Keep Running Strong

an every day average runner and his experiences.

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.

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 Active.com, 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 About.com, 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 …” about.com 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 trackandfieldnews.com, 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,” runnersworld.com says.

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.