Running Report: May 30


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This week I wrapped up my first week of speed work training.  Overall it has been a great week.  The daily regime of P90X has gotten me ready for running everyday (with one day of rest each week).  So here are the details from this past week of training:

Monday: 3 Mile Run: 8:44 pace. This is suppose to be an easy run, the purpose is just to build up miles.
Tuesday: 3 X Hill: I picked out a quarter mile section of a hill near my house.  Running up the hill my average pace was 7:00/mile.  I jogged back down the hill and then repeated. I did a total of 3 miles on this day becasue there was about a 1 mile warm up and then another mile for cool down.
Wednesday: 3 Miles: 8:12 pace. One hour of strentgh training.  For my Wednesday strength training sessions throughout the period of training I'll be using the P90X Core Synergistics DVD.  This gives me a near full body workout that focuses on my upper thighs to my lower chest. I have talked about the impotance of a strong core and now I'm applying it.
Thursday: Rest. I think we all understand this one.
Friday: 30 Minute Tempo. The first time I have prepared a tempo run before. After a 10 minute warm up at an easy pace I did a steady build up to a 7:45/mile pace over 10 minutes.  The wrapped up with a 10 minute cooldown, dropping my pace back to 8:45/mile.
Saturday: 6 Mile Run. The plan was to make this an easy run.  The first 4 miles were easy, and then I realized it was like 95 out and I had no water. Not a great combo, so rather than risk injury I slowed down. The pace over the total 6 was 9:49, but the first 4 was at 8:45.
Sunday: 3 Miles, 8:57 pace. One hour of strength training. I did another full body workout, this time with weights. Moves included incline press, leg press,donkey calf raises, hammer curls and standing row. I wish I had kept a more detailed log on the excerises and weights that I used, but I missed it this time.
I'll repeat the same schedule agian this week, except the Saturday run will be 7 miles, and I'll be sure to have water this time (as well as running earlier in the day).

Ajinomoto Endurance Review


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A couple of weeks ago I signed up for a another running community: Athlinks.  So far I haven't done much with it because I have spent more time interacting with Runner's World Forums and DailyMile.  But when I signed up with Athlinks I also requested a free sample of Ajinomoto Endurance. It arrived this week, one packet of each flavor: Lemon and Fruit Punch, and I decided to try it after my run on Friday of last week.  First, some things you should know about Ajinomoto Endurance:

1. This is the first time I have heard of this product. By no means am I an expert runner, but in the last year I have been at running expos for St. Jude's in Memphis, The Little Rock Marathon, and the Country Music Marathon in Nashville. I don't remember seeing Ajinomoto at any of these events, however I could have simply missed them.  The reason I bring this up is because people gravitate toward products they are familiar with, not ones they have never heard of before.
2. Ajinomoto Endurance is used by elite athletes. Going to the site of the maker, Amino Vital, you'll find that Hunter Kemper, who recently won the Escape from Alcatraz, uses it.
3. It reports to improve concentration and focusEvery drink out there makes claims about helping improve performance, increase endurance, help with recovery, etc. but this is the first that I remember claiming to help with the mental aspect of running.

Here are my thoughts on the Ajinomoto Endurance:
1. Taste: Taste is probably the most subjective factor when it comes to drink. On one hand, it's the least important when it comes to how a product works, yet on the other hand, you have to like the taste.  On Friday I tried to the Fruit Punch flavor and it taste like a package of Smarties had been smashed up and mixed into water. While it is not my favorite, as far as taste goes, at least it doesn't have the chalky taste of many endurance drinks.
2. Percieved Effect: On Friday I ran a 30 minute tempo run, came back and had my drink (waited 30 minutes) and then did P90X Ab Ripper.  I could tell that Endurace helped with the recovery from the run.  I had no problem going through Ab Ripper without stopping.
3. Would I buy it? I want to the lemon flavor before I commit to anything.  I also have a couple of other products that I am testing (and will be reviewing soon). I quick look at the local GNC and I couldn't find it. I doubt I'll find it at Walmart, leaving the Internet as my access point. I also need to want to do more reading of the scientific studies about Endurance.

If you have used Ajinomoto Endurance, what are your thoughts?
What endurance drinks do you use?

4 Ways to Make Farleks Work for You


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Runner's World's latest issue features an article on speedwork focusing on fartleks. For those unfamiliar with the term fartlek, it is Swedish for "speed play."  The basic concept is to alternate between periods of fast and slower run. 
Here's how it works:
1. Run at your average pace.
2. Either pick a specific point in front of you, or a specific amount of time at which you are going to pick up the pace. While the increase doesn't need to be a sprint, it should be 30-40 seconds faster than your average pace.
3. After you reach your distance or time goal, slow back down to your previous pace. Continue running at this pace until you are ready to run fast again.
4. Repeat.

I think the best way to do this type of workout is to have a specific total run time or distance planned.  In order to get the speed work benefit of this workout you also have to be disciplined about picking up the pace.  Don't cheat yourself on this workout.  Sure, there are times when this could be the easiest workout of the week becasue of the slower pace, but you need to push the pace in order to improve.
In order to help me track those periods of increased pace I use a watch with a lap function (my Garmin 205). 
There are a couple of things I would recommend you track when you do your fartlek workouts:
1. What was your pace your pace during the periods of when you were running faster?
2. How long were your recovery periods? 
3. What was the total run time?
4. What was your total distance?

By tracking these parts of your workout you can make some great comparsions between your workouts.
I'm currently working on a spreadsheet that will help me track and compare my workouts. Once I get it ready, I'll make it available for anyone who is interested, just look for an updated post.

Cutting Two Hours From Your Marathon


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I hope to receive on of these in 2012:

In order to do it I need to cut more than 2 hours off my first marathon time.  The Boston Marathon requires runners to qualify and for my age group the qualifying time is 3:10.  Last year, when I ran my first marathon I finished at 5:13.  At first glance that doesn't inspire a lot of hope.  However, here are the things that I have working in my advantage this time:
1. Last year I was "injured." Okay, so I had boils. I thought boils were something only mentioned in the Bible, I didn't realize you could still get them today. Well, I did.  Monday before the race I couldn't even put my left shoe on because the boil on top of my foot.  I hobbled around the house because it was too painful to put the full weight of my body down on my left foot.  While things were a little better by race time, I still had problems with my feet during the race.
2. I stopped following the plan. My wife, Meg, and I had agreed to run the race together (and we did for the first 6 or 7 miles until I told her to go ahead because of the injury mentioned above).  As first time marathoners we got the books, read Runner's World, talked to friends who had run one before. We tried to be as educated as possible.  But as the weather got colder, my excuses got better and I stopped doing all of training runs during the week.  I allowed myself to think that having the long runs on the weekend would be enough to get it done.  When the first boils started to appear after our 20 miler (which for me was more like a 16/17 miler) I should have known that this was not going to end well.
So there are my excuses for the poor performance last year, but more importantly, here's what I have learned:
1. I can run a marathon. In Memphis last year, I wasn't in pain as I ran, but I certainly wasn't comfortable either.  The boil on top of my foot popped while I was running and I could feel the puss oozing out.  But you know what, I still finished.  Only prayer and the thought of "what I will Meg do if I don't come across that finish line?" kept me going. I proved to myself, that even when things do go as I had wished, I can still accomplish my goal: finish.
2. Follow the plan. We had done the work in order to have a good plan, I simply lacked the discipline to follow through.  This spring I have worked hard everyday, getting ready for the mileage build up that will be coming this fall.  P90X has helped me strengthen my body, as well as provide the discipline for working out everyday.  Hal Higdon's Spring Training Plan will hopefully help me increase my speed (I'll be updating my progress on this, so be sure to check back in).
3. In order to cut 2 hours from your marathon time, first you need a really bad marathon and then I really great one! I don't know if I will really be able to cut 2 hours from my previous effort at St. Jude's, but I do know that I will run better this time around.  I know the course.  I have been training for a year now, versus the 18 or so weeks that I had trained in preparation for St. Jude's the first time. 

Now is just a matter of working and waiting for the St. Jude Marathon, December 4, 2010.

The Ultimate Runner Contest


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Jill Will Run, a blog I just started following, is currently running a contest that will give away 3 copies of The Ultimate Runner, a book she just reviewed.  Here are details on the contest.

Jill also appears to be a cause runner.  She is currently training with Team Challenge for a half marathon in Napa Valley to support those with Crohn's and Colitis.  You can also see her and her mom in Running for Hope documentary for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

The Necessity of Speed Work


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This week I have a started a new training program focused on speed work. Making this changes now does mean that I have only completed 60 days of the P90X challenge, however it also means that I can get in 16 weeks of work before I start my mileage build up for the St. Jude's Marathon in December.
The main reason for the switch is quite simple: I want to run faster! I basic common sense, if you want to run faster, then you must run faster.  While more running will improve your conditioning and allow you to run longer and harder, focused training on speed work can provide better results.
As I did with the marathon training last year, I've started with a plan from Hal Higdon. My plan is modeled after the Intermediate Spring Training Plan.  The changes I am making include increasing the plan from 12 weeks to 16. First, let me explain the core components of the schedule and then I tell you how and why I am making the changes.
Core Components of Hal Higdon's Speed Work:
1. During weeks 1-6 the focus is on hill work.  Running hills can be draining. It will drain in during your race, so running them in training is a necessity.
2. During weeks 7-12 the focus switches to repeats of 200 meters and 400 meters on a track.
3. Two days a week you run 3 miles and then focus on strength training (here is where I can add in some moves for P90X).
4. Two days with easy runs, one about 25% longer than the other. This simply helps you get more miles in without wearing yourself out.
5. One day each week alternates from week to week with tempo runs and fartleks.
6. A day of rest. You need it if you run hard.

The Changes
Really the only change that I am making is increasing the number of weeks from 12 to 16. One reason why is I want to focus more time on the hill work.  My next scheduled race is the Soaring Wings Half Marathon which has a lot of hills on it, a couple of which really took it out of me last year.  The additional weeks will also give me the opportunity to use two different hills.  In explaining the hill work Higdon says, "Select a hill about a quarter-mile long, but don't worry about pitch or the exact distance." I have several hills near my house, one which is a steady increase, but rather low pitch and another that I call a "soul sucker", because you are exhausted by the time you get to the top of it. They are both about the same distance, but the pitch (elevation change) is dramatically different.  My thinking is, I'll encounter both types of hills on the course, so try for what I'll race.  The additional weeks will allow me to run one hill one week, and then another hill the next.  The extra weeks on the hills will also give me more opportunities to compare my running stats from week to week.
As far as the strength training goes, I'll be working on a plan tonight to figure out what exercises I'll be doing to help me maintain the work I have already done as well as help me improve my speed.

How have you used speed work in training?
Do you feel like focused speed work has helped or do you prefer to simply log more miles?

[image by netdogg1103]

Soaring Wings Half Marathon; 3 Reasons to Run It


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So I have only been back into running for about a year now, but by far my favorite race has been the Soaring Wings Half Marathon in Conway,AR.
Here are some of the reasons it's a favorite:
1. It's for a great cause.  Helping kids in need is what I'm about.  It's why I ran St. Jude's as my first marathon, it's why I work with teenage boys who are battling addiction, it's why I've renewed this blog: to bring my passions of running and helping others together.  Soaring Wings Ranch provides a permanent place for children who have been victims of difficult circumstances.
2. It's a great race.  Some of the hills on the course are grueling, but the support is awesome!  Last year at the race, kids from the Ranch had gone out and written messages in sidewalk chalk along the race course, they are also present at the aid stations and finish line to present you with your medal.  There is also plenty of fan support from the community, with lots of people coming out from their homes to cheer the runners on.  The food afterwards is also pretty amazing!
3. The Cost.  Today is last day to get the early bird cost of $30 dollars.  Tomorrow is jumps up to a whooping $40!  This is one the cheapest races I have ever been a part of, ever!  But don't let the cost fool you. The finisher medals are nice, the long sleeve tees are great quality, and like I said, the food afterwards is great.  One of the things this tells me is that Soaring Wings Ranch has sponsors that really believe in them and that the race organizers know what runners like.  Quite impressive for a race that is only going into its 3rd year!

Our Disney Marathon


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Okay, so the official Disney Marathon is not until January 2011, but this past week my family was there for vacation, and believe me, we logged the miles! Before left I wrote a post about how to train while on vacation, now that I'm back I wanted to share the results.
Over the course of 5 days at Disney we walked over 33 miles.  I used the pedometer feature built into the my Timex watch to track the miles.  I did have a couple of issues with the pedometer not always tracking my steps, especially as we stood in line for rides and did more of shuffle than a walk, but overall, I think it kept a pretty accurate count of what we did.  Each day also offered extra workouts:
1. Pushing the stroller (at times with 100 lbs worth of kids aboard)
2. Swimming
We same every night at the pool for about an hour.  This was great because it gave me an opportunity to get off my feet and still get a good workout in.
My one regret is that I didn't get my ab work in like I planned, but after having 10 hours days while on vacation, I felt like I deserved the break.
This week as I am a bachelor with the rest of the family in Florida for a wedding I plan to hit the road every day, once I catch up on some sleep!
Tomorrow, I be posting about my plan for the next 12 weeks: Speedwork!

6 Tips for Exercising While on Vacation


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This next week I will be on vacation. The family is going to go visit the Mouse at Disney.  My girls have been looking forward to this for awhile.  Add to it the fact that they get to see nana and papa while we there and the trip is over the top!
But going on vacation can be hard when you are use to your workout routine at home.  Here are some of the tips I plan to implement on our trip this year:

1. Have a plan. I know it sounds simple, right.  You have a workout plan at home, why not take a little extra time and plan for your vacation.  Going to Disney means lots of time walking and simply being on my feet as we stand in long lines, so I'm not even going to worry about trying to get any runs in during the time we are at park.
2. Watch what you eat. Because vacation can mean lots of fast food, you'll want to be informed about what you are ordering. The Fast Food Explorer can provide you some great information about many of the most popular fast food restaurants.  I also make the extra effort to drink water and stay away from the empty calories found in soda.
3. Realize that something is better than nothing. I am not a world class athlete, I do not need multiple hours of training everyday.  Before leaving for vacation I was doing P90X or running everyday, but one week off is not going to kill me.  I am sure I will miss working out as normal, however, I will be walking around 4 theme parks with my wife and 3 girls (ages 5, 3, and 2). I know from past experience that when these girls get tired they want to be held. Holding 25-40 pounds for 30 minutes is a workout, especially when they fall asleep in your arms.  Walking around the park isn't the same as running 8 miles on Saturday, but I'm taking my pedometer to keep track of how far I walk this week.
4. Think of exercises you can do with minimal equipment.  Part of my plan is to do my ab workout in the hotel room each morning.  I also plan to mix in some push ups so I can get in some upper body work.  On vacation you could also take resistance bands with you (much lighter than your dumbbells).
5. Take it easy on yourself the next week. Don't try to double your workouts the next week in order to make up for one missed week.  Chances are if you do double up you'll end up getting injured and miss more time.  Simply return to the level of workouts that you were at before vacation.  If at any time you feel like you are overdoing it, back off a little bit, remember you've been away for a week, your body needs to adjust.  If you are 3 or 4 days into the week and you feel really good then push your workouts on the next 2-3.
6. Enjoy your vacation. Chances are it has been too long since you took one.  The last time I took a week long vacation was 2 years ago. I need this one. And because I really do need it, I'll also be taking a break from the blog/email/Twitter for the week as well. Talk to you when I get back!

How do you exercise while on vacation?

[photo by: Capt Kodak]

P90X Day 60 Results


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Two months ago I started P90X.  At the time I had been running quite a bit, but hadn't done much strength training since my senior year of high school.  From my experience I believe that P90X will make you a better runner.  I know there is a lot of debate about that in the Runner's World forums, but my 30 Day Results and my performance at the Music City Marathon in April indicate to me that it works.
Here are my body stats at the beginning of P90X:

Weight: 191
Chest: 36.5"
Waist: 36"
Hips: 36.5"
Right Thigh: 24.5"
Left Thigh: 24.5"
Right Arm: 13.75"
Left Arm: 13.5"

After 60 Days:
Weight: 189
Chest: 39.25"
Waist: 34.5"
Hips: 37"
Right Thigh: 24.5"
Left Thigh: 24.5"
Right Arm: 15"
Left Arm: 15"

Clearly my upper body saw the greatest benefit from using P90X. But overall my entire body has gotten stronger. My time per mile has dropped by approximately one minute, while I have only been running one or two days a week.  While certain wouldn't recommend only using P90X as a runner, I do believe that it can dramatically help improve your running.

If you have used P90X, even if you aren't a runner, what have your results been?
If you are a runner and have used it, what benefits, if any do you see in your running?

The Why of Running


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There are countless reasons why anyone might pick up running. It may simply be because you do it as a part of staying in shape for another sport. Maybe you love the simplicity of not needing tons of workout equipment or a gym membership in order to get it.  Maybe your goal is weight loss, or just getting out the house for 30 minutes a day makes a big difference in your life.
This past week I started a 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project with Church Web Trends.  The community effect of going through this together has been awesome.  I have found some great blogs that I probably would have missed had I not been involved. However, I do feel like an odd man out because the majority of the other writers involved are writing for church/ministry type blogs.  Today I wrote the guest post for the project I am hoping that many of my other writers will be stopping by here to check out my blog. So if you are a first time reader of the blogger let me recommend that you start with my About page.
When I was a minister I put on an extra 20 lbs (living in southern Louisiana didn't help much either). The why of running for me started as trying to get that weight off.  I weighed in 189 this morning which means that I have kept the weight off for a year now.  I still would like to get down to 180, but I am happy with the progress I have made.
Having been running for a year now, the focus of why has changed.  In my first half marathon my wife, Meg and I ran for Soaring Wings Ranch in Conway, AR.  Soaring Wings is a Christian group home for children in need. Then in December we ran are first marathon for St. Jude's in Memphis. As I continue to run I am finding more whys.  I recently found out about Operation Jack and I am still on the hunt for more charity runs and ways I can use my ability to help others and promote causes, especially those that help children.

First, let ask, why do you run?
Maybe another great question is, why have you stopped running?
Finally, if you know of any great causes drop it in comment section below. I love finding new causes to support.

10 Essential Core Workouts


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The core of your body is essential for great running.  While many of us long for that perfect set of 6 pack abs, a strong core is more than just your abs.  The core extends from your chest all the way down to the top of your thighs, and it is essential that you focus some attention here if you want to improve your running. Just this morning I did the P90X Core Synergistics workout in order to hit all the major areas of my core: thighs, hips, glutes, abs, obliques, and chest.  If you don't have P90X, here are 10 essential Core Workouts:

1. Core Strength Workouts. There are probably 15 plans at this site, making it a great resource.  Some of the plans focus on the needs for specific sports, like hockey, while others focus on life stage, such as post-natal. Personally, I like the full body workout.
2. 8 Quick Exercises. Your busy, so get in and get it done. These 8 exercises are super quick, you just need to be sure you have a balance ball for some of them.
3. Core Values. Another full body workout that will have you using balance balls, weights and medicine balls to get in a great workout.
4. Ab Focus. As I said, abs aren't everything, but they do make up the largest section of your core.
5. Beginners. Although the site is for triathletes, I think the moves here are pretty basic.
6. Another Ab Focus. If you want that six pack you have to put in the work on those abs.
7. 5 is less than 8. If you thought it was great to only do 8 exercises, then you will really enjoy only doing 5. If you are new to working out, this may be the place to start.
8. Ladies Only. Here are some exercises for the ladies out there.
9. Workout Videos. I love being able to see the move, it helps when I am learning something new.
10. The Exercise Ball. Adding the exercise ball to your workout routine will help you work you body at different angles, forcing it to adjusting.  Also the balance required to stay on the ball works muscles in a way that no other exercise can.
I hope these help you reach your fitness goals.
Which core exercises do you do?
How often do you focus on a core workout?

Music to a Runner's Feet


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I typically don't run with headphones. In fact, about the only time that do run with music is when I am going on a long run or when I run on a treadmill.  The main reason for this choice is that running is my time away from everything else. It's my time to focus, to dream, to ponder and to simply relax.  However, there are times when I feel the need to have a little music to pump me up.  In a couple of weeks I will starting on some speed work training and so I have been looking for more music that will help pump me up, before during and after my workouts.
I am sure there are several sources of great music out there (aside from the obvious iTunes store), but here are three that I wanted to share:

1. Nike+ Training.  Would you love to train with Lance Armstrong or Kara Goucher? Nike and iTunes have teamed up to provide you with some great running tracks with some of your favorite athletes. It can be encourage to hear Lance cheer you on as you are going through your workout. You can also upload your own workout playlists or search for those created by your peers.  Just go to your iTunes store and search for Nike Sport iMixes.

2. DJ Earworm. This site provides a great source of mash ups from contemporary pop artists. It's pretty simple, the music is free, and most of the stuff is upbeat enough to keep you rocking through your workout. I just wish there was more available!

3. Podrunner. The great part about PodRunner is that DJ Steve has included the bpm with each track so that you can match your music with your desired workout intensity.  If you enjoy techno/dance music, then PodRunner will work for you, if not then you may want to look somewhere else.

So do you listen to music during your workout?
If so, what songs top your current playlist?

Race Report from Conway


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Last weekend several members of the Cloverdale Running Club participated in the 5K and 10K events at Toad Suck Daze in Conway, AR.  At the start of the race you could tell the storm clouds were moving in and about 10 minutes into the race the rain came down.

Although it rained for most of the course, especially those running the 10K, our group posted some really good times (starting with the back row, from left to right):
Back Row
1. Brian Williams: 10k, 41:39, 3rd in age division
2. Kaleb McLarty: 5k, 29:08, 15th in age division
3. Jeremy Sivia: 10k, 1:03:25, 25th in age division
4. Carter Lowe: 5k, 28:35, 14th in age division
Front Row
1. Tia Stone: 5k, 20:04, 1st in age division, first female overall
2. Allison Stanley: 5k, 24:52, 3rd in age division
3. Meg Eddins (my lovely wife): 10k, 57:27, 11th in age division
4. Angela Sivia: 10k, 59:28, 13th in age divison

For complete results from the the races you can go here.

Not to be out done, our oldest Gabie (on the right) ran a 200 meter fun run, along with one of her best friends Camryn.  I think other kids participated as well :)

Keeping healthy is one of our goals as I family.  Last fall Gabie ran her first 5k. I hope to be able to run with her on her first 10k and half marathon as well (when she turns 10 and 13 respectively).  I think it will be a great tradition for all of our girls.

So how does your family stay fit? What traditions does your family have with running?
Also, I several times this week I have mentioned the importance of the having a running community.  The Cloverdale Running Club is made of members from our church who all enjoy running.  I think there are 20-25 of us. So I'm wondering, are you part of a running club? Do you have a training partner?

5 Blogs I Ran Across Today


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One of the joys of running is being a part of running community.  This past weekend our family was running at a 10K in Conway, AR for Toad Suck Daze. Even in the pouring rain, runners stood out on the track to cheer others on as the came in for the finish.

The community of runners is also why I joined DailyMile.  It's like Facebook for runners and cyclist, allowing you to share your workouts. There is also a challenge function that allows you to challenge your friends to some crazy races, like the first person to run 1,000 miles!
So today I went on the hunt for some running blogs.  Having just started my own running blog I am trying to find others who are sharing their run experience with the world.  Here are a few that I found today:

1. Autism Runs. This blog is written by Chris Fales, the Director of Health and Training for Train 4 Autism.  I found his blog through Operation Jack which was featured on the blog yesterday.
2. Chris also has a personal blog for training, Trainer Chris.
3. See Jess Run. I found Jess through another blog. She seems to have a lot of great recipes. While I'll probably not find where reviews of Lucy Activewear very helpful, I think overall this good be a great blog to read.
4. Marathoning Matters. You know you are getting serious when your URL is marathonman. I actually found this blog when I was looking for a template for my blog.  Good thing. There is lots of valuable wisdom here, with a good deal of humor as well.
5. 5ks and Cabernets. For many first time runners, the first race they will do is 5k. While Kevin is certainly well beyond a first time runner, think he has some good posts for those getting into running.

Run for a Cause:Operation Jack


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This week I have regained some focus with blogging thanks to a 31 Days to Building a Better Blog tour sponsored here.  With the new found focus, I have decided that one of the things that I want to do with the blog is highlight various charities or causes that are trying to raise money through running.

The first cause to be selected for this is Operation Jack.  Operation Jack as an attempt by Sam Felsenfeld to run 60 marathons in 2010 to raise money/awareness about autism, a disorder that his 6 year old son, Jack has been diagnosed with in 2006.  While most people would be happy to run one marathon in a lifetime, and many would think it a major accomplishment to run 60, Sam is pushing his body to the limits (running 2 marathons in different states on the same weekend) in order to get his done.
Having previously worked as a therapist with families whose children I have been diagnosed with autism, I can tell you how frustrating this disorder can be.  For more information on autism you can check here.
So here is how Operation Jack works: (taken from the Operation Jack website)

"Operation Jack doesn’t require any minimum contributions. We’re attempting to raise funds to help Train 4 Autism continue to grow in 2011 and beyond, but participation is what we’re seeking and everything else is a bonus.

Pick any race on the schedule and join the team for that event! It can be a local race, or you can make it a destination race. Participate in honor of your loved one living with autism and encourage others you know to do the same! We’re aiming for at least 20 people for each team – a total of 1,200 for the year. You can train for a marathon, and our coaches will help you get there,  or you can run the 5K or ½ marathon associated with the marathon Sam runs (if available). It’s all about participation and we want you to participate!"

While Sam has already committed to 60 marathons for the year, I am try to get him to sign up for one more: St. Jude's Marathon in Memphis.  The problem is he already has another marathon scheduled for December 5th.  However, Sam has made a deal with Lance Haney, a runner trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  My goal at Memphis is to do the same.  If Lance can reach his goal of raising $3,000 dollars, Sam has said that he will come and help pace us! AWESOME! Here's link to Lance's fundraising page of the Operation Jack site.  Please help us out, not me and Lance, but for all the families who are struggling with autism.
If you want to keep track of Sam's progress just go the Operation Jack site and click on the link for the blog, or go here. You can also keep up with Sam on Twitter @operationjack.
(image by jakerome)

5 Tools for Tracking Your Workouts


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There are few people who run simply to run.  Most runners are seeking to improve their performance and the only way to do that is to track your workouts.  Countless tools are available to help you track your performances, but today I am going to highlight 5 that I have used:

1. The Clipboard. This is the low tech option available to everyone.  All you need is a pen, paper and a hard surface to right down your workout.  Currently I use this work my strength training.  I am going through P90X right now and they have kindly made the workout sheets available online. The benefit here is that you can quickly  enter your data. The workout sheets also let me quickly compare this week's performance with last weeks performance, however because it is on paper I manual have to calculate my improvements over time. I take this into the digital age there is also an Excel spreadsheet available to help you track all of P90X data.

2. Nike+. Nike+ connects your running shoe with your iPod, giving you feedback as you run (mainly your distance). Certain Nike shoes have a space in the heel where you place a small sensor (which cost an extra $20) that will track your footsteps. Along with the sensor there is a piece that plugs into the bottom of your iPod nano (yes, it must be a nano, it doesn't work on the larger iPods). There are plenty of companies out that have made gadgets that allow you to attach the sensor to shoes other than your Nikes, freeing you to wear whatever shoes you want.  The only down side I have found with Nike+ is that the distance is not always accurate.  For more info on the Nike+ system check out their website.

3. Running Ahead. This is a fairly simple workout tracker. While the name implies that it only applies to running there are some built in features for cyclists, popular gym workouts like Body Pump and Body Sculpt, and yoga.  It is easy to use and syncs with many Garmin devices, making even easier to upload your runs.  I don't use this program anymore, I think any other one is better, however, for the beginner, this is a great place to start.

4. DailyMile. DailyMile is like Facebook for runners.  It allows you to upload your workout using Garmin or Nike+ devices and connect with other runners.  It tracks your weekly and total stats and provides you with fun information, such as how many donuts you have burned off or the number of TVs you have powered.  There are also some great widgets that you can attach to your website (I have two on mine). While it may not be the greatest tool in measuring your workouts, it does provide a great community and allows you to see what others are doing with their training.

5. TrainingPeaks. Training Peaks has replaced Running Ahead as my primary workout tracker. First, it tracks everything.  Not only will it track your workouts, it also tracks meals. It has an extensive library of foods so that you can get accurate counts on everything that you are eating. For the workouts, Training Peaks syncs with the vast majority of workout watches including Garmin, Polar, Suunto and Timex. It doesn't hurt that Runner's World uses it as it's tracking system. In some ways there is almost too much available.  If you new to running you may only want to use the workout function, however, as you try to improve your performance the other features become highly valuable. The great part is, you only have to use what you want. Also, the internet version is FREE!

So what have you used to track your workouts?

What are You Running For?


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There are a lot of reasons that runners run: to achieve a goal, to prove they are the best, to stay in shape, to escape their demons, so they can eat that extra bowl of ice cream each night, because they feel in love with running.
I started running in middle school and then throughout high school. And I stopped.  I put on the extra weight, got married had 3 kids.  Now I run again.
This time I have a knew focus in running: helping others.  I run for those who cannot run.  I run to raise awareness about some awesome causes. I run, not because I am fast, or have something to prove.  I run because I want to help others.

So why do you run?
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