Category Archives: Uncategorized

The End of an Experiment

This is just a quick note to say: thanks for coming along for the ride! I wanted to give writing a blog a full trial (no pun intended from the future lawyer), and the verdict is in. While having a blog has been a fun experiment, I’d like to reduce my social media usage. Operating a blog just doesn’t go hand in hand with that goal. After about a year of having a blog, I’m signing off.

So, thanks for reading, thanks for being a part of this endeavor, and I wish you all the best!

 

Why I Love the Long Run

But first…..

I hope that made you laugh as much as I did.

Now on to the title subject…..

I’m not a masochist, I swear. I’ve gotta preface with that because I’m about to tell you the reason I love the long run: I love it because it’s always hard.

But let me back up. What is this “long run”?

The long run is exactly what it sounds like – a weekly run that is longer than any of your other runs. It should generally be about 20-30% of your weekly mileage.

At a certain point of “running,” the long run isn’t really an option or even a help. For the person running 3 miles twice a week (and way to go if you are!!), suddenly doing 6 is going to shock your system and overload you with 50% of your mpw (miles per week). I don’t really recommend adding a long run into your running routine until you’re running 3-4 times a week.

Also, the long run is relative. Someone might run 8 miles daily… a distance which might be someone else’s long run (half marathon training anyone?). If you’re training for a marathon, your long runs are going to range from 12-22 miles. If I’m not training for anything, I still like to throw in a long run of between 12-16 miles. It’s long enough to feel long, but not too long to make me feel like I have to carve out some serious time for it.

It’s also done slowly. Which is not to say that all long runs are done slowly. When I say “the long run,” I mean that long run where you’re running anywhere from 1-2 minutes slower than your race pace. Of course there are times where you want to train your body to be fast for long distances. For instance, while training for a marathon, you’ll want to run miles at your goal race pace, and I don’t mean just one or two. But the long run, or more specifically, the long slow run, is meant for other things than pushing speed.

Why do the long run?

For starters, it makes you feel pretty awesome. When your usual run is 4 miles and suddenly you did 6, you feel on top of the world! There’s nothing that can stop you. You start thinking, maybe next week, I try 7!

Furthermore, it’s really helpful for your running. You train your body to use alternative fuel sources (aka – fat, after having used up your glycogen stores), and your body learns to recruit fast-twitch muscles to help out those slow-twitch muscles. Your VO2max (aerobic capacity) will get better, and you’ll strengthen your heart. Also, since the long run is supposed to be done slow, it gives your body a chance to shake out tired muscles. Doesn’t that sound great?

But my favorite part about the long run is not all those benefits, but the fact that it’s always hard in one way or another.

Sometimes it’s hard to get out the door. Other days it’s hard to run the whole time or to find the time to run. Sometimes I’m grooving along until I’ve got 4 miles left, and then suddenly I have to work for it. Sometimes it’s a blister or the heat or the rain or the emotional processing or the broken iPod or the GI issues.

At some point, there is some challenge to be overcome, whether that’s some external circumstance or my mind telling me I can’t. And that is the part I love. When I come back from a long run, I come back a conqueror.

This Just In – The Dangers of Running

This just in – there’s some crucial news about the dangers of running for your health and overall well-being  in life. This has been scientifically backed by ground-breaking studies of all types and ages of runners.*

1. It will lead you to be a happier person.

And who wants that? This is a very real danger. If you’re up at 6am running, when you walk into your office at 8:30am with a sense of accomplishment and endorphins under your belt, beaming at your co-workers, you’re at high risk of eye rolls, death glares, and maybe the snide comment about your chipper attitude.

2. It can really wreck your cardiovascular expectations.

That walk in the park? Yep, no longer gonna cut it if you want to work up a sweat. 6 miles becomes “just” a “short” run.

3. It will get you outside often.

Running outside subjects you to all sorts of risks. Sunburn, heat rash, pollen, interesting tan lines, the whole schabang. Yeah, it’s rough.

4. It can cause you to spend exorbitant amounts of time in running clothes.

Gym chic all day every day.

5. It can cause you to cut short late night socialization so that you can rest, recover, and get up early for your run.

Talk about isolating. I mean, you’re missing a couple of hours out in order to see the sunrise and run with birds chirping like a disney movie. Definitely not worth the risk.

6. It will lead you to get all sorts of comments about, “You’re running again? Didn’t you do that yesterday??”

And there just isn’t a good answer to that.

*HAPPY APRIL FOOLS’ DAY!

 

The Cross Before the Crown

Yesterday was Good Friday, which in the Christian tradition is the day we commemorate Jesus’s death on the cross. Services, often called Tenebrae (meaning “shadows”), are held and there are readings of the cross-story and the moments leading up to it.

We read about Jesus’ betrayal by his disciples.

47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him. (Matthew 26)

We read about Jesus’ gentleness and submission to His Father’s will.

51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. (Matthew 26)

We read about Jesus being mocked by the Roman soldiers.

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27)

We read about Jesus being mocked by the Jews.

39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. (Matthew 27)

We read about Jesus’ suffering on the cross.

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. (Matthew 27)

We read about Jesus’ death.

50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. (Matthew 27)

On Easter Sunday, we will read about Jesus’ resurrection. We will celebrate Him as Lord and Savior, as Conqueror over the grave and over our sins. But for now, we mourn.

We mourn the death of an innocent man. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

We mourn the necessity of the cross as the just punishment for our sins. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

We mourn the loss of someone we love and who loved us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17).

When your friend calls you the night before a marathon……

This weekend was great. Why, you ask? Because I had a chance I wasn’t expecting to run another marathon!

In Atlanta, the Publix marathon is well-known. It’s a great course that wraps around the entire city, giving you a tour of everything ATL has to offer – MLK’s childhood home, the church he preached at, a beautiful skyline, all of the major colleges (Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Emory, and Agnes Scott), Centennial Park, the various neighborhoods, and – it wouldn’t be ATL without them – hills.

Now, I’d heard about this course. I have friends who have run it and warned me against the hills. I’ve had running store employees preach about its beauty. I’ve oscillated about whether to do it – and figured that, knowing myself, I’d probably end up doing in in the next 10 years.

But this year? Yesterday? I wasn’t expecting it.

Fact is, I needed (and still need) some time off of training after my last marathon (Dallas, December 13, 2015). Not off of running, just off of training. I like a good challenge and I do miss the rigor of training, but I am finding other ways of challenging myself in my running. So, while I’ve been running, I haven’t been training for a marathon. As any experienced runner knows – those two things are very different. It’s one thing to run a couple miles a couple of days a week. It’s another to have regimented long runs, speed work, etc.

But then my friend called the day before the Publix marathon, asking me to run with her. Did I want to?

First thought: YES

Second thought: Oh my gosh why did I even have that thought

Third thought: Wait, I should think about this…

Fourth thought: Why am I thinking about this??

Fifth thought: YESSSSSSSSS

After doing the requisite Google search: “Can you run a marathon without training?” I took the plunge and told my friend I’d be there.

Early morning Centennial Park, near the start
Early morning Centennial Park, near the start

Turns out, that was the best decision I could have made. The race was absolutely fantastic, and I ran it without any sort of expectations. To be honest, it felt just like I was out for a daily run – I was running in my city, some of the course was part of one of my running routes, and I wasn’t pushing pace. I wasn’t running to perform; I was running to enjoy.

IMG_3789

And thus the race was a great reminder to me. I run because I like it. I run because I think it’s fun. But sometimes I have the tendency to put all these sorts of expectations on myself. I catch myself thinking that just because I can run a certain pace, I should run that pace… all the time. That to do anything less is slacking somehow.

Which I realize is completely ridiculous. You’re supposed to have easy days, hard days, speed days, long days, rest days, etc. But sometimes I turn the very thing that’s supposed to be fun, supposed to be free, into a chore or a requirement or a measure of my worth. Which gets me back to the training break. I need some time to run 16/20/4/8/26.2/etc. miles because I feel like it, because the weather is great, because I’d like to see what I can do, because I want to discover a new part of the city, but NOT because I have to.

This race was a great reminder of being motivated not by fear, but by love. To explore, not expect.

And, as with most of running, it’s a good reminder to me for the rest of my life as well.

 

Would I recommend that someone else do the same? It depends.

If someone doesn’t run at all, I wouldn’t recommend that they do a marathon without training. You might cross the finish line, but the likelihood of injury and misery is high.  All the wisdom of Google confirms this – it’s physically possible, but also physically miserable. Plus, training is fun. One of my many favorite parts of marathon running is the training. Also, running knowing all the hard work you put in amplifies the experience of the marathon. Why deprive yourself of that?

But if you run upwards of 35mpw (miles per week) regularly, a marathon will take less of a toll on your body. Or, rather, it will take a toll, but your body is used to that. If you run it for fun, it’s completely within your powerhouse. Ultimately though, it’s like a lot of running. You’ve got to listen to your body, which is unique.

 

So, what are you gonna do for fun?

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Instead of the usual foil blankets, they had these odd jackets for us at the end. While I liked the novelty of the idea, it wasn’t very warm and left my legs cold.

Packing!

When you run long distances, hydration packs are a must. Not only do you need water, but they’re also handy ways to store your nutrition so that you don’t end up looking like this.

When I needed a new hydration pack, I thought I’d be smart and save money. I went with a brand I had never heard of, because hey, it got great reviews on Amazon. I tried Camden Gear’s 1.5L Backpack……. turns out there’s a reason you’ve heard of Camelbak and Osprey and Marmot and etc.

This pack was slated as a one-size fits all. While it did technically go around my shoulders, it was not snug enough. I still have the chaffing scars.

In lieu of that experience, I bought the Osprey Rev 1.5L pack. I was a bit worried, because I’ve been accustomed to having a chest clip and a waist clip – and the Osprey has only 2 clips at the chest. I thought for sure this would mean the dreaded chaffing again.

Turns out, the pack is pure bliss. One of the chest clips is attached to the bottom of the pack’s front, so it keeps the pack in place. I barely feel the pack when I’m out, which is exactly what you want in a pack. Furthermore, unlike my old pack, where the mouthpiece would bounce around on my shoulder, the Osprey has a magnet that connects the mouthpiece to the chest clip. All you have to do is reach down, sip, and replace – all without having to turn your head. The magnet is strong enough that it’s easy to set the mouthpiece in place – you can do so without thinking about it – but not so strong that you can’t pull the mouthpiece up for water easily.

Furthermore, there’s a nice little tech pocket.

I usually put my iPod in here, because I don’t like to run with all the distractions of my phone. The nice parts are 1) you can use a touchscreen through the plastic and 2) you can detach the tech pocket if you don’t want to carry anything in it.

The pack has ample space to fit enough fuel for even the longest of runs – bananas, gu, water, fruit snacks – despite its small size and light weight.

Of course, there are a lot of other options out there for carrying your hydration and nutrition with you. Some people like belts. Some like water bottles strapped to their hand. One of the nice parts about running is there’s no formula. You find what works for you. But if you’re in the market for a good pack, I wholeheartedly recommend the Osprey Rev 1.5L.

 

*Disclaimer: I wasn’t paid to write this review. All opinions are my own.