Weekly Fitness Recap

So this week was week 2 of my Chicago Marathon training plan. As I have blogged before I got into the marathon through charity so I skipped the lottery. However this week the lottery was officially announced so I was very happy to see so many people find out they will be running their first or next 26.2 miles this October!

Outside of my workouts from this week I also began tracking my nutrition. I am using the MyFitnessPal App to track everything I eat. I wrote this last week, but I would like to lose about 20-30 pounds before I run the marathon. I am confident I can run at my current weight, but I have always wanted to lose at least 15 pounds so I figured my first marathon was the best time to make this a reality.

That being said here was my week:

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Help Me Increase My Charity Lead!

Currently I am leading the Run For Autism Chicago Marathon fundraising efforts (as seen below) by over $500. The entrance for donations has just started so I do not expect this lead to stay around for much longer.

If you can, help me increase that lead by donating here. Of course by doing this you will be helping out the Organization for Autism Research as they continue their efforts in Scholarship Programs, Research Grants and so much more that they do for the Autism community.

Your donations are greatly appreciated.

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Why I Love The Out and Back Training Run

Over the past few days I have taken my training runs to the outdoors. The weather in Philly is starting to turn from snow which has resulted me in leaving the treadmill behind. I’ll admit it, I wimped out most this winter and stuck to indoor running for the most part. And by most I mean just about all of my running. This week would be the first full week I have taken my running outside. I ran 6 miles two nights ago and another 4 miles tonight.

And they have been tough runs.

I knew this would happen. When you are on the treadmill you don’t battle the same elements as you do with outdoor runs. On the treadmill there is no cold weather, rolling inclines, snow to avoid, etc. etc. So as a result outdoor running is always a bit tougher.

Long story short, as I mentioned the past 10 miles this week have been tough. A little more walking than I would like to admit. But at the end of the day I have logged the miles so I am happy.

And that is what brings me to the point of my post. The out and back type of run is probably the best. For my 6 mile run I ran out 3 miles and ran 3 back to the same point. The first 3 miles were tough but I got through them. And then what was I going to do? I was 3 miles away from home. Where I live it is not that easy to just call a cab to get you back. And I very well couldn’t respect myself if I called a friend to drive me less than 5 minutes home. So I had to run the 3 miles back. And there I was, with 6 miles in.

If I were to run 6 miles on a track or an area where I had to run laps it could be very easy to just give up and not finish the 6 miles. I am constantly by the starting point, so it is just as easy to say “I will stop here”. The out and back forces you to get your miles in as long as you make it to your half way point. And lets face it, whatever your total mile is I am sure you can get to the half way point with no issue.

Now that I have the first 10 outdoor training miles in the book I look forward to logging much more, especially as the weather warms up. I am 7 months away from having to finish 26.2 Miles, so plenty of more out and backs for me.

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My first outdoor training path of the year.

Update: The day after I wrote this original post I continued reading “You Can Go The Distance” by Bruce Van Horn (find it here). And in the book I read about how much he supports out and back running (pictured below). Glad to see others who share the same opinion.

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Portion of Bruce Van Horn’s “You Can Go The Distance”

Race Recap: Frostbite 5 Miler

This weekend was the Frostbite 5 Miler, hosted by The Ambler Area Running Club. LogoFor me it was my first official run of the year. The next few runs I am training for are a 10 Miler in May and Half Marathon in June. So I thought it would be good to get myself out there with a 5 Miler early on the year. In fact I have written this previously, but I do not see myself running many 5K’s in 2015. Instead I would like to keep 5 Miles the shortest distance I run in official races for the year.

As I mentioned I am in the beginning of a training plan for two 10+ mile races so my training for this run was just a part of that. So this race came at the end of the 4th week of my training plan. Based on my plan (in a perfect world) that would have given me 4 weeks to train for this race. And by train I mean start running again in 2015. Based on my Nike+ app (add me!) I only ran a total of 10 miles in January. So as I mentioned in a perfect world that would be 4 straight weeks of running to prep for this run. Unfortunately this world is not perfect. Realistically it was 3 weeks because I spent a week on a cruise in the Caribbean.

Plan

The first 4 week of a 10 week training plan

None the less I got a good amount of training in before hand and ultimately had a good race. I completed the race at the time I expected and overall the cold wasn’t as bad as expected. It is also important to note this was the first run I did outside since I think November. I have been training solely on the treadmill (more on that experience in a future post).

Waking up in the morning was a true shock. I have lived in the Philly area long enough to know what the cold feels like. And last year I ran in snow regularly. However having not done it in months I didn’t think I would make it. In fact, if my girlfriend wasn’t with me I cannot 100% guarantee I would have ever gotten out of bed. The cold sucks, there’s no way around it. Regardless I trudged out there and dealt with the weather. I even made the ridiculous decision of taking off and handing my jacket to my girlfriend as I got in the starting line (I was certain I was going to run in it up until the last minute).

The race director said go and off we went. This was also my first run using my Nike+ Sports Watch so for about the first 20 steps I fumbled with that (and my music) and was finally getting going.

The course was great. More hilly than I thought it would have been, but the hills were good. They were spaced out enough that when I thought I was cruising along, they snuck up to give me a challenge. Within the first mile or two my body started warming up so the cold din’t become too much of an issue. Minus of course the fact that breathing in the cold air made my lungs feel like they were on ice.

But back to the course. It ran through a mix of rural neighborhoods and some main streets. The Running Club did a very Mapgood job at blocking the road of two way traffic to let the runners through and had more than enough volunteers to help direct both runners and cars. Also since the runners ran through neighborhoods there were a good amount of spectators out during the course cheering the runners on. I remember specifically one woman at mile 2 or 3 out with her son and a radio playing music. Reminded me for a quick second of the Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon.

The only complaint I had was nothing to do with the course or the Running Club itself. I believe at one point I heard a volunteer yell out to a runner “run don’t walk!”. While I will assume you were doing this to cheer them on, now is not the time to try your hand at being a running coach. Some people incorporate a run/ walk method into their runs. Just because you see someone walking a part of course doesn’t mean you should be discouraging them from it. Clapping your hands and shouting “you can do it” is good enough.

After the run the Running Club had a mini expo set up at the local high school gym it was held at. I didn’t spend much time in this (I wanted to get in my warm car and home immediately!). However my girlfriend waited in there before getting to the finish line in time to see me finish. She said they had a few local running shops that were set up selling items and offering discounts to their stores. Also they had a DJ set up and a table to exchange your race shirt. So while I didn’t spend much time in here, I think that was really cool for the running club to set something like that up. At most local suburb races (under 10K) it is usually just a table with drinks and bananas set up and you are gone.

The food line looked impressive as well. I saw people with chili, hot dogs, bananas, chips, etc. They seemed to really go above and beyond the post race festivities. Again, the line for food was long and I wanted to get home and warmed up so I didn’t stick around.

BibThe pre race swag/ set up was great as well. The Friday night before they set up a bib location pick up at the local movie theater. You could pick up your race shirt and bib from 5-8 pm. My girlfriend is usually not a bib pick up fan. She never understands going out of the way to get something you can just get the day of the race. So I bribed her to go with me by taking her to dinner at a local BYOB in the area. Win – win. The bib pick up was very easy. You walked in and they had multiple tables split between bib numbers. And if you (like me) didn’t know your bib number they had a board to find it. So I walked in and in less than 2 minutes walked out with my bib and race shirt. I liked the bib. They put the running logo, the logo of their main sponsor and a QR code to pull up results. As someone who has kept all my bibs for every run I have run I enjoyed it. The race shirt was very nice as well. It was tech material and long sleeve. So a perfect shirt to help with winter running.

Overall I was very pleased with this race. The Ambler Area Running Club held it with no issues whatsoever. And if there were, they were not very noticeable. They offered a great course, awesome post run experience and picking up your pre-race materials were super easy. I would recommend this race to anyone who wants to challenge themself with something beyond a 5K, especially in the winter weather. It is one thing to run a race when it is 72 degrees out. Another when you are sucking in frozen air and your muscles are tight because of the weather.

Finish

The finish line

Beard

So cold out my beard formed sweat-cicles.

2015: The Year of My Running Mental Shift

As I look at my running schedule for this year I realize a shift in how I view running. When I put my feet to the pavement for the first time in 2013 I was so nervous to run a 5K. So much so that I would even find a training plan for them. As I look back after running a triathlon, Spartan Race, Duathlon, Multiple Half Marathons, 10 Milers, etc. I realize how funny that sounds. However as I think about that, I also am reminded of a quote (pictured below). You don’t get better at something without having to walk before you crawl.

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So as I look out to 2015 I realize the shift in my mental approach to running. Last year I would sign up for at minimum one 5K per month. I would do that to make sure I was always training for something. I never wanted to get stagnate and stop running. And it was a lot of fun because I got to experience a lot more runs and expand my running community.

However, as I look at 2015 my first two registered runs of the year are 5 milers. In fact, as I look well into the year I do not have a 5K on my schedule. And that is where the mental shift occurs. The runs I want to complete are longer distances (10K’s, 15K’s and 5 and 10 Miler’s). As far as organized running goes I would like for 5K’s to be kept back in 2014. This is not because I think I am better than the 5K distance by any means, but for me I feel like I can go out and run 3.1 miles on the treadmill at the gym or around the neighborhood. I would rather run longer distances during my organized races.

This very well could be due to the fact that I plan on running a full marathon at the end of the year, who knows. But either way I can’t see myself running many official 5K’s this year.

That is what this blog has always been about: How running changes me not only physically but mentally as well. It was just 19 months ago that I had a 5K training schedule. And here I am treating that distance as a way to keep up with running versus being the ultimate goal.

For as many diffrerent runs that I have ran, I am still very much a novice at this. I am only in my 2nd full year of running. And this is a pretty decent mental shift for me moving forward. So 2015 will be known as the year I become a long(er) distance runner than in the past.

Why going from a 5K to Half Marathon isn’t as hard as you think

Ever run a 5K before? If so you can run a Half Marathon. Here’s why…..

Plan a 3 mile (5K) running course that starts at your house. Now you’ve run those 3 miles and need to get home, what are you gonna do? You’re 3 miles from home are you really going to call for a ride back? No, you’re going to either run or walk (or a combo of both) back home. There, you just ran 6 miles.

If you can run 6 miles, you can run a Half Marathon.

Go do it…….




Disclaimer: Make sure to give yourself enough time to train for 13.1 miles. This article is intended strictly for getting past the mental hurdle of going from a 5K to a Half Marathon and not being advertised as a training plan. If you need a plan, here you go.

2014: My First Full Running Year in Review

2014 was my first full calendar year as a runner. On November 23rd I participated in the Philadelphia Half Marathon which officially marks my last official run of the year. I have a scheduled 5K in December with the Philadelphia City Running Tour group, but as far as official races go, 2014 is in the books.

As the title states 2014 is my first full calendar year of running. Before I look back at the year, below are the races I ran:

  • Merrell Down & Dirty 5K Mud Run
  • US Road Running Virtual 5K
  • Hot Chocolate 15K
  • Philly 10K
  • Herb Kahl 5K
  • Spartan Race
  • Philly Rock N Roll 5K
  • Broad Street Run 10 Miler
  • Yuengling Oktoberfest 5K
  • Delaware Valley Duathlon
  • Run For Orphans 5K
  • Philly Rock Triathlon
  • St Rose 5K
  • Oddyssey Half Marathon
  • Autism Cares 10K
  • Philadelphia Half Marathon

So for those scoring at home, that would be .5 Miles of Swimming, 27.2 Miles of Biking and 93.1 Miles of Running throughout the year. Not taking into account all the training miles as well.

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A look at some of the major runs from the year

Outside of all those runs there were some other great highlights from the year as well:

Overall 2014 was an amazing year. I came into the year with a very rough blueprint of what I wanted to get accomplished. I knew I wanted to keep up my one official run per month, complete at least 2 more Half Marathon’s and the big goal for the year was a Triathlon. Outside of that I didn’t know what to expect. As the year went by I just started looking into races and throwing more on my schedule. I knew I wanted to prep myself for the tri so I found a Duathlon (5K Run, 12 Mile Bike, 5K Run). And I am so happy I did. That race was so much fun and really prepped me for how hard a Triathlon would be. I will never forget (in both the duathlon and triathlon) how impossible I thought it would be to run a 5K after having just done as much as I did. I also will never forget the feeling of joy when I crossed the finish line either.

Outside of the physical aspect of running, 2014 was also polar opposite for me as far as how running and my personal life were intertwined. I have discussed this before but in 2013 I was in a relationship with someone who made running more difficult than it had to be. For the majority of the time she was someone who would put me down for my running or tell me how I couldn’t accomplish my goals making it more difficult for me. I cannot completely be mad at her for it, because it built a fire in me to work harder just to prove her wrong. So I may not have worked as hard as I did when I first started out without that constant doubt she threw at me. In 2014 I started dating someone who couldn’t be more supportive if she tried. She is always encouraging me to work hard and do my best. She is constantly telling me how proud she is of all my accomplishments, even if I do not have the best race. And outside of her verbal encouragement she is showing up to these races with me no questions asked. It is one thing if I have to show up to a run at 5 am in the freezing cold. It is another for her to come with me and wait around for me. I don’t know what I can do to show her how thankful I am for having her in my life and being so selfless. In 2013 I was in a very dark place after being verbally (and unfortunately sometimes physically) beaten down by a woman I thought cared about me. I remember many times wondering if things would ever get better for me. In 2014 a greater power clearly understood my struggle and put someone in my life that has done nothing but make me feel like there is nothing I can’t accomplish. And I am very thankful for that.

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This woman has no clue how appreciative I am for her in my life. And how thankful I am for the sacrifices she makes for me.

2014 wasn’t just rainbows and smiles. There was that time I had to back out of a race as well. However this was not due to any physical limitations or injuries. So while I was upset about the first time backing out of a run, I also understood why and didn’t dwell on it so much. I pride myself on setting a goal and seeing it through to completion so it was a tough decision.

So there is my 2014 Running Year in Review. I took the next huge step in my running story by competing in a number of different style of races that tested me beyond my wildest dreams. This blog was started by someone who never ran in his life and decided to just pick it up at 28 years old. A year and a half later and here I am. No magic potion or formula. Just picking out a race, getting a training plan and making sure I complete a goal. When those start to add up you get someone who isn’t afraid of testing himself on what is to come.

And with that being said 2015 will be here shortly. My eyes are already set on 2015’s goal: a full marathon. This will not be taken lightly as I know there are extreme dangers that come with this goal. But it is something that I will set out to accomplish. As usual 2015 will be full of finding as many cool races as I think I can complete. But the majority of the year will be spent chasing those 26.2 miles. The goal will be for a race towards the end of the year, which specific race is yet to be determined. But I know by the end of next year this Average Joe will be a Full Marathon runner!

2014: The Year of the Bling!

2014: The Year of the Bling!

Half Marathon #3 Weekend Is Here!

In 2 days I will be completing my 3rd Half Marathon. The Philadelphia Half Marathon. And I could not be more excited. Being able to hang up my 3rd Half Marathon medal after only starting to run in July 2013 is an exciting thought.

However this will be my first winter half marathon. And what I learned is training for a half in the winter is hard. Not the running part. Luckily if it gets too cold both my work and my apartment complex have gyms on site so it isn’t difficult to get a run in. For me it’s hard to find the motivation to run. By the time I leave for work it’s bitter cold and pitch black out. To say seasonal depression has kicked in would be an understatement.

So training has dipped off a bit. I have really only run a handful of times in the past few weeks. And with any luck I will get a run in today to remind my body what running feels like. As a result doubt has crept into my mind. Will I be able to do as well as I know I can? Am I ready? Can I even do it?

Luckily I have faith in myself. By no means am I a half expert, but I have been to the dance before. I know what 13.1 miles feels like. I know that by mile 3 I will be doubting if I can even run any further. I know at mile 7 I will start to get so hungry I could eat a full Thanksgiving turkey. I know at mile 10 I will be convincing myself “only a 5K more!” And I know by mile 13 I will sprint my hardest .1 mile I know I can. So from that standpoint I have been through the motions before and know what I am capable of.

I also had a 10K run a few weekends ago and walked away from that experience feeling very positive. My time was good, I handled the cold weather well and the course was very hilly and I didn’t let that stop me.

So naturally I am just going through the nerves anyone experiences when they know they are on the doorsteps of something very important to them. And as long as I am confident in myself, don’t get too high, don’t get too low I know I will complete my goal.

#3 is on its way!

2105 Running Goals

As I have previously blogged about, ever since starting to run in 2013 I have aimed for specific goals. Outside of the races I run through the year, I like to aim for a large goal that will really test me out. In 2013 it was my first Half Marathon. In 2014 the goal was my first Triathlon and 2nd Half Marathon (snuck in #3 as well).

Now for 2015.

Immediately the plan for 2015 is to run a Full Marathon. I know this is a physically and mentally tough goal, but I also know I will have 10+ months to prepare. Along with this goal I have decided on a few more as well. Nothing crazy, but some things that I know will test me (as well as be fun). I don’t want to put too many official races on the list, because I would rather focus on training for one larger race rather than jumping around from different race types.

So that being said below are my Running Goals for 2015. I always figure, if you write them down, you are that much closer to sticking with them.

  1. Volunteer at a race: The ultimate goal here would be to begin a race or trail a race with my motorcycle. I always think that looks like so much fun, and I love being on my bike. But I would take handing out water after someone just ran 13.1 miles
  2. Run 100 Miles In a Month: I run using Nike+. I have run 50 miles and won the Gold Trophy. But recently I saw they have a platinum trophy for 100 miles in a month. I’m coming for you platinum!
  3. Run a Full Marathon: Ideally it will be New York or Chicago. If I am going to do this I want to make it exciting. Plus I don’t know how many more Marathon’s I will run after I complete the goal.

So there is my 2015. A lot of running, but just 3 simple goals. 2013 was eye opening and 2014 tested what my body was capable of, so I am excited to see what 2015 has in store for me!

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What Running Has Taught Me About Being A Sports Fan

So to start this blog off let me tell you; I am a Dallas Cowboys fan living in the city of Philadelphia. To those who understand the meaning behind that there is no need to explain. For those who don’t understand, that is the truest definition of living behind enemy lines. Cowboys fans in Philly are not well liked or received. I can tell countless stories of when someone took their fandom too far all because of the professional football team I cheer for.

How does this relate to running? I’m glad you asked.

Along with being a big sports fan I am also very active on social media. Primarily, twitter. When I was first introduced to twitter it was a very confusing concept to me. Why in the world would people care what I have to say in 140 characters? And vice versa. Eventually I came around to it and realized that twitter allows you to enter into conversations with like minded people with the use of hashtags. Versus Facebook where you are stuck with the conversations of people you specifically have friend requested.

Having said that I have used Twitter as a platform to enhance my running experience. As the title of this blog suggests, I am very much a novice runner. So through the use of Twitter I have been able to connect with people who are going through the same things or people who have the answers I am looking for. And overall it has helped my running progress immensely.

Specifically I participate weekly in Twitter conversations known as #BibChat and #RunChat. It is pretty simple. A moderator asks a series of questions over an hour and you use the appropriate hashtag with your answer. And you become connected to all these people who are talking about the same subject. And it is a lot of fun because the running community is very supportive and you speak to people who understand what you are going through because they are experiencing the same things.

Now we flip to the ugliness of Twitter. Specifically when it comes to sports.

Back to me being a Cowboys fan in Philadelphia. Last night was a pretty significant game for the Cowboys with most the world watching. During the game I was tweeting a local sports radio host with somewhere around 18,000 followers and they happened to retweet something I said. Nothing harmful just banter about my faith in the Cowboys. Well the haters came out of the woodwork in full force. All of a sudden all these people were tweeting me with real hate. People who have never met me. Not just coming at me for sports, but people looking at my twitter account and attacking me personally.

Now, of course I am no idiot, I realize this is the world of twitter. I get it, any idiot can open up an account and start hurling insults. This isn’t about how I feel like I was being picked on. I am way too easy going and have too thick of skin to let some keyboard tough guy have an impact on me. And I also know the things these people were saying to me were not nearly as bad as the death threats some awful people put out there. What amused me about all of this was the fact that looking at the profiles of the people making their comments you could tell most of them were family men. Their avatars were of their children or family. So here you have some family man putting his kid to bed and then getting online and attacking someone because they cheer for a different sports team. Really?

So it brings me to my main point: with so much positivity I get from the running community, why subject myself to such anger over a meaningless sporting event? I enjoy sports and love the back and forth, but when you see grown adults hurling personal insults at someone they don’t know, you have to ask, is life that bad for you? If so I am sorry. So that all being said I have decided to purge myself of the sports side of twitter and focus more on running. Social media is a two way street, if I don’t want to be involved in these conversations that is my choice. I enjoy the back and forth between my family and friends, but I won’t have some random person I don’t know hurl insults my way because I happen to cheer for a different team. So I scrubbed my twitter clean, unfollowed those sports radio hosts I listen to and decided to stay on the positive side with running.

That is ultimately what this post is about. Ever since introducing running into my life over a year ago I have just had a more positive outlook on life. If this were a year ago I probably would go back and forth with every last person on twitter about the Cowboys/ Eagles rivalry and not think twice. But since adding running into my life I realized how positive people can be and there is no room in my life for meaningless negativity.