When to Run - Pros/Cons

Yesterday there was quite the discussion of the best time to run, so I decided to give some PROs and CONs to portions of the day (of course this is in my opinion, but honestly is there really a bad time to run?)

Early Morning (4am - 8am)

PROs: The sun is down or starting to come up and the world is beginning to wake up and there is a great feeling of serenity when you run before the world begins to rumble. Chances are you will come across other runners out for the same idea and if you time it right, you can start in the dark and finish when the sun is rising and be ready to start the day. Great way to start your metabolism and increased blood flow early.

CONs: Too Early. Haha. Let's get the obvious out of the way: you don't get to sleep in. If it's the weekend, this may be your few days to hit the snooze. If you are starting before the sun comes up, darkness may be a factor. Also, cars leaving for work tend to be driven by half-awake people who haven't had their coffee so be careful.

Late Morning to Early Afternoon (10am - 1 pm)

PROs: You are able to get your run in before the day starts to really get going. If you are running through neighborhoods or parks they will tend to be less impacted with people due to work or school. You are also starting before the heat is at it's peak. At home parents: this may be your time to run while the little ones are at school.

CONs: The sun is out and depending on your area it can get warm early. Sunscreen may be needed along with proper hydration. This also may be inconvenient for those that work a 9-5. There is also the possibility of a lunch crowd the later you start. You could be surrounded by those speeding to run errands or those trying to squeeze in a 40 min run during their lunch break, so keep an eye out in case they don't.

Late afternoon (2pm - 5 pm)

PROs: This may be inconvenient for most people which can be a plus for you. Running areas will be less impacted with those avoiding the middle-of-the-day. You are also getting in some miles to burn off your lunch and activating your metabolism before dinner.

CONs: Heat will be at it's peak during summer and you will need to plan accordingly. Proper skin protection, water/sports drink will be required. Try to map your run to include water fountains or bring a few dollars to replenish your drink supply. This is also extremely inconvenient for 9-5ers during the week.

Evening (6pm - 9pm)

PROs: Depending on your start time a run before dinner is a great way to get your metabolism going pre-meal. The sun and heat should be low offering a more comfortable atmosphere. It's also a great way to bring the end to a day and run when the sky is filled with its' beautiful sunset colors.

CONs: If you have dinner before, running on a full stomach could be problematic. If you have a light dinner to make the run easier, you could be hungry when you return resulting in late-night snacking. The evening energy boost may also prohibit those that hit the sack early from falling asleep right away. Plus all the best television is on. :)

Night (9pm - Midnight)

PROs: This is a great time to run if done properly. It is generally pretty quiet the later you run as long as you are not in a major city running downtown on the weekend. The weather should be agreeable as long as it isn't too cold and foot traffic should be minimal.

CONs: Safety is an issue. It is late at night and the streets should be empty. If something happens such as an injury or you get lost, there may not be as many people around to assist you compared to earlier in the day. You'll also need to plan for no help from the sun and trying to run in well lit areas. Reflective clothing and blinking lights are highly recommended.

Thanks for the input from all you facebook-ers out there. Here is a link to the feedback. (Facebook required)


Mika: Official Training Buddy

My training buddy, Mika, is starting her journey back to 5 miles. For the last 8 weeks she has been  on doctor ordered house rest with very little physical activity, but last week she was given the approval to return to normal activity.

This last weekend it included long walks, chasing her sisters and lots of swimming. Sunday when she came home she was so tired, she passed out in her bed downstairs with her stuffed monkey and last night didn't even try to jump on the bed; instead she laid on her blanket at the foot of the bed (yes, she is extremely babied)

But now it is time for me to get her back into true form. Her goal distance is 5 miles. Normally she enjoys waking up with me at 5am and squeezing in some miles before (my) work. When I wake up in the morning and she sees me grab my Asics she jumps out of bed and wags her tail. But if I grab my Adidas or Jordans, she doesn't move and goes back to sleep knowing we are not running. SHE KNOWS. (That is her in the image above being a bum and sleeping in.)

We ran a mile last night when the sun went down and we'll slowly build back up to 5 miles. Just like us humans, she'll have to build her mileage back up after a long break. She is my little trooper and my running buddy. Always ready to head out the door and pound the pavement at any time night, day or dusk.

You can also visit her dogster page for additional fun with Mika. :)


Hit The Road Jack 10k Results

That road has been hit!

Distance:10k (or 6.2 mi.)
Garmin Time: 50:45
Avg. Pace: 8:06
Fastest Mile: 7:31 (mile 6)

It started off as a beautiful morning. I met up with a couple friends; one was running, the other not and we shot the poo before the race. When the race started, I wished my fellow running buddy good luck and he sped off (finishing at his goal of 45:10). The race started in historic downtown Sonoma Plaza and was a loop through neighborhoods and backyard vineyards. It was a beautiful course and tons of trees provided the much needed shade. 

Earlier on Saturday, I took an OVER/UNDER 52 mins. on facebook and the resounding response was go for 49 or 50. There was a moment around 47 mins. where I thought to myself "If I sprint the rest of this, I could hit 49." Unfortunately I didn't have enough gas in the tank. I was already running on pure adrenalin fumes to this point and was in position for the low 50s (which I was more than happy with - consistent 8 min miles is still pretty fast for me at this point in my training). But I picked up my pace and made a go for it running my fastest mile of the race on the final mile. I used every ounce of energy I had on the last mile and left it all out on the course.

After the race we received our 10k T-shirts, some fresh fruit and since it is wine country, cheese. At the plaza they were preparing for the annual Ox Roast and sauce contest. (Left: Ox Roast. Right: Ox Sauce Contest Trophy) — sadly, I didn't get a chance to try the Ox (or sauces) because soon after the race we all enjoyed brunch at a local hotel. We sat outside and I ordered the burger and had a celebratory beer. The food, atmosphere and company was a great end to a fantastic morning. 

I was more than happy with my time and my speed playlist worked out fabulous. I'm glad I decided to Hit the Road Jack and participate. It was a great judge of how my speed training has been paying off and it is always nice to see the rewards of hard work.


Hit the Road Jack 10k Playlist

Guess what I did today? I emptied my iPod shuffle. That's right. I decided to load it only with songs that provoke my legs to run faster. It went from 6 hours of music to over an hour.

Of course it will have songs added to it fairly soon, but I figured if I plan on running my heart out tomorrow at the Hit the Road Jack 10k, I better have some tunes to get feet moving. Since I am shooting for around 52 mins. (which is around 9 min. miles) then I really don't need very many songs on there. Although, according to all of you on facebook, I need to haul ass and finish under 50 mins. I'll do my best, — but that would put me at under 8 min. miles. Will my playlist bring that to fruition?

Here are my "must run faster" songs:

No One - Alicia Keys
Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it) - Beyonce
Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas
Viva La Vida - Coldplay
Universal Mind Control - Common
Get Buck in Here - DJ Felli Fel
Lose Yourself - Eminem
Tambourine - Eve
Echo - Gorilla Zoe
I Want You Back - Jackson 5
Blame It - Jamie Foxx
Champion - Kanye West
Heartless - Kanye West
Let it Rock - Kevin Rudolf
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
Here It Goes Again - OK Go
So What - Pink
Sober - Pink
Fuego - Pitbull
Sexy Can I - Ray J
Nessaja - Scooter (for my Florida Speeters)
Bring Em Out - T.I.
The Way I Are - Timbaland
Shut Up and Let Me Go - The Ting Tings
Untouched - The Veronicas
Shake - Ying Yang Twins

That puts total play time at 1.6 hours, which is over my limit, but sometimes a song that you think is going to get you going (or normally does) just doesn't work at times; so I loaded it with some extras so I can skip forward if I'm not feeling it.

Alright, there it is. I'll try my best to make you all proud.


National Running Day 2009

Today is the inaugural National Running Day and was created as "a national initiative whereby many of the major organizations within the running industry are joining forces in an unprecedented unified effort to nationally and locally promote running as a healthy, easy, and accessible form of exercise."

In other words, running is good for you and you should give it a try. 

The National Running Day Website  lists 7 reasons to run and although they are facts, I wasn't to terribly impressed. If I was not a runner or was interested in starting to run — reading their seven reasons wouldn't sway or motivate me one way or the other. 

So I propose a different approach:

If you can give me three reasons you run, continue to run or want to try running (in the comments section below), I'll mail you a (small) token as a sign of thanks and something that will hopefully get you out there or continue to get you out there.

I will have to place it in the mail so if you would like to receive the small gift, please email me a mailing address at pavementrunner@gmail.com

If you are concerned that you will end up on some mailing list or receive literature in the mail from me, then thank you for thinking that I could afford such a venture. But sadly it is not true. I don't even send out email blasts about new posts, so trust me you won't be receiving unexpected snail mail. However, if you list your three reasons and send me your email address, I can give you a portion of the gift... after all, you should be rewarded for living (or looking to live) a healthy lifestyle. I like to think that runners lead by example. 
Happy National Running Day!


Last Minute Marathon Tips

My sister, Briana, ran her first Marathon last Sunday at the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon. Since I was the one who signed her up through Team in Training five months ago in order to help improve her (and her family's) lifestyle and show her that she could accomplish anything with focus, I felt it was my duty to give her some last minute advice. Here is the email I sent to her:
  1. You can do this. 
  2. This is going to be one of the hardest physical and mental challenges you’ve ever faced. 
  3. You can do this!
  4. You are going to be nervous out of your mind, but it’s normal. 
  5. Start the race slow, you are going to feel the energy of the event and the people around you and you are going to want to start out fast, but try to resist. Remember that you will be running for 5-6 hours, what you do in the first 30 minutes isn’t going to make you finish faster, but it can destroy how you feel at hour 5. (this is important advice.) In short words, start out too fast and it will come back and bite you (from personal experience). 
  6. I try to separate the race into 2 parts. The first 13-15 miles is your warm up. Try to imagine an easy 13 mile run on a Saturday for the first half. 
  7. As for the second half, know that you are half way there and you’ve gone too far and trained too hard not to finish. It’s just another easy 13 miles. 
  8. At the water stops, be careful. Let me repeat: Be careful. People will stop right in front of you and you can run right into them. Paper cups and water will be all over the floor, so watch your step because it is slippery. If you plan on stopping at the water station, there are usually 2-4 tables. Everyone gathers at the first and it is usually much clearer towards the back. 
  9. Bring Gatorade in your water bottle and get water at the stations. If your bottle gets empty, the water station will refill it, just ask nicely. 
  10. Say thank you. It’s funny, but it feels good to you and them to thank the volunteers... they’ll usually give you an extra cheer which helps. 
  11. If you start to cramp, blister or chafe... stop at the aid station and tell them. They can help you out. Taking 10 minutes to fix something at hour 3 is better than suffering for the next 2 hours. At Big Sur, I cramped at mile 16 and took 5 minutes to stretch. I stopped, moved to the side and stretched it out and still managed to improve my overall time by 26 minutes. It pays off. Last year at SF, I got blisters on my toes. I stopped and got Vaseline from the aid station to reduce the rubbing (similar to glide) and I still finished fast. 
  12. This is going to be tough to hear, but it will happen. At some point, you are going to feel like you can’t do it anymore. It is called “hitting the wall.” JUST KEEP MOVING. Even if it means walking or slowing down. JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD. It happens to me all the time. Start concentrating on shorter goals. If you are at mile 18, don’t think that you have 8 miles to go... just try to get to mile 19... then to mile 20. If it gets to hard to think of it in miles, break it down by blocks, trees, corners or whatever is around you. Tell yourself if you get to the tree, then you can walk for 15 seconds and so on. 
  13. Try to imagine how you are going to feel after you have done this. 26.2 MILES. A marathon is a life-time goal for most people and you are going to do it. Think of all the people that have supported you, think of all the people that donated, think of anything and everything that will get you to the finish line. Start doing miles for people. At mile 21 think of one person, do mile 22 for your kids, do mile 23 for all the weight you’ve lost, do mile 24 for Mika (my dog), whoever. Just get to the next mile 
  14. Don’t worry about time. I did my first at 5:21 and I did SF two years ago at 5:40. Time doesn’t matter. Just FINISH. There are people that will run this damn thing in 3 hours so just focus on doing what you came to do. 
  15. Cheer other people on, especially after 20 miles. If you see someone struggling and you are passing them, give a little clap and say “You’re doing great” or “you look fabulous” DO NOT SAY “you’re almost there” or “one more mile, etc.” That doesn’t help. Way to go, keep it up is what you want to say. Karma will reward you and someone will pick your spirits up when you need it. 
  16. Talk to yourself late in the race. I yell at myself around mile 22. I don’t care who’s around. I’ll say “C’mon, you can do it” multiple times throughout the race. You’ll never see these people again, so who cares if they think you’re crazy. HA! 
  17. And finally, have fun. Enjoy the music they have on the course, enjoy the people around you. Thousands of people are out there to accomplish the same thing as you. Feed off their energy. Soak up the experience. This is a lifetime achieving moment and an accomplishment that no one can take away from you. That medal is going to be the best thing in the world once you finish. Imagine how you are going to feel one you cross that line. 

Five months ago, we sat in that building and you asked me if I thought you could do it... do you think you can? Well, go out and prove it. You’ve been training you *** off, you’ve lost a ton of weight, you are eating healthier and your family is better for it. Finish what you started and go run a marathon. You can do it sis, you know you can. I’ll be rooting for ya. Make me proud, make mom proud, make your kids proud and most importantly... DO IT FOR YOURSELF.

* * * *
And there it is. I asked her to print it out and read it a couple times leading up to the race. It's good advice that has been passed down to me and some that I have learned through experience. I like to think at some point during the race, one of these points helped. I spoke to her a couple time Sunday, but I didn't go into too much detail and wanted her to enjoy her accomplishment. I'm so proud that she not only ran her very first marathon, but also raised over $4,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training. Way to go, sis.