Five Things Every New Boston Marathon Runner Needs to Know

There have been thousands of books, magazine articles and blog posts written about running The Boston Marathon. I’ve written a few of those blog posts my self!

I’m not an elite runner, famous or a certified running coach. But I have run The Boston Marathon eight times and seventeen marathons all together.

I ran Boston in 2018 in the middle of a storm and I ran Boston in 2012 when it was over 80 degrees.

This advice is from my own personal experience and is written for first time Boston Marathon runners.

Five Things Every New Boston Marathon Runner Needs to Know

Train for the Boston Marathon

If this is your first marathon, I hope you’ve been training for quite a few months. Most running plans will advise new runners to train for eight or ten months.

Going from your couch to 26.2 miles is a long process that should not be short changed.

This may seem obvious, but there are people who have never run a marathon or any race and decide to run Boston. If you are able to complete the 26.2 miles, you may cause harm to your self in the process.

I ran my first Boston Marathon in 2003 with only about four months of training. I advise against this!

Read My First Marathon Experience

Running a marathon is unlike any other running event you may have participated in. The level of fatigue and pain that you may feel is unlike anything that you have ever experienced.

Proper training is the best way to minimize fatigue and pain and enjoy your Boston Marathon Experience. Boston truly is a special race weather it is your first marathon or your first running of The Boston Marathon. You want to enjoy it as much as possible.

My advice is to pick a training plan that matches your goal and stick to it as closely as possible. There are plans out there for all levels of runners.

To pick a training plan you need to pick a goal finish time. The Boston Marathon has a six-hour cut off. So you should pick a plan that will set you up to meet this time at the least.

If you have run a race in the past month you can use The McMillan Running Calculator to calculate your estimated finish time. This calculator is fairly accurate.

As a first time marathoner I would use the finish time provided as my goal.

If you have yet to run even a 5K, I highly encourage you to run one soon. Then use your finish time in the McMillan Running Calculator.

Running a race is different than training. Almost everyone starts a race too fast sometimes. It is best to have this experience at a local 5K and not a few miles into The Boston Marathon.

It takes a lot of experience to avoid a fast start. After all these years, even I go out too fast sometimes. A 5K melt down will give you a taste of what going out too fast feels like and what The Wall feels like. You wont soon forget that burning feeling in your legs!

Get a plan. Follow the plan. Run the plan. It’s simple.

Welcome to Boston now meet The Wall

As a first timer, your body has never experienced the fatigue and pain of a 26.2 mile long run.

All training plans will take you from short runs up to a long run in the 20 mile range. This is why training over many months is required. It takes that long to build yourself up to running those long runs.

Long runs teach your body how to run for a long time. Long runs teach you how to fuel and hydrate properly so you can avoid The Wall or Bonk.

Def. Bonk: To hit the wall, to run out of juice. The point beyond which your body does not want to move.

Basically your body will have run out of energy producing glycogen. Once this happens you cannot replenish your stores. It will take your body hours to replenish the spent glycogen and by that time the street lights will be on!

It is a very unpleasant experience both physically and mentally. For some people it has been fatal.

Replacing glycogen while you run is vital to avoiding The Wall. You may have seen World Class marathoners grabbing sport bottles during a marathon. These bottles have sports drink and possibly a custom mix just for that athlete. They are fine tuned machines.

An Elite Marathoner is conditioned to run 26.2 miles and they are on the course for about half the time that you will be. They can get away with a few swigs of sport beverage.

You will need much more and you need to learn what works for you and when to take it.

Read Glucose and the Endurance athlete

gel, running food, glucoseLong runs are when you want to learn which food and beverage works for you. This is a process of trial and error. I’ve been doing this over 15 years and I’m still tweaking and trying new things.

When you discover a food that works for you, stick with it. For your first marathon you just need to find one sport drink and one gel that you can tolerate.

Most people use gels for convenient, quick energy. For some people gels bother their stomach. That’s runner speak for throwing up and/or diarrhea.

There are many brands of gels to try. Each has their own formula and some will work for you and some wont. Figure this out during your long runs.

fig newtons, glycemic indexYou can also eat common food items for energy. During a marathon, I’ve used Fig Newtons several times and Snickers bars twice. These are cheaper than gels and they will probably agree with your system. I still eat Snickers bars during Sunday Long Runs.

Gels are packaged for running. If you use cookies or candy bars you will need to package them for easy access. Candy bars do not work well in warm temperatures.

I’ve been eating Fig Newtons and Snickers bars my entire life. They may have added some pounds and cavities, but they never made me sick. Try some of your favorites if you like.

One draw back to common food items is that they probably do not have the electrolytes your body needs during a marathon. So if you go with Snickers, make sure you drink sports beverage during the race.

Read Fig Newtons and the Glycemic Index

Fuel Early and Often

Don’t wait until you feel tired to fuel. Once your body becomes depleted you cannot get ahead of it. It’s the beginning of the downward spiral towards The Bonk.

You need to start consuming calories early in the marathon. I advise taking your first gel at 5K or 5 miles at the latest. If you consume something every 5K you should be alright.

A well conditioned athlete’s muscles and liver can hold up to about 2,400 calories in the form of glycogen. As you run, your body turns glycogen into glucose and burns about 125 calories a mile. As a new runner you will not have 2,400 calories stored at the beginning of the race.

Your calorie burn depends on several factors such as conditioning and effort.

As an example: Assuming you consume no calories during a race, have 2,400 calories stored and burn 125 calories per mile you will bonk around mile 20.

You will have way less than 2,400 calories on board, but you will consume some. You just need to pay attention and make sure you consume enough.

Managing energy has to be part of your race plan. You have to be on top of this.

Heartbreak Hill meet The Wall

One of the beautiful things (irony) about The Boston Marathon is that mile 20 is just before Heartbreak Hill.

Just when a poorly fueled body will bonk. You don’t want this to happen to you and it doesn’t have to.

When you make the right hand turn just after Mile 17 and the Newton Fire Station, you hit a series of hills that continue until Cleveland Circle at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. You’ll know why it’s called the Chestnut HILL Reservoir as you run up the hill to the turn at Cleveland Circle.

Heartbreak Hill is the last hill. I always see people walking on these hills. Some are just tired or in pain. Others have hit the wall and have that far away look in their eye.

Once your body has depleted it’s store of glycogen during a marathon, it is impossible to recover. You cannot replenish glycogen faster than your body is consuming it. If you bonk, your goal finish time vaporizes before your glazed eyes. There is no way to recover. Once you bonk it’s  about survival and trying to get to the finish. It’s not pretty and it never feels good.

When you bonk you probably have depleted electrolytes also. Your body will feel exhausted. This is the standard combination of misery. Your body has run out of energy to move and the electrolytes necessary to prevent cramping.

Depleted glucose and electrolytes can be dangerous. You can loose the ability to maintain your body temperature and your heart and other organs can fail. Glucose is the only energy source that your brain uses. I’ve seen people hauled off the course wrapped in blankets in a gurney!

This is not how you want your Boston Marathon Experience to end.

Read about one of my bonk experiences

This is why it is so important to fuel early in the race. If Gatorade and Clif Shot Energy Gels upset your stomach, bring your own fuel. Even if you like Clif Shot Energy Gels, they don’t hand them out until mile 11.8.

I advise taking some calories at 5K,10K and around mile 10. Just one gel or fig bar at each marker should do. The BAA will have digital clocks at every 5K and mile marker, so you can’t miss your marks.

I also carry bottles in my belt and have carried a 500ml bottle of sports drink mix. It’s better to carry what you know works for you.

The BAA will provide Poland Spring Water and Lemon Lime Gatorade Endurance Formula each mile starting at mile two.

You can use these water stops as a walk break if you need it, but get off to the side and out of everyone’s way. If you do walk the water stops start early in the race before your muscle tighten up. Don’t wait until you are in trouble.

If you like Clif Shot Energy Gels  you can get them at miles 11.8, 17 and 21.5.

You will need three gels for the 5k, 10K and 10 mile refueling. I would bring a 4th for late in the race, just in case. If you’re having a rough day you may need that extra gel after the mile 21.5 Clif Energy Zone.

If Clif Shots tie your guts into knots, then bring six or seven of what ever works for you. If Lemon Lime Gatorade makes you hurl, then bring your own beverage and just take water as needed.

A belt full of seven gels and a few drink bottles may seem like a lot. But if you fuel properly, by the half-marathon mark half your supplies should be gone. And if you are struggling late in the race that last gel will seem like Lembas.

Don’t Eat That!

The pasta dinner the night before Boston is a big tradition. I’ve never gone.

If you don’t like pasta or pasta sauce upsets your stomach, don’t go. Don’t go to a restaurant and have pasta just because it’s a pre-race tradition.

Don’t stuff yourself because you are carbo-loading. Eat what you normally eat just maybe a little more than usual. Your body can only carry 1,800 to 2,400 calories. Anything extra will just make you feel fat on Marathon Monday.

I also avoid alcohol. Well, too much alcohol. Alcohol accelerates dehydration and in the days before the race you want to stay well hydrated. I would stick to one or two beverages. You can party after the race.

Free Food at Hopkinton

When you get to Hopkinton there will be all kinds of food. Dunkin Donuts will have coffee and bagels. If coffee and bagels work for you, go for it. I always have coffee before a race and a plain bagel always settles well in my stomach. It’s a good way to top off your energy store just before the race.

Cliff, PowerBar and other vendors may be giving out free product. It will be tempting to take a bunch of them. But if you packed your belt properly, you don’t have room to take that stuff with you.

If you’ve never had what ever product is being given away, don’t take one. This is not the time to try anything new.

You don’t want to eat anything new the day before your race. In the hours before the start you absolutely do not want to eat anything new. Nothing.

Your bowels will be jumping around like a basket of snakes all ready. You do not want to put anything unknown into that pit of vipers!

Just because there are gallons of coffee and thousands of bagels, power bars and gels, even if you have had them all before, don’t be a glutton.  If you normally eat one bagel and have one 8 oz coffee, stick with that.

What goes in…

Honolulu Marathon 2017, Porta PottiesPlease read this carefully if this is your first Boston. I cannot stress this enough. When you get off the bus head strait for the porta potties. Your bowels are sure to be churning and you must pee before the race starts. Just the excitement of the race is enough to get things moving for most runners.

When you walk onto one of the two fields behind Hopkinton High School you will see more porta potties than you have ever seen in your life! Each one will have 100 people lined up laser-focused on their door. I’m not kidding and neither are they. There are no cuts in one of these lines.

It can take 30 minutes to over an hour to get through the line. Get through the line at least once and then walk around.

After you have checked things out and found your friends, get back into line. I guarantee that when you hear your corral called to the start you will instantly need to relieve yourself.

Boston Marathon 2018 Hydration

Proper hydration is essential for you to finish the race. As I mentioned earlier, even the elite runners have something to drink during the race. They are only out there for about two hours, so they don’t need as much as you and I do.

Much like training, hydration is a balancing act. You want to get enough hydration but not too much. During your training runs you should be able to figure out what you need.

At The Runners Village you may be bored and you will be nervous. This often causes people to drink more than they should. Weather it is coffee, Gatorade or water it all has to come back out eventually. This is why I advise standing in the porta potty line: it gives you something to do and you can talk to people and ease your nerves. Oh, and you’ll need to pee.

Boston Marathon Water Stop, Andy Nagelin, HPHydration during the race is different for everyone. It’s important to get to the start line hydrated but not over hydrated. I usually stop drinking anything the hour before my start time, then I get in line for the porta potty. This hour gives my body time to process what I have consumed and helps me avoid a porta potty or woods stop during the race.

During the race I normally take sips from one of my bottles of sports mix. Just enough to keep my mouth and throat wet.

My rule of thumb is that if I’m sweating than I’m properly hydrated. If I start to notice that my face is dry then it’s time to get more water or Gatorade. Usually by the half-marathon mark I start grabbing a cup of something at the water stops.

You have to pay attention to your body. Most of the fluid you consume during the race will be sweat out and you won’t have to make a stop. If you feel dizzy or your mouth is dry, take some fluid.

Dehydration is as big of an issue as bonking. If you run out of water or energy, your race is done. There will be race officials and medical assistance all along the course. If you start hallucinating or feel like you are about to die, ask for help.

You also don’t want to over hydrate. This starts at the Runners Village, as mentioned above. Early in the race only drink what you feel you need. It may be half a cup of water or it may be a cup of Gatorade and water.

If you drink too much you will need to make a stop. Over-hydration can also cause exercise-induced hyponatremia. This is when you have consumed so much water that the sodium levels in your blood fall below safe levels. This is a very serious condition.

The best way to avoid this is don’t drink more than you need and drink some of that Gatorade since it contains sodium.

Advice from the BAA

Pay attention to your body.

Don’t get hurt

If this is your first marathon, or one of your first, you probably have few aches and pains. You probably feel great and energized after a run. This is normal. But it doesn’t last.

Talk to anyone who’s been running for a while and they will tell you about their latest injury. It happens to everyone, but you don’t want it to happen to you.

There are so many ways to get hurt running. It seems like a safe sport, no one is trying to tackle you or slam you into the boards. But you are your own worse enemy.

Many runners dive into training before they are prepared. Or they miss a day and add the miles to their next run. Or they don’t get enough rest or don’t eat right. They don’t stretch or do cross training.

It can all seem to be too much. But when you get an injury, that few minutes of stretching after a run or time in the gym doesn’t sound so boring anymore. It’s no fun recalling that run when you got that injury.

I feel that getting to the start line healthy but under trained is better than getting to the start line in great shape but with an injury. You just don’t want to do that.

How to avoid injury?

Pay attention to your body. Some runs just don’t feel right. This happens a lot but often goes away after a few miles. With experience you learn when you are just feeling lazy and when you really should cut your run short or stop.

Training is a balance between pushing your self and knowing when you need to take a break.

Running is about adapting. Sometimes you need to adapt your plans based on the situation.

Pay attention to your weekly miles

If you follow a professionally designed plan you should be okay. Otherwise, the general rule of thumb is to increase your miles by no more than 10% per week.

Running all of your miles in one day does not count! Increase mileage gradually over time and perhaps add days to your running week. Having at least one rest day is a very good idea.

If this is your first marathon you should use a professionally designed plan.

When I ramp up for a marathon I start by adding a day or two to my regular running schedule. Then I gradually add distance to each run. I find it easier on my body to run four or five shorter runs than running two short and one long run.

You do need long runs in your training plan, but they should come only after you have trained for a few months. Most training plans will ease you into longer runs.

Running a half-marathon a month or so before Boston is a good idea for any runner.

As a first-timer I think this is a very important part of your training. You need a long race to see how your body will feel and to gauge where you are with your training. It can be quite humbling!

Keep track of the miles on your shoes

lacing techniques, Five Things Every New Boston Marathon Runner Needs to KnowThis may seem silly to you, especially when your running shoes still look brand new. While the uppers may still be clean and bright, the sole of your shoe degrades significantly by 500 miles.

The cushion and support you had for the first few hundred miles begins to dissipate. It happens so slowly that you won’t even notice it. Then one day your knee or hip will get a twinge. You’ll know it when you feel it. You may start to get blisters all of a sudden.

If you are tracking your weekly miles, pay attention when you get around 500 miles. This is the time to get a new pair of running shoes.

Often I keep the older pair for shorter runs or walking around. Even though running shoes can look good for years, I generally get rid of any shoe that is more than three years old. Even for walking, your feet are not getting proper support from old shoes.

Your a runner, you need to take care of your feet.

Don’t over due the stretching

Runners need to stretch and strength train as part of their marathon training.

If you get to Hopkinton early, you may have a long wait for your start time. You may get bored sitting around. Looking around you will see runners stretching everywhere you look. It may look like people are stretching for hours. You are actually seeing people doing there normal routine and it isn’t an hour long.

stretching, yoga, clarity through pain

My advice is to only stretch as much as you normally do. Don’t try a cool stretch you see someone else doing. Hopkinton is not the place to learn yoga either!

You are going to be bored and nervous. The best thing to do is to stand in line for the porta potties and talk to other runners. Sit when you can to rest your legs and feet.

When you are ready, do your normal stretching routine. You may want to do it when you get to the field or you may want to do it just before you head for your corral. Just don’t over do it.

Don’t go out too fast

This happens to almost everyone at their first Boston. Your adrenaline will be surging and the crowds will make you feel like a rock star.

When you have that BAA bib pinned to your shirt, you are a VIP for the day. It is your show and all of the volunteers, staff and security are there to make sure things go as smoothly and safely for you as possible. Be sure to thank everyone in sight!

All of this VIP treatment contributes to your excitement. These folks are just doing their job. You need to do yours and keep your shit together.

If you have arrived at the start line uninjured and totally pumped up by the environment, you are likely to run one of your fastest miles.

The first five miles are mostly down hill or flat. The first time I ran Boston in 2003, I didn’t notice a hill until just after Mile 5 at the Framingham border. Looking at the elevation map, you can see that there are bigger hills before that. But I was so pumped up I didn’t even notice them.

Boston Marathon Course Map
BAA map

Because you are so pumped up and there is so much going on around you, it is easy to go out too fast. It is very important to focus on your pace as quickly as you can.

If you run the first mile 30 seconds or a minute below your goal pace, that’s okay. Not great but it shouldn’t hurt you. If you run the first five miles way under your goal pace it can come back to bite you in the ass.

And if you are so unfocused those first five miles you will probably also forget to fuel at 5K. That’s two strikes against you right there.

On many long runs I use the first mile or two as my warm up. The idea is to take it easy and see how my body feels. If something hurts I can stop and stretch.

The first mile or two is when you need to enjoy the euphoria of the start of the race, take in the sights and sounds of the crowd and relax.

This is the time to do a systems check and see what is bothering you today. It’s time to make sure you double tied your laces and that your running belt isn’t digging into your side, that your watch is started. Things like that.

So follow your training plan, don’t over do it. On race day run your plan. Hit the port potties often and don’t eat or drink anything new.

Run well my friends and I’ll be looking for you in Hopkinton!

Andy

Advertisements

Snowshoe Running What You Want to Know

Snowshoe Running

By Mark Rosenblum (guest blogger for OmniRunner)

When old man winter blows in hard and furious, creating icy roads and huge snowbanks narrowing Brooksby Snowshoe classic, snowshoe raceroadways, what can you do (besides treadmill running)?  Running on roads with less traffic still has risks.  Seeking out well plowed streets offers limited choices.  Well, there’s another choice which is safer, more fun, and gives you a more forgiving surface than running on the roads: snowshoeing!

 

Snowshoe models

If you want to get into snowshoeing, you’ll first need to decide which type and model of snowshoe to Tubbs 6000 snowshoes, snowshoe running, snowshoesbuy. The majority of snowshoes on the market are designed for either mountain hiking or trail walking.  Running in the former is possible but challenging.  The latter is fine for starting out.  These will cost $100-$200.

However, if you want snowshoes primarily for running training and possibly snowshoe racing, you are better off getting running or racing snowshoes.  These will cost $200-$300 for better models.

Atlas racing snowshoes, snowshoe running

The good news is that companies are starting to offer more choices every year as this sport catches on.  The bad news is that most outdoors specialty retail stores do not carry this type of snowshoe, so you will most likely have to buy online and read up on different options, vs. having an in-store salesperson help you.

 

Try before you buy

If you have never been snowshoeing before, you will probably want to try it before buying snowshoes.  REI rents snowshoes, or you may find a small local retailer that does.  Rentals typically will run $10-$20/day.  Many XC ski touring centers will also rent snowshoes.  A great opportunity to try out different models of snowshoes for free every winter is “Winter Trails Day”, held in several states on different dates in January. Go to www.wintertrails.org  for more info.  There you can try 3-4 different models in an hour or two and get questions answered.

You are not likely to find racing snowshoe models at these stores or events.  However, many races will provide an opportunity to use a racing model provided by a sponsor for an extra $5 – $10.  The numbers are often limited so you may need to register early.

Technology

If you were buying snowshoes for hiking, you would want to learn about “flotation” and get a snowshoe size based on your weight and type of snow conditions you will encounter.

For snowshoe running and racing, you will want a narrower and lighter snowshoe.  The following webpage lists 35 models of racing snowshoes which are ‘legal’ per racing snowshoe regulations: http://www.snowshoeracing.com/legal_size.htm

Here in New England, Dion dominates the market, with their Model 121 being most popular.

One thing you will want to consider is how easy and comfortable it is to fasten your hiking or running Dion snowshoesshoes to the snowshoes via the bindings, which typically involve some type of leather, rubber, or plastic straps. Dion’s ‘Quick Fit’ binding comprised of flexible VELCRO®-type straps is one of the easier types available.

Other details to consider when trying snowshoes for running is how closely the snowshoe snaps back to your foot, kick back of snow, and weight.

Lastly, while most snowshoe hikers also get a pair of ski or trekking poles, for both balance and leverage, they are not needed for snowshoe running, and are not used for racing.

Footwear

Asics Gel Arctic 4, winter running shoeIf just looking looking to get into snowshoeing as cross-training for hiking, hiking shoes are your best option.  For running training, consider getting a GORE-TEX® running shoe, especially if you are prone to getting cold feet.  See “The best way to enjoy winter running” for some suggestions.  Another advantage of these shoes is that they will offer better forefoot protection against binding straps, which may otherwise provide uncomfortable pressure points.

Such shoes are also fine for racing, where you might not mind trading off some extra weight for comfort.  At the other end of the spectrum, some racers looking for the lightest weight and comfort have found ways to custom mount a pair of racing flats directly to the webbing of the snowshoe, eliminating the need for bindings.

Gaiters are especially helpful for snowshoe running.  This topic was also covered in the blog post Altra Gaiters, snowshoe gearmentioned earlier.  For most conditions, ankle height gaiters will be your best option.  Most models will attach via clips to your laces, and laces or straps under your arch to secure the gaiter.  Instead of the latter, some models attach to your heel with a strip of VELCRO®.

 

Clothing

You will quickly find out when you do snowshoe running workouts that you will generate more heat than for a corresponding road workout.  Thus, an initial guide for what to wear is to dress for about 10 degrees warmer than what you would wear for running.  You will quickly find what works best for you.  The only other special consideration for snowshoeing is that there is just no avoiding kicking up snow behind you, which can leave a mass of ice crystals clinging to the back of your pants.  Slicker materials such as running tights or rain pants will minimize this.

Where to go

Mt Hood golf course, snowshoe hikingIf your local golf course is available for winter recreation, you can run with as little as 2” of snow if the ground is well frozen.  Avoid running over the greens.  A similarly good location is around playing fields at local schools.  Rail trails and some woods trails will be fine with about 4-5” of snow, whereas rocky woods trails may need 8” or more before you can get out without risk of damaging your snowshoe crampons or twisting an ankle.

If you go on trails and find cross-country ski tracks present, proper trail etiquette requests snowshoers to avoid stepping in the tracks.

Racing and Race opportunities

If you are a competitive runner and get into snowshoeing, you will probably want to try snowshoe Katherine Kulig, Granite State Snowshoe Championshipsracing at some point.  The quality of the snow at the time of the race will be the biggest variable that you will encounter, from very hard to very soft, very smooth to ‘choppy’, and from well packed to fluffy fresh powder.

The conditions obviously will affect how fast you can go.  As a result, times are not comparable even for the same race from year-to-year.  Under typical racing conditions, expect your times to be anywhere from 50% to 2x (or more) greater than your times for a road race of the same distance.

All that being said, snowshoe races offer runners a fun and interesting experience for racing, quite different from other races.  You’ll generally find other runners at snowshoe races, typically those who enjoy cross-country, trail, and mountain races.

Snowshoe races frequently have ‘single-track’ sections: narrow paths in woods where the snow-packed trail is not wide enough for two people to run side-by-side.  It is very difficult to pass on these sections.  If you sense someone is on your heels and itching to pass you, try to quickly find a good spot to step to the side to let them pass.  You will appreciate the same favor when the situation is reversed!

Here in the Northeast, your best sites to learn about race opportunities are:

http://www.granitestatesnowshoeseries.org (NH races)

http://dionwmacsnowshoe.com  (NY, VT, and western MA).

Nationwide race information can also be found at http://www.snowshoeracing.com/events.htm .

Snowshoeing with others

Lastly, snowshoeing with others is a great way to keep active during the winter.  Having someone guide you through trails, especially at night, is a lot easier than going off by yourself.  Also, when there is deep fresh snow, making tracks is a lot easier with a group.

So, whether you are looking to find a safer alternative to running on the roads during the worst winter days, interested in a growing way to stay competitive during the winter, or looking for a fun way to take advantage of winter’s bounty and enjoy the company of friends out in the woods, consider taking up snowshoeing!

Sunday Long Run Marathon Training 2017 02

Sunday Long Run 2017 02 is actually run number 3. Our program is managed by an engineer, so we start with run 00.

Jim Carson has managed the Sunday Long Run program since I have been involved with it. He organizes the volunteers and makes sure we have supplies for the water stops. I don’t think we have ever cancelled a run because we didn’t have volunteers, even when Jim was away.

Sunday Long Run 2017 02

It was a brisk, sunny morning with temps in the high 20’s to low 30’s. Runners don’t mind the cold as much as they mind the rain. So a cold dry morning is fine by us!

I showed up early to Brueggers and put my money on the table. As everyone else came in they assumed I was collecting and placed their cash on top of mine. The pile was growing nicely and then Jim came in and took over the collection.

A few minutes before eight about 50 of us piled onto the sidewalk in front of Brueggers for our instructions.

Sunday Long Run, MRC, Spot PondI’ve run this course so many times, I could actually visualize each turn and each hill. We had a lot of Mystic Runners with us and many listened carefully to Jim’s instructions.

I was at the front of the pack and headed down Main Street to West Wyoming. I ended up running with several of the faster runners in our club and was concerned that I was going out too fast.

You can go out too fast even on a training run. You don’t get a DNR if you cut your run short due to fatigue but it does kind of suck.

As we headed up the Fellsway Hills I stayed with the faster runners. Very few people were behind us and I was really getting concerned. We ran both hills on The Fellsway and then turned right onto Highland Ave for another hill.

Sunday Long Run, Melrose Running Club

As we approached our first water stop I decided to hang a bit longer at the stop and let the faster people go ahead. I knew better than try to keep up with them for the full 12.5 miles.

I ended up running with a few Mystics around the back side of Spot Pond in Stoneham. We had a good chat and ran a little slower than the group I was with previously.

While I was hanging at the water stop at the turn onto South Street I saw my friend Gail Severt coming in. I decided to wait and run with her. We used to run together all the time and I knew we would have a good talk like we used to.

As we approached Flynn Rink I decided that I needed a bio break. It’s hockey season and the rink is a public facility, so I knew I was all set. Gail ran ahead and I went into the hockey arena.

By the time I got to our last water stop, Gail was gone. I was now near the end of the long run group and most of them were going a lot slower than me. A few were even walking.

I would run with them a for a bit and then push on. At this point I just wanted to get the run over! 12.5 miles is a real run, even with social water stops!

This weeks route involved running The Fellsway hills both ways. I felt pretty good and I like running hills, so I pushed hard up and down the hills.

My knee bothered me a bit from the down hill pounding, but overall, I felt pretty good.

A Sunday Long Run isn’t about speed really. It’s about getting your body used to running long distances. Gradually we build up to 20 and even a 22 mile run.

We do this over 16 weeks with step back weeks built it. If you don’t over do it the rest of the week, the program is an excellent way to prep for Boston or any other spring marathon.

The program is so good that often, half of our runners are from other clubs! You gotta be doing something right!

I ran 12.51 miles at a 9:09 pace. It looks like I spent about 23 minutes hanging out.

Tips for Sunday Long Run Runners

During a race I always double tie my laces. Most new shoes have laces that rarely come untied, but I see runners with flopping laces all the time. This week I didn’t double tie and I had to stop for each shoe.

Tip: Always double tie your laces. It’s a needless waste of time, especially during a race.

I also had to make a bio break. All runners should carry a few dollars and a few tissues with them. You never know when you may need them. It’s also a good idea to know where there is a public toilet, like an ice rink, and a place to get a drink.

There are Dunkin Donuts everywhere. With a few dollars you get get a bio break and buy a bottle of water on your way out.

Tip: Get to know where the water fountains and restrooms are that you can get into. It can make life so much easier!

Run well My Friends!

Andy

The best way to enjoy winter running

The Best way to enjoy Winter Running

The best way to enjoy winter running is be to comfortable. In the summer it’s easy to be comfortable and enjoy a run.

Enjoying a winter run can be a bit more challenging. enjoy winter running, Sunday long run

Here are a few ways to enjoy winter running

Keep your feet dry

Nothing ruins a nice run quicker than wet feet. In the summer wet feet can cause chaffing and blisters. In the winter, wet feet can increase your chances of frost bite, sap the heat from your body and cause chaffing and blisters.

Leading running shoe companies such as Adidas, Asics, Brooks, New Balance and Saucony use Gore-Tex® Extended Comfort technology to make water resistant versions of their standard shoes.

This material keeps water out of your shoes, while allowing perspiration to escape. The ideal set of features to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

Many shoes that use Extended Comfort materials have the designation “GTX” or incorporate GORE-TEX® into the shoe name.

Brooks Adrenaline ASR 10 GTX, winter runningI have run in the Brooks Adrenaline ASR 10 GTX shoe for three seasons. Like many shoes on the GORE-TEX® web site, the Adrenaline ASR is a trail version of the popular Adrenaline GTS.

While most reviewers consider the Adrenaline ASR a built up street shoe and not a true trail runner, you will find it much stiffer and heavier than the street version.

I always wear my Adrenaline ASR 10 GTX for trail runs and those Sunday long runs when the street is a mess. The shoes are also great on ice and give me added confidence that I’ll make it to the finish in one piece.

The water-resistant version of your favorite running shoe will typically cost about 20% more than the standard version. Since you only need these shoes a few months of the year, you can get two or more years out of them.

This article from Competitor dot com reviews 9 winter running shoes for 2016. They describe the Brooks Adrenaline ASR GTX as a weather-ready road-feel shoe.

winter running
Under Armour Fat Tire GTX

Check out the Under Armour Fat Tire GTX. At 18 oz you wont want to do a road race in them, but they will eliminate your foul weather excuses!

This 2015 article from GearJunkie reviews running shoes that are a bit more hard-core than your typical trail runners. In addition to being water-resistant, some of these shoes incorporate spikes and gators to handle the most challenging conditions. More on gaiters below.

Running tip

Anyone in the Northern Hemisphere training for a spring race, such as the Boston Marathon, should own a pair of water-resistant shoes. Nasty weather comes with the territory this time of year, so you’ll need a heavier pair of shoes like these to keep you on the road and off of your butt.

Keep the Snow Out

Who hasn’t dreamed of running through fresh powder on a crisp winter’s day? How about tearing up a gnarly trail with friends? When you get off-road or out before the plows you are likely to encounter snow that most running shoes cannot handle.

winter running Salomon gaitersA nice addition to any runner’s mountain of gear is a pair of gators. Gaiters go over your ankle and cover your socks and top of your shoe.

In addition to keeping snow, rocks and twigs out of your shoes, they also add another layer of water protection.  Even if you have snow shoes, gaiters are a great way to keep the snow out of your shoes and keep the fun rolling.

Check out this review of Ultra Trail Gaiters from Outdoor Research. OR sells gators for running, skiing and hiking. The GearJunkie article reviews a few shoes that come with gaiters.

REI sells gaiters for running, hiking and skiing. Much like buying a pair of shoes, trying on a pair of gaiters before you buy them is advisable.

Keep your feet Warm

Keeping your feet dry is only half the battle of enjoying a winter run.

Cold, dry feet are still cold. That’s no fun and can be dangerous.

Keeping your feet warm is all about the socks.

Running socks are great at wicking moisture away from your skin, but in the winter you need more. Wool is known to hold body heat even when wet, and most cold weather socks incorporate wool. For fit and breath-ability, nylon and other engineered materials are woven in also.

balega, running socks, winter running In 2014 I wrote a review comparing Balega socks to Darn Tough socks.You thought summer socks were expensive? These socks cost about $17.00 a pair!

Both socks kept my feet warm, warmer than summer socks anyway. The Balega socks felt better on my feet and added some color.

I have only tried Darn Tough and Balega and both worked for me. I’m hoping to test a few more brands this winter and provide reviews for you.

Winter socks should feel snug on your feet, but not too tight. You don’t want them to bunch up but you also don’t want to constrict blood flow or squeeze your toes.

Many runners wear low profile socks in warm weather. For colder weather consider wearing a crew sock. I find that a sock that bridges the gap between my tights and ankle make a big difference in comfort. Any exposed skin can be an issue.

Running Tip

Every runner should have at least one pair of winter socks. They are expensive but you will need them on those really bitter days. If you stay on top of your laundry, you can get by with one pair of really good winter socks. Two or three pair are better, of course.

While they are expensive they will last many years. During the winter you wont need winter socks for every run, so you are sure to get many years of good running out of them.

Keep a lid on it

I grew up in Maine and hated to wear a hat to the bus stop, even in February. It just wasn’t cool. And don’t mess with the hair! In the old days, parents believed that we lost over 50% of our body heat through our heads.

fall races, 5 reasons to join my mailing listIt turns out that all body parts loose heat at about the same rate. Since our heads make up about 10% of our body surface, they can only loose about 10% of our body heat.

For a winter run, I keep as much of my body covered as possible. I wear a hat year-round so I have no problem wearing a winter hat.

A hat covers about half of my head and probably keeps in half of the heat so 10% times half, times half equals about 2.5% of my body heat.

That may not seem like a lot, but if I could cut 2.5% off of my marathon time I’d be thrilled.

winter running, winter hat, balaclavaA hat is about comfort and safety. While you may not loose 50% of your body heat through your head, you do loose body heat. On a cold day that 2.5% could keep you comfortable and prevent your ears from getting frost bite.

Sometimes I get an ear ache from running in the cold and a hat helps prevent this.

The important thing is comfort and not what it is made of. The great thing about a hat is that you can take it off if you get too hot and slip it on again if you get cool.

Any winter cap will do, but check out the winter running hats the next time you stop by your local running shop.

Keep your face covered

Balaclava: a close-fitting, knitted cap that covers the head, neck, and tops of the shoulders, worn especially by mountain climbers, soldiers, skiers, etc. Dictionary dot com. 

Balaclavas have been around since the mid 1800s. In the old days they were wool as that was the warmest material available.

Today, balaclavas are made from high tech materials that work better than wool. The definition of balaclava has changed also. In the photo above Matt Sazama wore a nylon hose basically.

Many members of our running club got one of these “balaclavas” a few years ago when we had an especially cold winter. This version can go around your neck to keep your neck warm and cold air out of your jacket.

It can also be pulled up to cover your mouth and nose, like Matt did. It is not the traditional hat-like balaclava, but it is very handy to have in the go bag. best way to winter running, balaclava, craft

Here is an example of a modern balaclava made by Craft Sportswear. This “Face Protector” is made of 100% polyester. Craft is based in Sweden so you know these products are tested under harsh Nordic conditions.

Please stay out of banks while wearing anything like this.

I own a few Craft products and I can attest to their quality and functionality.

Like a good pair of running shoes, winter gear and Craft products in particular, are not cheap.

If this is your first winter running season you can probably get by with gear you already own. You wont be ready to take on the worse conditions, but you should be ready for the average winter day.

Keep your hands warm

As I have grown older, my hands have become more sensitive to the cold. Some days, just the simple gloves they hand out at races are enough. Sometimes I have to take them off after a few miles.

Then there are those 20° days, or nights. Just from my forward motion there is a 5 mph breeze and sometimes Jack Frost will kick in a steady breeze and maybe a few gusts. That all adds up to an uncomfortable wind chill.

A few years ago I purchased wind proof mittens from a brand I wont mention. They didn’t have much insulation and they fell apart the same year. Everyone said mittens were better than gloves because mittens kept your finger together for added warmth.

best way to enjoy winter running, craft gloves, mittensWith that in mind I purchased a pair of Craft Touring Mittens. These mittens had the insulation I was looking for and still look like new after two seasons.

Craft provides few details for any of their products on their web site. They do not provide a comfortable temperature range like LL Bean does on many of their products.

From my personal experience, I would recommend these mittens. Except in the coldest conditions, my hands actually sweat in these mittens.

Sometimes the only thing that will keep you warm is a house. If you have Raynaud’s Disease these mittens should be a good option.

best way to enjoy winter running, craft gloveFor Christmas, I received these Hybrid Weather Gloves. They are a glove with a slip over cover to keep your fingers warm and dry.

I have not worn them yet, but I know people who have these gloves and they love them. They give you the dexterity of a glove with the option for extra protection from the elements when you need it.

Sometimes my hands sweat even on a cold day, having the option to take a layer off of my hands will be helpful.

Many runners start cold and then warm up as they run. It’s not unusual to see gloves on the road during a race. I’ve even seen expensive gloves on the ground.

It’s easy to get distracted during a race and drop a nice hat or pair of gloves. The word to the wise is always that it’s okay to be cool or even cold at the beginning of a race; you will warm up. With that in mind, you may want to wear an inexpensive pair of gloves and hat to a race.

They may not keep you as warm at the start, but you will warm up and who wants to loose a $50 pair of gloves. That can make for an uncomfortable ride home.

For your training runs, it makes sense to be comfortable. A training run is a controlled environment. You should be comfortable. We don’t need excuses for staying home. If you can afford it, gear up for the winter that is coming.

I hope that these tips help you have a comfortable winter running season. Winter is a great time to run and staying comfortable is the best way to enjoy winter running.

Invest in one or two items this season and you are likely to enjoy them for years to come.

Run well my Friends and Happy New Year!

Andy

Tick and Mosquito Season is here

Tick and mosquito season seems to get worse each year. Tick season is generally from April to September but this can fluctuate depending on the weather.

Mosquitoes can emerge on the first warm days of spring as some can hibernate through the winter. Mosquito season lasts until the first frost in the northern US, though some can survive the first frosts. Over the winter, you may even find a mosquito in a closet.

The further south you go, the longer tick and mosquito season lasts. In the southern US, you can expect tick and mosquito season to last all year.

Black fly season lasts from late May into July in Maine and is dependent on the weather. Heat and water tend to bring out all of these pests in swarms.

When I was a kid we never worried about EEE, Lyme Disease, West Nile Disease or Zika. Mosquitoes left welts that itched. Black flies actually bite and can make you bleed. But that was about it.

Tick and Mosquito protection

As runners, we spend a lot of time outside in very little clothing. While we are running we are fairly safe from insects.When we stop for a drink, or at the end of a run, all of that exposed skin is prime for these insects.

While ticks do no fly, jump or drop from trees, they can hitch a ride if you brush up against a branch where they have been waiting. Ticks also live in leaf litter in the woods and mulch that you may have in your yard.

This CDC info-graphic provides good information to protect you and your family from mosquitoes. Click to open the pdf.

mosquitoes,zika

Tick and mosquito season safety

To avoid mosquito bites the CDC recommends wearing long sleeves and pants. For a runner this is impracticable. While many of us hate to use bug spray when we run the CDC recommends the following:

Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to the label instructions.

Most species of mosquitoes bite primarily during the day. This means even if you run during the day you are still susceptible to bites and infection.

If you plan to hang out after a run, bring bug spray to apply after your run. You may also want to put on pants and a long sleeved shirt. If you are in the woods or near water, expect the swarm to be pretty thick and plan accordingly.

I have run several races along The Charles River in Boston.  At these races I see lots of swatting and slapping going on. Some runners bring a can of spray and it usually gets passed around.

You know that go bag in the trunk of your car full of running gear? Toss a can of spray in there for the summer. As long as you avoid your face and don’t get much on your hands, you should be good.

It’s a small price to pay to enjoy running in the summer.

Zika virus

This year we have a new disease to worry about, the Zika virus. So far the CDC reports  – Local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus has been reported in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. No mosquito transmitted cases have been reported in any of the 50 US States.

Also from the CDC:

What we know

  • No vaccine exists to prevent Zika virus disease (Zika).
  • Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites (see below).
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime.
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

Steps to prevent mosquito bites

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol.

Use this CDC link for ways to control mosquitoes in your yard and inside of your home.

While men and women who are not and do not plan to become pregnant are at little apparent risk, more needs to be learned about this virus. The long-term effects on healthy adults and children have not been widely studied. So while you may feel you have nothing to be worried about, preventing or minimizing exposure to Zika is still a good idea for everyone.

Into the woods

tick,ticks,lyme diseaseTrail runners will be exposed to more mosquitoes and ticks than urban or road runners. There is more habitat and shelter for ticks and mosquitoes. The woods also reduce breezes that might keep mosquitoes away from you when you stop running. The woods are where the deer and deer ticks live.

In the woods, ticks are the bigger problem.

As discussed earlier, ticks do not fly or jump. Generally they will crawl up your leg or latch onto you when you brush against a bush or branch where they have been waiting for you.

To avoid ticks, repellent is recommended and so are long sleeves and pants. Since ticks need to come into contact with you, avoid brushing against bushes or low hanging branches.

Since most runners will not wear long sleeves and pants on a hot summer run, your best bet is repellent and avoiding contact with bushes and branches as much as possible.

When taking a break after a run, try not to sit directly on the ground. This isn’t a guarantee that you wont pick up a tick, but at least you wont be sticking your butt into their home!

The American Lyme Disease Foundation has a very informative site on all types of ticks. They also discuss the other diseases carried by ticks. This CDC page has a map series that shows the spread of Lyme disease and links to additional resources and information.

Enjoy the great summer running weather, but take a few precautions to protect your health.

Run well my friends!

Andy

© 2016 andrew nagelin

Running for Home

Up until last weekend I was just running for the fun of it, to keep in shape and hang out with my friends. No pressure.

Running for Home

This week I began my brief training to run the 2016 Boston Marathon and support FamilyAid Boston.

This Sunday we did 16.4 miles with plenty of hills. It wasn’t pretty but I managed to finish. My run re-cap is HERE. The weather was perfect, but I made some mistakes and dealt with some issues.

Monday night we had a team get together in Boston. Most of the local runners were there. I was surprised to hear we have team members from South Carolina and San Francisco! They could not make it. 😉

Team FamilyAid Boston

Family Aid, boston marathon, fundraising, running for home

It was great to meet the Boston-based team. Like all runners, they are a great group of people and we had much to talk about.

Some of us have run many marathons and for a few people this will be their first marathon. Boston was my first marathon and it’s a great way to start the obsession!

Even after 15 marathons I don’t really consider my self an expert. I may be certifiable, but I’m not certified in anything. So giving advice always seems beyond my pay grade, so to speak. But being a runner I did give some tried and true advice.

Like just about anything, there are always at least two theories on what to do and not do. I think everyone can agree on these:

  • Don’t wear anything new on race day
  • Don’t eat anything new on race day
  • Make sure to use the porta pottie before the gun goes off
  • Don’t over-hydrate, and I always say – stop drinking an hour before the race and get in the porta pottie line
  • The big one – Don’t go out too fast

This may be the most difficult advice to follow. You will be totally pumped up, the course is mostly down hill for the first few miles and you feel great.

There will be huge crowds and kids on the side of the road that want to slap your hand as you run by. You will feel like a rock star!

But don’t be like a rock star and let all of that go to your head and do you in.

The marathon is a long haul and it is all about conserving energy and using it wisely.

Tuesday Night Run

I normally run with my club on Tuesday nights. I had to work late and it was going to be cold with snow. Since I all ready have a cold, I used the treadmill at work for a quick 5 mile run.

My Sunday run revealed a few mechanical issues. The treadmill allowed me to get in a run in a controlled environment. No pot holes to worry about and I could control my pace, 100%. The warm inside air was good for my lungs also.

The run went well and I plan another 5 miler Thursday or Friday. That will bring my weekly total to 26.4 miles. A little light, but not a bad start.

Run well my Friends!

Andy

© 2016 andrew nagelin