Try to achieve, anything is possible

Check out this video, it is amazing, mesmerizing and energizing. (The site I grabbed this from,, is currently one of my favorites. Every morning, 5 new videos, family friendly or at the very least SFW. Broad range of videos that are entertaining, education, thought-provoking or all of these.)


I would say that about 75% of the clips presented in that video are of normal folks, just like you and me. Okay, maybe the demographic trends a bit young. None the less, it shows everyday people doing amazing things. You can over analyze it to see the impossibilities (‘I don’t have time to practice that move 1,000 times,’ or ‘I’m too old to do gymnastics like that,’ or on and on).

My point is this – what in your running plan/goals/objectives are you doing that is amazing? If for no one else, yourself. What are you doing that when accomplished will make you say ‘wow, I can’t believe I did that.’ If you’ve already done something (ex. couch potato to 1/2 marathon in one year), then congratulations. Now what?

Watch it.

Share it.

Be inspired.

Find your next mountain to climb, and get cracking.

Good luck, get running and keep those feet on the road.


Why Do You Run?

why What is your motivation? Is it for the glory of attaining something that seems impossible, like completing a marathon? Is it to become a ‘runner,’ to have your identity be partially formed as that of a ‘runner?’ Is it something deeper?

I run for two simple reasons:

  1. Health/fitness. I engage in a lot of exercise and view running as the foundation to my health. I want to ensure I am around as long as possible to not only enjoy life but be in the life of my children.
  2. Because I can.

The second reason sounds too obvious or silly as stated. But it connects to something deeper for me. My father had Multiple Sclerosis. He was diagnosed before I was even born. So it was always part of my life with him. I never saw him run. That sounds a bit melodramatic, because no one really laments not seeing a parent exercise. My point is that he couldn’t. I can. Therefore, I run for him. In memorial if you will.

runninginthedark Why do I get up at 5:30 AM, in February to run? Why do I log a 30 mile training run in preparation for an ultra? Why do it in the cold, in the dark, in the heat, in the wind? Because I can do it for both of us. The running keeps him present in my mind. It also helps connects two worlds that never met – my father and his grandchildren. I stay healthy and engage my children in ways that he would’ve. In ways that he couldn’t with me.

What gets you up and running? Find your reason, your anchor, your motivation and make it central to running. It will propel you forward, it will make you achieve new goals and personal records.

Good luck, keep running and get those feet on the road.

The Dread of Routine – Finding New Routes

Running shoes – check

Wicking clothes – check

Fuel belt – check

Running route – uhhhh . . . not sure. Or worse ‘I’ve run the same route for the last 2 months and I am sick of it!!!!’

Q: What’s a runner to do?  A: Tap into the interwebs or go local.

USATF – the USA Track & Field Association has a great tool for searching for existing routes or creating your own.
MAPMYRUN – Same functionality as the USATF site, pour through all the contributions others have made.
RULER Google Maps – DIY and really the same tool being used by the sites above.
Local running club – Google ‘running club’ or ‘striders’ and add your city, county or state name to the search string. You will most likely find a running club that is relatively near to where you live. It would certainly be a gold mine of info/ideas on new places to run as well as take your game up a notch by competing in a group. [This from the man who has talked about joining a running group for years . . . and still not joined one. Someday.]

Good luck, keep running and get those feet on the road!

Pace – not the salsa, nor the college

If I had to pick one item that is most difficult to master, most ruinous for new long distance runners and the easiest way to cause self-defeat it would be your pace. If you are doing a half marathon or a marathon you will have an individual, unique pace. This is the minutes/mile calculation that you either targeted for or worked out over the course of training. I’m fairly consistent at a 9:10/mile pace for race day. Everyone is unique, but typically your pace ends up reflecting what your average speed should be in order to complete the race in X amount of time. There are many, many pacing charts on-line to help with this calculation.

The ‘I feel great’ syndrome – this is the classic way to self-destruct on race day. The starting horn goes off. You get out of the gate, past the initial wave of people and in a mile or so ‘find’ your pace. But wait, you feel great. This feels too slow. You feel like you could drop from 9:00/mile to 8:40/mile. You’ve never felt this good, this alive, during a long training run. With good reason. It’s called adrenaline. That coupled with your ambition speaks up loud in your head saying ‘go for it, you got this, at this pace you will rock out your goal.’

It is all an illusion. Your mind can’t add endurance. Adrenaline can’t add endurance. It can add a temporary boost, a feeling of euphoria that anything is possible. For a few miles, maybe even 10 or 12 that might very well be the case. But think about the endurance you built-up during training. Think of it as your ‘fuel’ for the race. You only have so much. Sure,  you might get a runner’s high later, you might dig deep and find a new level unknown to you . . . but most likely you won’t. Instead you’ll get about 85% of the way through the race and your mind will start saying ‘sitting down would be great right about now.’ Or ‘I’ve got nothing left, and not only can you not drop down to your normal pace but you will need to settle for something 2 minutes/mile less than that!’

Here’s the thing – the training is easy. Write-up a schedule, get up, run, done. On race day the environment takes over. You can easily get hyper-excited and therefore unrealistic about your ability. You’ve heard the saying that it is 90% mental. This is exactly where that comes into play – don’t let your emotion get the best of you, keep your thinking cap on and be smart. Work smart, not hard.

For the most part I run solo during a race. A couple of times I’ve run with someone else. Two of those times were with first-timers.

  • Person A got sucked into the euphoria and refused to listen to my pacing advise during the race.
  • Person B listened, even though they felt great and felt like they could do more, they kept the pace I set (in-line with what they trained at). Guess who finished strong?

Guess who barely finished (seriously, we crossed the finish and he had to go to the medical tent and lay under ice for 20 minutes)? Oh yeah, the guy who ended up in the medical tent, he didn’t crush his time goal. Just the opposite he barely finished and finished significantly later than his goal. Lost all ambition to run anymore long distance events. The other guy? Rocked it out and came in under his goal. We just talked about which marathon we will tackle in 2011.

You be the judge.

Good luck, keep running and get those feet on the road.

Bibs, belts and safety pins

So it’s race day, the big event is here. Your pumping up for a 1/2 marathon or a full 26.2 miler. As  you get to the start line you realize a couple of potential scenarios:

  • There are 10,000 people running, how will I find family/friends at the finish?
  • I drove here, alone, not sure where to put my keys, DL and chapstick. Geez, this iPhone is big . . .
  • I bought this wicked cool shirt and don’t really want to put an ugly bib over it but need to display my number to be compliant.

The answer? I’d like to suggest you consider buying a spi-belt. Huh? What?

This is a great little tool. SpibeltI know it kind of looks like a min-fanny pack, but if you are planning on doing multiple events I highly recommend it. As you can see in the picture, this is a simple belt that has a small pouch/pocket. [Sorry if you find this photo odd or too sexed up – it is the best image from their site! I love the combo of spi-belt and sweatpants with ripped abs, odd combo of images. Check out their site, they have all sorts of variations. But just to be clear, you won’t find me wearing this thing outside of an actual running event.]

The pouch is made of a soft, thin fabric that stretches out a bit. You can certainly fit a cell phone, DL, chapstick, car keys and some money in there. The belt can be tightened up to reduce bounce while running.

Furthermore there are loops on it where you can hang your bib. Why? Maybe you have a rocking shirt design to show off. Maybe your running shirtless (either a guy or gal with sports bra), or plan on ditching the shirt later in the race if you heat up too much. Or perhaps you don’t want to put safety-pin holes in your shirt or shorts.

I have one. Or at least I had one. Bought last year, used in 2 marathons and 1 ultra. Couldn’t find it this year (although I didn’t look very hard, maybe 2 days before the race I said ‘hey honey, do you know where my spi-belt thing is . . . you know the belt thing I wore last year to hang my bib off of . . .’). I’ll look this week, if I can’t find it will probably pick a new one up at the Baltimore Running Festival next Friday, I’m doing the 1/2 marathon with a friend from NJ. Great place to store my cell phone so I call the wife, that finish area is a freaking zoo.

Good luck, keep running and get those feet on the road!

Akron Marathon 2010 – Recap of my run

This week I’m providing a breakdown of my run in the 2010 Akron Marathon. It was my 8th time participating in that event (7 full marathons, 1 relay team).

5:35 AM Wake, shower, get everything together – body glide application, re-tape my toe, pin-on bib number, attach D-ring timing wrap to shoelaces, pack some ibuprofen in a baggy (duct-taped to inside of running shorts – not a good choice, tape peeled back, stuck to skin, pulled off skin), put on temporary tattoos (road runner bird, handed out by the race)
6:00 AM Out the door. Staying at in-laws house, only about 2.6 miles from the start. Have started running to the start, nice easy jog to warm-up.
6:25 AM Arrive, get some coffee, warm-up, stretch. Pretty warm from my jog despite temp of 55 degrees.
6:45 AM Get in the coral, queue up in-between the 3:50 and 4:00 pace groups. Nervous energy (mine and those around me) starting to build. Periodic motivational announcements over the loud speakers.
7:00 AM The race is officially underway!!!
7:01:30 AM I officially cross the start. This is an important bit to keep in mind, need to subtract the overage from every race clock I see as they are all running on gun time, not my chip time. At a bigger race, like Chicago (by the way, I highly recommend it – extremely flat course and 1 million+ spectators. Good fun), it might be 6+ minutes until you actually cross the start. Also this is important to understand as the official pace groups adjust their pace/time to finish with the clock time matching their pace group sign time.
7:02 – 8:30 AM Nice pace, about a 9:08/mile. Still running thick in the crowd. Only problem with my finish time/pacing is that it is the ‘meat’ of the crowd, lots of people to move around. Especially relay team folks that are slower. Pet peeve – folks who queue up way ahead of their finish time. They really cause problems on the course. And if your walking, get to the back. I know that sounds jerky, but it really is an issue, especially when you have 4-5 walkers all in a long row out for a Sunday stroll. Think about the other folks.
8:30 – 8:54 AM Picking up speed, a big downhill portion from downtown Akron to the towpath entrance, laying down around a 8:22/mile pace. Then on the towpath keeping the pace around 8:30/mile, trying to ‘bank’ some time for later use.
8:55 AM Cross the half-way point, have ‘banked’ some time to allow for a little slack on the back half and still aim for a sub-4 hour finish.
9:10 – 10:00 AM Back portion of the towpath and then into Sand Run. Not a fun part of the course. In Sand Run 99% of the fan support disappears (metro park). It is also almost all uphill. This is where I use some of that ‘banked’ time, drop my speed back a bit to 9:15. Maybe 9:30. For reference, here is the elevation chart:


10:15 AM Toe starts to take over, really beginning to feel the miles on it
10:30 – 10:55 AM Portage Path to Market Street. Portage is great, flat and lots of fan support. Market starts out great in the Highland Square area but quickly gives way to very few fans and lots of angry motorists (at the back-up due to Portage/Market intersection being closed).
11:11:05 AM Cross the finish line. Note: Actual time to run was 4:08:43 – the 2+ minute difference is attributed to clock time vs. chip time.
11:12:00 AM Start analyzing race for areas to improve, aiming for 3:50 in 2011 . . .

Here’s a great place to start – examining my pace over the entire course. This is a screenshot from my Garmin Forerunner 205 Training Center software, the green line shows course elevation, blue line shows my pace at all times (peaks are typically water tables stops, approx. 15 seconds, and valleys are where I was burning fuel. At the end you can see where things fell apart, 3 hour mark was first sign of trouble and then by 3:15 you can see my ability to hold the pace really degrading.):


What’s on Your Playlist?

Sorry for the delay posting this week, been out of commission with a cold. FYI – next week will be a post-marathon wrap-up, I’m running Akron marathon this Saturday (9/25 – with a broken toe to boot!).

Seems like just about everyone I see out on the road is using an MP3 player/iPod of some sort. I do [iPod Nano, 16Gb, Orange, 4th Gen]. The question is – what do you put on it? Lots of ways to go on this, and frankly it boils down to personal choice. The real issue I’ve encountered in talking to people is this – ‘I’m sick of my CD collection, now what?’ – below are various ideas I’d like you to consider:

  • iTunes – ok, this is extremely obvious but still needed to be said. If you’re not familiar with iTunes, well, then you must be holed up in Tora Bora. Buy music, one song at a time. Rejuvenate your playlist incremental. Add in some things to go with your standards.
  • Podcasts – there are a multitude of FREE podcasts you can download. This is actually the bulk of what I listen to. I just find it makes the time pass much quicker, keeps your focus on something other than the running and can be fun or educational (depending on what you listen to). Here is a list of what I always have on my iPod (that 10 most recent podcasts at any given time):
    • The Accidental Creative
    • The Adam Carolla Show
    • Bill Moyers Journal  – it’s all old stuff, but still a lot of good content
    • The Moth
    • On The Media
    • NPR: Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me
    • This American Life
    • The Diane Rehm Show
    • Radiolab
  • Library – this should also be obvious (generally speaking, if you’re not utilizing your local, public library – get busy and get in there). The library just might surprise you with the selections on hand. Below are some of the things you can find there:
    • Books on CD – requires ripping them to MP3 format or dumping into iTunes, but not that difficult. Heck, you might still have an old SONY Walkman CD player lying around . . . I do.
    • MP3 Players pre-loaded with an audio book – These are becoming popular. They are small MP3 players that come loaded with a book. You typically need to supply the battery(s). A very simple way to get something new to listen to. Don’t need to muck up your iPod either.
    • Music, music, music – I am constantly amazed at how many people don’t realize their local library has a huge cadre of CD’s just waiting to be checked out. New stuff too, not just 80s and earlier.

Other Considerations – here are some more things to think about, may seem odd but the point is they may help pass the time, help you reach that ideal zen state of running.

  • Nature sounds
  • Soft, mellow classical music
  • White noise
  • Beats
  • Oration by the great minds of the 20th Century

Good luck, keep running and get those feet on the road!

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