3 Steps To A Faster Mile

1) Build Speed From A Shorter Distance To A Longer Distance

I train a bit differently than most runners who are searching for their race form. For each Annual Event since 2008, I do the customary build up that most runners do in the months of preparation = a strong long distance base, intense tempo runs, and smart recovery within the week’s plan of action. However, when I begin my speed work, I start at 100 yards and then build to 1/8 mile, then 1/4 mile, then 1/2 mile.  Many runners tell me that they dive right into the 1/4 mile repeats, but I do not want to attempt a 1/4 mile unless my form and speed is definitely there. For example, here is my build up this season: 100 repeats (13-15 seconds), 1/8 mile repeats (30-32 seconds), 1/4 mile which I ran (1:05-1:10) today (Thursday) and Tuesday with only one day off in between workouts this week (similar to my race schedule in Greece), then next week begin the 1/2 mile (2:18-2:24). I feel there is no reason to lengthen my distance if I do not feel the proper speed in the shorter distance. I take my form in the 100 yard workout and stretch it out to the 1/2 mile. Speed first, then lengthen the distance.

2) Mentally Approach Your Workouts Like A Race

Over the years, many people have asked how did I do so well in my first race when I have not raced in 6 months. The answer is that I have been mentally racing over the last few months of my training. Especially in my speed workouts, I put my toe on the line as in a race, prepare the same way as a race, and feel the intensity as in a race. Sprint against others or against the clock – feels like I have been racing every week.

3) Do Not Underestimate the Dress Rehearsals

Leave nothing to chance that you can control. Dress rehearsals are important part to prepare your mind for the pain, test drive your equipment, and build real experiences for your confidence. Today in my 1/4 mile repeats I test drove my: New Balance 1400s, Maui Jim sunglasses, Sigvaris graduated compression sock, Faklis made orthotic, 2xU arm sleeves, race day watch, race day clothing, sunscreen, Vega All-In-One pre-race drink, shaved my head and body with my HeadBlade razor, and prepared my muscles with The Stick. Your confidence will not be fragile if built upon a great foundation of meaningful experiences. Repeat, rehearse, repeat, and rehearse. The mile race is an extension of your hours of preparation. Enjoy the process of being an athlete.

How A Runner Should Celebrate A Birthday

How should a runner celebrate a birthday? At top speed, of course…

Every birthday I make it a habit to run 10 x 100 yards at full speed. Not only is this a great way to check my running form, but also a wonderful opportunity to celebrate another year of movement. With my 2015 event soon approaching in July, April is usually the first month that I check my speed in this 100 yard workout.

I usually have runners join me in my sprints. Sometimes I race a high school track runner. Other times I chase a running friend. And other times I just sprint by myself with no technical devices as I listen to my breathing and feel my heart pumping. Sometimes I wonder if we are getting away from the sheer joy of running fast…it is satisfying enough on its own and one of the joys of life. Hope you can sprint on your next birthday. And welcome your next year on the planet with a smile on your face.

Faklis once again constructing O’Meara’s foundation for fast and injury-free racing

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Vasile Faklis of Faklis Orthopedic Services creates the foundation for my racing fast and injury-free. I met Vasile back in 2004 as I came limping up to his booth after a race suffering acute pain from plantar fasciitis. Since that race, I have not run a step without Vasile’s foot orthotics providing the support and comfort that I need to keep me away from injuries all these years. Whether it be Vasile’s artistry in a custom orthotic or his new off-the-shelf customizable foot orthotic, he mixes his years of experience with an exceptional product.
I could not have successfully accomplished all my crazy one-mile events over the years if it was not for Vasile’s assistance. Vasile takes the time with his customers ensuring that they have the proper orthotic, gait, and fit via his measurements and evaluations. I will be racing in the Aris Pro Orthotic in Greece this summer. It is an off-the-shelf orthotic that shapes to my foot as I wear them. The uniqueness of this off-the-shelf orthotic is that it can be modified and customized to your personal needs. So Vasile has taken my off-the-shelf orthotic and has modified it to fit my personal needs (all at a fraction of the cost compared to custom orthotics). Here is a photo of the bottom of my orthotic showing off Vasile’s modifications:
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Now you can get his orthotics, no matter where you are in the world at www.arisfit.com.  If you would rather call to make an order, all Aris orders can be taken by phone at either Faklis Orthopedic Services:  727-938-1525 or Aris: 855-888-2747.  Please feel free to contact Vasile directly by email at: Vasile@faklis.com.  Aris is running a promotion through May. If you purchase one pair of Aris Pro at regular price,  you receive one pair of Aris Elite at 1/2 price (modifications are extra).
Here’s hoping that with the help of Vasile and his new Aris products, you can reach your racing and health aspirations!

Does Hydrotherapy Really Work?

The first month of training is complete for the 2015 “Greek Islands Adventure” race series. It has been a wonderful month of workouts and preparations. One of the new recovery tools I will be trying this training season is hydrotherapy. I wanted one of the most powerful, 2-persons spa hot tubs on the market. This lead me to the purchase of a Vita Spa called Amour. I have soaked every night this past week. Foam rolled every night this week. And had my massage therapist, Lori, over tonight to see how my body is doing after two weeks of intense workouts. I want to see how my body recovers over my five months of training. Does the hydrotherapy help? Does it hurt? Does it not make a difference?

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Here is what hydrotherapy claims to assist with:

1)  Soothe overworked muscles.

2) Diminish stress and tension.

3) Remove aches and pains.

4) Warm inner core.

5) Provide therapeutic massage.

6) Stimulate blood flow and circulation.

I will keep you posted over the next couple of months to let you know if hydrotherapy actually works. As I have done in the past with graduated compression socks, visualization, or nutrition, I have arranged a personal laboratory to test out this experiment. If anyone of you have comments about hydrotherapy or want to share your personal experience with hydrotherapy, please write us back with your input.

The 2015 Greek Islands Adventure – training has begun

My big toe nails have grown back after I lost them on the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim run in September. A few months of overall strength training coupled with my base running workouts has me ready to begin my focused training for our 2015 speed event “The Greek Islands Adventure.” Starting July 1st on the island of Naxos I will challenge my 52 year-old body to break 5 minutes in 5 races on 5 different Greek islands within 15 days. I must travel by boat between each island as I cannot fly to the next island race. Recovery for this event must start on the water. We will fly into Athens at the end of June, take a ferry from Piraeus port to Naxos (race #1 July 1st), then to Amorgos (race #2 July 4th in the port of Katapolos),  on to the island of Ios (race #3 July 7th), Folegrandros (race #4 July 10th), and then finish on the beautiful island of Santorini (race #5 July 13th).

The day after the Super Bowl 49 (the game with best drama ever) was the date marked on my calendar to begin preparing my body for speed training. This past week was a 32 mile week spread out over a 6-day span with three days of mock speed training. My body tonight still feels very fresh and bouncy, so it was a great start to the 2015 training.

We have a new park in Sarasota that is just fantastic. It is called Benderson Park behind the new UTC Mall. It is the home site of the 2017 World Rowing Championships. Circling the outside of the 2000 meter rowing race site are paved roads and a majestic, crushed shell trail that is about 3.5 miles in length: https://www.scgov.net/parks/Pages/BendersonPark.aspx

This provides plenty of different running places for me to train properly for the Greek event. You will find me at Siesta Key and Lido beaches, Lakewood Ranch soccer fields, Ringling Bridge or the Celery Fields for hill training, and now the shell trail at  UTC is a welcome park just 5 miles from my house. On our 2008 tour, I remember local Eugene runners showing me the pristine wood chip trails at the University of Oregon. Being next to the ocean, it makes sense that in Florida we would create a nice shell trail to soften the route. The efforts by Benderson Park are truly appreciated by the athletes training at their site.

Whether it started indoors or outdoors, I hope you all have begun your 2015 training…here’s wishing you all the best in your 2015 aspirations.

 

 

 

How To Optimize Your Off-Season Workouts

I have really been enjoying my off-season workouts after spending the summer training in the mountains to prepare for the Grand Canyon this past September. Off-season training is a very important part of success on my various tours. Here are a few ideas to make the most of your off-season and get you ready for a fabulous 2015:

1) Have a very detailed and measured plan of attack. Off-season is the time to address areas of your training that need improvement. Whether it is a nagging, repetitive injury that will not go away or a perception that is holding you back, the time to work on your weaknesses is now. Your planning will create a purposeful off-season.

2) Establish a great foundation. Your off-season is the first building block to success in 2015. Be certain that your workouts reflect your needs for your upcoming competitions.

3) Hit the weights. The goal of your resistance training program is not hypertrophy. Your desire is to balance your body and to strengthen your ligaments and tendons in preparation for the tough workouts ahead.

4) Work on making your form the most efficient as possible. My 3 speed workouts per week begin in March, but I work on my sprint form every week in the off-season to compose my entire body for quickness and pop. I am not running with the high school track teams until the spring, but I concentrate on my sprint form during my “give and go” workouts on the beach.

5) Write down your 2015 aspirations. Once you put them in writing, you will begin to wrap your mind around your quest. Every year I begin by saying that I think my aspirations are too big to accomplish, but as the off-season progresses I begin to digest my goals and begin to visualize the process for a successful tour. I believe in the process. My state of mind will be totally locked and focused by the conclusion of the off-season.

Just got news that I’m a featured plant-based athlete in the brand new book Vegan Vitality by Karina Inkster. Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/Vegan-Vitality-Complete-Plant-Based-Lifestyle/dp/1629143642.

Wishing you the best with your off-season workouts and have a wonderful holiday season!

Running North Rim To South Rim At The Grand Canyon

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After months of training in the northeast mountains, it was time to fly from Tampa to Phoenix on September 11th. Loosened up on a couple of one hour runs in the dry heat of Phoenix, then traveled to Prescott to meet the rest of our party. Kim Sheffield and her nephew Maxwell Allen were running. My wife, Sekyen, and Kim’s husband, Mark, were the support team. It took us about 6 hours to drive to the picturesque North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This was my first time driving to the north side of the Grand Canyon. It is much more scenic than the entrance on the south side. We spent the night in cabins on the Grand Canyon Lodge. It was early to bed and early to rise as we slept around 930 and awoke at 4 to start our preparations. Oatmeal, walnuts, and a banana was all I needed for breakfast. A hot shower and a body rub with The Stick and then we all traveled about 1.5 miles to the entrance to the North Kaibab trailhead. We waited for the sun to lighten up the atmosphere in order for us to see our feet. We all formed a circle, held hands, and said a prayer to begin our day. We walked for a few minutes down the North Kaibab trail at 8,250 feet. Then we began our run passing by 7 hikers that started before us in the dark as we descended into the Canyon with the Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine all around us.

Kim and Max were “yahooing” down the Canyon trails hearing the echoes off the granite and sandstone walls. It was a wonderful start to the day. We ran past more hikers who stayed at Cottonwood Campground the night before. We ran through the man-made Supai Tunnel at about 6,800 feet, past Roaring Springs about 5 miles in, and through Cottonwood Campground at about 4,000 feet approximately 7 miles in to the run. After Ribbons Falls at 3,720 feet, we arrived at my highlight of the Grand Canyon run – “The Box.” The so-called “Box” is roughly a 4 mile stretch of trail that runs along Bright Angel Creek with 1,000 foot walls along your side. We were at times flying through this part of the trail as we took advantage of the shade and the stable footing. We completed the roughly first 15 miles in about 2 hours and 45 minutes arriving at Phantom Ranch at 2,480 feet. I smashed my left big toe on some rocks (and the front of my shoe due to the sharp 6,000 foot descent), but this part of the run was extremely enjoyable with the difficult part just ahead after we cross the Colorado River and work our way up the wall of the South Rim.

The last 7 miles is the challenge of the rim to rim run and we did not make it any easier by choosing the wrong trail to go up the South Rim. We chose the South Kaibab trail thinking we had enough fluids to run up, but we were wrong. The South Kaibab trail has no water supply, it is BYOW (bring your own water). It is also a very steep terrain which is not good for running. Only go down the South Kaibab trail (if starting on the South Rim) as the Bright Angel Trail is much better to climb. It has 3 water stops, some shade, and (although a bit longer than South Kaibab) a more conducive trail to run on with smoother switchbacks in order to ascend the 5,000 feet of elevation out of the Canyon.

At times on South Kaibab, it feels like your running is not faster than your hiking. So there was a mix of run/hike at this point. Then Kim felt sick from heat exhaustion with about 4 miles to go. With the slower pace, increased heat, and rising elevation, we were in trouble. She vomited and continued putting “one foot in front of the other” (in the words of encouragement from Max). Kim called it the “death march,” but she persevered and showed her incredible toughness. We ran out of liquids due to this portion of the run taking longer than expected. Thanks to the generous hikers coming down the Canyon and Mary, the wonderful ranger positioned at Cedar Ridge, we were able to receive more liquids. After another 3.5 hours for Max and me, and another 4.5 hours for Kim (as she hiked the last 1.5 miles with Mary), we completed the trek from the North Rim to the South Rim. With the problems on our ascent, it took us longer to complete the last 7 miles than the first 15 miles.

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The roughly 22 miles through the Canyon had majestic views and sites we will not soon forget. It is now time for a bit of recovery and after a summer of training and running at elevation, to return to sea level on the Sarasota beaches.

 

 

Advanced Motor Planning

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Back in Florida for a few days after training in the northeast mountains for the last 3 weeks. We began at Mount Katahdin, Maine’s tallest peak. Little did I know that I was in store for 9 hours of rock climbing and only 3 hours of hiking as we chose to cross Knife’s Edge (pictured above) – the most difficult route to the summit. We ascended the rocky Dudley trail to Pamola Peak. Then managed to get through the extremely hazardous maneuvers up and down Chimney Peak to Knife’s Edge (the name does say it all).

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I will never choose to go this route again, but my nephew (pictured in front of me), Braedon, from Arizona loved the rock climbing aspects of the hike. So it was well worth it to experience the journey with him and my older brother, Richard. Braedon who is scared of structural heights (as he will freak out on a 30 foot rock wall with a safety rope around him), but strangely not natural heights. He had to lend me a “helping hand” a couple of times to hoist me up in order to position my foot in the next vertical spot.

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I left the long day at Katahdin battered and bruised, but void of twists or sprains allowing me to meet Kim Sheffield in the Vermont mountains for our 20 mile training run. Kim assembled a nice small group of runners to ascend and descend Mount Tom and surrounding areas around Woodstock, Vt.

Then it was onto the White Mountains of New Hampshire to tackle the full Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains that Hurricane Arthur kept us from doing in July. We started at daybreak and hiked 9,000 feet of elevation as we went up and down 7 peaks: Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower, and Pierce. It was 21.5 miles in 14.5 hours as we finished with our head lamps guiding us through the darkness. I now can understand how this is more a summer solstice hike as we were chasing the sunlight.  It was a long, but beautiful day. My older brother, Richard, and his friend Steve (all over 50 years old) had a lot of laughs along the way and took in some amazing sights.

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During the hikes Richard and I were discussing the necessity of advanced motor planning for these challenging terrains. Motor planning is defined as “the ability of the brain to conceive, organize, and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar actions.” That is exactly what was required step after step (often on wet rocks). Individuals can be in the best endurance shape, but if they lack advanced motor planning, problems will occur with such arduous routes. That is why jumping rock to rock is as much a mental task as it is a physical one.

After these three weeks of hiking and running in the mountains, I feel ready for the Grand Canyon on September 15th. I will be traveling in the weeks leading up to the run at the Canyon, but will post a blog on my return from Arizona. Hope you all have a great end to your summer…

 

Training In The White Mountains

After running 13.1 miles on Siesta Key Beach at the end of June in 90 degree weather and high humidity. It was time to go north to the White Mountains to work my legs in a different way as I prepare for the long run across the Grand Canyon. My older brother, Dick, is an avid hiker and a member of the New England 4000-Footer Club which includes all 48 peaks in the White Mountains. He has asked me for years to do some long hikes with him, but with my past summers filled with one-mile speed races I could not partake in these journeys. However, this year is a different story. I am hiking The White Mountains in New Hampshire and Mount Katahdin in Maine and then running the 20 mile dress rehearsal through the mountains of Vermont. I thought this would be a great way to prepare for the rigors of The Grand Canyon. Steep ascensions and descents are a great way to strengthen parts of your legs that are often missed. Balancing on a rock or a dirt edge tests your ligaments and muscles around the joints of your lower extremities as you strengthen through vertical stabilization. Dick and I were planning to hike the Presidential Traverse which is over 20 miles, but Hurricane Arthur had other plans for us.

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When Dick awoke on Saturday morning, he came into my room to tell me about the change of plans. The back winds of Hurricane Arthur were still looming in the northeast United States. The winds on the top of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern US just over 6200 feet, were gusting over 100 mph. Now 100 mph pales in comparison to the world record in 1934 that Mount Washington once held for wind speed measured at 231 mph, but we could not chance the exposure that the high traverse entails hiking over Mount Adams, Mount Jefferson, and Mount Washington. Instead, we stuck to lower peaks and under tree levels. We hiked up to Mount Eisenhower, Mount Jackson, Mount Pierce, and the Webster Cliff trail. The views were tremendous but so was Hurricane Arthur (with 60 mph gusts on Eisenhower) as can be see in the video and photo on Webster Cliff later in the day. It was a great day of training with Dick as we covered 13 miles of wet, windy, and slippery trails.

Our plans were supposed to take us to Israel later this month, but with all that is happening there it is postponed to a future date. We look forward to the next training hikes and runs in August, but this time without any hurricanes. At www.OneMileRunner.com, we just migrated our blog site to Word Press. Please let us know what you think of the new format.

Preparations Begin for the Grand Canyon

This event in mid-September will be quite different than my mile jaunts. Not only is the distance much greater, but also the preparations are not the same. My usual three speed workouts a week will be reduced to one. I have never worn an “energy belt” to hold water and bars, but it will be a necessity on this long run. I picked up a New Balance energy belt along with the outdoor shoe I will be wearing as I chose the new NB Multi-Sport 99. The energy belt will be able to hold two 10oz. water bottles. It has a small pouch in the back for two energy bars and another small item. The New Balance Multi-Sport 99 is the perfect shoe for the Canyon trails with a 4mm drop, Vibram sole, and NL-1 last. I took my first run with the NB 99 today and loved it. I have tried the New Balance Leadville 1210, but it was a little too bulky for my narrow feet.

At www.OneMileRunner.com, I am also accustomed to have cars surrounding me as I run. One or two cars for protection and safety if the road is not closed and another for the video crew. In the Grand Canyon, we will be on our own and far away from civilization. We decided if anyone gets injured on the initial steep decline, then they will return to the South rim before our sag wagon departs on their 5 hour drive to meet us on the North rim. If everyone makes it without any injuries to Phantom Ranch (approximately 7 miles in to the South Kabib trail) then we will all stick together until we finish. We have studied the trail map and have marked the couple of water spots. We have also gone over the items we need to have on us for the trip.

Our 20 mile practice run will be in the mountains of Vermont on August 10th – approximately one month before the Grand Canyon run. I am also hiking the entire Presidential traverse in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (about 20 miles in one day) on July 4th weekend to also test out some of my new equipment. Should be an interesting summer of preparation before we return to Florida at the end of September. Then we change gears and turn the speed on for the Greek Island Adventure in June of 2015…hope everyone is beginning to enjoy the warmer temperatures for your runs.