Saturday, April 18, 2015

Boston is Monday!

  A couple days ago I got what I thought was a well thought out and in depth comment on the blog.  I as reading it on my phone and had no idea who the poster "Kemibe" was but I decided I would like to use it for my race preview blog as a jumping off point.  So when I got a chance I got on a real computer with plans of tracking down this poster to get his permission.  Then I saw it was Kevin Beck, who I know a bit, and is a fairly well known running writer and a 2:24 marathoner.  Kevin said is was ok if I used his post as a jumping off and I have offered him the ability to provide a rebuttal or extension to anything if he likes down the line.  I will put Kevin's comment in its full glory at the bottom of the article but I will basically be responding to it in the main body and will put Kevin's post in red and my response in blue.  To keep things simple.

I understand your need to "run defensively" while still aiming to take clear advantage of your undeniable fitness. But I wouldn't necessarily expect that you can count on your performance being only as good as the extent to which you are *assured* of falling apart. You may actually get to experience the *ordinary* pain of taking yourself to the functional aerobic-plus-fuel exhaustion limit -- and wouldn't that be nice for a change! 
I love this part of the comment.  It highlights a fine line I'm trying to walk in my mental preparation for Monday.  I have no intention of running defensively  BUT I am very much going in with a 'defensive' mind set of expecting problems.  This is for a few reasons.  One based on how my training has gone and how early in changing my form and returning to this long fast running I am I honestly expect that I will lose coordination at some point in the race.  Might not happen but the best guess I have is that it will be an issue at some point.  Two I believe it is very important to not go into races expecting perfection and ease.  It almost never happens that way and if you are anticipating it then you are much more likely to crumble or at least slow down in the face of adversity.  I am a very big fan of visualizing all sorts of possible problems that may arise and visualize myself overcoming them.  

You said explicitly that your body isn't the biomechanical mess it was just five months ago. And you will be more comfortable than you've been at any time in recent memory because you'll be tapered and rested. You may be able to count on a pleasant surprise from the ol' chassis.
I am certainly not the biomechanics mess I was five months ago but I am still a biomechanics mess.  If you don't believe me watch the workout section of this runners world video from last thursday, http://www.runnersworld.com/boston-marathon/schoolteacher-eyes-return-to-elite-at-boston-marathon ,  there is a point they show me working hard towards the end of my workout and my shoulders are all hunched up and my head is forward.  I'm a work in progress and I have come a very long way but I have a very long way to go still.  I have never viewed this race as an end.  This run is strictly a chance to see where I am.  I may indeed get the pleasant surprise from the 'ol chassis as you say and run  2:13 to 2:15 and be able to really fight in after Heartbreak.  However if I do it doesn't change my situation because I still need to get to where this form is MY form and I don't need to think about it and I don't have bad days.  

Hopefully you have all the bases covered in the usual ways and haven't let concern over your form going into the toilet overwhelm everything else.
  I'm well prepared.  The banged up foot prevented me from being incredibly well prepared.  I am super fit.  As fit or fitter than I was for the Olympic Trials in 2007.  Not as fit as I was for NYC in '08 or for my 5k PR but very very fit.  I would have liked two more specific workouts but I didn't need them.  Now to be honest much of the work needed to run a marathon is the work I needed to work on the coordination so this made not getting too wrapped up in the coordination a lot easier.  If I was prepping for 5k pb I would be screwed right now.

 I strongly doubt this is the case, as you strike me as more of a thinking man's marathoner than any fast guy I can recall reading about. But one more shell from the peanut gallery can't hurt.
I'm not sure if you are kissing my ass here or making fun of the rest of the Olympic Qualifiers out there but I'm good with it either way.

Maybe if you regard this as a stepping stone to sub-2:15 Nate (who was ready for faster than that in Nov. 2007 -- 1:42-flat-ish at 20 miles...well, you've done the math) (I have I think I would have gone around 2:13:40 if I hadn't lost coordination and don't forget that was a pretty hilly course) instead of the one real chance to get to that point en masse, it will help you. 
 I touched on this above but this is 100% how I feel about this.  I mean I have found a system that I can follow and stay healthy and I'm on the road to recovery with the coordination even if Monday is the worst day I have had since November and a total shit show the future looks bright and sunny.  My dreams of running two 2:10s a year for 15 straight years may have sailed but honestly I'm happy with my career as it stands today.  I finished top 10 at couple USA championships.  I qualified for USA indoors a couple times.  I qualified for a World Championships for goodness sake.  Don't forget I only ran 4:32/9:47 in high school and I was a walk on at a D2 school.  Do I have other goals I think could have been achieved or could still be achieved?  Of course. But if it never happens I can walk away knowing I did pretty damn well. 
  Point is my current goal is to see where I am.  If I have no need to PR or run the time I think I deserved along the way.  I would REALLY like to qualify for the trials, sub 2:18, but I'm not going to be too upset if it doesn't happen.  More than anything I want information.

You're far from old, even if you feel every one of those lifetime miles almost every day. I was feeling my age a bit before getting a good yoga routine going but now I feel like I did 10 years ago.  I'm starting to put half an eye on the master scene. Even a well-executed 2:18 to 2:20 would be a huge confidence boost -- if you do it the 1:06/1:14 way you've still done it but it'll smack of too much familiarity to be as useful to you as an "if only I'd gone out harder" mind-game. If I run 2:18 to 2:20 I'm going to be pretty happy regardless of if I go out in 1:06 or 1:10.  I agree I will feel better about it if it happens with a slower start and going longer without a problem but I'm just going to run the race as it unfolds and not go in with too rigid a plan.

Anyway, you have more than earned your fucking shot at being Nate again, and I will be proud as hell to be cheering you on with 3.2 miles and hopefully no more than about 16-17 minutes to go.
Kevin told me I should remove the fucking from the above bit but I like it so it stays.  I totally agree with that I have my chance to be me again.  I don't know if that will be Monday but if it is I'm ready to dig down and grab it.  If not I'm SO much fitter than I was a few months back because of the ability to do the long workouts again.  I know I can continue to get fitter in the coming months and that I will get many more shots at the marathon and that is so exciting to me.  My feeling is that I may or not rock one on Monday or this fall but even if the road ahead of me is long and winding road between me and a good marathon I'm cool with that.  Honestly if sometime in the next 5 years I nail a great one it is an awesome topper to a running career that frankly has exceeded what I honestly deserve if not quite accomplished the world domination I wanted.


This is Uta and I Running from the Runner's World article.

Kevin's original post without my interruptions.
I understand your need to "run defensively" while still aiming to take clear advantage of your undeniable fitness. But I wouldn't necessarily expect that you can count on your performance being only as good as the extent to which you are *assured* of falling apart. You may actually get to experience the *ordinary* pain of taking yourself to the functional aerobic-plus-fuel exhaustion limit -- and wouldn't that be nice for a change! 

You said explicitly that your body isn't the biomechanical mess it was just five months ago. And you will be more comfortable than you've been at any time in recent memory because you'll be tapered and rested. You may be able to count on a pleasant surprise from the ol' chassis.

Hopefully you have all the bases covered in the usual ways and haven't let concern over your form going into the toilet overwhelm everything else. I strongly doubt this is the case, as you strike me as more of a thinking man's marathoner than any fast guy I can recall reading about. But one more shell from the peanut gallery can't hurt.

Maybe if you regard this as a stepping stone to sub-2:15 Nate (who was ready for faster than that in Nov. 2007 -- 1:42-flat-ish at 20 miles...well, you've done the math) instead of the one real chance to get to that point en masse, it will help you. You're far from old, even if you feel every one of those lifetime miles almost every day. Even a well-executed 2:18 to 2:20 would be a huge confidence boost -- if you do it the 1:06/1:14 way you've still done it but it'll smack of too much familiarity to be as useful to you as an "if only I'd gone out harder" mind-game.

Anyway, you have more than earned your fucking shot at being Nate again, and I will be proud as hell to be cheering you on with 3.2 miles and hopefully no more than about 16-17 minutes to go.

13 comments:

Jono Aske said...

Nate, I've really enjoyed reading and following your comeback. And while your approach to your coordination issue has been interesting and creative I don't think its what you need.

Your focus has been all on upper body and shoulders. I think this is the wrong approach based upon my own personal experience. You said: "I still need to get to where this form is MY form and I don't need to think about it and I don't have bad days."

IMHO, this conscious control of your shoulders has done nothing but take your mind off your injury. This has ultimately created a placebo that makes you think your coordination is better-- and there may be some truth to that. However I can say very confidently that conscious control in any sport (as in thinking about it) never improves your form or technique whether it be your tennis serve, golf swing or running form.The body must work as a whole.

Your focus has been all about pulling your shoulders back. However, the body works as a whole and trying to deviate from its natural state is just going to feel awkward and uncomfortable I would guess.

Based upon what I saw in that short video clip you are a heel striker. And I know the heel striking vs. mid foot running debate is split like republicans and democrats on climate change. But I can tell you from personal experience, that running properly on your mid foot has done wonders for me. I don't get injured anymore. This coming from a guy who got debilitating ITBS from running 20 miles a week. And for a guy your size, I can't imagine the braking forces on your body pounding the pavement the way you do.

I'm often amazed at how many canadian/american 'thoners get away with heel striking and stay healthy. Guys like Meb, Coolsaet, Hall(maybe not as much as some), and many others. You are different because of your height and overall size. I think changing your form is a must because the braking forces will always be too much on your back and hips.

I would say that your best chance at maintaining a healthy running career is simply changing your strike from a heel strike to a midfoot strike. I say "simply" because I don't think changing your running form is hard at all. I don't care what people say about motor pattern programming. It doesn't have to be hard. This will correct your posture too. Naturally your body will be upright with a slight lean. There is no need to do this consciously, this will happen naturally. Many people say that you need to stand up tall, and drive with your hips and extend your knees and all this other B.S. Running is a reflexive motor pattern that shouldn't require any conscious thinking. All you need to do is run is run on your mid foot and let the reflexive body patterns of your body take over.

I feel like this will dramatically reduce the impact forces on your spine and should eradicate your coordination issues. I realize that this is not a viable option for the marathon in two days but I know you'll be planning another one soon if this one goes half well.

Last word of advice: I've already said it but this is the most important thing. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don't let people on the internet make you think that this is some novel way of running that requires lots of practice and technique. Jump up and down in one spot. You'll notice you use the middle of your foot. Now go run like that.

If I misread your form and you are indeed running mid foot (it can be hard when your going fast and shoes aren't built up at the back) then I am sorry for wasting your time. But I'm pretty confident based upon your overall body position you are a heel striker.

Cheers,

Best of luck on Monday.

Nate Jenkins said...

Jono- thanks but hate to burst your bubble. Already a mid-foot striker, spot in video is down hill and I was breaking in transition from effort to recovery. I'm not too susceptible to placebo on this. I have tried and believed a dozen different things that could fix it. I honestly didn't believe this one would, yet it did. I require results. The specifics. There is a herniated disc in my thoracic spine if I am not standing in what is for my body and yours a natural upright position the disc presses on the motor nerve. The form doesn't 'feel natural' to me right now because I have literally close to 100,000 miles of running with bad unnatural form. If I had run those miles on my hands that would seem natural at this point.
So thanks but sorry. I've been mid foot striking since my freshman year in high school when I noticed the guys who beat me regularly were not landing on their heels. Oh and even at that point changing my strides was NOT easy and it did NOT feel natural at all to run off my heels. Also Meb, Hall, Coolsaet are not heel strikers. You can view this video of Meb running if you think I'm crazy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jb53bSl_HYQ

danny said...

Nice reply to Jono. First he states that a person can't change their form (in any sport) through conscious control, and then he suggests changing foot strike is simple because motor pattern programming isn't that strong. An intelligent and thoughtful runner and fan but with a skewed understanding of logic! I guess we can't have everything, right?!?

On another note; your brief reply to Kevin's thoughts on whether to "run defensively" or not is interesting. I got nothing to add except it seems like a very interesting real-world sport psychology question!

Glenn said...

Count me in as one of the guys hoping you have a great day. Go Nate!

danny said...

" I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear,

is that moment when he has worked
his heart out in a good cause
and lies exhausted on the
field of battle- victorious."

Vince lombardi

Your power comes back to you now Nate. look up and run 'em down.

This is the danny you helped.

Dejan Petrović said...

Guys...what happened?

RunningwithUta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RunningwithUta said...

http://levelrenner.com/2015/04/21/hypothermia-cuts-jenkins-day-short/

mike said...

Hey Nate,I would love to help you cause my old resume includes guiding a few characters to prs. Your physical and mental energy combined is tops in the world but you have little understanding of how the children you love to teach feast on it and including me. You love answering questions. Ever thought about laying low and conserving your mental energy and releasing it physically. Are you scared and ashamed to quit your job? Do you have an understanding that if you live cheap Melissa's job could carry the load until you achieved your sub 2:12. Wouldn't it be nice to take a nap between runs and get that natural growth hormone goin? You are sub 2:12 and I have a million more things that I would love to tell you but I am pissed off. Why? Because Nate Jenkins is a great man.

RunningwithUta said...

Working, not working, has little to do with Nate's result on Monday. It was a brutal winter to train in, the roads were bad all day long for many days, weeks, in a row. We have access to a fantastic gym but Nate knows there are issues with doing most of your work on the treadmill. So he ran outside on slippery roads, roads that were slippery at 5am, noon, 3pm, etc. This led to a foot injury that caused him to be unable to continue specific marathon workouts. By the time the foot healed it was time to taper (and he received lots of treatment on the foot, not just from me but from other professionals). Meantime he's still working on his form/keeping his shoulders back. If anyone has truly read his blog and listened to what he has said then they would know that Nate knew there was a distinct possibility that everything might go to hell. We were hoping for better results but knew this could potentially happen. The fantastic news? No coordination problems!!!!!! If you know anything about Nate you know that this is the absolute greatest victory of the day. His next marathon will be great.

mike said...

Never meant to offend anyone. Respect your opinion. You and Nate are really nice people!!

Dejan Petrović said...

tnx Uta
that was the point behind my question. First victory was that he made healthy to the start line and the 2nd victory is that he made it to the finish line healthy.
Coordination issues are only thing I was interested in...
And now, he can train :)
tnx for the update!

Nate Jenkins said...

Mike- Don't worry about it. It is a legit question. I posted a response on the end of the Boston Blog. thanks!
-nate