Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Recommended Reading for Runners - Technical Books

     I've been putting together a list of my favorite books on running.  My list contains about 38 or so that I have personally read, which I would also recommend. This list is technical in nature as opposed to a novel or biography.  This is not an all exhaustive list but these are great reading if you want to expand your knowledge of running. 
“The Science of Running” by Steve Magness
 “Ready to Run” by Dr. Kelly Starrett 
Running Form Drills” by Brian Martin
Running Technique” by Brian Martin 
“Pose Method of Running” by Dr. Nicholas Romanov
The Cardio Code” by Kenneth Jay 
“1:59 – The Sub-Two Hour Marathon Is Within Reach” by Philip Maffetone
“Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes” by John Vonhof

  I hope you enjoy! 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sharp Coaching is Live

    A dream I've had for a number of years, has finally come through.  I put my money where my mouth is and threw down.  Sharp Coaching has a presence on the web and is taking clients.  Back in January when I originally started this blog, my goal was to inspire and motivate others to achieve their goals in running through this blog and it's associated Facebook page.  I didn't do a very good job with my initial plan.  Life gets in the way and dedication takes a back seat. 
    My credentials as far as "certifications" don't exist at this time.  That's fair, open, and honest.  I'm working on checking those boxes.  I'll be honest and tell you, I'm not a standard corporate "cut out" or fit into a preconceived mold of standard expectations.  I'm John T. Sharp.  I've learned a lot of things about running the hard way, and I've had some great mentors who have been of immense value to me.  My race results are linked on the website.  I'm clearly a mid to back of packer. 
     I've put my feet on the pavement and have pushed my limits over the last 7 years.  I love running, self reflection, and working hard.  If you're a honest person, who wants to work hard, and has a good heart I'm here for you. Sharp Coaching for me is a hobby. I don't want to work with just anyone.  I don't have time for that with my own training.  But if you are a committed person who values personal change and is open for guidance, then you are my target audience. 
     Running has profoundly effected my self-esteem in a positive way, my compassion and empathy.  It's taken me around the world, literally.  If I can help running bring those achievements to you, then I'll consider that success. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Goal Setting and Backwards Planning

     Do you have goals?  Funny question right.  Of course you do.  Don't we all have some goal or another that we are trying to reach?  I wonder, how long have you had this "goal" you are working on?  One year, two years, or keep making the same "goal" year after year?  Yea I know about that too.  On my personal blog in 2011 and 2012 I posted these goals each year:  

Bench Press 3 wheels. That's 315lbs (this will be pretty easy)
Squat 4 wheels. That's 405lbs (just did 315 yesterday, this will be easy too)
Deadlift 5 wheels. That's 495 lbs. (just did 405 today, shouldn't be too bad)
Run a 5 minute mile. (This will be freakin hard)
Run a sub 6 pace 10K. (this will suck ass too)
Run a 3:10 marathon, i.e Boston Qualifier. Planning for San Antonio Marathon 13 Nov.
25 Pullups. (I can do about 15 now if I really try, maybe)
Get down to 170 - 175 lbs range in body weight. Thats 25 to 30 lbs down from now.
Drink no more that 6 beers a week. That will be down from like 30+ a week

     About the only goal on this list I've even come close to meeting, is none of them. What did I do wrong?  They are specific, measurable and I wrote them down.  I can tell you what I did wrong.  I didn't put in the work, everyday work.  At the grind, the four AM, the pain, and the sacrifice.  I didn't do any of those things, so of course I was not successful.  But look again and see what else is the problem.  To many goals and no plan to reach them other than a time frame (Jan - Nov).  Which one do I work on first? Where is the ordinal priority list? Which one 1st, 2nd, and 3rd most important, etc...  

     For every goal you set, you have to have a plan to be successful with each goal.  The more goals you lay out, the more individual plans you need to lay out.  Sometimes you get lucky and plans will run parallel and can be worked on concurrently, with the same effort.  Essentially killing two birds with one stone. But you have found I am sure, that some goals can not be worked on concurrently, maybe this goal is a requirement to meet goal two in a latter time period.  Even though it is still a goal, it's unreachable without first meeting the immediate goal. In this case, you are mixing short and long term goals.  Maybe you have not classified each goal into a short term 3 to 6 months with a long term 3 to 5 years, etc...  

      Goal setting/planning is a function of problem solving, so to speak.  Ever heard of the 5 problem solving steps?  Well it used to be called the 5 problem steps when I was in the Army, but now I guess they complicated the shit of out it and made this easy concept into 7 steps, which is totally unnecessary, but here they are:

1. Recognize And Define The Problem
2. Gather Facts And Make Assumptions
3. Define End States And Establish Criteria
4. Develop Possible Solutions
5. Analyze And Compare Possible Solutions
6. Select And Implement Solution
7. Analyze Solution For Effectiveness

 If you say, "GOAL" instead of "problem" then you can see this process works pretty good!  Now just need to put these goals on a time line!   Hence the "backwards planning" concept.  To cut through the bullshit, here is the skinny on "backwards planning".   Basically look forward into the future and figure out where you need to be based on your long term goal.  Let's say your long term goal is to run a marathon.  Using mental imagery, stand at the finish line of your goal marathon, and look back to where you are right now.  See that big gap?  How do you close that gap?  Well to run 26 miles, you probably need to be able to run 20 right?  What about 15 miles, wouldn't you need to be able to run 10?  And etc... to the place you are at right now which could be only 1 mile.  You look at the time available and make incremental goals leading up to your final goal of 26.2 miles.  Now, you'll stand at time zero, which is now and look at November.  11 months.  Okay well in 1 month, I want to run 2 miles, in 2 months 4 miles, etc... non stop. But wait, you'll need to be specific inside of each month.  In month 1, how much do I run each day to get to two miles?  

     You'll see from the above and I'm sure you've see from your experience it really is tough to meet any one goal, and it get tougher the more goals you try to achieve at once.  But don't be afraid.  Use the following techniques to help you: mental imagery, goal setting, backwards planning, problem solving, research, and good old fashion hard work.  Don't be so caught up in the planning that no work is getting done.  Do the work first! 

Motivational Note:
This note comes to us from my favorite intellectuals, Ludwig von Mises:

Man's striving after an improvement of the conditions of his existence impels him to action. Action requires planning and the decision which of various plans is the most advantageous.

 You must act, there is no way to get around this!  Do it! 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Phase II Workout Explanation

I wanted to provide some explanatory notes on this Phase II of the the workout minimum so that you'll understand the "why" and hopefully the how.

The Minimum:
Run 1 minute, walk 1 minute for 15 minutes.  25 pushups, 25 situps, 10 planks for 30 seconds, with a 30 second rest interval.  And finally, I'd like you to jump rope for 10 repetitions of 30 seconds each, barefoot. If you don't have a jump rope, just hope with both feet like you do.

This 1 minute walk, run 1 minute will help to teach you how to transition from walking to running and back to walking.  The Galloway Marathon Method mentions this, but also you may not be able to run for an extended period of time just yet.  This allows you to gradually build your running endurance.

These exercises help to strengthen your core.  A strong core is very important for running and will help to keep you from getting injured.  It's tedious and often gets overlooked, but do it!  Make it a habit and you'll reap benefits for years to come.  On the pushup, you'll want to focus on contracting your glutes and your abdominals while you are in the pushup position, the whole time.  Keep those areas contracted, like where you could bounce a quarter off your rear end. :)  While doing the situps, don't bend your knees.  Keep your legs out straight in front of you and flex your glutes and abdominals first, then sit up and touch your toes.  This will help to increase flexibility and additionally, by not bending your knees, you'll take the hip flexor out of play and put the focus on your abdominal muscles.  The hip flexor will get plenty of work running.

Barefoot Jumps:
This exercise is all about strengthening the muscles in your feet. No one ever starts out with this kind of stuff, everyone just goes and runs.  But if you've been wearing shoes and not running much, your feet are probably pretty weak.  So get yourself a jump rope or just pretend you are jumping rope and hop up and down, but pay attention to not use your toes to create the upward force.  Jump from the balls of the feet and land softly.  This exercise will begin to toughen up the feet, for when you need to start ramping up your mileage later in the year, plus it is kind of fun.  Vary the surface.  This can be done on carpet, grass, cement , rocks, etc... But listen to your body and don't get hurt!  One more thing, ensure that your knees and ankles are slightly bent the whole time and pay attetion to ensure that you squeeze your glutes.  Strong glutes are happy glutes!

Motivational Note:
Accept the runner you are right now.  Don't be discouraged because you are not at your ideal place.  You'll get there, but first your must accept where you are.  Then, on a daily basis, reaffirm your commitment and put the work in. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Book Reivew: A Cold Clear Day


     I recently finished reading A Cold Clear Day: The Athletic Biography of Buddy Edelen by Frank Murphy. Over the years I've bought and read quite a few running books. I find myself on Amazon looking for running books with interesting stories.  After you have read quite a few, "I overcame this great challenge through running" or a book that is really just one long race report, they do get kind of boring.  But, you should read a few of them anyway. 
     This book talks about the running career of Buddy Edelen starting in the early 1960's through 1965.  Back then as the book relates, American runners basically sucked and could not compete on the international stage in the marathon distance.  Buddy moved to England in 1960, to teach and train.  He started kicking everyone's tail and setting some American records.  In the 1964 US Olympic marathon trials he beat the second place runner by 3.5 miles.  Unfortunately he developed a problem with his sciatic nerve which cut his running career short. 
      What I really enjoyed about this book was it contained quite a bit of his training log.  You could see just how much training this guy actually did.  How many repeats on the track, how many miles a week, what pace.  Also, this guy was doing this kind of work load before the running shoe boom/marketing and also sports drinks, and various "energy" stuff that you'll see ads for in running magazines.  There are one or two pictures and you can get a good sense of the running form he had.  You can see a bit of the correspondence between him and his coach, back in the snail mail days. Additionally, it was well written and you can get through it pretty fast.
     I give this book a 4 of 5 stars.  It doesn't drag you down, it flows well, lots of good information to glean, and  it's a great historical perspective of what was going on in running in the early 1960's.  Give it a read or pick up another and let us know about it on the Facebook page. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

What Is It About Running ?

Really, Me: 

     The average non-runner person wonders, "WTH is that dude doing, running?"  You always hear, "Yea, I don't run unless someone is chasing me." Or, "I only run to the refrigerator, to get another beer."  I hear you, man!   I know I used to.  Then I thought, maybe it's fun?
     Everyone is a runner.  You may not realize that, but if you ever ran one step on the playground, to the mail box, or away from your older brother/sister then you are a runner.  Just because you haven't run since PE in high school, you don't get a "I'm not a runner" free pass.  That shit won't fly around here.  You are a runner, even if you don't actively run everyday or even once a month. The transition is not one of non-runner to runner. Think of it as changing your runner status from inactive to active!  Put yourself on the start list. 

Getting Started:

     Too easy.  Run!  Literally it's that easy.   Next time you go to the grocery store, park in the back of the parking lot.  When you're done shopping, run with that buggy to your car.  Maybe you just left the movies and it's cold out there, run to your car.  See, now you just updated your status to runner. 
     Don't get caught up in the bullshit excuses like, "Yea I wanta start running, but I gotta get some shoes."  Or the classic line, "I don't have time because (fill in the blank)."  You always got time to watch some TV right?  Or maybe to drink beer with ole Joe down the street.  When you are starting a new activity, there are always 500 questions you have about it.  Don't sit around and think about those questions, get on out there and jog around your block.  You can ask those questions then.  Everybody has some old shorts or shoes they mow the grass in. Put them ole green shoes on. And take 'em for a spin.


     Always the inevitable question, Why?  How come every one is focused on the why question and not the Why not? Yea, you read that right.  Why not?  Ask anyone, maybe your grannie who is old and is stuck in a wheelchair about what it means to lose your mobility.  Mobility is a gift. Embrace that gift.
     Maybe you have some young kids, running circles around you.  Maybe you've put on some weight and are not happy with your body.  Maybe you are an alcoholic.  Maybe your a drug user.  Maybe, whatever.  Who gives a shit?  Running don't care.  You can go for a run, and running don't care if you hate it.  Running don't care if you hate yourself.  Running is not judgmental.  It don't care about your problems, but it's an avenue to escape them, fix them, not fix them.  You get from running what you give.
     The best part is your fellow runner don't care to much about your self loathing for whatever you feel guilty about.  Are you running today or not?  That's what your fellow runner is typically concerned with.  You gonna run with me, or you going alone.  A shared activity that breaks down socioeconomic barriers.  It don't matter if your black, white, brown, fat, skinny, young, old, male, female or hermaphrodite.  Give it a shot.

Motivational Note:

The note from today comes from Bikram Choudhury.  Yea, that Bikram.  The dude that made hot yoga popular, but no damm eaisier:

"You're never too old, never too bad, never to late and never too sick to start from the scratch once again."

So go on out there and get started.  It's the hardest part, that getting started part!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Welcome To 13 And 1 For Fun

About The Page: 

     I wanted to jot a note to let y'all know a bit about this page.  One of my New Year resolutions for 2014 is to effect positive change in at least one person through running.  To that end I created the Get Off The Couch Half-Marathon Support Facebook page and have started this blog to provide a bit more interaction, stories, and training guidance geared to the novice and aspiring runner.  Yea, there are tons of blogs out there.  I follow quite a number of them via Facebook and my personal blog.  So why this one?  Because I felt like I wanted to have a voice in the running community, so here it is.  I also got tired of writing race reports on my own blog and wanted to help anyone out there who wants to run.  We'll do that through motivational messages, some smack talking, and general comradery. 

What You Can Expect:

     The blog is planned to run until the San Antonio Rock N Roll Half marathon in November 2014.  That's the goal race we'll be preparing for.  Starting with a person who has been physically inactive for some time, we'll work to get you from the couch to the half marathon.  Weekly training guidance posts, shoe, gear, training tips, running movie reviews, running products, links to various books and websites for additional information will all be posted here.  It's okay if you don't know the first darn thing about running a half marathon, you'll learn.  We'll schedule to meet at some 5K and 10K runs through the year, to test fitness.  Also monthly training run in the San Antonio area, followed by a cold beer or four.  You may be thinking, "Why a couch to half-marathon? Why not a couch to 5K?"  Because everybody does a couch to 5K, let's step up the challenge!!!!! 

About Me:

      My name is, my name is, Slim Shady. :)  Not really, It's John T. Sharp.  What qualifies me to opine on running?  Not much.  I'm not a certified running coach through any of the various running organizations such as RRCA, POSE, or USATF.  I didn't run track or cross-country in high school or college.  I did a bit of running in the US Army.  The daily unit level stuff.  I'm just your recreational runner. I started back in 2007 when I finished college.  I've done some races and you can see the results here: http://athlinks.com/athletes/36513274/Profile  It doesn't show the nine 100 mile races I've DNF (did not finish).  And from the results you can see I'm pretty much a middle of the pack type of guy.  So if you're looking for a pro trainer, go pay for one.  If you're looking for an accessible person to help you out and has some experience, then I'm your man.  Running is my primary passion.  I run a bunch, but it does wax and wane.  I read a lot of books about running and have been interested in diet, exercise, and weight lifting since about the age of twelve.  I'm based in the San Antonio, TX area in the United States.  I have two dogs but I never take them running. I train using all the various types of shoe, gear, and training methods. Versa Climber, Concept 2 Rower, Kettle Bells, free weights, weight vests, the road, the track, the trail.

Motivational Note:

My favorite old school runner is Emil Zatopek:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emil_Z%C3%A1topek

I saw this quote of his on the back of a T-Shirt on a plane in India when I was heading up to a race called La Ultra - The High: http://laultrathehigh.wordpress.com/ and it has stayed with me:

What has passed is already finished with. What I find more interesting is what is still to come.

So no matter what you have done, no matter where you have been, each day is a new day.  An opportunity to be who you want.  Running is a vehicle to get you there.