Keep Running Strong

an every day average runner and his experiences.

Month: February, 2012

Calorie lesson

My usual runaway

Stefanie (my wife) snapped this picture of me, standing by the Santa Ana River before a run.

As the clock ticks, people age. Our stagnant bodies bloat. Until one day … we move.

Or at least this is what happened to me.

My Story:

High school graduation day signified an end to all hard work – no more math, history or science. The real world waited, and I yearned to just blend.

I found an office job, sitting, typing and staring at a computer screen. I ate without consequence. I ate without exercise – never opening my eyes to reality.

Bouncing from job to job, years later, I married and had a kid, forgetting about myself. I was unrecognizable. The days of my athletic high school build, of ambition and worth … vanished.

Years of emotional drain from lost jobs defeated me. Yet my wife and daughter provided the sanity.

I was on the verge of two chins. My stomach was flabby. And my thighs were trunks. I was ignorant of my image.

And after years of stagnant complacency – blind to the reflection in the mirror – a motivational fire sparked inside.

The repetitive doldrums of a sedentary lifestyle ate away at my happiness long enough. I needed to run again, to experience life, to feel alive.

How I accomplished this:

Talking with a wise in-law about life after age 30 and how our bodies change, he explained the details and horrors of … CALORIES.

No longer can I eat whatever I want. That’s for young kids. Now, calorie in-take is consequential.

In short, growing up requires new conscious food choices.

The most important tool:

My cousin showed me a free application for my IPod Touch called Myfitnesspal. The app stores dietary information that the user logs. It is a calorie counter.

The machine warns when I’ve reached my daily calorie limit. And at the end of the day, it gives me a glimpse of my possible weight in five weeks, restoring hope.

The results:

After a calorie conscious summer – running and enjoying life – I lost 40-45 pounds. I went from 210 to 168 pounds.

I was back to a healthy weight and vitality, attending college, avoiding inactiveness and most importantly … moving.

Along the way, I found this quote meaningful:

Destitutus ventis, remos adhibe

-Latin Proverb

A shoe lesson

My cushion from the ground

These are my new support from the ground. I recommend them to all.

With every stride, my foot hits the ground, and my knees take a pounding. The balls on the front are sore, and the backs of my heels are starting to blister.

What the heck is going on?

At first glance, I didn’t notice the poor condition of my footwear. They were never a concern. Shoes are material items that don’t matter much to me.

But my shoes are the only protection and comfort separating my foot from the ground, and I am neglecting them.

Yet the soles of my Saucony running shoes are worn, and the interior lining depleted.

A running friend of mine told me in a casual conversation over dinner the other day that he replaces his running shoes about every six months. I did some research and discovered that shoes should be swapped out every 400 to 500 miles, which is about every six months for an avid runner. Read this article to see another bloggers perspective.

Apparently, I needed new equipment.

First, my budget is small. It’s so small in fact that I make no money. I’m a poor college student, whose only income is from student loans and aid. And of course, my wife supports me.

But If I am to continue running, I need new shoes.

The price of running shoes range anywhere from $40 to $200. My choices are limited. But I managed to convince my wife to let me purchase shoes with about an $80 limit.

I haven’t shopped for running shoes in a while. The last pair I owned was a Christmas present a year ago from my wife. Before that pair, my shoes were from high school, and my mother purchased those, also, for Christmas.

So this was kind of a process for me. At Dick’s Sporting Goods, shoes now come in many different styles. They sell lightweight shoes with little sole cushion. And they sell heavier shoes with tons of cushion. They sell shoes built for dirt, or rubber, or a track. And they sell shoes that are optimal for all surfaces.

I try them all.

But I limit myself to searching through the Nike shoes only. They have a strangle hold on my options.

I’ll explain….

For Christmas my father-in-law bought me the Nike + IPod attachment. Originally, I used a pouch to hold the little contraption to the laces of my shoes, but it wasn’t working well (I’ll divulge all the details in another post, but you can read about it here.)

So … I read online that the Nike attachment is more accurate with Nike shoes. They are manufactured to hold the little object. And I wanted this thing to work. The Nike + IPod attachment makes running much more interesting.

Incidentally, the light shoes aren’t comfortable on my feet. They do not have enough padding, and they are tight. I have wide feet.

The track shoes are … well … for track. And I’m running all over the place.

But, after about 45 minutes of searching, I discover the shoes best fit for me: the Nike Moto 9. They are shiny silver and blue, with the usual black swish on the sides. The airy material helps my feet breathe. And best of all, the soles provide a nice bounce to my step.

My first run with the shoes took about 40 seconds off of my previous time. I don’t know if the improvement was psychological or if the shoes provided the extra burst. But I recommend these shoes to any casual runner. They cost about $84 at Dick’s.

And my feet feel great. I’ll no longer take my shoes – my support from the ground – for granted.

The run against wind, finding motivation

Staring at the sky, dark grey clouds hovered above. In the distance, rain poured onto far-off cities. My first thought was to hurry and finish my routine run for the day.

One of the nuances with outdoor running is the uncontrollable weather, and today the forecast called for rain.

Yet the three and a quarter mile run down the Santa Ana River turned into a race against my old time and against the elements – a great way to take advantage of an opportunity.

My personal best time on this route was 23.33 minutes, and today the howling wind showed no mercy. So, in order to beat my old time, the ultimate plan was to gain momentum and run harder than normal with the wind, and to run as best as I can against.

Starting off the run, I headed down wind, pacing in the upper six-minute mile range. My tempo felt great, and my energy level was upbeat.

Beside me, down a rocky slope, the river’s current was choppier than normal. Geese floated south down stream, opposite the direction I was running, struggling to stay stagnant.

And my running pace wasn’t letting up.

But as the speaker from my IPod touch warned of the ensuing halfway point, I planted my pivot foot to head back … up-wind.

Nature was unforgiving. If I were to spread my arms like a bird, the air would’ve carried me backwards. The look of my hair mimicked Einstein, sticking up, straight back. And, with the cold wind pounding against my face, nasal mucus poured from my nose.

My eyes watered and my pace weakened. But I pumped my arms, trying to find motivation.

Beating my old time was going to be tough.

Whenever I struggle on a run, I like to take my mind to another place. And on a day like this, I was going to need some help. So today I thought about a race in junior high school. Yes … junior high, more than 15 years ago. I hold competitive grudges for a long time.

When I attended the school, Lorbeer Junior High held an annual Turkey Trot before the Thanksgiving break. I was supposed to win that race. After months of preparation, nobody was going to beat me. I lost the race by about 10 seconds; in fact I came in third. I felt miserable on that day.

Yet I conjured the feeling of that day for motivation on today’s run. I needed to finish strong.

Arriving at my destination, my breathing was rapid. The neighbors stared at me, wondering about my problem. I paced back and forth in hopes to celebrate a new record time.

But one glance at the clock, displayed on my Nike + IPod application, showed me otherwise.

I fell short of my best time by 10 seconds. The sweat dripping down my cheek, my shirt stuck against my shivering skin – I couldn’t compete against the wind. Nature won today. But on the bright side, thanks for holding off on the rain.

About Me and this Blog

Surviving the trials of the world for over 31 years, I finally find myself attending a university where I can learn beyond two years of education … yet I’m still running.

But here I am, on information overload from school, and now I have this blog about running to maintain.

First …

My name is Daniel and I am a Junior at Cal State University Fullerton, majoring in Communications with an emphasis on Journalism.

I live with my wife and daughter in a tiny condo (our Hobbit Hole) in the city of Anaheim close to the Santa Ana River where most of my daily adventures of running transpire.

The purpose of this blog is to burn some free time, practice my writing, and to track any concerns about running or interesting running places.

Pretty much, the blog is a free-for-all about my running adventures. And being an everyday average runner, I’ll relate to other people or lend fare warning about painful experiences.

I’ve been a runner all my life, save about five or six adult years of pure laziness (I’ll get into this on a later posting.)

At St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs California, I lettered in track, running the 800 meter, one mile, and two mile races.

Other sports I’ve lettered in are Football and Soccer. Also, I was an all league keeper, but I’m not trying to brag or anything.