Running Off The Mark

Early this year I set a personal goal to average three running miles per day in 2019.

In 2018 I ran 809 miles for an average of 2.22 miles per day. Moving the bar to three miles per day would be 1095 miles for 2019.

You would think that adding 0.78 miles per day would be easy.

Running Off The Mark

Early in the year I was doing pretty good and on more than a few days I was ahead of my three-miles-per-day goal.

Between training for The Boston Marathon and running three half marathons in the first quarter, I was keeping up with my goal. Almost every Sunday I ran at least a half marathon either as a race or a training run.

In one day I could cover 4 days of my mileage quota with a bit to spare. Adding in the Tuesday Night Club Run and one or two shorter training runs and I was doing okay.

In March I ran almost 131 miles. I hardly ever run more than 100 miles in a month!

In April I ran The Boston Marathon and ran a total of 84.68 miles for the month. Still on the mark.

Then in early May I pulled a muscle doing some work around the house. I know exactly when it happened.

The pull didn’t hurt but I noticed it after the Portsmouth Half Marathon.

It’s not unusual to have a few aches and pains after a half marathon, but this time the ache was in my lower belly.

An odd place to feel discomfort after a race. But I figured I must have done something and waited for it to go away like any other running injury.

After a week I consulted with my doctor and he agreed I probably pulled a muscle while working on my car. I didn’t have any symptoms of a hernia or other internal injury.

Waiting it out

There isn’t much you can do for a muscle pull. Doc said to rest and apply heat.

I applied a Frozen Peaz PeazPak each evening while watching TV. These paks have glass beads and fluid in them that hold heat. You just microwave them for a minute or so and you’re good to go.

After a few days of rest and heat paks I still felt some discomfort in the area when I ran. Even light stretching in the gym aggravated the pull.

I’ve had to go back into my foggy memory and remember what a muscle pull is like. They take time, just like any other injury.

In 2016 I had a quad pull and that took months to heal. I kept running but my 5K times were generally four minutes slower than the previous year. My BAA 10K time was off by 23 minutes!

I’ve stopped running long on the weekends and usually only run once or twice a week now. I’m trying not to push it and it’s a challenge.

Year to Date

If I look at the past 365 days my miles are 875.4 or 2.4 miles per day.

Looking at year to date (153 days) I’ve run 444.93 miles for an average of 2.91 miles per day.

With a total mile goal of 1,095 I need to run 650.07 miles over the next 212 days of 2019.

That will require an average of 3.06 miles per day from now on.

Looking at the numbers I’m not so far off of my mark. But the longer my injury lingers the harder it will be to hit that 3.06 miles per day mark.

Each week that I let up on my running schedule my fitness level decreases and I become more accustomed to the sedentary lifestyle.

I’m trying to keep things in perspective and to remember other injuries and how long they have taken to go away.

The good news it that almost all of my injuries heal 100% given enough time. Even my knees are doing much better than last year.

So grasshopper must have patience!

Run well my Friends!

Andy

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A Real River Run

An afternoon run looks like a run on the river!

river run, marathon training
Running down the River?

I went out for a Friday afternoon run at work. We were having another unseasonably warm day and I couldn’t resist. This was my second River Run for the week. When I ran across the Longfellow bridge on Tuesday there was a huge crowd on the bridge returning from The Patriots Victory Parade.

Today the crowd was light but my first mile pace was sluggish. Not sure why, but I ended up running an 8:23 pace over 5.03 miles.

When I got home and loaded my run into Garmin Connect I saw this interesting graphic. The green circle is supposed to be where I started my run. In the middle of The Charles River!

There is ice on the river, but barely enough for a duck to walk on. It’s mostly open water again.

Every once in a while I get a crazy result like this. I’m never sure why.

My watch locked onto satellites quickly and nothing seemed unusual. It was just another fun run along the river.

Do you ever get crazy results like this with your watch?

Run well my Friends and stay off the ice!

Andy

2018 Summer Marathon Training Week 7

Summer marathon training can be a hot sweaty mess. I’m lucky to have a club running program to help!

Sunday Long Run Seven

Sunday Long Run Seven in the summer marathon training program was this weekend. I still haven’t signed up for a Fall New England marathon, but I do have three halfs on the schedule. If you’re still looking for a Fall marathon check out my link. Fall is a busy marathon season in New England!

We had a good sized group of about 30 people run this week.

This week probably a dozen or so of us ran the 14.6 mile course, or some semblance of it! There are a lot of turns for the week seven run, but I know these roads by heart. Early in the run we made a  loop around Ell Pond across from Melrose High School.

I always enjoy this loop because we only run it a few times a year and there are some amazing homes in this neighborhood.

Sunday Long Run Seven, summer marathon training

I ended up running most of the course by my self. The long run group made the loop of Ell Pond and the short run folks did not. So as we ran up the Fellsway Hills I caught up to several people and had some running conversation with them. 

Even though I haven’t run a lot this summer I felt strong pushing up the hills. I kept telling my self that I was running longer than a half marathon so I should be a little bit conservative. But I’m not a very good conservative so I ran at a comfortable pace that was a bit faster than I probably should have. 

Miles four and five were up the hills and I managed a 9:43 and a 9:40 mile while gaining 159 feet over the two miles and loosing 120 feet of elevation. After the charge up the hills I never had a sub 9 minute mile the rest of the day. But that was okay.

I managed a 13.93 mile run at an average pace of 9:23. This was 23 seconds/mile faster than last week when I ran 14.02 miles and had less elevation gain. 

If I hadn’t pushed the hills maybe I could have run the full 14.6 mile course. Distance is important but I was able to push my pace on a fairly challenging course and I ran longer than the distance I’m training for, the half marathon. So over all, I think it was a good run.

I’m still adjusting to a new editor called Gutenberg from WordPress. It’s supposed to be wonderful, but so far I find it difficult to use. I know it takes time to adjust to and learn new things so I’m sticking with it for now.

It does dampen my enthusiasm to sit down and write since I have to spend more time trying to figure out how to do things. I’m also finding that I can’t do things I could before and I can’t do things that Gutenberg is supposed to do.

So if things look clunky for a while and I don’t write as often, you know why.

Run well my Friends and enjoy the rest of this summer!

Andy

Saturday Long Run

Sometimes a nice summer run is just what you need to clear the cob webs.

This week I changed things up a bit. Instead of doing a Sunday Long Run with the Melrose Running Club, I did a Saturday Long Run on my own.

Getting up and out by yourself can be a challenge. When there is a group of runners expecting you, you kinda gotta show up or get some razzing the next time you meet up.

When I’m sitting on the couch clearing the DVR of shows I just couldn’t make time for but just can’t miss, it’s easy to watch just one more show and then go for a run.

I know my self well enough to know that I am susceptible to this laziness. 

To combat growing roots and never moving I changed into my running clothes during the commercial breaks. Instead of fast-forwarding through the breaks I used the time to move my self closer to the door.

Saturday Long Run?

As I headed down my street I wasn’t sure exactly where I was going. All I knew was that I was going to run through Medford Square and over to West Medford and head out The Mystic Valley Parkway. So I headed in that direction.

At the Wedgemere train station where the Parkway ends at Bacon Street I wasn’t sure where I would go. This point ended up being five miles from my home and you can see it on the map below.

I could have turned around and had a nice ten mile run. The last time I ran out this way I took a few turns and ended up too far from home and unsure of my location. With that run in mind, turning around would have been reasonable.

Saturday Long Run, Summer Running

Since I’ve been running on the light side lately I decided to head south on Bacon Street towards Medford. I wasn’t sure how many miles I’d end up with, but at least I was heading home.

What I think about when I Saturday Long Run

Running on a warm, humid summer morning is a gift. After my legs warmed up I began to feel good and confident. I knew that where ever I ended up on this trek, I was prepared. My belt had supplies, cell phone and two bottles of Hydralyte.

After I got over to The Parkway I had a wide bike lane to run in. The Parkway is next to The Mystic Lakes. Most of the time all I heard were my own shoes hitting the pavement.

The soft, moist breeze carried the pine and spruce forest into the air.  With just a few other runners, two cyclists and a handful of cars, I almost felt like I was running in the woods.

Since I didn’t push my pace too much it was a very comfortable and enjoyable run. It was a run that I hope will come to mind the next time I’m at home trying to visualize a route and build up the steam to get out the door.

The temperature seemed to be in the low 70s the entire run. And even though it had rained Friday night and sprinkled during my run it never felt humid. 

So what did I think about? Since it wasn’t a race or a long long run I didn’t have mission control in my head constantly doing systems checks and fuel assessments. It was all systems on cruise.

I thought about how polluted the Mystic Lakes and Mystic River are. That there must have been all kinds of factories over here in the old days. Who knows what they made besides a huge mess that no one wants to deal with. The sediment on the bottom is so contaminated that the experts figure it’s better to leave it be.

They may be right, but then, what mess are we leaving for our great-grand children to deal with. Are we always so short sighted and ignorant that humanity constantly screws things up?

I ran by some magnificent houses and imagined who lives there now and many years ago. Who built it and why that style? What were they trying to say, if anything? 

Lot’s of random thoughts and also time with a clear mind not thinking of anything other than the run.

Summer is setting like the Sun

It seems like just yesterday it was the beginning of June. Then my Father died on June 13th and it seems that ever since, I have cascaded from one event or task to another.

Work has me travelling a lot, my garden is a mess and my to-do list lies mostly un-touched. I enjoy being busy but I also enjoy living life and not just passing though it. 

Taking a nice Saturday long run in solitude gave me an hour and a half with just my thoughts. Maybe someday I will look back on those 93 minutes as a highlight of the summer of 2018. A moment when the foot came off the accelerator and a deep breath of life filled my lungs. 

Run well my Friends,

Andy

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

Last Long Run at 52

This week’s run was my last long run at 52. On Monday I turn 53 and will continue to remind my self that I’m still in my early 50’s.

This week we ran the same Sunday Long Run route that we ran week six, the Winchester Highland route. Three weeks ago it was around 90°, sunny and humid. Nothing that a runner likes.

This week it was in the high 50’s, overcast with a light drizzle. Eventually it rained and everything was soaked through. Near the end I just ran through the puddles because it didn’t matter anymore.

Last Long Run

Most runners have considered their last run, long or short. Usually this thought pops into a runner’s head when they are layed up with an injury and have way too much time to think.

With a nagging, persistent injury it can feel like your running days are over. When the pain just wont go away, it’s easy to wonder if you have had your last long run.

It’s not like facing down a life threatening illness, but it can feel like your life will never be the same again. Runners have lots of running friends. While running can be a solitary sport, often a big part of a runner’s social life is built around running. The people and socializing are one of the wonderful things about running.

The thought of loosing so much of your social life can be depressing.

Then there is the fitness and health running gives to you. If you can’t run how will you maintain your weight and youthful vigor? When Boston had the record winter two years ago I was in peak condition from training for three marathons. I shoveled for the entire season and never really ran out of steam.

If I had not been a runner and spent so much time focused on being in shape, that winter would have been much more difficult.

Running and aging

Getting older is just part of life. As my Dad says, it sure beats the alternative.

In my mind, life is a series of taking fall-back positions. Your life is under a constant assault by time and eventually you have to yield your position in order to continue the fight.

This is a military concept so I may not have a full understanding of how a battle is conducted. But I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.

When you are young, your body will take a lot of abuse and bounce back quickly. When we are young we probably do a lot of damage to our bodies because it’s easy to bounce back and compensate.

I used to carry anything that my hands and arms could hold onto. I could load and carry around 50lb bags of cement. It would have been smarter to use a cart and my back wouldn’t hurt so much today.

Now I am much more careful about carrying heavy items and use back support when I do.

As a runner I have also learned a lot about preventing and managing injuries. I’ve hurt my self while running several ways, now I manage those situations and generally avoid injuries from them.

Pain is a powerful teaching tool! You can read about what to do and not to do. But often the lesson does not resonate until you go out and do something stupid.

A few years ago I dreamed of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. After trying a few times and going through various injuries I question that quest. My fall back position is to run fewer marathons and not worry about Boston.

Long distance running can be brutal on the body. I have even considered giving up the marathon and only running halfs, 10K and 5K races. I’m just not there yet but I feel that my position could be over-run at any time.

Older and Wiser?

53 isn’t really that old. My parents are 88 and 89. I should have at least another 35 years on this earth.

Many of us felt like we knew everything when we were 17 or 20 and definitely at 30. We were just fooling our selves. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize there is so much to learn. What you thought at 40 is laughable at 50.

I can only imagine looking back at today when I am 63. What opportunities did I miss? Oh the mistakes I made! What can’t I do at 63 that I could do at 53? What silly ideas did I hold to be true?

I may be wiser in that I know I can hurt my self. I know injuries can take a long time to heal and some never truly go away. The same can be said about relationships.

I know some lessons are never truly learned until the bridge has been crossed. You cannot understand what it means to be a parent until you are. You cannot understand true joy until your heart is busting and your eyes are full of tears. You cannot understand loss until there is an emptiness that cannot be filled.

Life’s lessons are learned through joy and loss, pleasure and pain.

Last Long Run at 52

This week’s run was much more enjoyable. While I do not enjoy running in the rain, it is much better than running in the heat. I teamed up with Freddie Pare early in the run when we figured out we had the same goal pace: 9:30.

My running mate from last week, Stephanie was there again this week. I was glad to see her return after that 18 miler from last week. I think she ran the half distance this week as I didn’t see her after the first half mile or so.

last long run, marathon trainingI won’t give you turn by turn details since they are the same as week six. It was nice to run the same course in better weather. Freddie and I agreed that it was a great way to gauge your progress.

This route has the most hills of any course in our series. For week six I ran the course at a 10:46 pace. This week my pace was 9:41! A few weeks of “training” helped but I think the weather made the most difference.

last long run, week nine elevation map

I’ve never run with Freddie so we had a great conversation and pulled each other along.

I left the charging cable for my watch at work and it died Saturday night. This week I used “Run Keeper” as a replacement.

I haven’t used Run Keeper in a few years and used it to replace my watch then also. At the time Run Keeper was new and everyone around me was fascinated by the time pace and distance announcements coming from my phone.

I liked Run Keeper because it has some nice details and uses cell towers instead of satellites, so it links up faster. What I didn’t like about Run Keeper was trying to start a race, start Run Keeper and get my phone stowed away in a moving crowd of runners. And on rainy days I hated taking my phone on a run.

During our run today I stopped to use a porta-pottie at a construction site. It was very dark in there so I had to be careful not to drop anything. So I didn’t take my phone out to stop Run Keeper. As I was looking for hand sanitizer Run Keeper reverberated in the porta-pottie announcing my current distance pace etc. I could hear Freddie outside laughing.

Run well my Friends!

Andy