Monday, June 23, 2008

Bleeding Nipples

This post is for guys only so ladies, you can skip this one.

Protect your nipples!

Just look at this guy. Seriously it happens. Don't believe me, do a search on or for bleeding nipples.

Once again, last week I forgot to use protection and paid the price. Not as bad as this guy pictured here but bad enough. I figured this is good content for new long distance runners.

If you don't have Bruce Lee type nipples, once you start racing longer 10k (although I've seen it at 10k's as well), you will want to cover your nipples.

On hot days when you're going to sweat and your shirt is moving back and forth, up and down... it acts as sandpaper across your nipples. I've seen plenty of guys out there with light colored shirts with two red dots. My wife has heard high pitched shrieks after hitting the shower looking for relief. I don't know if it's the chlorine in our water or what.

A few ways to deal with it.

-Buy Nip Guards which were created exactly for this issue.
-Use Body Glide which goes on like speedstick.
-Buy these band-aids (COMFORT-FLEX® Clear Bandages)

I tend to use band aids or glide depending on distance and how hot it is. Glide is essential for marathon distances to use where ever there's the slights possibility of chafing. Band-aids will eliminate the nipple issue so when it doubt, cover them up.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"The pain is our badge of honor"

Coach Joe English, who's creating a documentary on the 2008 Boston Marathon writes this on his blog...

"The pain is our badge of honor"

"The pain doesn’t last long though. And perhaps that’s why we continue to run marathons. Not because we are gluttons for punishment, but instead because we want to wear that badge of honor for a few days now and then to remind ourselves of what we can do when we set out minds to it and try."

Follow this link to read the full post...

Friday, April 25, 2008

"20 Miles is Half Way"

In an interview before running the 2008 Boston Marathon, Lance Armstrong mentions that it was either Alberto or Johnny who told him that '20 miles is half way'.  

This is probably some of the best advice/insight into running a marathon that I've ever heard.  It becomes serious at mile 20.  It's painful at mile 20.  You need to seriously focus at mile 20.  You need to get ready by mile 20. Your blisters will show themselves at mile 20.  You will start to cramp up at mile 20.  The wall will be in view at mile 20.  

Yes, there's only 6.2 miles to go at mile 20 but at mile 20 you are half way there.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Boston - Thank you to my friends

A couple of years ago, running (qualifying to run) the Boston Marathon seemed like a goal that was just too far out of reach. I didn't even consider it possible. With some encouragement by brother-in-law and friends I decided to give it a shot. Next year I was turning 40, I was coming off a good running year and my PR streak wasn't going to last must longer, so why not.

I can't tell you how much it helped having friends asking about my running, upcoming races, how my injuries were coming along... Not just that I didn't want to let people down but just having some good friends express interest in what many think is crazy (yes it is a bit crazy having to put in 20 mile runs on Sundays) really kept me going. It certainly helped my drive and focus. Last November after some seriously hard training I qualified for Boston with a 3:14– over a minute to spare. Just a year earlier, running 7:26 minute miles, for 26 miles seemed crazzzzy impossible to me.

A few days ago I ran the Boston Marathon. It was one of the most difficult but most exciting experiences of my life. I was coming off an injury, worried it would flare up and I'd blow up mid-race, missed 4 weeks of training, but I was determined to get there and finish.

I was originally shooting for a 3:20 (my original goal back in December) but within 10 miles I knew this wasn't going to happen. By mile 20 with hamstrings locking up, having to stop to pull out my orthotics from my shoes due to a huge blister on my foot and running head on into a 7 year old trying to cross the road, I changed to my goal to make it up and over Heartbreak Hill at mile 20-21 and not have to walk. So I put my head down, focused and headed towards the finish.

Luckily Stacey, the professional spectator (, as usual found the perfect location to spot me with spectators 10 deep for 26 miles. She found me among 25k runners around mile 16 and ran with me a 1/4 mile or so (bandit) and then again at mile 24 which was just what I needed at that point.

Along the way I saw John Kerry (who walked past me at the start who announced the start of the Wheel Chair Race), a few runners dressed as super heroes, bikers partying outside of biker bars in Hopkinton, lots of kids handing out orange slices, ice cubes, ice pops, cold sponges, water from their own water/Gatorade stops and jolly ranchers, women with 'kiss me for a beer' t-shirts, screaming college girls from Wellesley College (as loud as any concert I've been to, seriously), giant signs on the side of a bar with an arrow and saying 'Short Cut This Way ---->', an amputee runner who was FAST, several 55+ year old runners who've run 10+ Boston Marathons running just as fast or faster than me, and hundreds of volunteers who were real helpful and congratulating every runner they met.

I finished with thousands of spectators screaming as I crossed the finish line crossing in 3:31:31. A bit off my goal, ending my PR streak, in lots of pain but sooooo happy, emotional and completely drained.

This is something that I couldn't have accomplished without the support of my friends and family and I wanted to thank you all for the encouragement and checking in on how things went.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How to buy running shoes

A good friend of mine who I've mentioned in early posts gave birth to Gavin in December. During her pregnancy she expressed an interest in running to get back in shape in 2008. So I started thinking about what a new runner needs to know and what questions come up. I previously posted some advice based on my experiences (going from 0 to marathon+).

One topic that I thought I'd jot down some notes on is around running shoes.

Stores like Dicks and Sports Authority sell LOTS of shoes. That's where I bought my first pair. I looked for something stylish, in the right price point (given I wasn't sure if this running thing would take) a known brand and how they felt. Well, one out of four isn't bad. My first mistake was going to Sports Authority.

Yes, fit is very important. Style and price... not so much. OK, maybe price. Brand just doesn't matter. But what Big Box Stores (or shoe outlets, mall stores...) forget to point out is that there are lots of different types of running shoes depending on your feet, your running gait or how your feet hit the ground, and if you are flat footed, high arched... I soon learned (after reading a few articles in Running Times from the Shoe Guy) that there are categories of shoes: Neutral, Stability, Motion Control, Cushioning, and even Stability+, Motion Control +... What the hell.

Turns out my knees were hurting because I was in the wrong type of shoe. Cool looking Blue Nikes. That's all I knew about the shoes I was in. I soon learned about pronation. This is basically how your feet hits the ground and rolls inward. Your heel strikes a bit on the outside and then as your foot comes down you toe off. Some people overpronate where you're rolling too much and the opposite is supinate (or under pronate). These are good terms to remember when you go to the running shoe store.

After reading a bit I learned that you have two strategies to figure out what shoe you need. First is to go to a running store and tell them you are a new runner and have no idea what type of shoe you need. They'll look at your feet, ask you to walk around, even better get you on a treadmill and then bring out a dozen boxes of shoes in all brands until you find the perfect fit for the shoe type you need to be in. I'm a proponent for visiting and supporting your local running shop. Pay the extra 10% on top of the extra 20% you'll pay over some generic, cheap, well known brand named shoe that is made to sell in volume at Dicks.

The other option is DIY. Here's an article that explains feet type, shoe type and all the rest. It is worth reading even if you are going to head out to a running store so you understand what they are talking.

Do yourself a favor and give this a read. If running turns out to be your thing, you'll want to know this stuff and getting ino the right pair of shoes will make your feet and knees realllllly happy once you start piling on the miles.

Road Runner Sports has a great selection of shoes (not necessarily the least expensive) and they have a web assistant to help you figure out your foot type and what shoe you should be in. Answer some questions, have your significant other check out your feet and they'll tell you the type of shoe you need and of course make some recommendations. Nice site.

Hopefully you're one of the few that is biometricaly efficient, normal arched and normal pronating runner. There's a good chance you're not.

Lot's of good stuff here as well.

Forget brand. There'll be brands you haven't heard of (Brooks, Saucony, Mizuono...). I run in Brooks Adrenaline 7s now but it took me a few pairs of expensive Asics to learn that lesson. They fit just right and I've burned through a dozen of them. Luckily they tend to be less expensive. I started out in Asics Kayano's because they were thought to be the best running shoe made from the leader in Running shoes and that was after I learned all of what I mentioned earlier. But I bought on Brand. Dumb. Later I learned half way through my first marathon that they run small and your feet expand on long runs. Lost a toe nail and now here I am in my Brooks and never looked back.

So toss out those old, white leather, Reeboks from the early 80s and head to your local running store with a little knowledge and get the right shoes.

By the way, spend the extra money. You'll get 300-500 miles out of them and only wear them for running. They wear down differently when you walk in them.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Want to Start Running?

A friend of mine, to keep her anonymity we'll call her Jennifer is pregnant and has been thinking about taking up running after her pregnancy. I'm not sure what triggered this since she admits that she's not really into working out or sports but something struck her interest.

Her husband a good friend of mine, we'll call him Eric, was a track and field guy in college and is probably the only T&F guy that I know that hates to run which I find funny. He used to do the high jump and I think the long jump (man can he jump) and his coach made him run every day.

I'm all about encouraging running especially for those who have really never tried it before. I myself hated running and hadn't run a mile when a 5k I was forced into (see other post) a few years ago turned me into a full fledged runner.

I mentioned to Jennifer that I've read many articles on what they call the 'Couch to 5k' training plans and would find it for her. While doing this, I started jotting down all the advice that I would give a new runner. Things I learned along the way. I figured it would be good blog content so here it is. (please excuse the grammar and typos - I just don't have the time to clean it up right now).

Here's three good articles I found. I couldn't find the one I was looking for but these seem pretty good. The first one is good but I personally feel that to get running to stick you need to pick a race as a goal. You can find almost every race in NJ here...

It will have next years schedule added soon. Some have links to just the PDF application and some will have links to the races web site.

Beginner Runner,7120,s6-380-381-387-2201-0,00.html?cm_mmc=beginner-_-2007_10_24-_-beginner-_-Ready%20to%20Run

8 weeks to your first 5k,7120,s6-380-381-387-1703-0,00.html

Might be the same article or at least similar,7120,s6-380-381-386-11940-0,00.html

Lot's of good stuff here. The discussion boards are great to get answers from other new runners on any topic. They also have a great email newsletter that you can sign up for.,7118,,00.html

Tips I came up with for new runners:

When you are ready to start go to a running shoe store and not Dicks Sporting Goods... It will cost a bit more but if you tell them you are new to running and that you don't know what kind of shoes you need, they will watch you walk around, look at your feet, ask questions and choose the right type of shoe. Most beginners don't realize why their knees, ankles, hips... hurt and it's because they aren't in the right type of shoes. Most people overpronate a bit which means they more or less roll their feet over too much. Some supinate which is the exact opposite and some have neutral feet and some are flat footed while others have high heels. All of this makes a big difference in how your feet hit the ground and push off. Guys in running stores like Running Company in Morristown (there's others) can tell you what kind of shoes you need.

Too Much Too Soon- stick to a plan otherwise many people get too excited when they start and over do it. Only leads to injury. Rule of thumb is adding 10% mileage each week or so.

Stretching - new school of thought is that stretching doesn't help before you run and can hurt you. Warm up instead. Warm for 5 minutes and then run/walk for 5 minutes to get warmed up. Especially when it is cold out. Some still stretch afterwards but there's debate on that. There's a new type of stretching that is suppose to be better for you that really just mimics what your muscle do when running rather than forcing them in one direction too far (when you feel the pull). I'll see if I can find that article.

Drinking - you only need gatorade on runs over an hour. Otherwise water is fine. Same goes with recovery drinks. Gatorade and recovery drinks have lots of carbs and calories (and sodium) but that is only really useful on long runs or hard training sessions. You can run with water but you can also skip it if it's not hot and you are out less than an hour. Best to drink a good 16oz 1 hour before you go out but if you are out less than an hour, it really doesn't matter.

Eating - when you get your mileage up a bit and go out for an hour or longer run, when finished, replenish with a snack of carbs and a little protein. (bagel and peanut butter, half a turkey sandwich, recovery drink... Might sound a bit too complicated right now but it's 4 grams of carbs to 1 of protein. Then eat a bit more (lunch, dinner,...) within an hour to 1 1/2 hours after the run. You are still burning calories from the run (after burn) and its the best time to replenish your glycogen (carbs in muscles that store energy). Just don't go crazy if you are only out for an hour.

Calories Burned - you burn about 100 calories for every mile run. And around 110 if it was a pretty strenuous training session. Of course as you get fitter you have to run faster to burn that off at that rate. If you are out for 5 miles, that's almost a whole meal.

Comfortable Pace - this means you should be able to speak in sentances while you run. If you struggle with that, you are running faster which is fine but if a plan calls for easy running, they mean comfortable. At first all running will seem hard and hard to speak while running but in 2 weeks, it will be much much easier.

Traffic - run into traffic and not with it. Although I don't practice this all the time, it's a good idea at least until you are comfortable especially if you are running with music.

Watch - buy a cheap watch which can keep laps/splits and write down on your training plan how long you went for and how you felt.

Miles - once you start, at some point try to figure out how far you are running. Get a feel for it. Drive the route so you know where each mile market is about. Then hit the split you watch. It's interesting to see afterwards if you are consistent, if you get faster as you warm up... Knowing this will help you get faster and then run longer. If you don't do that, you can get in a slump where you don't improve because you won't know if you are getting better, worse, or just the same. The goal is to run longer.

Long vs Fast - main goal in the beginning is to start running longer not necessarily faster. Faster will start to come naturually. The real goal is to get to 3.1 miles and beyond. SOunds like a long time now but in time you will bust out 3 miles in less than half an hour. Seems fast but it is very very doable. Real aerobic conditioning, burning calories... really only occurs on runs longer than 40 minutes once you get beyond the first few weeks of beginner running. Yes you will be aerobically better and burn calories when you run 30 minutes or even 20 when you get started but that quickly changes and you will need to go out longer. Again, you should be able to someday (within 8-10 weeks) be able to go on your weekly long run for an hour and not kill yourself. Those long runs are about going out long and not fast and should be easy running.

Clothing - buy running clothing. Cotton Kills. That is the motto. Cotton doesn't breath, it holds moisture which is bad when it's cold and chafes. You want material like Dry-Fit... go to dicks and find running clothing or work out clothing that is not cotton.

Cold then Warm - When you go out the door you should feel cold but you will warm up within 10 minutes. Most beginners over dress and then sweat way too much. If its a problem just be ready to take a layer off.

Dogs - watch out for dogs not on leashes even on trails where owners let their dogs run free. They think their dogs are well trained but they will be excited and want to jump on you to say hi. Give them a wide berth and for those that pull their dog to the side to let you pass, say thanks to encourage.

Concrete - say off sidewalks. Concrete will hurt your knees. The perfect surface is a flat even dirt trail but macadam is much softer than concrete and makes a huge difference.

Bad Roads - some roads are bad for running where the side of the road has a slope to the right or left for water to drain (the camber of the road?). All roads have this to some extent but others are real bad. If you continue to run on the same side of the street on these types of roads one leg has to reach further down to hit the road which over 1000 steps will hurt your hips, knees... Try to avoid these types of roads or run on one side of the road on the way out and the other side on the way back to even it out. The same is true for running on a track in the same direction for many laps. You're always turning left. Not usually an issue if you are running 4 laps but if you are running 20, consider running the other direction for half of them but stick to the outside lane if there are others on the track.

Fartlec - it's just just a funny word but a great workout. It means Speed Play in Swedish. You will come across this easy workout at some point. Basically you are running different speeds and different distances with easy running in the middle. For example, run the length of each telephone pole fast and the next one easy to recover. You can do this after warming up 5-10min and leave 5-10 min for cooling down. This is a great way to get your body used to running fast and it extends out your threshold (time it takes before you go anerobic where you're legs start to burn and get tired where your body starts to use glycogen - it's more complicated than that but you get the point). The idea is to extend your anerobic threshold so you can run faster longer without hitting that limit.

Turnover and Stride Length - stay low - ideally when you run you don't want to bounce up and down but rather staying low to the ground and all energy towards moving forward. To do this concentrate on not over striding (kicking your heels with long strides). It might feel like your running better but the idea is to stay low with shorter faster steps. Aim for 180 steps a minute. YOu can check this by counting your right foot hitting the ground for 15 seconds and multiply that by 4. If you're close to 80-90 that's good. Running faster is first about faster turnover which in turn will give you a longer stride covering more distance because you are moving faster naturally vs making your stride longer. This is a good one to remember to check from time to time. So to run faster, quicken the pace not your stride.

R.I.C.E. - when something just doesn't feel right, RICE is where you start. It stands for Rest - take a day off if needed, or dial it back. Ice - ice it up every 10-20 minutes for 10-20 minutes but not directly on the skin (use a towel. Buy an ice pack and put it in a big sock). Compression - wrap it up when needed. Elevation - keep it elevated to prevent swelling.

Pain and Real Pain - sometimes its hard to tell what kind of pain you should run through or sideline yourself. If it's sharp and in a specific spot, take a day or two off and then pressure test it. If it still occurs 4 days later, see a Doctor or PT. If it's sore like muscle sore, you can usually run through it but take some extra time to warm up, stretch lightly and see how it goes. If you are two sore and tight to run take a day off. When you first start running, you are going to be sore. It's going to happen. Just take it slow, stretch lightly and you'll be fine. You'll find in a week or so that this goes away. Soreness after that can occur when you up your mileage or start doing speed workouts or hills. Usually this soreness comes on the 2nd day. It's called Delayed Onset Soreness. Again, just stretch lightly, take extra warm up time and you can usually run through it.


Encourage Others - say hi to runners you run by, encourage others to run. Let them know it's really not that hard. There is a running community out there and it's great to talk to others who also run. Sharing tips, stories, how their work out went... It helps keep you motivated.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

I'm like an iPhone commercial on my birthday

So I turned 39 today.  Yikes. 

As part of my bday celebration I take on some of my in-laws traditions.  My brother-and-father-in-law will do things in X based on the # of years.  So for example, it was suggested to me that I drink 39 little cups of water, have 39 Cherrios, do 39 sit-ups, 39 pushups, ride 39 miles and run 3.9 miles...

We'll I don't have that level of ACD but I go with the 39 mile ride and run 3.9 so I head out for the open road figuring I'd run later in the day.  

I head out with no route in mind.  I know the area generally well but more from running so I'm not exactly sure where I'm going to get my 39 miles.  I head out on my long run routes and see a sign for Summit NJ so I head out of town towards Summit which is a great town on the rail line with a great down town area. 

I eventually hit downtown Summit and figure it's a good place to stop for a quick lunch and espresso.  CAFFEINE!  I feel the need for caffeine overtake me and I start to panic.  Where's the StarBucks!

OK, so here's where the commercial starts.  

I reach behind me and pull out my newly acquired iPhone.  I click the Google Map feature, type in StarBucks, Summit NJ and ta-da, I have a map of Summit with a push pin showing me Star Bucks.  Hey look, it's right around the corner.  I clip out and walk my bike around the corner to the Star Bucks, grab a coffee and a sandwich.

Now here I am at a Star Bucks, sitting outside on a beautiful day, across from the train station with commuters coming and going.  I'm decked out in spandex sitting next to my silver Cannondale CAAD-8, drinking coffee and sending emails, checking the weather and seeing what calls came in while on the ride (I took my birthday off but need to check in).  I finish up, check the Google Map for the best way back and head out.

End of commercial.

I logged 45 miles by the time I get back, over my required 39 and I'm in the park as I roll up to my car.  Why not run the 3.9 while I'm here.  I do a quick transition (not that quick according to Seth - 5 minutes  - but I had to lock up the bike) and hit the trail.  Running about 7s and suddenly realize how exhausted I am.  I turn at 2 miles or so and head back.  Mile 4 was crushing me. Only 4 miles and I'm dead.  When I return with the 45+4 I felt like I just finished a marathon.  OK maybe a half marathon.  I'm done.  Where's the couch.

I'm planning at some point doing a duathlon  and some day a tri and realize how difficult it is to ride hard and then run.  Hmmm.  I feel a training plan coming together.  Wondering if I can work that in with my marathon training plan.  I'll have to see if that's a good idea.

I decide not to run the Revolutionary Run 10k on July 4 (the next day)  Wasn't really into running it unless I was going to race and the way I feel I know it wouldn't be pretty.

BTW, the iPhone is freaking fantastic.  Is it the swiss army knife of smart phones? No.  But the user experience and general usability of the phone is beyond what I've seen and is exactly what I expect from Apple.  I'm excited to see what enhancements come over the next few months.  At this point it's just software updates.  GO AAPL - $127!  My iPhone is more than paid for if I sell but I think I'll hold.