Tag Archives: Running Fit

2015: Back From the Moon – Now What?

“Once you’ve gone to the moon, staying home just isn’t good enough.”
– Astronaut Eugene Cernan

THERE I WAS after the Holiday Hustle last month, innocently enjoying the completion of over 30 races in 2014 and becoming the first person to run every Running Fit event in a year. Then I got asked the question.

“So, Jeff – what do you have planned for next year? Are you going to do the entire race calendar again?”

Well, that was a definite “NO.”

Here's the 2015 events, if you'd like to take the title from me! (Click to enlarge.)

Here’s the 2015 calendar, if you’d like to take the “Most Valuable Runner” title from me! (Click to enlarge.)

Now I had a really good time last year – even better than I thought I would when I set up the schedule last January. But do it again? Not a chance. Some races I will do again, starting with the Bigfoot Snowshoe 5K in Traverse City next week, and maybe one or more of the Dances with Dirt ultras. Other than that, I’m taking a more relaxed approach to scheduling stuff for 2015. But there will be stuff.

Apparently it’s fairly common for people to suffer a letdown after finishing their first marathon. They spend all that time in training, invest their emotional energy in preparation, anticipation, and running the thing, and now it’s over. It didn’t happen to me after my first (Chicago, 2011), and it hasn’t happened now that 2014 is in the books. In fact, I’m fired up about 2015 and its possibilities.

Sure, I'm ready for another 26.2! Just let me finish this beer and take a nap - for a month or so.

Sure, I’m ready for another 26.2! Just let me finish this beer and take a nap – for a month or so.

Like what? Well, there’s that 100K I didn’t finish, so another attempt is definitely on the agenda. I’m looking forward to resuming long bike rides, maybe even some multi-day, multi-hundred mile trips like in 2012. And there’s that black belt in Aikido I’d still like to get to – someday.

In addition, 2014 was a mixed year overall. One of my wife’s favorite cousins died from cancer, my wife got very sick (fortunately, she’s fully recovered), and my mom passed just after Thanksgiving. So as a family, we’re all grateful to have that behind us. A “new year” may be an arbitrary convention, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make use of it.

Above all, I will be sure to stay active. I think that whether or not you have a specific race or other goal, being active can’t help but keep you “plugged in” to life and forward-looking. To pull Newton out of context, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. In the best case, exercise stops being a chore and becomes a part of your life.

Take this morning, for example. It was 13 degrees at 8:00 a.m. in Ann Arbor, and over 30 people turned up at the PR Fitness studio to go for a run of up to 14 miles. Some of them are training for the Boston Marathon or other spring races, but others just came out to get some miles in. Why? It’s something we do to stay healthy and fit. And that’s one of the best goals of all.

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Are you a non-runner who’s interested in starting, but you’re not sure you have what it takes? Here’s a great post by running coach Sarah that says. yes, you can be a runner!

Honored Beyond Words – But I’ll Do My Best

MOST VALUABLE RUNNER of 2014.

All I can say is – WOW. And thank you all so much.

Yesterday when I crossed the finish line at the Holiday Hustle 5K, I accomplished my goal of competing in every single event on the 2014 Running Fit calendar. It was a total of 23 events from January through December, including a snowshoe race, three triathlons, and six ultramarathons. Here’s the calendar (click it for a larger, more readable version):

Running Fit Calendar of Events 2014

No one has ever done this before, and throughout the year the wonderful staff at Running Fit Events cheered me on. And at each event I collected the little button pin. At each year’s Holiday Hustle, you bring your pins along, and the person with the most pins wins a prize. Since I had every 2014 pin, I was pretty sure I’d win, and I wanted to something more than just dump a pile of pins on them. So I put them on a posterboard along with some photos, to have something to display later in my man cave – when I get around to having one. So here’s what I made:

Collage - 2014 Running Fit races

Well, it received oohs and aahs from the staff, and they said they’d put it on display after the race. Little did I know how polite they were being, as they made an oblique reference to a “special award” for me.

So I ran the race, and got congratulations all round. Then they showed me what they’d prepared for me as the first-ever “Most Valuable Runner”. Not only had they come up with that awesome title, I had been out-postered! Check this out.

RFE poster - 2

And I got a couple of free race entries, too!

I was speechless. This has got to be about the coolest thing I’ve ever received. This is going up on a wall even if I never get around to that man cave. Thank you Randy, and Mandy, and Dawn, and Joanna, and everyone else at Running Fit Events for helping make this year so memorable for me. And special thanks to my family and friends who helped me reach the goal despite some challenges in other areas of life this year. I love you all.

Coming up soon, I will recap the year in running, cycling, and Aikido, including the highlights of a truly remarkable and unforgettable experience. And lowlights too – those are more fun to read, aren’t they. Until then, thank you all very much once again.

Rx for Recovery: Eat, Sleep, Stretch

THIS NOT RACING IS TIRING ME OUT.

After all my races this year I’m on a recovery break, and I was expecting to feel re-energized, even restless. Instead, I’ve had less energy and been more sore. I asked the head trainer at my gym, Body Specs, about it.

“All year long, running more races than ever, I felt great,” I told him. Now in my recovery time, I feel run down. What’s going on?”

“It’s very common,” he said. “Especially among competitive athletes. They’ve been going hard, working toward their goals, and then they’re done and they don’t know what to do next.” He coaches college athletes and former NFL players, so he sees this a lot.

Body Specs is good at making sure I don't slack off too much.

Body Specs is good at making sure I don’t slack off too much.

“One thing we encourage people to do is to try something new,” he continued. “You know, you train at your sport and never have time to try out other activities you might want to try. Now you have the time.”

As it happened, I was considering trying yoga, both for its body conditioning and for its mental aspect – calming and focusing the mind. The downside I’ve heard is that the extreme stretches can be detrimental to running. We rely upon a certain amount of “spring” in our muscles, and overstretching them – becoming too flexible – can cause a loss of that spring. One fellow runner told me that running strong is “all about how flexible you are not.”

Yoga pose - Drew_Osborne_3 - Wikimedia Commons

Right. Sure. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Well, Running Fit to the rescue! They’re offering a Yoga for Runners class in December and January. And with my Aikido class on break during that time, it fills that spot perfectly. The only drawback is that it’s in Northville, which means fighting rush hour traffic. But Skip’s advice nudged me into signing up. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m making a change to my regular habits as well. I’ve always been a night owl to some degree, but as I get up fairly early for work, it means I get by on about 6.5 hours of sleep much of the time. I’ve started to make myself get at least seven hours. It’s already making a difference in my energy level.

And I’m trying to keep in mind that a rest and recovery period, where I feel less motivated to run and want more idle time, is natural and healthy. Many elite runners take off several weeks entirely and allow themselves to gain a few pounds. Scott Jurek, one of the world’s most successful ultrarunners, does no running at all during his break. I enjoy running too much to stop, but it feels good to just run for fun for a while.

Of course, your definition of "fun" may differ from mine.

Of course, your definition of “fun” may differ from mine.

MORE: Running Times says Give It A Rest: the lost art of recovery between training cycles.

Already bouncing ideas around for 2015. Looking forward to another year of adventures out there!

Fast Sharks and Loose Shoes: Run Scream Run Recap

Y’all can call me Shoelace.

Run Scream Run - Me with GladiatorLast Saturday was Run Scream Run at Wiard’s Orchards in Ypsilanti. RSR is one of those fall races that attract a lot of casual runners and even non-runners, like turkey trots and chocolate runs do. Despite the chill (about 36 degrees before race start) the turnout was large and even the ghouls and witches were in good spirits.

Here are some things about RSR that make it memorable, at least to those who participate.

It’s at a cider mill. Hard to pick a better place for a fall fun race, and you can bring the family, too. Now, Wiard’s is not what you’d call your typical small-town, homey cider mill. No mistake, they are a big time operation. Which is fine – they have a lot of products to offer, and they easily accommodated the 1,700 runners and the other visitors. I have to say, though, that the cider in their refrigerators was pasteurized and had a preservative in it. I can get that kind of cider at Meijer, so I passed on it. The cinnamon donut was excellent, however.

Costumes. While many runners don’t bother to dress up, there are many who do, and some folks really go all out.

Run Scream Run - costumes

Run Scream Run - costumes 3

The guy in the shark pajamas (to the right of Captain America) won the 10K. Dem land sharks move fast!

The guy in the shark pajamas (to the right of Captain America) won the 10K. Land sharks can run 5:30 miles. You have been warned!

Hmmm...some things may actually be too scary for this blog.

Hmmm…some things may actually be too scary for this blog.

The course. Wiard’s has a whole set of haunted attractions, and some of it gets incorporated into the race. The first was a run through the “Fear Barn” – new this year, and a few people were nervous about it. As it turned out, it was very early in the race, and as I was actually running, I was in and out before anything really happened. Biggghh deal!

RSR-Monster 2More interesting is the Haunted Forest, which is a quarter mile or so of dirt path in the woods flanked by decrepit (by design) wooden buildings and inhabited by various nefarious creatures with chain saws and the like. They typically don’t bother the faster runners, but if you’re jogging or walking – watch out!

And they post people in gruesome costumes at various points on the path – part paved, part grass, with many hiding places available. And just as I re-entered the main orchard, a zombie leaped up from the brush and yelled – and I jumped. He got me, all right! But with just a quarter mile to go, the shot of adrenaline was actually welcome.

Oh, and the “shoelace” part? As I got into the starting queue, I noticed that my left shoe seemed loose, and I carefully retied it. So, naturally, it was my right shoe that came untied at the 2-mile mark. At a longer race, I would have stopped and fixed it, but this was a 10K and I was running well and didn’t want to get out of my groove. So I ran the remaining 4.2 miles with shoelaces flapping. Fortunately, the shoe stayed on, and I finished 14th with another age group win.

Me with another famous "Shoelace", Denard Robinson. Except that he's bigger, probably better looking, has lots more hair and runs about seven times faster than I do, the resemblance is remarkable, don't you think?.

Me with UM’s famous “Shoelace”, Denard Robinson. Except that he’s better looking, has lots more hair and runs about seven times faster than I do, the resemblance is uncanny, don’t you think?.

Kind of hard to believe, but I have no more “official” races until the Holiday Hustle on December 13. Just pacing the Kona races and fun stuff until then. The five races in six weeks sure went fast. I’ll let you know if I go stir crazy and sign up for something else!

Also memorable. Seen here: 2014 medal, 2012 age group award, 2014 award.

Also memorable. Seen here: 2014 medal, 2012 age group award (yep, it’s what you think it is), 2014 award.