Road to Boston SLR 5

A great long run on The Road to Boston 2023. The weather was perfect, and I learned a few lessons along the way!

The Road to Boston continues!

I didn’t write about last week’s Sunday Long Run Number 4.

That was a hilly 14.6 mile slog over well trod roads. I climbed the equivalent of 70 flights of stairs or 754 feet and achieved an average pace of 10:11.

We ran the Fells hills in both directions, up Highland Ave and hills on other roads that Jim tossed in just to keep it interesting!

My hamstrings were tired and sore and my quads were maxed. On Tuesday night I cut my club run to 4 miles and my PT had to work on my knee Wednesday night.

Sunday Long Run 5

This is a pre-run group photo that Bobby Taylor posted on FB. I counted 39 people. A few are water stop volunteers, but I’m pretty sure we missed a few.

The weather was as good as it get’s in January for running: above freezing, no rain and no wind. Who could ask for more? How about a great group of people to run with and great support from Bobby and the team of volunteers he pulls together each week? Life is good!

This is Bobby’s photo with his stats, a nice 9:04 pace to run 6.53 miles in under an hour.

Road to Boston SLR 5,January 29, 2023

I knew I wasn’t going to be the fastest so I started first. One of the new runners who I didn’t know soon caught up to me but didn’t respond when I asked him how he was doing.

But I did run the first two miles with Marty Hergert, our club President. We had a good chat about club goings-on and life in general.

Just after mile two we turned onto Main Street in Saugus and our first water stop. This one was mainly for the short runners, but I stopped in for a drink anyway.

My knee was acting up and I was hoping the brief stop would alleviate the pain. It usually does, but this time it just went down a notch and not away.

Main Street Saugus heading out to Wakefield High is deceptively hilly. They are long and not really steep. In a car you would barley notice them as hills.

Just after mile four we reached Wakefield High and the first official water stop for the long-runners. Paul Locke was there and on my return stop Linda Field had joined him.

I had a nice chat at both stops, but my goal was to keep the stops short. I won’t be stopping during the Boston Marathon, hopefully! And your muscles always tightened up when you stop.

Running Breakheart Reservation

Leaving the high school lot we hit our next hill in about 100 yards. It’s not a bad hill, but we had many more in front of us.

I knew that Dorota Bulik was right behind me and expected her to catch me on the hill. But I was all alone most of the way through Breakheart Res.

We always loose count how many hills are in there and we always joke that they added a new one since last time.

Depending on what you call a hill there are four or five hills. Several of them are undisputedly hills. The third or forth hill climbs 80 feet in less than a quarter mile. Yeah, that’s a hill!

On each hill I rose up an ran on my toes at a quicker tempo and shorter gait. It seemed to work as Dorota didn’t catch me until that last hill, and she’s a much better runner than I am.

We both used the facilities at the ranger station and headed out.

Dorota used the flatter terrain on the outbound side to take off. After the water stop at the high school she took a short cut back.

But I did catch up to Joe Winslow before we left the res. and even saw Jeff Rushton at the water stop.

I left the water stop and didn’t see anyone until I got back to the parking lot.

Running it in

The water stop was at about 7.5 miles. It felt great knowing I only had five miles to go and I didn’t feel like I was going to die!

As I ran down Water Street/Route 129 in Wakefield I noticed many new buildings and renovations. It always amazes me how many small businesses there are. And how much construction is going on in every town.

Just after hitting mile 9 I reached Wakefield Center. Traffic was light and very few people were out.

My goal this week was to run a 10 minute average pace. My watch said I was at 10:04 pace as I ran down Main Street in Wakefield.

Everything felt pretty good so I decided to give it a push. Nothing too crazy but mile 10 came it at 9:53 and the last 2.54 miles were all under 9:45.

It was great to see my overall pace tick back to 10 minutes and then tick down to 9:57.

My last 2.54 miles were quicker than my first three miles, which is great.

It’s awesome to get near the end of a run and still have some juice.

Last week I was talking to Bobby Taylor about doing some speed work. I felt I needed some to improve my marathon pace, but was afraid of aggravating something. Over the past two years just about every part of my body has ached at one time or another. I’d rather run Boston slow than not at all!

Bobby suggested doing strides. As he explained them, you basically do your normal run but add speed surges for short distances. He does them near the end of a long run and it really helped him last year.

As I ran through Wakefield towards Melrose I ran four strides using light poles as my begin and finish markers.

I did these when the road was flat. No sense getting too crazy.

What I found interesting was that after I strided for probably 100 to 200 feet, I had to slow myself down. My legs wanted to keep up a faster pace. Not the stride pace but probably 30-45 seconds faster per mile than my goal pace of 10 even.

That was pretty cool.

It was also pretty cool that I didn’t feel like I was going to die or had to stop. And nothing broke! And my breathing hardly changed at all.

It was very encouraging and I will be incorporating this technique into a lot of my runs from now on.

One of the benefits of running alone is that you can do something like that and not kill your running buddy.

It’s hard to have two people feel the energy at the same point in a run. While I hate to slow someone down, I also hate beating the shit out of myself to keep up. Sometimes you have to be big enough of a man to let the other guy go.

Finishing Week Five

I felt pretty good running the last mile heading to the parking lot. This week was a shorter run, but I think it was just as hilly per mile. Fewer miles just meant less elevation.

When I got back to the parking lot I saw Erik Cann. He’s been running with us most weeks and usually I see him off in the distance!

He told me that he wanted to join our club and we talked about the logistics.

After we hung out a bit he headed to Café Nero and I headed to CVS to pick up a few items including something good to drink.

Running Stats

The total distance for me this week was 12.54. Erik had over 11 on his Strava app. We compared maps and we ran the identical route so we were both scratching our heads on that one.

My heart rate peaked at 178 and that was when I was running the first couple of hills in Breakheart. I hit 172 during one stride late in the run and my average was 156 bpm.

Garmin said “this activity had enough intensity to provide a stimulus to increase your maximum aerobic capacity. It increased your high aerobic training load.” It also said my aerobic load was 5.0 on a scale of 0-5.

While it’s good to push it and max out once in a while. The app said 5.0 is “overreaching” and that this can become harmful without enough rest between these types of runs.

Noted!

But my anaerobic level was 2.0 which is at a “maintaining” level. This probably came about during my strides. These higher intensity efforts should only last 10 to 120 seconds. And my strides were probably less than one-minute each.

During my weekly runs I think I’ll start adding longer strides now that I know the parameters.

Overall, it was a great run, I learned a few things and I feel like it was a benefit to my training.

How was your run this week?

Andy

The Road to Boston SLR 2

Celebrating twenty years since my first training run, I ran the second Sunday Long Run with the Melrose Running Club and guests.

The Road to Boston has begun with the second Sunday Long Run. The Melrose Running Club has been sponsoring these Sunday runs for the past twenty years and all runners are invited.

The Road to Boston SLR 1

Since January 1st was the first Sunday of 2023 we didn’t have an organized club run that day. Many of us ran various New Year’s Day races, such as the Hangover Classic in Salisbury Beach.

Because I was running a New Year’s Day race I decided to do my first long run on December 30th.

For that run I started at my house, ran through Malden and out on the North Spur bike trail to Saugus.

This route in almost entirely flat, so it was a great way to start ramping up the miles. I ran 10.3 miles that day at a comfortable 10:05 pace.

Idle Hands Craft Ales Vienna Lager - Emelyn, Brew Pub
Idle Hands Photo

On the way back I stopped in at Idle Hands Brewing and had a nice half liter of Emelyn, their Vienna Lager. I also had a nice conversation with the bar tender, John. I was the only customer in the bar!

The Road to Boston SLR 2

January 8th was the first official Melrose Running Club Sunday Long Run. And since it is technically the second week of Boston Marathon training, we ran the week 2 route which was 12.5 for the long run and 7.1 miles for the half distance. 

I know, not great math there. But when you’re not up for almost a half marathon, 7.1 still feels like half of the full. Or a short run.

Group photo on the 2nd Melrose Running Club Sunday Long Run
Julie Galvin Photo

We had at least 44 people show up for this chilly run. I think a few more people joined us after this photo was taken.

When we started it was 24F and it really felt like it. We were lucky in that there was no wind or rain. That makes a big difference in the comfort level.

In this photo you will notice that several of us have our hands stuffed under our arms. Even with gloves my fingers were freezing.

It was so cold that I headed out with the first runners. I knew I would warm up eventually. And if I was in the lead pack all the faster people would catch up and I’d get to talk to everyone. I’d also not be at the end of the pack.

At mile one my fingers and toes were feeling a little better, but I was trying to figure out if they were warming up or if I was loosing feeling in my fingers and toes!

At mile 1 we were close to the intersection of West Wyoming Ave and the Fellsway East. The road was clear so we crossed the Ave like a stampeding heard of beast breathing frost into the air.

At the intersection we took a left and headed for the hills of the Fellsway East.

At this point I began to adjust my running pace and approached the hills by my self. I’ve been doing this twenty years and I know what running hills can do to you if you’re not prepared.

As I made my way up the first hill our former club President, Bobby Taylor, caught up to me.

He noticed that I was wearing trail shoes on a road run and asked if I always wore them for road runs.

I told him I have been for the past few months.

I started wearing the Brooks Cascadia shoes about 10 years ago. At the time I was looking for a shoe to keep my feet warm in the winter. At the time these shoes featured Gore-Tex which helps insulate the shoe.

Trail shoes are generally stiffer and heavier than road shoes. The outsoles are designed to give you extra traction and support. They do not flex as much and are good for landing on stones and tree roots.

But they are stiffer, don’t have as much cushion, and are very loud on the road. Like many runners, Bobby prefers more cushioning. I agreed that I should pick up a pair of road shoes to use on nice days. It’s good to rotate shoes and the Cascadia are a bit much for a road run.

Eventually Bobby moved along and the group prepared for and made our move across the Fellsway so we would be ready for our next turn onto Highland Avenue.

Highland is a nice wide avenue with a wide bike lane to run in. It’s also a hill for the first half mile.

5K and Water Stop One

Shortly after turning onto Highland we hit 5K. Only 9.4 miles to go!

At this point all of us still felt good and both the long and short runners were still together.

Julie and Gail had the first stop set up for us. When you get a group of runners together, it can be hard to get them going once again. We have so much fun catching up.

Zelia Magliozzi had run down the Fellsway and met us at the water stop. She was doing a recovery run after doing her long run on Saturday.

Sunday Long Run at the first water stop.
Zelia Magliozzi Photo

I left the water stop by my self. If you hang out too long the muscles tighten up and you get cold.

As I headed out of the Fulton Street rotary I could see a few runners ahead of me heading up the Elm Street hill. They had crossed the road already and were moving along nicely.

I put my head down and dug into the hill. About half way up the hill I made my crossing to be in position for our right onto the Fellsway West.

As I approached the turn I saw a runner in a 2017 Boston Marathon jacket. He was standing there looking at his phone.

When I reached him I asked if he was okay and he said he thought he was lost. He had downloaded the half-map and thought he needed to turn left.

I assured him that we were taking a right and off we went. His name was Eric and he was with The Mystic Runners. Eric is also training for Boston 2023.

This piece of road has a number of challenges. The breakdown lane is nice and wide in most places, but there is hill. There is also a ramp to Rt. 93 South and if someone is coming up behind you and doesn’t care about hitting you, it can get dicey.

Fortunately we waved someone on who was coming towards us to take the ramp.

The run over the Rt 93 bridge wasn’t too bad. Some days this wide open area can be windy and cold.

Shortly after the bridge we hit mile 5 and approached the exit ramp from Rt. 93 North. People come flying up this ramp, there isn’t a cross walk and no one would expect to see runners crossing their path.

Once again, we were fortunate and there wasn’t any traffic.

10K and Water Stop Two

Just as we hit mile 6, we made our turn at Straw Point for water stop two.

Nicole Jacob was our goddess at this stop. We weren’t especially parched or anything but it’s always nice to see a friendly face.

After a quick drink we continued on our way and hit 10K before we left the parking lot.

Eric hadn’t run much beyond 10 miles in quite a while and as we told Nicole, “it’s beginning to feel like a run.”

We ran down Pond Street in Stoneham and made our way past the Stone Zoo. Running past the parking lot we had to run another hill.

The Road to Boston SLR 2 course map

Shortly after we hit mile 7 the road turns into Woodland Road. This is one of those curvy, hilly roads that our forefathers designed for Sunday driving in the suburbs. We managed to stay pretty close to our average pace running the hills they designed for amusement.

As we approached Flynn Rink we hit mile 8 and it felt like a gift. I hardly noticed the mile. I still felt pretty good but both of us had become more focused on putting one foot in front of the other.

We negotiated the Fulton Rotary again and headed for water stop 1/3.

It’s always nice when the club can use a water stop twice. It’s often challenging to get enough volunteers to man all of our stops. Sometimes one person will cover more than one stop.

Four miles to go at Water Stop Three

Eric and I were the only two runners at the stop this time.

Julie and Gail said they ran out of cups and had to go buy more. Based on the cup count they figured 40 runners were on the course. Amazingly, there were a few people behind us.

We didn’t hang out long. We were both sweaty and tired and didn’t want to get cold and have our muscles tighten up.

Stiffly we started out and crossed the road to get ready for our next turn.

This was onto East Border Road which is a hilly piece of road on the south side of The Middlesex Fells Reservation.

As we ran down the hill approaching the Fellsway East we hit mile 9. Only 3.5 miles to go.

The turn onto The Fellsway had us running up hill immediately.

Drivers tend to fly up this road also. Seems to be a common theme here!

But the pavement is only a few years old and there is a pretty good break down lane for most of this section of The Fellsway.

We continued to chat as we made our way over these hills. As we crested the second hill we hit mile 10 and still felt pretty good.

As we ran down the hill I knew I needed to make a pit stop at the Dunkin Donuts.

Eric asked if I wanted him to hang out, but I told him to go on and I’d try to catch up.

Fortunately the restroom door wasn’t locked and I was back on the road in no time.

As I left Dunkin’s parking lot I didn’t see any other runners. But I knew where I was going.

As I crested yet another hill I saw Joe Winslow ahead running on the sidewalk. It took me a bit to catch up with him, but when I did we ran the rest of the distance together.

Joe and I haven’t run together in probably three years. We did chat after a club run a few weeks ago, but it was still fun catching up. Both of us once had little girls and are now empty nesters.

As we approached West Foster Street I made sure we got to 12.5 miles. This early in a training program, you don’t want to be taking short cuts. Training is about doing the work.

Apre SLR 2

Before COVID we used to hang out at Brueggers after a long run. They had a few long tables and we could get twenty or so people seated. It was great and we left some cash in the till.

But Brueggers removed all of their tables during COVID and still hasn’t replaced them.

So we headed to a new coffee shop called Café Nero. It’s in a new building on Main Street and is a new shop in town. I think they are a local chain.

There menu looks like Starbucks but they have a wider variety of food and the décor is a bit more modern and hip than Starbucks.

I was celebrating twenty years since my first ever training run. So I got a grande coffee and an almond cressant.

As one of the last long-runners to come in, I found the table full. But AJ Drummond was gracious enough to offer his seat. He had to head out.

It was fun to hang out with everyone. Some people I knew, some I recognized and some I didn’t.

I finished my cressant, said my good byes and headed home. While I sat there my muscles had tightened up and I knew that I needed to get home and stretch.

Run well My Friends!

Andy

5 Ways to Cut 5 Minutes off Your Marathon

Even the best runner in the world can loose time by making simple mistakes. You don’t have to!

Updated November 20th, 2022

Are there really 5 ways to cut 5 minutes off your marathon?

There are many ways to cut 5 minutes off your marathon time.

All runners focus on training to get faster and stronger.

But genetics and age put a limit on our peak performance. And most of us don’t have the time to reach our peak fitness level.

Even if you are at peak fitness and an old pro at this, these tips can still help you.

The easiest way to improve your finish time is to avoid adding time by making these mistakes.

Use the Porta Potty

Something about race morning seems to get the innards all worked up and ready to explode.

Most races have plenty of porta potties but you need to use them.

No matter how many porta potties a race has, the hour before a race the porta potties will be more crowded than the registration tent!

During a race, stopping to use the facilities can easily add a minute to your time. If you can’t wait and there is a line, you could loose much more time than that.

Shalane Flanagan may have the course record for using a porta potty during the 2018 Boston Marathon, at 14 seconds. But watch this video and see how that stop effected her run.

Des Linden won that year.

Des Linden 2018 Boston Marathon Winner
BAA Photo

During every Boston Marathon that I’ve run, I’ve seen lines at most of the on-course porta potties also.

Usually the first water/porta potty stop is at mile two or even mile five. For Boston it’s at mile two, and I’ve seen men and women “in the woods” side by side well before that first stop.

If you can avoid the first water stop you may find a porta potty without a line. But when you really gotta go, you may have to wait in line.

Tip #1 – use the facilities before you cross the start line.

Stop eating and drinking 1 hour before you start

Most people have nerves before a race and will eat or drink as a way to deal with their anxiety. Many of us do this unconsciously.

If you use the porta potty and then keep drinking, your system will not have time to process that fluid, or food, before the race starts.

Then you will have to make that porta potty stop.

Sometimes eating too much before a race can upset your stomach. Often there are samples of power bars and sport drinks available before a race.

Boston Marathon 2019, Hopkinton, MA
BAA Photo

While these items may be tempting, you should avoid eating anything new or over eating on race morning.

Even if you give your system an hour to digest everything, something new could upset your stomach. This could force you to make a pit stop or even drop out of the race.

Tip #2 – stop eating and drinking 1 hour before your race starts.

Double tie your shoes

double tied laces, 5 ways to cut 5 minutes off your marathon, Newtons

I see people running with loose laces all the time.

If you double tie your laces you can avoid this problem.

Un-tied laces may cause you to trip and fall and at some point you will have to stop and tie them.

Just like a porta potty stop, you have to fight the crowd and move to the side of the road and get out of the way. Then you need to bend over and tie your laces and possibly undue some nasty knot that tied it self as you ran.

Double tieing your laces can cut 5 minutes off your marathon time by avoiding the stop.

If you have to stop later in the race, your muscles may tighten up when you stop and bend to tie your laces.

All of this can be avoided by double tieing your laces, even if the second knot is fairly lose.

Tip #3 – Tie your shoes properly!

Carry a Water Bottle

Some people always carry a water bottle and some people never carry a water bottle.

For a Marathon or a Half, you will want to take a water bottle of some kind.

Even if you just use a Poland Spring 500ml bottle, you will save yourself a ton of time.

Here’s why.

Everyone who has planned poorly will be at the first few water stops and probably in line for the porta potty!

5 ways to cut 5 minutes off your marathon finish time, run with sports drinkAt most big marathons, including Boston, those water stops will be a crowded mess.

To get to one of these water stops you will have to make your way through a crowd of runners to the side of the road.

Then try to grab a cup, drink it and get back up to speed all without tripping over someone else.

Even if you don’t fall over someone or drown yourself with a cup of water, you will have to slow down and break your stride.

If you can skip the first five or more water stops, the rest of them are usually pretty easy to get to.

I like to run through the stop, grab a cup, pinch it and chug the cup in one or two gulps.

Tip #4 – carry a water bottle and avoid the crowds!

Bring some Food

I know that some people like to run as light as possible while some people look like they are packed for expedition.

I would suggest something in the middle.

Hopefully by now you know what your stomach will tolerate. There are many brands of gel to choose from and you should have tested a few while you were training.

fig newtons, glycemic index, glucose, marathon foodI’ve run a few races with Snickers bars or fig bars. Both are loaded with sugar and I’ve been eating them as long as I can remember.

I know these foods wont upset my stomach.

Even the elite runners take on fuel while they run. It may be sports drink in their water bottle, a gel or both.

They know what they need and during your training you should have figured out what you need and what you body will tolerate.

If your stomach can only tolerate certain sports drinks you really need to bring your own. Even the elites cannot finish a marathon without some hydration. And you know the mix in their bottle is what they have trained on.

It is similar with food or gels. Some people hate gels so they need something like fig bars.

Some races hand out gels late in the race. But you should not wait to fuel during a marathon. Over the years, I’ve learned to start fueling at 5K.

Your timing may be different, but you will need to replenish your energy stores during a marathon or half.

Tip #5 – bring food that you have run with before

It’s all about control

There are things you can control and things you cannot.

You can’t control the weather and often you can’t control your sleep or how your body will react to the last proper meal you eat before the big race.

My post, My 2018 Boston Marathon Experience, is an example of how I prepared to run in horrible conditions. If you’ve never run Boston before, this blog post will also give you a few insights about the course.

Boston Marathon 2018, 5 ways to cut 5 minutes off your marathon
BAA Photo

All of the tips I have provided here are things that you can control. Any one of them could save you five minutes. Together they could save you much more time than that.

You’ve put in the miles and the time to get here. You are as ready as you can be.

I hope that these tips that I have learned from running 18 marathons and 9 Boston Marathons will help you have the best marathon of your life.

Looking for a fall marathon? Check out New England Marathons Fall 2023 for some ideas.

Run well my Friends!

Andy

Taper Tantrums

Taper Tantrums

Originally posted April 1st, 2016 while training for the Boston Marathon. Updated September 24, 2021.

Def: Emotional roller-coaster, feeling bloated, fat, slow and lazy. An endless urge to eat everything in sight, and to seek out food not in sight. The constant feeling like you should be doing something else right now, like running or stretching or checking on the weather three weeks away.

This Saturday we had our longest run of the season: 21.5 miles, or twenty-something depending on how many times you stopped your watch or forgot to re-start your watch.

Taper time hasn’t even really begun.

Boston Marathon, taper tantrumsI ran 5.91 miles Tuesday night and cranked out negative splits on the last three miles. It just felt so good. I pushed up the hills and cruised down the hills.

Thursday the taper tantrums really set in. Something set me off in the morning and I was just kind of pissed off all day. I thought I was just pissed. It’s way too early for the taper tantrums.

As the day wore on and on, it dawned on me what was going on. I was in full blown taper mode and I had barely recovered from my long run. What is going on here?

Running with cinder blocks

Now that I’m in the early stages of mid-life, I’ve come to understand mood swings. We all have them; runners have them in spades. When I was younger I surfed the waves of emotion with little control or awareness. If I was running high, whoa! I went with it. If I was in the valley, knife was in hand. Don’t cross me. Metaphorically, of course!

Being older and wiser I can feel the engines ignite. I know what to expect and where this rocket ship is going and that no one else really cares. It’s my freakin ride, step off.

I can also feel the cold dark ugliness of the valley. Nothing is good and everything is bad. If you cross me I’m liable to cut you down in a sentence. You won’t deserve it but I can’t help it.

In full blown taper tantrum, a runner’s mood swings can be sudden, extreme and long.

I think I dove right into my taper tantrums this time because I’m running with cinder blocks. I freely chose these weights and the responsibilities are all mine.

I chose to run a marathon under-prepared and take on a fundraising commitment. I chose to start a business and try to figure everything out. I chose a demanding job. I chose all of this and take full responsibility.

I’m feeling under prepared for a marathon that so many people only get to run once. I worry I’m not showing the respect due a renowned race such as this. The Boston Marathon is not a race to be taken lightly. It is more than a race.

But each commitment and exhausting activity weighs on me. I don’t have time to be bored. Barely have time for lunch or a relaxing drink.

Running with cinder blocks amplifies and intensifies my moods and reactions. I don’t have time for bull shit.

Runners tend to be very focused. We need to get in our training and try to eat right and avoid injury. We are like a guided missile locked onto our targets. Don’t get in our way.

While people around us are tossing idle banter we are calculating the total distance we ran for the week, so far. How to get in a 7 mile run at lunch between meetings and calls. How to avoid a box of Girl Scout cookies in the kitchen. How can I get my work done and get to what matters, running, when everyone keeps bugging the shit out of me?

I love you all and everything you have done for me. But expect me to be in the valley with my cinder blocks a lot these next few weeks.

Run well and please excuse me.

Andy

Longest Run of 2020 so far

Sometimes a long run doesn’t go as planned. I thought twelve miles would be good then dropped back to ten. One wrong turn and I ran almost 14 miles! 19 degrees turned out to be the least of my worries!

Sunday was the Melrose Running Club’s 6th long run of 2020.

I’ve missed the last two runs due to conflicts with races. On February 2nd we ran the Super Sunday race and on January 26th, we ran The Great Stew Chase 15K.

My weekly miles have been pretty low so far and my longest run this year was The Great Stew Chase at 15K or 9.53 miles for me.

The full long run this Sunday was 16.2 and I decided that 12 miles would be enough for me. You really don’t want your weekly long run to by twice as long as any of your previous week’s runs.

I’ve read that the long run should be no more than six miles longer than your longest week day training run. I find that a tough rule to follow.

At shorter distances you can get away with increasing your long run to 150% of your longest weekly run.

So you could go from running 6 mile training runs to a 9 mile long run. You can definitely go from running fours to a 6 mile long run.

The key is to take the long run easier than your shorter week day runs. Most of us would not run a half marathon at our 5K pace. The same thing applies to your weekly long run.

Longest Run of 2020

When I reviewed the 16.2 mile route I figured that I could cut it back to twelve miles easily.

At about 5.5 miles I took a right and the long run people turned left. My plan was working.

I made my way back to the water stop and had two cups of Gatorade/water and headed out. One of the long runners left the water stop just ahead of me and I followed him. I knew there was a turn coming up that I always miss.

I made the turn and Mike Sikkema caught up and passed me. I managed to keep Mike in sight long enough to see him take the right turn onto Main Street/ Rt. 28 in Stoneham.

Sunday Long Run 6, longest run of 2020This took us along the back side of Spot Pond. I didn’t think of it at the time, but I wanted to go straight and run the front side of the pond.

That was my crucial error.

I was now running by my self but knew where I was and all of the turns.

Soon after the wrong turn my watch chimed in for mile eight.

After I left the long run group I decided that ten miles was a better idea than twelve.

This route is very hilly and my quads were beginning to feel it.

When my watch hit eight miles on the back side of Spot Pond, I knew I was in trouble. There was no way to turn this run into 10 miles from this point in the run.

I had left my phone in my car and only had $5 in my pocket. There was no way to bail on this one.

A Bridge Too Far

As my watch hit nine miles I went under a Rt. 93 bridge. It was definitely a bridge too far.

My pace was still pretty good at 9:24 but I was fading fast.

The next turn was a left onto Elm Street in Medford and another hill. I then took a right onto Highland Ave at the rotary by Flynn Ice Rink. I thought there was a water stop there, but I didn’t recognize the car.

I avoid trying to open trunks of unknown cars.

It was a cold day, so it was okay.

As I continued down Highland I knew the next turn would put me on East Border Road. This is another hilly section which would dump me onto the freakin Fellsway East.

When I got to the second rise in the hill on East Border Road I decided to walk. I hit mile 11 just after cresting that hill and began to run down to the intersection.

Mile eleven came in at 10:34. At this point I wasn’t too concerned with my pace. I was more concerned with surviving to run another day.

I wasn’t cold or depleted but my left knee was beginning to act up. My body just wasn’t prepared for this many miles.

I took the left onto The Fellsway and cursed my self for not turning left at the rotary instead of right. With that turn I would have run about twelve miles and avoided these bloody hills!

I walked some of these hills and ran the down hills as best I could. While running down the last Fells hill I hit mile twelve. That was my stretch goal for the day and I knew I had at least another mile and half to go!

I ran to the intersection with West Wyoming Street and was able to cross the street quickly. Traffic was light and people let me go.

I was now on the home stretch and my knee was telling me to stop.

After mile thirteen I decided to walk. I was beyond anything I had planned and who cared anyway?

As a runner approached I waved and they didn’t even acknowledge me. I guess you don’t look like a fellow runner when you are walking.

As I neared the rail road tracks I started running and kept on until I turned the corner onto Main Street. My ankle and knee were both killing me. Than I “ran” in the last bit to the finish but didn’t have the juice to round it out to 13.75.

13.72 miles was quite enough, thank you!

Hydration and recovery

I went into Brueggers, got an ice coffee and sat with friends for about ten minutes before heading home. As I sat there I could feel both calves getting ready to cramp.

On the way I drank a BodyArmor sport drink which has electrolytes and a variety of vitamins.

After a nice hot shower I applied some arnica gel to both knees and slipped my Body Helix knee compression sleeve onto my left knee.

I recently reviewed the Body Helix compression wraps. I’ve been using the knee wrap for a few weeks as needed and it seems to help.

I don’t get a commission, but you can get 10% off any Body Helix Compression Wraps you buy with code BH10RUN.

I hope you had a good long run this weekend and one that went according to plan.

Run well my Friends!

Andy

Running and Chewing Gum

Running and Chewing Gum is an easy way to make a long run enjoyable by avoiding a dry mouth. It’s really quite easy to do.

These days, most of us are multi-taskers. But can you run and chew gum at the same time?

It seems the only way to keep up with the never-ending demands on our time is to multi task. It may be as simple as putting in a wash and then cooking supper. While cleaning the kitchen as I wait for the food to cook. With the BBC News playing in the background, getting me up to date with the world.

These tasks are more of process and time management. Chewing gum and walking is the proverbial physical coordination test.

Running and Chewing Gum

Doing two physical tasks at the same time can be challenging.

Try rubbing your belly while patting the top of your head. Now do it faster. Now rub you belly in the opposite direction! Now switch hands!

Chewing gum and doing most anything else is much less taxing than this exercise. Chewing gum is done pretty much unconsciously.

Because it is so effortless is why people joke that you can’t do anything else and chew gum. It’s a very low bar!

Often while I run, my mouth will get dry. Sometimes my throat gets horse and it’s difficult to get words out. Even drinking water doesn’t relieve these issues for me.

This Sunday I had a pack of gum in my car. I decided to have a piece before the Sunday Long Run to knock back my coffee breath. Then I forgot I had it in my mouth and started running.

During the entire eight mile run I barely noticed that I had gum in my mouth except at water stops. Then I had to avoid swallowing it with a cup of water.

As I drove home I realized I had run the entire eight miles, about 70 minutes chewing gum. “I guess I can walk or run while chewing gum” I said to myself with a chuckle.

It’s really not that big of a deal.

Most runners don’t run with gum. Many worry they will swallow it or inhale it. It can also get in the way when you take a gel or other food and beverage.

I’ve run a few races with gum and one of my running buddies does it often.

Because I had gum in my mouth, my mouth never dried out and my throat felt fine for the entire run. I was even able to carry on a conversation with the two people I was running with.

Without the gum my mouth and throat would have been too dry to talk after a few miles.

Sunday Long Run Week Ten

This week the Sunday Long Run was sixteen miles. The long run ran out Main Street from Brueggers in Melrose, looped Lake Q and headed down Nahant Street to Breakheart Reservation for a hilly loop of the park.

I didn’t run last Sunday because of an odd hip pain. I only ran a 2.5 mile test run up to the bank and back on Thursday to see what was going on. Oddly enough, my left knee acted up on that run but my hip was fine. After a mile I could have done 10K.

I’m beginning the 10-week road to Philadelphia right now, so I decided to play it safe and run eight miles.

This early on I don’t need big miles and I need to make sure I’m okay. It’s better to deal with an injury early in the plan than later, but you do have to deal with it.

I ran with Aine and David Lunney this week. Two relatively new club members. David is training for his first half marathon, the Newburyport Half Marathon on October 20th.

Since I could talk this week, we were able to have a good conversation about running. I’ve been running since 2003 so I can answer most questions and have plenty of advice. I also tried to keep quiet and let them talk!

Running and chewing gum worked well for me this week. Hopefully I didn’t talk Aine and David’s ears off!

Do you run with gum? Besides water, do you have other ways to keep your mouth and throat from drying out?

Run well my Friends!

Andy