Oh, the Dreaded Treadmill

I have never been a big fan of the treadmill. This is not just some irrational fear of taking a single wrong step and being thrown backwards, across the gym, into a group of innocent bystanders like a high speed projectile, although that could happen, right? Instead its a matter of never feeling fully comfortable on a treadmill. Every time I step up and hit the green “Start” button I feel like I am not a very good runner. I get overheated too quickly. I never run as fast as I do outside. I get bored staring at my own reflection for 45 minutes. It’s just not a great experience, but beyond the dislike, its just not as good of a training tool as running out in the wild.

To discuss the subject of the interminable hamster wheel, I sat down with author and fitness coach Luke Sniewski to discuss the subject for the Ojio Sport Fitbusters video series.

While the treadmill certainly has a place in any training regimen, for me, nothing beats the open road. So, put on some shiny and reflective clothes, look both ways before you cross the street, and get out there and feel the sun on your back and the wind on your face. Besides, most treadmills don’t hand out medals when you finish!

Running on the Road

Whether you are traveling for work or fortunate enough to be on vacation, being away from home can put a damper on your training. Being in a strange room in a strange city can throw off even the most committed runners. For someone used to training on a consistent schedule and relying on a predefined set of tools, travel can make training difficult, especially if you are like me and hate the treadmill. After completing a couple of trips recently, I thought I would put together a couple of do’s and don’ts for the runner on the road.

Running on Vacation

This is probably the easier trip to plan for.  First of all, hopefully your vacation plans are taking you somewhere scenic and temperate, the kind of place where you want to go for a run.  That was my experience recently on a trip to Hawaii.  Who wouldn’t want to run along the beach at sunrise in K’anapali? I simply packed a couple sets of running clothes, my sun glasses, and my Garmin watch. In this case I chose to leave the headphones behind because I wanted to be able to hear the wind and the surf and the birds. I also left behind any other gear that I normally have for longer runs, because my training didn’t call for anything over 5 miles.

RIHawaiiRun

A morning run in paradise

I didn’t do any advanced research on places to run because I assumed that it would be obvious. Our first morning in the hotel we walked down to the beach and saw numerous runners and walkers making their way up and down the K’anapali Beach Path. From there I logged on to the route creator at Map My Run to see just how far a run up and down the beach path would take me. I plotted out a course that would get me the mileage I needed and would have me finishing up at the entrance to Duke’s Beach House for fresh papaya-orange juice and some breakfast. Getting in a run or two during vacation, especially a  vacation like this, is pretty straightforward, much different from the experience when traveling for work.

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The Long Beach Marathon

Last weekend I stepped to the starting line of a marathon for he first time in a few years.  My recent absence had not been a choice, but rather the result of an injury that refused to heal. I have been physically active and healthy my whole life, but my Achilles’ heel turned out to be my right ankle.  After injuring it at the end of a half marathon two and a half years ago, it had taken me longer than I ever expected to get back to this point.

Ready to get started!

Ready to get started!

At 6 am, the starting gun sounded and the people much faster than myself raced out of the corral. The sky was still dark and layered with thick clouds and the air was cool and a little humid. Other than the humidity, the conditions were ideal. Only about 5,000 runners actually lined up for the full marathon, an amount that makes for smooth running and limited congestion. I crossed the starting line at 6:03 am with my head down and my music on, looking to find my rhythm and get lost in the sea of footsteps. From the beginning of the race, I never quite felt right. My legs were heavy and my feet felt like bricks. My stride was awkward and my pacing was inconsistent. Even when you know what you are doing, have a plan, and know how to execute it things can go wrong.

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Carbo-loading

One of the most important factors in a successful running event or training run (or any endurance sport for that matter) is fueling your body for success. One of the most common ways to prepare for that race day success is a process known as carbo-loading.  This is basically loading up on carbs before race day in order to fill your body with the glycogen that it needs for energy during your run. In my experience, this has always been one of the more misunderstood aspects of nutrition for novice and experienced runners alike.

With that in mind, I sat down with author and fitness coach Luke Sniewski to discuss the subject for the Ojio Sport Fitbusters video series.

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Carb Depletion

I recently cut a juice fast short by a day or so in order to make sure I was ready to continue my marathon training, but I knew that three regular meals was hardly enough food to fuel a 17 mile run.  Given this fact, I decided to turn my regularly scheduled training run into an experiment in carb depletion, and ultimately a lesson in carbo-loading.

Getting by with a little help from some friends

Getting by with a little help from some friends

Carb depletion is what happens when your body runs out of the glycogen it needs to convert into energy. Normally when this happens, a runner is said to be bonking.  Bonking is the point at which your body simply refuses to work because it does not have the necessary fuel to operate properly.  The visual of bonking can be pretty disturbing, an athlete whose arms and legs refuse to respond properly to the brain’s commands, instead stutter and flail as he or she struggles even to remain standing.  This is something that all athletes want to avoid for obvious reasons, but for me, I was curious just how far I could get in a carb depleted state.

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The Juice Fast, Part 3

Still juicing breakfast

Still juicing breakfast

For me, all the advanced warnings and encouragements I received were true, Once you get to day 3 of your juice fast, you are home free.  I woke up on the morning of the third day and felt good.  I wasn’t hungry, my headache from the minor caffeine withdrawals was hardly noticeable, and I didn’t really feel too tired.  As predicted, I was doing well.  Day 3 for me proceeded much the way the first two days had.  I had four juices spaced out across the day starting first thing in the morning and ending around 5pm or so.  I made broth for dinner again, only this time I added a tomato and some red cabbage for extra flavor.

I felt like I crossed the threshold from challenging side of the juice fast to the easier, more enjoyable side.

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The Juice Fast, Part 2

Juicing greens for breakfast.

Juicing greens for breakfast.

As successful as our first day on the juice fast had been, day two turned out to be quite the opposite.  Most people will tell you that days 2 and 3 are the hardest of any juice fast, but once you get through them, it gets a whole lot easier.  The challenge, however, is getting through them.  Breakfast juice featured kale, cucumber, red cabbage, lemon, and apple, and was definitely a little more on the savory side.  Lunch on day two featured more greens with apple and pineapple followed by a carrot and beet juice combination.  Thats right, two “lunches.”

One of the things about me that is important to keep in mind is that I have never been a three square meals type of person.  I usually eat about five meals during the day starting with a small breakfast followed by a late morning snack of fruit and nuts.  Lunch is also usually small and is followed by a late afternoon snack that depends on what kind of activity I have planned for the evening.  An hour of cross training requires a meal replacement bar where as a 30-60 minute, moderately paced run requires something smaller like granola.  Finally, dinner is usually a smaller meal portion as well.

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