The Treadmill Follies

If you know me, you know how I feel about treadmills. My dislike for them is well-documented. This week, with the frigid temperatures/wind/ice continuing, I called “uncle” and hopped on a treadmill a couple of times at the local YMCA. I figured the treadmill would be “safer.” The last time I was on a treadmill was over four years ago, so perhaps my “treadmill brain” is a bit rusty or slow. Today, I had a mishap which only validated: 1) I’m not that smart, and 2) Yes, I do indeed hate the treadmill.  

Ironically,I was having a great run up until “the moment.”
I was banging out sub 7 minute miles and the “rolling hills” option was
at 6% grade at “the moment.”  I was
working hard, but relaxed. Perhaps “relaxing” on a treadmill is unwise. This, combined with the following, was not a
good combination…

Yes, I was running with music today.  I
don’t run with music anymore; however, on the treadmill, I need to be
distracted from my boredom. So, yes, I
ran with music.  In my “relaxed” state, I
was singing to myself, and, at times, air drumming.  Yes, I probably deserved what happened next.

As Joker and
the Thief
by Wolfmother jammed in my ears, my left hand caught the wire from my
headphones, yanking them out of my ears, and taking the cell phone along with them…taking
the device right off the treadmill. This is when I looked down to see where
everything went. I stopped running, and when you stop running on a treadmill,
bad things happen.  

I don’t
remember much, aside from a bounce and the subsequent belt burns. The best part was the fact that my wife was
on the treadmill next to me, so she had a front row ticket to this mayhem.  Fortunately, my distracting activity did not
impact her own safety.  

After I
realized nothing catastrophic had occurred to my body, I finished my run
(without music and with more humility).  

I sincerely
hope no video of this surfaces on Youtube someday; however, if it does, enjoy
the fruits of my stupidity and klutziness.


Ouchy elbow

Running For Your Life

Let’s face it, we are temporary passengers in our bodies.  Sure, in the day-to-day, things feel permanent, but who are we kidding? We get one shot at this, so, many of us become dedicated to taking care of ourselves…to keep this temporary thing called “life” going.  We eat right, workout, attempt some semblance of adequate sleep. But, in the end, we will all die. The Reaper is undefeated, right? Ok, enough depressing chatter.

Where was I?

Yes, running over a lifetime

For those of us who run, we often set goals: a 5k PR, a marathon in every state, 1,000 miles in a year, etc; however, how many of us actually set a goal of “Running over our lifetimes?”  My guess is, overtly, not many of us.  Sure, we love running and want to keep going, but how many of us think about running until we die?

For the most part, we focus on the next race.  This is normal.  We sign up, follow a plan, and if all goes well, get to the starting line.  However, sometimes, we don’t make it to the starting line.  Sometimes, we get injured.

Our first thought?

“Oh my goodness, what about my race???”

We see the doctor, and the doctor recommends the one word runners hate: “rest.”  We are bummed, devastated.

But, just as life is temporary, so are injuries.  There will always be another race, there is not another body for us.  Once we accept being sidelined, we do what we can to come back.  We try to renew and extend our running lives.

…and our running lives are unpredictable.  Some of us never get injured.  Some of us can go years without injury, while others can have several injuries in one year. So, to reduce injuries, here are a few of my tips for running over a lifetime…

1) Ease into things – Do not overdo it in the beginning.  Do not be a victim of “Too Much Too Soon Syndrome.” Sooner or later, you’ll have a “Breakthrough run” where you will feel like a runner.  It will come to you…don’t chase it.  Back off your mileage every third or fourth week.

2) Listen to your body – If you’re in Week 8 of a twelve week training plan, and your shin starts to bother you, take an extra rest day. This rest day might be just what you need to make it to the starting line.  Why push it, and have that shin pain turn into a stress fracture?

3) Race, but don’t race too much – I recommend one race per month (at most), and vary the distance while you’re at it.  Furthermore, as tempting as it may be to become a “marathon maniac,” keep the marathons to one or two per year.

4) Vary your speed – Don’t always run hard.  Really, one harder workout per week is plenty.  Run with a friend when you can.  Better yet, run a race with a friend who might run a different pace than you. He or she will appreciate it, and it will give you a sense of purpose…good karma too!

and most important:

5) Have fun.  When running starts to feel like work, back off. Do anything but run.  Sooner or later, you’ll get the itch to run again.  If you ever want to reconnect with running, attend a race as a spectator.  If you get a fire in your belly, maybe it’s time to lace up the sneakers again.  If not, take more time off.

In the second half of 2014, I’ve backed off my mileage for several reasons, and I’ll spare you these reasons; however, I know I’ll keep running…hopefully, over a lifetime…and if I die while running, so be it. What a way to go out.

In the meantime, I’ll try to outrun the Reaper as long as possible.

“Kinda bent, but we ain’t breakin’ 
in the long run 
Ooh, I want to tell you, it’s a long run…”

– The Long Run by The Eagles

Runner’s High: 8 Songs That Prove Tom Petty is a Runner

Tom Petty is a runner. I don’t care what you say.

I know he wants to “…get to the point” and “…roll another joint,” and he talks of dancing with Mary Jane, but if you dig into his song list, he might just be a runner at heart.  The following songs suggest Tom Petty is one of us runners.

1.    Runnin’ Down a Dream – I will just get the obvious song out of the way.  This is all about freedom and speed:

Trees flew by, me and Del were singin’ little Runaway, I was flyin.”

I felt so good like anything was possible, I hit cruise control…”

While it is a driving song, this will get you running.  Let’s face it, when we are running, we do feel that anything is possible, and Mr. Petty might have some insight into this.  Then again, the same feeling might apply to getting high (I would not know anymore).

2.    Saving Grace – This song is about finding oneself and finding redemption.  Is this not a perfect theme for runners, especially while trying to get over a bad race?  Also, do we not problem solve and work out our daily issues while on the run?  If we don’t do this, at least we get some temporary peace from our daily issues while running.

And it’s hard to say who you are these days, but you run on anyway. Don’t you baby?

You keep running for another place to find that saving grace…”

This is about moving forward, and not stagnating.  We are always looking to improve as runners, and perhaps Tom Petty knows something about PRs.

3.    Running Man’s Bible – This song is about tough times and weathering the storm.  We have all been there during a race. You know that moment in a race or during a workout when you think about giving up but somehow you don’t?

Here’s one to glory

And survival

And stayin’ alive

It’s the runnin’ man’s bible

I don’t speak of the times I nearly died

Sometimes running and racing is a war of attrition, and usually this war is fought against ourselves, our mind vs. our body.  Sure, we sometimes size up other runners at the starting line, but at the end of the day we are truly racing ourselves.

4.    I Won’t Back Down – This song is simply about Badassery.  You can throw anything you want at Mr. Petty, but he will surely stand his ground.  Life sometimes throws curveballs at us, but we adjust, learn a lesson here and there and move on (hopefully).  This also applies to running. Inevitably, there will be a new situation, perhaps during a race that will catch us off guard. It could be a downpour at Mile 5 of a marathon, or bad cramping on a hot day.  This is when we learn about ourselves and how we react in such situations.

5.    Big Weekend – This song is simple: Road trip and weekend fun, and hey, race weekends are big weekends, aren’t they?  Mr. Petty’s attitude in this song is to live in the moment…a use it or lose it mentality…

If you don’t run you rust”

I don’t know about you, but I want to run over a lifetime, and Tom seems to have a point here. Do it as long as you can.  Once you stop, bad things happen.

6.    All You Can Carry – This is about moving on. As runners, we sometimes have trouble moving on. We analyze our races to death, even the good ones.  We are never 100% satisfied.  Well, Tom is telling us to lighten up…not necessarily to lighten our loads…but to move on…

“Take what you can

All you can carry

Take what you can

And leave the thoughts behind

We got to run

Sage advice from someone that could get away with this look:


Remember this video?

7.    American Girl – Come on, can’t you see Tom Petty running out on Route 441 down in his home state of Florida?  Well, maybe not, but perhaps his old girlfriend did, you know…the one raised on promises?

After all it was a great big world

With lots of places to run to

And if she had to die tryin’

She had one little promise she was gonna keep

So, if you know what this song is really about, you’re rolling your eyes right now (or you suddenly want to watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High).

8.    Walls – This one is a stretch but bear with me.  Often, I will describe my runs as either “diamonds” or “rocks,” depending on whether they are good or bad.  Well, this is exactly how Mr. Petty opens this song.  Okay, this is a love song, but it is about endurance and patiently waiting.  Mr. Petty is not writing about the walls we may encounter during a race, but he is taking about holding out for something to believe in…sounds like a distance runner’s mentality to me.

So if you think Tom Petty is singing about the munchies, you might want to dig deeper. Perhaps he is simply fueling up for his next race.  Maybe he’s been talking about Runner’s High all along.


Maybe he is a trail runner?

Five Reasons I’m not a Product #Ambassador

Don’t worry, this isn’t a “Get off my lawn!!” post, but I would like to share my thoughts on product ambassador programs.  I’m not here to talk you out of becoming an ambassador, but I will tell you the reasons I choose not to become one.

For your benefit, I will limit my reasons to five:

1) I feel like the participants/ambassadors are being used – There is an obligation on their part to say good things about products because they are getting free items.  How can the ambassadors be objective?  Is this set up to be more beneficial for the ambassadors or for the company?  It seems like free advertising to me.
2) It sometimes comes off as Fraternity-ish / Sorority-ish / Elitist – Some people get selected as ambassadors and others don’t. Why? What is the criteria?  I’ve seen people on Twitter that were devastated when they weren’t selected as an ambassador for a particular company. It comes off as exclusionary.
3) I’m not sure where fashion fits in to running –  I’m more of a “just run” person. Do I want to be comfortable while running?  Yes, the performance clothes / sneakers should fit properly. I won’t begrudge others for injecting fashion into the running process.  If it attracts people to the sport, fine.  I always get excited when a person starts running, and if “fashion” gets them to do it, so be it; however, is the product the right product for someone simply because that consumer thinks it looks good?  Also, I want to know if fashion keeps people running over a lifetime.  I would hope, but I’m doubtful.  I hope I’m wrong.
4)  The term “Flock” itself – Oiselle uses this term, and it troubles me.  Flock is defined by Merriam Webster as:
1  – a group of animals (as birds or sheep) assembled or herded together
2  – a group under the guidance of a leader; especially a church congregation
It implies a collective “herd” mentality, or that we can’t think for ourselves.  Running is a very individualized sport.  Yes, there are running groups and running clubs, and we often want to feel like we are part of something bigger, but at the end of the day, nobody runs for us. We do the work.  Despite the running community being an amazing group, running is basically a very “me” thing.


5)  The hashtag – Ambassadors hashtag their brands / brand’s slogans to death.  I get inundated with this, and suffer from product fatigue before even trying the product.  In fact, this “pushing” of the product makes me want to “run” the other way.

In the world of social media, we get much more than the 30 second advertisement for a product. At times, we are exposed to a product every time we open a particular App.  Companies have more exposure, but we become the victims of this product fatigue.



A NO WHINING ZONE is in effect for the rest of the winter.

I love Twitter.  It helps us connect with people we want to connect with.  It’s also valuable for information updates and resource sharing, as well as getting inspired by fellow athletes.  Sometimes, however, Twitter is reduced to a repetitious weather report from many (present company included).

You’ve seen it: A screen shot of the frigid temperatures, a photo of a snowy yard.  I’ve been guilty of this myself.  We are sharing what we already know: it’s cold and it snows in winter.  Can we get over it?

Here’s the thing: We are athletes.  We train twelve months of the year.  If a big spring race is coming up, we must train.  Yes, a foot of snow will force us to get creative and flexible with our training plans, but at the end of the day, we must get in the workout.  Whether it’s using a treadmill, Yaktrax, or running on a planned rest day (if that day turns out to be the better day weather-wise), our training plans must be “breathing training plans.” We mustn’t ruminate if we need to adjust.

The other thing I won’t do: I won’t complain about the weather. Yes, on the inside, I might be worn down or frustrated by it, but I can’t waste my energy worrying about it.  Whining doesn’t get the workout done.  The race date doesn’t get moved, so neither should our training.

To help cope with the bad weather, I’m sharing some of the things that help me deal with it:

Wind Chill Factor (the “Feels Like” temp):  Wind just reminds us we are alive. When it smacks you in the face, smile back at it.  What else can you do?  Sometimes I yell too…it’s cathartic.  Try it.  If that doesn’t work, cursing is acceptable.

Snow:  Remember when we were young?  The snow excited us.  We couldn’t get outside fast enough.  Throw on the Yaktrax and greet the snow head on.  Instead of sledding, hit a trail or right-of-way path to stay away from cars.  Otherwise throw on your Hi Viz gear or hit the treadmill.

Darkness: Personally, I have more trouble with the shorter days than the actual weather because of my poor vision.  This year, I bought a headlamp and I have my NB jacket, which glows in the dark. These things help, but it’s still hard to catch the potholes.  I’ve turned my ankles at least three times.  Perhaps, try a midday run when temperatures moderate and the darkness is gone.

Group: If I know I have to meet a friend to run, it gets me out of bed to do it.  Plain and simple.  If it’s just me running, there is more risk of hitting the snooze.  So, if you can find someone as crazy and willing as you to brave it, I’d try it.

I’m not saying to be stupid or be a hero out there, but it’s possible to make it through winter and come out in great shape for the spring.  Also, we can do it without whining about it.

Yes, it’s winter, thank you for the reminder

The Track Feels Like Home…

The track feels like home, and sometimes you must break into your own house

Saturday morning.  Crunched for time. If I was going to be able to handle the rest of my responsibilities that day, my track workout needed to start by 7am.  As I approached the entrance to the track area, it was clear that it was locked.

“Now what?”

Option 1: Drive to the next township, and see if their track is open?  That would eat more precious time.  No.

Option 2: Climb the six feet high fence, and enter the track illegally?  Smiling…Yes.

As I started my climb, my inner monologue was: “What the bleep are you doing?” However, as one leg went over the top, I shifted to: “Breakin’ the Law, Breakin’ the Law” from Judas Priest with eyes wide open and grinning.  I know, a minor infraction, but when I landed on the other side of the fence, freedom was before me.

The track was mine, and nobody else’s.  It would stay that way for the entire workout. This. This place feels like home. Familiar: With a sense of place. Finite: yet so many possibilities…memories to be made, work to be done.

I’ll spare you the details of the actual workout because you’ve done your own such workouts; however, I’d like to share some of the sounds of the track from that snowy, windy morning with you…

On the turns: The relentless sloshing sounds of my feet from the wet, slippery track

Back Straight: The unforgiving, dissonant howl of the winter wind blaring in my ears and face. 

Front Straight: The transition to the quiet serenity of the tailwind, with silence broken by my labored breathing. 

Across the street: The metronomic clanging of the flagpole, mocking my temporary pain. 

That inner voice: “200m more – don’t leave it here.”

Breaking the law to do this was worth the effort.  As I climbed my way out of there, I cut myself just below my left knee.  This was a small price to pay for the opportunity to be there.  To be home.

2013 – Running Year in Review

Strange year: There was the good, the bad and the scary.  The scary dominated, but the good won out in the end.  As far as the bad? We always learn from the bad.

The Good:

  • Adult PRs in the 5k (17:43), 10k (38:26), Half (1:20:43), and Marathon (2:55:10)
  • New High in annual mileage ( 1,601 and counting )
  • Got up enough nerve to join a running group
  • #BostonStrong (more on that later)

The Bad:

  • Barely finishing the ½ Sauer ½ Kraut after being sick all week
  • Melting at the Wilkes-Barre Half turning in a “Positive” split like none other
  • Summer injury JUST before ramping up training

The Scary:

  • The irregular heartbeat DNF at the Runner’s World Half
  • Boston 04/15/13 (this was the scary bad)

On Boston

Boston taught me a few things:

  1. I’m never going to be fully ok (and that’s ok)
  2. I’m an unapologetic crier
  3. People ARE inherently good, and runners rule … #BostonStrong

2013 taught me a few things too:

  1. PRs do NOT translate into satisfaction and fun
  2. Happiness and fun matter
  3. See your doctor
  4. Maybe I’m not an island after all (Running Groups are good)

That being said, in 2014, I’m cutting back my racing (maybe) and PR attempts (hopefully). I would say I’m going to have more fun with running, but saying things like that doesn’t work.  Forcing fun doesn’t work.

I’m just not going to think so much.  I will start by not wearing a watch in 2014.

One thing is for sure:  I’ll be in Boston on 4/21/14, and I plan on taking back Boylston Street. 


 Before added security




Delaware Marathon 05/12/13

Cemetery Running is NOT Scary

There is a beautiful place a mile from where I live.  It is a serene, wooded 3.2 mile loop complete with built-in wildlife. It is quiet, safe and free of automobile traffic.   I run and I find peace there. It’s called the Ardsley Cemetery.  Up until New Year’s Day of this year, it was only a cemetery to me.  However, a friend of mine invited me to go for a run, and today I see it differently.  It all started something like this:

(At a New Year’s Eve party)

Friend: “Hey want to run tomorrow?” 

Me: “Sure, where?”

Friend: “The cemetery on Jenkintown Road.”

Me: “Cemetery, really?  Isn’t that creepy?”

Friend: “Not at all, come check it out.”

So, bleary-eyed, I joined him and two others, and surprise: a runner’s oasis.

Though, it did take some time to see it as an oasis.  Initially, I focused on the names and dates on the headstones.  I was uncertain if what we were doing was disrespectful or not.

“Should we be doing this?” 

“Should we be talking?” 

“Should we use a lower voice?” 

Well, now the residents of the cemetery haven’t seemed to mind (although I do have a no cursing rule for myself when we are there. I’m not always successful at following that rule though).

Nearly a year later, the Ardsley Cemetery is a regular route for three friends and me.  We meet at 6:30am, and we set out to the quiet place.  Each of us has very busy, hectic lives, but for 45 minutes, we are sheltered from stress in the pleasant environs of the cemetery.

The grounds aren’t completely occupied by the deceased.  There are woods and paths filled with countless deer, including a large buck that has no fear of us.  He is a majestic fellow, and I fear him slightly.  He appears to be the leader of the herd, and when the herd runs, it is a sight to witness.

In a recent post, I admitted to being morbid.  I’m not sure if running in a cemetery falls in line with that, but I can say this: I am at peace when running there, and I hope its residents are all at peace too.

The End of the PR

I accept the fact that my PR days will be behind me soon, but it’s nice to know I can still grab one…”

Recently, I wrote that after getting a PR at the Half Marathon distance.  The truth is, I don’t know how many more years I have left in which a PR is a possibility.  Two years?  Five years?  Ten?

Part of me wants the possibility of a PR to always be there.  This possibility means a lot.  It means I’ve still got it, or I’m still competitive with myself.  To run a race distance faster than you ever have is a great feeling, but what happens when we plateau or slow down as we age?  It is inevitable.

On plateauing

I once overheard two runners discussing PRs on a shuttle bus before the Bolder Boulder 10k. One turned to the other and said:

If you’re able to run the same time every year, you’re actually getting faster.”

Initially, this didn’t make sense to me.  To me, his words meant stagnation; however, he was right.  Age is a factor, so when we reach the point of not getting faster, if we’re not getting slower either, this should be considered a victory for the aging, right?   If age wasn’t a factor, there would only be one qualifying time for men, and one qualifying time for women for the Boston Marathon.

Yes, we’re all aging.  The next race you run will be the youngest you’re going to be in your remaining races.   It smacks you in the face, doesn’t it?

On slowing down

So, what happens when we get slower?  What becomes our motivation in a race then?  Is it to keep moving?  To stay fit? To maintain a social life? These are admirable motivators.  For me, it would be to relieve stress, but personally, I might be more relaxed during a race if I knew I wasn’t PRing that day.  Who am I kidding? I’ll never be fully relaxed during a race. OK, so maybe it would be to relieve a different kind of stress.

Should we stop trying to PR if there is no possibility of a PR?    One of my friends on dailymile, in response to my initial quote, had an encouraging quote of his own:

Hey I’m 57 and still trying for PRs. Never stop trying.”  Thank you, Glenn.

Look, we are lulled into a false sense that running and many other things in life are permanent.  I wish they were, but, let’s face it, the Reaper is undefeated.

So, let’s run now, and let’s take Glenn’s advice: Never stop trying.


Yes, it flies

Your Autumn Running Playlist

Fall arrives Sunday!! Oh Autumn, we love you.  Let’s face it, this is the best time of year to run. To aid in this wonderful time, I’ve compiled a playlist of autumn running songs.  Can you help me add a few?

1. Go Where the Leaves Go by Matt Pond

2. Mr. November by The National

3. In the Wind by Lord Huron

4. Autumn Sweater by Yo La Tengo

5. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground by The White Stripes

6. Autumn Almanac by The Kinks

7. November Days by The Origin

8. Indian Summer Sky by U2


9. September by Earth, Wind & Fire

10. Summer’s End by Foo Fighters

11. October by deadmau5

12. Forever Autumn by The Moody Blues