Back to Running
Author: Michael J. Schmidt
First Post: 9/17/2017
I ran a LOT in high school. In 1983 when I was 17, I set a minimum of 4 course records in the state of Pennsylvania and won all but one race of the regular season before choking (and getting blocked in by runners I had beat before) at the P.I.A.A. State Championships and getting 10th in the state of approximately 10 million at the time. (I thought my personal best 5K was a 15:19, and I missed that by quite a bit on that day....however, my "historian" in Pennsylvania sent me microfilm images that document me running 14:42 and 14:29 times, presumably on very flat courses, and I can't even recall these meets in 1983! Click on those images to zoom; the quality is deplorable and the image size is massive because making them internet friendly makes them unreadable. To put those times in perspective the 14:29 time would have put me in the top 5 in Canada in the 2017 Canadian 5K cross country championships.) Here is a scan of the state championships that year:
33 years later I am now trying this running thing again. Back in March of this year I quit smoking (heck, it was 1984 when I started and everyone smoked!) after 34 years and started training again. (On March 1st, my first day back getting in shape, I could not run around the block.) I hired a physical therapist, a dietitian, a trainer, a chiropractor and one of my CV customers, an orthopedic surgeon, to be my consultant. (I have early stage arthritis and have had lower back pain for quite some time.) Anyway, this past Sunday at the Terry Fox run I ran my first 5K since 1983 and ran a less than stellar 24 minutes (after about 6 months of training). My goal is to run a sub 18 minute 5K by this spring. I will update this post as my training progresses, or even if I break. :-)
Update 9/19: I took 3 days off after Terry Fox on Sunday to relax my back which was spasming a bit. However, today (Thursday) I felt great and knocked off 3.7K in a bit under 20 minutes.
Update 9/24: Since establishing contact with the current cross country coach in Camp Hill and working with a researcher in the library system I have been able to acquire more times and material related to my running in the 1980s. Here are a few more old scans out of dozens found so far:
The 15:59 (above) was on my home course in Camp Hill, and that was truly one of the hilliest courses in the state. It had something called root hill; two runners had died on it. The hill when straight up the side of a mountain and was truly brutal. They changed the course to a more user friendly course in the early 1990s as folks were becoming litigious. Another team photo (yes, I was allowed to have my arms at my sides after being told repeatedly not to; apparently, I could be rather cocky even in high school and I see Kent Takita, a friend, checking me out lol):
Update 9/27: I felt awful this morning and ended up going to the hospital ER this morning. Apparently, I had severely dehydrated myself while training and I thought I was going to pass out and/or have a heart attack. My pulse was going insanely fast and I panicked because I was alone at my place today. Anyway, they got me on an IV and gave me some pills to slow down the heart. My ECG and bloodwork were flawless and I was bluntly told by the physician that failure to stay properly hydrated while undergoing such a fitness program could have dire consequences. I shall heed that advice!
Update 9/29: My next research goal is to retrieve my high school and early university track times where I ran the 220 yard dash, the 1/4 mile, the 1/2 mile and the mile. I can't remember most of my exact times but I know I cracked 47 seconds for the 1/4 mile and 4:30 (maybe 4:25..) for the mile. But, like with cross country, there could be some surprises. Once I get this blog post completed I plan on reaching out to my running network (if they are findable and/or alive still) and have them comment here.
Update 11/25: I am continuing the arduous process of adhering to a meticulously crafted training program that now includes a most unorthodox breakfast for heart and lung health:
• Apple Cider Vinegar
• Cayenne Pepper
• Chia Seeds
• Coconut Water
• Cranberry Juice
• Fresh Rosemary
• Fresh Thyme
• Pumpkin Seeds
• Pure Lemon Juice
I mash the appropriate portions together one hour before my morning run. (It takes less time than frying up 6 slices of bacon, and making copious amounts of coffee to be added to sugar while smoking half a deck. However, the mixture, regrettably, is not as tasty as bacon.) My blood pressure readings have fallen precipitously from when I was a smoker. I now register a BP of 114/75 on average now. My next project for getting in shape includes losing 30 pounds (and this is on top of the very substantial weight loss that I have already accrued). I plan on shedding enough weight to get me down to sub-160 pounds by the end of January, in time for me to start hill training and as a precursor to speed work on the track with intervals.
Update 12/1: Today I ran my first 10K since 1983! Yes, my time was brutally off and I had hoped to break an hour. But it was my first 10K in 34 years! It was a beautiful day out so I ran to Meewasin Park and back. I was only trying to complete the course and I accomplished that goal. I now have 6 months exactly to get that time down to, hopefully, a sub-40 minute pace. So, I need to get from 68 minutes down to, say, 40 minutes in approximately 180 days. Today's 10K pace would have only put me in 588th place out of 889 in the 2017 Saskatoon Marathon (10K) so I definitely need 6 months of aggressive running and weight training.
Update 12/26: With frigid temperatures on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day, I determinedly persevered to complete my workouts. The training was arduous at best, considering that the temperature on both days dipped below -20C (and -30C with wind chill, mostly on the 25th). Yesterday, I completed a 10K in a bit above 1:04 and today I did a lazy 4k just to loosen up. I have never ran in these temperatures before and, actually, I found it to be quite enjoyable. With the proper amount and type of layering I stayed warm throughout the workouts. Although I have to find a way to protect my eyebrows, which froze, inexplicably. I am rapidly approaching the new year and have to acclimate myself to doing weekly 15K workouts before I start strength training (hills and weights) and speed training (intervals). I am only at 10-12K weekly maximum daily workouts so I have about another month to go before I can move onto the next level. I am also going hard core on a caloric reduction program between now and January 1st and aspire to shed 8 pounds in the next 7 days. I think this will be possible with zero beer or wine through the holidays, and restraining myself to merely water for liquid.
Update 1/1/2018: Despite feeling profoundly lethargic today, I mustered up the willpower to start the new year on the proper footing. I laced up, steeled my mind for a run in -27C wind chill conditions and embarked on the first workout of 2018. I glided into an easy pace and felt like succumbing to walking or popping into a lounge for a pint of ale. I, however, resisted and passed 5K and then 10K before, lo and behold, I topped 14.75K. I then proceeded to go into a lounge and celebrate with a pint, for that distance was a new record. Alas, the pints will have to cease in the coming months for me to meet weight goals, but that will be a subject of another update post. Today, I know more than ever that with the proper training I can reach some startling running times with perseverance and a touch of stubbornness. Yes, again, my time was ploddingly slow, but I am only working on base right now before starting training reps of 200 meter, 400 meter, 800 meter and 1K distances at the Field House. I see my doctor on Thursday and plan on setting up a referral with a cardiac specialist for an ECG stress test on a treadmill. Even though my BP is typically sub 120/80 I want to make sure my heart can manage rapid speed interval workouts. I am, after all, an ex-smoker of 34 years. However, I am rather enjoying training in the gelid weather.
Update 1/17/2018: My ECG treadmill test is now scheduled for February 6; I wanted to be proactive and have the test done before I start hard core interval speed training. Nevertheless, I was curious about my 1k time and that curiosity was not abating so I jogged to the river path and clocked a 5:10 kilometer. Not really good but passable. Bearing in mind that I don't plan on peaking for the season until late spring/summer I am amenable with that time. Post-ECG I will be starting twice weekly interval training sessions, starting with 200s before progressing to 400s, 600s and 800s. I will cap off those intervals with a weekly base run ranging from 15 to 20 k. Coupled with weight training and further weight loss I am quite confident I am going to be clocking some great times for a 52 year old this summer. Hopefully. :-) Sure would be nice to get down to a 3:30 for a kilometer. Will see how 20 weeks on a track improves my times!
Can't wait to start hitting the track!
Update 2/7/2018: I am mindful of the fact that I am abrogating work for a few minutes to post this. Yesterday, I passed my ECG stress test on a treadmill with flying colours. I maintained a sub-160 pulse rate running at a 14° inclination without any anomalies presenting. I am now cleared for phase two of my running program and that means I can start speed training now at the track to complement my base road effort(s). I am understandably skittish about hitting the track for the first time since 1983 but am restrained enough to know that I can't hit the track at 100% initially. I will have to swallow my pride and do the first few weeks of interval training at a really slow pace to stave off injury. Getting a hamstring injury would not be conducive to good times this spring or summer. I will have to reel in my ambitions and incrementally improve, always remembering and cognizant that I am no longer 17 years old. That being said, I am highly anticipatory of hitting the track and am fricking ecstatic!!!!!
Update 3/5/2018: Well, I had a setback for approximately 3 weeks with a pulled muscle in the lower back. I abstained from running for 3 weeks to heal and yesterday was my first day returning to running. I ran the Brainsport Brainfreeze and just barely was under 30 minutes for a 5K. Sigh. Out of 76 participants I got 10th place with a ridiculously slow time. I am a bit demoralized about this aging nonsense. lol. Obviously, I had the perspicacity to envision an injury; I just did not anticipate it lasting 3 weeks, and then post-run I could again feel the tenderness in the lower back. Nevertheless, I am obdurant and shall continue the training, recognizing that injuries in this sport are prosaic. A good friend of mine from my university fraternity is visiting to train with me in like 9 days. He is retired in Ecuador and is a triathlon runner so I hope to be patched up enough to train with him for the almost 2 weeks he is here in Canada. Although cleared to start interval training, I have not yet started that phase of my training. So, I am now about a month behind in my training program. I really shouldn't whine about 10th place out of 76 runners but I can't help it. lol.
Update 7/20/2018: Just a quick update. Training is continuing apace and I have made it now for many months without sustaining any type of an injury whatsoever. This is a minor miracle in and of itself. I am now training with a few groups of runners to improve my performance. One of my training groups is led by a master's runner who is rated in the top 10 in Canada for his distance. Certainly, this keeps me focused! I've been doing trail training on both sides of the river, interval training on indoor and outdoor tracks and am wholeheartedly engaged in weight training to rebuild lost muscle mass. I will certainly never reach my level of performance back in the early 1980's but am confident I can set some new PRs for the new millennium. Next time I post will be next summer around this time when I anticipate that I will be hitting my goal times.
Update 9/10/2018: Well, this is becoming tedious. :-) Was doing speed work and slightly injured my right quadricep and tensor fasciae latae and, while this has now fully recovered after a week of doing only 2k runs and lifting weights, I am temporarily putting my running on hold to focus exclusively on lifting weights, cycling and losing weight for a short while. I am redoubling my efforts but scaling back my speed work to focus on weight loss. The speed work and hitting distances of up to 21k now are putting too much stress on my musculoskeletal system. After a summer of intensive training and a lot of beer/food on patios, my weight again shot up to around 200 pounds. I need to radically decrease my weight to 130-140 if I truly want to be competitive again. (I suck right now and am only doing 28ish 5ks because I am hauling around an extra 60-70 pounds, equaling 2 full Culligan water bottles.)
|1983 and 130ish Pounds
|2016 (down a lot since then lol)
Ciao. Yup. Need to get back into race weight shape. :-) I am cranking out 28-minute 5ks while lugging around 2 Culligan water bottles (60-70 pounds) so should be able to get sub 20 JUST by finally losing the necessary weight. Also, I found more newspaper clippings from 1983 and here is one of them ("tore up"....lol)....
This is feeling an awful lot akin to work.
Update 9/24/2018: Well, my training continues and I might actually be finally seeing some performance improvements. Again, I ran the Terry Fox (an untimed race) and clocked myself at 25:21, However, my GPS had me running 2.7/2.8K for the course, so it wasn't even a 5k. Then, over this last weekend I ran the Saskatoon Police Race Against Racism and my GPS didn't click in for at least the first kilometer. My actual clock had me finishing in at 10:23 a.m. which would have put me at a 23-minute 5K. I talked to the guy who finished right in front of me and he said it was an even 5K and he finished in 24:05. (I made top 15 in this race and was the only one over 30 years old in the top 50.) So I guess I am now unofficially sub-25 with maybe a 24:15. :-) Next weekend is the River Run, and this is an official timed race so I should have a better picture of where I am at on my long and winding road to a sub-18 5K. This goal is proving to be more difficult than I had initially envisioned. 34 years of living a sedentary lifestyle, coupled with smoking, took a toll and is making my return to running much more difficult, although achievable. I have also recently incorporated kettlebell, cycling and weight training into my training program to hasten my time improvements and complement my time efforts with low impact exercising.
Update 6/1/2019: Well, I have had some bio-mechanical setbacks over the last few months, however, I am wholly ambulatory at this time. I was hoping to get sub-25 minutes and make Top 50 for the Saskatchewan Marathon, however, I only hit 26:41. Nevertheless, in 2018 I got 180th place and this year I got 75th place out of 600, so I definitely have improved markedly. https://www.sportstats.ca/display-results.xhtml?raceid=103563
Update 9/16/2019: Been upping the mileage to 80km a week and now I am on Day 2 of being unable to run because of sore ankles lol. Gotta love aging! Found more clippings and it looks like I was breaking 16 minutes on a 5k fairly consistently from 1981 to 1984. (Although a minority of courses appears to have been only 2.85k, not 3.1k...)
Update 9/30/2019: I've been training hard but now pulled something in the bottom of my foot...or plantar fasciitis? Anyway, won my first age group and placed 15th out of 90+ despite walking at least 6 times. I guess I'm seeing incremental improvements because I was 28th at this run last year. ...and there were only 2 other men in my age group lol. This was from the 2019 River Run. https://racepros.ca/results
Update: 10/03/2019: It has been brutal retrieving records from 1983/1984 since everything is on microfilm. Anyway, I am certain I cracked 50 seconds in 1984, however, I can only find a mere 2 references to me running a 400m in 54.2 and 54.3 seconds. Ain't history grand?
Update: 10/03/2019: Now up to 60k a week...