serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Archive for March, 2009

How I Became A Serious Runner

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009


This is a post from my friend Tim Hatton who was inspired by this blog to begin running.  I’ve always said, ‘if we inspire at least one person to start running, then we’ve succeeded.’   I guess I can go home now.  From Hatton:

I am the first to admit that my first perception of running was “it’s boring” and “painful”. My approach to running was something like this: I have not run in a while let’s test how far I can go, as fast as I can go. After that distance is determined I’ll just try to go as hard and go a farther distance. So having done little to no running (or activity for that matter) I went out determined to run as fast a mile I could. The results: a 7 minute mile with a dash of right knee and shin pain, but overall decent results, I thought. Having gone basically to the end of the street and back in a flash, I felt active again. I told most of the people I saw over the next few days about how I was going to be running more often, change my lazy ways. I think we have all reached that point of feeling fat, dumb, and lazy – it is no way to go through life.

The reality: I went running maybe two to three more times before my knee started to seriously hurt and I called it quits. I just wasn’t cut out for running, I justified to myself and others that I had impress just weeks early with my new found (renewed) motivation. The sports I have been into – lacrosse and hockey (yes, just hockey, when you grow up in Connecticut you don’t have to call it ice hockey) – just hadn’t prepared my body for running longer distances consistently. And that is where I put running in my mind – maybe not so much as boring anymore as I enjoyed getting to know the neighborhood a little closer, at a slower speed than driving (more about that later) BUT definitely still painful.

Enter Amanda. Amanda is my cute, little girlfriend, who runs. And she runs quite well. She is capable of maintaining her speediness over long distances, quite impressive (3:52:12 Chicago Marathon). Distances in my mind never achievable for me because of my knee problems, probably the result of a slash I took during the Tennessee game my senior year at Georgia playing lacrosse, which sidelined me for the second half despite my self-medicating 5 Advil. Anyhow, back to how Amanda fits in. She was a cross country runner in high school and college and explains to me the pain I am experiencing is because I am not building up properly. What? In hockey and lacrosse you just sprint as fast as you can for short spurts, then as you feel needles in your lungs you go to the bench for subs. And while I did get shin splints during pre-season training they eventually subsided as we played more games and quit with the stupid two-mile lake runs, around UGA rec field.

Getting back to the build-up. The reason, she explained, was that I was going to hard, stressing muscles and joints that had not been properly trained. She explained it like this – if you want to bench press 250 pounds (pounds, baby! – Jerky Boys) you do not get on the bench and man up 250 lbs on your first, gym head-turning grunt, you build up slowly. First, try 150 ten times (pantzy) and then slowly add weight. Ok, that makes sense. Go slow, build up, slowly add more weight, ah, distance to your routine.

So I started to try that. I ran two miles, a couple of times the first week. Then I ran 3 miles the second and third, and completed a 5k in 24:36. A few months later of consistently adding miles and soon I will be running a 10K with a goal of 45 minutes.

Trail Running Downhill Tips

Monday, March 30th, 2009


Downhills are your place to catch up on other runners.  Well, maybe, but I view downhills as a place to rest a bit, but not lose any momentum or waste energy slowing yourself down.  That’s just counterproductive.  You want to increase productivity.  It’s trailrunning-conomics.

When running downhill on a trail you want to have quick feet, a trained eyes, balance, and reflexes.  All of these items together will give you a relaxed and fluid running form.  You want to try to keep your body weight centered over your knees so you strike the ball of your feet on the ground instead of your heels.  Striking on your heels makes for a leaned back running posture that can lead to injury and creates less efficient running.  You want to be leaning slightly forward to maximize your foot movement and minimize injury.  Keep your elbows relaxed and slightly raised so they are poised to help you maintain your balance and steer.  Imagine you are a fighter plane and your elbows are your wings. Soon you’ll be ‘flying’ through the trails.  That’s right!  Ice…man.  I am dangerous.  Who wants to go play some volleyball?

You also want to make sure you are looking ahead.  Many new trail runners look at their feet when running downhill but this is not the most efficient way to run.  It is a lot of like driving a car, when you first start you look directly in front of you but the more you drive the more you look forward to see what is ahead of you so you can plan your next move.  If you know what is coming you can adjust your body movements before you get to an obstacle.  Likewise, if the trail turns suddenly you can adjust you movements accordingly as you come to it.  Grab on to a tree and swing yourself around the curve if you really want to look extreme.  Extremeness is what it’s all about anyways right?

You want to be light on your feet.  I know, you’re a 250 pounds and you are never light on your feet, not even when crawling into bed or easing yourself into a warm bath.  Why are you taking baths anyways?  When running on the trail, listen to see if you are being light on your feet.  If you hear youself stomping down the trail, then lighten up.  Man, you’re feet can be so serious sometimes.  It’s cool, we like serious feet around here.  Try to increase the number of steps you take to lighten up the load on each step.  It’s like putting a car in a lower gear instead of slamming on the breaks.  When you slam on the breaks you are putting more strain on your body and quickly stopping away momentum that gravity is giving you running on the downhill.  Put gravity to work for you.  Gravity just hangs around not doing anything anyways.  It’s about time gravity got a real job instead of always putting objects down.  Gravity is such a negative Nancy.

Georgia ING Half and Full Marathon (now Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon)

Sunday, March 29th, 2009


I ran the 2009 Geogia ING Half Marathon this morning.  I just didn’t have the time right now to train for a full properly so I thought I would race a half for the first time and see how I did.  It felt really good.  I had been working on my speed and I think it paid off.  I think I ran under 1:25 (update:  1:24:02) which was my goal.  It’s nice to achieve your goals, be goal oriented.  What other orientational options do you have anyways?

I really liked the race course.  The Georgia ING half and full marathons started in Centennial Olympic Park which has a lot of historical significance.  It was the hub for activities during the 1996 Olympic Games and was the site of the tragic Centennial Olympic Park Bombing.  Centennial Olympic Park is situated in the center of downtown Atlanta near a lot of great hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions.  This makes the Georgia Marathon a great destination race if you are looking for a cool destination to visit and also run a marathon.

The course continues from Centennial Olympic Park through parts of downtown and into an old Historic areas of Atlanta.  I liked the course because it was the perfect mix of landmarks, parks, downtown areas, and old historic homes.  It really showed the different faces of Atlanta and kept your attention while running.  This did make for a bit of a windy course but it was well worth it.  Who wants to travel in a straight shot anyways…other than maybe astronauts.

The start and finish area needs work; a good bit of work.  First off, when my group got there we could not find the bag drop and decided to just “follow the crowd” but once inside the park, the crowd was going every direction!  This is indicative of the whole layout and logistics of the race area.  Once we found the “bag drop” (which was merely putting your bag under a tent) we went to the bathrooms before the race.  The line took 20 minutes and there were only about 20 stalls.  I’m sure there were other bathrooms in other places but I did not see them.  I did see a line for the bathroom at a coffee shop about 40 people deep.  I missed my start group and had to jump the fence to start with a later group; however, other than being with slower paced runners, it didn’t matter because there was no stagger at the start.  Race corrals are based on the time you submit, which is not verified.  This creates a bulk or runners of varying abilities all starting the race at the same time.  If the race does not want to verify times then there should be some sort of stagger between corrals.  A mere thirty seconds makes a big difference for runners trying to dodge in and out of runners.  I do admit, I did jump into a slower group than mine, but I heard this was a problem for other runners too.  People like to complain, I just listen.

The finish line is at Centennial Olympic Park as well.  It is difficult to see exactly how far the finish line is because it is around a corner and behind a large building.  I saw a “one mile left” marker but didn’t know when I needed to give my 800 meters left kick.  I was already around the corner with about 100m to the finish when I saw the actual line.

The layout in the park after the race is not user friendly either.  I think they need to hire a race layout engineer from Georgia Tech next year to figure this whole thing out.  Apparently this has been a reoccurring problem for the race.  Runners are corralled around and fed out near the bag drop area which was convenient.  There was a band with a stage to the right of the finish line but I didn’t see anyone near it, most likely because there were barely any race spectators on that side of the course.  It was extremely difficult to get to.  The other side of the course had a VERY large area of the park gated off for reasons unknown to me.  Possibly the city did not allow them to have people walking on this portion of the park.  It made for about a half mile walk from where runners were corralled to where they needed to be if they wanted to watch other runners finish.  I feel like they should have left this area completely open to allow runners to hang out and enjoy themselves.  I saw a lot of groups of people talking and laughing after the race but I didn’t see anyone staying around.  The weather was fine, there just wasn’t any open area that invited runners to stick around.  As soon as our group found each other we left immediately for a mile walk home.  Thanks my pick-up/drop-off guy.

Overall, if you want an excuse to visit Atlanta or Georgia then this is a good race to run based on its proximity to entertainment and the route it takes on historic parts of Atlanta.  If you are looking for a well organized marathon to travel to maybe you could whisk yourself away to a magical place called Delaware.  Hi.  I’m in Delaware.

Recon the Race Course

Saturday, March 28th, 2009


Here are the best ways to recon your running race course, utilizing my military training with running experiences, to help you do the most effective route reconnaissance.  There are four types of recons:  map, ground, foot, and aerial.  Sorry Rocket Man, but capital probably limits you from doing the aerial type of recon so we’ll just stick to the map, ground, and foot recons.  The foot recon is the most preferred method but map and ground recons can be fine substitutes.  If you listen to me you’ll have the best information possible going into the race, Private First Class Runner.

Map Recon: These days there are numerous sources on the Internet to find any type of map.  When I was deployed to Iraq we would even surf google maps to see if there were any bad guys cruising around the streets.  Not really Grandma.  Seriously though, first you need to get a map of the race course from the race website.  These courses are very well drawn out with street names although some smaller races may only have directions in text.  If this is the case, then go to google maps and print off the area your race runs in.  Then take a highlighter and draw out your course.  Isn’t it fun to make crafts!  If you want to mark the distance on your paper map, take out a pieces of string along the route and compare this to the scale at the bottom of the map to measure your distances.  Or you can just got to and do it on the computer.  That’s all that website is good for though.  Come back to for all things running…minus mapping capabilities.  It’ll come.  Do beware though, the distances on these mapping programs are not very accurate.

Ground Recon: Get a course map and hop in the car to drive the race route.  Make sure you start a new trip on the odometer so you know your distance.  Point out your the easily identifiable landmarks to give you an idea of where exactly you are while running the course.  While racing you always want to maintain situational awareness.  Always know where you are and your estimated time on target.  As you are driving, visual how you will be feeling and what will be going through your head at certain points along the route.  Utilizing this recon technique at night doesn’t make much sense unless you have night vision goggles…or live in Alaska.

Foot Recon: Find out the race course and go for a run.  Try doing it by yourself.  Don’t race it.  Take it easy.  Take is slow to see everything around you.  Focus on what you will be feeling at which points.  Notice all of the hills that you will have to run up.  Notice of all the downhills you can pick up some time on.  Think about the other runners.  Where will they probably be tired?  This is where you want to make your move.  Make sure you don’t put your move point too far from the finish.  You want to be able to make your move earlier than the other runners and sustain it.  The best way to learn is through experience.  Get some ORT, On the Route Training.  The Army is into the whole “acronym” thing.

See you on the objective!

18th Annual Running the Blues 5K Run & 2.5K Walk

Friday, March 27th, 2009

running-the-blues-5k1It’s time again for the 18th Annual Running the Blues 5K Run & 2.5K Walk in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.  The event is being held on April 4th at 9:00 am this year and coincides with the Springing the Blues festival weekend, as per usual.  This isn’t your normal 5k race mainly because the whole course is on the nice, flat (as opposed to a hilly) beach.  I recommend running barefoot.  Even though the tide will be down, there is no promise that you won’t be running into the wind so watch where you are spitting.  If you aren’t extreme enough to run the 5k on the soft sand then you can still enjoy the beauty of the beach and participate in the 2.5K walk on the beach.  I did some research on and found that “walks on the beach” was an activity that 96% of singles enjoy.  So if you’re not a runner, at least consider impressing the opposite sex by walking on the beach.  You’re so sensitive and I dig that about you.  You need to register for this race TODAY by sending a mail in entry postmarked by the 28th or registering online before April 1st for the price of 17 dollars.  Everyone knows that’s a steal for a cool 5k like this.  The T-shirt alone probably costs that much.  Also there is race day registration available but then the price goes up to 20 dollars.  It’s a bad economy, go ahead and register now and use that 3 dollars to get yourself a McDonald’s Value Meal after the race.  You earned it, you just ran 3.1 miles!  Or walked 2.5K, still something to eat a Big Mac about.

The event is hosted by Performance MutliSports Event Planning and Production which is a really cool organization.  Performance MultiSports organizes a variety of races and promotes healthy recreational opportunities in NE Florida. Performance provides athletes of many sports a way to meet, train, and socialize together, while giving back to the community, as it produces sports events for a variety of other non-profit organizations.  They put on all kind of races like adventure, running, bicycling, triathlon, duathlon, kayak, and multisport events all over Florida.  We all know that running is the best sport you can participate in, but it’s great to get out and challenge yourself with some new activities and races.  You have to keep challenging yourself if you want to truly be extreme.  I’m thinking about doing a kayak race.  How cool would that be?  Pretty cool.  You can check out their event calendar to see all the different events you can participate in.  There’s also a plethora of links available on their website if you want to learn more about these different activities. However, don’t click on the Running link, it may give your computer the flu or some other sickness.  They have bicycling resources available too but not necessarily mountain biking, but you already know where to go for that. You’re so renaissance and I like how your resume reflects that.  You’re hired!…to run the 18th Annual Running the Blues 5k Run & 2.5K Walk.

You don’t live in Florida?  I don’t care, this 5k is a destination race for sure because it goes along with the Springing the Blues festival which is a free, three-day, ocean front concert.  Run a 5k on the ocean in the morning, then chill out with a free oceanfront Blues festival the rest of the day.  Sounds like the perfect vacation for this economy!  Some of the performers include Regi Blue, Cedric Burnside and Lightnin Malcolm, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band and many more.  I honestly don’t know much about the Blues but Downbeat magazine rated this festival as one of the top 50 Music Festivals and Southeast Tourism Society named it one of the top 20 destination events.  See, it’s official, the Running the Blues 5k Run & 2.5K Walk is a destination event.  Make it you’re cheap vacation destination!  Where else would you go in Florida anyways?

No where other than Jacksonville Beach.  Go ahead and take your shoes off and relax…after running 3.1 miles of course…with our without shoes.  Don’t you want to earn all the beer you’ll consume watching blues all day afterward?  Beer that you earn tastes almost as good as free beer!  Almost.

Tips for Running a Marathon

Thursday, March 26th, 2009


One of my friends from the Army was telling me that he is running a marathon this weekend and his goal is to run it in under 5 hours.  Sometimes I forget that there is a whole group of runners out there who’s only goal is to finish the race.  That’s not a bad goal to have, a marathon is a difficult endeavor and not everyone can do it.  Here are some tips for running a successful marathon.  Just remember, it’s not how fast you run, it’s how you finish the race.  A smile and still standing is optimal.

Hydration is probably the most important factor to running a successful marathon (assuming you’ve trained and have the right mental frame of mind going into it).  It is important to start hydrating for a race about a week prior to the event.  Try to alternate between Gatorade and water in order to get the right amount of electrolytes.  It is possible to over-hydrate so don’t put down more water than your body needs.  Only drink water and Gatorade the week before the race and don’t drink anything that will dehydrate.  You can concentrate on dehydrating when are ready to celebrate your accomplishment.

In addition to increasing your hydration intake, you need to load up on carbs.  Doesn’t that sound fun?  You also need to try to get some protein in there.  I typically pay attention to this about 36 hours prior to the race.  I feel like any earlier than that and you use the energy doing other things and the nutrients pass through your body by race day.  But then again I eat spaghetti every night anyways so its tough to tell.  Some nights if I’m in a hurry I eat a can of Spaghetti O’s instead.  I love’em.

Make sure you get in the right frame of mind as you’re toeing the line.  You want to be mentally prepared for your race so think about all the training you have done.  Think about how you are ready to run it.  Imagine how it will feel crossing the finish line and seeing your family or friends.  Think about having to tell them “I didn’t reach my goal” or “I had to walk.”  You’ve got to tap into both positive and negative reinforcement to achieve your goals.  I once dated someone who always told me I was awesome and it got to the point where I thought it was counter-productive.  If I’m already awesome, then why do I have to work hard to become awesomener?  I’m fine with awesome.

You need to have a good race day breakfast.  It needs to be something that has carbohydrates but nothing too extreme that may upset your stomach.  I typically have a couple of plain bagels.  Try out a couple of different breakfast items before your long runs during training and see what feels best for you.  No matter what the type of food it is, you need to have some energy in your body for the start of the race.

Try not to run out too fast.  I wasn’t sure if I should mention this though.  Many races I have gone out a little faster than I had planned but it worked out for the best.  Yes, my first couple of miles may be faster than mile 20 and 21 but it sets a good tone for the race.  It’s puts you in position to have a great time or you can ease off a bit and run what you imagined you would.  However, just don’t get too excited and over extend yourself to the point that you are tired and negative for the remainder of the race.  I did this in the first marathon I ran, first half in 1:30, the second half 2:15.  I didn’t enjoy the second half as much even though it was in the Hollywood area instead of Inglewood.  I lived in Inglewood.

Develop some mantras to keep you occupied and motivate you.  You have to determine what works best for you, but mine is usually, “The faster you run the quicker you’ll be done.”  Please don’t use my mantra though.  It’s mine.  Mantras value is inversely proportion to the amount of people who use it.  If you need one try, “Serenity Now.”  I’m sure no one has ever said that before!

Overall have the right mental state of mind going into the race.  Doing all of this things will give you the confidence you need to know that you are ready and able to achieve your goals.  You can do it.

How to Run Faster

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

sprintingDo you want to increase your speed?  Sure, we all do.  But how do you do it if you are already running for distance?  Well, first of all, speed is relative to the amount of effort you put in; however, there are some ways you can increase your speed without taking anything away from your distance work-outs.

Tempo Runs are a great way to work on speed and still get the distance you need.  Try running distances less than the race distance you are training for at your race pace.  When doing this you are increasing your body’s knowledge of what it is like to run at that fast pace and how to execute that task.  Don’t worry if you feel exhausted after running a shorter distance than your race at race pace.  It’s not race day yet and there are other factors during a race that contribute to you running a faster time that can not be replicated very easily like the other runners, spectators, and water stations.

You can also increase your speed by incorporating hill work outs in your training.  When running uphills you have to use your leg muscles and upper body more than normal running which translates into faster running when you are on a flat surface.  Plus you’ll appreciate flat surfaces more.  You never know how good you had it until it’s is gone.

Changing your running mechanics can help as well.  In order to run faster than you normally do you need to increase your stride.  The longer your stride, the farther you go, the faster you run overall.  Make sense?  Of course, it’s logic.  In order to increase your stride start by making sure you stretch before every run.  The looser and more flexible your muscles are, the longer your stride.  Also try pushing off of your toes more.  It will increase your forward momentum along with your stride length.  However, do not increase your stride so you look like a gazelle or some other African inhabitant.  At some point, altering your stride and running style will give you diminishing returns.  Kind of like your current equity portfolio.  Sorry.  That wasn’t funny.

Lastly and most importantly, you want to increase your upper body strength.  Long distance runners often overlook this and it shows when they take their shirt off.  But if you look at any sprinter when they take their shirts off you can  see that larger upper body muscles increase speed.  Now stop staring.  Some areas you want to focus on are you chest, biceps, triceps, lower back, and shoulders.  Use less weight with more repetition rather than a couple of sets of heavy weights.  You don’t want to add too much bulk and weight to your body that you end up not using when running but still have to carry.  You just want efficient body mass that will help you push your upper body forward to help along your lower body.  Do not work out your legs if you are running a training plan.  This will only cause them to fatigue.  Just go run; better, faster, work  harder, get stronger.  I heard you’d do anything for a Klondike.

If you follow this advice you will run faster than you did before.  100% guaranteed or I will refund the price you paid to read this blog, including all opportunity costs; which I estimate to be rather low because you would have been on twitter otherwise.  While you’re there start following Seriousrunning…if you’re you can keep up.  Snap!

New Balance LOVE/Hate Relationship

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009


New Balance has been running a marketing campaign about the LOVE/hate affair runners have with running to promote their 88 critical points of contact which they claim will increase the LOVE and decrease the hate part of running.  Bringing the two adversaries together…much like the black and white cookie.  Look to the New Balance running shoes to solve all problems and social issues!  Not really, but maybe it will help you solve some of your personal problems, like running.  Initially when I heard this slogan I thought to myself, ‘Why would they put the word hate before New Balance?’  No matter what the message they are trying to convey actually means, the word “hate” gives a negative connotation to their company, especially since it is just before the words “New Balance.”  However, upon watching some of the commercials and researching it further, I really like the concept.  I just hope it doesn’t turn too many consumers off with their first impression.  Not that I really care though, I stopped wearing New Balance when I was like 15; but I’ve always been on the cutting edge of running.  It’s fine though if you still run in New Balance, I’ve got nothing but love for you baby.

I do really love (not hate) what New Balance stands for:  self-improvement, inner harmony, balanced effort, the smell of nature, and spiritual development.  Isn’t that what most of us runners are looking for?  This is compared with Nike’s running shoe division which stands for winning, the roar of the crowd, extreme effort, the smell of sweat, and physical development.  These are all good things to work for and strive to accomplish…if you are 16 years old and have your running future ahead of you.  You can be anything you want to be when you grow up.  However, most of us are already grown up and are past our prime.  Most of us have jobs that aren’t living off race winnings.  Running is more of a spiritual release for us, to balance out our lives.  You could try drinking a gallon of V8 everyday to balance you out. I’m going to stick to running.

In one of the New Balance LOVE/hate commercials they say, “…balance between joy and pain, work and play.”  Running is about balance (but there’s nothing New about that).  It is a balance between your life and your life.  Running is your personal time.  Time to get away from everything else going on and be with yourself.  When you are running you are pushing and challenging yourself.  You find out what kind of person you really are; if you can make that extra mile.  If you can even get out of bed to start that first mile.  Another New Balance LOVE/hate commercial states, “The first mile hates to see you running.  It would rather you go back to the couch.  But both you and running know there are other things to look forward to.  Like the second mile.”  A none runner would say, ‘who actually looks forward to the second mile?’  Runners Do Mr. Novice.

Another commercial says, “…suddenly it’s just you and Running.  You won’t even return calls from Quitting.”  Quitting doesn’t even have my number.  I gave it my standard fake:  867-5309.

Track Running vs. Road Running

Monday, March 23rd, 2009


I have been training to run a half marathon in 1:25 for the past 9 weeks.  The training has gone well, I may have actually over trained a bit, running as much as 17 miles last Sunday, but I think I am fine.  I took a couple of extra rest days this weekend.  The race is a week away; however, I did not register and don’t have a number.  I had a couple of different options for obtaining a number, from friends that weren’t planning on using theirs, a couple of acquaintances at ING which is sponsoring the race, etc., but all of those options have now fallen through and the last day to register was last night.  So I decided since I have put in all this effort in training, I should see if I am able to attain my goal, even if I won’t be able to participate in the event.  I have never raced a half marathon distance before, only while running a full marathon, but I’m very confident that I can do it in less than 1:30.  I do think that my goal of 1:25 is going to be very difficult.  That’s why it’s a goal though, it’s not just something I could do at anytime without putting forth a good bit of effort.  So since I don’t have a number, I’m going to run my own race, which is what running is all about anyways, right?  I have two options for where to compete in my personal race, running 13.1 miles on the track or on the road.  I ran 13.1 miles in a trail race about a month ago, running it in 1:34, so I don’t need to race on a trail.  That day the trail was very saturated too, so I’m confident that I could have run it under 1:30 in normal conditions.  I know my body, my abilities, and my race pace.  Apparently I just don’t know how to obtain a free race entry.

I honestly don’t know which option would be tougher, running my personal half-marathon race on a track or road.  The track is flat and I would be able to concentrate on my splits, even every 400m if I needed to, but I get very bored running on a track.  I haven’t run further than 5 miles on a track or treadmill in probably over 10 years, so doing 13.1 miles on the track for time would be a challenge for me.  Also, I wonder if running that long of a distance on a track would decrease my overall speed on the run because of the constant turning.  It makes sense to me, but I’ve done more orienteering courses than most normal people.  I’ve never claimed that my life thus far has been normal, it’s been purposely engineered that way.  I do have a little more confidence in my abilities on the track because in my training I ran intervals there, many of which were for longer distances at race pace.  I have confidence in my physical toughness for a track, but mentally I’m not sure if the perpetual running in circles without going anywhere would eventually begin to demotivate me.

It’s tough to be motivated to attain your goals if you are constantly working to reach them but end up going nowhere.  All I can say is keep running harder…but I guess that wouldn’t help on a track.  How about, if your going no where, try getting off the track and going to the weight room.  There’s properly more attractive people there anyways.

I could also pick a road course where I could run 13.1 miles without having to stop for cars or street signs; however,  I’m not sure exactly where that would be at this time.  I would run with my Garmin Forerunner 205 but this would not be as accurate as the track or a USATF certified course.  I do think it would be close enough to accurately gauge whether or not I met my goal, plus or minus .1 miles.  Obviously there would be more hills than the track, but this would be more like to the half marathon race I was going to run.  Running on the road would be the best replica of the race I was planning on doing, but I think running 13.1 miles on a track would be more difficult.

I know either option will be more difficult to attain my goal than running in the actual race though.  In the race there are people watching and cheering, helping you to maintain a good pace and motivation not to slow down.  Also, the water and food stops make the race more attractive.  I may recruit some friends to meet me on my race with some goo and water.  Other runners help too in allowing you to gauge your pace and sometimes draft off of.  Overall, whether I do it on the track or on the road, running by myself is going to be more difficult than running in an organized road race.  After running 17 miles a week ago I thought to myself, ‘A half marathon just doesn’t really have the allure of being a challenge, no matter how fast of a time I set my goal for.’  But as a former US Army Officer, I plan to execute the task I said I was going to do, even if I only promised myself that I was going to do it.  I think I got this from my parents who never let me quite an organized activity as a child no matter how much I complained that I didn’t want to do it anymore.  I think I tried to quite Boy Scouts about 100 times.  Or I got it from the Army, who threatens to send you to jail if you decide to quit.

Let me know if you think running on a track or road would be tougher.  Also, if you have any recommendations of how I can make my goal a little more difficult to accomplish please let me know.  I won’t promise I’ll do it though.  Whatever, I do what I want!

How to Avoid Falling while Running

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

leah-hurt-resizeEveryone has fallen or will eventually fall when running.  Sorry, but it’s just math.  All you can do is try to minimize the occurrences and mitigate the severity of the impact.  Most of the time falls result in skinned knees or elbows but falls while running can be worse, like a sprained ankle or a broken wrist.  Not to mention a busted ego.  Sometimes that takes the longest to heal.  It’s better than a busted face though.  See.  Way to stay positive.

Most people fall because they are thinking about something else and not paying attention to their environment and surroundings.  I find that when trail running I don’t think about much other than the next safe step I need to take.  This is very different from the deep thought I often go into when road running.  However, you do need to stay alert and be careful when road running.  Instead of roots and rocks to avoid you have to worry about potholes, cracks in the road, or small dogs.  If you are running in a group it helps to point out possible obstacles to other runners by raising one arm in the air.  You can also point your finger up in the air, wave it in a circular motion and then point to an object.  This is the non-verbal sign for a “rally point.”  Just don’t tell the Russians about it.  Also, try not to run when it is dark, especially in an unfamiliar area (not because of the Russians but so you don’t fall).  Our busy schedules often require us to run when it is dark out, so make sure you run a route that you are familiar with where the obstacles are.  Doesn’t it feel like you’re running faster when it is dark?  Maybe because you can’t see objects around you as well to give you a reference of how fast or slow you are running.  That’s a discussion for another blog post though.  Don’t be greedy, I’m here everyday, running down a dream.

Since falling while running has to do with balance, there are actually ways you can improve your balance and minimize the risk of falling.  Start by lifting one leg off of the ground, with your thigh parallel to the floor, standing on one foot; hold for 15-30 seconds.  Change legs and repeat as desired.  Bottom line, if you want to improve your balance, practice standing on one foot.  Kinesiology must have been a tough major.  I’m glad I took Economics.

If you feel like you are going down then don’t try to fight gravity; you’ll lose.  Instead, tuck your arms in and try to roll to your side to lesson the impact.  This way you avoid your wrists or elbows taking the full impact of the fall.  Another option is to try to grab something on your way down.  Use a tree, parking meter, or another runner if you need to, but try not to take them down with you.  Two falls don’t make you run upright.  Zing!

Don’t kid yourself, running isn’t extreme but it can be dangerous.  Be careful when running on any terrain.  Accidents do happen…just not as much now that you’re a big boy or girl.