Monday, March 28, 2011

New goal

Genetics:  A branch of biology that deals with the heredity and variation of organisms
Basically what that means is that your parents, and their parents, and their parents, and their parents provide you with everything from your muscles to brain power to blood pressure to bone mass to lung capacity to baldness and everything in between.  I am 5'10" and weigh anywhere from 170-180.  My father is about 6'0" and in his youth weighed about the same as me.  My mother was about 5'3" and had a fairly small frame.  I know both of my grandmothers were less than 5'5" and had fairly small frames also.  I didn't know either of my grandfathers so I don't know how big or small they were.  My own children are smaller than most other kids.  Abe has always been just a little shorter and skinnier than all of his classmates.  Eli I suppose is just about average but by no means bigger than anyone.  So needless to say, the Arnold genetic makeup is that I am designed to be of average size and build, slightly on the skinny side.  In order for me to build muscle or gain speed and/or endurance, I have to train very hard.  There's a saying in the Exercise Physiology field, that if you want to be an elite athlete, you need to choose your parents wisely. 
I am saying all of this because I am now 35 years old and realizing that I might have some limitations that my mind doesn't agree with.  My mind thinks that I can run this marathon.  My mind thinks that I can train harder than everyone else because I've always been in good enough shape to just jump right into a training schedule and complete whatever it is I want to complete.  Traditional training schedules have never applied to me because I have always kept myself in good enough shape to allow myself to just jump right in.  But I'm getting older now and I am finding that I can't do that anymore.  I'm looking back at all of the little setbacks I've had over the years and realize that while I have been mentally superior, actually just more stubborn, to everyone I train against or everything I train for, my body hasn't necessarily agreed with me. 
When I played little league baseball, I had elbow problems that started when I was 12.  I still have these problems if I throw too much to my kids.  When I was in junior high school, I had a stress fracture in my back that forced me to wear a back brace while playing football through 8th and 9th grade.  When I was in high school, I had different elbow problems that forced me to wear a pad on my elbow because it swelled up after every practice and game.  I have a reverse curve in my neck, a recurring muscle problem in my ribs, had 2 shoulder surgeries on my left shoulder, and probably need one on my left.  My mind never let me quit.  I always worked harder than everyone else which is what allowed me to be a better athlete than what my physical genetics would allow.  It's not too often you see a 155 lb guy walking on to play Division I football for a Iowa State but I did.  Granted, I got crushed once I got there and my physical limitations had a giant spotlight on them, but I kept getting up off of the ground after every nasty hit I took.  Mentally, I didn't care and thought I was just as good, if not better, than that 6'3", 210 lb receiver I was playing against.  Physically, I wasn't.  I always put in more hours in the weight room, more hours doing conditioning drills, more hours running than everyone else.  Because I was slightly undersized, I knew I had to in order to compete.  My mind pushed my body further than it wanted and my success showed on the track, baseball field, or football field. 
In more recent years, I have had several setbacks in regards to CrossFit training.  Both of my shoulders have recurring problems that have forced me to not compete in the Games each of the last 2 years.  This year is an exception because I focused on marathon training, which I will get to next.  The point here is that every time I would start pushing myself harder, I would always get setback with some kind of injury.  Whether it's my neck, my shoulders, or something wrong with my back, I would always have a setback.  Again, my mind tells me to go while my body says whoa. 
Which takes me to my marathon training.  I have completed 2 half marathons.  One of them I ran when I was 27 and it was easy.  The next one I ran when I was 29 and that was a lot tougher because my right knee was hurting during my training and during the race.  I should've known that was a sign of things to come.  This year I decided to train for the full marathon.  It's something I've always wanted to do because I always love breaking down physical barriers.  But after 12 weeks of training, with 5 more to go, I'm realizing that I won't be able to complete this race.  Every time I run over 12 miles, my left knee hurts.  I attempted a 20 miler yesterday and as usual, around mile 11, the pain started.  It got to the point where there were a couple of times I had to stop moving altogether for a couple of minutes.  I alternated 5 minute walks with 10 minute runs the rest of the way.  I traveled 18 miles in total with the last 7 being in severe pain.  Today, my left knee is in a lot of pain and my right knee is in a little bit more pain than usual. 
I realize today I cannot run this marathon.  I've never said the word "can't" when it comes to an athletic event.  That has never ever crossed my lips.  I've always said that I'll train hard and do my best, and I've always succeeded.  But I've been training hard and I can't.  At least not right now.  That's an extremely sad realization.  My body is not doing what my mind wants it to do.  Again, looking back over the years I've always been able to simply will myself through the pain.  But I can't do that anymore.  When elite athletes retire, they site one of two reasons.  They either don't have the mental capacity to put in the insane amount of work they know it takes to compete, or their body doesn't have the ability to do what their mind is telling it to do anymore.  The later is where I am currently at.  I have always been able to give my genetics the middle finger and push it aside.  But I don't think I can do it anymore.  It's an extremely hard thing to realize. 
But all of this training is not going to go to waste.  I am going to run the Derby Mini Marathon.  I will simply cut back my training a little and prepare for that.  There is a new marathon in Louisville in the fall.  I think I will start training a little further out, adjust my running/strength training schedule, and give it another try.  I refuse to quit.  I have never quit anything or allowed myself be beaten by a stupid event.  I will try again.  But for now, I have to allow my genetics to tell me that I can't be that 18 year old anymore and I have to allow myself to heal.  So I have a new goal.  My half-marathon PR is at 1:52, and that too was with knee pain.  My goal for the one coming up is 1:45.  That would put me at an 8 minute mile for 13 miles. 
I'm very depressed and sad to come to this realization that I can't continue to simply will myself through an event.  At some point, my physical limitations win.  But I refuse to lose completely.  I will do my best at the half marathon and will set a new PR for myself.  I will then compete in the full marathon in the Fall and will succeed at that one.  I promise.  After all, that's the purpose of this blog.  To continue being the athlete I thought I have always been. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dear Mother Nature...again

Dear Mother Nature

I really enjoyed the last week or so when you gave me absolutely incredible weather.  Last week you allowed me to run outside for all three of my runs, one of which being my long 15 miler.  I then ran once this week outside for a slow 4 miler.  Spring has officially arrived and I thought your warm weather was here to stay.  It was great and you were very accommodating.  I want to thank you for that and it has really helped my training for this (stupid) marathon. 

Having said this, I really need to know what the heck is your problem.  It's snowing right now.  Today, for the Papa John's 10 Miler race, the high temp was about 37 degrees.  My wonderful wife ran the race and didn't think the weather was too horrible.  But you just kept allowing the temperature to drop. And now, as I am writing this letter to you, IT'S SNOWING!  Really?  You do realize that I have to run 20 miles tomorrow.  TWENTY!  That's three hours!  How can I run 3 hours, 20 miles, for the first time ever, when it's flippin' snowing!?!?  Huh?  Give me a freakin' break Mother Nature!  Oh, and tell your friend Jack Frost to back the hell off also.  I never liked his frigid rear end anyway and you can tell him that he can just keep his butt up in Canada. 

It's 5 weeks until the race Mother Nature.  I have 26.2 miles to go in 5 weeks.  I desperately need your cooperation in order to get this bucket list item checked off.  If you don't help me out, I don't know if I can make it.  In conclusion, please get your temperatures back up to at least 45 degrees and I will be fine.  Thank you, and I hope you have a better day tomorrow. 

Rob Arnold

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What I'm Lifting Now

Listed below are my favorite exercises.  These are my favorite exercises right now, not a year ago, not 2 years ago, not 6 weeks ago.  Today at this very moment.  I chose these exercises because of the type of training I am currently doing in getting ready for my marathon.  I'm finding that the time I have for strength training takes a back seat to the running and interval training.  I simply don't have enough time in the day to do everything I need to do with work, kids, kids baseball, trying to get a business up and running, and finding just a couple of minutes to sleep and relax.  So I am doing compound, multi joint movements that will allow me to attach my body from different angles in a short amount of time.  I'm sure there are other exercise that you may suggest, and by all means do so.  I'd love to hear what you got.  But these exercises are working for me right now, today. 
  • Push up
  • Push press
  • Deadlift
  • Snatch...I vary the form from power and hang to keep things interesting
  • Pull-up
  • Burpee Pull-up
  • Air squats
  • Toe to bar
  • Inverted rows hanging from a Smith Machine bar
UPDATE:  I'm heading to Greenville, SC to meet with some people about the prospective business I will be bringing to Louisville.  It's going to be huge and I am hoping to see everyone there.  I can't wait to get going.  I will provide details once I get things finalized.  I don't want to put the cart before the horse just yet but I believe it's going to be something to transform the fitness market in this town.  As the great Bart Scott once said, "Can't wait!". 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

12 miles plus 3

There are a few times in my life I have felt invincible.  When I ran the 80 yard touchdown in high school football, when I first deadlifted 400 lbs, when I hit an inside the park grand slam in baseball, when I ran my first half marathon.  Yesterday, for a short amount of time, I felt that invincibility again.  The feeling lasted from about 3 miles to 12 miles.  I felt like Forest Gump and I could just run and run and run.  A funny thing happened about mile 12.  My left knee started hurting.  It's the exact same feeling I got 2 weeks ago when I went out and ran 13 miles.  That too happened at mile 12.  I'm very concerned about this issue.  So I modified my run and walked for about 5 minutes and ran 10 and repeated that until the end of the 15 miles.  I was very happy that I went a total of 15 miles but very disappointed that my knee was hurting.  I did a little rehab last night with an 12 minute ice bath, much to my wife's wonderment as to how I can possibly do so. 

Today I did my usual recovery day and went to hot tub for 15 minutes, did the foam roller for about 20 minutes, did some light yoga stretching and called it a day.  I would have ridden the bike for about 30 minutes but I had to take my son to a birthday party.  Love stuff like that (sarcasm).  Oh well, as long as he had fun. 

Tomorrow is usually a rest day but since I know I am going to rest on Tuesday, I'm thinking I might do some hills at Cherokee Park.  If I do, I'll make sure to take some ibuprofen and get the ice ready for my bath.  If you haven't experienced an ice bath during your training, I highly recommend it.  It's amazing and does wonders for rehab. 

I'm going to keep plugging it, make sure you go to and check out the results from some of the athletes on there.  It's an easy way to follow some of your buddies.  I know a few people taking part in the CrossFit Open and I'm definitely following them.  Wish I were competing with them but I am crossing something else off of my bucket list this year.

Friday, March 18, 2011

March Madness!

This weekend is my favorite sports weekend out of the entire year.  I find that the older I get I become slightly less interested in most sporting events throughout the year.  The Super Bowl just doesn't ring the same as it used to.  I don't even pay attention to the World Series because it falls at the beginning of the football season.  The bowl games in college football are so watered down that I simply don't care anymore unless my Cyclones are in it, which they usually aren't.  But the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament is absolutely ridiculous.  I will watch every single game from beginning to extremely exciting end.  How am I supposed to get my training in this weekend when there is so much excitement going on? 

Well, I am deviating from my normal routine of going for my long run on Sunday afternoon and moving it to Saturday morning.  Before I got sick, I was scheduled to go for my longest training run this weekend of 20 miles.  Let's just say that I'm hoping for 15.  If I can get 15, I'll be happy.  And this brings me to my latest words of wisdom. 

Throughout your training cycle, you must be able to adjust.  I guess this holds true for anything in life, but since I'm referring to training here, we'll focus on that.  I missed 8 days of training due to illness, and now I have the almighty NCAA tournament to contend with.  Having the ability to adjust my workouts and adjust my goals is extremely critical in the success of me finishing this marathon.  I initially set a goal of running the marathon and simply finishing.  Then as I started training, I felt so great about my workouts that I set a time goal of 3:30:00.  That would be an 8 minute mile for the whole race.  Now that I have had a couple of setbacks, I was initially doubting my ability to even finish the race.  But Suzy pumped me back up and got me to realize that I simply have to adjust my thinking and go back to focusing just on finishing the race.  My mindset has been all over the place with this race and it's not uncommon to have this over the course of whatever it is you are training for.  The key is to set your goals at realistic levels and continuously change them according to how well you are training or what setbacks you have.  The better you are able to recognize this and adjust accordingly, the better you will be at achieving success. 

For those of you finishing up the Triple Crown next week with the 10 miler, good luck.  You guys have done a great job so far and you should be very proud of yourselves.  I know my wife is very nervous about her race next week but I know she has been doing everything she can to be ready and I am very proud of her. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A new genesis

Holy Cow!  I just went through an out-of-this-world illness that I feel set me back a full month in training.  After 7 days, 8 less pounds, and a whole lot of fatigue, I was seriously doubting my ability to complete my training.  I just didn't see how I would or could bounce back from this madness.  But I received some great words of encouragement from my girl Suzy who reminded me that it's not about what time I finish, it's about finishing.  That's it. 

So I hit the pavement yesterday for 5 miles.  I felt great the first 2, terrible the last 3.  My calves hurt, hips hurt, and feet hurt.  My body yelled at me for the sickness I went through and basically asked me "What the hell do you think you're doing?"  I'm training, that's what I'm doing.  All day yesterday at work I rolled my feet and legs with a baseball to help break up all of the adhesions between my fascia and muscles.  I think that helped. 

Today I hit the gym for some intervals and strength training.  I ran 1k, 2k, and 3k sprints with 3 minute rest between each.  Then I moved on to pushups, inverted rows, and chest press.  Gotta work that chest since I am going to be on a beach in Jamaica in less than 3 weeks ha ha ha.  No, really, I simply just need to get my strength back.  This illness I went through dropped my 8 pounds and completely zapped my strength.  But I will get it back. 

On a completely unrelated note, the CrossFit Games Open began this week.  You can still register at  If you don't wish to participate, you can still register and follow the games and results.  It's something I really wanted to do this year but I got the bug in me to do the marathon instead.  Maybe next year. 

Also, I met with some great people today in regards to my business venture I'm about to embark on.  As I said before, get ready Louisville.  It's coming and it's going to take over. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

You have to plan for these days

Throughout the course of a training schedule, you have to account for days in which you will not be able to complete a training session or days where you might not be able to train at all.  When you plan for these days, you don't get too terribly behind on your schedule.  For me, now is one of those times.  I have been sick lately. 

I was able to get my workout in for Wednesday.  I changed things up a little bit and wore my Vibram 5 finger shoes and did 1/2 mile intervals with 2 minute rest.  That was great.  It's nice to change things up every now and then.  I then headed to work where my body started to ache.  Uh oh.  It turns out I was coming down with a pretty good fever.  Oh yeah, and just to be sure that I knew I had come down with something nasty, nausea hit me pretty good also which culminated in a trip to the bathroom at 3:00 the next morning.  Nice! 

I was hoping to get better on Thursday because that is a scheduled run day.  That didn't happen.  So now I am one day behind.  I'm still sick today and will miss a second consecutive day of work.  This stinks because I take great pride in never missing work due to sickness.  Obviously I won't be training today either.  So that gives me tomorrow.  If I can go tomorrow, I should be OK. 

Oh, by the way, registration is now open for the participation in the CrossFit Games Open.  In a nutshell, beginning next week you perform a series of workouts and get qualified for regional competitions.  You can either do the workouts at your local CrossFit affiliate or you can have them recorded and sent to the CF Games people.  I will not be participating because my marathon training is my priority this year.  I have attached a link to the Games website.  Check it out.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Winning anyone? Nope, not me.

I am feeling incredible with my training.  Cardio wise and feel like I can run 26 miles today.  I can keep a pace of 8:00 - 8:10 / mile pace and not get tired at all.  I'm feeling great!  Except, my knees. 

On Sunday I went for my usual Sunday long run.  I went and mapped out parts of the actual route the marathon will be and included the dreaded Iroquois Park.  I mapped out 15 miles of the actual route, calculated if I ran an 8:30 pace, I would finish at 2:07:30.  I wasn't trying to set any pace records, I just wanted to make the 15 miles because it's the furthest I have ever gone. 

It wasn't meant to be.

There were just too many things going against me.  The temp outside was about 35 degrees.  Not blistering cold but it wasn't exactly ideal either.  The slight wind didn't help at all.  Strike one!  I was averaging an 8:10 pace for the first 4.26 miles.  I know it was 4.26 miles because that is when I lost the GPS signal on my Iphone.  This happened at Iroquois.  It's weird because I lost the signal almost instantly at the park.  This sucked because I would've liked to know my pace through the dreaded hills of the park.  Strike two!  But I kept going and once I got about 1/2 mile out of the park, I picked up my GPS again.  Oh gee!  Thanks!  By my mental calculations, on around mile 9, I started feeling discomfort in my left knee.  The posterior aspect to be exact.  I didn't think too much at first but it didn't go away.  In fact, it got worse.  After about a mile of this, my right knee started hurting, probably from trying to compensate for the left.  Grrrrrr.  Well the pain did not go away in either knee.  It got so bad I had to modify my route and cut off 3 miles and go straight back to my car.  STRIKE THREE! 

Overall I averaged an 8:12 mile.  Thanks to gmap pedometer I was able to figure this out.  Later in the night I sat in an ice bath.  This felt wonderful.  I cannot begin to tell you how great this makes the legs feel after a long run.  Today I rode the bike a little bit and rolled my legs and calves.  My knee is still sore and I'm going to sit in another ice bath.  Tomorrow is a complete rest day and I'll hit it again on Wednesday with some intervals.  Wish me luck. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Get Ready Louisville!

Just a quick note today. Training went well the last couple days. I'm gearing up for the big 15 miler tomorrow. That'll be an all time record for distance for me so wish me luck. I'll need it.

On a different note, there are some big things in the works for yours truly. I'm not going to into detail just yet because I don't want to put the cart before the horse but there are some big things about to go down and a dream come true may be coming soon. So watch out Louisville, I'm coming!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Strength training is a must

Throughout the course of my training for this (stupid) marathon, I have forgone a lot of my strength training.  I have been pressured for time on many days and I have to ensure that I at least get my running in.  Sometimes I only have 30 minutes.  On those days, I get some hard interval training in.  But like I said, I have cut way back on my strength training even though I know that I need it bad.  Today I did some 1/2 mile intervals with 5 minute rest in between.  That only took 40 minutes and because I have a lot of time on Thursdays, I was able to get some strength training in.  Woooo Hoooo!

I have been focusing mostly on single leg/arm, mobility & stability exercises lately.  I spent 35 years with a lot of asymmetries and muscle imbalances and I need to get rid of those.  I think a lot of my nicks and bumps and musculoskeletal problems stem from these problems.  So today I did 4 rounds of 10/8/6/4 of single leg Romanian deadlifts & half-kneeling shoulder presses.  Good stuff.  I then moved on to more complex full body movements of burpee pullups and toes-to-bar.  4 rounds of 8 for those.  Good stuff.  Felt pretty good after that. 

Tomorrow will be a light cross training day of the bike and rower.  15 minutes of each should do.  Got to save the legs for the 14-15 miler on Sunday.  But I'll also get some strength training in tomorrow.  I have got to ensure that I am always getting that in.  It is absolutely imperative you do this.  If you need any tips or direction on how to incorporate this into your own training, please don't hesitate to ask. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My toe

If you have never trained for a marathon, or even half marathon, you probably will not understand the things that happen to your body as you train.  You get different kinds of aches, pains, boo-boos, and overall soreness in the joints.  I'm 35 years old and I'm finding that my knees ache a little more than they used to.   This type of training has made my feet sore (I'll get into this later), and my hamstrings extremely tight.  I'm finding that I have to perform a whole lot more mobility and stability exercises these days.  And as long as I am only running a couple miles, my recovery is great.  But once I pile on the miles as I am doing these days, my recovery is taking a little longer. 

Now onto the foot, or more specifically my middle toe on my right foot.  After my 12 miler on Sunday, the stupid toe is bruised under the nail bed.  It hurts like hell but I haven't lost my nail yet so that's good.  Those of you who have trained like this know that you are probably going to lose a couple of toe nails in the process.  What the hell am I doing this for again?  Oh yeah, to prove that I can.  Whatever.  I'm going to kick this marathon's arse! 

After a recover day (Monday), and a full rest day (Tuesday), I went out for light run today of  5 miles.  I simply wanted to get things moving after my rest and recovery days.  I maintained my full marathon pace of an 8 minute mile as I finished right at 40 minutes (thank you RunKeeper app).  Tomorrow will be an interval day of 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 2 mile, 3 mile with 5 minute rest between each run.  I've also got a gym date with my buddies Ryan and Amy.  I got them doing CrossFit WODs last year but haven't seen either much lately.  I'm thinking some KB swings, burpees, and box jumps will be in order.  CAN'T WAIT!