Marathon Training Begins

Probably the worse run of my life was the 2003 Boston Marathon. I had never run a marathon and was woefully under trained. I had jumped at an opportunity without much thought and had no concept of what I was about to do.

The two things I had going for me were youth (38 years-old) and lack of in juries. I guess I could count a priori enthusiasm as a plus also. How many things would you have never done if you knew what you were really getting yourself into?

Marathon Training Begins

Boston Marathon, running, BAA 10KJump ahead 13 years and I should know what I’m doing. I’ve run Boston six times and 15 marathons all together. I’ve solved many running issues and my finish times have come down a lot since that first Boston Marathon.

This Sunday I officially began my Boston Marathon training. It was the Melrose Running Club’s Sunday Long Run; a comfortable 14.3 mile tour of Melrose, Stoneham, Medford and Malden.

I made so many mistakes and had so many issues it was one of the worse long runs I’ve ever had.

Things I can fix

When I found out I had a number for the marathon I did a weigh in just to see where I was at. Well, I was at 188.6 lbs! I haven’t seen that number for years and it was shocking. Since I have a limited time to train I decided dropping down to 180 would be a good idea.

I’ve been really good at work eating fruit for breakfast and skipping bagels and other carbs often found around an office. By the end of the week I’d knocked off about 2 lbs.

Saturday night for dinner I had some chicken, a 1/2 cup of rice and 2+ cups of veggies. Veggies have carbs and I had some rice so I thought I was good.

Unfortunately I was wrong. I ran out of juice pretty quick on the long run. Through mile six I managed to stay under 9 minute miles. Mile seven came in at 9:40 and things slowly went down-hill from there.

Lesson – Eat lots of carbs the night before a long run. I ran off 2,019 calories. I think I can afford a cup or two of rice.

This is a totally solvable problem. I know better.

Mechanical Issues

Most of my issues are mechanical. My left knee has been acting up sporadically for the past year. While running short track it didn’t really bother me. Foolishly I have not had my PT look at this. I’m pretty sure it’s an over use issue. Sometimes I can feel a tendon slip over a muscle when I bend my leg. At least it’s not runner’s knee or torn cartilage.

Downhill pounding really aggravates the hell out of it. Uphill is still my strong suit.

My back has been another sporadic issue. I think all of us get sore backs eventually. Things wear out and we do stupid things when we are young and invincible. I’ve carried double-hung wood frame windows up a ladder and I’ve hung sheet rock on the ceiling, by my self.

An adjustment to my work chair about two months ago aggravated my back and the pain lingers. I got rid of the adjustment and tried some yoga, but I’m not sure if yoga helped.

I’ve often said that my back will take me out of running before anything else. Well, this unfortunate experiment may have accelerated that retirement.

Then there is my shoulder. As a modest goal I decided to do 15 daily push-ups. I’ve been doing shoulder and chest work for the past year. It seemed like a reasonable addition that I could do anywhere.

I go through cycles with my shoulders. I’ll start bench pressing, make some progress and eventually get hurt. My threshold seems to be 45 lb dumbbells, so that’s where I topped out this time.

This had been working well until one evening I tweaked my right shoulder doing push-ups. That was about five weeks ago.

I ran the Super Sunday 5 Miler a few days after my injury and had shooting pain right away. It was so bad I considered dropping out of the race. Being a problem solver I gripped my right hand to my left shoulder to stretch the right shoulder and relieve some of the bouncing.

This worked well enough that I was able to run 7:55 miles.

These are issues that I cannot easily solve. Time and rest usually work for me. But I have eight weeks until the big race.

What I did right

I started breaking a new pair of Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost shoes. Two months out is the time to do this. I wore the socks I am likely to wear on Marathon Monday also. My toes had plenty of room and my heels did not slip. I did feel some heat in my arches, so that could be an issue.

Running shoes can cause all kinds of problems, so getting them right is crucial. If things don’t settle down in the next few weeks, I’ll get a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS shoes. I’m also hoping new shoes will help with my knee and back.

I dressed correctly. Last week it was -32° F at times. This week it was about 42° F when the wind was blowing. Marathon Monday will probably start in the 40s and may get warmer or colder. It’s gone both ways. I ran in 2012 when it was almost 90° F.

Today I was only cold when the wind blew and I never felt over-heated. Core body temperature control is key to successful running. You don’t want to accelerate the loss of electrolytes.

I discovered that my new Under Armour shirt is too tight. Their web site sized me into a medium. As an under layer it works fine. Nice and tight and no chaffing. Sunday I wore it with a tech t-shirt like I probably will during the marathon.

My old Under Armour shirt is a large. It’s still tight, but I can push up the sleeves. My new shirt is basically body paint and isn’t going anywhere.

During a marathon the temperature can swing wildly. A cold morning can turn into many sun drenched miles. The ability to roll up my sleeves and prevent over-heating is very important. So I’ll be wearing my old Under Armour shirt on Marathon Monday.

Hydration and fuel

PowerGel Quartet,gu,gel

While I screwed up my dinner, I did the right thing on the run. I got plenty of fluids at our water stops and took two gels. During a half marathon I typically take two gels. One of the gels may have been old and didn’t settle well with my stomach.

I actually had cramps, and I can eat anything. For Boston, they hand out gels after the Rt. 95 overpass. These will be fresh and common, popular flavors like vanilla or chocolate. I’ll also bring my own.

What a Train Wreck

This long run was a mess. Not much went right and I have some issues I may not be able to resolve by April 18th. I’m also heavier than I want to be and way out of marathon shape.

I guess it can only get better from here!

I’m running to support FamilyAid Boston this year. Your contribution will help homeless families in Boston.

Run well my Friends!


© 2016 andrew nagelin

How to Prep for your First 5K

In January I wrote How to choose your first 5K and How to choose a running watch. I was expanding on the information from the info-graphic below.

my first 5k, running bibIn this post I discuss the other points in the info-graphic.

I don’t have a dog, so I can’t give any advise from my own experience there. I’ll let the pros advise you on how to treat runner’s knee or any injury for that matter. But I will cover the other items in this post.

How to Prep for your First 5K

First, you should pick a race that is at least 8 weeks out. This will give you the time to properly train and avoid injuries. You should follow a couch to 5K program or some other beginners program from a reputable source.

Safely Increase mileage

new runners, first 5kThis is #4 on the info-graphic. Any training program for beginners will slowly and carefully increase your mileage. The rule of thumb is no more than a 10% increase in mileage per week.

When you are first starting out it may be safe to double your mileage in a week. If you jog one day for two miles the first week, you should be able to add a second day of jogging for two miles.

Depending on your schedule you could then add a third day in week three, or make your two two-mile jogs into two and a half or three-mile jogs. If you have the time it is better to spread your miles over three days.

As a first time 5K runner, your goal is to be able to jog three miles comfortably. A 5K is 3.1 miles. If you can jog three miles, you can do the race.

Once you are able to run three miles at a time, you don’t need to go much further.

If you want to try a few four or five-mile runs, go ahead. The important thing is that you feel comfortable doing the run.

If you feel sick, dizzy or have any of the other heart attack or stroke symptoms you should stop immediately and see your doctor or call 911.

If you feel good running three days a week for three or more miles, start working on your speed.

Keep your miles the same but start adding a little kick and see what you can do.

As a first time runner your primary goal is to be able to jog/run three miles comfortably. On race day your only goal is to finish. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.

How to safely run in the heat

The best advice is to try to avoid the hottest parts of the day. If you can run in the mornings or evenings when it is cooler, that is the best choice. If you do have to run in the heat do not push your speed or your distance. You want to take it easy.

You may want to choose a different route. Can you switch to a tree-lined street or a park? Can you use a treadmill in an air conditioned gym?

It’s a good idea to wear a hat and take a bottle of water with you. Almost all runners wear a hat. It shades your face and keeps the sun out of your eyes. If you run in hot conditions often, you should buy a running hat at the local running store.

I run races with a water bottle. Don’t feel like you can’t train with a water bottle.

Don’t feel like you have to prove anything. If you can only do one or two miles before you start to feel the effects of the heat, walk home. Your family will be impressed that you used your head and aren’t passed out on the sidewalk somewhere.

Hot days are often sunny days. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

I have run a marathon in 85º weather before. It can be done. But, as a new runner don’t be foolish and train in the heat unless you have to. Until you know how your body will react , play it safe. I have seen experienced runners fade on hot days. I’ve seen marathoners hauled away by EMTs.

Race day anxiety

Almost everyone I know feels the nerves before a race. It is totally normal and to be expected

There are things you can control and things you can’t. What can you do to reduce race day stress?

  • Get to your race early and not stress over parking or being late
  • Pack your gear the day before and don’t worry about checking it many times
  • Bring your own food and beverage, so you have what works for you

You can’t avoid race day nerves but you can control some of the contributing factors. A race is fun. Only a hand full of runners at most 5Ks are out to prove anything. Most are there to do their best and have a good time; just like you.

The info graphic above lists “How to prepare for your first 5K” as #7, and focuses on food.

Food and Hydration

Food is very important. Ryan Hall, a famous American runner, talks about how a meal the night before a race can ruin four months of training.

You are running a 5K, so don’t get too worked up about food. The rule of thumb is not to eat anything new the day before a race, or day of a race. For a 5K you don’t need to carbo-load or eat special foods.

Don’t eat a big heavy or greasy meal the night before. If you eat oatmeal every morning, that’s what you should eat race day morning. I try to avoid fiber since my race day nerves tend to move things along all on their own.

Hydration can make or break you. Just about every 5K I have ever run has a water stop around the half-way mark. Just make sure your race does.You may still want to carry your own water bottle on your first race.

My rule of thumb is to stop drinking anything an hour before my race. I drink plenty of coffee or water up until that point. I stop an hour before the race so my body has time to process most of what I drank earlier. This helps me avoid a porta-potty break during a race.

I often take a bottle of water with me on a marathon or half. You should take a bottle with you for your first 5K. Just before the start take a few drinks, but not much. If you need a drink before or after the water stop, you will be prepared. A bottle is a nice insurance policy.

Running YOUR race

The last and one of the most important tips for your first 5K, is to run YOUR race. What do I mean by this? If you did the eight-week training plan, you’ve run three miles many times by race day. You know what a comfortable pace is for you.

On race day, all you need to do is run that pace. Run YOUR race. That’s what you’ve been training for. Your race, not the lycra wearing hotty’s next to you race.

For your first 5K all you want to do is finish. Once you have your finish time for your first race you can start to set goals and work on your PR (personal record). But that’s a subject of many books and another blog post.

Recovery and Cross Training

At the end of the race grab a bottle of water and any food items available. Chips are okay on race day, your body needs the carbs and salt. Don’t grab a ton of stuff, just a few items to help replenish your body. If you finish near the end of the race you may not have much to choose from, so the extra food you brought with you can be handy at the end of the race also.

Your best bet is to walk around after the race. The movement of your muscles helps increase blood flow which helps your body remove waste and bring in nutrients to aid in recovery. If you can’t walk or feel ill, seek medical attention.

When you get home a hot shower is a good idea. This will help relax your muscles and make you bearable to be around! If you have been stretching for your training runs, do that routine soon after your race.

As a new runner, I wouldn’t worry too much about cross training. I think it is more important to get the running routine built into your life first. Cross training is important and has running benefits. Running can take up a lot of your time and early on I think you should focus on making that time part of your weekly routine.

Let me know if you have questions.

Run well my friend and enjoy your first 5k.



I first met the founders of New Grounds Food at a Meetup in Somerville.

Johnny Fayad and Ali Kothari were students at Northeastern University at the time. They told the group about the CoffeeBar they had developed which was organic, vegan, gluten-free and delicious.

They were still deep in the trenches of start-up mode and didn’t have any samples that night. Recently they sent a sample pack for me to try.

CoffeeBar Review

coffeebar, coffee, caffeine

The sample pack contains two Mocha Latte CoffeeBars. The package is easy to open and durable enough to survive a trip to the gym, office or class in your bag.

The package opens easily and without a lot of noise. This makes it handy for class or to open when you are driving.

When I opened the package I got an immediate earthy, sweet aroma of coffee with complex, subtle hints of spices and chocolate.

Many energy bars look like and taste like a candy bar. CoffeeBar looks more like a chewy brownie that you can’t wait to sink your teeth into.

The main ingredients in Coffee Bars are organic dates and oats. This gives the bar a nice chewy, substantial mouth feel. Coffee Bar also contains chia seeds and cashews so you get some crunch and a nutty flavor.

coffee bar, coffeebar

The star ingredient in CoffeeBar is organic coffee. Johnny and Ali first came up with the idea for this product when they had 8AM classes at Northeastern and no time for coffee or breakfast. Coffee can spill and no one wants to hear you drinking it during lectures.

They came up with the idea of incorporating real coffee into a food bar that they could take with them and eat on the way to class or during a lecture.

With caffeine in a food bar they were able to incorporate coffee and breakfast into one convenient item for people on the go.

A great idea takes off

At the 2013 Husky Startup Challenge at Northeastern University, Coffee Bar was awarded “Audience Favorite Winner” and $500.

They pitched their product to the judges at the Entrepreneurs Club as “best way to have your coffee and breakfast all-in-one” without worrying about any spills or crumbs.”

They had a winning idea, but they still needed a way to get it into your hands: packaging.

On September 22nd, 2014 they started a Kickstarter campaign to fund their first minimum order of packaging for their CoffeeBars. Within 15 hours they received the full $10,000 that they needed. Over the next 44 days they raised nearly $50,000 from 1,000 backers.

When you see and open a CoffeeBar package, you can tell that the money was well spent. The package is attractive and durable. It is also easy and quiet to open.

How to get CoffeeBars

Currently CoffeeBars are available on line at the New Grounds Food Shop. You can buy a 2 bar sample pack or a 12 bar box. For added convenience Johnny and Ali offer a subscription service. You can get monthly deliveries for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months.

My opinion

I love coffee, so I found their idea intriguing. I was concerned that the bar would taste like coffee grounds or just not be that great. There are new food bar products all the time and some are just not that good.

It turns out that the bars do taste good and are easy to eat without a mess. No crumbs and nothing sticks to your fingers either. I could see having a box of these in the office for a morning snack.

For a runner heading out early for a race or a long run, CoffeeBars would be a great way to get your caffeine and breakfast. I need to have some coffee before I race or go out for a long run. It’s part of my routine.

The durable packaging makes it easy to keep a few in your running bag.

For this review I received a sample 2-pack of CoffeeBars to try. All opinions are my own.

  • Have you ever tried CoffeeBars?
  • Do you need caffeine before you race?

Run well my friends,


Training Day with Ryan Hall

Yesterday I posted a brief video of Kara Goucher giving some training advice.

Training Day with Ryan Hall

boston marathon training, training day with ryan hall
photo: Steven Senne/AP

Today I have a 15 minute video that follows a March 2011 training day with Ryan Hall.

Ryan was running a 15 mile tempo run in Flagstaff, AZ. He was in Flagstaff training for the 2011 Boston Marathon to gain the benefits of training at high altitude.

We get a good look at his diet and running nutrition, including his famous Cytomax pancakes. The video also covers he pre-run and post run routine, which is pretty impressive.

Here is Ryan’s interview at the 2011 Boston Marathon finish line. A 2:04:58 finish, American marathon record and still only a 4th place finish. His gratitude for a great run even without the win is great to see. No poor sportsmanship here.

Run well my friends.


Super Sunday Long Run Part II

Super Sunday Long Run

Each year our club volunteers for the “Victorian Fair” in Melrose. Melrose has many Victorian style homes that are just amazing. I have been told that many of these homes were built by railroad owners and executives.

It’s a big street fair with vendors and local civic organizations. The Melrose Running Club always has a booth and manages the 5K race for EMARC.

Because so many of us volunteer at the race, booth or both, the SLR started at 7AM this week. I volunteered to help set up the race, so I missed the group.

After setting up for the race, I had a nice pancake breakfast at The Knights of Columbus and headed out for my solo run.

The solo run

I knew I was going to miss the group run. For the past few days I had considered various routes. Since I was in Melrose to set up for the race any way, I decided to keep it simple and do last weeks run all over again, all 21 miles of it.

Sunday Long Run,training

I’m very good at getting lost, or taking wrong turns at the very least. Why take chances and run a marathon by mistake?

I knew there were three water fountains along this route and that I would pass each one twice. I loaded up my running belt with gels, some cash and my ID and headed out with a frozen water bottle in my hand.

This map is from last week and shows mile 14 past where I hit mile 14 this week.

The Plan and the Execution of said plan

My plan was to practice walking water stops. This is the strategy I am considering for Baystate. As any runner will tell you, don’t try anything new on race day. Long runs are the places to try things out.

Since I wasn’t going to even have club water stops I decided to walk every two miles for a minute. I took my first walk break at mile 3 which was walking up the road into Breakheart Reservation, past the ice rink. It was a good spot as this was the first “hill” I encountered on the run. I had plenty of ice water in my bottle still, so I skipped the fountain at the ranger’s building in the park.

As I was coming down the last hill before the parking lot and ranger’s station my watch chimed “Mile 5.” I decided to hold out until I got to the station and refill my bottle.

I jogged across the parking lot and stopped my watch. Last week I did the same thing and forgot to start my watch for about a quarter-mile. I made my way to the water fountain, refilled my bottle, drank half of it and refilled again. I also took my first GU.

I dropped my GU packet in the trash, started my watch and headed down the drive way back out to The Fellsway.

It was about 10° cooler than last week and much less humid also. It was still warm, so I tried to run in the shade as much as possible. Running in the shade can make a big difference on a warm day, I highly recommend it!

As I turned right onto the Fellsway I knew I was just getting started. I did a quick systems check and nothing really hurt. I wasn’t any more tired than I should have been at 6 miles and my stomach and bladder were not chiming in. All systems go!

I turned onto Main Street in Saugus and began the slow climb to Farm Road in Wakefield. At Water Street I took a right, crossed the road and quickly took a left onto Montrose.

Montrose was hilly and curvy, which is great on a woman but not on a run. Maybe because I was by my self I noticed them more this time. I could feel my legs getting tired and my IB bands were getting tight. The run was on!

I took the left onto Lowell Street and knew the road to the lake was long, and uphill. I passed the little store where Matt stopped for water last week. I drank all but one big gulp of water during my last walk break. I wanted a little something just in case.

At the Vernon Street intersection I had to wait for a fire truck. While all the lights were still red, I made my way through the intersection. I was doing pretty good staying in the shade and felt pretty good considering the distance I had covered.

At the intersection of Main and Lowell, I found my second water fountain, by the lake. I filled up and continued on. My walk breaks were a little off, but that was okay. By the time I got to my third fountain on Church Street (14.1 miles) I was ready for a refill and my third GU. I used the water stop as my walk break and took a minute to stretch a little. The hip abductors and piriformi were tight.

People, oy!

Running around the lake or any popular walking and running area can be a challenge. People walking three abreast can’t be bothered to step back to let you pass. I may only weigh 170, but if I hit one of these folks doing 8mph, I think they are going down. It aint going to be pretty. I have little tolerance for douche-bagery. Not yielding is being an utter douche bag.

People with dogs are pretty good about reeling them in. They know they are in a busy place and they have to be good citizens.

Then there are those times when you have walkers, runners and cyclist all coming at you at the same time. Holy shit! The cyclists are pretty good, though I’ve had a few close calls.

Walkers tend to be utterly fucking clueless. I just had to get that off my chest. I called out “On the right” once today and the lady steps to the right. Heloooo!

I skipped the fountain at the head of the lake, made my way through the Comverse parking lot and headed back out to North Avenue for my second lap around the lake. The people were pretty good, but many seem to forget that they have a 10 foot wide sidewalk.

running splits,training
SLR Splits

I stopped at the fountain on Church Street again (17 miles). I filled my bottle, took a GU and did some stretching. As I was having my way with the fountain another runner stopped and asked if he could get a drink. Absolutely.

We had a good chat about running and how things have changed. We talked about The Melrose Running Club, injuries and the usual stuff. I had taken my last GU and refilled my water bottle for the last 7 miles home. We were both eager to get going and headed in opposite directions.

The haul down Main Street in Wakefield to Main Street Melrose is just over 7 miles. My goal on this run was to test the walk breaks and try to keep fairly consistent splits. Mile 15 was 8:20 which is pretty good considering it was through downtown Wakefield. Mile 18 was 8:21 and mile 20 was 9:44 due to my walk break.

My average pace was 8:42, which was 1:39 per mile faster than last week. I think the method worked, but I’ll want to test it at least one more time before I trust my next marathon to it.

How was your long run this weekend?
Did you try out any new gear, food or strategies?

Run well my friends,


© 2014 anagelin

Brubar review

Back in 2014 I was buying brewing supplies at Modern Homebrew Emporium and saw a display for Brubars at the check out counter.

I’m pretty sure this product is no longer available, but I still think it’s a cool idea.

I had never seen a Brubar before, but the guy at the store said they were pretty good. If you’ve ever brewed beer and tasted the malt extract or dried malt,you know it is quite sweet. The process of making malt converts the starches in grain to sugars. This makes it easier for the yeast to make alcohol. When you are preparing for an endurance event readily available sugars are what you want.

Like I say about all sports or energy products, these are not candy bars to eat while watching TV. These products are designed to provide energy to active people. Malt is an all natural product that has been used for hundreds of years, and you can pronounce all of the ingredients in these bars. You probably have many of them on a shelf in your home right now. These bars are made from real food.

From their website:

BRUBAR Energy Bars are all-natural and vegan with a focus on a malty flavor with a smooth texture. We are able to focus on this malty flavor because, unlike other energy bars, our main ingredient is barley malt. Because barley malt is not as sweet as other sugars, we can add a lot of it without making the bar too sweet. This gives the bar a smooth taste and a moist texture. The recipe was kept simple, with only a handful of natural ingredients that contribute to the overall flavor and function of a BRUBAR Energy Bar. Read more about our ingredients and nutrition facts on our Nutrition page.

In addition to a unique taste, the moistness in a BRUBAR Energy Bar also has two practical advantages. Athletes find that they can eat the bar more easily during physical activity and winter athletes like the fact that the bar will stay soft in cold weather.

I tried the “Original Malt” before the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge. It was about all I had to eat between lunch and the start of the race. The flavor was not overly sweet or malty and had a bit of a crunch to it from the almonds. I thought the flavor was well-balanced and it did not taste like a granola or candy bar. It was enough to quiet the growl in my stomach and was easily digested. I would recommend giving these bars a try.

The “Original Malt” has: malt extract, rolled oats, dates, almonds, coconut, olive oil, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon. NUTRITION FACTS: Serving Size: 1 bar (56g), Calories: 220, Calories from Fat: 60, Total Fat: 7g (11% DV), Saturated Fat: 1.5g (8% DV), Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg (0% DV), Sodium: 115mg (5% DV), Total Carbohydrates: 34g (11% DV), Dietary Fiber: 4g (16% DV), Sugars: 16g, Protein: 6g, Vitamin A (0% DV), Vitamin C (0% DV), Calcium (4% DV), Iron (8% DV).

Not sure these guys are still around, but again, it was a great idea.

Run well my friends!