Saturday, December 20, 2008

Running indoors

One of the options I mentioned in the previous blog entry was moving indoors for training in the winter.

This may makes sense if you live where is difficult to train outdoors. I would still recommend that you spend some of your training outdoors even if it is only when the weather cooperates. To get the most out of your indoor training, I think there are several strategies to try and adopt.

1. It is a good time to recover from a hard summer/fall training to racing season. Cutting back on the running makes sense to allow the body and mind to recover and rebuild. This is especially true of the mind since the mental effort needed to sustain a hard training routine is high but we tend not to notice it.

2. Adding some strength training can go a long way to regaining balance between muscle groups that have gotten out of wack. I think we tend to forget or forgo some of the alternate training when we are in the final phase of our race season or just end of summer for those who have been building on their training over the summer.

3. Adding some flexablility training such as yoga or palates might be a good thing to help relax the mind and stretch muscles that have tightened up.

4. Some running in necessary during this time since it can be a real chore to regain that running rhythm if you take of entirely from it over the winter. Indoor track and treadmill workouts, while boring can be the way to start working on the push to spring after a month or so of easier runs. What I strive to do is to take one day a week and start building a steady state running focus by taking a pace and running increasing distances at that pace. In keeping with the rebuilding mode, strive to run relaxed while doing this. This would mean that as you get into the run, relax...if you find yourself getting tense and can't relax, this may be the limit you want to go but over time you should be able to increase the distance. Once you have reached 4-5 miles at this pace relaxed, you might then pick up the pace 10 sec per mile or so and back off on the distance a couple miles and repeat the pattern.

5. It is very difficult to run hard and fast outside in the winter. The cold air can bother the lungs in many cases and the footing is not always good to allow a full stride. This is where the indoor running can help by letting you run faster and maintain a proper stride. Doing this at least 2 times per week will help you to regain your rhythm in the spring.

6. Other aerobic activities should be added into the mix at this time. Spinning is one such activity which under a good instructor can yield tremendous aerobic workouts. One caveat on this is to watch out for routines that put undue strain on joints and ligaments. Some routines have been known to cause problems but if an instructor is not up to date on the current thought, they may not know to forgo these routines.

7. Other aerobic workouts may also be good. I cannot in this case speak from experience since I have not done any of these. However, I would only caution someone to pay attention and if the workout seems to cause undue strain or stress, I would proceed with caution. I think many of the bad raps some of these get is not because the routines are necessarily bad but the instructor may not know the proper form.

have a good run

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thoughts on Winter

I remarked on my website about the fact that winter is well upon us. I think it useful to talk a bit about how this affects our running.

The thinks about running in the winter are first the shortened daylight available and second the weather. Unless you don't work or have a job that allows you time during the daylight hours, you have to contend with running in the dark.

There are several strategies that come to mind when I think of this.

1. Move indoors. The availability of a club with a decent indoor track or treadmills is one way to tackle this issue. The upside of this strategy is that you have light, warmth, and peer pressure.
The downside is you get bored going in circles or nowhere on the treadmill, and peer pressure can overwhelm common sense. I have been there and can say that one year where I had a good training partner and we trained on a small indoor track during the weekdays in the winter, I had my best marathon that March. The key was controlled training indoors and a good long run on the weekends.

2. Move to a better part of the day. This is good especially if you can adjust your hours or use your lunchtime for training. The upside here is daylight and warmer temps. While the downside is you may be limited on how long you can run because of having to get back to work. It is definately a plus to run midday when temperatures are likely to be the highest for the day. It seems like the same temperature when it is dark, feels colder (at least to me)

3. Train in the dark but move your training courses is another strategy. I have noticed that there are areas that are well lit by street lights that could be used for training after dark. The downside of this is that you will probably have to contend with vehicle traffic and pavement. The upside is that it will probably be plowed. This is a really tricky option. If you follow this strategy, you need to be aware of the dangers that are involved with mixing with traffic especially after dark. I will probably talk more about this in another session.

4. Train in the dark but stay on your favorite trails or move to better trails. Running single track trails in the dark can be done with proper equipment. Moving to a wider trail such as the SF Trail is a step up in trail conditions that can help. Again there are safety conditions that need to be considered here and again I will elaborate in another session

5. Stop running and cross train. This is an option that I never would consider for myself but if it makes sense, then consider it. I have used cross training during the winter to supplement my running and it has benefits. Spinning is a high intensity way to keep your aerobic levels up and provide a good workout. Climbing workout on the spin bike seem to help my hill running so I felt it did provide some positive benefits.

There are probably other ways to approach this and of course you can mix the types of workouts in a way that makes the most sense for your situation. I did this when I would do spinning especially when the weather was not good for any kind of outdoor work. At times, I even did an hour of spinning followed by an hour on the treadmill and some weight work for upper body strength.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

More Rubber on the Road

It been a few runs since I bought my new pair of Asics 2140's. Since other options have not been that good, I decided to take a gamble at the 2140's since they were just released.

So far, I have mixed results. My first few runs were OK. I noticed less problems that I had with the 2130's. Since my feet are not recovered yet, I am not sure about the impact effect. I think I will need to rest the feet a few days before deciding if there are still problems.

I ran them in a 1/2 marathon race Saturday and the result were pretty positive. I still had soreness from impact but I did push them quite hard. I was about 45 sec per mile faster than I had run it 2 years ago and a faster avg pace that most of my runs in this distance range this year so I know I put a lot of stress on shoes. I did not have some of the aches and pains of the previous models in other areas like the hips and the top of the arch.

More testing needed...but looking positive so far

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Where the rubber meets the road

Usually I look forward to winter running. This year, I seem to be a little less enthusiastic that usual. I think after the 1/2 marathon next week, I will need to back off a bit. I think this has a lot to do with having issues with shoes.

For many years, I have been fortunate to be able to depend on the Asics GT line to provide a fairly stable progression of shoes. The last 2 models tho have not provided the same level of performance for me as they have in the past. That coupled with getting a bit older, has made running a little more of a chore than in the past.

I have to wonder why the shoe companies bring out new models every year. I know that they say there are improvements and I don't have a problem with that. However, when the improvements change the characteristics of the shoe, I think that they are doing a disservice to those of us who depend on a shoe that does not vary much in its running characteristics from year to year. Since I go through 2-3 pairs a year as do many runners I know, it is not like they need to get us to throw away to old and buy new just for the sake of a new model.

I generally point to shoes when friends have compaints about feet, knees or hips as the first place to look for the problem. I have many times given this advice but I forgot to think about it myself since I was so use to the GT line being dependable. When I finally realized that I was probably having a shoe issue, I hit myself in the head for not heading my own advice.

To test my hypothesis that the shoe was the problem, I took out an old pair of Asics from the '80 era. They were brand new, still in the box. When I ran in them, I was struck at how different they felt when compared to the newer Asics. The pair I had was the Epirus, the last of the non-gel Asics before they move to the GT series and gel. I felt like I was running on a cloud, the shoes were light and responsive. I remember now how I would refer to them as my "magic" shoes (eat you hat..err heart out, john kerry) since putting them on in the later stages of a 50 or 100 mile race seemed to help to improve my pace by 30 sec or more per mile.

Based on this, I compared the GT 2130 with the Epirus and was amazed at how wide the forefoot of the shoes had become. I guess over time, in the interest of stability, the base of the shoe has widened. This lead me to trying a "performance" training shoe and these felt similar in that they were more responsive and lighter however, they did not seem to last as long 300 miles vs 500 miles.

So what am I trying to say here? First, look to your shoes if you start having problems. It may be that they have finally worn out. If you just got them, maybe they are not the right ones...
Second, stick with one that works for you. If you know that a model you like is being changes or discontinued, buy a couple extra pairs to help while trying the new models. Mixing the old and new could help you determine if the new performs the same way without a major breakdown. (I bought about 10 pairs of the Epirus in those days). Lastly, don't get caught up in the hype about a new shoe or what someone else likes ... your foot may be different. I did notice while researching changes to the GT line, that a lot of runners who had used the GT series for a long time were complaining about the 2120 and 2130 models but I did not just take their word for it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Wild West Relay Race Report

This weekend (Friday and Saturday) I participated in the Wild West Relay ( A new experience in running for me.

I have always considered running pretty much an individual thing and never really considered running in something like a relay. Maybe I even look down a bit on such thinks...after all how hard is it to run 5 miles every 12 hours....did I ever have an awakening. It was an experience.

I am totally blown away by the team...what a great group of people. Take 12 people from half a dozen states, many who did not know each other and watch with awe as everyone performed above expectation. I am truly proud of them.

The relay is interesting...each leg is anywhere from 3-8 miles or so and that is probably dictated by the availability of a place along the way to allow the team vehicles to park and prepare for the next leg. Teams had 1 or 2 vehicles per team depending on the number of runners in the team. We had 2 vans / 6 per van. One van would track to each exchange point as each of its runners ran their leg and the other van would go ahead to the point that they would be starting from and take the opportunity to catch some rest or sleep (if possible).

The course start in Ft Collins and make its way up to Laramie then back into Colorado to Steamboat Springs. Just shy of 200 miles in all. We were running on highways, something I have not done is a long time. I switched to running trails 10 years ago and rarely venture onto the streets anymore. My legs will attest to this quite loudly.

Our first set of legs was the hardest to face. It was a mostly uphill leg and the temperatures were hovering around 100 degrees. It hurt and everyone really showed their meddle on this leg. The uphill is bad enough but add the temperature to the equation and any sane runner would have gone home..but then we are runners and sane runner is an oxymoron. That being said it was "onward and upward".

The second set if legs treated us a little better. It was around midnight so the temperature was a balmy 40 degrees. It sure felt good after the 1st leg, I would have even been happy with snow but lets get too crazy.

The 3rd and last set of legs which took us into Steamboat and the finish was a mix of uphill early on and downhill. Temperatures were less of a factor but still running in the low to mid 80's and maybe a bit warmer that that for the last leg. The worst climb was in this set of leg but our flatland trooper Coleen gave it a tremendous effort. Having a lot of downhill helped here since we were all pretty tired and running on minimal sleep but downhill also beat you up as payment for leasing a little gravity to help you.

For myself, I must apologize to my team for taking this lightly in the time leading up to the start but that view changed about 10 seconds into the lst leg I ran and was driven home painfully in the last leg. I hope I performed to their expectations. I know I gave it all I could. I will be sore and tired for a few days.

Special thanks to Kelly for organizing this and our volunteers (volunteers are the unsung heros of running) and thanks to everyone for a fun (runner has strange sense of fun!) time. I could almost be convinced to do this again but I will be stopping by the local bionic shop to be fitted for some bionic legs first.

I will post any pictures that I receive on my website at so send away...


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bobcat Alert...Lions and Tigers and ...bobcats oh my

Tuesday morning as I parked at the trail head for Blodgett Peak Open Space, I noticed an animal crossing the street and up onto the trail about 100 yards from me. When I first noticed it, I thought to myself..."self, there is something different about that animal". It did not look and move like a typical dog and was too big for a cat.

Fortunately, it stopped for a moment and turned its head my way and it became quite obvious that his was a bobcat. I got a good look and it looked me over too... I was not fast enough with the camera to get a pic before it turned and sauntered up the trail and into the trees.

It is always interesting here in Colorado. You never know what you may encounter. The newspaper has been carrying a story about an unknown sighting of what appeared to be a large cat (of the African Lion large) on the eastern plains a short time ago. There has been no confirmation of the sighting and a search has not turned up any clues as to what it might have been.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mud Babes need not apply

Saturday I decided to run somewhere different. As I complained about the other day, I have been feeling a bit bored by the same old runs. With the Wild West Relay and pace duties at Leadville looming in the near future, I decided to go up in altitude to get some higher altitude training.

I chose to go to Rampart Resevoir, site of the Pony Express Run in the fall. This is my report on the trail.

Getting up to trail head at an early hour was the hardest part of the run...the weather had cooled somewhat and the bed sure felt good. If it were not for mother nature giving me a wakeup call, I might have opted to snuggle a little deeper in the bed. Once up and getting the coffee (magic elixer) going, I decided I could probably do this. The temperature was good for a long run and the forcast was for moderate conditons....sorry Trail Nerds and Mud rain in sight.

It is an hour drive to the resevoir so I headed out with coffee and muffin in hand.

Thing were quiet at the trailhead, only 4 cars so plenty of parking (better than trying for parking at the Barr Trail trailhead!). I decided to wear the full pack with water in case I needed a lot to drink, and I wanted to test how it did on a long run before I used it at leadville.

The trail starts with a 1 1/2 mile downhill to the resevoir then at a small bridge, you can opt to go right or left. Going left is the harder direction. It will be almost 10 miles to the dam and this part contains most of the up/down hill terrain. I prefer getting the work over with early.

It is deceiving at the start as you can see the dam across the water and it really does not look all that far...and it isn't if you can swim....but the trail follows a bunch of fingers that add miles to the course. Don't believe your eyes even when the dam looks only a 1/2 mile have several miles to go.

As I ran along, I thought back on all the fun I had at the psycho-wyco and the freestate marathon and realized that all you Trail Nerds and Mud Babes would be totally devastated by the lack of the one thing that they groove on...MUD!!! But all is not lost, as I did find a small mud patch at about 6 miles that they could cavort in so that it can be consider a real run...

Reaching the dam at about 9.5 miles, you have about a 1/2 miles of pavement to cross then pick up the tail on the other side...the good thing is that you are 2/3 of the way done and the hard work is out of the way. The worse part of the return is the 1 1/2 mile uphill from the bridge to the trail head.

Anyone out there coming to Colorado Springs should check out my website at for trail and map information on this trail. I know it does not sound exciting to the Trail Nerd because of the lack of mud but maybe mid winter we can offer a foot or more of snow to make up for it.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Boring...time for a change

Yesterday I decided that I have been stuck in a rut. Hiking and running the same trails everyday, so I decided to go somewhere different. Diane, Zeke and I went over to Red Rocks Park of Hwy 24 and did a short hike. The hike was limited because of the heat which had Zeke panting like a locomotive climbing Pikes Peak...

I took a lot of pictures of the area we hiked on and I can see why a lot of people wanted to preserve the area from development. There are great views and awesome rock formations. I would recommend it as a good hike for anyone. The trails we followed were easy to moderate in difficulty so that most people would be comfortable on them. I am sure that there are more difficult ones in the area which I will be making an effort to explore in the coming weeks and document on the Trails webpage (

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Has Spring/Summer Arrived?

Well, it looks like we may be done with Winter for a few days or more (hopefully). I have been up in Denver all week but the nice thing about this is that I can stop at the Greenland Trail Open Space on the way home (and not have to drive extra miles) and get in a good run. The trail is in excellent condition, and the temperatures seem to be a bit lower that in Denver (5-10 degrees). This is good since there is not shade to be had on the course.

That being said, I took one day this week to explore a part of the High Line Canal Trail in Denver. I was somewhat familiar with it from the far past where I use to meet some of my Denver area running friends for a longer run. Back then, I was running the section farther to the east and north than my current location.

I did a short 5 miles run on the Canal Trail Tuesday and I can see where this section on the Greenwood Village area has a great feature going for is well shaded by large trees along the section that I ran on. Nice on a hot sunny day in the late afternoon. There is a nice parking area on Orchard Rd, west of I25 about 2-3 miles to start the run from. Also, it is a gravel/dirt trail so the trail itself does not hold the heat as much as other surfaces. If you are in the area and looking for a place to run, this is a good choice. There is another trail area not quite as far west and the High Line Canal, located in a park area that also shares the shade characteristics as the canal trail.

The High Line Canal Trail is a very long trail and I think if I am in the area and have the time, I will explore more sections of it (maybe) on a bike to allow more exploration time and map it on the website. I did some searches for more info on it but did not find good maps and descriptions so I think it worth documenting.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Website issues

I noticed that I have a few links messed up on the website ( getting back from the various map pages, I will try to get those corrected this week. While I was out running, I came up with a way to setup those pages so the navigation is better.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

New Webpage Design

I have put up a new version of my webpage at This has kept me busy for the past couple of days.

Today looks like a gloomy/rainy day. The plan calls for a day of surges on a flat/paved surface so I guess that will work out ok. I think the trails will be a bit soggy since the rain was fairly strong and lasted for an hour or so. This will soak everything and produce some mud (all those KC trail nerds know mud..hehe).

You know that old saying about when all you have is a hammer, everthing looks like a nail. Well the Trail Nerds have add a new dimension to that. When all you have is mud...start classifying it into different kinds... A recent exchange in the yahoo group finds them talking about mud with regards to color, texture, aggressiveness...who knew.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Free State Marathon Report

Ran the Free State Marathon in Lawrence Kansas this past Saturday. This was a trail marathon in the true sense of the word... a little mud, some streams to cross, lots of hills, and a great group of runners and volunteers.

I did not have any real goals for the race other than to have fun and be there for my daughters first marathon. She did fine. Training with the Trail Nerds prepared her perfectly for the run and she cruised through the race.

I on the other hand was a little light on my training and depended a bit on having done this many times in the past. My longest run before the race was about 17 miles of hills. I think a couple of 20 mile efforts might have been a good thing. Had a few cramp issues in the last couple of miles which I need to think about and figure out whether is was the distance, hydration, or electrolytes.

The race itself was well organized and staffed. There were sufficient aid stations of which some were staffed and some were unmanned water. Carrying a water bottle was required but since I never run without my hip pack and a bottle, this was not an issue. I would suggest all runners who plan on doing long races, get used to some hydration pack. What you train with will help when it is race time.

The race started with a 3 mile or so loop which I liked so I could warm up and then shed extra clothing as we passed back through the start line. I know in my mind that I will warm up after a couple of miles but hate the chill feeling of starting with the correct clothing. The rule of thumb for this is that if you feel a bit chilled waiting for the start, you probably have the right amount of clothing on.

During the first 3 miles, I tried to keep my daughter from going out too fast but I know she has seen so many races that it should be second nature but still, there is the tendency to get excited when the pack bolts out of the start. After a few miles, she was gone and I settled down for the trail ahead.

Most of the race, I followed my plan which was to run downhill, flats, and some of the shallow hills. I tiptoes through the mud and some of the water crossings (not sure why) and enjoyed talking to some of the runners and took glances at the scenery. Too long a look would have probably been the receipt for a crash...

The people at the aid stations were great and the food was spot on. I can remember finding Coke at one station (my favorite replacement drink) and just draining the cup...great my motor running again. I think I tend to be a sugar junkie during the later parts of a marathon because it seems to hit my system faster than other food sources. I did partake in the PBJ also for a slower hit down the road.

Like my daughter, my GPS was not very accruate on the course however from her telling me that this was the case during her training runs out there, I was expecting it. The downside was that I did not know when I was close enough to make the final push to the finish. I agree, some signage in the last 3 miles would be a great help.

I guess I am ready to pass the baton to the next generation... and just run for the sheer fun of it.
(yea right).

I highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a good race on the trails. Any of Ben's races are good (especially if you like mud).

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Getting Started

A quick introduction to myself should be in order to start this blog underway.

I have been running for about 50 years of which 30 of them have been at the marathon and ultramarathon level. I will be using this blog to extend my website and forum to include my comments about everything running.

See and where I try to document running trails in the Colorado Springs area.