I PAID FOR THIS?!

The ‘other side’ of the race!

The social calendar of the average runner is usually booked solid with upcoming races during the prime weather seasons between Spring and Fall. Runners love their races! They get to see the familiar faces of friends and acquaintances, they get their swag, ‘free t-shirts’, ‘free candy’, ‘free dinks’, ‘free bananas’. All included in the low, price of the registration fee. Fun, friends, and free stuff! What a bargain! But here’s the thing, all that ‘free stuff’ wasn’t ‘free’, you paid for it as an incentive to sign up for the race. A runner runs, it’s what we do, but when it comes to races we expect certain things. A commemorative t-shirt is top of the list for some runners. For long races such as marathons and half-marathons, a finisher’s medal is a MUST! Post-race snacks and beverages, as well as water stations are non-negotiable!  

 No runner wants to pass out after burning off several hundred to a couple thousand calories because the race was too cheap to provide post-race refreshments. So yes, we paid for it, and we expect it, but have you ever considered the logistic nightmare that is involved with even getting a race off the ground? The life-blood of any business is a loyal customer base. The life-blood of any organization is a combination of a dedicated ,skilled staff and helpful volunteers. A race event is both a business and an organization and has to balance a very tight financial equation to remain profitable. Losses of customers (runners), staff, and volunteers can kill a race.

CONSIDER THE COSTS

You paid your entry fee for the race, but what EXACTLY does that fee cover?

First, there are the visible tangibles like the T-shirts, race bibs, snacks, swag etc. You see these things and can physically hold them, but that is not the ONLY cost that your race entry fee has to cover.

Promotion and advertising-Any printed flyers advertising the race have a production cost. They have to be paid for. Online advertising companies also have associated fees. Web maintenance, site hosting, and domain name costs for the event, (or the group hosting the event if the websites are different) need to be paid for.

Graphic Design– The unique image to be printed for the event on the t-shirts and any promotional material or swag has to be paid for.

T-shirts or swag– These need to be ordered and paid for in advance of the event. There may be a small amount of extra ‘first come, first serve’ for the last minute day of race sign up, but extra costs extra so these tend to be in short supply as to keep costs down.

Licenses, permits, insurance and rental fees– There’s a lot of paperwork involved with organizing a race, and all of these things need to be paid for before the race can begin. You have to have a place to hold the race, and all the necessary legal paperwork to cover the event and any post race award ceremony.

Timing services– A timing company such as Pretzel City Sports has to be hired to time and record the race results. 

Marking the course- Prior to the race, someone has to physically run or walk the entire length of the  course marking any turns, and placing course indicators. This can be done with:

 spray chalk or flour arrows,

colored ribbon,

and even metal signs chained to trees.

If the course crosses onto an open road, someone also needs to be positioned to halt traffic so that the runners may safely cross .

 At the end of the race, again someone has to go remove said markings, The marking materials have to be purchased and the person marking the course should be paid.

Awards– Shiny trophies, medals, or prize money has to be purchased or set aside.

Drinks and snacks– Non-perishables such as candy, water, granola bars may be purchased weeks ahead, but the bananas, bagels, soft pretzels, or any perishable foods must be ordered and picked up shortly before the event, and must be paid for in advance. Plus someone has to do the shopping and pick-up the items, and this person might be either paid staff or a volunteer worker.    

Health and safety– On site paramedics , traffic control officers, first aid stations need to be paid for.

Portable Toilets– The bigger the event, the more porta-potties are needed. These have to be reserved in advance and delivered to the site of the race prior to the event, as well as removed shortly thereafter.

Charities– A portion of the profits of the race may be ear-marked for certain charities.

Volunteer staff– Just because they offer to help doesn’t mean there is no form of compensation for their valuable time or hard work. Some perks of being a volunteer often includes snacks or meals, leftover swag, and discounts or free admission to future events.  

Reputation– Reputation is PRICELESS! It takes years to build and seconds to destroy. Organizations have been banned from using public parks or trails because the attendees trashed the place. In 2020 a local marathon/half-marathon (which shall not be named) lost the privilege to have races on a popular trail near Valley Forge because park officials were unhappy with the state of the post-race clean up, or lack there-of. It doesn’t matter who was at fault. That race has not returned again this year, and may never be back.   

The bottom line is this: Races are expensive and complicated events to put on. For the runner, race day begins at sign in and ends after the awards and post-race snacks. For the people directly involved in the logistics of the race, the work has already been going on for weeks. It is both a nightmare of logistics and a labor of love.  Pre-race set-up took place hours before the race. Post-race clean-up may take hours after the race. The runners can go home as soon as they finish, but the staff will be there long after the last runner crosses the finish line.

Finding out if the event made money or lost money won’t be known for days after the race. So if you have a favorite local race, sign up for it early. Tell your friends about it and spread the word. Thank the race director, thank the staff and thank the volunteers. Don’t litter, and  leave the area in the same state you left it in, or better.  You paid for that race, but ensuring it’s future is also up to you!

You can find me at these upcoming local races:

April 2022

April 21st Third Thirsty Thursday 5K Race Series (#1 of 7) @7pm Reading PA  

May  2022

May 15th Chobot Challenge 15K Trail Run @9am Rustic Park Birdsboro PA

May 19th Third Thirsty Thursday 5K Race Series (#2 of 7) @7pm Reading PA  

Be sure to check back  on April 24th, 2022 for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

YOU DESERVE A MEDAL!

The ultimate ego boost!

The ancient Olympic games date back to 776 B.C. At the games the victors in each competition were adorned with olive wreaths.  The contemporary tradition of awarding gold. silver, and bronze medals for the top three finishers began over  a hundred years ago when such medals were first awarded in every event at the 1904 Olympic Games held in St. Louis Missouri.  

The modern marathon also began with the modern Olympics first held in Athens Greece in 1896. Its current distance of 26.2 miles (42.195 km) was standardized by the International Amateur Athletic Federation 1921.

The practice of giving out finisher’s medals to all participants completing a marathon race did not become common until the mid to late 1980s.

Today, there are currently over 1000 marathons races held across the United States each year. About 1% of the US population has run a marathon. Marathons are the ‘gold standard’ of running. Nearly every runner wants to run at least one marathon in their life. Non-runners sometimes even put running a marathon on their respective bucket lists.  If you asked the average person on the street how many miles are in a marathon, 90% or greater would not be able to tell you the correct distance, despite the prevalence of all those oval car stickers with the 26.2 on them.  However, the MOST popular distance race is not the marathon, but the half-marathon.  The number of half-marathons held annually in the USA is nearly triple those of the full marathon. Many seasoned runners sign up for multiple half-marathons each year. 13.1 miles is still a challenging race, but it does not beat-up your body as much as a full marathon. The bonus of this race is that you also get a finisher’s medal if you complete the distance.  Some runners collect the various finisher’s medals, either by running favorite races annually, choosing races by the medal offered, or an combination of both.

Shorter distance races such as 5K , 10K or 15K do not as a rule hand out finisher’s medals. The only medal you’ll get in these races is if you place in the top of your division. Ultra-marathons also exist but only .03% of the population has run these distances of 50K (31 miles) 100K (62 miles) or 100 Miles (161K). At ultras, finisher’s medals may, or may not be offered depending upon the race.

Running half-marathons, full marathons, or (for those brave souls who dare) ultra-marathons is no easy feat. It takes up to 20 weeks of training to achieve these distances safely. If you skip the training program, you can expect a world of pain and physical injury, or possibly even death. Two out of every three Americans are overweight, and exercise is a foreign concept for most of them. Your health is your wealth, and you only get one body. I don’t care how easy or difficult running a half-marathon or greater is for you, but if you complete that distance you deserve a medal. You earned it! You’ve accomplished something that roughly 97% of the people in the country couldn’t do to save their lives. You are amazing!

In the short run

As previously stated, to earn a medal in a short-distance races such as a 5K, 10K, or 15K, you need to place in a top position in either your gender, age division, or weight class as is the case of Clydesdales.  By breaking the race down into different brackets, you even the playing field so that all participants are able to compete at their best in an effort to shine by going for the proverbial gold. Winning a medal in your division is an incredible ego booster. It is a physical representation which proclaims that you bested another athlete. It is an amazing feeling to have that medal placed around your neck, or handed to you in front of a room of your peers.  When I began running, I ran with a small group of fellow runners all of whom were very supportive and encouraging of ‘the new guy’. And that’s a great thing, to feel accepted and be part of the group.  But it was kind of a mismatch as this pack of runners were much faster than myself, and overtime, they began to grow weary of waiting for ‘the slow-poke’ at the end of these fun runs on local trails.  These athletes ALWAYS walked away with a medal at the post-race award ceremony.  THEY expected a top place medal. THEY WERE FAST!  My hope was just to maybe one day earn 3rd place.

Since then, I’ve met many other running-friends most of whom are roughly the same pace as myself and we have much more fun. 

Expect the unexpected

At the 1st Third Thirsty Thursday race of 2020, I was sitting with that original group of faster runners and watching them go up one-by-one to get their medals. By this point I had lost all hope of ever getting one.  I was stunned when my name was called for the 1st time ever.  I had to ask race director Ron Horn three time “ME?” while point at myself as he said “YOU!” while pointing back at me before I claimed my medal.

The best medals are the ones we don’t expect. The worst medals are the ones we think we deserve, but don’t get. It can be soul-crushing to see someone else walk away with the last medal when you ran you’re fastest pace ever and thought you had the award without a doubt.

Ironically this happened to me just last year. Once again it was at a Third Thirsty Thursday race on May 21, 2021. The thing about the Clydesdale Division is that after a while, you know your competition. The course is a straight out-and-back 5K.  You go straight down the trail 1.55 miles, turn around at the marked point, and run straight back. So as you run out, you’re aware of who passed you, and you have an idea of who’s still behind you. As you see people in your division heading back to the start, you count. 1St, 2nd, 3rd, etc. This particular race is a series, but it also allows for race day sign-up, so the line-up of competitors can change from race to race. As I counted the 4th male Clydesdale heading back, I was confident the 5th place spot was mine. Hitting the turn-around point, I saw that fellow Clydesdale Joe was right behind me by mere yards.  This began a frantic pace to stay ahead as Joe and myself kept trading the lead. I re-claimed the lead at the last quarter-mile calling out as I passed “I’m fighting you to the finish ‘Apollo’ you ain’t taking the win, I’ve got ‘The Eye of the Tiger’!” As the finish line came in sight, Joe yelled back “Alright, LET’S DO THIS!” We sprinted the final 50 yards neck-and-neck like two crazed stallions. And just like that, Joe crossed the finish line  with me just one second behind him.  I was crushed!

Ironically, it was all for nothing.  I had missed a ‘faux pony’ who must have technically just barely been a Clydesdale. The coveted 5th place spot had already been claimed. Joe was 6th and I was 7th. But what a race it was!

The Epic Battle for the gold against Muhammad Ali

Until I began running, the only medal I ever earned in my life was that one time when I was competing against Muhammad Ali. First I didn’t even know I was battling him, it was a total surprise.  Second, it wasn’t THAT Muhammad  Ali. It was this short Muslim kid in 9th grade named Muhammad S. Ali. It was our final year as seniors at Van Wyck J.H.S 217 in Queens NY and we were both the top students in computer programming. We had to right a computer program that did two things based on the info entered. I don’t remember the specifics, but I only know that my program worked and his didn’t. I ‘think’ I used a bit of spaghetti logic with an IF-THEN-GOSUB line that delivered the proper answer.  At graduation we earned the top awards in computer science, I took the gold medal, he got the silver.     

The eye of the beholder

Like beauty, these medals  only have value given to them by the recipient. They are either treasured mementos, or worthless trinkets.  If it’s important to you, then it’s important. Most runners like myself display our medals on the wall.

Some pack them away in a keepsake box. One very competitive runner I know has an entire trophy room to display medals, trophies, race-bibs, and framed news articles,  If I owned a house, I might do likewise some day. On the other end of the spectrum, I know a runner who throws away his race-bibs, and gives away his awards to his grandson to play with. He ran the race, he knows how he did. It’s done, who needs a keepsake? Well that’s his viewpoint not mine. I earned my medal and you can have when you pry it from my cold dead hands!

You can find me at these upcoming local races

March 2022

Shiver by The River 10K Winter Race Series #4 of 4  March 13th @ 10:00am Muhlenberg PA

Be sure to check back  on March 13th, 2022 for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!

Everyone’s journey is different!

The joy of running! It is a feeling that cannot be conveyed to a non-runner. The non-runner views running as a form of punishment or self-torture. They cannot imagine running a marathon.  They also will never know the deep feeling of personal satisfaction a runner feels after completing a marathon.

A runner runs! It’s who we are, it’s what we do, and it defines us. We are on a journey  of self-improvement.  All runners are not created equal. Each of us is unique in our own special way, and we come to the sport of running from different places in our lives. Everyone’s journey is different, and how we got here is not that important, what is it that we made it!  Five years ago running a marathon was the furthest thing from my mind. It wasn’t until Nathan Maxwell (a Twitter friend who is an ultra runner) inspired me and encouraged me to start with a 5K and work my way up. Since I began my running odyssey three years ago, I have been smothered by accolades, encouragements, and numerous ‘thumbs-ups’ from the running community.  I have been called ‘amazing’, ‘awesome’, an ‘inspiration’ and a ‘rock star’. I have made many friends. Iron sharpens iron and I would not be where I am today were it not for my running friends. In my division, I have placed in the top five twice, and the top four once.  So what’s my division you may ask?  

I am a Clydesdale. In addition to being a breed of horse, Clydesdale is a term applied to larger runners. We are in a different category because of our larger size. Distance running is broken into different divisions by sex, age and weight. A 4O year-old runner would have a hard time beating a 17 year-old.  Same for a woman out-running a man, and a larger person beating a smaller, faster person. So by competing within your division, with similar athletes, you are encouraged to do your best without being discouraged by others outside your category.

The Clydesdale movement began in 1988 and was started by Joe Law who wanted to level the playing field to encourage larger runners. Their motto is “You don’t have to be thin to be fit.” There are male and female Clydesdale divisions as Clydesdale is a breed and not a gender of large horse. None-the-less, some women opt for the cutesy term Clydettes, or prefer to be called Athenas after the mythical  goddess of strength and wisdom.  I’m not a fan of the last term, but that’s just me.

WHAT’S THE SKINNY?

If you saw a man exercising alongside a woman, you might think something like ‘good for them’.

They’re both doing the same exercise. You wouldn’t think ‘she can’t do that, she’s just a girl and he’s so much stronger than her’. You’re a judgmental bastard if you do. Yes men are bigger and tend to be stronger than women,  but this is just a physical reality. It is not an indication of one being better than the other. In reality, the woman is working that much harder than the man to accomplish the same exercise.

Now compare the next two athletes doing a simple planking exercise:

Again, if you though ‘kudos for her’ on the first athlete, but laughed at the second athlete, you’re not a very nice person and you need to check yourself. The overweight woman is working that much harder to do the same exercise than the skinny girl is. There is NO SHAME in trying to improve your health.  This is the real importance of having a Clydesdale division in running.  Winning a medal in a race is an incredible ego booster. Being able to say that I got off the couch, I trained, I worked HARD and I WON THIS! It’s an amazing feeling. Every person deserves to feel good about themselves and have a great life. The Clydesdale division gives us our moment to shine! 

There is no such thing as a FAT PERSON.

Fat is a component of food. It is something that gets stored in our body for energy reserves when you overeat and do not exercise enough. As such, overweight people get slapped with the stigma of being  lazy,  gluttonous, or both.  Every person you know is struggling with some inner demons or internal conflicts that you know nothing about.  Fat-shaming is a real thing and overweight people are constantly humiliated by people  mocking or criticizing them about their size. When I tell non-runners that I have a race coming up this weekend, I sometimes get comments like ‘you run?’ My former boss was famous for this. When I ran my first marathon, he asked me “how many days did it take?”.      

Overweight people are laughed at and rejected in  so many situations in the real world that they tend to believe that they are worthless, or not good enough.  As a result, they lock themselves away from  the world. It takes an incredible act of courage to make that first step and take action to improve your health.

 You may be laughed at by callous people being jerks. Ignore them!   I was 322 pounds before I started running. When I signed up for my first 5K race EVER in 2019, my non-running friends informed me that it takes months of training to run those races.  I told them I had already been running treadmill for the past 8 weeks at that point. When I finished the race, Helene Horn told me I was amazing. Not one of my non-running friends showed up to watch my race.

FAUX PONY BALONEY

When is a Clydesdale NOT a Clydesdale? This is a controversial gray area. Some of my fellow Clydesdales and myself included are slightly upset when we see a runner who looks way too light to be a Clydesdale walk away with a medal. Is this stolen honor, or just sour grapes? The category is not a perfect division. Muscle is much denser than fat, but a pound of muscle is equal to a pound of fat.  Some race directors rely upon a BMI formula based on weight and height, while others go by weight alone. In the weight alone situation, the limits are usually men: 210lbs+ women: 160lbs+ .   Now here’s the thing what if a man is packing a lot of muscle on his frame, very little body fat at all, AND weighs in at 210lbs 1oz ONLY because he ate breakfast that day. Is he REALLY a Clydesdale? According to the rules of that race, yes.

A 250lb Clydesdale packing an excess of body fat, with a BMI of over 35 is going to get clobbered by such an athlete.

What if a very tall, skinny girl with very long legs and who weighs who 160lbs 1oz decides to sign up as a Clydesdale? Should she? Is it a fair race against a short plump woman with short legs who weighs 230lbs and is running her heart out to try to get a medal, only to see the tall girl walk away with the prize?

What about the 20-year-old Clydesdale who is competing against the 45-year-old in the same division?

The above situations have occurred at various races and at various times. Everyone wants a medal. Not everyone is going to get one, and there are some who never will. The Clydesdale division is a necessary race class, but it is NOT a perfect division. Until a greater number of overweight runners begin signing up for races there is no fixing this imbalance in the class. Unlike professional boxing which has 17 different weight classes, there is no way to subdivide the Clydesdale category when Clydesdales on average make up less than 10% of the runners in any given race. It sucks, it’s not fair, but no one ever said life was fair. Participation medals are worthless trinkets. If there is an imbalance in our beloved Clydesdale division, we need to use that to encourage us to push ourselves that much harder. And when we do earn that medal by our own merits, it will be the greatest feeling in the world!

You can find me at these upcoming local races:

February 2022

Ugly Mudder 9.5K Trail Race February 19 @ 10:00 am Reading PA 

March 2022

Shiver by The River 10K Winter Race Series #4 of 4  March 13th @ 10:00am Muhlenberg PA

Be sure to check back  on February 27th 2022 for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

THE CLEAN SLATE!

Starting over, AGAIN!

It’s 2022 and the first month of the year is just about over. Like many people, you probably started the year out with a New Year’s resolution or two.  That’s a wonderful way to begin the year by wiping the slate clean. The bad news is by the end of the first month, about one in three people have already broken those resolutions and given up.  To those of you who have still managed to hang in there and are on track to accomplishing those goal, kudos to you! You are awesome! For those you stumbled and fell this first month, you too are awesome! You tried, you didn’t succeed, BUT you still have eleven more months of the year. There is no rule that says you can’t start over, again. January is a long, cold month. I only managed to get two runs in this month. A personal 5K on New Year’s Day so that I could start the year running, and the Shiver By the River 10K on January 16th. My New Year’s Day run is  a ‘new tradition’ I first began on January 1st 2020 with my running friend Steve.

It was cold, but we did it together.  I do it solo now, but we all have to start somewhere and that was the beginning.

 I encourage all runners to start the year out with a New Year’s Day run. It’s a way of setting the year up. You can tie this in with any number of personal Virtual Races if there is no local in person race, and you can earn a medal to commemorate the occasion. But it’s vitally important to start the year with a run to set your mind for the year ahead. If you didn’t do this in 2022, plan to do it on January 1st, 2023. A runner runs!

Also be sure to sign up for the Run The Year Challenge from Run The Edge.  Registration includes a tracker app that you can pair to your Strava or Garmin so you can track your mileage for the entire year . Last year I only managed to run just over 300 miles, but hopefully I’ll do better this year. In order to run the entire 2022 miles, I needed to achieve a 5.54 mile every single day.  I fell short by missing most of the month. Now to achieve my goal, I need to up the mileage to 6.6 miles per day, every day for the rest of the year.  You need to challenge yourself and keep motivated, this is a great way to do that.

So IF you fell short of your resolution in January, all is not lost. Begin again on February 1st. February is a cold month, but it’s also the shortest month.  I have 3 in-person live races slated that I plan to run. Once again, these winter months are brutal, but the key is not to quit! Winners never quit, and you are a winner, not a quitter.  Grab those running shoes and go for a run! The ONLY goal I task you with is to run more miles in February than you did in January. That’s it. I can do it, and so can you!  

You can find me at these upcoming local races

FEBRUARY 2022

Arctic Blast 5K February 5 @ 10:00 am Reading PA

Shiver by The River 10K Winter Race Series #3 of 4  February 13th @ 10:00am Muhlenberg PA

Ugly Mudder 9.5K Trail Race February 19 @ 10:00 am Reading PA  

Be sure to check back  on February 13th 2022 for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS!

Rest and recovery take time!

“According to the brain-centered model of exercise performance, a runner achieves his race goal when his brain calculates that achieving the race goal is possible without catastrophic self-harm.” ― Matt Fitzgerald

Each year, more than half of all runners experience some type of injury. This is a higher percentage than in any other sport. The reason may be that unlike football, baseball and countless other sports, running has no set season. For both the elite runner and the weekend recreational competitive runner, this lack of a sport season leads to a cycle of endless running. We train and run constantly without allowing our bodies to have a break for rest and recovery. It is the constant push to attain faster speeds and run longer distances which pushes our bodies to the breaking point. Pain is our body’s way of telling us something is wrong even though our mind refuses to accept the reality of the situation as we attempt ‘just one more lap’.

The number one goal of most new runners is to run a marathon. A marathon is 26.2 miles (42.16km) and this distance is very hard on the body of the newbie. Scientific research has concluded that after running 26.2 miles you experience significant muscle, cellular, and immune system damage which can last  for 3-14 days post race. Notice that the range of recovery differs from as short as 3 days to as long as two weeks. An experienced marathoner can recover much faster than a runner who attempts their first marathon. The more fit you are, the faster your body recovers and heals itself.  This level of health and fitness takes time to achieve, there are no short cuts! This is why all training programs for runners gradually increase the distance on the short and long runs over time to allow the body to grow strong and adapt. Compare and contrast training schedules for novice runners vs elite runners if you have doubts.

Given enough time and training, your body can be conditioned to endure physical achievements that would have been impossible when you first started out. When I began running in 2019, it took me a month to fully recover from my first half-marathon.

By mid 2020, I was capable of running a half-marathon every weekend, usually setting a personal record (PR) with each race I ran. By Fall of 2020 I had placed 5th in my division twice on 5Ks!

This all changed in 2021. Suddenly I was ending races in last place, and hitting my worst times ever, slower than when I began. Yet I kept pushing myself because my mind was telling itself that I was capable of running 10 minute miles even as I struggled to run 18 minute miles. Eventually this constant over-training lead to a hamstring injury in July. Still I tried to force my body to heal itself faster. THERE ARE NO SHORT-CUTS! I re-injured my hamstring in August when I attempted to run the DOUBLE TROUBLE 15K Trail run at French Creek State Park in Elverson PA. I tripped on an ‘invisible rock’ at mile three, twisted my leg the wrong way to avoid slamming into the rocks, and then limped in pain to the water station where I pulled myself from the race. My first DNF (did not finish).   Last month, I forced myself to run The Bird-in-Hand half-marathon. I struggled the final four miles, but I did actually finish. Dead last, 1169 out of 1169.

It was worth it, but it also forced me to accept the reality that my mind was rejecting. My body needs to heal and this is going to take time.  The Bird-in-Hand half-marathon is my last long race of this year. For the remainder of 2021, this has lead me to the difficult decision to STOP ALL long distance running and focus on strength training, short distance runs, and speed-work. Sadly I will not be able to run in 3 upcoming half-marathons,  nor will I be able to run the Philly Marathon, The OLEY Classic, and the Dirty Bird 15K either. For the next 90 days I will not run any distance greater than a 10K. It’s the only choice I have at this point as I have tried EVERYTHING else to avoid this drastic decision . THERE ARE NO SHORT-CUTS! The sad fact in that the endless 60+ hour work weeks at my day job  have left me in a state of perpetual exhaustion, and I cannot properly train under these conditions.   My mind keeps telling me that “today would be a beautify day to go for a run”, but my body is screaming “are you out of your mind?!”

The Road to recovery.

The plan for the rest of 2021 is to take it easy and stick to the three goals of strength training, short distance runs, and speed-work.  Hopefully I will be able to get my 5K times close or better than my PR of 33min 22sec. Come January, I will re-initiate the Hal Hidgon training plan for novice runners with the goal of running the Gettysburg half-marathon Sun April 10, 2022 Gettysburg, PA 17325 US  and setting a PR. Forcing myself to not run is a hard thing to do, but when you’re confronted with the choice of sacrificing a few upcoming races verses never being able to run again, it’s definitely the smart thing to do.

You can find me at these upcoming races:

OCTOBER 2021              

Third Thirsty Thursday   5K Race Series – Race 7/7 October 21st @7:00 pm Reading PA (The last TTT of the year is a night race in the dark followed by Halloween Dress Up party!)

Be sure to check back on October 31st for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

STRIKE A POSE!

Is there a right and wrong way to run?

There is nothing more normal and natural than running. After months of crawling as babies, we learned to take our first steps as toddlers. Like any new skill, it took time to get the hang of it and there were a few falls along the way. Then the transition from walking to running seemed to occur overnight. Once we had found our center of balance and the muscles in our legs grew strong enough to support our little bodies, we were uncontainable! We were born to run!

According to Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion, a body at rest remains at rest, but a body in motion remains in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.

Unfortunately, it seems that for most people today, that outside force stopping our motion is modern society in general. Nature may abhor a vacuum, but the greater modern society abhors running.

Those of us in the running community are a tribe apart. We are the exceptions to the norm, and we stand (or rather, run) apart! We are better, stronger and faster! We are exceptional, amazing, and awesome!  We are rock stars and superheroes because we have made the choice to turn off the TV, get off the couch, and run! Runners have re-discovered what society has largely forgotten. That running is healthy and normal. But is there a wrong way to run that we need to avoid?

Each year, two out of every three runners experience an injury.  Running should NEVER be painful. Slight muscle soreness after intense activity is normal. Pain is not! Pain is a sign of an injury, and means that we did something wrong.  

Running is an athletic activity and EVERY runner is an athlete. As athletes, we need to focus on three key issues: diet, training, and equipment.

Diet is easy. Cut out the junk, eat organic, drink plenty of water. Make sure you’re getting all seven essential nutrients in your diet. Water, protein, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, minerals, fiber. Don’t take in more calories than you can burn off, and make sure your meals have the proper 40-30-30 split of protein, carbs, and fats. Adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle if you see fit as an additional healthy option.   

Equipment is also easy. Basically dress for the weather in proper moisture-wicking athletic attire of choice, and wear the correct running shoes. (Or run barefoot if you dare.)

Training is hard.

A month ago, I got hit by ‘The Hammie Whammy’ when I pulled a hamstring by overtraining. I was pushing myself very hard and trying many different training strategies, ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Needless to say it was a bad idea. Overtraining is the leading cause of injuries in runners. The next major cause of injuries is improper training. There are literally hundreds of training manuals on the market, each claiming to be the correct method.  ONLY ONE makes the bold claim that it can teach you to run faster, farther, and injury-free– for life! Pose Method Training.

According to Dr. Nicholas Romanov, creator of the Pose Method there is a natural running form which utilizes the body’s biomechanics  in conjunction with the force of gravity.

Running is flying!

In his best-selling  science fiction series The Hitchhikers  Guide to the Galaxy, the late  Douglas Adams wrote that in order to fly, you just needed to fall and miss the ground. This is pretty much the same claim made by Dr. Romanov in his book on pose method, The Running Revolution. In the very first paragraph of the introduction, Romanov states that running is flying, citing that Usain Bolt spent nearly twice as much time airborne as he did on the ground when he ran his world record 100-meter race in Berlin in 2009. 9.58 seconds total time, 6.38 in the air, and 3.20 on the ground.

To simplify the pose method, the runner repeats a controlled cycle of falling forward while simultaneously launching themselves upward and essentially ‘missing the ground’.

Romanov even refers to these motions as the falling phase and the push off phase. Because of the forward angle of the body, you are running on your forefoot, so you must be wearing minimalist or barefoot running shoes to allow for the foot’s natural ‘springiness’.  You should always maintain a short stride because long strides make forefoot running impossible. The rest is all a matter of muscle strength and physics. Always remember, you can build muscle strength, but you cannot change the laws of physics! Just ask Scotty.

Since you are using the force of gravity to propel you forward, the greater the angle of falling, the faster the run.  The reason Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world is because of the extreme angle he races at. At top speed, Bolt is running at an angle of 21.4 degrees. This is the upper limit of angular body position one can lean forward and still be able to recover from this controlled fall. A deviation of an additional 1.1 degrees would spell disaster, causing the speeding runner to stumble and slam into the ground at top speed.  The most critical thing to remember  is that as you fall forward, gravity is the downward force vector acting upon your body’s torque.  Too far forward and you cannot escape the gravitation pull of the ground. Your body’s torque  is determined by the force of gravity acting upon your center of mass (your hips) as it moves beyond your axis of rotation (your support foot in the run).  

How it all works.

To recap how all this controlled falling and launching cycle through, a typical stride using the pose method of running would begin with this paradigm: Pose, fall, pull. In the running pose, the heel lifts as the body begins falling. The falling ends when your swing foot passes your support leg, and your trail leg pulls up, entering the flight phase. The forefoot of your trail leg makes contact with the ground, becoming your current support leg and returning your body to the running pose position.

Switching from your current style of running requires mastering the pose method technique and developing a proper body awareness. To learn more about The Pose Method developed by Dr. Nicholas Romanov , read his book The Running Revolution. This 200 page manual is filled with exercises, workouts, training guides, and extensive descriptive photos of each. Is it all just hype? Read the book and discover for yourself if the post method can really provide injury-free running for life. According to Dr. Romanov and his disciples, pose is the only way to fly!

You can find me at these upcoming races:

AUGUST 2021

Double Trouble 15K Trail Run August 15th @9:00 am French Creek State Park Elverson PA

Third Thirsty Thursday   5K Race Series – Race 5/7 August 19th @7:00 pm Reading PA

Be sure to check back  on August 22nd for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

THE HAMMIE WHAMMY!

A world of pain!

According to a statistic stated by Dr. Nicholas Romanov (world renown running coach) 2 out of 3 people who run get injured. There are several reasons for this, ranging from poor technique to over training or simple freak accidents.  The likelihood of getting injured is a reality that all runners must face at some point. Many of these injuries CAN be avoided if you follow accepted training practices and techniques, as well as following good health and fitness advice. A strong, healthy body will resist injury or illness more readily than a sickly and unhealthy one. If you are not actively making yourself stronger, then you are actively making yourself weaker. It is imperative to maintain proper health and nutrition. The power that made the body has the power to heal the body, but that only works when you give it the proper building blocks it needs to maintain peak-level fitness. Your health is a form of personal wealth, treat it as such.

One of the most common injuries that runners face is the pulled or torn hamstring.

The hamstrings are three muscle-tendons on the back of each thigh that run from your hip to just below your knee.  Their names are the Semitendinosus,  Semimembranosus, and the Biceps femoris.

They function together to control the swing, extension, and retraction of hip and knee while running. A sudden jarring impact or weird twisting motion between landing and launching yourself while in motion can cause the hamstrings to strain beyond normal tolerances causing tears in the muscle fibers.  This is often caused by over-extending  one’s stride and landing heel first. Heavier runners, a.k.a  Clydesdales , have the added stress of a greater body weight increasing stress and strain on muscles and joints, making them more susceptible to injury.

Accidents happen!

Perhaps you got caught up in the moment during a heated race with a rival, or you simply weren’t paying attention because you were distracted and lost focus. WHAM! You suddenly felt a sharp pain in your leg, and or felt a popping sound. You overdid it. Accidents are never intentional, and so you injured your hamstring.  Now what?

When the point of breaking strain has been reached by the hamstrings, there are three degrees (or grades) of injury. Pray for the first two degrees.

1st degree– Mild strain causing sudden pain and tenderness at the back of your knee and thigh. Painful, but you can still limp and walk slowly. Go home and rest.

2nd degree– Partial tearing of the hamstrings, VERY painful and tender with some swelling and a loss of strength in your leg.  If you see bruising, you may want to see a doctor to have him check it.

3rd degree– Severe tearing or full detachment of the hamstring. Immediately go to the hospital! Your leg will be tender, swollen and very bruised, and you will have heard and felt the popping at the moment of injury. You will not be able to stand or walk, and hamstring re-attachment surgery will be required.  This is often a career ending injury.  Months of physical therapy will be required, and your leg will never regain its former strength. This is the worst possible hamstring injury.   

 The road to recovery

In the case of a 1st degree hamstring injury, recovery can occur within 3 weeks, a 2nd degree injury will take longer.  Self-care and rest is recommended, no hospitalization is required. IF you have a specific question as to the severity of your injury, you MAY choose to consult a doctor, but homecare is often the treatment for the 1st and 2nd degree injury. (If you had a 3rd degree injury, you probably left the race in an ambulance. )   

 As you recover,  it is important to take it easy. Avoid excessive physical activities that involve putting stress and strain on your leg. Favor your injured leg, especially when ascending or descending stairs. NO RUNNING!

Use the R.I.C.E therapy method. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)


 Light stretching exercises and foam roller therapy  will aid in the recovery process.

Avoid pain killers such as NSAIDs like ibuprofen. Painkillers mask the pain, pain is your friend. It tells you to STOP DOING THAT. If you can’t feel the pain you’ll keep hurting the injury without knowing it, making things worse. Use topical pain-relieving gels or ointments like ICY HOT, TIGER BALM, BIOFREEZE, or BLUE EMU. Pro-tip, always spring for the MAXIMUM or ULTRA strengths, and don’t waste your money on the dollar-store knock-offs.

The key take-away is rest up, slow down, take time to heal , and live to race another day!

You can find me at these upcoming races:

AUGUST 2021

Third Thirsty Thursday   5K Race Series – Race 5/7 August 19th @7:00 pm Reading PA

Be sure to check back  on August 8th for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

SLOW AND STEADY!

80/20 wins the race!

At the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, runner Emil Zátopek of Czechoslovakia won 3 gold medals. He took running’s highest honor at the games  in both the 5,000 (24 July 1952)and 10,000 (20 July 1952)  meter runs, and then decided AT THE LAST MINUTE to run the marathon (27 July 1952) FOR THE FIRST TIME!  Zátopek is the ONLY runner to win all three gold medals at the same Olympic games.  Runner’s World Magazine declared him to be the greatest runner of all time in 2013. He pioneered the use of High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) known to most runners today just as intervals or speed-work.

Zátopek was a beast! A force of nature. His grueling training regiment topped out at 175 miles (281.63 kilometers) per week! Protégés who attempted to mimic his training methods burned out after a few years, or seriously injured themselves.

Speed-work is the most widely embraced method to improve running performance, BUT it is NOT the ONLY way. It is possible to get fast by going SLOW!

An unlikely coincidence

When Emil Zátopek first hit upon the idea of H.I.I.T (pun intended) he was working in a shoe factory in Zlin, Czechoslovakia. A couple of years later on the other side of the world, Arthur Lydiard was working in a shoe factory in Auckland, New Zealand.  He came up with the notion that the key way to maximize running fitness was by tacking on distance running at a slow pace. A quantity over quality approach designed to build up stamina and endurance.  Lydiard fancied himself to be in fantastic shape. He played rugby! One fateful day, his friend Jack Dolan (a central figure in the Auckland running community) goaded Arthur into running against him in a 5 mile race. Needless to say, rugby training doesn’t carry over well into short distance running. Lydiard got his ass kicked by Dolan. The race nearly killed him. His humiliation at the hands of his friend was what lead him to the idea of adding distance and decreasing the pace. 

Lydiard realized that no runner, regardless of training or ability, can sustain their top speed for more than  half a mile. After that, their pace would decrease incrementally over distance as fatigue set in. Any runner who has run middle to long distance races is familiar with the concept that it’s not the distance that kills you, it’s the pace. Runners who shoot out like jackrabbits at the start of the race sometimes find themselves being passed by runners who slowly crept back up by running at a much slower race.

Arthur Lydiard spent many months perfecting his slow training method. At the height of his training, he was running 250 miles (402.3 kilometers) a week!  This proved to be too much.  Lydiard soon realized that he felt best when running 100 to 120 miles per week, and that he could always run again after a day of training if he kept the pace slow. He also played with the pace, alternating distances, etc.

Once he had it all figured out, his typical training week was:

  • Monday 10 miles
  • Tuesday  15 miles
  • Wednesday  12 miles
  • Thursday 18 miles
  • Friday 10 miles
  • Saturday 15 miles
  • Sunday 24 miles

Arthur Lydiard never personally won a Gold medal at the Olympics, but he did coach protégés who took 2 gold medals at the 1960 games in Rome. His training methods evolved into what is known as 80/20 running. the 80/20 rule of running training states that 80% of your weekly training time should be done at an easy effort level, with 20% consisting of harder running. Getting the miles is more important than speed-work. This flies in the face of logic for many, but the idea is about maintaining your heart rate in certain zones, while training your mind that this running thing ‘isn’t so bad’.  Your pace should be below the ventilatory threshold, meaning that you can carry on a conversation while running,  and you are not winded and gasping for air.

If I only had a brain…

Running is more of a mental discipline than it is physical. As your body grows fatigued, your brain begins to say STOP. You start thinking to yourself ‘I can’t do this anymore’. Here’s the thing, our bodies are capable of going further even though our minds are telling us that we can’t do this anymore. It’s like a fail-safe. We ‘think’ we are at our limit, so our mind tells us to stop, but in reality we can push ourselves much further than we thought possible. By focusing on distance rather than time, we train the body and the mind at the same time. By keeping our heart rate in a lower zone by running at a slower pace, we can run further without setting off the mental alarm bells telling us to STOP! It really is all in your head.

The week of SLOW

The biggest mind challenge for the runner is to keep a slow pace while knowing that you can run much faster.  This is about distance, NOT time. When we race, we want the best time. 80/20 training is all about keeping it slow and steady. Training should never be at your race pace! 80% of your runs should be done at low intensity. You should feel like you can just keep running all day if you had to.  You were born to run! Running is as natural as breathing. You wouldn’t stop breathing because  you were too tired, would you? The remaining 20% of your training is done at moderate to high intensity, but also just shy of race pace.

AGAIN training is NOT racing. Save that burst of incredible speed for the big race, but don’t run so fast that you burnout 20% short of the finish line. Smile and wave as you pass the jackrabbits who shot ahead at the start.

80/20 vs the Clydesdale

Clydesdales are a race horse of a different color, and 80/20 training is a trickier proposition. A Clydesdale is a term for an larger, overweight runner. We are a separate racing division , pursing our own path to fitness. Depending on what source you site, the pace between running and walking transitions between 12mph and 15mph. Clydesdales usually run at a much slower pace than the average runner, so there is much less wiggle room to run slow. I am a Clydesdale, and the struggle is real. No Clydesdale is ever going to burn up the track and take 1st place overall in a race unless that horse is on fire!

My fastest pace mile to date is 10min 1sec. My average pace is between 12min and 13min per mile. I can sustain a 12 minute per mile pace for up to one hour, after that my pace drops like a rock. This is why I am studying 80/20 running vs. High Intensity Interval Training. This body was not built for speed.

A skinny runner who can manage a 6-minute mile can effortlessly transition to a 12-minute mile. A Clydesdale who already runs at a 12-minute mile is hardly running much slower at a 15-minute pace by comparison.

If a ‘skinny’ runs 5 miles at a 6min pace, they are done in 30 minutes. A Clydesdale running a 12min pace takes ONE HOUR to cover the same distance. Our race takes longer, and the mental fatigue telling us to give up is that much more intense at the finish. The ONLY way to overcome this is to condition our mind and body toward increased stamina and endurance via 80/20 training.

For more information on 80/20 running, I highly recommend the book 80/20 RUNNING by Matt Fitzgerald. The book also contains dozens of pages of training plans for 5K to full marathon, and was used as the source material for this article.

You can find me at these upcoming races:

JULY 2021

Third Thirsty Thursday   5K Race Series – Race 4/7 July 15 @7:00 pm Reading PA

Be sure to check back  on July 25th for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

OUCH!

It’s NOT supposed to hurt!

Chances are even if you are a new or novice runner, you’ve come across one or more of the following slogans:

No pain, no gain!

Pain is weakness leaving the body.

Seven days without running makes one weak.

Push past the pain.

Embrace the suck!

Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Motivational mottos such as these are a double-edged sword. Pain is your body’s way of informing you that something is wrong, and ignoring that warning can lead to a worse injury. Always listen to your body.  Now when I say pain, I am not referring to the good pain that comes after a workout where you may have sore achy muscles and mild fatigue, I am talking about that bad pain where standing is an effort and every step hurts. The former is normal, the latter is not.

Running is normal and natural. It should NEVER be painful. If it is, you’re not doing it right, or there’s something physically wrong with you.

 According to statistics cited by Yale Medicine, each year more than 50% of regular runners experience an injury.  Sometimes it is associated with an accidental trip and fall, but more often than not the cause is poor diet, overuse injuries, and over training.

Common injuries include stress fractures, broken bones, torn ligaments or tendons, and knee pain. The good news is that most of these injuries can be avoided through proper diet and training. Running is NOT bad for you, it is in fact very good. You were born to run.

You are what you eat.

The power that made the body is the same power that can heal and restore the body, but that only works if you give your body the building blocks it needs to repair itself.

The typical American diet is high in fat and processed sugar, and lacking in protein and essential nutrients. As a result, two out of every three Americans is overweight and in poor health.

The human body requires calcium for strong bones, and protein and amino acids for strong muscles. As a runner, the first step towards insuring a strong and injury-resistant body is a proper balanced diet that supplies the essential nutrients you require. If you feed your body junk, you will have a junk body. Junk breaks easily and doesn’t last. You are NOT junk, you are a runner! If you are not actively working to make your body stronger, then you are actively working to make your body weaker! Now cut the crap, get rid of the junk food, and start eating healthy!       

 Switch it up!

You can avoid overuse injuries by alternating hard training with easy training Every run does not have to be done at your top pace, slow it down and save top-speed for race day . Don’t go for many long runs during the week, keep it short and save the long run for the weekend, either Saturday or Sunday, BUT NOT BOTH! Also, the day after the long run should be a rest day. Limit your mileage to 45 miles per week. (Yes, I know this is going to rub ultra-runners the wrong way but you guys are atypical, and awe-inspiring. )

SAY NO TO DRUGS!

NSAIDS (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) are bad for you! Avoid painkillers like Ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen at all costs! All drugs have side-effects and they just mask the pain, they don’t cure the problem. If you can’t feel the injury, you also can’t feel how much worse it’s becoming as you keep running on it.   

DON’T OVER TRAIN!

There are many training programs for runners of all levels, many  available online and free. Stick to the program. It should keep you on track, but make sure the training program is suitable to your ability. If you are a NEW or novice runner, use a training program designed for new and novice runners.  When I trained for my first marathon, I used the Hal Higdon plan. I assure you it does work, and there is a plan for the new runner.  If your training program ramps up too quickly for your physical ability, you may need to modify it by repeating the earlier weeks until you can step up to the next level. BE AWARE HOWEVER, that if you are following a 20 week training program, you may miss your goal by adding extra weeks. That was why I started my 20 week program 26 weeks before my marathon was slated to allow time in case I was not ready. Always plan ahead and allow yourself extra time. Also, an essential component of training is the rest and recovery period between exercises. By following a training program, you will have set rest days listed on the grid to keep you from overdoing it.

KNOW WHEN TO STOP!

Okay, this next one’s a biggie, and I’m guilty of it! Sometimes, despite all the training and preparation, we get swept up in the moment. Maybe the excitement of the race or the spirit of competition was the spark that ignited our fire, but we chose to let it burn out of control. Sometimes it’s running beyond our normal pace and burning out before the end of the race. I’ve done that. Ran out too fast at the beginning and by the end of the race the runners I blew past are now passing me and I’m struggling to keep up. The worst however was my ‘accidental’ marathon on November 22nd 2020. I was running a 10-hour endurance race at French Creek State Park. My goal that day was to run the 4-mile course six times for a total of 24 miles, a personal distance record. (They also had milestone partial laps to gain certain distances like marathon, 50K, or even 50 miles.)  I did the 24 miles in eight hours, with two hours remaining on the clock. I had achieved my goal.  Suddenly I got a wild hair and decided to attempt another full lap, and a partial to complete a 50K! I would have been fine at 24 miles, but I didn’t know when to stop. I was tired, but I felt ok so I took off at break-neck speed. 1.23 miles into my 7th lap, I tripped on a rock and slammed into the ground full-force at top-speed. I had just past the marathon turnaround sign. The force of the impact triggered the emergence alert beacon on my Garmin informing my emergency contacts that I was hurt.

I bruised my IT band, and a few painful steps made it clear that I was incapable of finishing lap 7 and doing a partial lap 8 for a 50K distance. Since I was just 50 yards past the marathon sign, I turned back and limped in pain towards the finish line. It took me an hour to limp back that last mile. My knees and hip were bruised. I could barely stand and for the next three days I was hardly able to walk.  Again, had I quit when I was ahead, I would never have gotten hurt. I was VERY lucky the injuries were not more severe.   All because I wanted a 50K, but at least I got a marathon, albeit a painful one.

BUT MY FRIEND CAN!

Comparison is the enemy of contentment. I have running friends who can run six-minute miles, or can run distances of fifty miles or more. I also have non-running friends who are barely able to get off the couch. Last year I was training hard and I was able to run a half-marathon in under three hours. This year I’m struggling and my times are sucking. I’m envious of my faster running friends and my ultra-running friends. Someday I’d like to run a 50K or a 100K. My friends can do it now. I can’t. Likewise I have non-running friends who couldn’t run a mile to save their lives. It’s all a matter of perspective. Three years ago, I couldn’t run a 5K, now I’m capable of running up to 26.2 miles in a single day. You have to start somewhere, but the key is TO START! Nothing happens overnight or by itself. I am better, stronger, faster, and thinner than I was three years ago. I was inspired by a running friend then and decided to do something about it. Along the way  I met and was encouraged by new running friends. Now I inspire and encourage other runners who are new or struggling.  The bottom line is that your success or failure rests solely upon your shoulders. You are the ONLY one who can make yourself strong and healthy. You can do it, I believe in you!

You can find me at these upcoming races:

JULY 2021

Third Thirsty Thursday   5K Race Series – Race 4/7 July 15 @7:00 pm Reading PA

Be sure to check back  on July 10th for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

TRAIL MIX!

The benefits of running off road.

Every runner has one of ‘those friends’. The non-running ones who are completely confused about this whole ‘running thing’ that we do. They just don’t get it. Some mistakenly believe that all races are marathons and ask you questions like “how many miles is this marathon?” or “Are 10Ks harder than 5Ks?”. It’s frustrating having to always explain to  friends and family that all marathons are 26.2 miles, and can be held ANYWHERE, not just Boston or New York City, and that K in races stands for KILOMETERS, so a 10K is twice as LONG as a 5K, not necessarily twice as hard (but it can be). If you live in the USA, you usually have to then explain how many miles a kilometer is.

Yet perhaps the most baffling concept for the non-runner to wrap their heads around is trail-running. Why would someone willingly run off road on rough terrain, up and down hills or mountains, through wilderness and possibly even across a creek or shallow river? It’s all about the benefits!

The Great Outdoors!

The SECOND real race I ever ran when I first started running was the Chobot Challenge 15K Trail run on July 7th, 2019. Back then, it was quite the experience, and I finished.  Today, I run about half of my races on roads, and half on trails. My favorite trail run in the April Foolish at French Creek State Park. My least favorite, NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN was the Halfwit Half Marathon up and down Mt Penn. That race literally brought tears to my eyes, and almost made me give up running altogether. It was the hardest race I ever ran. I prefer to run on road, but I’m a runner and a runner runs! I’m not going to back away from the occasional trail run, I just wouldn’t want to ONLY run trails.

The benefits of trail running are two-fold, both  mental and physical.

There is a beauty to being out in nature that has a soothing effect on the mind. Urbanites trapped in their concrete jungles miss out on the spacious skies, the verdant forest trails, and the sounds of water flowing over the rocks of a nearby river.

The further away from the city you get, the less noise pollution from cars and blasting stereos. The music in the air is birdsong .

There is something to be said about a beautiful mountain lake unspoiled by man because there’s no road to drive there.  You have to get there by foot because it’s miles from the nearest road.

There is something very satisfying in running up a snow-covered mountain and seeing a serene winter landscape of undisturbed snow.

And there is something very satisfying to the spirit in knowing  that wondrous sights like these belong to you and the small percentage of the population that understands that life is meant to be lived firsthand, and that the real world is the one outside your window.  

 A leg to stand on!

Running is good for you! The same non-runner friends who don’t understand why you run will also tell you that it’s bad for your knees, bad for your heart,  bad for your feet, etc! Poppycock! There are literally hundreds of books on the benefits of running and thousands of scientific studies proving those naysayers wrong.  We were born to run!

There are many muscles, tendons, ligaments,  and nerves in the human leg.

The muscles  are:

 Gluteus minimus and medius, gluteus maximus, Iliac crest, adductor magnus, , semitendinosus, biceps femoris, gracilis, semimembranosus, plantaris, sartoruis, gastrocnemius, soleus.

The tendons  are:

Iliotibial tract (IT BAND), plantaris, fleor digitorm longus, medial malleolus, fibularis longus , flexor hallucis longus, fiblaris longus, fibularis brevis.

The ligaments are:

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL).

The nerves are:

Tibial, and the common fibular.

Don’t even get me started on the foot.

Running on a flat paved surface such as a track or street works different muscle groups and tendons differently than running on a trail. So the physical benefits of trail running is that you are working leg muscles more, and improving balance by running on uneven surfaces.

When running the gluteus maximus, the gluteus minimus and medius  form what is known as the posterior chain, which allows hip extention. Now running uphill will work those glutes  harder, and make them stronger in the process. Would you rather have buns of steel to run up mountains , or a lead bottom  anchoring you to the couch so that you can become a mountain?

Hilly terrain works your calves, and strong calves mean faster propulsion. 

When you run trails, you straighten your tendons and ligaments because the constant need to stabilize your ankles, knees and hip joints works your connective tissues with every uneven step you take. The more you work these, these stronger they become and the less prone to injury. Proof that running is GOOD for maintaining knee health! Always remember that if you are not actively strengthening  your body, you are actively weakening your body. No get out there and hit the trail!    

You can find me at these upcoming races:

June 2021

Third Thirsty Thursday   5K Race Series – Race 3/7 June 17 @7:00 pm Reading PA

Lebanon Root Beer Half Marathon June 20 @ 7:00 am Lebanon PA

Be sure to check back  on June 27th for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!