Ramping Up for Ragnar

Surprise! I’m not dead! It just gets hot around here in the Valley of the Sun during the summer months. So hot, in fact, that the sun has burned the hair away on the top of my head. Figured I should take a break before it gets through to my brains. I imagine they would resemble scrambled eggs at that point.

Fiery Running Man On A Black Background

When temps reach the 110 mark, some runners head indoors to treadmills (aka dreadmills). Others turn to swimming for cardio and the diehard outdoor enthusiasts become nocturnal, running in the wee hours of the morning or at twilight, like yours truly, when the goblins lurk. My eyes have become distinctly owl-like and my wife says I’m scaring the kids. Can’t be helped. There are a few crazies, even by runner standards, who brave the high temps at midday. I’ve seen them plodding along the patches of farmland on my way home from work. They leave a trail of sweat like snail slime and shrink with every step. As I drive by, I turn up the a/c and stereo and give them a wave. They give me a blank stare and trudge on, black birds circling overhead, and before I can turn the corner, they’ve shrunk to the size of a garden gnome. Carry on good people. You are stronger than I am.

But now that we’ve had some good monsoon storms mixed in with a haboob or two, it’s brought some breaks in the heat and we fair weather trotters venture back out, testing the air with a sniff.

This December I will turn 50 and plan to mark the occasion with a Ragnar Trail Run in November. I am really looking forward to it and have started running (I use the term loosely) a trail each weekend. Although I have hiked extensively in Arizona, it came as a surprise to me how much more difficult it is to run a trail as apposed to the streets. Different and more muscles are used to maintain stability and ensure I don’t slip off the edge of the trail and prick my tushy on a cactus as I tumble down to the wash below. [We don’t have water in the Valley of the Sun, but if we did, a wash is where it would be.] However, I love running outdoors. The scenery is beautiful and the wildlife is fascinating.

TB TrailSo, about ten days ago I started training for Ragnar. Run frequency was down to just a couple of days a week and my eating habits were bad too – particularly during the weeks when my wife and kids were away visiting her parents (shhhhh). I was afraid to step on the scale but knew I had to. The scale was scared too. Yikes! I had gained a lot of weight over the summer. I’m tall so people say it doesn’t show, but then I suck in my gut during waking hours. Now, I have been eating clean for a few weeks and have increased my run frequency to five nights a week. Down seven pounds already.

Monday evenings are for intervals and I like Coach Jenny’s Fat Blaster programs on PEAR for that. I always feel great afterwards. Wonder if I’m doing it wrong… Anyway, once my body has adjusted to the frequency, I will start adding distance.

I have been running for almost five years and, although I’m far from an expert, I do know that it takes time to rebuild the muscles and toughen up the tendons. Patience, Grasshopper. Otherwise, it’s a nice leg cramp in the middle of the night. Sometimes, I lay in bed for hours just staring at my legs, I know you’re waiting for me to go to sleep, but it’s not happening, no sir! Minutes later my poor wife gets torn out of a nice dream about men’s Olympic beach volleyball by a screaming maniac next to her.

Massaging my legs after each run makes a big difference, along with rolling a tennis ball underfoot. I need to break down and get a foam roller for my thighs and hammies. Been using one of the kids but they’re getting bigger now and don’t roll as smoothly. Plus, they’re noisy.

The other thing that happens each time I ramp up for the running season is that my legs get restless. Does that happen to any of you? I just can’t sit very long without a strong urge to get up and move. Watching the Olympics with my wife on the couch is like trying to hold a slippery flopping fish – Can’t contain it… gotta release the energy! And my wife says, “While you’re up…”

Next time, I’ll talk about the trails around here. I am so blessed to live in an area with great parks and a huge trail system. Happy trails, friends.




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