Keep Running Strong

an every day average runner and his experiences.

Month: March, 2012

Competing for a personal best

Not great, but try and beat it.

While this isn't the greatest 5k – keeping in mind that the run includes hills and street crossings – it is my personal best, and I plan on beating it.

Casual running can sometimes lack the competitive edge essential for motivation. Running the same monotonous speed daily can take a toll on the mindset of a person jogging to be healthy or fit. After all, we’re not all naturally gifted.

We, average runners, hit the trail or the street, zone out in a blank stare and move about in the same manner routinely – ignoring the dullness and the strain on our mind.

The Challenge is to stay inspired while keeping the urge strong.

Compete – add a goal:

Every now and again I time myself in a 5k – this is 3.10 miles. And with local communities organizing annual events, the race has gained popularity.

A 5k is long enough to be considered a challenge yet short enough not to harm a beginning runner focused on increasing speed. Read this article to get an idea of how to begin to train for a 5k.

Running this distance fast keeps my competitive juices flowing.

Randomly, I’ll time myself, trying to outdo a previous personal best. Other joggers and runners might stare, wondering what the heck I’m doing. Yet nothing stands in the way of the finish line … usually my home.

While my best time pales in comparison to the runners who are winning the local races, I try not to compare myself too much to them. The goal is to beat my personal best.

A couple of weeks ago I timed myself in the 5k. I felt strong and motivated, and the timing felt right. While lengthening my strides, I maintained a faster pace and breathed a bit harder than normal, indicating a strong showing.

The results were not disappointing, but I could do better.

My time of 21:15 is a new personal best. But I’ve raised my goal to finish in less than 20 minutes, and I’ll have to work hard to do this by July 4 – the day of the Huntington Beach 5k, The Surf City Run.

Here is a decent running chart to aid someone trying to run the 5k in under 20 minutes. This workout chart is roughly what I’ll be following.

But I am motivated. And challenging myself is how I stay interested.


Warding off an illness

Lying in bed, watching cartoons

My sick daughter, Sofie, watches cartoons in bed, inspiring this blog. I think I gave her my illness.

Rubbing the back of a sore neck and feeling warm air seep from a clogged nose indicates to a person of an impending sickness. And worse, a possible halt to everything in the world.

So running six miles might not be the best idea. But I ran anyway, and it felt great.

I’ve heard the advice many times. When a sickness begins to creep, run or sweat it off. Exercising, I’m sure, has helped me ward off sickness.

And when the people around me suffer the extreme symptoms from a virus, like a sore throat or a fever, I seem to always avoid the worst. I’ll catch the sniffles for a couple of days or maybe fight off a scratchy throat.

But according to an article I read on, Dr. David Nieman, Ph. D, a professor and director of the human performance lab at Appalachian State University and the North Carolina Research Campus said running might make a person feel better because of a certain serotonin boast, but it doesn’t help fight a cold or the flu.

Yet, according to studies from the same article, running everyday strengthens a person’s immune system, solving the mystery of my ability to fend off illness.

Without health insurance, drinking plenty of water and sucking down endless amounts of Emergen-C when a sickness starts to form is my only defense. And for the past three years, the routine seems to work.

But when a virus really inserts its ugly talons, I turn to a medicine I discovered at a health food store called Umcka. It seems to loosen the phlegm, making life easier when I blow my nose or cough.

We all have our magic remedies, but I’ve found that nothing is more important than pure fluids, especially if I am still running.

Stay hydrated. And keep running – before a sickness strikes – to strengthen that immune system. But remember, don’t over do a workout if you’re too sick.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a physician. Please seek professional assistance for advise if you are ill. This blog is for the purpose to inform readers of what I do when I am sick and is not intended to replace a doctors visit.

Through my head, a live look at my run

The big A from the river

This view of Angel Stadium and the Honda Center from the Santa Ana River trail was taken by me the day after my five mile night run.

Last night I ran five miles up the Santa Ana River towards Angel Stadium. Here is a live look at my journey.

Starting off the run at about 7:45 p.m:

  • My tempo is upbeat, and I am fully energized.
  • The weather is perfect – a cool comfortable breeze provides a pleasant atmosphere. I gaze at the stars, occasionally.
  • The surroundings at night are hard to visualize, but my other senses guide me.
  • The time for my first mile is 7 minutes and 19 seconds.

My second mile:

  • My mind starts to wander. I think about school and the untimely crash of my computer. The running seems to help deal with the stress from the situation – I have three tests coming up next week, and all my notes are stored in my computer.
  • I formulate ideas on how to overcome the situation. First I need a backup copy of my hard drive. Second, I need another computer. Third, I need to cancel all my plans. I try to stay positive.
  • My heavy breathing begins to hasten.
  • The cool air chills the sweat dripping down my neck, leaving my body feeling good.
  • I proceed through dark street underpasses, which quickens my steady pace.
  • I pass my second mile at 14 minutes and 22 seconds.

The third mile:

  • I’m on my way back, reaching my half-way point with a clear view of Angel stadium. The baseball field illuminates the night sky, erasing the stars yet providing a new spectacular view.
  • My breathing is deep, and my mind still wanders, trying to forget about any pain my lungs and legs endure.
  • I begin this mile with a steady pace, though at about half way I decide to speed up the tempo. Or at least I felt like I was moving faster.
  • I could visually see the ‘Circle K’ lights – this is a sign that I am about to reach the end of my run. The ‘Circle K’ is a little more than a mile away from me at this point.
  • I finish the third mile at 22 minutes and … I can’t remember the seconds.

The fourth mile:

  • I begin to focus more on my running and breathing.
  • I realize that If I do not hustle, my time is going to be atrocious.
  • I pick up the pace drastically.
  • As I pass the ‘Circle K’, this indicates to me that I have about 400 meters left to run.
  • I begin to sprint up-hill with my final destination in sight.
  • Few to no thoughts flow through my head. The only thought I have is the length of my running strides, running up hill.
  • I pump my arms and my legs, and I flex my muscles much harder than I did for most of the run.
  • Alas, I have finished my run.
  • My final time is 36 minutes and 45 seconds for a five mile run.
  • And I formulated an idea about what to do with my computer situation.

My final thoughts:

I’ve come to the conclusion to purchase another computer – although it may be temporary. My wife will probably make me return it when she finds out.

The apple store in Brea has a 14 day return policy – we’ll see what happens.

In regards to repairing my broken Mac, it will take the Apple store 7-10 business days.

Oh yeah, concerning the run. It proved to be a great stress reliever. My mind cleared and thoughts straightened.

I hope you enjoyed the run.

The fastest mile times

Watch Alan Webb run the fastest high school mile ever in 2001. Also as an added bonus, see Hicham El Guerrouj, the world record mile runner, win this race.

In Prof. Scauzillo’s class at Cal State Fullerton the other day, we briefly discussed the topic of my blog, running. And the Professor enquired about the fastest mile time ever ran.

At the time, I didn’t know the answer. Other than an occasional 5k, I’ve been out of competitive running for over 10 years now.

But since I’m maintaining a blog about running, I should know the fastest mile.

I dug up some interesting information.

According to, the fastest mile time ever ran happened on July 7 1999. Hicham El Guerrouj, of Morocco ran a 3:43.13 mile in Rome’s Olympic Stadium.

“Hicham El Guerrouj won a brilliant battle with Noah Ngeny …” writes. “With Ngeny virtually on his heels down the stretch, El Guerrouj broke the mile record with a time of 3:43.13. Ngeny’s time of 3:43.40 remains the second fastest mile.”

The record wasn’t broken during the Olympic games or at the World Championships, the website says. The mile is not a part of the competition. They run the 1500, which is 100 meters less than the mile.

And the person who holds the record for the 1500 with a time of 3:26 is also El Guerrouj.

Yet another impressive statistic lies in the high school ranks. The fastest prep school mile ever ran, according to, is 3:53:43. Alan Webb, on May 27, 2001 in Eugene Oregon set the all-time high school record for the mile.

Webb, today, is also the American mile record holder with a time of 3:46.91 set on July 2007, “shattering Steve Scott’s 25-year-old American mile mark of 3:47.69,” says.