Tag Archives: taekwondo

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Warrior Mode Update

This was supposed to be the first part of a series of updates on the my training for the Pistol 50k (31 miles) which I am running on January 2nd 2016 in memory of my late Taekwondo instructor/mentor James Rich. However, some how time marched on (and on and on) and so it is now a single training recap.

I had wanted to start training a little earlier than I did, but sometimes life gets away from you. Or rather, it confuses you as it runs away FROM you. (The older you get the faster it seems to move.) Then when you stop to look around, you say “[expletive of choice]! Where did the time go?” That was me. I had wanted to “officially” start training on August 1st in anticipation that I would be representing my District in the blockbuster hit: Flying Monkey Marathon X, May the Hills Be Ever in Your Favor. Each year, the race has a different “theme” and the one for 2015 race was based on The Hunger Games series.

2015 Flying Monkey Marathon

The premise is that I would treat the Flying Monkey Marathon on 11/22/2015 as a training run. Ideally, I would run ANOTHER marathon maybe as another training run in early December. The Rocket City Marathon on Dec 12th was a great candidate because it was relatively close (Huntsville, AL) and it is a flat course. So after the undulating hills of the Flying Monkey (Nashville, TN) it would be a nice scenario to attempt a Sub-4hr marathon. However, there was a failure to launch for Rocket City and the elusive Sub-4hr attempt would have to wait.

Congratulations, it’s a Monkey!

The Flying Monkey marathon is very popular for those runners who like hills that hurt you. For the past couple of years they have used a weighted lottery to choose who be running. Apparently there are enough crazy people who want to run that they have to limit the number. While the actual weighing of criteria is an ancient Chinese secret, it is possible that someone who has run the Monkey multiple times (I had run Flying Monkey 5 times previous) could not get a spot. Fortunately for me, the lottery went in my favor and I was going to The Monkey Games.

Pneumonia Road Bump

In mid August, I started to feel sick, but it never lasted more than a day or two and the symptoms changed. There was overwhelming fatigue one time, a super sore throat another, neither of which was accompanied with a fever. Without having a fever or chest congestion, I thought it might be allergies. In early September, almost 2 weeks since my initial symptoms, when I still felt bad with new symptoms, I decided that I would go see the doctor. Turns out, whatever “it” was decided it would turn into pneumonia.

I have had pneumonia multiple times, and there are certain warning signs that throw up Red Flags that I am on my way to getting (or already have) pneumonia. However, none of the ailments presented themselves like they were supposed to, so only because they wouldn’t go away did I seek counsel on what was going on.

As a result of my diagnosis, I went on antibiotics and took a 9 day hiatus from both running and Taekwondo. Training suspended.

Damn the 10% Rule, Full Speed Ahead

By the last few weeks of September, I was healthy again and ready to “restart” my training. At this time, I was already 6 weeks behind on my training for Flying Monkey, but I still had enough time for The Pistol. I decided that I need to take some big leaps in training to try to “catch up” or rather “not be too far behind” in my training.

There is a Rule of Thumb in running called “The 10% Rule”. It suggests that you should increase the length of your workouts (overall mileage, long runs, speed workouts, etc.) by 10% from week to week. The premise is that this progression helps the body transition to the rigors of the longer runs (or faster workouts) better without exposing one to injury. It is also one reason a marathon training program lasts 16+ weeks or more. Build the mileage up step by step, mile by mile.

With 8 weeks before the Flying Monkey and my longest run of my training a whopping 10 miles, I had to push the limit a little. Disclaimer: As a seasoned runner, I have a good feel for what I can and cannot do when it comes to running. This won’t work for everyone.

I started with a 13.5 mile long run at 8 weeks out. This was followed with a 13.3 mile run the following week. Then at 6 weeks out I made the big jump with a 23.4 mile run. Normal training program has a “Recovery Week” after a very long run, so my run at 5 weeks out was supposed to be around 16 miles, but I only ran 2 because I had some problems and I didn’t want to be that far from home.  So I took 5 weeks out as basically a Rest Week.

4 weeks out was a 18.6 mile run. However, the next weekend, which was Halloween, I was just too busy for a long run and recorded 0.0 miles for my long run. This trend continued and I didn’t have anymore long runs before race day. I was able to get a handful of 4-5 mile runs in during the week. Also, I was going to Taekwondo class multiple times a week, so it’s not like I was sedentary.

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Flying Monkey Marathon (Nashville, TN)

Monkey, Monkey, Monkey!

On November 22nd, I ran Flying Monkey in just under 5 hours. As I mentioned above, this was a training run, so I wasn’t trying to run for a certain time. I haven’t written the Race Report for Flying Monkey yet, but I’ll go more into details there.

The Flying Monkey was 6 weeks out (that Magical Week) from The Pistol. I didn’t come away from Flying Monkey unscathed and my chiropractor put me back on the right path the Monday after.  The next weekend I took as a Rest Week (5 weeks out). It was Thanksgiving and we were out of town. I almost decided to run a 10k but decided it would be better to rest than to race. Tough decision to make but never underestimate the power of a rest day.

It Beginning To Look Like Race Day

With it now being December, just 1 month left before Race Day, I took another Rest Week. Also at the beginning of December, I tested (and passed) for my Second Degree Black Belt and didn’t want to be distracted from what I needed I to do to earn it.

Me and Mr. Church at awards night with my brand new 2nd degree Black Belt
Me and Mr. Church at awards night with my brand new 2nd degree Black Belt

The next weekend, 3 weeks out – Dec 12 (when I had wanted to run another marathon), I ran 24.3 miles. I decided I would run from my house to Eddie’s Health Shoppe (about 8.3 miles away) where I would meet up with the Knoxville Marathon Training Group and run with them (6 miles) and then run home (around 10 miles based on the route). It ended up being kind of fun. I ran a little faster than normal going to the training group as I didn’t want to be late. Then ran closer to my 10k pace because I ran/talked with another running for 3 miles, but then was slower for the last half of the run.

Since the pattern of a 20+ mile run followed by a rest week seemed to work fairly well this training cycle, I decided that at the 2 week out point, I take another rest week.

So it is 1 week before the Pistol 50k. The rain that we have been having has moved on and I’ll get one more long run (about 12 miles or so) in before Race Day. I’m also going to try to get in 2 mid-week runs of about 4 miles. This helps with the nerves during Race Week when the looming race is only days away and the anxiety of the unknown envelopes me.

It’s time now to get into #WarriorMode !

The First Two Weeks

The first two weeks of the fall marathon training had a total mileage of zero. That’s right, there was no mileage because of a “tweeked” hamstring. August 1st is the day that I used for my mid November marathons. I have found that 14 weeks is the optimal training period for me. Anything longer than 14 weeks and I tend to get bored and stray from my plan. Anything less and I end up packing in too much speedwork and not enough long runs.

So, there I was, the last weekend in July. On Saturday I participated in a regional Taekwondo tournament, placing 1st in my pattern and 4th in my sparring. On Sunday, our church had a end of summer party for our MERGE program at Tata’s, a local gymnastics training place. I ran and climbed and jumped and swung on the ropes, dropping into the foam pit. All was just peachy and I went to play ultimate frisbee with some of the guys from church.

I’ve only played ultimate a couple of times, my frisbee throws has room for much (very much) improvement. However, I can run, and run and run… Sometimes even fast. And I can catch two, although my vertical jump is hampered by gravity.

After warming up and playing for about 20 minutes, on a rather mundane play, I started off toward a wide position. Nothing too fast, it wasn’t a quick turnover but whatever I did,my hamstring was not happy. I instantly felt a pain in my right hamstring and I knew in 0.759 seconds that I was done for the day. Thankfully, I could still walk on it but I limped off the field.

I immediately started first aid on it, compressing the sore area, light-light stretching, and even getting some ice on it. Thankfully, it was not tender to the touch and did not see any bruising. But now what was I to do? I was clearly injured but had to train.

At least the injury came early in the training. I wasn’t deep into training, so for me to miss runs, now was the time. I decided to play it day by day with Wednesday being the first day that I thought about running. When Wednesday came, it was a little better but not enough for me to try it out. All during the week, I had it wrapped, iced it when I got home from work and tried not to be too strenuous.

I used walking up stairs as a barometer of how it was healing. For at least 8 days, it ached walking up the stairs. Since I have a desk job, I used a tennis ball as a make shift roller that I used work the hamstring.

If my memory serves me correctly, I was contemplating trying to run on it that Tuesday, 8 days since the injury. However, the upcoming Friday was belt testing for Taekwondo and I still needed one more class. I used Rock Tape on my hamstring for the practice and again on testing itself. Not only did the testing go well, but the legs were fine afterwards. I did take the precaution of skipping running over the weekend.

My marathon training for the first two weeks summed to the grand total of 0 miles. In other words, my fall training was reduced to a 12 week training period, something I’d rather do when I had more of a base but what can you do?

TaeKwonDo Awards Ceremony

Today is the awards ceremony for last week’s belt testing at James Rich’s TaeKwonDo. (Facebook Page for JRTKD)

I have progressed to the rank of Orange Belt. This means that I now have sparring gear (i.e. pads) in the next step toward “free-sparing”. The first two belt’s (White and Yellow) sparring combinations are called “one-steps” and are choreographed movements simulating sparring by one person. My sparring combination for Orange Belt are still choreographed but they are more dynamic than the one-steps.

The Boys are now Senior Purple Belts. Their pattern that they have to perform will be exactly the same as before. However, they will need to show an improvement from in techniques for both their Pattern and Sparring for them to move onto to Blue Belt at the next test.

There’s going to be a tournament here in Knoxville and it looks like me and The Younger will be participating!

Sparing Gear

Tuesday was my first taekwondo practice as an Orange Belt (Belt #3), well technically I haven’t gone through Awards ceremony yet. I guess that would make me an Orange Belt Elect or something similar. I noticed that during warm-ups I was able to stay upright without much effort during the leg stretches.

My 30+ years of soccer and 12+ years of running have made my legs really strong and at the same time, very inflexible. So with taekwondo and all of it’s knee bending, running around and kicking in the air, I find that I could devastate someone’s shin. Anything higher than that is unpredictable. So when it comes the floor leg stretch where you spread your legs as wide as you can, I am almost to a 90 degree angle. The real progress that I have made is that when I have my legs stretched out, I am not having to fight my sciatic muscles wanting to pull my back smack on the floor. I can lean forward slightly now.


Today (6/6/12)… [Tangent] If I just add a few math symbols to today’s date, we can get “6 + 6 = 12” [/Tangent] is National Running Day and I ran 4 miles. Of course, I would have run 4 miles today even if it hadn’t been National Running Day.


I’m in the process of compiling talking points for the next episode of Gravity[at]1053′. I haven’t decided if I am going to do a run-record format or something else. From my history of podcasting, I have to make the editing process as easy as possible. So we will see, maybe the podcast can be more frequent then an annual event.