How did I get started running

I started running via soccer at 4 years old. I played soccer through my freshman year in college. I took 7 years off to focus on school and my career… and gaining weight. I was dared to run 10k training run with an old friend. We did a 5:1 jog walk. From there I knew I needed to get back after it. I had so much to learn and still learn something everyday about running. I started by not liking running. Honestly I probably still don’t like running. There are other things that I like or need that running gives me. Maybe it’s the social aspect. Maybe it’s the health and fitness aspect. Or maybe it’s the mental health aspect. For trail running maybe it’s the leave and quiet aspect. Each run with each different person or purpose lends to one of those aspects. I’m so thankful for each and every possibility to run and everyone I’ve been able to meet and run with because of running. I never thought I’d run these longer distances, however I have a good friend that encouraged me he entire way!

Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

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Weather & TH Factor

I know you’re thinking what the heck is TH Factor?  It’s something that my running partner and I came up with to try and get an idea if we will have degraded performance based on past experience.  It’s the temp plus the humidity.  He measures in celsius and I measure in farenheight.  For him anything over 100 will predict degraded performance.  For me anything over (i think 120) will predict it pretty well.

This is just a simple way to get an idea for what you’re in for.  Research shows that if you know what’s coming, then you will likely perceive it less challenging.  You also have more time to prepare for it.  Once you get a good feel for this for you, then you have a better chance at predicting your race/training outcome.

For example, if you export your information from your watch and then add back in the TH factor you can look for correlations.  You can get historical weather data from WeatherUnderground.

Weather plays a role outside of temp and humidity though.  Having the right gear can make all the difference!  Ensure that you have all the right breathable and protective equipment to have the most enjoyable race/training run.

Also another factor to consider is sunscreen.  I’ve learned that there are 2 different kinds of sunscreen.  There are the physical and the chemical.  Each might have it’s own positive properties, but some might feel hot when you sweat (b/c that’s how it’s designed) or might feel like they won’t rub in very well.  The physical are more of the zinc oxide (although can be bought in clear).

This site has a good description about the differences.

UPDATE: I’ve injured my back and am back in PT to see if I can get my training back on track.

Thanks for sharing this adventure with me!

Time management

I know this is a hard topic for most everyone for one reason or another.  You either have plenty of free time and it’s hard to get motivated or you have little to no time and have to force it in somehow.  One way or another you have to figure out how to set your goals and work towards achieving them.

Hopefully some of the previous posts have help set this one up with the right framework of selecting a strategy and training plan.  Then hopefully you have all the right gear to train and push towards your goal.  It seems like there are 3 different kinds of people.

The first type is the early riser which is the morning runner.  I’ve done this one before, but it was tough.  I was younger and didn’t have children.  Most of my time in the morning now is helping get the kids ready and out the door for the day.  This type of runner usually has to do some preparing the night before so that they can get up and out the door as quick as possible to get the workout in before the rest of their day.  I’ve known some runners like this to sleep in their running clothes.  The benefit is that you get it out of the way first thing.  The hard thing is getting up so early so that it’s not too hot or too busy on the roads etc.  Within this runner there is the fasting runner who doesn’t eat or hydrate or fuel before the run.  I’ve heard benefits here and have tried this.  Next is the runner who will get up with enough time to hydrate and fuel for the workout.  I couldn’t ever really do this with exception of race day.

The second type of person is the lunch time runner.  This is currently how I work my workout into my day.  I’m lucky enough to have a gym/shower at work so that I can run at lunch.  There are huge benefits to being able to do this, but I would guess that only a small percentage of people can make this work.  Although it’s hard to want to run in the heat of the day when you’d rather being going with your friends to lunch, it’s really nice to have this option.  Hydration is an option here.  In the fall/winter it’s not that big of a deal.  However, in the spring/summer here it’s a big deal to run with water.  Also due to the humidity, running with the coldest water possible helps to keep the core body temp down.  In places with low humidity, the body can perform it’s sweat function efficiently.  However, here in Houston, the high heat combined with the high humidity means that the sweat just stays on the skin.  It certainly puts a huge load on the body to cool itself.  Therefore, I’ve read that in addition to hydration, the water should be as cold as possible.  We achieve this with the CamelBak Podium Ice.

The last type is the after work/evening/night runner.  I find this one pretty hard since you’re already tired at the end of a long day, but this works really well for some people.  It’s usually cooler and maybe even dark, but it can provide a whole other level if running outside.  Rules of the road, visibility and ability to see where you’re going.  Make sure that you’re running against traffic so you can when a car is coming.  Make sure that you wear reflective or light up safety equipment so that you can be seen.  You might even need to use a headlamp so that you can light your path and look for any dangers.  Some of these things might even apply to the early morning runners as well.

Sometimes the only way you can get a workout in is to use a treadmill or to take your kiddos with you.   For the treadmill I primarily use a PreCor treadmill.  I’ve had mixed results with treadmills in the past even though these are pretty high end.  There is always the hot debate on whether or not you need to add 1% or so of incline to get a realistic road feel.  On the stroller side of things, I have used a Bob with pretty good results.  The kiddos don’t seem to mind it.  It does add some resistance which can be good and bad depending on your workout and your terrain.  These are all some of the parts of time management that can impact your workout.

Regardless which one you are, hopefully you are able to utilize your strengths and some of the content provided here to make the most of your workouts to achieve your goals.  Remember, just be a good starter.  If you mess up just start again!

Thanks for sharing this adventure with me!

Gear

My favorite topic!  I love talking about gear.  I don’t particularly like spending money on gear, but I love how different it can make a run or a race.  The right gear can make 7 kinds of hell feel just a little bit more tolerable.  That amount could be the difference in finishing, not finishing or being able to Personal Best (PB) / Personal Record (PR).

Shoes:  Currently I’m in about my 100th pair of Asics Nimbus.  They are the all black the 21’s.  They are road shoes, they are plush like a Cadillac and they will go 400 miles before needing to be replaced.  For trail shoes I have both the Brooks Cascadia 11 and the Altra Lone Peak Mid.  In the past I’ve tried Brooks Pure, Brooks Glycerin, Brooks Launch.

Watch:  Currently I use the Garmin 230 (looks like the 230 has been discontinued) with one of two old heart rate straps.  In the past I’ve used the Garmin 305 and the Garmin 910xt.

Heart Rate Strap: Garmin HRM Dual, however, I used this one forever and it just kept on ticking!

Clothes:  Shirts: I don’t have anything that’s really a ride or die here.  I use a lot of race shirts.  These always feel too expensive to purchase, so I don’t really have many that are not race shirts.  Shorts: I have all different kinds and there really aren’t any that are all that different.  However, I will say that the LuLu Lemon shorts I have are pretty cool.  They have a boxer brief in them which helps with chafing.  They also have 2 regular pockets and one zip pocket which is always helpful.  Underwear: I really like Road Runner Sports branded briefs as running specific underwear.  I know it seems strange, but then you keep everything separate and where it needs to be.  I’ll leave it at that.

Hat: Honey Stinger

Socks: You might wonder if there is really all that much different.  Here is one place where I will spend money.  I feel there is a true difference here.  I really like FeeturesBalega, Wright Sock and Jinji.  They are all pretty expensive, but if you just slowly buy them over time you can build a nice collection.

Pack:  Currently I have a few packs that are all CamelBak.  They are different sizes for different scenarios.  Self supported in the woods on an 18mi out and back vs some sort of support on a 10mi loop.  I have the H.A.W.G / MULE for the longer stuff and the for the classic 50oz shorter stuff.

Race Vest: Solomon Advanced Skin

Hydration:  I really like the CamelBak Podium Ice, Nathan speeddraw handheld or the Salomon collapsable.

Belt:  I haven’t used a belt in a while, but I used for a really long time!  I used something like this which had 4 10oz bottles and a velcro pocket.  I also have something like a Nike Slim WaistPack that will stretch for my phone, but rarely use it.

Headphones: Currently I use Bose SoundSport Wireless.  I used YurBuds for a while and before that I used Apple or anything lying around.

Cold weather gear: Gloves: I have 2 or 3 pairs of gloves that I wear.  When it’s really cold one of those is a liner called FreezeOut.  As for the other 2, one is called Craft thermal gloves and the others would be any cold weather race (like Houston marathon) that gives throw away gloves.  Pants: I’ve been using UnderArmor cold gear run taperedBeanie: Anything really works here, but if it’s really cold you can use FreezeOut as a head baselayer.  Buff: I’ve heard the Buff brand works really well.  I just use my Trail Racing Over Texas buff and it’s more than perfect!

Baselayer: I really like REI / Patagonia / SmartWool baselayers.

Sunglasses: Currently I’m wearing Native.  I used to use 5.11 or Oakley.

Jacket:  The only running specific jacket I have is the Patagonia Houdini.  Super thin, folds up into the tiniest of items.  Not super great for really cold or really wet.  More just keeps mist and a little chill out.

Battery pack:  Anything that will charge your phone is really all you need.  However, since I’m a glutton for punishment I carry a 4200mAh or a 20000mAh pack

Blister control/chafing: Jinji socks, vasoline, bodyglide, chamois butt’r.

Software: Garmin Connect, Strava, RunKeeper, FitBit, Athlinks

Activity Tracker: Currently I use FitBit Charge 2 HR.  I had the Charge HR and one other FitBit before that.

Scale: Currently I use the FitBit Aria.  It connects with my activity tracker.  I can export the info.  It tracks body fat % as well as weight and bmi.  WARNING: SOAP BOX: body fat % over BMI if you can.  Scale accuracy, this is the least accurate, but is used for tracking change over time.  I have also done under water weighing, bodpod, dexa, 3 site and 7 site caliper.

Blood pressure monitor: Nokia/Withings wireless blood pressure monitor

Compression: Not sure, I think it’s CEP but I’ll have to take a look.

Prehab: FoamRoller: TriggerPoint 2.0 and Perform Better Roller RollingStick: The Stick Lacrosse ball: TheraBands: Therapy Myofascial Release ball:

Orthotics: Custom by OakBend (for Plantar Fasciitis).  If you want to try something out and not spend as much money you can check out SuperFeet.

MedKit (for long runs): Individual First Aid Kit

Headlamp: Petzl and Black Diamond

Gators: REI Gators

Stroller: BOB

Thanks for sharing in this adventure with me!

Strategies

Over the past decade of running, I’ve used many strategies with modest success.  However, most of the “modest” part of that is the fact that I didn’t put enough time in.  You can have all the gear, all the nutrition and all the strategy, but if you don’t put the time in, simply the physiological changes won’t occur in your body to make you better.

I’ve used many different sites, but have come to love these few over the years.  Hal Higdon has provided high quality free training plans forever!   Jeff Galloway is also a very well known name in training.  As I’ve started running longer ultra races, I’ve also had to start to find folks that provide those too.  Trail Runner Magazine has become more interesting to me due to changing from road running to trail running as well.  Currently I’m using Run Coach provided by the Marine Corps Marathon Ultra race that I have coming up in October.  A friend of mine who has been getting super fast lately referred me to Trail Roots.  Runner’s World always has good stuff (but as of late they want to charge you for going to more than 3 of their pages per day…not a fan of that!)  No matter which one you use, just make the time for yourself.

My running partner and I have decided that no matter which one of these you use, that you really should use it back to back leading up to a race.  By this I mean that you are supposed to enter into one of these with a base already built.  However, a lot of us that don’t have time for whatever reason try to use these to build our base.  Thus, the modest results.  Therefore, if you use one of these and go by heart rate for the first 16 or so weeks.  Then do the same plan over again by pace you will likely be in much better place.  However, this does require more planning on when to start and how much you have to get in over a period of months.  Some people just might not have that kind of time.  This time that you put in is referred to as volume, to which I have another interesting article about.

This article talks about the ultra running hierarchy.  It’s based on the psychological Maslow’s hierarchy, but adapted to ultra running (actually an adaptation of an adaptation but I digress).  The most fundamental being volume.  This is one of many revelations that we realized.  It seems so basic but when you’ve been running for years and have not PR’d in a while, it’s something that you kind of just forget about.

Hopefully some of this has helped you to build a strategy and help you to achieve your goals faster.  These are some of the strategies I’ve used over the years to help me be a better runner.

Thanks for sharing in this adventure with me!

 

Nutrition On The Run

I need to lay out a disclaimer right off the bat.  As I’ve mentioned in precious posts @HoneyStinger and @TailwindNutrution have selected me as an ambassador for their brand.  I do not get paid nor do I get free product from them, but I do get a discount from them.  However, in order for me to even feel ethical about supporting them and applying to become an ambassador, I must have used the product already.  Since I had already been using both products I felt ok to apply and represent these 2 awesome companies.

I’d also like to disclaimer that a hydration calculator might be worth your wild if you live in a hot humid environment.  You can use something like this one or this one.

With that out of the way, let me help you better understand my nutrition on the run.  I’m really not even sure where to start, but I’ll start with number of calories per hour and go from there.  It’s my understanding that we are looking for 100-300 calories per hour.  I really thought the only way I could get through such long runs is via 300 calories per hour.

I’ve tried this all via solids in the past.  I think my preference is a mix of both just to keep up the variety.  I really like the Honey Stinger waffles and chews for about 100 calories per hour.  For the eletrolytes and calories all in one, Tailwind is awesome.  I try to 200 calories per hour via this method.  I usually carry some sort of CamelBak pack that has a bladder and all kinds of pockets to carry all this in.  Sometimes you can also fit in a soft flask like this one or this one if you want a small amount of something different than your larger pack.

For daily training I use the CamelBak Podium Ice with either just water or some electrolyte especially on hot days.  I learned that the colder the water is on a hot summer houston humid day the better.  The sweat mechanism just doesn’t work here the same as it would in a low humidity enviro like Colorado.  For those warm kind of nice days you can get away with something like this as opposed to needing the Podium Ice.

There is a whole other level that can happen in Houston in the summer.  For that I have finally found a product that can help.  It’s not for the couch to 5k runner.  In fact, the company kindly asks you to read their blog article on the product before purchasing.  However, if you meet all the criteria, it could just save your life one day.  HyperHydration mix is a powder that you an mix into your water and it is for the times that no matter how much you take in, you just can’t keep up with the water/electrolyte required to keep moving.  The article has some really good insight into topics that we probably don’t know much about in theory but have experienced in practice.

I’m referring to sodium concentration of the blood/plasma and the ability for water and sodium to pass in and out of the cells.  These 2 things are why I love TailWind so much.  The reason has to do with GI distress.  If you’re consuming something that has a balance that isn’t right for you or that your body has a hard time absorbing you will likely have some GI distress out on the road or trail.  The more I’ve studied this to select the right products the less GI distress I’ve had.  I feel like TailWind is really well balanced and really has the ability to be absorbed properly.

Thanks for sharing this adventure with me!