Seven Things About Me – Meme

There has been a meme going around the Internet lately and I was reading The Balance Project blog and she tagged anyone who read her 7 Things post to do one on themselves. After reading a bunch of this kind of post over the past week, I thought it would be fun to do one myself.

Here are 7 things about me that you might or might not know about me.

1. I have had mostly gray hair since I was 40 – yes I tried dying it for a few years, but finally decided to go with the distinguished gray look – that is why I wear a ball cap so much.

Gray hair hidden by the Life is Good hat

2. When I was in the Coast Guard everyone knew me as Radar and I dressed up as a can of Grape Nehi for my Chief’s Initiation, way back in October of 1984. I retired from the Coast Guard in 1996 after almost 21 years of service, that’s right more than 15 years ago – hard to believe.

Boot Camp picture in 1975

3. I was Special Education Teacher for almost 10 years, which is one of the toughest jobs, but most rewarding things I have ever done.

Cutting up as a teacher, not always conventional in my style

4. People consider me fairly computer savvy, I even consider myself a nerd and yet I don’t have my own cell phone or a smart phone anymore.

Back when I had a Mac, a PC and my old iPhone 3G

5. I am the oldest of six children and the reason mom and dad got married.

Last picture of Mom, Dad and I together that I can find

6. I have been a runner for over 40 years and I won the 100 and 200 yard dashes at the Penquis Relays in 1975. In 1983 I completed the Marine Corps Marathon. Running is my passion, but it has had it ups and downs, along with many injuries throughout my career. Now I am on the way back to running bliss and running mostly pain free after knee surgery in May.

7. I retired from the rat race in June 2011, in order to take time to slow down and live a simpler life, now I run a lot and immensely enjoy the life that we have.

Bonus: I am a native Maineiac – not a Mainer – ’nuff said ;-).

The below collage has many of the 7 things that I talked about.

Those are the seven things you may or may not know about me.

If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged and write 7 interesting tidbits about yourself that others may or may not know about you.

What are Your Winter Training Plans?

What are your running goals for December to the end of March?  What are you going to do to achieve those goals?  Are you going to find one of those “canned” programs and follow that, get a coach or just wing-it?

I really believe that these are questions we all struggle with as runners – how we create a training plan to meet those goals. We all have different goals, wants, needs, abilities and how we attain them is often a journey full of highs/lows, and injuries that we work through to get where we want to be.

  • How do you go about planning and implementing your running program?

Here are some of my views:

Running Coach

The best way in my opinion is to have a running coach who works with you daily to tweak and adjust your running plan as necessary based on your current condition, injuries, weather forecasts and other factors that a coach can factor into a training plan, would be a good great thing. However, unless you are with some kind of a track club or in school, coaching of this sort is difficult to find and/or expensive. It would be the best way to go, but is not available to most of us.

  • Does it matter whether the coach is an online coach and someone who coaches you face to face?

I don’t know the answer to that question because I have not had experience with either one (since I left high school). What do you think?

Canned Running Program

We have all started one of the canned race prep schedules that are in our apps, in running how-to books, running magazines, or the ones that you find online. You know those ones which promise to help you finish or improve your times in a race from 5K to Marathons and beyond.

  • Have you wondered if they really do work?

I really don’t know because I have never, ever finished a canned running program since I began running so many years ago. I start off with all these great intentions to go through X program, because it seems to fit the direction I am trying to go with my running and “by gum and tarnation” I do want to get better and not be injured while getting to X and buy into the hype.

  • These program probably work better for newer or runners who need the added structure to their running, but as runners mature in running, do they continue to need those levels of structure?

Many of these running programs are very nicely laid out in great detail and can become rather complicated. On this day you will run this amount of miles, at this pace and your weekly total should be X, if you don’t do X, then do Y or Z, and then A.

What happens when life gets in the way of the training plan for that day or week and it throws off the entire schedule. After all – as important as running is to us, there are other things that do come before putting on your running shoes and going for that 20 miler or the 2 hour track workout every Tuesday.

These programs are not known for their flexibility and that is where I really dislike a canned running program.  If I want to do speedwork on Friday instead Tuesday and my long run on Wednesday instead of Friday, it really messes up trying to stay up with a canned running program and making all the changes to ensure that you are still following that running plan.

I guess I am just not very good at following the rules all the time.

I know many of them say don’t sweat it if you miss or change something here or there, but we do, it is in many of our natures to sweat it and it is also a confidence thing. If the “expert” who designed your running program says you are supposed to be here doing X on week 6 of the program and you are not because life got in the way, you get stressed. Then many runners try to “catch-up” and end up injured and don’t meet their goals.

Problems with Canned Programs

I have problems with the canned running programs, mainly because I am an ornery old fart who just wants to do it his way, instead of the way that someone else thinks. Yes I have a good idea of what I want out of running and have a pretty good what I have to do to get there. I am pretty sure that I can figure this out without some damned “expert’s” idea of how fast or far I should be running on next Tuesday, based on how my body is really feeling, not an artificial number based upon what?

  • Does anyone else feel that way too?

Maybe those people who are putting together these preplanned running programs are a hell of a lot smarter than I am, ran more, ran faster, have more experience running injury free, but they do not know me or you, our strengths, weaknesses, current fitness level, preferences, provide appropriate feedback and all those other factors that go into an individual training plan – they can’t.

So what do we do?

Wing-It

I have a feeling that this is what many of us do – just wing-it. Yes we have a pretty good idea of what we need to do in order to run or run a faster 5k, 10K half/full marathon or whatever your running goal is. Then we just go run enough to get to where we want to go.  We log what we do, think about how  we are doing, look at how/why we are getting injured, buy a new pair of shoes, even when the old ones were fine, tweak here or there as necessary and just keep running.

Not very scientific, but pretty uncomplicated, very flexible and tends to work for more experienced runners, but not so good for new runners or those who need specific training guidelines to help them through their training regimen.

My Experience

In my experience, canned running program (paper or computer) do help by giving pretty consistent guidelines – most of the canned training programs have many similarities (long runs, tempo runs, recovery days, a day of rest and speed work, etc.), the biggest difference often being the recommended miles/pace on a given day.

From what I have seen is that most runners eventually put together a program for themselves that is flexible and can:

  • accommodate last minute changes that happen in real life;
  • the bain of all runners – injuries; or
  • when you just feel like something different
  • listen to what your body needs

Is this how you set up your training program? You have it in your head what you need to do and then adjust your actual running based upon life, how the training is actually going and how your body feels. This is how I have trained for several years and varying degrees of success.

My Training Plan

This year I want to do it a little differently, instead of just having my training plan only in my head I am writing it down. So here is my training program for December through the end of March.

  • HAVE FUN WITH MY RUNNING – that is the most important thing
  • Run 15-30 miles per week – closer to 30 as we get to March.
  • No more than 2 hard runs per week – one tempo and one fartlek or speed workout
  • Have a long run every week that is more than 5 miles, but no more than 8 miles at an easy pace
  • Run no more than 13 days in a row before a rest day
  • Once every two weeks run without a timing device
  • Run on trails/dirt when possible
  • Find 1 or 2 races and see how you do
  • If injured figure out why you got injured and do something different
  • When really sick don’t run, slightly sick give it a try
  • Walk at least 2.0 miles every day in addition to any running
  • Cross-train if you feel like it (snow shoeing, cross country skiing, ice skating, etc.)
  • Lift weights  2x per week (even though they suck – it helps)
  • Weigh self every day when I get up
  • Eat mostly organic food and cut back on chips to once per week. Limit sweets to reasonable amount daily.
  • Sleep around 8 hours a day

The biggest thing is to just run without getting injured.

This is my training program for the next 5 months or so. Yes it is a winter maintenance running program meant to get my baseline running back, loose about 20 more pounds and get me ready for Spring and running 5K to 10K races through June.

Running faster and further will come if I follow those things and listen to what my body is trying to tell me (which has always been a problem – I usually just run through pain or discomfort until it becomes an injury).

In March I will re-evaluate everything and see where my fitness and running really is and start a program to focus on improving my 5K times to my long-term goal of under 20:00 minutes.  I have purposely set my 5K goal very high, but in my opinion an attainable goal if everything goes right over the next year?

What is Your Running Plan?

To me unless you have a coach (online or F2F) and if you do I am jealous, using canned programs are a great way to give you ideas on how to get where you want to go, but you are the one that has to implement your own running program.

  • What is your training training program going to look like for December through March – have you thought about it or are you just going to wing-it?

Let me know, I am interested in what other runners are going to do this winter and how you are planning your training.

The reality is that

right now I just want to have fun with my running and enjoy the fact that I am running again. Gotta remember slow and steady, slow and steady will keep me running, until I build up the base I need and loose the flubber that needs to go away.

I wish you all the best in developing your personal running plan, I know that I am really anxious to see how well mine works over the winter.

Now to go out for a run.

RunLog 11/25/11 – Glad I Waited

I am really glad that I waited to run after the walk with Bennie this morning. After walking almost 3.0 miles on the snow and white ice, my legs were toast and I needed the rest between workouts. Luckily the weather was great today, getting into the low forties, bright sunshine and very little wind.

I have a feeling that if I had run immediately after the walk, it would have been one of those runs where the pain would have over-ruled the ecstasy.

No when I started runningtoday I was stiff and tired and it took about the first half mile to get into a rhythm. When I cam back down the hill, I started to feel better and got my wind, from that point on it was just a question of keeping up the pace. On the last lap I did pick it up a bit and really focused on my form.

I actually felt pretty good once I got going and didn’t have any residual affects. Now if I can just stay away from the left-overs, I will be fine!

The pace per mile was the fastest I have done in a long time.

Overall run impression was very good run.
Time of run: 2:45
Weight: 178
Temp: 41F
Weather: Bright sunshine, light breeze

By the way – that homemade pumpkin pie is GONE!

In Search of the Mythical Perfect Running Shoe

from Amazon.com

Like most runners, I have shoes stuffed in the closet, under my bureau, in boxes out in the garage and have given away shoes to the neighbor, Goodwill and found other creative ways to get rid of perfectly good shoes, because they just didn’t feel right to me after I had been running in them for a while.

Just so I could continue my search for that perfect running shoe.

TheWife thinks I am crazy and have a running shoe obsession and you know something she might be right.

Running shoes are either the greatest thing or the bain of a runner’s existence and it depends on who you are talking to and what camp they sit in. For me it depends on what state of injury I am at.

I do know that like many runners, I have spent a small fortune while trying to find that mythical and illusive perfect shoe.

Although I may have come close a few times.
Strangely enough, I really have not developed a “brand” loyalty when it comes to running shoes. I have still buy running shoes that I want and it doesn’t really matter what brand of shoe they are.

As I have grown older, I am finding that I like lightweight shoes, low profile, without too many motion control features and that are reasonably priced, cushioned feel is a plus (but that can be taken care by a different insole). For several years, the “pros” have continuously recommended and tried to put me into the heavy duty motion control shoes that also just happen to have a hefty price tag. However, I always seem to come back to the old credo – “less can be more” and try to go with what I like.

Below are the different running shoe companies that I have tried and a quick description of some that I really liked.

Disclaimer Alert:  I was selected to be a Brooks Wear Tester in October 2011, however, I have not received any Brooks product to evaluate or wear test at the time of this post.

I have tried running shoes from Avia, Converse, Etonic, Mizuno, North Face, Pony, Puma, Skaja and Teva at least once, but those companies were mostly just a one time buy/try and I have not gone back to them again.

Adidas

Adidas had one of those near mythical perfect shoes as far as I am concerned – the Adidas Marathon Trainers with the Dillinger Web. They were a low profile, a lightweight shoe with just enough cushioning for me. I learned that you had to take out the board last and put a different insert into the shoe to make them more flexible and comfortable, but these were my favorite shoes of all time.

I have had three pair of these shoes and each pair lasted well past the 500 mile mark.  I have been looking for another pair for several years and have yet to find a pair and unfortunately probably won’t.

Hey Adidas do you have any size 8, hidden in a warehouse someplace?

Asics

Asics were my second pair of running shoes, the old Blue Tigers were a great shoe and I wore them for Cross Country and Track in high school, when I wasn’t wearing spikes.

Screen shot from http://www.racedaynutrition.com/?p=341

I started wearing the Kayano 11and really loved the shoe, while it is considered a motion control shoe, but it felt lighter than most and I put a lot of miles on this model over a two year period.

I found a special deal where I was able to pick up 3 pair of them for $50 each (the Kayano 13 was on the shelves), so I have had a total of 4 pair of the Kayano. The shoes changed and I didn’t have access to those great deals and this shoe priced itself out of my price range.

Brooks Running

Disclaimer Again:  I was selected to be a Brooks Wear Tester in October 2011, however, I have not received any Brooks product to evaluate or wear test at the time of this post. Hopefully, they will send some cool shoes that need to be wear tested by an old runner returning after injury.

Screen shot-click on image for site

I bought pair of Villanova in 1977 and ran in them until 1979. They were relatively simple, very light and I didn’t stop running in them until my foot came out through the side of one them. I am not sure how many miles they had on them when I finally replaced them, but have a feeling it was probably a lot, lot more than they now recommend for running shoes.

The only other pair of Brooks shoes that I have run in were the Brooks Ravenna – I was starting to make my comeback to running in October 2009 and went down to Portland and of all the shoes that I tried on that day, the Revenna was the one that met my needs. I ran in them until I hurt my knee in February 2010 (15-20 miles a week), they were good and comfortable shoes.

I still don’t know what happened to those shoes, maybe they will show up in one of the boxes I put in storage in the overhead? Unless they went away, when we gave a bunch of stuff to Goodwill before my operation in May – when we were pretty sure I would never be running again with the original diagnosis that I had been given. Thankfully it didn’t work out that way!

Earth Shoes

Earth Shoes have a negative heel to toe rise. I had been wearing the Earth Lazer for a work shoe with great success (5 pairs), so I picked up a pair of Earth Rocket running shoes thinking they would be the “answer”. They require a lot of running in them to get used to the lack of a heel, with calf strain/pain until you build up the muscle. They force forefoot running and your calves will let you know you are abusing them – severely.

I still have them and run in them from time to time and they quickly remind me why I do not enjoy the Rockets. However, if I would go ahead and commit to running in them for 3-4 weeks like I did for a month one time, I have a feeling they would help me change my running style back to forefoot running pretty quickly. However, they are heavy and feel clunky when running in them and they just take the enjoyment out of running for me. They sit under my dresser for the day, when I decide that I want to go “all in” on this shoe.

New Balance

Disclaimer – I was selected as a New Balance wear tester back in 2003 or 2004 (I think) and wear tested one pair of shoes (which I returned to them) and never heard back from them again.

I have run in a lot of New Balance running shoes through the years and until a few years ago had been mostly happy with them. They historically have a lot of room in the toe box, are comfortable and don’t bother my knees.

Click for shoe website

The pair that I probably liked best from NB was the 670 that I had during 1984, they felt like I was running in my bedroom slippers. They were a little heavy, but I was running mainly on the powerlines at the time and they protected my feet really well and I wore them until they wore out on me.

I almost always tried on a pair of NB shoes, when I go shoe shopping (after all many of them are made in Maine), but other shoes I try, feel better than the NB do.

However, if my present shoes don’t work the NB Trail Minimus have really piqued my curiosity and might be enough to get me back into New Balance shoes.

Nike

I have probably run in more Nike running shoes than any other shoe company. They have a nice selection of shoes targeted for the middle of the pack runner, that are more moderately priced, in addition to their higher end models.

My Nike shoes were the Waffle Traingers, Yankees, Equators, Pegasus (4 times), Odyssey, Nike Sock Racer (yes the Yellow BumbleBee shoe), Air Flo (which I still have and ran in for a while this fall), and Air Presto (3 times), which I also ran in this fall.

Nike Air Presto

I really liked fit and feel of the Air Presto, they were light, encouraged forefoot striking and I still have these red ones (they are my last pair).

My most recent Nikes were the Nike Dual Fusion. I chose them after my surgery as a pair of shoes that were well-cushioned with a bit of stability. Although I didn’t run in them all that much I did walk many miles in them and they helped me through my healing process, but were not what I was looking for in my running shoe now that I am running more.

Saucony

After Nike, I believe that I have run in Saucony shoes more than any other brand. I started with the Jazz, which caused problems with my ankles and even though I loved them, I couldn’t run in them.

I ran in the Dixons the summer before the ’83 Marine Corps Marathon, but after 250 miles they began to bother my knees and I had to get a different pair of shoes a month before the marathon. No I couldn’t find another pair of Dixons at the time, even though I tried.

Saucony Peregrines 2011

In the early 2000’s I ran almost exclusively in Saucony Hurricanes and was very happy with them. However, the prices began to creep up and eventually were costing $120 plus for a pair of shoes, which was too much for me at that time,

Plus they closed down the Saucony outlet store up in Bangor, which I would go up and see what great shoes I could get on the cheap.

I have had a couple of mid level Saucony’s while I was injured and tried to run a few times anyway (more than a couple but don’t tell my wife or the doctor that) – but they were more for walking than running.

When I decided to start running more again and needed new shoes, after doing a lot of researching and trying on a few pair of shoes, I decided on Saucony Peregrines, see my post on them.

The reality is that

I have run in literally hundreds of running shoes and have learned a lot about straight lasts, curved lasts, semi-curved lasts, uppers, insoles, midsoles, outsoles, blown rubber, hard rubber, velcro, laces/no laces, BOA lacing, pronation, supination, flat feet, high arches, motion control, dual density, EVA, Dillinger Web, racing flat, light weight trainers, track shoes and all so many other “techno buzz words” that have been used to describe running shoes over the last 40 years.

The movement towards more natural and minimal running that many companies are beginning to go towards (or is it back to) is a good thing in my opinion as long as the pendulum doesn’t swing too far. For a while the shoes that the running companies were producing, felt as though I was running in heavy high heels.

It seemed that I was always getting injured in spite of the claims of the companies of how much better the shoes were at preventing injuries, running shoe reviews or the sales staff at the shoe companies, where I have bought shoes, claimed that I needed to run in and how much better they were from…the past. While some of the materials might be better, were the designs any better – sometimes I wonder?

Want to Try Them

About the only style of shoe that I have not tried is a pair of the Vibram Five Finger shoes. I don’t quite dare to fork over a $100 for a pair, that much money for something so radical in design scares me away. Besides TheWife would kill me.

It would be nice to someday win a pair in a give-away to see how they work or find a really, really cheap pair some place. If anyone has an old pair of size 7.5 to 8 that are sitting in their closet because you didn’t like them let’s talk.

Yes I am that cheap, washing machines work wonders with these shoes I am told.

My Favorites

Out of all the shoes that I have run in, which shoes approached that mythical perfect running shoe for me?

  1. Adidas Marathon Trainer with the Dellinger Web
  2. Brooks Villanova
  3. Saucony Hurricane 5
  4. Asics Gel Kayano 11
  5. Nike Air Presto
As I said in the short reviews, the Adidas Marathon Trainer with the Dillinger Web has been the closest to that mythical perfect shoe for me, but unfortunately, they no longer make them and that doesn’t do me any good now. I have tried several times to find them, but can’t.
The Hurricanes and Kayano are still made, but are not the same and are motion control/stability shoes, not the lightweight kicks I am looking for. Brooks Villanova and Nike Air Presto are no longer made.  So I am still searching for my perfect shoe.
The Saucony Peregrines are close to fitting into the favorites category, but they need about another 200 miles of great running to ensure their place in this group of shoes and then I would have to buy them a couple of more times and want to keep running in them for a while for them to be my perfect shoe. At least I can run in them, which is a good start.

Finding Pot of Gold

The problem with running shoes to me, is that it is like trying to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and it is a different rainbow for every runner. What works great for someone else, doesn’t work at all for you. Therefore, we keep searching and chasing, always looking for that magic shoe that is going to let us run injury free for big mileage training.

My questions for you are?

  • Are you loyal to a certain brand of running shoes? Why?
  • What do you look for when you buy a pair of running shoes?
  • Which running shoe is your favorite running shoe of all-time?

Now wear (I know where) is that damn new shoe review for the 2012 running shoes!!!!!  😉 See you outside running.

Eerie House Photos from this Morning

This morning I was out walking Bennie and each time present us with very different looks

 

The house had an eerie look to it with the snow fog surrounding it as the sun rose behind it. Those pictures are just the way it looked this morning without any editing or filters. The next photos were from Bennie’s long walk down back.

The road is not plowed, so where the cars/trucks have driven is all white ice and very hard to walk on. That almost 3.0 mile walk, was really tough and tuckered me out pretty good.  I will go running later this afternoon, after my legs rest a bit.

I just thought that I would share these photos and the difference 3 hours can make in a day.

Thanksgiving Feast Excess – Not Too Bad

Yesterday, was Thanksgiving, one of those days where you can eat and over-indulge without feeling overly guilty about it. I don’t know about you, but yes I did my share of feasting. Here is how my day went:

Breakfast

1/3 cup quick oatmeal, 1/3 cup blueberries, cinnamon and honey and a banana
16 oz of black coffee

A.M. Snacking

Small brownie

Feast Time – urrr Lunch

Turkey – 2 cuts of breast meat and seconds the same
Potato – probably about 3 servings
Carrots – from our garden
Turnip – from our garden
Squash – from local farm
Homemade yeast rolls dry – 3 of them
Cranberry sauce – homemade
Crushed red peper on most everything instead of butter/margarine
Homemade pumpkin pie (pumpkin grown in our garden)
Sparking non-alcoholic grape drink (I have it once a year)

It was a very good meal!!!!

P.M. Snacking

Small Whoopie Pie
2 small pieces of brownie
Green Tea
Large Grapefruit

Supper

Toasted dark meat turkey sandwich with sharp cheese melted on
Wise potato chips probably 3 serving sizes
Green Tea
One more slab of pumpkin pie

Evening Snacking

None

Exercise

Walked Bennie 1.0 mile first thing.

I did get a 2.0 run in during the morning, but once the clean-up was over, it became a football extravaganza and last night I spent most of it drafting a new blog post.  Overall, I was not as bad as I usually am on Thanksgiving Day. No food induced coma in my chair

Bennie evening walk .5 mile

The reality is that

usually, for me it is the 3 or 4 days after Thanksgiving that are the real killers for. The leftovers need to be eaten up, there are usually too many deserts left lying around that I can’t resist and my activity level goes way down.  This year it is a little/lot different, TheWife only made brownies and pumpkin pie and there is only one piece of pie left and the brownies are almost all gone. The whoopee pies are still in the freezer.

The food was plain and wholesome, no fancy recipes, most of the veggies were boiled and the mashed potatoes didn’t too much many “extras” in it. Instead getting a 15 pound bird, we got an 8 pounder, so leftovers are a lot less this year than in past years. The deserts were all homemade.

So hopefully, unlike many past years where Thanksgiving is the beginning of the seasonal splurge in eating, it looks as though it will be a lot more healthy and a LOT less junk food going down my pie hole. You know all those things that people bring in to eat over the Holiday season, trying to show how nice they are.

Yes I did eat too much yesterday, but it really, really wasn’t as bad as most other years.  My sweet tooth raised its head and said feed me and I did more than I should have, but even that was moderate compared to other years where I would gorge myself on anything with sugar in it.

I looked at the scale this morning and it was up only 2 pounds and that will go away pretty quickly as long as I keep paying attention.

How did you do during your Turkey Day feasting…look back at the whole day, not just the meal 😉

Do you have a food hang-over today?

RunLog 11/24/11 – Turkey Day Easy Run

Today was bright sunshine, but the high was only 30’s when I ran.

After yesterday’s Blizzard run, snow removal and waiting up late for a relative arrive, I was really tired this morning. I knew that I was going to run this morning, but really wasn’t into the idea today.

On top of that the footing was still pretty sketchy, so I just ran a real easy 2.0 without pushing very hard at all. Luckily the snow plow came through (yes they were out plowing on Thanksgiving – this is something new this year and much better than in years past) and scrapped up a lot of the snow/ice on the roads and put a little bit of dirt down, which helped out the footing issue for the last lap

The run itself was uneventful and I just plugged along, I had thought about running 3.0, but Mary & SD#1 were at the driveway after walking Bennie, as I was finishing my second mile and I just decided to call 2.0 good enough. My legs were tired and it is probably just as well that I had an easy day.

Quality of run: Easy recovery run

Time of Run: 10:30 A.M.
Weight 176
Temp: 37F
Weather: Bright Sunshine, wind less than 5 MPH out of the North

I am Thankful for Slowing Down

Bennie isn’t spoiled at all

Yeah, Yeah, blah, blah, blah, how many more times will I have to read another what I am thankful for post?

If you are reading this post – one more time.

I am very thankful for my wife, family, friends and that my father is alive after his heart attack last fall.

Those are the things that are most important to me in my life now. Those are the things that are the same as most peoples’ Thanksgiving Day versions of what they are thankful for and in those areas I am not any different.

The one area that I am thankful for that is different is an area that is very personal to me.

I am thankful that we had the courage to walk away from the “American Dream” and enter into early retirement.

The generally accepted idea that more, more and more is the way we all should live, is not the direction we are taking. The pretentiousness of always needing the newest, the greatest or the latest whatever is not for us.

We worked hard and have/are sacrificing much to enter the so-called label of retirement now and I will look anyone square in the eye and tell them to “kiss my ass” if they don’t like it. If they don’t think we have earned our right to choose or think that it is a negative thing we have done, by walking away from the rat race that is their problem, not ours.

Yes money is a lot tighter than it used to be, yet at the same time I believe that our standard of living has sky rocketed, we just don’t have as much “stuff” or are as consumer driven.

The immediate benefits have been that we are now:

  • spending more quality time together
  • more healthy
  • less stressed
  • eating better
  • have more time to do things we enjoy
  • exercise more
  • and those are only the tip of the benefits we are seeing

Those are all things that were negatively being affected by being part of the “rat race” and were negatively affecting our quality of life. All too often, we forget that the quality of our lives is more important than the quantity we attempt to put into them.

So beyond all the usual things that most everyone is thankful for, I am thankful that we are purposely slowing down our lives and living much more simply and thoughtfully about what we do.

The final thing that I am thankful for is that I do live in the United States of America – for all its warts, nastiness and divisiveness at times (which I get tired of all too often), I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Inspite of all that has been said and is being said negatively about my Country, it is the land that I love.

By the way did I tell you I am running mostly pain free and for that I am very thankful. 😉   I just couldn’t stay serious the entire post.

My Six Rules for Running in Winter Weather – Outside

I know so many others have written about this topic lately, why do we need yet another running in cold weather post in the blogosphere?

You never know when you say something in a slightly different way, that somebody remembers the next time they go outside for their winter run.

Here are my rules and ideas on how to wear clothing during the winter, to make yourself more comfortable and may a little safer.

My Six Rules of Winter Running

First rule – of winter running – NO COTTON! Save cotton clothes for lounging around the house after you get done running in front of the fireplace.  That means no cotton socks, briefs, t-shirts, etc., they rob you of your body heat once you start sweating and they get wet.  This means you will get colder faster.

Second rule – Slow down, if the weather is crappy, don’t try for a PR and land on your heinie or get yourself injured because you were going too fast for the conditions. Tendons and muscles are not nearly as elastic in cold weather and sooner or later you will slip, slide and go boom, which could result in an injury and time away from running.

Third rule – Be seen! Dress in bright colors that contrast with the environment you are running in. Wear reflective gear, if you are running in dawn, dusk or dark conditions and carry a flashlight/headlamp.

Fourth rule – Bring your cell phone if you have one.  Getting rescued is a lot easier this way.

Fifth rule – Use shorter courses and do more laps. Hell yes it is a lot more boring to do laps, but if the weather is nasty, suddenly gets worse or it is really cold, it is better to be safe and only have a short distance to get back home than it is to be a long ways away and take a chance on something bad happening.  Also you are more likely to have injuries in the winter – slipping, falling, getting splashed by cars, feet getting wet, etc., so think about shorter courses and more laps, until the weather improves.

Sixth rule – Cars/Trucks Win. Even if you have the right of way, being dead is not worth being right. As we know in bad weather, vehicles respond differently than they do on bright sunny days on dry pavement. Metal wins when it impacts flesh and bones. Your heirs will not appreciate the doctor bills or the funeral costs. Even if you do survive the impact, you won’t be running for a while. Remember this when you are running in the winter, even if you have the right of way, yield it for your own safety.

Clothing

Shoes – Something with a good tread, if you have a pair of trail shoes that are not too worn they will work great. I have had my best luck running in winter using aggressive tread trail shoes, you never know what kind of weather you will run into and for me they do the trick. I have used regular running shoes during winter runs and landed on my ass far too often, which hurts both your ass and your ego, when you look around to see if anyone saw you fall.

The second thing if the conditions are really slick and you still feel the need to be out running wear something like YakTrax (or whatever you find that you like). I like the YakTrax because they are light and only slightly interfere with your stride and can be put on or taken off quickly when you need to.  Warning if you are wearing these you need to slow down and be very careful when you hit bare tar or loose gravel. Also they tend to wear out after one season of use, but they are a good investment if you need to run no matter what.

Feet – Use a synthetic sock or wool blend. Personally once it gets colder, I use Merino Wool Socks, yes they are a little thicker than your regular running socks, but a good example was today while running in a Nor’Easter, my feet were not cold at all. Yes that means you can’t have tight shoes or the 5 finger ones that are becoming so popular, but in winter I have a feeling that I want my toes together for maximum warmth. I don’t know about you, but if my feet are cold, it is no fun running.

Below the Waist – After a while you just shouldn’t wear shorts, your legs will thank you and you will be injured less. Good old fashioned lined wind pants are not sexy, flap in the breeze and work well to keep you warm. Yes you can wear synthetic running skin tights or looser fitting winter running pants that have a layer of windstopper material (my personal preference), I have had several pair and found they work just fine. You just have to think about how cold it will be and how much of a fashion plate you need to be while running.

But if you are like me and chafe your inner thighs too easily, you either have to grease up between those babies, wear compression shorts or clean out the blood that will drip from excess chafing and not be able to run for a week or so. Personally I go with the compression shorts for three reasons 1) it prevents chafing, 2) it is an extra barrier to keep your junk away from the cold and wind, 3) a lot less messy – have you ever sat down on something after greasing up your legs to run – yechhh.

Are you a guy and have you ever just worn a pair of shorts or tights and got caught out on a cold, windy day? That external plumbing can get pretty cold. Unfortunately, it is not a pleasant experience, during the re-warming phase even with your favorite partner helping to warm things back up.

If you don’t have the chafing problem and just need underwear (not worried about a panty lines on your running tights), guys ensure that they have a wind panel in the front to protect the family jewels, you will be glad that you did. If you need an emergency windstopper panel a baggie does a great job and they come in different sizes all the way up to gallon bags to protect those who think they have that much junk and need more much protection from the cold.

Upper Body – Dress in layers using synthetic materials. Personally I use a skin-tight base layer without any sleeves – hey no one can see the unsightly bulges of fat underneath everything else, I want to ensure that this layer wicks away moisture to the next layer. Another synthetic or wool blend layer only this time a long sleeve version.

Then dependent upon how cold it is I add a synthetic fleece vest and a windproof shell. I have had good luck with my GoreTex shells and like how they breath fairly well while I am running so that I don’t get sweaty and become a puddle under the shell.

Head – There is a lot of personal choice here and many people run without much of anything to help cool themselves down. Most of the time I run with a head band to cover my ears, with my Brooks Hi-Vis ball cap.

Also wearing a ball cap/head band combo makes it easy to vent excess heat quickly if you begin to overheat – just stuff the ball cap in your pants (also works as additional wind stop for “junk” protection – the hat will wash). If it is really cold I will run with a face mask of some sort.

Hands – Usually have a pair of fleece gloves to run in and when it gets colder a mitten shell to go over the top of the gloves. I guess you could just wear the shell and add the gloves when it gets colder, but for me the other way works fine. If my fingers get cold while wearing the gloves, I take my fingers out of the finger holes and curl them up in the palm area.

Layering and having proper protection from the wind are the most important things to do while running in the winter, you can take off a layer or two if you are too warm and then when you cool off a little put it back on.

Biggest Problem

The biggest problem I have with running in the cold weather is that I wear glasses and they do fog up. I haven’t found any of the anti-fogging stuff that actually works for me and I no longer wear contacts. So a ball cap of some type is standard for just about all of my running, year round. The hat helps keep rain, snow off them and combats bright sunlight when I forget my sunglass clips. And no going without glasses is not a real good choice, I enjoy seeing what is going to hit me.

The reality is that

those are my rules and tips for running in the Winter – I try to follow them, but usually forget the cell phone and once in a while will wear a cotton t-shirt and really regret it when it gets soaked and I get friggin cold while running – I do that one at least a couple of times during the winter running season.

No – none of these rules apply if you are running on a treadmill in a 70 degree room.

Where did I dream up all this stuff?

  • I have read a lot of books, magazines and yes blogs that give a lot of helpful insight into winter running
  • I have been running for a long time (40+ years) and have made most of the mistakes that you can make while running during the winter. During this time I was extremely lucky on more than a couple of occasions that I wasn’t seriously injured  or worse.

Running outside in the Winter is not that bad once you are outside, getting out the door is usually the biggest hurdle, so as they say have fun and do it. However, there are days that it is better to just take a rest day and stay inside where it is warm, so use your common sense and be safe.

Do you have any additional rules or ideas for running during the winter that I missed or you believe should have been included?

RunLog 11/23/11 – Blizzard Running!

Today I officially rejoined the “crazy runners” club.

All morning long it has been snowing like hell and is considered a Nor’Easter aka Blizzard, it has been dubbed the 2011 Thanksgiving Blizzard. Here are a few pictures of what it was like out there while I was running.

When I first came out, the plow hadn’t been through yet
One of the better self-portraits during the run
After the snowplow went through, made running a lot easier, but a little slippery
Footprints in the snow
No it wasn’t really that bad out there, I have run in worse weather and a lot colder. While going out the wind was at my back and I could see pretty good, coming back in it was in my face and the 30 mile an hour gusts were a pain and reduced visibility pretty good.

Running in a snow storm like this you need to make sure you are visible, that is why I love my Brooks HiVis hat so much, it really makes it difficult for someone to say they couldn’t see me. The other thing when I run in snow is that I pick a relative easy course and do lots of laps, that way if something happens or the weather really gets bad, I am at no time less than a 1/2 mile from the house – Safety first.

The Saucony Peregrines did absolutely fantastic, I went for a walk after in my boots and slipped around more than I did while wearing the Peregrines running. I had on a pair of Merino Wool socks and my feet were plenty warm in at the 30 degree weather. I like using trail shoes as my running shoes in winter time, I have good grip and repel most of the snow, as long as it isn’t too deep.

Overall, this run was a great reminder of what winter running is like, you just have to dress correctly, slow down a little, make sure of your foot plant and pay attention for traffic, yes there were still crazy people out driving around, but no other runners.

The toughest part of the run was doing the first step and “the look” from TheWife, ah well she is a runner too, so she understands why I am doing it.

Yes I know that I am a little odd and this picture proves it, smiling like that – while out running in the middle of a Nor’Easter.

Gotta love it.