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Yaktrax Pro Review - Getting a grip on winter running

 

 

I'll spoil the suspense for you; they worked awesome for me and I'll tell you about it.  I got the perfect storm, so to speak, of new toys and awful weather.  Couldn't ask for better weather to test out traction devices in.

 

 

Ironically my new YakTrax Pros showed up while I was out running in the woods last week in 4 inches of thick slush.  I was thinking to myself that they might come in handy before I left. Then there they were, leaning against my garage door in the freezing rain when Buddy the Wonder Dog and I got back from our sloppy 10k. 

 

 

I was yet to know that Old Man Winter would provide me with the industrial strength proving ground I was looking for before the week was out!  

 

 

It started as snow, turned into rain and left 4 inches of slush like you get out of the Slushy Machine at 7-11.  Brutal stuff.  After it stopped raining the temperature dropped.  This is the worst scenario.  If you don't get the slush up it freezes into a wonderful layer of hard snow and ice that cannot be moved at a later date without the use of dynamite or blow torches.  

 

 

Once you have the slush storm followed by a freeze it creates the worst winter running conditions.  These are icy conditions that are downright treacherous even for a sure footed hobbit-like trail runner.  Well - actually, I'm not too surefooted, but I am quite hairy like a hobbit.

 

 

As the weekend approached the forecast was for another snow storm on top of the hardened slush ice.  I decided I should move my 12 mile long run to Saturday and try out my new YakTrax.  I'm the master of dual tasking.  Test the YakTrax and get a long run in...seemed to make perfect sense to me.  Yes, I know, never try out your new footwear on a long run or a race, but that doesn't apply to me? Right?

 

 

I thought about what the appropriate shoes to strap them to would be?  I decided on my old trail shoes.  They only have a couple hundred miles on them and only one ultra-trail-mountain-marathon but they've started to fall apart.  It turned out to be a good choice.

 

 

I got the "large" version of the YakTrax Pro.  They fit my size 12D very well, snug and comfortable. Like a glove.... They didn't pull on my toes or feel loose.  They have a Velcro strap across the top like sandal to keep them on your feet, but mine fit so well I think the strap was superfluous. 

 

 

Conditions Saturday afternoon as Buddy the Wonder Dog and I headed out for two loops of our woods 10k were cold and icy.  The snow/slush had hardened to 2 inches of snow with a 2 inch ice crust on top.  It's a real pain because sometimes you fall through the crust on your foot plant and sometimes you don't.  The crust was pure smooth ice.  If you dropped a hockey puck it would slide away towards the horizon with no impedance. 

 

 

Some jerk with a dog had gone out and run the trails while the slush was still wet and left large, frozen, fossilized footprints on my trail!  4 inch deep size 12 bomb craters right down the middle of the trail!  Heffalumps! Woozles!  Usually if I leave footprints I can use them as toe-holds on subsequent trips, but these were so deep and icy as to be dangerous trail hazards.  Can you say "ankle-snapper"?

 

 

The YakTrax were awesome on the ice.  The coils bite well on both the heel and the forefoot.  That's where the coils form large diamond patterns that provide maximum surface area for grip.  They are not so good on the mid-foot and I'll touch on that later.  I started out cautiously, but quickly go the feel of them and was able to run my normal mechanics and stride.

 

 

At one point I run a section of asphalt road to get to the next trail head.  I thought this would be terrible but the ride wasn't that bad.  For short distances the YakTrax felt fine on the road.  Indeed for one uphill section that was heavily sanded they provided extra traction in the grit.  The trail shoes I put them on had nice big lugs and a soft ride and I think this absorbed much of the hardness of the coils.  I didn't try it, but I'm thinking my road shoes, being stiffer and thinner would not ride as comfortably on the hard surfaces. 

 

 

The best traction is on the forefoot.  It's pretty good on the heel too, so that covers most runners.  The blind spot is in the midsole where the coils cross.  The only time I fell was when I planted my foot on an slanted icy corner - the midsole coils caught, but not enough to keep me upright and I couldn't recover.  It was a sideways slip and fall which are typically better than the high-impact head over heels falls you get when you heel strike on a patch of ice. 

 

 

I routinely run in less than perfect surface conditions and I tend to adjust my stride to be more flat-footed to maximize tread-to-trail surface area.  That's not a great strategy with the YakTrax.  They work much better if you can maintain a good high turn forefoot churn.  Perfect for you Chi-Runners.

 

 

The next day I had some very light leg fatigue but no leg or knee pain.  There was no weird fatigue or discomfort.  This tells me that the YakTrax didn't change my running mechanics. 

 

 

Over the following days I have run in deep snow, both on the trail and on the road with them.  They aren't really designed for deep snow, but will give you some extra toe-off ability even in the deep stuff.  On the road in the ‘marshmallow' snow along the side they were ok - not perfect, but better than road shoes.  

 

 

Late in runs they started to slide off the toe - mostly because one of the cross strap lined up with a trench in my trail shoe.  Overall a quick tug and they're back into place and good again.  Buddy was sliding on the ice - I was gripping!

 

 

Summary:

 

  • - Good fit

  • - Normal running mechanics

  • - Great on ice

  • - Added value in deeper or softer snow

  • - Not horrible on the road

  • - Recommend trail shoes with them

 

Two thumbs up.  I'll keep running in them and let you know if the great stress of my high-mileage Clydesdale training causes them to prematurely deconstruct.

 

 

In the meantime - I'll see you out there!

 

 

Chris,

 

 

Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy.  Chris is the author of , and  short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack.  Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at http://www.runnerati.com/.  Chris' Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at http://www.runrunlive.com/. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River RunnersChrisRunner@runrunlive.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

803 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, 10k, 5k, jogging, running_groups, running_shoes, ultramarathon, running_clubs, jogging_a_good_exercise, jogging_tips

Gimme back my Quads!

Posted by Chris Russell Oct 19, 2008

Gimme back my Quads!

 

Who took my quads?

 

 

Ok - who ever took my quads, if you bring them back there will be no questions asked. Just leave them in a brown paper bag in the back of my old truck. There will be no recrimination and I won't rat you out to the quad squad. If you could get them back to me before my next race, that would be cool too.

 

 

It's been three weeks since I ran that 50 mile ultra in the mountains of VT. It's never taken more than 7 days for me to heal from a race. Even some of the most evilly bad Boston's are just a bad memory within a week. Something strange is going on here.

 

 

I didn't struggle in that Ultra and on the whole thought it was pretty mild, but here I am 3 weeks later and my quads are missing.

 

 

I ‘raced' a hilly 9.5 miler today. I took off strong at my 10k pace but by the 3rd mile of steep up hills and down hills my quads were done. I let my pack go and fell into a ‘save face' pace. What the @#$%? A paltry 9.5 miles and I've got to work it like a calculus problem to finish under 8-minute miles?

 

 

Other than the quads all the other lights on the control panel were green. Plenty of energy. Lots of pop in the other muscles. Heart rate fine. Lungs fine. No quads.

 

 

It was like someone borrowed my quads while I was sleeping last night and took them for a joy ride. Or swapped them out with the quads of an octogenarian. If they borrowed them, then they spent the night doing hill charges. So strange.

 

 

I managed to tough it out but it's hard to run a trail race without quads.

 

 

I miss them because they were quite a big part of my running arsenal. I've never been fast but I've always had leg strength. With my ‘sturdy frame' I rely on leg strength. I like passing those skinny guys. I grind by them on the up hills and on the down hills, when gravity is my friend; I storm by like an out of control rhino.

 

 

Maybe I can borrow some quads until I find mine? Does anyone have a spare set out in the garage behind the old golf cubs? Let me know.

 

 

If you see my quads tell them I miss them. Tell them to come home. I will hold no grudge - all is forgiven. Maybe you'll find them hanging out down behind the 7-11 smoking cigarettes with my balky Piriformis. Tell them to come home because I need them. Call my cell phone anytime.

 

 

Whoever absconded with my quads please bring them back. We can make a deal. I'll give you 3 pairs of old running shoes and 15 long sleeve cotton race tees. Come on, have a heart, I don't know if I can go on without them.

 

 

See you out there,

 

 

C-,

 

 

Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy. Chris is the author of , short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack. Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at http://www.runnerati.com/. Chris' Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at http://www.runrunlive.com/. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners. ChrisRunner@runrunlive.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Vermont 50 Mile Ultra-Marathon - Chris' Race Report

 

 

Ultra-Marathon, Check!

 

 

The race report (from ****)

 

 

Like the race itself - this is going to be a long one...

 

 

I've been putting off writing this race report for a couple not so good reasons.  First is the typical post event ennui that overcomes me post-haste post-race.  It's a bit like postpartum depression, an aimless funk that is 5% physical and 95% mental. 

 

 

It's different each time.  I remember after a few of my ‘big' marathons I was high for a week before the inevitable turpitude set in.  It's worse when you ‘crater' at an event, although sometimes failing horribly creates a spark of purpose fueled by anger - like the one that caused me to qualify for Boston.  (It's funny how sometimes failure is more inspirational than success.)

 

 

I also thought a little emotional distance (time) might not be a bad thing.  Writing a race report before the neurons have stopped firing can sometimes result in a mish-mash of emotional stew that is unreadable. 

 

 

The second big reason I've been ruing putting pinky to pixel is that I've got stakeholders who really care about me and want to see it! I feel like I owe those friends who have supported me through this campaign and in some odd psychotic way that really makes writing the race report feel like work!

 

 

Enough whining!  On with the show!  I must act today before the very events of the day slip into the murky fog of memory.  I fig to thee oh funk!  Get up and keep moving forward.  It's what we do.  It's our life metaphor, and handily enough the mantra for the ultra - CFM - continuous forward movement. Or as the poet Bon Scott put it "Ride on..."

 

 

"Running is the classical road to self-consciousness, self-awareness and self reliance.  Independence is the outstanding characteristic of the runner.  He learns the harsh reality of his physical and mental limitations when he runs.  He learns personal commitment, sacrifice and determination are his only means to betterment.  Runners only get promoted through self-conquest." - Noel Carroll

 

 

The net result was a great race.  I didn't crash at all. I loved it and had a blast. I did well.  I think the official results were:

 

 

Class/Bib/Overall ... Time/Pace (my watch said 9:04)

 

 

11  921  33   CHRISTOPHER       45 LITTLETON MA          9:05:28   10:54

 

 

Looks like I was 33rd out of 162 finishers with ~16 DNF and ~20 Did not shows.  That's not bad, is it? Notice the results only had my first name? That's because I'm so famous; like Elvis...

 

 

I've been asked how I trained to run an ultra- marathon.  The truth is I've trained my whole life for that race.  In microcosm I set myself up with a 16 week program, similar to any marathon plan.  The difference was the very long long-runs and less speed work.  I found spending lots of time in the woods very comfortable and comforting.  All-in-all it was easy.  Once you get past a certain point it doesn't get any worse.

 

 

I ran all 6 mountain races in the mountain goat series over the summer of '07 and learned all about running up and down mountains.  I trained well for a February Marathon this spring that I DNF'ed at - it just didn't feel right.  Then I ran a qualifier at Boston.  At the same time I trained hard power walking at 13% stiff treadmill inclines for the Mount Washington Road Race where I turned in a respectful effort on that one hill in July. 

 

 

It all ran together in a mishmash of miles and effort.  I finished off my ultra program with a good showing at the difficult mountainous Wapack Trail race and a 36 mile training run, then a three week gradual taper.  I was more than ready.  I was so well trained and healthy that the race itself started to seem a non-event.  (Until it started raining!)

 

 

In the end, I think my training was more than enough for the event.  I could have taken significant time off of my finish with more long tempo work on long shallow up hills and long shallow down hills - but that's a mere refinement.  I had plenty in the tank and was healthy as a horse on race day.  I probably could have pushed harder in the early miles - but that's all Monday morning quarterbacking. 

 

 

You never know how these things are going to turn out until you're in them up to your neck.  That's what I love about endurance events.  It's like being thrown in to the ocean.  You figure out how to swim or you sink.  It really simplifies life.  It refines things to that awesome razor edge of animal choice. Just you against you.  Mano a mano.

 

 

It wasn't the 16 weeks of (casual) training that made this race easy.  I owe much of the ease to the countering maturity of 20 odd marathons and a handful of mountain races.  When I stepped up to the start of this behemoth of a distance race it was with the steadying hand of experience on my shoulder.

 

 

The week leading up to the race was off the chart stress-wise (as they often are leading up to big races).  That stress, whether real or imagined was propagated and amplified by my fearful anticipation of running farther than I ever had imagined I could, would or should.   My old truck was diagnosed as close to death and I had to rent a car for the drive up to Ascutney.  It started raining on Wednesday and two tropical storms veered out of the Caribbean towards New England.  Prognosis was lots of mud.  Stress was rampant.  Like all red blooded males I suppressed it.

 

 

I felt for the first time in a long time that nervous energy of fear and trepidation that you get before a big race.  A big adventure.  Something you know is going to hurt badly and test your physical and mental infrastructure.  Your subconscious screams at you that only a fool would willingly walk into the maw of pain and struggle that waits. Your big brain assures you it's alright. 

 

 

The truth is you don't know what's going to happen when you start something like this.  That's what makes it cool.  That's what makes it worth doing.  There's a chance that you could end up shivering in a ditch, played out and beaten.  In our jaded modern world of laptops and airplanes that is the grisly stuff of reality that makes you feel alive. The result is a nice mélange of nervous anticipation and dread.

 

 

My wife Yvonne came with me.  She usually doesn't pay much attention to my long distance running addiction.  She lives with it like any other stoic bride of addiction.  I think she felt that this Ultra-thing was something she needed to tag along with to protect her investment.  I told her I'd really appreciate her help because I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to drive home comfortably.

 

 

I focused on trying to get 8 hours of sleep from Wednesday onwards.

 

 

I didn't start any detailed race planning until the day before.  It's my habit not to worry about the details.  Friday night I made one last large batch of chocolate energy balls. I collected a pile of Hammer gels (thanks Anthony)  I made sure all my running stuff was clean and dry. 

 

 

I looked at the forecast and puzzled over what to bring.  How does one plan for a 10 hour trail race in a rain storm.  Umbrella?  Snorkel?  I decided to un-retire two old pairs of trail shoes, package them with fresh sox, a change of clothes and a dry hat to be positioned at the drop stations along the course.  Hermetically sealed in plastic bags of course in case of downpours.

 

 

Yvonne and I checked into our hotel in Springfield VT.  The hotel was full of those mountain bikers who dominate the scene at this race.  I made a point of being friendly and commenting loudly to my wife how glad I was not to have to carry a bike for 50 miles in the mud! 

 

 

On the way to the Ascutney Ski lodge to check in we drove by the Ascutney camping area.  I can't imagine how much it must have sucked to have to sleep in a tent on the ground in the rain the night before a 50 mile race. 

 

 

We checked in, dropped my drop-bags and wandered over to old-friend Dan's condo, helpfully positioned right by the start/finish lines.   It was a nice night with some well done past and pesto.  Dan and Tom (college chums from 26 years ago) had their bikes all cleaned up and ready for the assault.  They are VT 50 veterans having biked 5 previous races.  In anticipation of mud, Dan had rebuilt his bike to a single speed.  They are hard core and obsessive with their sport like I am with mine.  We respect each other for that.

 

 

My wife and I were tuckered out.  Back to the hotel in the rental PT Cruiser.  We each chose one of the double beds - Rob and Laura Petri like - and off to sleep. 

 

 

I got up at 4:30.  Made some coffee, ate a banana and a power bar, and put on the clothes and shoes I had laid out carefully the night before. Adrenaline was starting to pump.  I was excited.  This was something new.  Something challenging.  Something of the perfect audacious adventure that I love.  I wanted to get to it.  This was off the map.

 

 

The 5:30 check in meeting at the start was in the dark.  It was overcast and a tropical 64 degrees.  Lots of runners and bikers were milling around.  I got some more coffee.  I love coffee.  I took care of the necessaries and chatted up some folks.  I was impressed with the relatively large number of women running the race.  I was also cheered to see some other ‘husky' fellows besides myself.  While initially during my training my weight had plummeted to 180 pounds, with judicious over eating I had managed to get it back up to 190.  Alas, no Clydesdale division.

 

 

It was not like the beginning of a big marathon.  No one was really nervous or overly weird.  Everyone was laid back and the tone was easy.  Most were smiling, like they were about to go on a canoe ride with friends. There was none of the gritted-teeth awkwardness of the mega-road race scene.  More like a Ben & Jerry's revival.  

 

 

Without much official fanfare, but a bunch of hooting and hollering, we were off.  Everyone settled into a conversational pace.  I soon fell in with race denizen Zeke who is an ultra-institution of sorts.  He in turn attracted a number of other near-famous Ultra-runners. 

 

 

It was like Sunday morning after church at the general store.  They talked about old times, what others were up to, what their current projects were, almost everything except the race.  A couple newbies chimed in and Zeke handed out sage advice. 

 

 

The first 4.5 miles were dirt road. It felt more like a 10k than a 50 miler.  I was running comfortably but worried that this was a good 2 minutes per mile faster than my goal pace.  Was that ok?  Then an aid station. Then into the woods and up the first mountain. 

 

 

This is where we caught our first bikers.  They had a head start on us and theoretically were faster, but we had the novices on the steep up hills.  We could move much faster than some poor sole pushing a bike.   These were the end-of-the-pack bikers.  After sharing the course with bikers I've become curious with this sport. I think I'm going to have to try it out.  It looks like fun. 

 

 

The trails were great.  Mostly soft cushiony single track or ATV trails.  The mud was negligible in the first2/3 off the race.  The few hundred bikes that preceded us made some deep ruts and there were some soft bits but the bad stuff was easily avoidable.  The up hills on the mountains were quite steep, but not technical.  The down hills were also quite steep and also not technical.  Very run-able. 

 

 

This is where my mountain experience came into play.  The Ultra racing mantra is "walk the up hills and run the down hills."  Make no doubt about it.  I was racing.  What started out as a ‘just finish' was now a race.  I was in my comfort zone.   I was pushing, not 100%, but sustainable effort, not a casual stroll.

 

 

When we say ‘walk' we don't mean just walking, like you would walk the dog.  We mean power walking.  Not that silly guy in the track suit with the hand weights who swaggers around your neighborhood.  Mountain power walking is learned art form and consists of a long sliding stride with a toe-off and hand swing.  I can power walk up a 13% mountain at 3-4 miles per hour without maxing my heart rate.  It's a science.  This saves your running legs and keeps you racing.

 

 

When we say run the down hills we means race the down hills.  It is very important not to fight gravity.  Stay light and have a rapid turnover.  Try to ‘fly' without hitting the ground too much or braking.  On the extremely steep slopes you can do a shuffle slide skip to surf across the ground while still maintaining frequent contact points - lots of little brakes instead of digging in your heels.  All this is done to preserve the quads.

 

 

Why do you care?  If you don't know how to walk the up hills and run the down hills the VT 50 will be a miserable race for you.  It's got 9,000 feet of elevation gain and another 9,000 on the way back down.  Failure to manage this will kill you - especially the end of the race when the muscles in your thighs will have degenerated to the point where they don't work anymore.  That's the secret of this course and most of the mountains I've run. 

 

 

The first 18 miles went by in a blur. Somewhere around 18 miles I felt my body switch off of free glycogen and onto the reserves.  It was a momentary energy trough that barely registered.  My training has been such that my body now loves to run on the reserve tank.   This is also where I passed Ted.  He is so much faster than I, it's a shame his insides were acting up and didn't let him continue on this day. 

 

 

I was running with some 20 year-old from the Connecticut Maritime Academy who decided to run the ultra on a whim.  His longest run in training was a 10k.  I don't know if he finished.  I didn't see him after the 18.8 Mile aid station.  I met and chatted up a number of people in these miles as everyone was chipper and the field was still closely bunched.  At one point I paused to snap a photo with my mini spy camera and was passed by 8 runners and a bike. It was a scenic view!

 

 

I remember that young woman on the bike.  She was hanging with us through these early sections.  She'd pass us on the downs and we'd pass her on the ups.  The last time I passed her she made a point of asking me how we would interact next time she passed me.  At the time I thought that was a moot point - turns out I was right.  That was the last time I saw her.

 

 

The lack of mud meant that I didn't need my mile 18.8 dry-clothes-care-package.  I really didn't pause much at the aid stations, except to fill my two 20 ounce bottles.  I was treating it more like a triathlon transition zone than an aid station.  Some of the folks hung around at these stations, like it was a picnic, not a race. 

 

 

The day continued to be overcast and muggy, but there was no rain. The mud was not an issue in the first 40 miles of the race.  The overall dryness of the summer had soaked up the 4 days of rain.  Every once in a whole we'd emerge into a high mountain field with a stunning vista.  The leaves had just started to change.  They had not fallen, even with the rain, that is good because they did not obscure the course footing.

 

 

The course was so well marked.  You'd have to be an idiot to get lost.  I could see other competitors for the first 40 miles and never felt I didn't know where I was.  The herd of bikers in front of us left a well beaten path to follow.  It was easy. 

 

 

The bikers were extremely friendly.  They gladly let us pass and were kind on the down hills when they re-passed us.  In the end the up hills were a curse for them.  Although they may have re-passed me on the down hills, none of the bikers I passed beat me to the finish line in the end.  The last 10 miles were just too hard for them. 

 

 

At the 25 mile aid station I again decided to stay with my current shoes and clothes.  I did put on a fresh hat.  I ate a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.  I used the porta-potty for a pee - that's a good sign.  Surprisingly enough, even though I had to pull into the woods in almost all my training runs and was resigned to it in the race, something about the race environment produced a digestive miracle and I had no pit-stops.  Isn't it ironic how runners are like new parents examining and worrying over bowel movements?

 

 

I had great momentum through the 25 mile mark and was positively euphoric from 25 miles on.  There were some downhill switch back sections where I was flying and laughing out loud with the joy of running.  I got some of the others to sing the theme from Rawhide with me a few times for fun.  Then I tried the "Hi Ho" song from Snow white.  When I was finally alone I was singing a few broken choruses from Chariot by Gavin DeGraw "Oh chariot your golden waves are walking down upon this face..."  No it's not weird to talk and sing to yourself in a 9 hour race.  I was running in the zone. 

 

 

30 though 40 were great miles with lots of downhill and I passed many runners.  I wouldn't pass them like in a 10k where you see them and gun for them.  I would simply hold my cadence and they would come to me slowly as they walked more than ran, and then, after trading places a few times they would slip away like the outgoing tide.  I was passed by that famous Ultra guy, John something, who said he was planning to run across New Hampshire later in the year.

 

 

When I passed the bikers I tried to call back over my shoulder to warn them about bad sections.  More than once I shouted a warning only to hear a scream and a curse and the sound of body on mud.

 

 

After the mile 35.6 aid station it started to feel a little like work.  I was getting tired but still running strong.  I was just getting weary from so much time on my feet in the woods.  My legs and joints were fine.  I had a little sharp strobe going on in my left quad that had been troubling me during training.  The irony was that it only hurt on the easy bits.  The shallow down hills that are usually my strength caused it to flap a little uncomfortably. 

 

 

I determined to ignore it. I had gone into the race knowing that at my age and my weight something was bound to start hurting.  I had pre-visualized myself ignoring it and moving on.  It was a pain - but a predetermined non-issue.

 

 

The runners started to thin out and I passed some who were obviously cooked.  I kept going.  It was starting to be a race.  The scenery might have been pretty, but I was heads down grinding out the miles.  The 36 mile aid station seemed to take a long time to come.  I looked at my watch and determined that if I held this pace I could do 8:30.  Another runner told me it got harder up ahead.  I wondered where to spend my remaining energy? 

 

 

Everything was holding together well as I entered into the unknown territory, beyond my 36 mile long training run.  All lights were still green.  No flashing warning lights.  My head was clear.  I was doing pace math and reading my watch without puzzlement. 

 

 

This clarity was due to having trained well, yes, but also due to having fueled well.  I was sticking to a schedule that had me taking some nutrition every 30 minutes.  In the first 30 miles I alternated Hammer Gels and Energy Balls (homemade treats made from organic peanut butter, squished banana, and various forms of chocolate).  In addition I was taking an Endurolyte electrolyte tablet (read "salt pill") every 20 minutes. 

 

 

I sweat; sometimes in excess of 40 ounces an hour.  This means I lose a tone of salt and I need to replace it. 

 

 

The day before the race I decided my slant pack pocket was too small to hold all the stuff I needed to carry.  I decided to bring along the spy camera and of course my Sony digital reorder for all those graphic audio race moments.  To fit all this stuff in I requisitioned a camera case from my wife (without telling her) and attached it to the belt of my slant pack.  This gave me a place to put the electronics. 

 

 

My slant pack is one of those two bottle setups that sits on the back of the hips.  I've got hips.  In this race, because the aid stations were so plentiful, I only took two bottles.  One I carried in my left hand, as I have been doing for years, and the other I holstered on my right hip.  This setup is comfortable for me.  Some of the runners in the race went with no bottle at all because of the preponderance of aid.  I sweat too much for that. 

 

 

Before the race they were giving away these big pill bottles with a quick-flip top to hold your Endurolytes.  I took one and added this to my camera case.  It was good, except that the hard plastic and all the jostling caused at least one capsule to break.  I know this because when I tipped the bottle back to ‘drink' a capsule I got a mouthful of salt powder.  But it actually tasted pretty good.  I guess I got a little extra powder or got an empty capsule at some point, but it evened out.  It was way better than having to fish them out of a wet baggie.

 

 

The real fun started after the 40 mile mark.  The aid stations seemed to start coming very slowly.  I was definitely losing energy and ready to see the finish.  I was still passing people every now and then with my strong walk-run cadence.  I was relentless. 

 

 

Then we got into some very muddy sections.  Up to this point you could avoid getting totally wet.  Now you had no choice except to toil through 6-inch deep oily slime that covered your shoes.  It was still hilly.  There were some field sections where we came out into the sun.  It was definitely the most challenging 10 miles of the course.  Some mud holes you couldn't run through.  You had to walk to keep from losing a shoe. 

 

 

Right before the 45.5 Aid station I had to walk a little on a flat section, maybe 50 feet.  I was tired.  I turned it back on and ran into the last aid station.  I only filled one bottle.  What the **** - less than five miles to go. I was getting angry.  I was getting my race face.  There were a dozen or so bikers casually lounging at the aid station.  That made me mad for some reason.  I vaguely remember yelling at them.

 

 

"Come on! What are you standing around for? Let's do this *****! Come on!"

 

 

Game face.   I was still running but it was a slug fest.  Nothing hurt, but I was tired of running.  I got into a woods section and hadn't seen another competitor for awhile and I hadn't seen an arrow for awhile.  I was still in the tire tracks but I started to wonder if I hadn't taken a turn off the course into some tributary of the main course.  My mind was starting to play tricks on me.  I almost turned back. Then I saw a runner far behind and biker passed up ahead somewhere. 

 

 

There was one long greasy section through some trees and then I knew I was close.  After what seemed like a century of running I saw the "one mile to go" sign.  Prior to this, starting with a few miles left, someone had decorated the woods with Halloween items, like witches, pumpkins and ghosts.  They had pinned papers with inspirational messages to the trees.  For the life of me I can't remember what they said, but I kept trying to bring each one into focus hoping it would say "One Mile to Go".

 

 

I started feeling a little weird.  I remember being light headed when I re-entered the dark forest from the bright sunlit field.  I wondered whether it was possible to overdose on electrolytes. 

 

 

Then with ½ mile to go I knew I had it.  I pulled out my recorder to capture the moment.  I stretched out my stride and left what was left on the mountain in a furious wheeling free fall down the ski slope through the chute. 

 

 

I was euphoric.  It had indeed been a non-event.  My wife and friends met me at the finish.  They had biked the course in 6 hours and were well into the recreational beverages by the time I pounded across the finish.  I got my medal and they led me back to the condo where there was a hose outside.  I hosed off my shoes and legs. 

 

 

I went inside and had a banana and some water.  I was happy and spent. I took a long shower in the condo.  Amazingly I had no chaffing and no blisters.  My feet were pruned and achy from all the time in wet shoes, but nothing bad. Everything was still working, body-wise.  I had to sit down in the tub to wash my feet because I didn't trust myself to bend over.  I struggled a bit getting back upright.

 

 

I hit the free barbeque on the way out and my wife commenced to drive me home.  We stopped and I got a Big Mac Meal.  Got to eat.  Very hungry.  I didn't sleep in the car.  I felt fine when we got home.  I could not sleep that night.  My legs were glowing like hot coals - it was a fitful night or rolling around.

 

 

I went to work the next day but I was useless.  My body didn't feel overly sore but my electrical system was haywire and my brain knew something was wrong.  It was like a general physical trauma, akin to shock.  I ate many large comfort meals.  I slept well.

 

 

Day 3, Wednesday, I was still sore but decided to try a 10k in the woods.  This was a mistake.  I felt joyful for the first ½ mile then it was awful and something hurt badly in my left foot.  I gutted out the 10k, but now have not run since.  It is Sunday night.  I hope to begin running again tomorrow.

 

 

I was trained well enough that my major muscle groups were fine.  I was a little quad-sore but nothing compared to the '07 Mount Cranmore race when I couldn't walk for a week.  I was sore in some strange places.  My deltoids (shoulders) were sore from swinging my arms.  The tops of my ankles were sore.  I had no joint pain.  My sciatic is acting up due to that tight pyriformis.

 

 

In summary, it was a good race and a fine adventure.  I'm not sure I have the time to take on ultra-running as a career, but it has been cool to try.  It seemed much easier than it should have been.  Perhaps that is just my skewed perspective since it came at the end of 18 or so months of non-specific training.  I really like the training. 

 

 

Don't be afraid to run an ultra.  Train for it and respect it, but don't fear it.

 

 

See you out there,

 

 

C-,

 

 

Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy.  Chris is the author of , short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack.  Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at http://www.runnerati.com/.  Chris' Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at http://www.runrunlive.com/. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River RunnersChrisRunner@runrunlive.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,578 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, marathon, podcast, ultra_marathon, running_podcast

In the Ultra-Taper - It's not that scary...

 

Ultra-training is easier than training for a Boston qualifier.

 

 

I'm not an official bib-number carrying ultra-runner yet, but after Sunday's 36 mile training run I think it's in the bag. Training for this ultra-trail-marathon - The VT 50 Miler - has been one of the easiest training programs I've done when compared to your average Boston qualifying campaign.

 

 

I know it's a paradox, but ultra training is easy. Let me try to explain.

 

 

Like many of you mid-packers I started running again late in life to get healthier and caught the bug. The key difference being that I ran X-country in high school - so I knew how to run, I knew I could do it. I had no expectations beyond building up to 5 miles or so 3-4 time a week to keep my weight under control.

 

 

My big eye-opener was when some ‘friend' said "hey, let's run the marathon!" (In Massachusetts you don't have to say "which marathon") Qualifying for Boston was an amazing learning experience and quite difficult. It involved tempo and speed and hills and long runs at pace - plenty of late, painful nights at the track doing mile repeats at the edge of my ability.

 

 

Even after 10 Bostons, qualifying is work for me. That's why it came as such a surprise that stepping up to the ultra would be so easy, both psychologically and physically. All the painful speed and tempo work is replaced with long-long-long slow run-hikes in the woods. After you break the barrier - you can run forever - it doesn't get worse.

 

 

Of course I'm coming off a base of training for Boston and Mt. Washington. That's quite different from starting from scratch, but if you're a solid marathoner, stepping up to an ultra distance is a piece of cake. The hardest thing is scheduling the 5-6 hour long runs, but it's no more difficult than trying to schedule two high-quality midweek speed workouts.

 

 

Here are my 2009 predictions:

 

 

  • - Ultra-marathon distance events will explode in popularity and participation as mid-packers graduate from the marathon.

  • - Runner's World will run a saccharin piece on the explosion of ultras and some troubled person's quest to finish.

  • - Main stream media and some dopey celebrities will get ultra-involved for some dopey ego charity.

  • - 10-20 books will be published on "Zen and the art of the Ultra" and "The beginner's guide to Ultras", one of them will make Oprah.

  • - Related endurance events in swimming, biking, relays and adventure racing will also see double digit growth.

  • - Some old idiot like me will keel over spectacularly in one of the events and the national pundits will bash these events as ‘bad for you'.

  • - I'll smile at the dog, pick up my feet and put them down, ignoring all the hoopla.

 

That's my story and I'm sticking to it - I'll see you out there (for 9+ hours).

 

C-,

 

 

Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy. Chris is the author of , short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack. Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at http://www.runnerati.com/. Chris' Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at http://www.runrunlive.com/. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners. ChrisRunner@runrunlive.com

 

 

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Running Podcasts - My local billion-member running club

 

 

Running Podcasts -The new running community phenomenon - coming to an ear bud near you.

 

 

A couple years back I spoke to you about the explosion of the iPod trend in running.  Now I bring you tidings of a new iPod related wave sweeping our sport.  In an amazing outgrowth of communalism the worldwide running community has become sentient and it wants to run with you.  As usual I thought I was doing something unique with my own efforts in this new venue only to find out I was joining a grand new community that is open to us all and growing fast!

 

 

The other day I ran with a gentleman named Krister as he took me on his favorite 8k loop along the farms and narrow paths of Sweden.  We chatted about his wife and kids and his dreams.  We were joined by a young married couple from Fall River MA, an engineer from Oxford MA, mutual friend from Staffordshire UK, another friend from the small island of Tiree off the Scottish Coast, a volunteer firefighter from BC Canada and a semi-mystic from Florida. 

 

 

We all ran together. 

 

 

We run together often.  We share our personal stories.  We converse together about the wondrous pain, mystery and revelation that is running. We commiserate. We share tips and tactics. We plan races and events.  We know each other intimately.  We are comforted by each other's acts and voices.  Our conversation encompasses everything that a good running club brings to the table.

 

 

We've never met.

 

 

This is the phenomena of running podcasts that is sweeping the running community. Like most things that our community births, it is inclusive and nurturing.  This running club opens its arms to new comers and welcomes new voices to sit around the running club table and jump in to the conversation.  It is a club vibrant, active and enthusiastic.

 

 

What the heck am I talking about?  How can I run with these folks and share the intimacies of their lives without ever meeting them?  For that matter, you may ask, "What is a running podcast?" and "Why is it a phenomenon?" 

 

 

In the simplest terms it is runners, of every stripe projecting themselves audibly into the universe.  In the grander sense it is the coalescence of a running mastermind. 

 

 

Here's a quick definition from the new media encyclopedia Wikipedia...

 

 

A *podcast *is a series of digital-media files, which are distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and computers. The term podcast, like broadcast, can refer either to the series of content itself or to the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also called podcasting. The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster.

 

 

Mechanically it manifests as a runner recording their thoughts in audio, perhaps in a ‘radio show' format and setting those shows free on the internet.  Many use iTunes in particular and spread the love through syndication.

 

 

Podcasts were made available by the great success of the Apple iPod and the now ubiquitous MP3 players.  Whether you love or hate the entrance of personal digital audio players into our sport - they are here to stay. Tens of millions of runners all around the world strap on their MP3 listening device every day the same way they strap on their shoes. 

 

 

Why this is important is that running uniquely lends itself to podcasting.  Running has both an opportunity and ‘fit' with podcasting.  Running has advantages in both the listening and the creation of podcast content. 

 

 

On the listening side we already know what the fit is.  We've seen iPods for the last 3-4 years take over the mid-pack of the sport.  The simple fact of being a mid-pack marathoner is that you will spend hours and hours of time alone with yourself on the road and trails training.  From the beginning of the iPod introduction runners have filled these long hours with the audio distractions available to their ear buds.  It's a custom-made opportunity for undisturbed listening.  We are a fertile field because there is so much dead space to be filled.

 

 

At first we filled these long hours with our favorite music.  Soon we became jaded with our old music files.  How many times can you listen to the White Album?  The medium began to naturally produce books on tape and spoken audio. 

 

 

At some point lightening struck. Some technically savvy running geek (of which there are many for some reason) decided to take a digital recorder with them on their run.  They thought it might be cool to try and capture those wisps of perfect thoughts and inspiration that come to us on our runs.  A new genre was born and with it a community.

 

 

As runners we have long known that inspiration and epiphany come to us while we are out on our runs.  What if we could share this inspiration and epiphany?  What if we could record our thoughts in situ, in the moment they take fanciful flight from our subconscious as those happy running chemicals sauté our brains?

 

 

What if you could take someone with you on your lonely long runs?  Someone who really knows the great joys of running?  Someone who shares your passions, shares your challenges and can counsel you in your hour of need?  The combination of these attributes has made running podcasts (or "runcasts") a run-away success. 

 

 

What makes this generation of technology-enabled long distance community different?  Haven't runners been building remote communities on the internet for years? 

 

 

Yes it is true that this is an extension of the internet enabled worldwide running community.  The main difference is the intimacy.  It is intimate because you are hearing that person's voice and all the emotive content in that voice.  It is different when that voice comes to you while you are running and was recorded when they were running.  It is a perfect storm of running intimacy. 

 

 

You know from your experience as a runner that going for a run with someone makes them an instant friend.  This thing you share on that run creates a strong bond.  You may otherwise never have met or befriended this person but through running together you have become linked in your shared humanity. That is what the running podcast brings. 

 

 

At this point in its development the wave is driven by amateurs.  They record and publish because they love the sport and the people in it.  This gives the running podcasts that fresh authenticity that is so lacking in our world.  It's real - in a good way.  The charm is the way they laugh with you - at themselves.

 

 

These podcasters are just having fun, but they are changing the world one new runner at a time.  They chide and inspire non-runners to leave the couch.  They support those new to the sport and keep them with it.  They inspire through deed, thought and spoken word.  They leave a trail of hope in the wake of their disembodied voices.

 

 

The reach of this good news; this ministry of the mid-pack is global.  The internet knows no bounds.  Recently a few of the podcasters put together a series of virtual races.  So far there are over 700 people signed up from 33 different countries.  They have signed up to run a race that only exists in our minds! (and on the internet) the tag line is "Think Global, Run Local". 

 

 

I'm sure it won't be long before our favorite behemoth running shoe company or running magazine publisher seizes control of this phenomenon and injects it with corporate blandness.  Until that time go check out a running podcast and join the new revolution or pick up your microphone and jump in.  We're all here and we'd love to have you.

 

 

My Podcast is available by searching on RunRunLive in the iTunes store or go browse http://www.runningpodcasts.org/ for the whole basket of fruitful flavors!

 

 

See you out there,

 

 

Chris,

 

 

Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy.  Chris is the author of , short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack.  Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at http://www.runnerati.com/.  Chris' Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at http://www.runrunlive.com/. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River RunnersChrisRunner@runrunlive.com

 

 

 

 

 

681 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, marathon, marathon_training, run, running_groups, running_shoes, ultramarathon, running_clubs, trail_race, road_runner, runner., running_podcast, running_blog

Running Podcasts - My local billion-member running club

 

Running Podcasts -The new running community phenomenon - coming to an ear bud near you.

 

 

A couple years back I spoke to you about the explosion of the iPod trend in running. Now I bring you tidings of a new iPod related wave sweeping our sport. In an amazing outgrowth of communalism the worldwide running community has become sentient and it wants to run with you. As usual I thought I was doing something unique with my own efforts in this new venue only to find out I was joining a grand new community that is open to us all and growing fast!

 

 

The other day I ran with a gentleman named Krister as he took me on his favorite 8k loop along the farms and narrow paths of Sweden. We chatted about his wife and kids and his dreams. We were joined by a young married couple from Fall River MA, an engineer from Oxford MA, mutual friend from Staffordshire UK, another friend from the small island of Tiree off the Scottish Coast, a volunteer firefighter from BC Canada and a semi-mystic from Florida.

 

 

We all ran together.

 

 

We run together often. We share our personal stories. We converse together about the wondrous pain, mystery and revelation that is running. We commiserate. We share tips and tactics. We plan races and events. We know each other intimately. We are comforted by each other's acts and voices. Our conversation encompasses everything that a good running club brings to the table.

 

 

We've never met.

 

 

This is the phenomena of running podcasts that is sweeping the running community. Like most things that our community births, it is inclusive and nurturing. This running club opens its arms to new comers and welcomes new voices to sit around the running club table and jump in to the conversation. It is a club vibrant, active and enthusiastic.

 

 

What the heck am I talking about? How can I run with these folks and share the intimacies of their lives without ever meeting them? For that matter, you may ask, "What is a running podcast?" and "Why is it a phenomenon?"

 

 

In the simplest terms it is runners, of every stripe projecting themselves audibly into the universe. In the grander sense it is the coalescence of a running mastermind.

 

 

Here's a quick definition from the new media encyclopedia Wikipedia...

 

 

A *podcast *is a series of digital-media files, which are distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and computers. The term podcast, like broadcast, can refer either to the series of content itself or to the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also called podcasting. The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster.

 

 

Mechanically it manifests as a runner recording their thoughts in audio, perhaps in a ‘radio show' format and setting those shows free on the internet. Many use iTunes in particular and spread the love through syndication.

 

 

Podcasts were made available by the great success of the Apple iPod and the now ubiquitous MP3 players. Whether you love or hate the entrance of personal digital audio players into our sport - they are here to stay. Tens of millions of runners all around the world strap on their MP3 listening device every day the same way they strap on their shoes.

 

 

Why this is important is that running uniquely lends itself to podcasting. Running has both an opportunity and ‘fit' with podcasting. Running has advantages in both the listening and the creation of podcast content.

 

 

On the listening side we already know what the fit is. We've seen iPods for the last 3-4 years take over the mid-pack of the sport. The simple fact of being a mid-pack marathoner is that you will spend hours and hours of time alone with yourself on the road and trails training. From the beginning of the iPod introduction runners have filled these long hours with the audio distractions available to their ear buds. It's a custom-made opportunity for undisturbed listening. We are a fertile field because there is so much dead space to be filled.

 

 

At first we filled these long hours with our favorite music. Soon we became jaded with our old music files. How many times can you listen to the White Album? The medium began to naturally produce books on tape and spoken audio.

 

 

At some point lightening struck. Some technically savvy running geek (of which there are many for some reason) decided to take a digital recorder with them on their run. They thought it might be cool to try and capture those wisps of perfect thoughts and inspiration that come to us on our runs. A new genre was born and with it a community.

 

 

As runners we have long known that inspiration and epiphany come to us while we are out on our runs. What if we could share this inspiration and epiphany? What if we could record our thoughts in situ, in the moment they take fanciful flight from our subconscious as those happy running chemicals sauté our brains?

 

 

What if you could take someone with you on your lonely long runs? Someone who really knows the great joys of running? Someone who shares your passions, shares your challenges and can counsel you in your hour of need? The combination of these attributes has made running podcasts (or "runcasts") a run-away success.

 

 

What makes this generation of technology-enabled long distance community different? Haven't runners been building remote communities on the internet for years?

 

 

Yes it is true that this is an extension of the internet enabled worldwide running community. The main difference is the intimacy. It is intimate because you are hearing that person's voice and all the emotive content in that voice. It is different when that voice comes to you while you are running and was recorded when they were running. It is a perfect storm of running intimacy.

 

 

You know from your experience as a runner that going for a run with someone makes them an instant friend. This thing you share on that run creates a strong bond. You may otherwise never have met or befriended this person but through running together you have become linked in your shared humanity. That is what the running podcast brings.

 

 

At this point in its development the wave is driven by amateurs. They record and publish because they love the sport and the people in it. This gives the running podcasts that fresh authenticity that is so lacking in our world. It's real - in a good way. The charm is the way they laugh with you - at themselves.

 

 

These podcasters are just having fun, but they are changing the world one new runner at a time. They chide and inspire non-runners to leave the couch. They support those new to the sport and keep them with it. They inspire through deed, thought and spoken word. They leave a trail of hope in the wake of their disembodied voices.

 

 

The reach of this good news; this ministry of the mid-pack is global. The internet knows no bounds. Recently a few of the podcasters put together a series of virtual races. So far there are over 700 people signed up from 33 different countries. They have signed up to run a race that only exists in our minds! (and on the internet) the tag line is "Think Global, Run Local".

 

 

I'm sure it won't be long before our favorite behemoth running shoe company or running magazine publishers seizes control of this phenomenon and injects it with corporate blandness. Until that time go check out a running podcast and join the new revolution or pick up your might and jump in. We're all here and we'd love to have you.

 

 

My Podcast is available by searching on RunRunLive in the iTunes store or go browse http://www.runningpodcasts.org/ for the whole basket of fruitful flavors!

 

 

See you out there,

 

 

Chris,

 

 

Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy. Chris is the author of , short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack. Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at http://www.runnerati.com/. Chris' Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at http://www.runrunlive.com/. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners. ChrisRunner@runrunlive.com

 

 

 

 

 

735 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, running, blog, marathon, 10k, marathon_training, 5k, jogging, podcast, mileage, jogging_a_good_exercise, road_runner, jogging_tips

Running the long tail

Posted by Chris Russell Aug 1, 2008

 

 

 

 

Running the long tail

 

 

Or - Why Google is so dang interesting...

 

 

I started my running podcast, (RunRunLive), for fun and created a running themed website to host it.  I never dreamed I'd get the interesting, hilarious and troubling insight into the human brain that has cropped up.  The internet is so cool in what it reveals about people and even more fascinating in what it hints at.  So how did my little running podcast experiment give me insight this week?

 

 

Apparently there are naked runners with achy quads running the beaches of Cape Cod, swatting at green head flies.  They are worried about whether taking a couple ibuprofen for their aches will ruin their sex life.  That's a slice of humanity for you!

 

 

I've always been interested in the fractal nature of the web's logic.  How it grew organically to represent the way our brains actually work.  Random connections of thoughts and phrases produce associations that you might not have made, but when you see them you think, "OK, that's strange but interesting..."

 

 

I was futzing around on my hosting service (seekdotnet) and saw a link in my control panel called "Website Statistics".  First I looked at the file downloads.  I figured the number of people who downloaded my podcast would be interesting.  I was curious to see how many and also which episode was most popular after one month. 

 

 

The funny thing here is that we, the creators of the content, think we know what our best work is.  In my experience writing for coolrunning, I've discovered that my opinion is entirely useless as an indicator.  I would put up an article that I had really poured my heart into and thought was fantastic, and I would get low interest.  Alternatively I would slap up something that I thought was mediocre and it would really pull.  There was no telling what the readers would grab onto. 

 

 

Of course I learned there are some common elements to a story that ‘pulls'.  The readers tend to latch on to emotional issues and specific quick fixes.  My biggest feedback articles were on running with an iPod, Running with my dog, the 2004 Boston Marathon (miserable hot year), running so you can eat more and training for a marathon on 3 days a week,  in that order. 

 

 

For my new running podcast, and this is only after a month, the most downloads were for episode 8 where I interview a friend of mine Gary who went from new runner to back-to-back sub-3 hour marathons in about 3 years.  My suspicion is that the phrase "new runner to back-to-back sub-3 hour marathons in 3 years" in the title caught people's attention.  The triumph of the yellow press!

 

 

So I guess I'll go change all the titles to "Free Sex Beer Now" or something...

 

 

The second thing about the downloads that I thought was interesting was that almost 200 people are already subscribing to my podcast.  That's crazy in only about a month of production.  This shows you that the internet is just beginning to blossom in its ability to connect random like thinkers.

 

 

I also looked at the page views.  Those boys over at Google sure are busy beavers.  They hit my brand new site with their indexer 1000-2000 times a week.  It looks like their servers are based in Virginia and California.  Either that or the CIA is on to me. 

 

 

I've got fans in Canada and the UK - which is cool.  I think those places are ahead of the curve when it comes to podcasting.  There were also hits from Eastern Europe that were probably hackers looking for someone to rob or extort.  When you open the door, anyone can come through.

 

 

The really interesting stuff was what people typed into search boxes to get to my fledgling site.  Below is the list.  Just from looking at this I can tell you that the search engines all but ignore the tags you bake into the website itself, but they really care about the ‘content' in the form of text and words and phrases. I'm going to collect all these and create a frequently asked questions section on RunRunLive.

 

 

Running Blogs and Running Podcasts search phrases:

 

 

First there were a bunch of what you would expect - people searching for running podcasts and blogs.  In this case the search engines worked.  Go to my website RunRunLive to see how to get my running podcast and running blog.  Also visit Nigel's website http://www.runningpodcasts.org/ for a wider assortment and search Blogger for the best in blogs.

 

 

runrunlive, run run live, podcast runner, runnerati, podcast running, running "side of the trail" "another runner", runningpodcast, run run long podcast, run & podcast+

 

 

Running Questions

 

 

Then, believe it or not, there were other runners who searched for help with a specific running question and got directed to me because of my content.  Again I'd say this was what the engines were designed for.  I'll answer those questions here...

 

 

how far is a running track around

 

 

Answer: 98% will be 400 Meters but you may find some really old one's that are 440 yards or ¼ mile.

 

 

running; chemicals

 

 

Answer: natural ones produced by your body - cool.  The unnatural one's introduced into their bodies by cheaters - bad.

 

 

achy quads running

 

 

Answer: Yeah, that happens sometimes, it's ok - try an ice bath after your next hard work out or long run...

 

 

how far before long run should you eat

 

 

Answer: Depends on what you're eating.  I've gotten to the point where I can run after eating almost anything and eat while I'm running.  For races or hard workoutsI try to get a power bar down 90 minutes before the gun and a caffeinated Gu 30 minutes before the gun.

 

 

Cape Cod

 

 

It seems that there are a bunch of runners vacationing on Cape Cod in these summer months and my blogs from there drew some hits.

 

 

run in packed sand

 

 

Answer:  Yeah but it will eat your feet after ½ hour if you're not used to it and watch out for the shells.

 

 

running the cape cod rail trail

 

 

Answer: Yeah, do it. 60 miles long from Dennis to P-Town.

 

 

running path cape cod

 

 

cape cod, running path

 

 

Answer:  See above

 

 

green head flies Chatham, MA

 

 

green head flies chatham ma

 

 

sandy neck greenhead fly season

 

 

Answer: They suck.

 

 

Cape Cod running and racing

 

 

Answer: Check CoolRunning or contact a local club

 

 

How deep do beachgoers wade?

 

 

Answer:  Deep enough.

 

 

Now for something completely different. 

 

 

These were the search phrases that through me for a loop. 

 

 

naked torso runner

 

 

Answer:  Are you referring to me?  The rule is that you have to have a hot body or be over 45. 

 

 

run the beach bare

 

 

Answer:  Whatever floats your boat.

 

 

ibuprofen and sexual prowes

 

 

Answer:  Prowess has two s'

 

 

mantras to keep away the nightmares

 

 

Answer:  Try "No more nightmares!"

 

 

the biker elephant man chris

 

 

Answer:  Are you kidding me?

 

 

Interesting, huh?  Hopefully everyone got their answers.  I'll be looking over my shoulder for those streaking beach-waders next time I'm out on the beach!

 

 

See you out there!

 

 

C-,

 

 

Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy.  Chris is the author of , short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack.  Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at http://www.runnerati.com/.  Chris' Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at http://www.runrunlive.com/. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River RunnersChrisRunner@runrunlive.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Rainy ramble on the rail trail - Dateline: Cape Cod

 

How often do you find yourself saying "It's an easy week I only have to run for 3.5 hours." Welcome to Ultra training. So far I'm digging it. Lots of slow easy miles. Plenty of eating. All the good things in life.

 

Buddy the Wonder Dog and I ventured out for an easy 90 minute out and back on the Mid-Cape Rail Trail. It was as close to raining without actually raining as it can get. Nice and cool for July 5th, but still very humid and the dog wasn't digging it.

 

 

There were many random tourists on poorly fitted bicycles. Some looking as if this may be their once-a-year ride. There were a couple of girls on those pseudo-cross-country-ski things with the poles and everything. There were a half dozen runners and joggers.

 

 

Buddy and I parked at Thompson's conservation land on Rte. 39 in Harwich. This is a great little park to take your dog to. On any given day there will be 10-20 dogs being walked (off leash). It is a regular love boat for dogs.

 

 

Today we parked there because it has access to the rail trail spur. The Mid-Cape Rail Trail goes all the way from Dennis up to Providence Town - over 60 miles. The surface is of the parking-lot-asphalt variety. Not too hard. There is usually a strip of unpaved grass to one side for the dog to trot in.

 

 

The Trail itself skirts beaches, ponds, highways, state forests, state parks and cranberry bogs as it makes its way Up-Cape. The section I run from Harwich up to Brewster and Orleans is quite heavily traveled. Lots of families on bike outings. It crosses Rte 6 for the only major elevation gain. It also passes through the large fresh water ponds in Harwich.

 

 

Buddy had to stay on leash today because of the traffic. He doesn't like it. If I give him too much leash he'll inevitably make his way to the center of the path and end up running directly into oncoming traffic. I think it's because his breed originated in Scotland - where they run on the wrong side of the trail.

 

 

We do just fine on the rail trail. Most of the bikers are faster than us and we are faster than most of the runners. We don't get caught in traffic. We mind our own business.

 

 

Today we passed two women on the way out. Buddy doesn't like following. If we are close enough to another runner - Buddy will insist we throw in a fartlek to take them. One of the women was evidently a sophomore like my daughter. She had a shirt that said "Class of 2010" on the back. I thought "Huh - Class of ‘80" when I passed her.

 

 

It got warm enough that I ended up shucking my shirt and running in my "racing sweater". I'm old enough now to not care if I scare the locals with my Elephant Man good looking naked torso.

 

 

There are at least 5 porta-potties in the 5 or so miles I went out. That's outstanding port-potty density. There is also an ice cream stand and a general store.

 

 

On the way back I let Fur-Boy go for a swim in one of the ponds. It reenergized him. He came out of the water wanting to run some tempo. The dog has no pacing skills. We got tangled up racing a family of four on bicycles. I think Dad could have taken us and Mom would have been a tester, but we had the two little kids hands down and lost them on the up-hill over the highway with a little burst.

 

 

And so it goes. Another place, another run. Back to the burgers and chips. Tomorrow morning we'll see if we can get up early enough to sneak Buddy onto the real beach.

 

 

See you out there...

 

 

C-,

 

 

Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy. Chris is the author of , short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack. Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at http://www.runnerati.com/. Chris' Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at http://www.runrunlive.com/. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners. ChrisRunner@runrunlive.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Hot weather running tips from the midpack

 

Where we sweat a lot...

 

 

According to the Smithsonian Magazine I just read we all originated in Africa.  The weather there a couple hundred thousand years ago was hot and humid.  Somewhere our common ancestor slogged through a daily run in the hot and humid jungle.  So you'd think we'd be used to it.

 

 

Unfortunately I think my more recent ancestors were digging in peat bogs somewhere in Northern Europe.  I don't perform well athletically in the heat.  Neither does my Border Collie Buddy. Give us a couple inches of crusty snow and a driving sideways freezing rain and we're right at home.  Drop us into your standard Fourth of July race with full sun and 85 degrees and we wilt. 

 

 

What can you do to mitigate the effects of the sun and the heat?  First of all there's no real reason we can't have a good run on a hot day.  Humans are designed to cope with the hot.  Understanding the changes that your body goes through in response to the stress of heat will help you to come up with strategies to co-exist.

 

 

Failing a course of heat preconditioning I would recommend the following tactics to stay cooler.

 

  • 1. Avoid the sun and heat as much as possible pre-race. Keep your core temp down. Stay in the shade until race time.

  • 2. Don't eat anything for a couple hours before the race. I've seen some gruesome finish lines from people who ‘fueled up' before the hot race.

  • 3. Manually rub/spray/squirt water on your large patches of exposed skin while you're racing. I carry a water bottle and I'll squirt water on my exposed arms and thighs in a race to maximize the evaporation potential over these large surface areas.

  • 4. Get a good hat. Something light, light colored and vented. Lots of heat escapes through the top of your head - don't trap it in.

  • 5. Less clothing is better - maximize the surface area of skin exposed to the wind.

  • 6. Lube up to prevent chaffing. When your clothing gets soaked with sweat it will rub more. Sweat becomes a whetting agent.

  • 7. Help your body by visualizing. Picture the heat flowing from inside your core and out to the skin to be whisked away by evaporating water. Sounds hokey, but it helps.

 

What happens in your body when it's hot out?  Your body has a core operating temperature range that it likes to stay within.  When you rev up the engine on a hot day through exercise your core temperature starts to rise and your body initiates response mechanisms to deal with it. 

 

 

You start to sweat.  Your body coats the available surface with a glistening sheen of water. Why?  Because water has some amazing chemical properties (you may remember this from 8th grade science).  Water evaporates.  When it evaporates it changes chemical state from a liquid to a gas.  This process requires a whole bunch of energy.  It sucks this energy from the environment in the form of heat. 

 

 

When you round that corner and feel that welcoming breeze in your local 5K you are feeling thousand of water molecules changing state and absorbing heat. Feels good doesn't it?  It's the same concept as the radiator in your car. 

 

 

Why is the radiator in your car so big?  It is trying to present a large surface area to the wind to maximize the cooling.  Your skin is your radiator.  The more of it that you can expose to the wind the more efficient it is going to be at removing heat through evaporation. 

 

 

As you continue to exercise your body starts to move more blood towards the radiator - your skin.  The small capillaries in your skin will dilate to handle more fluid exchange - moving more blood away from your core and into your radiator.  Your heart (the pump) will have to work harder to push this blood out to a larger surface area. 

 

 

Ever feel nauseous in a hot race?  That may be because your body has decided to reprioritize blood away from your non-essential core systems to get more out to the radiator.  Our body thinks we must be being chased by a hungry lion and reprioritizes blood away from the GI tract and head to the muscles and skin.  You become dizzy and sick to your stomach.

 

 

At some point systems start shutting down and if you tough it out long enough you can trigger a cascade of system failure that will end your racing career by putting you six-feet-under in a pine box.

 

 

So - What can a simple midpacker do about it?  It really depends on how long you intend to be running.  In longer races you're going to need to focus on staying hydrated and getting the proper electrolyte balance, but the only real answer is to back off.

 

 

You can condition yourself to run in the heat by training in it.  One of the hottest Boston Marathons on record was won by a furnace tender from Nashua N.H. who spent his working days shoveling coal into a blazing fire.  All the other runners collapsed, but for him it was just another day at the office.

 

 

You may not have the option of shoveling coal every day, but you can take in some training runs in the heat and practice your water rubbing and heat exchange visualization.  You may find that you enjoy working up a good sweat. 

 

 

Be safe.  Be careful.  Unfortunately in our despoiled modern world many of the hot days also have bad air quality.  Check the weather and use your head to stay cool.

 

 

See you out there,

 

 

C-,

 

 

Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Littleton Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy.  Chris is the author of , short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack.  Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at http://www.runnerati.com/.  Chris' Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at http://www.runrunlive.com/. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River RunnersChrisRunner@runrunlive.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Web 2.0 Running

Posted by Chris Russell Jul 2, 2008

Does anyone really care what you think?

 

Running is such an intimate act that I'm surprised we haven't seen Hollywood find a way to wrap an awful C-list celebrity reality show around it. Maybe they have and I just don't watch enough TV to know.

 

The logistical problem for the aspiring Spielberg's is that all you would see from the outside is some sweaty old guy plodding down the road for hours on end with a spacey look in his eyes.

 

 

Where's the turmoil? The angst? Where's all this striving and falling short of the man in the arena that you runners are always on about? Apart from the occasional collapse, regurgitation or ungainly dash behind a bush it's all going on inside the head (and bodies) of us - the participants.

 

 

That's what makes it so hard to capture visually. That's why the raw emotive power of a run lends itself much better to the written form. It's an inner world with its own funky architecture of towering spires and murky bogs. It's a fantastical Suessical of our own making. It's that undiscovered country beyond the doors of perception that we get to glimpse into every time those happy running chemicals start to seep into our meninges. Think Naked Lunch or Don Juan.

 

 

We used to write books and articles, but now we blog. That is the bite sized chunk of hyperlinked text that more and more runners are using to adequately describe the emotional journey of "my first marathon" etc. I think that's great - it makes the sport even more inclusive.

 

 

Getting under the covers; letting the participants use the paint brush of a wordscape to share the powerful emotional impact of that "first marathon" is a further democratization of our sport. Of course it creates a chaos of mediocrity tempered by the glow of authenticity. Out of this chaos, perchance a sparkling gem of a thought or phrase or story will arise through the genetic selection that is the internet.

 

 

We get to ride along and tap that unfiltered emotion of a hard run in the pouring rain with Joe Runner.

 

 

It's hard to make a movie about such things imagined or real as played across the inner screens of our minds, but how about an audio recording? I've been sampling the running podcasts recently and some of this ‘raw feed' of running is out there to be listened to on your commute to work.

 

 

Like any new medium it's got good and bad. Let me start with the top 5 reasons running podcasts are good.

 

 

  • 1. Entertainment. Podcasts can be entertaining as well as informative (think Car Talk).

  • 2. Multi-task. You can dual task and listen while you're working out or driving.

  • 3. Direct and immediate. They allow us to tap directly into the emotions of that runner at the point of the activity - no waiting - no filter.

  • 4. Communication of mode specific info. There are certain things that are just easier to describe by speaking, like trying to describe what a tempo pace should feel like to a new runner.

  • 5. Intimacy. It feels many degrees more intimate and emotional content is easier to convey.

 

Now for the bad news. Here are some bits that didn't work for me from some of the Podcasts.

 

  • 1. Listening to you run is a bit creepy. One of the most common things was that the podcasters would just carry a recorder with them when they went out for a run. It sounds good in theory but I found all that heavy breathing and rhythmic footfall a bit *****-soundtrack weird.

  • 2. Stop being preachy. Hand people a microphone and all of a sudden they step into the pulpit. This is one area where the written word works much better. I know it's harder but find a way to tell me how good it is without telling me how good it is.

  • 3. It's not about you. You know, at the end of the day, we really only care about you in the context of what it means to us. I only care about your race or training run if you can build a bridge to me. Try to answer the question, "Why do I care?"

  • 4. I don't have all day. Maybe I'm just lucky but I only have a 40 minute commute to work. Who can listen to a Podcast that is 1:20 long? Come on folks! That means I'm going to more than likely only listen to 40 minutes of it and then just worry that I missed something good.

  • 5. Infomercials. This is a problem with podcasts in general that at some point they turn into an infomercial. Refreshingly enough none of the running podcasts I've sampled so far have this problem.

  • 6. Give me content! That's what I want! Valuable advice, entertaining stories, interesting people wonderful ideas - give me content!

 

Look what you've made me do! I'm 300 words over my self-imposed blog limit and still going. Go on out and sample the available sound imbroglio at iTunes or RunningPodcasts.org. Tell me what you think.

 

See you out there,

 

 

C-,

 

 

Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy. Chris is the author of , short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack. Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at http://www.runnerati.com/. Chris' Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at http://www.runrunlive.com/. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners.

 

 

 

 

 

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Chris Russell

Chris Russell

Member since: Oct 4, 2007

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