDS my routines and schedules, or I simply go crazy and forget to do anything.  So, mentally, to deviate from my set training schedule is the same as death.  However, knowing this about myself allowed me to arm against it in advance.  I changed my schedule in advance rather than on-the-fly.  Therefore not allowing my mind to rebel.  SCORE!!!  It worked perfectly, and I still managed to fit 26 miles into 3 workouts in order to simply consider it a recovery week.  Genius!

While at the Grand Canyon I was not allowed to run.  However, that did not mean I could not hike a very…long…distance and consider it a side effect of the vacation. (smile)  It was excruciating to think I was going to be enjoying such a beautiful place, and NOT RUN!  For me running really helps embed the memories of places I  visit.  In the past I can clearly remember every place I have been if I run there.  (I am sure some scientist would have fun with figuring that out.)  I believe endorphins created by physical exertion help the brain retain much clearer memories, so there is more to this than just my “want” to run.  On this trip I was still able to accomplish my task without running.  I did this by adding 3 miles to the family 9 mile hike on Bright Angel trail.  My wife and son turned around at Indian Garden at 4.5 miles to return to the rim, and I continued another 1.5 miles to Plateau Point.  During the short 1.5 miles I pushed very hard, but did not run.  It was enough exertion to create amazingly clear memories of that stretch of trail.  I vividly remember stopping half way between Indian Garden and Plateau Point.  There was nodody close to me for a whole mile in each direction, and there was utter silence so stifling it was like being in a vacuum.  No cars, no planes, no voices, no wind, no NOTHING!  It was just me and the desert as I stood perfectly still and memorized each part of it.

Upon returning home from the trip I was faced with another partial week for training, jet lag, and time zone changes.  I WAS TIRED, though refreshed.  However, since this was half way through a training cycle for my next marathon I could not let my mind and body slow me down…much.  I still managed to cram 34 miles over 5 workouts while recovering.  Now these obstacles would have been enough to halt many people in their tracks and skip much of the training I did this week.  But there is more.  I was also informed, on my FIRST day back to work, that I no longer had a job.  Yes, my mind was truly in a turmoil and I just didn’t feel like training at all.  But in true “Adam” style I pushed through it and ran.  I ran to relieve the stress, I ran to plan the future, I ran to lessen the jet lag, and I ran to prevent the storm that was brewing deep inside.

That was last week.

This week I have a few very hot leads for new employment, the jet lag and time zone adjustment are gone, the break down is averted, and the future is brighter.

Now I analyze, and run, as life moves on.

Adam Culp Endurance Training Marathon Training Running sports psychology training

Stress and the workout


Have you ever noticed how stress relieving a great run can be? (Duh, of course, we all do.)  Lately I have really come to the realization, and appreciate, just how much I lean on running to purge my “stress tank”.  For those who know me I can hear your thinking.  “But Adam, you are such an optimist. You never give signs of stress, or that you think any coherent thoughts at all about office politics.”  Well my friends, I am sorry to disappoint but yes,  I too am affected by my surroundings. (Much to the dismay of those I confide in, or who tolerate my rants.)  However, with the therapeutic effects of running I am able to survive day after day with a stress level that would bring mere mortals to their knees screaming in frustration.

I realize we all have stresses, and each one of us has our own breaking point or threshold to maintain before we “go postal”.  While I am not so interested in the levels, because they are all different, I am really interested in “why?” physical exercise helps us maintain that breaking point easier.  For myself, it is like a “reset” button inside which at some point gets pressed and allows me to continue with my day.

Adam Culp podcast Running sports psychology training

Brain Science and the Runner


As many of you know I was asked to participate in an episode of Runners Round Table podcast on Tuesday, March 16th.   I am sorry for posting this so late, but this week has been very hectic and I had a choice of blogging or running…I chose to run. 🙂  My logic was that  without running I have nothing to talk about on the blog. 🙁

So as you may remember (now that you read a previous posts linked to in the first paragraph) I was to be part of the interview panel to ask questions of Ginger Campbell an emergency room doctor with a hobby/interest in brain science, and discuss the affects that physical exercise and playing has on the brain.  No, it was not about the psychology of running.  It was more about “If I run, will I be smarter, remember things, and learn things easier?”.

Here is the link to the Podcast!

I encourage all of you to check out the podcast and download the MP3, or listen to it on iTunes. (For reasons other than my own personal fame.)  The topic was very interesting, and I think we did a good job at keeping it at a high enough level that everyone can get something out of it and not be bored to tears with the actual science of it. (Yes, I myself also look at pictures prior to reading and determine if it is worthy of my time.)