Run Safe

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back, Moving Forward


1,260.  My mileage total for 2011 and the most I've ever run in a year.  I started of 2011 with several goals in mind but strangely, this was not one of them, it just happened.  Goals I did set and accomplish this year included running and completing 2 marathons, completing 2 Rock & Roll series runs.  I ran Chicago in August and Las Vegas in December.  Both marathons were local marathons; Rockford & the Fox Valley marathon.  As an added bonus I broke the 4 hour barrier after running Fox Valley in 3:59:39.  I  also committed to "inspiring" 10 other people to take up running.  I didn't really do a good job of keeping track but I know of several friends and family members who asked for advice on running and then completed a 5k or more this year.

This blog and my facebook page were also started as ways to inspire.  This is one aspect of my running journey I hope to continue.  If you are one of the 10 people who will actually read this & have made it this far into what I've wrote, consider adding this to your 2012 goals;  Get one person to discover the joys, pains and obsessive disorder that we call running.

I'm not only proud of my goals but of my family's as well.  All 3 of my children took up running this year.  The two youngest completed a 26.2 mile kids marathon challenge in which they ran consistently over several months until reaching their 26.2 goal.  The both ran their fastest mile this year.  My wife completed her goal of becoming a surgical tech, while working and allowing me the time to continue running.

This year wasn't without its challenges.  In January I lost my grandfather, a man who I've always looked up to and admired.  It's been strange not having him around but he has been with me in my thoughts and in spirit throughout many of my 1,260 miles this year.  I've been reminded countless times this year just how fragile life really is.  Several friends have or are currently battling illnesses, other friends who have lost loved ones and stories of course the stories of runners who have died in races or were killed by careless drivers.

In 2012 I will try my luck at a run streak, as of today I'm 3 days completed.  I also plan to complete an ultra marathon (at least a 50k).

While it's certainly motivating to have goals and rewarding to accomplish them, I think moving forward, what's most important is living each day to the fullest.  Make every day count.  Whether it's for you, a loved one or a perfect stranger (did anyone else just hear Balki from the old tv show saying "Don't be ridiculous"?) just make it count.  Make it count in whatever way you see fit.

I hope you all have a happy, successful, healthy and rewarding 2012.

Happy New Year & Happy Running.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dirt Side Diaries- 12/29/11

7am December 23rd, 2011.  As I start to awaken from a night of very restful sleep, a rarity, I soon realize I'm sore.  At first I’m confused. Why the hell am I sore?  I didn't do anything out of the ordinary yesterday, did I?  Oh, wait! I did go on that six mile trail run, but I've run six miles countless times, that couldn't be it.  Plus, for me, I was running slow.  I couldn't be sore from....Really?  A six mile run, at a snails pace and I'm sore?!  WTF  My lower back, my butt, my quads.  I felt like I had run a marathon or something. Gotta say I didn't see that coming.

December 22nd 2011 was the first time I had ever run trails twice in a week.  Like I said I didn't run fast but considering how I felt, I think I ran effectively.  A fellow trail runner.  Can I call him a 'fellow' trail runner yet?  Anyway, the same guy who recommended I check out Silver Springs told me about a local running club, the Midwest Misfits.  I’ve had no true exposure to a running club or running with other people, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I contacted one of the two people in charge of the club, Kristen, by an email I simply titled ‘I WANT IN’.  Kristen’s response was quick and friendly.  I was instantly a member.  No trial period, No sign up fee, nothing.  Just a simple welcome to the club and here's what's going on. She informed me the group would be meeting for a 10k run at 9am on the morning of the 22nd. 

I arrived a little early (didn’t want to be the new guy showing up late.  Little did I know someone already held that reputation.  Stan. ) and Kristen arrived a short time later.  Our group consisted of myself, Kristen, Katie and Stan.  We headed out onto the trails at a conversational pace.  Several observations I made while on this run;  Conversational pace on the trails is much slower than on the road.  The scenery was much nicer than the neighborhood scene.  We saw no fewer than 15 deer.  Most ran as soon as we got close, but some seemed as fascinated by us as we were of them.  We walked a couple of times (which totally messed with my running mindset) to overcome hurdles on the trail, cross bridges or watch the deer.  A mud, lots of mud.  I don't know how I ended up with so much mud on my legs but I was nice and muddy.  


The highlight of the run, for me, was when I took the death defying flying leap off a bridge. No. Not like the line your mom used to use “Well if your friends told you to jump off a bridge....”  It was a small wooden bridge built over a rocky, muddy, little creek.  The bridge was angled (like the vortex bridge in a haunted house) and wet.  I was about 3 strides into the crossing when I started to lose my balance and realized I was about to fall.  I took the only option (other than falling)  I had to avoid complete embarrassment.....jump.  Fortunately, I landed on my feet.  Not only did I save myself from a painful fall but I think I may have slightly impressed my new friends.  “Dude, nice save!”  “That was awesome!”, etc.  On a side note, I made sure we avoided the bridge on the second lap around.  I knew that save was luck.  There was no point in tempting fait and tarnishing the spurious B.A. reputation I had gained of my new friends.

I made a second trip to the trail today, which was a whole new experience.  Kristen’s husband, Al,  joined us.  I quickly discovered Al runs much faster than I do but I think this will be another benefit to running with a group.  I know I would have never continued at the pace I was running today, if I had been by myself.  We finished a little over 5 miles in about 45 minutes.  It was a milestone run for me.  I surpassed 1,250 miles for the year.  The most I’ve run in a year.

I don’t know if I will be as sore as I was last week but I’m already feeling a little more worn than I usually would.

Happy Running!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Necessity of Etiquette & Assimilation

Maybe it's for the recognition, or the desire to share or maybe just, simply, the "hey look at me" factor.  I can't really pinpoint what has prompted my sudden desire to blog but regardless of the reason, it exists.   Lately, I have been obsessed with thoughts of what to write next.  Should it be something to help new runners?  Should it be a sharing of my experiences? and on, and on, and on....

Obviously, I feel, if I'm going to take the time to write, hopefully someone will read it.  As a result, I started looking for ways I could "grow my audience" and took the advice of another runner who suggested posting links to my blog in other running forums.  Great idea right? Yea, not so much so.

I went to the most obvious of places, www.runnersworld.com, and started posting away.  I quickly learned, not only was this a bad idea, it seemed to be a very popular bad idea.  It seems many bloggers do this, as well as websites attempting to advertise their products.  Many of the "regulars" on these blogs quickly put me in my place.  I received comments such as "I don't read spam", "Thanks for the advice.  I couldn't think of any running websites to go to for running advice.", etc.  There was also, some very constructive feedback, that really made me re-evaluate my "advice."

At first, I was a little bothered by this.  I mean, I've invested the last several years of my life in becoming a pretty descent runner and now I'm taking the time to share and I'm being treated like that! WTF! I've always found runners to be overly friendly and accepting of fellow runners.  So, I never expected this reaction. But, this had obviously pissed some people off.  Although, the more I thought about it, the more I started to understand their point of view.

There is nothing that bothers me more than going to a race and having to deal with people (usually inexperienced runners) who have poor race etiquette.  The slow runners or even walkers, that line up at the front.  The people that walk to the left or center of the course. Or worse yet, the 4 or 5 friends that decided to walk the race and walk side by side, taking up the entire running lane!! The people that spit where ever and when ever they feel like it along the course.  I really don't want to run in your spit!  The people who throw their drinks, Gu's, etc. without even looking at where it's going.  You get my point.

Without even realizing it, I had entered this new sub-culture, of running forums, all cocky and full of myself.  Similar to someone who has trained for weeks in preparation for their first 5k.  But, I failed to take a single moment to consider if there was a right way to go about becoming an accepted part of this sub-culture.  So, to my fellow runners that I've successfully annoyed, consider this my public apology.  I'm sorry :(

I think this was a good lesson.  And a lesson that can be shared with all.  Whether you are an experienced runner or training for your first race, it's important to take the time to learn the ways of the people.  And that, my friends, is my lengthy definition  of Assimilation.

Happy Running!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Adventures on the Trails

Holy shit!  Just when I thought I've had it ALL figured out, I get this bright idea to go run trails.  And let me tell you, the 3.3 miles I ran was quite the adventure.

First, my motivation.  I've been toying with the idea of running my first ultra marathon next year.  An ultra marathon is anything longer than the traditional 26.2 mile marathon.  The standard distances include a 50k, 50 mile, 100k or 100 mile.  I know very little about these races but the one thing I have been told is most ultra runners do not consider you a 'legit' ultra runner, until you've run at least a 50 mile race.  Which leaves me no choice but to skip right over the 50k and start daydreaming about my first (did I just say first?!) 50 mile race.  I've been looking at the possibility of doing this race in 2012.

So, I get to the park, with no plan in mind.  No pace.  No distance.  No expectations.  Just go for a run until I don't feel like running anymore.  After parking, I find an entrance to the trail and off I go.

This led to a big open grassy area which eventually led up a pretty descent size hill and out towards the highway.  As I neared the highway, I was thinking, I would have to go back the way I came or head out towards the pavement.  No pavement today, this was a trail run.  About 50 yards away I happened upon a fork in the trail, which lead into a wooded area.  I made the turn and headed that way.  It was quite the scene.  Much more tranquil than looking at houses, dogs and cars through out my subdivision.  I decided to disconnect my music and just take in the experience.  It was at that moment I thought, maybe I should blog this run.  So I pulled out my phone and started rolling the video.  I don't think the video does the scenery justice. And, I'd be surprised if you could make through watching the whole thing with out feeling nauseous, but here is my very amateur attempt and videoing while running.....

video

I think it's pretty obvious, from watching the video, I was not having an easy time on this run.  I was actually running about 30 seconds per mile slower than my normal easy run at, what felt like, a much greater effort.  My heart rate was about 10% higher than normal. The elevation change for the entire run was less than 100 feet but F#*k, it was hard!  

After the video went off, I ended up around the same area I had started and took another turn in the trail. This led to another wooded area.  I had seen, on-line, that it was hunting season in the park and started hoping I didn't get mistaken, by some over zealous hunter, for being a small animal.  Shortly after this I came upon three people walking along the trail.  I knew I was breathing heavy and my feet were hitting the ground much louder than the do on the road, so I never thought to warn them I was coming up behind them.  I felt really bad when the girl jumped as I was passing her, but I was slightly entertained by it.

Then there was the mud!  I saw a pretty muddy looking area coming up on the trail and figured I could just run around it.  This was probably the best test of my Brooks Pure Grit trail shoes, because there was no going around this mud.  As I hit the mud I could feel the cold wet mud penetrating my socks.  Damn it, there goes my $10 socks!  After surviving the mud I made my way up another hill and stopped to take a picture.  I swear the hill felt a lot more challenging than it looks.  But the shoes managed very well in proving good traction here and through out the run.
When I got to the next clearing I looked at my watch and discovered I had only run 3 miles.  Seriously!  3 freakin' miles!?  And I think I'm gonna run 50!?  I made it back to my car shortly after that and headed for home.  

I've got a lot less confidence about doing an ultra now than I did before I went on this run today but I think that may be a good thing.  I'm going to keep hitting this trail, hopefully once a week, and decide in a month or so what my plan will be for 2012.  

To be continued.............

Happy Running

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Random Log Entries

Here are a few of my more memorable running log entries from 2011:

April 14th 2011- 14 Mile Training Run
Between the strong winds & the couple of decent size hills I climbed on this run this became a test of my endurance. I felt great. I'm more confident in my running right now then I've ever been. One hill I climbed I've failed on multiple times, having to take walk breaks. Today I ran it strong and with a smile on my face and that was at mile 9. I can't wait for the marathon!!!

May 15th 2011- Rockford Marathon
Started cramping up again pretty bad towards the end. I'm baffled as to why. The heat wasn't a factor. I was hydrated (even stopped to pee at mile 20) That's were I went from the 11:12 pace to the 9:31. Right at mile 26 I had a very sharp pain on my inner left thigh. It hurt to the point that I screamed out in pain, walked for a few seconds and then just said the hell with it. I'm either running to the finish or crawling!! Overall I'm not disappointed. more than 22 minutes of Chicago from last year. Hopefully I can get this cramping issue resolved and break 4 hours.

My 3 favorite moments in the race were:
-All the gang graffiti just past mile 21 along the trail. I recognized a lot of it haha
-The soft Chips Ahoy cookies someone gave me at mile 24 

-My kids running across the finish line with me

July 8th 2011- Run / Walk / Runmy first attempt at trying a run/walk/run. My motivation was simply due to my recent hip/leg issues combined with spending ALL day walking around Great America yesterday. I honestly didn't even expect to make it this far. I just did a simple run at a comfortable hard pace for 5 minutes and walk for 30 seconds. The first few times I stopped It was tough because I felt great and didn't feel I needed it. Later those 30 second walk breaks became just enough to re-charge me. Maintained a 148 average heart rate and ran mile 14 in 8:33. I think I kinda like this and may continue using it on my long runs.
(I didn't continue it)



July 11th 2011-Storm Tracker 6 Miler
Absolutely the craziest storm I've ever run in. Had about a mile to go when the thunderstorms hit. Wind gusts had to be over 40 mph. I saw several trees bending to the ground and another one snapped in a neighbor's yard as I ran past. I was running directly into the wind, rain drops were piercing my eyes like needles, garbage from two different recycling bins was flying, well swirling, all over the place. As I turned onto my street I finally had the wind at my back. I couldn't stop laughing because I knew everyone who saw me had to be thinking "what an absolute moron!" Then with only several houses to go a car pulled up along side me, it was my wife. She had been out driving the blocks in search of my lifeless body somewhere on the side of the road. I got home and my littler girl was in tears, worried something had happened to her idiotic father. After many hugs, kisses and sorry's we all had a good laugh about it. I don't think I'll be forgetting this run anytime soon.


August 14th 2011- Chicago Rock & Roll Half Marathon
Well first and foremost ignore the splits. The GPS accuracy is off. This was a great race for me. I went downtown with my neighbors Deann & Scott Ryan along with Deann's brother Tony. We had a great time hanging out together. Also got to avoid the gear check lines because of my decision to join Team Future. We hung out at their tent before and after the race, drank lots of beer and watched people running around in the rain. We also spent a fair amount of time talking to Jackie Evans (former biggest loser contestant) and her son Dan.

Some of my favorite moments along the race were the goof doing the SNL character around mile 4 and the Beastie Boy's cover band around mile 10. I did a pretty good job of keeping up with the pace group (1:45) until about mile 10. Although I think I made up some ground in the last mile because I think I was only about 30 seconds behind them.




Sept. 18th 2011- Fox Valley Marathon
Well somehow all of the data ended up getting deleted off of my watch. ALL OF IT. I'm guessing it had something to do with the weather. But despite this minor detail I had a great race. Ended up running with another guy named Dan for much of the race. Took a couple very brief walk breaks at some of the water stations but otherwise ran the whole way through.

The 4 hour pacer said by his watch he came in at 3:59:30 and I knew I was close behind him but didn't think it was only 9 seconds behind him. Only took me 3 tries but I'm finally a sub 4 hour marathoner.

Very proud of my kids too. They both completed the kids marathon. Since the beginning of June they have been logging mileage towards a goal of 26.2 miles by today. Today they finished the final 1.2 miles. They are both totally hooked. I feel like Dr. Frankenstein. Baahhhhhh



So many other highlights from the year but I'm sure you've got other things to do by now.....
Happy Running

Sunday, December 11, 2011

LOVIN THE LOG

Whether you are an experienced runner or just starting out, keeping a running log is one way to improve your efforts.  A running log will offer many benefits while providing you with important feedback.  It may also serve as an early warning system regarding injury or illness. Most importantly, running logs serve as a good visual reminder of your progress and provide you with motivation.

I spent the first year of my running journey, just running.  No goal, no training and never worrying about keeping track.  In October of 2007 I started keeping a running log.  A simple google search lead me to a free on-line service, RunningAhead.  (Feel free to search for my log under the community section of the site. User name RunJunkee).  Since using the site, I've logged over 4,300 miles.  I know, I know...I'm due for an oil change!  It's hard to believe I've logged that many miles.  Even though I've only done so for a short time, I enjoy going back and reliving some of those runs.

There are many good sites similar to Runningahead. Map my Run, Buckeye Outdoors, Dailymile, MarathonReady, RunnersWorld and many many more.  (Feel free to leave your favorite in the comments section below).  Many of these are free and some offer 'donations' to help keep them free.

I'm all about sharing my efforts, whether you are looking or not.  I can think of countless times when out running that I would think about the entry I would make on my running log.  What my pace would be, where my mile total would be for the week, etc.  Looking back at my log week to week or month to month, I find that I am motivating and influencing myself to improve.  Improve my pace, types of runs or overall total for that period.

A site like Dailymile is more of a social networking site.  It allows you to log your mileage while sharing it with other people (your non running facebook friends will appreciate this).  No one will get sick of your daily "look at me" updates.  Dailymile keeps track of some fun stats as well; how many cheeseburgers you've earned or donuts, how much gas you've saved and the percentage of the Earth you've covered.

In addition to logging miles, many of these sites allow you to track your diet, equipment (such as miles on your shoes), your effort, type of run and the quality of your run.  Most of these conveniently sync with Garmin, Nike plus, I-Phone and Android Apps.  But fear not, you don't have to have the geeky tech gear to track your miles.  Many of these sites have a mapping feature, usually google maps, that allows you to map out your run before you step out the door.  I try to map out my route before I leave and make sure everyone else knows where I will be going.

So fall in love with the log and discover it's many benefits.  Just think someday when you are getting wheeled around the nursing home your log will provide you with countless hours of entertainment.

Happy Running

Friday, December 9, 2011

Las Vegas Rock & Roll-The EXPERIENCE

What do you get when mix a company turning road races into a profit making venture, with the most obscenely capitalist city in the world?  A half marathon that did virtually nothing right. You didn't have to be there to find out all of the things that went wrong. Check out the race event facebook page or take a look at the many news headlines and countless blogs that have been written since the race.  While, I too had some less than pleasant experiences over the weekend, I've decided to focus on the positive.  After all, if your reading a running blog, I'm going to assume you are more of an optimist and would prefer to leave here feeling all warm and fuzzy.


A group of us made the decision back in April to sign up for this event as a way to celebrate.  We called it the "Fill in the Blank" celebration.  Some celebrated birthdays while others celebrated anniversaries.  A couple of people were using this as their very first 1/2 marathon.  We had lots of good times leading up to the race; drinking, gambling, eating and collecting cards on the strip.  You know, those cards they smack in their hands before passing them out to you?  Thinking they were valuable trading cards, we ended up with quite the collection. Surprisingly, no one really seemed interested in trading cards with us.  I got to meet a fellow DailyMiler, who came out from Indiana to run the race.  She has now become known as Pistol Annie, a nickname she acquired from my wife for reasons still unknown.


Running at night was weird, it threw off all of my planning and preparation rituals.  I wasn't sure what I should eat or how much to drink.  When to stop eating.  When time to target that last really good BM before the race. When I should I start getting ready?  Should I nap before hand?  I ended up sitting a blackjack table in New York New York all day, made a little bit of money and decided to just let things happen however the happened.  It was kind of crazy how many runners I met.  I think all of Vegas was either there for the race or the Rodeo. 


About 3:30 in the afternoon, we start making our way to the start line.  I made my way to corral 20 for the Team Future "family" pic, got a beer from Rich.  Rich intended to follow the sweeper car at the back of the race and drink beer for the entire 13.1 miles, so I figured I could handle one before I ran.  As soon as I finished the beer, I see 20 Elvi walking through the start corrals.  "What the hell was in that beer!?  Oh wait, I'm in Vegas and I'm in a kilt...so it's all good." 


I had decided long before this, that I had no intention of taking this race serious, I just wanted to have fun.  Of course, once I got up to my start corral (corral 3) my mindset drastically changed.  I went into competitive mode and now had every intention of kicking ass.


Believe it or not there were some cool things about the race.  Obviously, running on the strip at night was a way cool experience.  The crowd, within the first 4 or 5 miles, was great!   Yeah, there were a couple times I thought "I should stop and take a picture of that!" (Pawn Stars, Little White Chapel, etc.) but of course, I didn't.  I ended up missing a PR by less than 2 minutes and finished in 1:48:02.  Considering the amount of alcohol and food I consumed in the two days leading up to the race, I'm pretty proud of that.  I got through the finish with no issues.  Got my blanket, medal, drink, food, etc.  And let us not forget all of the selfless volunteers.  THANK YOU!  (Side note- If you never have, volunteer for a race.  It's one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.)


(And, yes, I did drink the water.  There were two aid stations that I thought the water tasted funny but I had no issues the night of the race.  The following Tuesday (two days later) was a different story.  Stomach cramps and several trips to the John and I was all better.) I don't know enough about contaminated water to say that was the cause, but I do know it's never happened to me before.  And there was nothing out of the ordinary that I did in those two days.


After the race, while making our way through the madness aka Mandalay Bay I found a half marathon medal on the ground.  No one claimed it, so I scooped it up.  When I got home and saw how many runners didn't get a medal, I decided to see if I could put it into the hands of a deserving runner.  I posted a message on the facebook page and a lady from Wyoming responded.  Later, I started seeing other people on the page offering up their only medal to first time runners.  Kudos to them.


Other fond memories were the "entertainers" at Coyote Ugly, the cool head lamp in our goody bag, the glow in the dark medal, running 13.1 miles in a kilt, the crazies on the streets and plenty of laughs.


Sure the organization was poor (at times even dangerous), the crowd (even the runners) was not as friendly as past races, there were long sections of the run with NO crowd support and so on and so on.  I doubt I'll ever run this event again, largely because of all the f' ups but there were still plenty of smiles this weekend.  For me running is all about the experience and whether its good, bad, ugly or whatever, it's what I've signed up for.  Not to take away from the terrible experiences of other runners, but I refuse to be left with only the negative thoughts.  We runners are known for being obnoxiously optimistic and intend on living up to that stereotype.


I put together a little collection from some of the weekend "highlights".
video

And for the record, Competitor Group, it doesn't matter how you try to make it better, I will not run Vegas RnR again.  But that's ok, because I've run Chicago twice and it is one of my favorite races!!!

Happy Running

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's The Point?

I started running in 2006. I never had any intention of becoming a runner, it was simply a way to help maintain my recent weight loss. But, like so many of us, I somehow managed to catch the bug. I still remember the day I decided to go outside and run a mile, without stopping. It was a big deal. It was also a very short term goal that I had set for myself. After I completed it, I was on cloud 9. I couldn't believe how easy it seemed. Granted, I had been building up my endurance on a treadmill for months prior, but I still had a lot of doubt.

By 2007 I had set a goal to complete a 5k. I made the rookie mistake of setting a time goal, which of course, I did not meet. I did a couple more 5k's that summer and by August had decided I would attempt a 10k (6.2 miles) in November. I successfully completed the 10k and immediately started thinking about what my next goal would be.

Since then I've set and achieved several goals; complete a half marathon, improve my 5k and 10k times, complete a marathon (Chicago in 2010/ 4:37:46), run 1000 miles in a year, do two half marathon's in a year, etc. In 2011 I decided to raise the bar and committed to completing two marathons and obtaining a Rock and Roll Heavy Medal. (In order to receive the Heavy Medal you have to complete multiple Rock & Roll marathons or half marathons.)

In May I competed the Rockford Marathon, in Rockford Illinois (4:15:32). In August, the Chicago Rock & Roll Half marathon (1:46:12). In Sept. I became a sub 4 hour marathoner, after finishing the Fox Valley Marathon in 3:59:39. And now, next Sunday on Dec 4th, I will run the Las Vegas Rock & Roll half marathon, thereby completing my goals for 2011. I've already started brainstorming what I will set as goals for 2012 (I'm keeping it secret for now).

So, What's the Point?! Let's face it we all love the feeling of accomplishment and there may not be a single way better to achieve that than with running. Every goal I have set, all the way back to that first mile, was filled with anguish and doubt. Countless hours convincing myself I was capable of doing whatever I set out to do. And that was just the beginning. Once we start training, doubt is along for the ride, damn near every day!!! But in the end, we train, prepare and we succeed. And there is no greater feeling than the moment you approach that finish line and get to say aloud "See, I told you so!"

And that....is the point! We are capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for. Not just in running, but in life. Success starts with belief, and until you believe, you will never know that can. Running is a training ground for life. Running can give you that confidence to accomplish things you never dreamed possible.
Happy Running

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fueling & Recovery

Most runners, especially new runners, are very good a two aspects of running; Training and Equipment.  We will spend countless hours researching the right shoes, latest gear and best training plan.  We will track the miles on our shoes, get up at 3 am just to make sure we don't miss our scheduled run and have a near melt down when our Garmin goes dead midway through our run.  But, how much time do we really spend on learning how to properly fuel before, during and after our runs?

Fueling and recovery can be a little more complicated and confusing.  Many articles go through the arduous  task of explaining carb to protein ratios and setting guidelines on calorie intake, hydration, etc.

In my first two marathon's I struggled with cramping towards the end of the race.  Bad cramping!  At times my legs would completely seize up, making it nearly impossible to even walk.  After the second race I started talking to a Rep. from Hammer Sports Nutrition.  He was very knowledgeable and explained things in a way that made it easy for a simpleton, like myself, to understand.  I won't bore you with all of his recommendations but I will encourage you to give them a call.  The thing that impressed me most with this company is their philosophy of less is better.

If you decide to give any of their products a try click their link on my blog for a 15% discount.

Supplementation is an important part of our fuel and recovery and the people at Hammer have it down to a science, literally.  Although, don't be fooled, this is only part of the equation.  What you eat and drink will also factor in to your running success.  Maybe we'll save that for a future article but for now, here's are a couple good article to help you get started.  Runner's Diet & Cave man diet.

Happy Running

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wasted Beats

"I believe that the Good Lord gave us a finite number of heartbeats and I'm damned if I'm going to use up mine running up and down a street."- Neil Armstrong


In his newest Podcast, Phedippidations host, Steve Runner, discusses what he refers to as " Logical Fallacies."  He defines these as "a mistake in reasoning" and provides the listener with many valid arguments as to the benefits of running.  He also discusses Neil Armstrong's famous anti-running quote.  While I was out on my run listening to this, it got me thinking...Am I wasting heart beats? Or was this the most famous logical fallacy ever quoted?  

For sake of argument, lets say the average heart beat of a non-runner is 80 beats per minute, and a runner, 60 beats per minute.  By my calculations, a non-runner would have 115,200 heart beats per day while the runner would have 86,400.  If the runner runs for 60 minutes per day with an average heart rate of 150 bpm, the runner would still only have 91,800 heart beats per day. The daily difference of 23,400 heart beats per day is a savings of 8.5 million heart beats per year and would gain 93 days per year in 'unused heartbeats'

The average life expectancy of person, as of 2009, in the United States, was about 78 years.  Using my extremely scientific logic, this would mean a non-runner would run out of heartbeats 7,254 days (19.87 years) sooner than the runner. 

Ok, so maybe it's not an exact science but if your main argument is the argument used by Mr. Armstrong it may be time to come up with a new one.

Happy Running.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Expectations



From the moment you decide to start running, you've formulated expectations in your mind. I think this is a primary reason so many people do not succeed in their running quest.  January 1st (you pick the year) your new years resolution is get in shape.  You decide running is part of the plan.  You throw on whatever gym shoes you have (or maybe you splurged and bought new shoes) and head out the door. Goal or no goal, in your mind you are committed. You make it about half way around the block and you already notice you are slowing down.   Your lungs are burning, you can barely breath, your legs are on fire and you give up.  Sound familiar?  I wish I had a dollar for every time I started out this way.

Maybe you are an experienced runner preparing to compete in your first distance race (pick the distance). You too have expectations and usually it is the best possible outcome, usually a personal record (PR). How many times have you been disappointed when you fall short of that goal?

I think it all comes down to setting realistic goals. If you've never run (successfully) its going to take time. You've gotta learn to walk before you can run, right?  Follow a plan like a couch to 5k. In the first couple weeks you will probably feel like you are not doing enough but that's ok. You don't have to feel near death to be running.

If you are an experienced runner set 3 goals. I call mine Amazing, Good & I can live with that. Remember, many things factor in to your finish. Health, weather, sleep, nutrition, hydration, supplementation and training all factor in.

Having realistic expectations, not matter your experience, will lead to success & Happy Running

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pure Project

Well, I've finally made the transition into a more 'minimal' shoe.  I've been waiting forever for Brooks to release the Pure Project line.  I went into Road Runner Sports on 10/24/11 and took a 'test drive' in all four models; Connect, Flow, Cadence & Grit.  Each offers something a little different.  All can be purchased on the Brooks website or at Road Runner Sports




The Pure Connect is considered the most 'minimal' of all the models.  This shoe has a pretty unique fit.  The best way to describe it is snug.  You can literally feel it hugging your foot.




Next are the Pure Flow.  A friend described this as most like the Kinvaras.  Brooks describes it as "a little more shoe and a whole lot of technology to a slick aesthetic"






Next are the Cadence which Brooks describes as "Lean construction fuses with a responsive fit in the PureCadence. For Guidance to Support runners, this shoe delivers more support through smart, streamlined features such as a wider Nav Band that’s locked in to the medial strike pod."








And last but not least Pure Grit.  These were the model I decided to go with.  I would compare the fit to the Flow but it is designed to be more of a trail shoe.  It has a unique tread that does offer great traction off road.  My only concern, at this point, is how fast the tread will wear.  Once it's gone I suspect these shoes will be too slippery to wear on wet pavement.  I've only logged about 50 miles since buying them but I do love them.  I've averaged about a 30 seconds per mile increase in speed with no extra effort.  Maybe it's all in my head but whatever it is, it's working. 







And the best part.....my dog loves them too.


Happy Running





Monday, November 14, 2011

Cold Weather Running



Jack Frost is right around the corner and unless you live in a warm weather region, you will be running with him soon enough. Just because the mercury falls it doesn't mean you have to succombe to running inside.  Here are a couple things to make running in the cold a success.

1.  CLOTHING-  Most would assume as long as you layer up you will be fine. While this may be true, in part, there is more to consider.  Make sure your base layer of clothing is moisture wicking.  This will help draw the sweat away from you skin.  Wet + Cold = Bad.  After the base layer, the choice is yours, however having at least one removable layer is not a bad idea.  Consider visibility as well, reflective, bright colors, lights (at night) or colors that contrast your landscape (black when there is snow on the ground) will help make you more visible.  Your socks should be moisture wicking as well, and don't go cheap on the socks. Keeping your feet warm and dry will be well worth the money you've invested.

2. HATS & GLOVES- Much of this will come down to personal preference. Hats designed specifically for running will usually be better suited for moisture wicking. Other options may include ear and/or full face coverage. Variety also exists in the types of gloves available. Many brands now offer built in pockets or "touch access". Touch access will have special material or openings in the fingers, making it easier to use your I-pod, watch, phone, etc.

3. FACE & EYE PROTECTION-  Sunglasses aren't just for the summertime. They offer good protection from the wind and snow. Glasses that allow for interchangeable lenses are a nice option.  To protect your face consider using Vasoline. This will help guard against wind burn and chapped skin.  Sun screen may also be needed.

4.  CONQUERING THE ROAD-  Dealing with the wet, icy or snowy roads is another thing you'll have to plan for. Count on even less room for you and all of the speeding, texting motorists on the snowy roads. Many trails are still maintained in the winter and may offer a safer option. Using trail shoes, even on the road, will provide added traction during poor weather. A cheaper alternative is a product called Yak Trax . I am in no way a paid spokesperson for the company but as a satisfied customer, I feel comfortable in recommending them.   Make sure to look for the running model.

5.  COLD AIR-  In the early stages of your running development you may find some discomfort in breathing in the cold air. This seems to lessen as your lung strength and conditioning improves.  Taking a brief 5-10 minute walk before your run will help you body adjust to the cold, while providing your muscles an opportunity to get warmed up.

6.  FROZEN FUEL-  Keep in mind you will still need to hydrate and fuel on your longer runs, which could lead to frozen fuel. Keeping gel packs close to your body and warming your water before you go will help to minimize this problem. Chewable "fuels" are also an option.

Finally, make sure someone knows where you are going and when you will be back. Take a cell phone with you, just in case. A free app called Glympse allows you to be tracked by GPS while running. You set the time and people you authorize to track you and they receive a message along with a link to do just that. Other similar options are probably available.

Hopefully using these tips will help you fall in love with running in the cold. Ok, well most of the time.

Happy Running

Thursday, November 10, 2011

So You Wanna Be A Runner

I'm going to assume if you've gotten this far you've at least considered becoming a runner.  Before you take the plunge here are some important tips to help you get started:

1. TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR.  This really goes without saying, but it's still the most important starting point.  Don't just assume you are in good health, schedule a physical.  Make sure you communicate your desire to become a runner, with your doctor.  He/She can help you to establish a routine and make sure you start off safely.  If your doctor doesn't automatically recommend it, ask about a stress test.

2. START SLOW.  Now that you've received medical clearance it's time to get on the move.  Contrary to popular belief running does not / should not equal misery.  Look up a couch to 5k plan.  You'll notice that you will probably do more walking than running in the first few weeks, it's normal to feel like you are not doing enough.  This process should be a gradual build up.  This will be a good mind set to have, even after you've become an experienced runner

3.  GET THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT.  In the beginning there is no need to go crazy but here is my priority list;  Shoes, Heart Rate monitor, Clothes, Watch (or some other form of time/distance measurement).

-It all starts with the right shoes.  Having the right shoes will reduce your chance of injury and make sure you start off on the right foot (pun intended).  Many local running stores will offer a free gait assessment along with a recommendation on which type of shoe you should be wearing.  Resist the urge to buy what looks cool in this weeks sale paper.

-Some would argue that the next priority would be good moisture wicking clothing and I won't dispute that, however safety should come first.  Having a good heart rate monitor will help to insure you don't over do it.  It's useful long term as well, many training programs advocate the monitoring of  your heart rate in the plan.

-Moisture wicking clothing is excellent for helping to keep your body temperature regulated.  In the winter it's a good idea to wear the moisture wicking layer as your base layer and add the warm clothes on top of that.  And if you are going to spend the extra money on the moisture wicking apparel, spend the money and buy the detergent designed for the care/cleaning of the clothing.  The detergent will extend the life of the clothing and do a better job and getting rid of the stink.

-You have a few options here but in a nutshell measure your distance on-line, in your car or with some sort of GPS device.  More to come in a later post.

4.   KEEP A RUNNING LOG.   Whether you choose to use a pen and pad of paper or one of the countless websites that exist, keeping a log is a good idea.  Not only will you have the benefit of constantly monitoring your progress but it will also serve as good motivator.  If you're a visual learner it will help to reinforce what you've accomplished and motivate you to keep going.  It will also be fun to go back a year from now and look at all you've accomplished.

5.  GO PUBLIC.   Brag, tweet, facebook, blog or however you want to do it, just tell everyone your decision to become a runner.  I believe that holding yourself accountable will also serve as a good motivator.  I can think of countless times that I have publicly said "I'm running 10 miles tomorrow!"  Then tomorrow comes and 6 miles into my run I've thought of twenty reasons why seven or eight would be good enough.  But then I'm reminded of all the 'bragging' I've done and now want the satisfaction of saying I did what I said I was going to do.

6.  SET A GOAL.  Nothing beats putting your money where your mouth is (or in this case your feet).  This is another great motivator.  Pick a 5k at 10-16 weeks out from the start of your training.  On those days when you just don't feel like running, remember you are now financially invested in this endeavor.

7.  FIND A RUNNING BUDDY.  Whether you manage to sucker a friend into it, hook up with an already established runner or join a running club, this will be another good motivator.  Somebody is counting on you now so you can't let them down. Don't be intimidated by running clubs, most of them will have people of varying ability and experience.  Remember, we all started at some point and we want nothing more than to help you succeed in "embracing the suck!"

A friend of mine has a band named 28 Days (shameless plug).  The meaning behind the name;  it takes 28 days to create a habit.  Keep this in mind when starting out.  Even the most experienced runners have days when they just don't feel like lacing up and hitting the road.  Hopefully use these tips will help get you to the point where running has become a habit.  Then, on those days you miss your scheduled training run it will become the uncomfortable day as opposed to those days when you went for a run in the beginning.

Happy Running