Monthly Archives: July 2015

Healthy Relationships – Running – Exercise – Run – Marathon

Healthy relationships are a vital component of health. The health risks from being alone or isolated in one’s life are comparable to the risks associated with cigarette smoking, blood pressure, and obesity.

seashore2014(Nothing better than photobombing friends)

Research shows that:

  • People who have a strong social network tend to live longer.
  • The heart and blood pressure of people with healthy relationships respond better to stress.
  • Strong social networks are associated with a healthier endocrine system and healthier cardiovascular functioning.
  • Healthy social networks enhance the immune system’s ability to fight off infectious diseases.

Colonial200~finishteam(We laughed, we cried, we sang, we stank…we ran 206.8 miles)

How can you increase your healthy relationships? Here are some ideas to help you.

  • Work out. Joining a gym or an exercise group allows you to meet new people while exercising. Attend some local run sessions at a local track, run with a group training for an upcoming marathon etc.
  • Take a walk with your pet. Starting a walking routine after dinner would not only give you another opportunity to be physically active, but it would also create more opportunities for you to meet your neighbors. Okay, don’t worry about running now, just enjoy the time with your four legged friends.
  • Volunteer. Donate some of your time and hard work to a charity. You’ll feel good about the cause, and you’ll meet others with similar passions. Volunteer to help out a local race, Race Directors are always looking for people to help out. Run for a charity.
  • Find others who share your interests. Such as hiking, painting, scrapbooking, running, etc. Join a local run club, go to meetings, share your experiences, train with others and run on a relay team.
  • Coach someone, If you’re an experienced runner, offer to coach someone who is new or who is trying to reach new running distances.

Some health risks you can’t do anything about, others you can…….

The March 50k – Ultra Marathon – Marathon – Run – Race

The March 50k – A run to remember…and one I will remember.

More than just a trail race run in one of our nation’s greatest military communities, Fort Bragg/Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina. The March is a first class event hosted by race director Veronica Johnson with help from Dan Paige. More than just another trail race, this event chooses to challenge runners while remembering America’s war heroes in a very special way.

themarchmap(All American Trail, Fort Bragg, North Carolina)

From the Race Website: Say the phrase “Death March,” and most Americans respond with a single word: Bataan. When Japanese troops overran the Philippines in 1942, they forced thousands of GIs and Filipino soldiers to march across 60 miles of the Bataan Peninsula in tropical heat with little or no food and water. Hundreds of Americans and thousands of Filipinos died in the five-10 day trek that came to be called the Bataan Death March, one of the greatest atrocities ever perpetrated against American fighting men.

But there was another death march inflicted upon American POWs during World War II — a journey that stretched hundreds of miles and lasted nearly three months. It was an odyssey undertaken in the heart of a terrible German winter fraught with sickness, death and cruelty. Though experienced by thousands of GIs, it was all but forgotten by their countrymen. The events has been called various names: “The Great March West”, “The Long March”, “The Long Walk”, “The Long Trek”, “The Black March”, “The Bread March”, and “Death March Across Germany”, but most survivors just called it “The March”.

Veronica and her team matches up race entrants with survivors/or heroes who did not come home from these Marches of WWII. At packet pick up when I was handed my race bib chills went down my spine as I glanced over my race number and noticed my hero’s name. I would run the race in memory of PV2 Amos L. Burk a WWII prisoner of war who spent time in POW Camp Stalag 12. The fact we shared the same name touched me greatly and I would think about Amos often during the race.

the march amos
( Private First Class, Amos L. Burk, Army, Infantry, Alabama)

The March 50k, really 32 miles because of some trail closures, I found to be a very challenging race. I would estimate that 60% of the trail was covered in a layer of fine sand. The miles run on soft sand although forgiving on the feet slowly sucked the energy right out of you. If I had to guess I would say it took roughly 30% more energy to run the same hard packed distance. When the sand was not challenging you, there were hills and then there where hills with sand. At the end of the day, and under a blanket of heat and humidity, I would run my second slowest 50k, 6 hours 18 minutes and 59 seconds.

themarchcourse(The course)

As demanding as this race was, I highly recommend it. Veronica and her gang put on a great race. Rest assured the course will challenge you, the heat will stifle your will and the sand will zap your energy levels. All this pales compared to the challenges our POWs faced daily at the hands of their captures and for some the agonizing trek across Germany. For a brief 32 miles I felt linked to Amos and his gang of brothers who defended freedom and saved the world.

themarch finish(The finish line)

Thank you……

Preparing for a race – marathon – ultramarathon – training – racing

Preparing for a race:  Either we have been there ourselves or we have had friends who after training so hard, for so long missed out on performance goals. Despite putting in the miles, running the speed workouts and tackling the hills, still somehow we managed to fall short of the standards we had set for ourselves. A successful race often comes down to the final stages of your training cycle. Whether it is setting a Personal Record related to time or running a new longest distance it is often the preparation that goes into the final part of the training cycle that determines if you reach your goals or not. 10295131_10152520128806757_6587380298077788669_o The weeks before – Once I select a goal race, I develop a training time line working back from race morning approx. 6 – 8 weeks. From this starting point I ensure my base mileage is in line with the race distance and my performance goals. If my fitness level is not at a point that supports my goal distance or pace I add on to this time line. This is the point that I consider the start of the training cycle for this race. Setting this starting point I also consider in the taper required for the distance I’ll be racing. A normal taper period is three weeks out from race morning. I plan my last long run and build in a 3 week taper from there. The first “taper” week I cut back my mileage roughly 20%, followed by another 20% the second week and the final taper week I plan a conservative mileage total around 15 miles with at least two days off before race morning.

The week before –  This week is a very conservative running week. I focus on recovery, sleep and nutrition including hydration.

For the rest of this post I’ll assume a Saturday morning race start time. I plan to have all of my running miles in by Wednesday night, giving me approx. 60 hours of recovery time prior to race morning. My goal is to arrive at the starting line fueled up, well rested with some zip in my legs and no nagging injury issues. During this 60 hours of down time I may do some light walking to keep my legs limber and the wheels moving.

The preparation that I do off my feet gets a lot of attention during this time. If I have any nagging injury issues I addressed them hard during this time. My plan of attack incorporates foam rolling, icing, Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a therapy, compression gear and elevation, all tools that help get my legs back to 100%. Sleep and eating are also very important elements leading up to race morning.

During the week prior to race morning I go to bed a little earlier than my normal bedtime to ensure I’m well rested. No late night monster movie marathon during this week. I plan to get my best night of sleep on Thursday. I also focus attention on my eating habits and my hydration plan. No nights out on the town or “all you can eat” 5 alarm chicken wings for me.

During this time I make a conscious effort to get in plenty of water/sports drinks. I stick with the tried and true. Most importantly this week is NOT about trying something new. The goal of this week is to have a solid and conservative week in all three departments.

The days before – Normally two days before a race I focus on the finishing touches, i.e. carbo-loading, hydration and rest. NY0211 Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs I was told by a good friend and ultrarunner (Garth P) that in his mind and experince the most important meal was the night before, the night before a big race. For a Saturday race that would be the Thursday night meal. I’ve have followed his advice since my first marathon in 2005 and I believe his advice is true. I plan my best and biggest meal of the week for Thursday night. My favorite pre-race meal being spaghetti with meat sauce, two meat balls, a few slices of bread.


There is no portion sizing here, I go for it… This is my ” Carb Loading” pig out meal.

Friday morning I have a good breakfast, lunch and my traditional pizza meal for dinner. I’ll also snack on some solid energy food throughout the day to keep the munchies at bay. To ensure my hydration is on point, I’m never far from my water bottle.

The night before – The goal of race-eve is to find my happy place and get to sleep. Friday night I get off of work and get home as soon as I can. No shopping trips to the mall, no ultra-runs through COSTCO and no standing in line waiting on a place for dinner. I try to get home, get dinner and get off my feet as fast as I can.

My favorite pre-race dinner is PIZZA. I stick with what works, and pepperoni pizza works for me. A normal race-eve routine following dinner finds me laying out my race gear and powering down early for some time to relax. JFK50 kit I try to enjoy some quiet time with my wife, watching TV or some mindless surfing on the internet. Before it gets too late I call it a night. I plan to get my best night of sleep the night before because I have a tough time getting to sleep on race eve. Most nights before a race I find myself visualizing the race. Most often my mind works overtime on my plans and expectations for the start, the finish and any segments that I may find challenging, climbs, downhill’s or the transitions through the aid stations. Although not physically taxing the mental side of this night can wear you down if you don’t watch it.

The hours before – I’m not one to show up late. The #1 goal of the last few hours before the start is to get to the starting line in a positive frame of mind, with energy in my tank and with time to gather my thoughts. Brain-Games For marathon and longer distances, I normally wake up three hours before race start. The very first thing I do after brushing my teeth and washing my face is to get in my power breakfast. I’ll normally have a few pancakes, a breakfast drink and some form of sports drink to give me a solid carb load. I plan all this with enough time for my belly to settle and the food to process so that I’m not racing with a food bomb in my stomach. I also plan to have enough time prior to leaving the house to take care of other “business.”

I like to arrive at the race location an hour before the start with the goal of avoiding the parking issues, time to visit the port-o-lets and time to listen to some music. After all the work has been done it’s now down to a fleeting few minutes to put the finishing touches on a hopefully successful race.

The minutes before – The calm before the storm. Depending on the distance I have to walk to get to the race start, and my warm up plan, I normally begin my journey to the starting line around 30 minutes out. During this time I review my race plan, check all my race essentials, race number, water bottle and that my shoes are tied properly, as I make my way to the corral. Like the icing on a cake…this is the time where my preparation gets to shine. noland502014prerunmotivation While standing in the corral 15 minutes before the gun goes off, I normally consume a power gel and take a last small drink of water. If my wife is with me this is the last moment I’ll get to spend with her prior to the race starting. We pray, then she gives me a kiss and wishes me good luck. All the work is done it’s just me and the open road ahead of me. The months of training, weeks of preparation, days of focusing and the hours and minutes of racing all come down to the attention I give this last step in my training cycle.

How do you prepare for your race after the majority of work has been done?

Running Mistakes – The Long Run – Marathon Training

Mistakes I’ve Made On The Long Run.

right wrong

The staple of all training plans for half marathon distances and up is the long run. The long run is where you stretch your endurance, where you increase the time you spend on your feet and where you teach your body how to deal with the strains of running really long distances. The long run is also a run where you develop your pre-run/pre-race routine. As you increase your distance over the double digit barrier of ten miles, this training run becomes a run you (or at least I) have to plan for. Planning for the long run includes considering such things as, food, hydration, gear selection, foot and body care and carrying enough fuel and liquids for the run.

The preparation you put into this run and its planning can make or break the run/race. When everything has come together, I’ve had some of my best performances. Unfortunately, when I’ve made mistakes in my pre-run preparation I’ve had some of my worst encounters with the wall.

Five Mistakes I’ve Made While Trying To Run Long:

1. Failure to properly fuel (carb-loading) in the days prior. At least twice that I can remember, I was so secure in my ability to run my 20 miler that I put little forethought into carb-loading in the days prior. I normally have my “fuel” meal the night before, the night before my long run or longer distance race. On these occasions, I blew it off figuring I had “it” in the bank. Well…that did not go so well. I bonked and bonked big time. At mile 18 of a 20 mile run…the needle on the fuel gauge was moving its way to empty in a hurry. The result was a ugly and painful run home.

2. Lack of a solid pre-run breakfast. I’m no nutrition expert, but I once read that a breakfast with 125 grams of carbs, 3 to 4 hours prior to the start of your long run or race will top off your tank. When I’ve taken the time and effort to adhere to this rule I’ve run much better and felt stronger during the race. When I’ve gone out on a small breakfast or none at all I have paid for it and the cost was not cheap.


3. Limited hydration during the run. Most marathon/ultramarathon training plans recommend 12 to 24 ounces of water per hour of sustained effort. On a recent 20 miler I left the house for a ten mile out and back with only a 20 oz handheld and no real plan to resupply. Lucky for me I was able to top off my bottle at around the 13 mile mark. Unfortunately, I did not notice this water source on the outbound leg. At this stage in the run, the damage was done. During the first ten miles I was in conserve water mode and only drank approx. 10 oz of water in roughly 2 hours of running. By the end of my run even though I still had liquid in my bottle I was feeling dehydrated and my pace had fallen off.

4. Forgetting about the feet. Your feet may be the most important thing during a long run. I’ve messed up selecting the wrong socks which created blister issues. I’ve also ignored little things like the condition of my toe nails. During one painful run one of my toe nails was just long enough to dig into the side of its neighbor causing one ugly wound and a very bloody sock.

5. Trying out a new pair of shorts. There is a time and a place to test out new gear. THE long run is NOT the time to test drive a new pair of shorts. If a seam falls in the wrong place, if the material is a bit to course the longer miles of your run will expose these shortfalls in a very painful way. Very early one morning, trying not to wake up my wife while getting dressed, I grabbed a pair of shorts pulled them on and in short order headed out the door for my long run. A mile in something was not right. I inadvertently grabbed a new pair of shorts and they were not riding right. Being a little stubborn, I decided I would just grim and bare it…little did I know the chaffing in “man-land” would become downright painful. Afterward those “new” shorts went right into the trash.



6. Don’t get some silly song stuck in your head. Just prior to going out on your long run/race make sure you only listen to your most favorite play lists. If for some reason you hear, a Barry Manilow, Milli Vanilli, or Bay City Roller’s song it will be stuck in your brain like a terrorizing replay of Disney’s “It’s a small world after all.” You have been warned.

The long run is perhaps the most important run leading to an upcoming race. The amount of attention you give it in the days leading up to or the morning of can make or break the run/race. Don’t let a little inattention to details derail you or leave defeated, broken and in pain at “the bonk zone” of the wall.

Have you forgotten to prepare for your long run? Post a comment and tell us about your long run mistakes.

Why I Run – Because It Is There

As a runner we have all heard the lines…

“If you see me running, it’s because someone is chasing me…”

“I stopped running when I stopped stealing.”

and the infamous question, “Why DO you run?”

The answer to that question is different for everyone, I can only tell you, for me it’s because the open road is there. Recently on a visit to Minnesota my wonderful sister-in-law Nancy took me on a ride to scout out a running route. Nancy was going to take me into a little town called Grey Eagle where I would get out and start my run.

Grey Eagle run(The start of my run in Grey Eagle, MN)

Along the drive to town she identified landmarks to help me get back to her cabin on the lake and the 2 mile route I would run to get in my six miles for the day. At one intersection she told me I should take a right hand turn. The reason she explained was because “the road straight at this intersection is very hilly.”

Say what….the challenge was on!

because it is there
That little baby might not be Leadville’s Hopepass…but it was a fun. According to my GPS this little climb was over half a mile long. It was a perfect day, a great run and I’m glad I took the route less traveled more hilly.


When you see a hilly road/trail to do see a route to avoid or a challenge?


Feetures Socks – Great Running Products

I love it when a product is as good as it looks…

Total disclosure, my wife liked mine Feetures socks so much she hijacked them and wears them for her 21 Day Fix routines.  She is as happy with them as I am. She told me they feel great on her feet, prove support and cushioning as she works her way thru her workout routines. The pairs I got to keep I love, they are plush, comfy and keep my feet cool at work, rest and play.  A pair of socks can’t change the world but they sure make my feet happy at rest and during (and after) a trail/road run.

feeturesI run most nights right after work, with only a minimal time to change, its great to be able to spend my work day in a pair of socks and use them for my run too.

NB shoes

The Feetures line of socks offer three different cushioning level, Ultra Light, Light and Heavy. The Light level works perfect for my style of running and fit with my shoes.  From their website: Our Light Cushion socks are designed with high-density cushioning that provides extra protection in high impact zones. Light Cushion socks are great for those who prefer cushioned comfort without a lot of bulk.


The real testament to performance socks is that they do not isolate a runners foot from his shoes. I took my Feetures running socks on a long run (16 miles) the other day and at the mid point of my run my feet felt great. I also noticed how my feet felt one with my shoe, that although my socks were providing added cushioning they were not inhibiting the connection with my shoes. These performance socks held up great during this long run and I recommend them.


Check out Feetures performance socks today, at their website or like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter and Instagram.



Running and Fishing in Minnesota – Fitness on vacation

Going on vacation can be a fitness routine killer. While away from home you get out of your comfort zone, away from familiar routes and the next thing you know miles are lost that you’ll never get back. For some this can be a fitness killer…

Truth be told I have fallen into this trap myself. I’d miss a few days, and told myself I would get started when I got back home. Next thing I knew a day turned into a few days and then a week. With my routine in shambles, a week transformed into a couples weeks and easily that spiraled into a month or more.

Tired of falling off the wagon and seeing all of my gains in endurance, speed and lost pounds evaporate I decided to take my running on vacation with me. Just as I planned out my vacation adventures I planned running into the time away from home. While on our latest adventure Michele and I planned our fitness time around visiting family, 4th of July activities and fishing in Central/Northern Minnesota.

Lake Wobegon Trail – The Lake Wobegon Trail is a 10-foot wide, bituminous surfaced hike-and-bike pathway. The trail, which opened on September 30, 1998, extends through Central MN from the city of St. Joseph to the city of Osakis. The trail also has an extension on the west side of Albany heading northeast to Holdingford and beyond.

With a wonderful trail system so close we took advantage of this as often as we could. We planned our running early in the mornings or whenever we could plan in a fitness getaway.

runstjoe2015a(86 miles of trail at our finger tips)

With the cool temps and low humidity I found it easy to run.  With such conditions at hand I logged a few tempo runs and long distance outings to help burn off the calories of our other vacationing activities. Those activities included, family reunions, other “adult gatherings.” wing night, pizza night and way to many home made cookies.

runstjoe2015b(It only takes a little extra room in the suit case)

Whenever you’re on vacation, or away from home on business, look for city/state/federal parks systems/trails for some fresh, exciting and new places to run.  Big city running can also be fun and there is no better way to see the city from the ground floor. Not sure where to run, look up some local running clubs, running speciality stores to find some safe places to get out and burn off some stress. Or follow the latest vacationing/fitness trend of destination races. Make the point of your trip to race in a new city. Taking your fitness on vacation with you instead of leaving it at home helps with the hazards of eating away from home, keeps your routine in check and it also refreshes your running.

Fishing – If you can’t fish in Minnesota, you can’t fish anywhere. We went out a number of times to locations I’m sworn to kept a secret. Fishing up north the fish grow large, we were pulling in 1 pound panfish nearly at will. I also caught a number of largemouth bass, a few northern pike, crappie and perch.

mnbass1(D you know how many calories it took to land this monster?
Not many but it sure was fun)

Vacationing can be about some downtime, about rest and recovery. It can also be about learning a new activity, and exposing yourself to new adventures. It is great to getaway, to see new areas of our great country and experience new activities. With some advanced planning and a little research your fitness does not have to stay at home.

How do you stay fit while on vacation? Post a comment and tell us about it…

Running 2015 – so far it has been a up and down year

2015 so far has been a very UP and DOWN year.

As I look back I see alot of success and alot of frustartion.


Jan – A great running month, ran a 50 miler to start the year off right. At the end of the month set a new 10 mile PR and was on target with training for my seond 100 mile race. To top it all off I had a race report published in Marathon & Beyond.


Feb – Some personal issues and snow moved into the 757/804 area which caused me to loss many training days.

Mar – Ran my second 100 mile race, unsupported at the Graveyard 100. It was a good month and a great race.


Apr – My 6th running of the Virginia 24 Hour Ultra Run for Cancer, the race that started all of my ultra-running adventures. 19 hours in I set a new mileage PR (82.5) and was well on my way to another 100, then I had to drop because of Achilles issues with my left leg. On a bright side my team “Run4Life – 3” won the event setting a new team record of 834.5 miles.


May – 21 days of recovery later, and I finally got running again.

Jun – After the frustrating month that was May everything was back on target. Ran the Bethel Boogie 50 miler although I felt a little under-trained. The time off my feet set me behind the power curve for getting used to the heat and humidity. During this hot and steamy race my endurance paid the price. By late in the month I was able to ramp up my training and then Vertigo hit and I landed in the ER. Lost a few days dealing with this spinning out-of-control monster but I’m thankful it was nothing more serious and happy that finally the month came to a close and I made my adjusted goals.

Jul – Ended the month with 182 miles. I feel like I’m back running near 100% with only a slight loss of some speed as a victim to the heat, humidity and injuries over the spring and summer. Spent some vacation time in Minnesota, got in some fishing and running, including a long run of 20+ miles and a route with some hills. Ran a solid outing at The March 50k, a tough 32 miles on the All-American trail to remember WWII POWS/MIAs.

The March Beginning

Aug – The eight month of the year saw my running return to the form of the early spring, and finish  with over 200 miles and in solid shape. I did mange to set a PB for the number of running day in a month with 26. I’ve never been a big streak runner, but this month I did manage to link together a few 10 and 12 day streaks.

Onward and upward: I’m back running at near 100%, getting used to the heat, turning up the miles slowly and looking for a great second half of the running year. To make my adjusted goal of 2015 miles in 2015 and complete my race calendar, I need to make up some ground and at the same time, keep the wheels on the cart.

How has your running been? Post a comment below and tell us about your year!