Keep Running Strong

an every day average runner and his experiences.

Month: April, 2012

Conquering stress and anxiety

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Coffee – aiding distance runners

Coffee and running

Recent studies show that coffee provides a boost of energy for distance runners. (Photo taken by Daniel Hernandez)

On a gloomy morning, after a late night of watching old “Cheers” re-runs, my legs feel wobbly and my mind exhausted.

When the gray clouds in the sky match my inner atmosphere, the last thing I want to do is run, yet I know the inevitable will happen, and I’ll not succumb to laziness.

As always, fresh brewed coffee eases the transition from a dull, zombie-like state of mind, to a perkier, more alert, homework-completing running machine.

But popular opinion, from personal experiences, says that coffee can dehydrate a person and might cause cramps before exercising. Not so … says a well-liked running website.

Runnersworld.com says recent studies show that drinking coffee before a workout provides endurance and extra energy for distance runners.

While I’m sure I’ve figured this out from personal experiences, the article reassures my initial thought.

And throughout my college life, different professors have also uttered the benefits of enjoying a warm caffeinated beverage before class but by applying the benefits of coffee to the stimulation of mind, aiding students to think and better absorb information.

From my experience, coffee doesn’t seem to boost my physical athletic performance unless I consume more than usual. For example, I regularly drink two small cups of coffee a day. On a day where I feel a boost is needed, I’ll drink three small cups, and the extra jolt seems to provide a pick-me-up.

Although feelings of guilt might resonate through your body after the titillating sensation provided by a warm java, know that the benefits reaped from coffee aren’t considered performance-enhancing drugs unless consumed in vast quantities. And according to one study, a person might need to consume about eight cups of coffee to break any rules.

But I’m not running in any nationally recognized competition with superior athletes, and I doubt those runners rely on caffeine like I do – post-sitcom night.

Yet I need to run, and the late night “Cheers” marathon addiction my wife and I submit to might lead to a groggy morning, but the ever-present stimulating cup of coffee – always caffeinated – boosts my inner soul and physical strength before hitting the running trail.

Cal State Fullerton 5k this weekend

map

Cal State Fullerton's iCare festival includes a 5k run, circling the campus. (map taken from asi.fullerton.edu/icarefestival)

Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Recreation center is putting on a festival called iCare this Saturday, April 21 at 8:30 a.m., which includes a 5k run/Walk and Youth 1k run.

The event costs $10 for students of CSUF and $20 for the rest of the community.

Signing up for the event earns you a free shirt, massage and pancake breakfast.

Visit this site for more information and to sign up.

My daughter and I will attend. I’ll be running and taking notes for a future blog post. My goal for the race is to finish with a time under 20 minutes.

Gnats of the river trail

Gnats

Gnats stuck to my sweaty head after a 5 mile run by the river. (Picture reluctantly taken by Stefanie Hernandez)

Gnats

Gnats stick to my sweaty neck after a 5 mile run on the trail. (Picture reluctantly taken by Stefanie Hernandez.)

By spending enough time outdoors, a runner realizes certain annoyances. In the city of Anaheim, and I’m guessing much of Orange County, gnats hover low to the ground in clusters, bugging everybody.

I’ve witnessed them at Angel Stadium, delaying a game because a swarm clouded the pitchers mound.

They always seem to travel in groups – little creatures creating more havoc then their size might otherwise allow.

I’ve figured out there is no avoiding a swarm of gnats on a run about the river trail. Ducking my head and closing my mouth seems to be the only solution. At times of heavy breathing I even find myself inhaling the little insects.

And when I return home, I wipe the bloody gnat carcasses from my sweaty face and neck. Like kamikaze’s, they’re more intent on obstructing my run, then living a long insect life.

Worst of all, when blowing my nose, I discover some flew threw my nostrils.

The swarms are hard to avoid while running in Anaheim, and the little buggers are part of my daily exercise.

When running in this town, one must learn to co-exist with the gnats of the Santa Ana River trail.

The trail etiquette constitution

This is how rules are made, with a group of aristocrats shouting at each other.

A long time ago, a group of rich men came together to discuss ideas of how to govern and lead our great nation. In this meeting, they taught the people of the land the importance of establishing guidelines. Here I am today, putting forth my ideas to govern the rules of the trail.

Trails occupied by runners, bikers and walkers sometimes can lead to social complexities. The etiquette for different athletes sharing a venue isn’t clearly defined. And when dealing with levels of adrenaline that athletes produce, a discussion about proper trail etiquette should transpire.

I offer in this post my ideas for proper etiquette when hitting the running /biking/walking/jogging trail. And I hereby dub the henceforth ideas, The Trail Etiquette Constitution …. Seriously.

  1. Passing a slower runner on the trail can feel awkward. Am I being rude if I just zoom by a fellow runner? With this in mind, when passing a fellow runner or jogger, if coherent, I usually like to give a mild nod to let them know I acknowledge their effort. At times I might even try and encourage a runner to a little bit of a race, but I’ve yet to encounter anyone who would join me (am I being rude by offering up a race?).
  2. When sharing the trail with bicyclists, maintain to the outer edge of the trail. Bicyclists seldom let you know they’re going to pass (sometimes they might yell “LEFT”, but not often), and if you’re hogging the trail while one swishes by, the consequences could hurt. So … make way for the speed demon on two wheels.
  3. Encountering a surprise friend on the trail might suggest to a person to stop and enquire about their lives, but when I’m running I don’t like to stop. Please don’t assume someone you know is being rude, if in passing they lend a mute nod, symbolizing a hello.
  4. The emergence of digital music on devices like IPods have lead to a revolution in listening to tunes while working out. Keeping the volume level low enough to hear people passing, falling or shouting for help might be a good idea. To observe your surroundings is a wise idea.
  5. I know we get sweaty and smelly when we work out, and that’s fine. It’s something we workoutaholics have to deal with. But please, the attire you choose to wear should stay on your body. I once saw a guy jogging in nothing but what I assume were Speedo’s and shoes. He grossed me out, and the guy was in my view for most of the run. Please, unless at the beach, keep your clothes on.
  6. When running with a partner, stay together at least until the last mile of the run. There’s nothing wrong with a little competitive spirit, but what’s the point of running with someone if you’re not going to enjoy each other’s company. This rule is void if the parties running agree to a race.
  7. This suggestion is tough. But, refrain from laughing at the inline skaters. They’re people with feelings just like anybody else.
  8. Stay clear from people walking their pets. When you get too close, your presence might freak out the animal. And don’t assume they will get out of your way. Which leads me too …
  9. Don’t assume running groups will open a lane for you, like the parting of the Red Sea. Just go around them. But if they do, make sure you give them a friendly nod to show them your appreciation.
  10.  I can’t think of a tenth rule, but I needed to add a number 10 to make this list seem legit.

That’s it. The governing body of the United Web (my dog, daughter and wife) has granted me the authority to establish a set of principles guiding etiquette while strolling local community trails. The rules are written in stone, and unless granted by a majority in the panel (me, and me alone) who created these rules, they shall not be changed. But posting your own ideas below are encouraged and will be taken into consideration.

Now go forth and run.

Older runner inspires, setting records for her age group

Kathy Martin appeared in an article in the NY Times

Kathy Martin races in the 3,000 meter distance run in January at the Armory in Manhattan. (Picture taken by Michael Appleton for The New York Times, from the article I referenced.)

Running in a competitive race at the age of 40 impresses even the biggest skeptics. But setting world running records at the age of 60 should have the media world bowing in fervor.

Kathy Martin is doing just that. As re-called by writer Barry Bearak in a New York Times article “After late start, runner is speeding through records,” Martin’s inspiring story should be a wake up call to anyone who avoids running because they say that they’ve never been athletic.

Her young life never realized the potential waiting to explode, Bearak writes. She was stuck in a world of men who dominated the sports scene.

At the age of 30 she decided to change her life, following her husband on a routine jog, the article says. Ever since then, even at the young age of 60, the world belongs to her. Read the whole article here to grasp a better feel for her accomplishments.

Martin is proof that at an older age running can provide a younger vitality. She always has a goal to reach, and like a person should do with life, once she fulfills them, she doesn’t stop. She stands on her tippy toes and reaches higher.

As a humble average runner myself, when I’m 60, I’ll remember Kathy Martin to help me stay strong.