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Archive for June, 2009

Why Men Should Run Shirtless

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009


I run with my shirt off.  You’re welcome ladies.  I run shirtless any chance I get; 55 degrees is about my threshold.  As you can see from this picture though, I’m shirtless and the spectators are in heavy coats and knitted caps.  It probably was less than 55 degrees that day.  I recently read a blog, Feet Meet Street, about the Shirtless Coalition.  Well, I’m not one to join too many Coalitions, unless of course it’s Coalition Forces (or better known as US Forces) and freeing a country is involved, but the shirtless debate struck a chord with me.  So I’m here to tell you, if you are male, it’s fine.  I do it all the time.  Sorry ladies, but it’s just another one of those double standard things.  Trust me, I would love for you to be able to run shirtless too, it’s great for your running body; however, it’s just not socially acceptable.  Maybe someday we’ll get enough judges in the supreme court to overturn this terrible law, but until then, us men must maximize our right to run shirtless!  We will run shirtless at any chance we get.  So come on men!  Show your body off with pride!  You earned it, whether by running 20 miles or drinking 20 beers, it’s your body and be proud of it!  Do it for the women!  That’s not reason enough?  Well then here are some other reasons to run shirtless:

Running Style: I feel so free when I run shirtless.  I’m able to run in the most natural form possible; minus the whole shorts and shoes thing.  Honestly though, running without a shirt does allow me to concentrate more on the arm pumping portion of my running form.  Most runners ignore the importance of pumping your arms.  If you have forgotten how to pump your arms then I suggest you run shirtless.

Temperature: It’s obviously much cooler (yeah, there’s a double meaning there) to run with your shirt off.  Your body is able to release the heat and cool itself down easier.  Running shirtless is also a great way to leverage the breeze.  That’s right, I leverage things you can’t even see.  Like a boss.

Suntan: You get a great suntan in places you wouldn’t normally tan while out on the golf course or building a house; you know, things men do.  Women are able to sit outside by a pool all day and get an even tan but that is not a socially acceptable way for a man to tan his upper body.  The only acceptable activities for men are running or boating…or running on a boat, that’s acceptable too.  Run that extra mile and get sunburned so you can see what areas of your body you need to work on.  The areas that are most burnt are the ones that stick out the most.  Try to push those areas back in.

Positive Ego boosting: No matter what you look like, girls are going to look at you.  Don’t look at what their reaction is, just know they are looking at you.  That’s how you boost an ego.  At the beginning of this spring I had a very good looking girl take my picture with her camera phone as I ran by shirtless.  However, I later noticed she was standing in front of a High School…with a book bag.  Ego boost or awkward?  Well, I’ve never had an awkward moment in my life.

Overall Fitness: If you are running with your shirt off you are going to start thinking about what your overall body looks like, not just keeping your weight down with running.  Running with your shirt off will make you realize that you need to work on those pecs and maybe do some crunches, leading to an overall fit body.  It’s all about symmetry.

Go for a shirtless run men!  Show your battle scars and lower back tattoo off with pride!

Saucony Progrid Xodus Trail Running Shoe Review

Monday, June 29th, 2009

I got a pair of the Saucony Progrid Xodus Trail Running Shoes this past week and took them on the trail Sunday morning to try them out.  I had already worn them for a couple of days around town and at the house to break them in; although I’m not sure if I even needed to, they felt snug and cushioned as soon as I put them on, and this was after I had been wearing my road running shoes!  A trail running shoe that feels better on my foot than a road running shoe?  I didn’t buy it, so I had to test it.


I went on a 6 mile road run before hitting the trails, 5 miles in my road running shoes and then one mile in the Saucony Progrid Xodus Trail Running Shoes to see if this fit and comfort level really did compare on the road.  I found that the Progrid Xodus provided the same cushioning, support, and lightweight-ed-ness as my road running shoes but with the biggest difference coming from the Vibram Trek Outsole which is made specifically for the trail.  These running shoes are strong enough for the road, but PH balanced just for the trail.

The first thing I liked about these shoes when I put them on was their tight fit.  It is very unusual for me to get a perfect fit out of the box (no pun-intended).  I have normal width feet but most running shoes still feel too loose to me when I first lace them up.  It usually takes me 5 or 6 runs until my running shoes feel snug enough when I lace them up, but not with the Saucony Progrid Xodus Trail Running Shoe.  You get the tight upper fit because of the Arch-Lock technology that provides a snug midfoot upon first lacing.  Even with this tight fit, I still pulled the laces as tight as I could and tied them off.  As soon as I tied my double knot I noticed how tight the knot was.  It was like the laces were wedging against each other for an extra tightness, or maybe the bumblebee pattern made it look tight, either way, these shoe laces were not coming loose and I looked “tight” in these bad boys.  I’m just glad I was able to run fast enough to avoid being mistakenly cross pollinated with by a bumble bee.  I imagine that would hurt.

I also really like how lightweight the shoes are.  The Sockliner makes the shoes feel extra lightweight and is breathable with a moisture wicking anti-odor and anti-microbial insolses with rebound properties.  I got them pretty wet from water crossings and about 3 gallons of my sweat that rolled down my legs into these shoes.  They seemed to dry pretty quickly but I still left them outside to dry out a bit more.  It’s been less than 24 hours so I’ve yet to see how well the rebound properties really are.  With my amount of sweat, these shoes will need to be able to rebound like Charles Barkely or Dikembe Mutumbo to feel and smell like new again.

With the Saucony Progrid Xodus Trail Running Shoes’ lightweight and comfort I was a little concerned that Saucony skimped on the durability, but I didn’t find this to be the case.  The shoe gave a smooth ride on the trail with a good response to the uneven terrain.  These are my first Progrid style running shoes but I found that they were able to absorb the impact and dissipate the shock which set my feet up for a great transitions.  Speaking of great transitions…


…the picture above is the Vibram Trek Outsole which is why the Saucony Progrid Xodus feels good enough for the roads but are perfect for the trails.  The Vibram sole feels like a rubbery/plastic material (it’s a shoescientist term, don’t worry if you don’t understand) that has a lot of teeth for grip but they are far enough apart that you don’t have to carry the trail with you on your run.  It’s material and pattern make it a lightwieght sole which does not compromise the grip, traction, or durability.  Brilliant!  This is why I think Saucony got this shoe right, they focused on the most important part of a trail running shoe, the sole.

You too need to improve you’re most important part, you’re soul, and get our there and trail run.  And if you want to get serious about trail running and want a shoe that feels as comfortable as your road running shoes, then this is the shoe for you.  Click here for more information on this awesome trail running shoe.

Best Michael Jackson Running Songs

Friday, June 26th, 2009


In honor of the late Michael Jackson I thought I’d put together a playlist of his best songs and go for a run with them.  I personally have always enjoyed his music and never paid much attention to his lifestyle choices or weird behavior, what do I care?  He still puts out legit music.  I also give Prince the same leeway; or the artist formerly known as Prince, or the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince.  Whatever.  Try this playlist for a 38:40, good paced 5 mile  run.  The order is paced so you will start out strong, keep your pace during the middle, and finish even stronger.  Not only listed are songs, but I pulled out some good mantras from the lyrics to focus on getting a good run in.  Now you can keep your pace with the BPM (beats per minute) while singing your own mantra to the lyrics of the song!  Brilliant!

Thriller: “You hear a door slam and realize there’s nowhere left to run.” You’ve closed your front door and that’s the toughest part.  Now there’s nothing else to do but go for your run.  Start it out right and try; and to keep yourself from doing the dance moves from the ‘Thriller’ video while running.  I tried.  It’s too difficult.

Bad: “Well they say the sky’s the limit, And to me that’s really true.” Start thinking about how well you are going to do on this run.  You’re bad, make sure you act like it and kick this run’s butt.

Billie Jean: “People Always Told Me Be Careful Of What You Do, And Don’t Go Around Breaking Young Girls’ Hearts.” At this point in your run you should be settling down to your normal pace.  Pay attention to how you’re feeling.  Listen to your heart young girl.  Don’t continue on a pace that you can’t maintain.

The Way You Make Me Feel: “The way you make me feel, (The way you make me feel), You really turn me on, (You really turn me on).” This song marks the slowest portion in the run before you start picking up your pace a bit again.  Focus on how good running is making you feel, put a smile on your face and keep moving at a steady pace.  Turn yourself on.  I do everytime I look in the mirror.

Rock With You: “Girl, close your eyes, Let that rhythm get into you, Don’t try to fight it, There ain’t nothin’ that you can do, Relax your mind, Lay back and groove with mine.” Just relax, keep your pace, and groove to the music of Michael.  He’ll keep you moving.

Black or White: “It don’t matter if you’re, Black or white.” Only about 15 more minutes left in your run and it’s time to start pushing the pace a bit again.  It doesn’t matter who you are at this point in the run, Olympic athlete or a beginning runner, you both have to dig deep to push yourself at this point.  It’s just you versus your run.

Smooth Criminal: “(Annie are you ok?) I don’t know! (Will you tell us, that you’re ok?) I don’t know!” You’re ok Annie, but no one else knows that other than you.  You’re feeling fine, you may be tired, you may be hurting, but unless you can’t move, you’re ok.  Keep running hard!  Only 10 more minutes left!

Beat It: “The Fire’s In Their Eyes And Their Words Are Really Clear, So Beat It, Just Beat It…Just Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, No One Wants To Be Defeated.” Get the fire in your eyes.  Everything becomes clear.  You know what you have to do.  You won’t be defeated.  You’re going to beat this run.  Start pushing yourself harder.  Not too much longer to go.  Beat this run.

Don’t Stop Until You Get Enough: “Keep on with the force don’t stop, Don’t stop ’til you get enough.” Let’s face it, you’re tired at this point but you don’t want to stop until you are finished.  Don’t stop until you get it all.  What’s enough?  Running to the best of your ability.  Give it all you have.  Don’t slow down until you get it.  Get your goal and tell that run who’s boss?

The Nike Running Experiement: Personal Metrics

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

I read an article in Wired magazine about Nike+ that was pretty interesting.  The article not only delved into the technology and development of Nike+ but more interestingly to me, the data it was able to collect and what Nike learned about runners.  There are a couple of quotes from the article I would like to comment on:


“There’s something about seeing what you’ve done, how your pace changes as you go up and down hills…” I’ve used a Garmin 205 before to help me pace myself running up and down hills.  As a serious runner trying to get the most out of my work-outs, I have found that this instant feedback allows me to either speed up or slow down when needed.  I know I’m going to run faster downhill and slower uphill, but being able to see me current speed helps me mitigate the amount of effort I am putting in based on the grade of the hill.  It’s not an exact science, but I am able to determine my optimal pace for each hill based off of past experiences.  Even though I am perfect,  I can admit that I’m not exact.  I only deal in Macro baby!  I’ll leave being micro and exact for Science.

“Everyone understands speed and distance.” This is Nike’s reason for not adding other gadets to their device like heart rate moitors or GPS capabilities, which is probably why the product has become so popular.  Not matter how long you’ve been running or if you’ve never run before in your life, everyone understands speed and distance and quite honestly, that’s all you need to know to achieve a running goal.  All of the other stuff may help you reach your goal, but what you really need to know to set and attain your PR is an understanding of what speed and distance your body perform at.

“But once they (runners) hit five runs, they’re massively more likely to keep running and uploading data.  At five runs, they’ve gotten hooked on what their data tells them about themselves.” It’s like the 20 minute rule, you have to create a habit of running.  According to the data from Nike+, it takes 5 runs to make running a habit.  The best habit you’ll ever have only takes 5 times.  Less than a week?!  I’m going to tell every new runner that asks me for advice, “Pick 5 days this week to go running, and make sure you do it each of those days…now give me 20 bucks.  I get paid to be a running expert!”

“…people change their behavior – often for the better – when they are being observed.” This is referring to an experiment that a factory once did, changing the conditions of the workplace positively and negatively, to see what things effect productivity, but they found that no matter what they did, productivity increased.  The study gave rise to what’s known as the Hawthorne effect.  So as a new runner trying to start the new habit, running with a friend, group, or running club will help you stick with it.  You are more likely to make running a habit if you have other people counting on you to run, or even better yet, make sure you run at a fast pace.  I always seem to run faster on a group run without meaning to or challenging anyone.  I’m not sure why this is.  Maybe I’ll hit up Science on Facebook or his blackberry and ask.

I can’t tell you about the Nike+ product itself although it sounds very interesting, especially for new runners;  however, I can tell you that the article in Wired magazine is really interesting by itself.  Check it out you 21st century digital boy you.

Trail Running Ascending and Descending

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Trail Running is like a roller coaster, you go up and down.  How’s that for clever?  Seriously though, there are a lot of techniques for trail running, but how you run up and down hills determines how you finish the race.  You want to view your trail running like mountain biking, changing your gears depending on the grade of incline, maintaining a consistent pace, effort, and rhythm through out.  If you need to get in rhythm with the trail and “rhythm is the dancer” then shouldn’t Trail Running really be called Trail Dancing?  Very interesting.


Whatever you want to call it, you can still think of the trail as a dancing partner.  Run with it, not on it or through it.  Like golf being about you as the player against the golf course, trail running is about you versus the trail; and the best way to get the trail to “eat out of your hands” is to seduce her with your dance.  Ok, enough with the metaphors, but you just need to know how to switch your gears for the uphills and downhills.  Man, that was another metaphor.  At least the golf comment was a simile.  I took 8th grade English.

When running uphills you want to shorten your stride, turning it into a lower gear.  The reason for this is because the amount of consistent effort you need to exert on the uphill gets you less distance than running on the flat.  When running on a long hill try to set a cadence at the beginning of the hill that will last you until you reach the top…barely able to breathe.  This will give you consistency up the hill.  In order to keep moving you need to have light feet running up the hill.  This allows you to bounce to the next step without getting bogged down on the incline.  Make sure you have good posture and lean forward a bit.  If you get tired, pump your arms harder to give more drive to your step, much like a mountain biker when he/she stands up off the seat for extra power on uphills.

After you get to the top of the hill you are going to have to run down it; unless you live at the top of a humongous mountain looking down on everyone else like I do.  I do have to run down my driveway sometimes to get the mail and when I do, I make sure I put the center of my body weight over my knees.  This helps for balance as well as gives my legs greater ability to slow down my pace if needed.  You want to strike on the balls of your feet in order to keep your balance and be able to react to any missteps you may have to take.  Obstacles can come at you quickly when you are trail running down hill.  You want to relax, look ahead and try to grip and rip without pounding the ground.  Pounding the ground not only hurts your joints but its like slamming on the brakes with each step.  Run lightly by keeping your feet close together.  If you must slow yourself down put your elbows out like you are flying.  This will keep you from pumping your arms which increases your speed and will give you more wind resistance, all while giving you more balance on the downhill.  It’s like taking your foot off of the gas on the highway instead of hitting the brake pedals…I’m not sure many people know what I’m talking about here.

Life is like a roller coaster, you’re trail running doesn’t have to be the same way.  Although you are running up and down hills take it even, Steven.  Slow and steady wins the race.  At least that’s what my grandfather always told me and I could never beat him no matter how old he got!

30 Years of Running History with Bernie Goldstein

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

This entry is from Bernie Goldstein, one of the pioneers of running, and still running after 30 years.


I started running nearly 30 years ago.  I was working in Augusta, Ga and had a demanding position that really kept me going all the time.  When I got home in the evening I really didn’t have the energy or will power to do much.  I did not live close to a YMCA.

A neighbor suggested I walk with him at a high school track.  I did.  It relaxed me and I felt as if I had renewed energy.  Pretty soon I looked forwarded to my nightly walks.  On the nights when the neighbor couldn’t walk I would attempt to jog.  Pretty soon I was jogging a little.

I went to a running store and bought a good pair of shoes.  I learned Gayle Barron was coming to town for a seminar and a 3 mile race.  I signed up.  Got some good pointers at the seminar.  Endured the race.

Found out there were many races throughout Georgia at that time (the running circuit in Georgia was just beginning).  Pretty soon I found I had more energy and was able to accomplish more at work and home and looked forward to races on the weekend where my times were improving.

Soon I started doing 10K and then after a while 1/2 marathons and then marathons.  I still run–not as far and certainly not as fast.  Today I do it both for health reasons and because it gets rid of stress.  One is able to think better while running and to focus on situations  that could not be solved as quickly with the modern interruptions (cell phones, pagers, ipods, blackberrys) we have now a days.

I’ve made some great friends throughout my running career and many times its a lot less expensive and certainly much more helpful to talk with them on a run than visiting a psychiatrist.  Also, I’ve visited places I would not have visited had I not gone there for a run.

I have run on The Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal in India and the Pyramids in Egypt as well as at the Dead Sea and The Galapagos Islands among other places.  Some places I have run were not safe to run in but I didn’t know any better at the time.  Other places I have run were truly beautiful and I wouldn’t have seen otherwise unless I had been running.

Running has enriched my life in many ways by helping me have a better body, mind and appreication of my family, friends and the world and society and the planet.

Thank you so much Bernie; your words have enriched us.  I hope someday I can run in those amazing locations too.  I find it interesting that I fully agree with everything you had to say about running; even with our generation gap.  I guess running hasn’t changed too much in 30 years other than fancier running shoes and more options for the types of races.  I agree, no matter what inventions are introduced, running will still be the best way to communicate to friends and solve more complex problems.  Sorry science, but I’m just not into you.  Don’t get upset, I’m still a fan of the scientific method!

Running Support

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

We all need support for our running.  It could be your running shoes giving you extra support for your pronating feet or the draw string in your running shorts keeping them tight around your waist; whatever it may be, the most important support for running isn’t physical.  It’s the emotional support we get from others that pushes us to the next level.  It’s what motivates us to reach our goals.  To keep running.  I know, running is 95% mental and it is all on you whether you do it or not, push yourself or not, and reach your goals, but you still need the support of others in order to attain your highest potential.  Running may be an individual sport, but guess what loner, you can’t do it all yourself.  Trust me, I’ve tried.


There are three areas you can get your emotional support for running from:  family, friends, and other runners.  Your family are the ones that are most effected by your long runs and weekend trips to races.  Without them being proponents of your running it would be virtually impossible to take the time you need out of your day to train.  Your family probably knows that you need this time to relax and blow off steam.  They also want you to be healthy.  But honestly, they support your running because they just want you to be happy.  Without this unconditional support you wouldn’t be able to run to the best of your ability.

I’m single with no kids (please don’t overload my inbox again ladies), so my family support for my running thus far has come from my parents, brothers, and sister-in-law, but I want to use this 6 hours past Father’s Day to reflect on my father’s support for my running.  My fondest memories of my Father are him watching me run High School cross-country.  My Dad was a runner, competing at a Division-I school in track and later for the United States Army, which probably enhanced his interests in my running versus other activities…and the fact that I was his flesh and blood probably helped too, but why he did it doesn’t matter.  The fact that he was there, cheering for me and traversing the race course to see me run by as many times as possible was more than the amount of support I needed.  His support was unconditional.  No matter how fast or slow I was, he was there to motivate me to push myself.  Never did he tell me at the end of a race that I could have run harder or that I went out too fast.  He would only comment on my guts and or my good stride.  That’s the kind of support you need from your family for running; even if you are as fast as a guy like me.

Your friends are another great source of support for your running.  It really helps to have friends that enjoy running as much as you do.  Friends that want to go on a long run on a Saturday morning instead of staying out late on a Friday night is a great way to support your running habit.  Friends that enjoy being out there and running along with you.  It also helps to have friends that enjoy running races.  Running races is always more fun when do it with a group.  The early morning wake-up, the freezing cold wait at the start line, and the high fives at the end of the race are all great support mechanisms for your running.  Enjoy running with your friends for some excellent positive reinforcement.

Lastly thrive on support from other runners.  Join a running group and enjoy the benefits of a group of like minded individuals coming together for one goal; to run more.  Even if the people are not family or friends, they are runners.  Runners have a common thread and common understanding of what it means to be a runner and the support that you need.  If you don’t have a running group near you then get support online from websites just as awesome as this one…if you can find one.  Use the running forum to get support from other runners on questions you may have.  Use the mapping tool to give you the extra support on different runs or distances you need to achieve your goals.  Pull from as many resources as you can find and connect with other runners all over the Internet.

The support for your running is out there, all you need to do is ask for it.  Even though it is your own two feet moving, you can’t achieve your running goals alone.  Like Joe Cocker says, “Mmm, I get high, with a little help, from my friends.”  He singing about a runner’s high.

New Running Boom Across America

Saturday, June 20th, 2009


I came across an article in the Mansfield News Journal the other day talking about the second running boom spreading across America.  The first boom came in 1972 when Frank Shorter won the Olympic Marathon.  About the same time period as the Frisbee boom and the not-showering boom.  I’m glad that the running boom has been the only boom to stick around.  So why would there be another boom if Americans’ interest in running hasn’t changed?  The economy.  As people begin to lose their wealth they have begun to get back to the basics and appreciate the simpler things in life again, like running.  I’m actually going to take it one step further and say the next real boom is going to be trail running.  You heard it here first.  It’s going to be like the running boom of the 70s but now because our society has more of an emphasis on nature, the environment, and getting away from the concrete jungles, trail running is going to be the spark of the next running boom.  Trail Running is the heat, but is also a cool way to escape the heat of global warming.  Help start the fire and participate in National Trail Running Day!  The heat is…on.

At any rate, whether it is trail running or road running, Americans are finding their love for running again.  Finally people are doing something with their Saturday mornings other than playing endless bocce ball tournaments.  So lame.  So why does a bad economy make for a good running economy?  Because running is cheap.  The biggest cost is running shoes and even those you can get really cheap on  The only other cost is race entries but you don’t have to participate in races to make running your hobby.  Running is universal, anyone can do it, even two year olds can do it!

Although the economy is the biggest factor to this new running boom, I think our realization that obesity is becoming a large problem, even in our children, has made running more popular as well.  People are realizing that even though any size is beautiful, not every size is healthy.  Our society is deeply rooted in eating unhealthy.  It tastes good and is easy to do.  Even the Girl Scouts peddle delicious cookies ever year.  What are we suppose to do?  Not eat them?  Of course not.  The solution; go running and exercise while continuing to enjoy delicious treats.

So jump on the bandwagon and go running!  Wait, how can you run while on a bandwagon?

XTERRA Georgia Trail Race Series – Silver Comet 6.2 Mile Trail Race

Friday, June 19th, 2009


It’s time to get off the Atlanta area roads again.  On June 28th at 8:30 am, Dirty Spokes Productions, LLC will be hosting the Silver Comet 6.2 Mile Rail/Trail Race, also known as a 10K race distance to you European types.  This inaugural race will be a great single and double track off-road running experience.  The race will start on the Silver Comet Trail which is a 94 mile old rail trail stretching from Georgia to Alabama named after the old Silver Comet passenger train line.  But this is more than an old rail line turned into multipurpose trail, it’s a bridge between Alabama and Georgia, breaking down relationship barriers that have been developed for years stemming from the argument between which state is inbred more.  Finally we can agree, both states are thoroughly inbred.  The Silver Comet 6.2 Mile Rail/Trail Race will go 3.1 miles down the Silver Comet (path) and at the 3.1 mile mark it will turn into the woods and head back down through the woods for the remaining 3.1 miles (50% Silver Comet Trail ⁄ 50% Paulding Co. SORBA Trails). The terrain is made up of a little bit of everything, rolling hills, climbs, single track, double track, roots, along with some technical sections.  Like a buffet; except there is a limit to the amount of trail you can get; and you don’t get to pick which type of terrain you want to run on, so this trail race really isn’t like a buffet, but it is just as filling!  The course is beautiful and offers something for every runner truly wishing to ‘ditch the city’.  This will be a great trail race if you are thinking about getting into trail running and live in the Atlanta area.  Take this opportunity to begin your journey to being an extreme trail runner.  Mountain Dew can only take your extremeness levels so far.

If you are a more experienced trail runner then try to win a medal or prize by being the overall top 3 male and female finishers for each race.  The last Dirty Spokes Productions, LLC race, XTERRA Georgia Deep South was one Emily Vall who admitted to me that it was her first trail race ever!  Well, the first trail race she ever finished, she got lost on her previous attempt.  Maybe there’s an elite trail racer in you that you don’t know about.  And don’t worry, XTERRA Georgia Trail Race Series events are well marked.  They will also be handing out medals to our top 3 male and female finishers in each age group (14&U, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70&U) so you don’t have to be the best to win, just the best among your peers.  Being awesome is all relative.

Not planning on finishing in the awarded category?  It’s cool, not everyone is, that’s why they are called awards.  Walkers are even encouraged to participate; however, you should be able to complete the 6.2 Mi at a 16 minute mile pace or under to receive an official time.  This is a trail race for everyone!  Come out and experience the fun of an XTERRA Georgia Trail Race!  You’ll have a great time and be able to tell all your friends how extreme you are!

Build your Physical Confidence for a Perfectly Paced Running Race

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

How do you gain confidence?  Positive reinforcement.  But you can’t wait for others to give it to you.  You have to give positive reinforcement to yourself.  For instance, I start every day by looking myself in the mirror and saying, “You’re an amazing blogger, you’re a maven, you’re a connector, you’re an inspiration to the masses, you’re the boss, you’re The Real Chris Barber…this is kind of weird looking straight into my own eyes in the mirror.  I do look pretty hot though.  Is that a pimple?…”  You get the idea.  This technique builds your mental confidence.  It tells your mind what it should think you are capable of.  I tell my mind that I can do anything and I truly feel that way.  Why do you think men do half of the crazy things they do.  Because someone said we couldn’t do it.  Mental toughness is a very important part of running and I attribute it to 95% of my running success.  I’ve discussed the importance of mental toughness and confidence before though, now it’s time to work on your physical confidence.  It’s time to catch your body up to your mind.  Your physical confidence is kind of like a mental governor.  I know governors are for losers.  I like to grip and rip as much as the next guy, but in order to perform at your maximum potential you need to pace yourself.  Like you, I’ve never reacted kindly to being told to, “Pace myself” either, but it’s cool when you are talking about running.


Physical confidence isn’t the way you walk into a room.  That’s all mental baby.  It’s what your body thinks it can do.  You’re body has an idea of your strengths and weaknesses and regulates your physical outputs based on this historical information.  Your physical confidence is always a more accurate representation of what you really can accomplish.  Your mental confidence is the one that says, “I could probably throw this football over that mountain.”  But your brain takes into account what your body is actually capable of instead of what you have arbitrarily told yourself you can do.  Your brain is constantly getting inputs from parts of the body, then interpreting these, which it then alters exercise intensity by changing the degree of muscles activation to either slow or speed up.  Your brain is developing your pacing strategy based on its physical confidence.  It is allowing you to output as much energy as possible while still getting you to the endpoint of the race.  This is sometimes referred to as anticipatory regulation.  So how do you loosen the restrictor plate off the Red Dragon?  You don’t want be exactly street legal do you?  What’s up Mike?!

You build your physical confidence by giving your brain some strong past experiences to draw from when it  determines how much of your output it should regulate.  Loosen that restrictor plate baby.  This is why many training plans call for intervals at race pace.  It gives your body physical confidence that it can run that particular pace, for a long distance.  But you don’t want to just attain your goal, you want to crush it.  One way to do that is to run one ridiculously difficult work-out before your race.  Run one absurdly hard training day that you don’t even have 100% mental confidence in doing.  Give your brain something to derive its physical confidence from.  A good way to do this is to run an interval work out, totaling the distance of the race you are training for, at a 15% pace faster than your race pace.  Push your body to its limits.  This will without a doubt give your body the physical confidence it needs to crush your goal.  It will also help your mental confidence, giving you a hard work out to “hang your hat on” on race day.

You’re body is like a dog, it learns best from physical reinforcement.  So push your body to the limit and wear them dogs out.

But you can still keep looking the mirror because, “You’re special.  There is nobody in the World like you.  You’re smart because you read blog.”  Go ahead.  Keep telling yourself that.