Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The forecast is about 50 degrees and partly cloudy...in other words, perfect. I'll be honest, I'm a bit nervous, mainly because I've trained nice and pain free for the first time in awhile. My fingers will be crossed until I cross that finish line. I'll check in again this weekend with a full report after finishing (and after finishing a few Guinnesses)...thanks again for reading and we'll talk again soon.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
As for you, if you're already an established runner or are actively training for a goal race, great for you. If not, but you wish to and you're finding it tough to get motivated this time of year, don't get down about it. It's not that hard to start a training program. A logical first step would be to get some good shoes that fit your feet, body type and running goals. I always tell folks to go out and see Mike Monagle at Delaware Running Company in Greenville Shopping Center and they will set you up nice. Sure you can go to Dick's or Sports Authority if you want know what you're looking for or want to find a deal, but nobody there is going know anything about finding the right shoe for you. The Running Company is staffed by runners who know how help other runners find the right gear for them.
The next step is getting out the door (or on the treadmill if that is your preference) but the only way to become a better runner is to start logging miles. Start small, not too far, not too fast, say a few miles or 25-30 minutes at a comfortable talking pace. Walking is ok too...maybe alternate 1 minute walking breaks for every 2 minutes running and then gradually work your way up adding another minute running. If you have a dog, it's also a great excuse to get him or her out. If not, think about adopting one-check out the DE Humane Shelter or Faithful Friends to get started on that. The goal when you go out is to enjoy yourself. It doesn't have to suck or be painful.
Once you start running, it's a safe routine to go every other day...say 3-4 times each week, gradually building up mileage or time. I go with time, just because I don't always have the time or patience to measure out the distance of every run. It's a good routine to add 10% each week...so if you ran 4 days in the week, totaling about 20 miles, just add 2 more miles to the next week's total. Or add 3-4 minutes to your average run each week if you're not keeping track of distance. Now once you're into a nice routine and comfortable adding distance or time on a regular basis, you can add in weekly long run if you like. It should be 30-40% of your weekly running total, so if you're logging 21 miles for the week, have your long run be 7-8 miles. If you'd like to map out a distance and don't have the means to measure it, a great tool to use is Google Maps. Go to the main page, click "My Maps", then "Browse Directory" and then "Distance Measurement Tool"...it's very accurate and very simple to use.
A great way to keep track of your progress is to keep a diary or a running log. Write down everything...where you ran, how long, what you saw, what you ate before and after, any pain or problems and how it made you feel (hopefully great). You'll be surprised at how much you can learn from yourself.
Enough for now...I'm off to bed and to pray for rain to do some more melting the next few days. Hopefully later this week the streets will be easier to navigate. Spring is 4 weeks away...until then, the pool better be ready for me.
Thursday, February 04, 2010
I was lucky enough to get out for a long run today on the Woodlawn Trustees Trail, given that with the forecast for the weekend, it probably won't be great running conditions for the next few days. I for one don't mind running in the winter, or in the snow and ice for that matter (I just can't stand treadmills). I have a few great pairs of trail shoes that grip the elements well. I favor Asics, particularly the Gel Trail Attack 5, below and the Gel Trabuco, below those.
Both are rugged and bulky enough like a hiker, but light and well cushioned enough like a runner with the classic Asics feel. They are also water resistant, which comes in handy this time of year. I would recommend them to anyone looking for a great winter training shoe, especially if you've worn Asics before. The Trail Attacks felt great today even after running for an hour through muddy snow covered trails...my feet were totally dry. I also wore a pair of Nike long compression socks, which not help alleviate pain from shin splints, but also add a little warmth if you're like me and won't touch a pair of tights, no matter how cold it is. They're actually made for soccer, but function very well anytime running for extended periods. They keep my feet nice, warm and dry and have never given me blisters. Until spring, they are the go to sock.
This week not only marks the 6 week countdown until spring (hopefully), but also the 6 week countdown until the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon. I am just over 2 weeks into my training and am up to about 20 miles a week. My hope is to add a mile to my long run each week (I did 6 miles today) and top out at about 35 miles a week before the race. To make it interesting, I'm also doing fundraising for the race's sponsor and benefactor, the American Lung Association of Delaware. If you would like to make a donation to help fight lung disease in my name, you may do so here at my homepage. It's totally tax deductible, would help me reach my goal and would go to a great cause. So if you donate, thank you very much and if not, shame on you, you should. So enjoy the winter wonderland this weekend and until next time, good night and good running.
Monday, February 01, 2010
Weight Training...I know, it sounds so heavy...imposing...time consuming...or you just like to run and don't want to get too big. All excuses, at least for the workout that I do to supplement my running routine. I actually don't use weights, at least not heavy ones. I go to the gym, but everything I do there I could do at home, so I think my $50 a month YMCA membership will be coming to a close come spring. The elements to keep in mind here are low weight, medium reps and high quality.
I like to use weighted medicine balls, found at most gyms and available at any sporting goods store. I found 2 great ones, 8 & 10 pounds each at the Sports Authority on sale for less than $30 each, so don't say you can't find any. Now I am in half marathon training, so I am serious about my training. I currently am running every other day...Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I do my weight training and conditioning Monday and Wednesday. I either swim, bike or do an easy jog on Fridays and I rest on Sunday. My Mon./Wed. routine starts with a 15-20 minute cardio to get my heart rate up, then some light stretching and yoga moves to get nice and limber. I then proceed to go through a mix of different moves standing up, sitting down and on my back with both the 8 and 10 pound balls.
Here is a great regimen to follow, this one followed by Tyler Hansbrough and the UNC Tarheels basketball team...I think it must've done some good, given that it helped them win a little something called the National Championship last spring.
Since I started using the balls as opposed to free weights and barbells, I feel stronger, more flexible and have much more energy not just on my runs but throughout my day. It also takes a lot less time, and you can do it in your living room. You'll have more time, more energy and like me, maybe some more money saved from that Y membership. Until next time, good night & good running.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
The Trail runs parallel with beautiful and serene Brandywine Creek
Probably my favorite trail run in the area (and probably my favorite run overall) is the one shared by Brandwine Creek State Park and Woodlawn Trustees Wildlife Preserve in North Wilmington. One of the trailheads is only about 5 minutes down the road from me, so it's very convenient and close. There are a few different trail heads you could start from but my favorite is to park at the Jewish Community Center on Garden of Eden Rd., just off Concord Pike Rt. 202 in Talleyville. The trail is well marked at the end of the road next to the lot, and you have a few directions to choose from after getting started. You can go left, which is a bit more narrow and technical, which goes south towards Mount Lebanon Rd, you could go straight, which goes downhill, a bit rocky and leads right to the Brandywine River and the Brandywine Creek State Park trail that heads north towards the DE/PA line. If you did that, you could do a nice out and back to Smith's Bridge just over the PA line for a nice 5 miler. But I like to go right just after getting on the trail and stay about a half mile before going left and down towards the creek. I cross a smaller creek and then head back uphill towards Woodlawn Rd...you'll know you're in the right place when the trees clear and you see a horse farm and a road where you have to turn left. You'll go straight until you hit Thompson's Bridge Rd., which I then cross, go past a small gravel parking lot and continue through a small cluster of trees and stay right at the fork and continue downhill, crossing Ramsey Rd. and keep following the trail past another horse farm. One warning about being on these trails is that they are frequently used for horseback riding and mountain biking as well, so it would probably be wise to leave the headphones at home. I've also crossed paths with many a deer and foxes, so be on the lookout for wildlife of all shapes and sizes.
Share the trail with horses and mountain bikers
It may all look like private property, but as long as you stay on the marked trail (you'll see signs saying "Wildlife Preserve" and it will usually be roped or fenced off from the private property) I usually keep going north across Beaver Valley Rd. where the trail perimeters cornfields and crosses a few more creeks, going behind the Hi-Point Dairy. There are some great lookout spots on the high parts of the trail before heading down towards the Creek. Eventually I make my way down to the Brandywine where I turn south and head back along the creekside trail. After crossing back over Thompson's Bridge Rd., go about a half mile and just past a small pedestrian bridge, you'll see a trail on the left which will take you back up towards the JCC parking lot. The run in full is just over 8 miles, which may seem like a bit much. You could definitely shorten and/or vary it up by staying on the upper trails or staying down on the creekside trail like I described. Find whatever suits you, but I'm sure you will savor and enjoy it given the beautiful natural surroundings.
Smith's Bridge-One of just 6 Covered bridges in Northern DE
Here are some fully marked trail maps to help you along...
Accurate measured route map of the run I described
Brandywine Creek State Park Map
Woodlawn Trustees Trail Map
If you're not familiar with the area, I would keep the map handy, a phone and/or gps or compass and start short to get your bearings. Once you go a few times, you'll find it easier to navigate.
Alongside Ramsey's farm with the Granogue water tower in the distance
You'll see on the map there are several other parking areas with access to the Woodlawn Trails. One of the larger lots is is at Ramsey Road. Take I95 Exit 8 onto US-202/Concord Pk. toward W Chester/Wilmington. Go 5 miles. Turn left at Beaver Valley Rd. (The big intersection before Brandywine Town Center) Go .3 miles. Turn left at Ramsey Rd and go 0.4 miles. Then turn right to stay on Ramsey Rd. The parking lot will be .8 miles on the right. A gravel road across the street from the parking lot leads to several trails. There is also a trailhead at the back of that parking lot.
This truly is a diamond in the rough of the narrow cramped roads and private property taking up most of the space in the area, so it is a rarity. I would love for others to enjoy the natural beauty of the trails as much as I do. Feel free to drop me a line with any questions or advice...then get out the door and go! Good night and good running.