You put what on your _______???

There are a lot of ways you can ruin your running experience – lack of training, dehydration, staying up too late or  eating sausage and peppers the night before a run. One topic that most people don’t think about, don’t even know about when embarking on a running regiment, is Chafing.

Did you say ‘chafing?’

Yep. This is an ugly secret that no one likes to talk about it. But head out to a local marathon and camp out anywhere from mile 16 and on. You will be bound to see at least one poor bastard with bloody nipples.

body glide

Body Glide – this is what I use. Great stuff. You can slather it anywhere you might chafe. Where you say? Anywhere. You’d be surprised what’s’ a rubbing and a chaffing’ while putting on the miles. Personally my use is centered around 2 spots – nipples and inner thighs. When your shirt gets wet it gets heavy. When you run your clothes move around. Wet shirt + the up/down of running will make your shirt move up and down over your body. This causes frictions on anything not flush or smooth. My first marathon included bloody nipples. And it’s not just the unseemly look, it really hurts during and after. Also, the inner thighs tend to rub a bit, but this may vary depending on your girth.

vaseline

Vaseline – this will work the same as Body Glide except it will most likely leave an oily stain on shirts and shorts. Good in a pinch.

Bandaids

Band-aids – this works great for the nipples, but beware that after many miles & sweat they may come off. Also, beware the post race removal – if you are a guy this can mean extracting a lot of chest hair. Also, a variation on this is a product called nip guards – basically a custom band-aid sized to cover just the nipple. Will eliminate the potential for ripping out chest hair.

macgyver
In a pinch – clear/gel underarm deodorant – that is my MacGyver tip for the day. It works. Also, you could use a chapstick tube in a pinch. I’ve also done that, it works.

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

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Get Your Run ‘On the Rails’

There seems to be this paradoxical perception by non-runners (even by some established runners) – it takes a lot of discipline AND most runners are just naturals at running (link provides evidence that maybe we are, just thought was interesting addendum).

Reality check – Those two do not go hand-in-hand, instead they conflict. I would say it takes discipline. Period. Consider the following:

  • What time slot in your day is dedicated to running? This is as literal as it sounds and probably the most important thing to establish. You need to identify, carve out and establish a ‘time’ that you run. Specificity will (and should) flex to the reality of your life. But you need to put a flag in a specific timeframe. When do I run? I can always tell you, without fail, that I run in the morning before work. This usually means starting at maybe 5:30 AM or so. Depends on the day, the miles needed, etc. The point is I don’t have to constantly figure it out. More importantly if something comes up for consideration in that time slot (good thing it is early, not much does!) my default is to consider if it is more important than my run, not the other way around. Turns into discipline (appears that way) but really just starts as a committed plan.
  • What about the seasons? The answer to ‘what time’ will only work if you consider variations in your environment. I’m prepared to run in 73 degree weather at 5 AM or in 15 degree weather at 5 AM. If you need the sun to always be ‘up‘ be sure to consider this (with the changes in the seasons).
  • What are your motivators? This is varied and personal. For those who struggle with morning runs, or the thought of getting out of bed, let me say this – unequivocally, I have never regretted getting up for a run. I’ve always regretted not getting up though.

Establish Rails.

Yeah, just like a train. Discipline doesn’t come over night in anything, and running is no exception. For some reason many of us seem to be really good at establishing all sorts of deadlines, project plans, milestones, etc, at work yet in our personal life that approach seems like overkill.

Why? I think it has something to do with our fervent debate over work/life balance. Rubbish. Take the best from either world and cross it over baby.  When I paint a room I write up a project plan with dates, timeframes and checkmark boxes for completion. You should do the same. This isn’t just my crazy notion. Check out this great podcast at the site the Accidental Creative. It’s about application of these ideas to creative projects outside of work, but the premise applies just the same to your running plan. [AC Podcast # 143 – scroll down a bit, can play right on the site or download from iTunes.]

Think about it – don’t confuse discipline with desire and endurance. Discipline is the child of planning and persistent application of those plans until they become second nature.

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

Proactive Mindset – Safe Running

Running can be a lot of fun. Running can also be a risky venture where every step is fraught with peril and catastrophe. Sounds dramatic, eh? I am being slightly hyperbolic, but frankly I think this is a topic most runners don’t give enough thought or consideration. It typically takes many years of running before someone ‘gets it’ and starts to apply common sense safety to their running lifestyle. Below are some key things you should give serious thought to – not to spoil or hype the fear, but rather be prepared and aware. Trust me, it actually allows a more zen-like philosophy and being in the moment with earthly concerns tabled.

  1. Know your surroundings. This seems too simple and obvious to post, but it’s a major consideration. Have you really thought about where you are running? Do you really know the area? Is it somewhere you have driven through and therefor assume everything is the same on the sidewalk? Being on sidewalk, exposed and moving much slower is altogether different. Do you know if there is a neighbor that lets their pit-bull roam free? Have you checked the police blotter to see if there is a frequency of muggings in that area?
  2. iPods/MP3s – It seems like 97% of the folks I see running have those white ear buds hanging from their head. I’m included in this group. Be smart about your volume level. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve come up behind on the sidewalk or trail, shouted to them that I’m passing on the left and they are just meandering around because they cannot hear me. That is dangerous. Change that from a friendly runner trying to pass to a dangerous thug looking to score a nice Nano iPod, or worse.
  3. Crossings – Streets, driveways, cross-walks: There a million ways to get hit by a car (to read a small smattering of these grim stories click here, here or here). The worst is by being presumptuous that you have ‘right of way.’ That argument will surely hold up in court, but it is of little use to you if it is your attorney and family members settling a wrongful death suit.

Extreme? Over the top? I think not. I’m lucky; I have applied these basics over the years and still have come close to getting hit by a car on numerous occasions. I’ll blog more about this topic at some other time, but let me leave you with a few key bits and pieces – RoadID.com, ICE and Situational Awareness (I know, it is commonly used in military jargon, but the concept is sound and works here as well). Let me turn it around and pose it to you this way – do any of the above create a major inconvenience for you? And if so, do the risks out-weigh the rewards? Is the risk mitigation minimal (the answer is YES)?

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

Feet First – what to buy?

The one area of running that is thoroughly covered, both in terms of commercial options and expert opinion, is footwear – what shoes do you strap on those potatoes??? Still I think I would be remiss in writing this blog if I didn’t address it. The answer is complicated, an unsatisfying ‘well, it depends.’ It depends in part on what type of runner you are, the miles, the terrain, etc. I’m going to breakdown my footwear choices that fit my needs – long distance runner who does short (3-4 miles) and medium (6-10 miles) runs with great frequency and long runs (12-20 miles) with regularity confined to a small window of the year. Within that breakdown you may find something useful for your needs, your mileage, etc. Keep that sentiment in mind though – your running shoes are a highly personal choice and need to work for you – not meet the idea of what you ‘think’ a runner should wear or what his shoes look like. As you’ll see below I’m not singularly brand loyal. I go with what works. There are certainly enough options out there for you to experiment. [Note: I’m not going to talk pricing, but let me just say this – if you spend above $120 on shoes you are wasting your money. Don’t spend above that unless you really like the shoe, perhaps aesthetics come into play at that point.]

Short Runs: 3-4 miles

This is the Nike LunarRacer 2+. Recently purchased (early August 2010). An amazingly lightweight shoe (6.7 oz.) that fits somewhat snug but comfortably on the foot. The key behind Nike’s Lunar series is Vectran, it is a truly ‘space age’ polymer fiber, used to make space suits for NASA Astronauts!

I have been wearing this for my short runs mainly because of the weight and feel. It allows for quick action, sprinting, etc. Over a short distance (for me) of 3-4 miles I can sustain a higher speed (read: lower pace/minute) without feeling any pain for having minimal shoe protection. Over the long haul it wouldn’t hold up as well. Something like this shoe is also ideal for 5K races, where you want something give just enough but stay lightweight when you leave it all on the race course (read: hauling arse).

Medium Runs: 6-10 miles

For mid-distance runs I like something with just a bit more structure to the upper portion of the shoe but still retaining lightweight feel and action. This is where my Asics Gel-Speed Star III shoes come into play. Another phenomenal find, happened upon them (early Summer 2009) while trying different shoes from Zappos.com (their free return shipping is great). As I said above, these are still very light but provide just a little more ‘control’ and ‘feel’ in the uppers. For me it means being able to do varied paces at the mid-distances and using the same shoe for all of it (sprints, tempo runs, marathon pace, etc.).

Long Runs: 12-20 miles

For the long run I’m currently running in these fellas, Brooks Launch. For me, it is a great shoe. Frankly the best I’ve ever worn (picked them up mid-Summer 2009).

Why? As I stated above I do varied distances at different times and the long run is the smallest % of days per year.

The why boils down to this – on the long run comfort AND performance need to be harmonious or you won’t make it (or at least won’t enjoy it). This shoe, for me, is as close to the perfect balance I can find for comfortable ride, lightweight (they are surprisingly light) and minimal upper support/structure. I don’t like a shoe that has tons of structure on top – all of my choices reflect that, they vary more on weight and cushion variations.

The Variable – Vibram Five Finger KSO’s

I’m sure you’ve either seen this, seen them on 60 minutes of heard about them. A fairly new product (a few years out) that radically challenges the notion of what you need (or perhaps don’t need) on your foot. They reinforce everything you hear about in barefoot running [To read more about barefoot running in general checkout Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It is actually quite a fascinating read.] but provide protection. You truly feel like you are running barefoot. It provides an amazing balance that you probably didn’t know was masked by traditional form function of sneakers (yeah, sneakers – I’m an east coaster. None of this tennis nonsense).

How much do I run in these? Right now not much, but early Spring into early Summer it’s all I wore for running, stopped when I hit 12 miles and switched back to traditional sneakers for marathon training consideration.

One last note – I find it helps to have shoes that reflect who you are, hence my bold and unorthodox color choices. And the VFF’s are just plain beyond that logic.

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

Desire to Run

Do you really want to do this? Why?

When friends ask for advice about getting into running, this is what I should say to them (instead I tend to demur and tell them to do what they are happy with). It is really the core question to consider and answer before embarking on a life of running.

What is your motivation?

I suggest starting with this question because I’ve seen plenty of friends start out with running and in a few short months they tell me it is a drag. I ask why and the answers are varied, but it all comes back to that central question – why are you doing this? In short, what are your goals? If you don’t have a goal you probably lack objectives and in turn have no compass or direction for the weekly grind of putting in the miles. Running to run is not a goal. Your not a perpetual motion machine cranking out the same rote actions.

Wanting to run a marathon is a goal. Wanting to put in X minutes per week to increase your cardio is a goal. Even the dreaded specter of weight loss is a goal (although I must say, exercise is a small piece of the weight loss equation, contrary to what many think). The list goes on and on – you need to find your motivation, the answer to the why. Without it you will hit a brick wall in your running program.

‘In the absence of a deadline nothing gets done.’

This is one of my favorite little chestnuts to rollout at work. It has obvious application for work situations – managing a project, working on priorities, organizational goal attainment, etc. (Here is a link to a great little podcast that talks about applying that sort of thinking to personal creative projects. It applies just as much to running). People like to keep work and personal life separated, but I say boulderdash. Why not leverage successful techniques and methods in either domain. Put some structure around your running life. Align it with your desire and motivation (again, the why). Don’t think of running as something you do 3 times a week for the rest of your life. That’s tedious. That’s enough to make me want to stop running. Instead chunk your running into concrete and discreet segments. Answer the ‘why’ for 2010 only (what’s left of it anyway!). From today through 12/31, what do you hope to get out of running? Plan your daily, weekly and monthly running regiment around that goal.

Look at 2011 and set a goal or multiple goals. The balance to the desire, the part we don’t like to acknowledge, is reality. You might desire to run a marathon in April, but if you live where I do (or probably 60% of the rest of the country) then be prepared for winter running. That means running in the dark. Running in adverse conditions – rain, snow, ice, etc. Getting out there when it is cold. Running in the cold and staying cold until you heat up from the run. Does that sound bleak, tough and uninspiring? It is if you really don’t like those conditions. Because that is a large part of what you need to consider and account for if you really desire that April marathon. I’m not attempting to discourage, I’m trying to help establish realistic expectations. If those are show-stoppers then hold off on running until April. Be a summer/fall runner. There is nothing wrong with that, as a matter of fact it can keep you fresh – apply a season mentality to running.

So again, answer the why but be sure your answer aligns with reality. One more thing about desire. If you reread the above, you will see I didn’t talk about ability. When I say ‘ability’ I’m not talking about actual physical skill or running at a certain level. Conversely it is not about evidenced injury that would prevent you from running (ex. Bad knees that balloon up after 2 miles on any day, warm or cold). I’m getting at your internal voice. That voice that tells you ‘stop this, go home. Have a beer or a hot chocolate by the fire. Stay in bed. Snuggle under the covers. Don’t run today, you can run tomorrow.’

The mental challenge.

Your ability to succeed, to attain what you desire is directly proportional to mental fortitude. Continue to have positively directed thoughts on achieving your goal, on achieving the goal for that day. If you start to think negatively, then guess what – you’ll always find a reason not to ‘do it.’ When that alarm goes off your first thought should be ‘what running shirt should I wear” or “what route should I take” or “which playlist should I queue up?”  Anything else is a distraction.

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

What’s it all about?

I’ve been an avid runner for 10+ years. Started serious running in 2000 with entry to the Tampa Bay Marathon. Ever since that (painful) experience I’ve turned running into a lifelong pursuit and passion. I run at least one marathon a year and have even ventured into the netherworld of ultramarathon.

Why am I posting? It is simple really, I’ve acquired a lot of knowledge over the years. Some of it practical, some of it philosophical. One thing I’ve found in the running community is a general desire to share, support and encourage others. In that spirit I think its time I gave back what I can to new runners. This site will probably not be beneficial to a hardcore runner. But, running is a growing sport. More and more I run into people who are training for their first 1/2 marathon or full marathon. Slap the phrase ‘Is running a growing sport’ into the search field on Google. You’ll find that its growing not just in general but also in specificity – 1/2 and full marathons, trail running, ultra’s, etc. You name it, its growing.

Given the growth I’ve identified, coupled with my experiences (good, bad and the ugly) I feel I have something of value to share with those who are just starting the journey. What exactly am I going to share? Great question. On a weekly (hope that isn’t too ambitious!) basis I’ll be sharing my thoughts, knowledge, experience, judgments and general color commentary on the following topics:

  • Desire
  • Commitment
  • Equipment
  • Nutrition
  • Discipline

Not necessarily in that order mind you. Additionally, within each topic there are multiple sub-topics on which I’ll ruminate. Along the way I hope to provide useful, beneficial and practical insight into the activity of running. As you can see from the list above, I’m not strictly talking to those who want to run competitively. This site will be of use to anyone who wants to generally introduce running into their life. Running can be a lifestyle, an outlet for exercise/fitness, a social experience, a process of creation (yep, that’s right) and so much more. I’m going to talk to all of those audiences. So come back regularly. Tell your friends. If you like what I post let me know. If you disagree let me know.

Check back next week for my first topical post.

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