Just one of a great many deterrents to crime on an Air Force base. I keep asking when I get to patrol the mean streets of Fairchild with an M1 Abrams. Still no answer. And yes, I know tanks aren't exactly an Air Force item.
As a triathlete that works a shift basically opposite the rest of the local world, I do things at a different time of day. It’s not uncommon for me to train in the middle of the night. My practical nature compels me to worry little about bright clothing, lights, etc. I’ll wear whatever I feel will keep me warm enough. My watch for safety is basically keeping my eyes and ears alert (no IPOD) to everything happening around me. Sure, a car may not see me, but I’m going to avoid running into the light until it’s my time to go to Heaven (I hope). Automobiles are pretty easy to avoid, especially at night. I also keep an eye on cars, bikes, muggers, etc., coming from behind, beside, etc. Long story short, I’ll run in the darkest of hours wearing all black if it's what I have on.
This is usually me, but not this time.
The other night, I had some black sweats, gloves and a black hooded sweat shirt on when I went for a tempo run at 2:03 AM. I often include the paces I train at. Some athletes are way faster and some are way slower, so it’s not a point of pride. It’s information to help paint your eyes when I tell the stories. On this particular run, I was shooting for 5:40 per mile. With the extra clothes and the cold, it’s probably too fast to get what I needed out of it, but I’m pretty sure my lack of precision training won’t cost me a spot at the 2012 Olympics. So here I am running through the night, watching for deer (which I often see and talk to), skunks (which I don’t talk to), porcupines (which I fear running into … literally), dogs, Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th), etc. Running through the silent night (not the Christmas song) at a little under 11 MPH is a cool experience for me. It turned out to be a new one. Jason could come out of nowhere, so I keep my eyes peeled. He lives at the lake too, but I'm betting I could outrun him ... or die trying (ha ha ha).
Apparently hooded guys dressed in all black running that fast with a mask covering his face in the middle of the night look suspicious to police. Medical Lake police are notorious for being overzealous, so when it looks like they’ve actually got something, they really get into it. At one moment I’m cruising down the road on the last stretch of my run, the next moment I see the familiar blue and red strobes lighting up the night. If I had a different job, I might have been pretty nervous. I might have made a break for it. Fast triathletes could easily escape a police cruiser limited to streets. Rather than trying to escape, I laughed at the thought that I’d be pulled over for speeding. Not breaking the speed limit, but running too fast for some guy who would “really” be out for a night run of 3.42 miles. My mask was a camoflage recon wrap, but I don't have any pics of criminals with a recon wrap. I'll do better next time.
A moment later, I find myself being challenged (face away, hands up, spread fingers, spread feet, lean forward, etc.). I’m pretty good at this since I train as both the good guy and bad guy at work. If it weren’t for the irony of it all, I’d be pretty annoyed that my GPS kept ticking and ruining my pace per mile. Of course, I wasn’t carrying any ID, but I didn’t have any weapons or lute either. It's a good thing I didn't stop for a random burglary on that run. I explained myself to an unbelieving individual. It was obvious that I was running far to quick for the distance I was claiming to run. I wish! I had to have been fleeing the scene of a crime at that speed. After some discussion, I was free to go. Of course, 5 to 10 degree weather, after I had been sweating from the effort, chilled me to the bone while just standing there. I didn’t feel like running hard anymore. I didn’t feel like running at all. Instead, I forced myself to jog home to loosen up and get out of the cold more quickly. Sometimes these things happen. I’m not sure if I blame them, but it sure was funny. The coolest watches ever made! They don't know it yet, but Garmin is going to sponsor me.
On a different note, I’ve been getting asked a lot about training. Out at Fairchild and here in the civilian world, people seem to be digging way too deep for what they really need. There are so many very complex aspects to training that volumes have been written. In terms of learning, I encourage people to dig in if they’re really interested. On the other hand, I find that far too much emphasis is placed on these great many details by people who would be better off without. If you’re a psycho athlete like me or a world class athlete who, unlike me, actually needs more than simple training, then be OCD. For the rest of the world, my advice is KEEP IT SIMPLE! Are you really to the point where you have to exhaust the resources to improve your training?
At a fitness training class at Fairchild, we were asked why cold water is better. Nobody answered, so they asked me. I got into fluid assimilation (not what they were looking for). Next I got into biochemistry/body temps/performance, which wasn’t right either. The answer: you’ll burn more calories. Really?! We’re talking about people who struggle to run 1.5 miles in a range of 12 to 20 minutes and they’re talking about burning more calories from cold water! How about skipping out on just one piece of junk food and come out way ahead of someone who drinks ice water. These extremes are about like spending thousands to shave three pounds from a bike. Over a flat 40K you’ll allegedly save 3 seconds. My bet is that rather than all those hours working to make that money to spend on shaving 3 pounds from a bike, training would be exponentially more effective. Oddly enough, aside from getting stronger and faster, you’d probably lose three pounds. Always consider the return on your investment, time or otherwise.
Yes, it really is that easy. Where's my "That was easy!" button.
If you don’t plan on being an Olympian, then keep the law of diminishing returns in mind. A regular and progressive training program is going to be far more effective than spending your time worrying about the intricate details. Swimming is, to some degree, an exception to that rule. Don’t sit around and talk about it, get out there and do it or go a little longer. Nutrition can be a lot more simple too. You could hire a dietician if you wanted, but most people really don’t need that. Cut out some junk and replace it with something better. People who learn how to eat like an Olympian don’t eat like an Olympian. It’s like fitness equipment or a gym membership that you don’t use. Simple changes are more permanent and therefore, more effective. People have asked to hire me for a coach, but I limit myself to one or two people. My help isn’t needed anyway. People need motivation, not a secret answer. Some need a person to tell them to get out there and what to do, but why pay for experts when your momma could do that? For most, a cookie-cutter routine would work just fine. We have so many strong athletes around here that any real training question could be easily answered with a phone call, face-to-face, an e-mail, etc. Some would argue, but the best thing for my training has been my running streak. I've run every day for 5 years and 29 days. Some days have been hell and others were actually detrimental. On the other hand, in the long run, for more than five years, I haven't excused myself one time. Far more good has come of it than harm. For most, this kind of consistency could take them much further than all the information in the world. Do you have a training program so complete that ice cold water is all that's left?
I won’t be the first to say it, but there aren’t any magic bullets out there. World class experts have varying opinions in making world class athletes, yet so often I hear age groupers debating about complex training methods. Ironically, you rarely see them anywhere near the front of a race, despite all their knowledge (not exactly proving that they’re the tip of the spear). It's amusing to hear these people lecturing much faster athletes about the error of their ways. Even poor training is better than talking about it. While thunder is busy talking, lightening does the work. If you asked me, and some of you have, you’d find my answers are almost always the same: train consistently(don’t excuse yourself from workouts), eat a little better, try to have fun, have someone to keep you accountable and ask for advice when you need it. If you do that, you’re going to be significantly more fit than the person who worries about calories from ice water (or whatever analogy you choose regarding people who fixate on details well beyond their practical need).