Sunday evening I went for a walk. In the running world Zap Fitness coach Pete Rea's style falls on the eclectic side, and one of his slightly quirky training tidbits is prescribed Sunday evening walks following the morning long run for the week. They're meant to knock loose some of the inflammation in our legs.
The Zap campus sits at the bottom of a valley in the Appalachian Mountains. Blackberry Road dips down into our little hollow complete with a creek that rushes by and a mile section of dirt road that somehow never got paved. Just up the hill from the long Zap driveway the construction site of a new house is already daily bustling with activity as a new athlete lodging rises from its foundation. It replaces an old white house that just months ago was my home. The white house held a lot of Zap history but needed to be torn down.
Darkness falls earlier now and as I come upon the equipment and mounds of dirt left by the contractors, I try to find remnants of our old house. There isn't much. But on the edge of the site where a chain link fence was bent into a tangled mess by the bulldozer are a set of busted-up wicker chairs. And a dirt stained bed sheet. It was Cameron. He used to love getting people together around the fire in our backyard and projecting movies onto the sheet against the fence. That stuff sat out in the weather all summer long since the last showing. I'd look at it from my bedroom window and think, "I better bring those chairs in from the rain and get that sheet."
I imagine where the old house was, my room floating in the air and Cameron's below it, his cat Nala chasing birds around in the yard. Cameron died two months ago after being hit by a car while running in his hometown of Chatoanooga, TN. The magnitude of support from the local and running community is testament to how many people were influenced by his huge personality. His dreams were not abruptly and totally ended that day. They live on through us at Zap and everyone who takes on the challenges and strives to live the way Cameron did. Cameron is cheering us on now, and I can feel a certain determination and electricity in the Zap team as we approach the Olympic year (Thanks in no small part to the occasional Drake and house music we play in his honor while lifting).
|Cameron and I on the last night I saw him. Wouldn't have wanted|
it any other way.
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The Olympic Year focus has had a strong effect this fall and early winter. We've tweaked autumn training compared to the past two years, and it's already had good physical and psychological effects.
Friday is now #FastFriday. On Fridays we typically run 50-55 minutes in Moses Cone National Park before putting racing flats on and doing two to three kilometers worth of fast, uphill running. It's not a lot of volume, and I wouldn't label it a full workout, but economy on hills helps with proprioception and activation of prime mover muscles (ok, now I'm using language that only Pete Rea understands). This is nothing new - almost every serious runner does hills - but we've never made it this much of a focus this early in the buildup into the new year before.
Lifting. Core, stability, and plyometrics have been in my training plan since high school. The focus has gradually shifted from traditional core "abs" in college towards stability in the hips and pelvis at Zap. Now we've added real, actual lifting with real, actual bar and plates twice a week, doing weighted squats and weighted step ups onto a box. We save the core and stability for four other days during the week and take a break from the weight room on Sunday.
Diet. I've always had what the average American would call a healthy diet, but as a bigger runner, I have to pay a little more attention to what, how much, and when I eat. "The flame burns hot" mentality does not cut it for me. I eat often during the day and in small amounts, eating just enough to stave off hunger until the next small snack. Carbs generally go in early and protein more in the PM. I have a medium-sized snack 45 minutes to an hour before dinner to keep my eyes small. Tuna is my best friend. I'm not gluten free, but I tend to avoid it with some wiggle room. (Like if I go to my girlfriend's parent's house and we're having lasagna, I eat it.) Figuring out how to stay lean while training hard and not getting hurt sustainably has taken me years, and I'm continually testing new strategies and foods. What I have found for sure is a strong motivation to stick to the plan this fall.
The Manchester Road Race is tomorrow morning. It's my first race in over two months and the beginning of the road to the Olympic Trials in July. The course is 4.748 miles long and has a large hill in the second mile that will test what we've been working on a little bit. Can't wait to feel some burn and taste some bile. I'll be running for Cameron.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody. I think Black Friday started already too.