Run Safe

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 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


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 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