Friday, January 29, 2016

5 Running Podcasts to Follow

For this Friday Five, I'm linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What, and Mar at Mar on the Run.  Being the fifth Friday of the month, this week is a free theme, which I'm going to "run" with (I know, bad pun!) by talking about podcasts.

I have made a discovery that I feel the need to share with all my running companions - I've found podcasts for the average runner!  That's right, audio tidbits that provide tips and soundbites for those of us who enjoy lacing up just for fun.  If you have never given podcasts a try or have been disgruntled like me with the various running ones that seem to only apply to the elites, let these suggestions be your entrance into the exciting world of auditory entertainment.

1.  "Diz Runs With...."
I can tell I have found something I love when it begins to consume any free-time I might have.  Thus, when I realized I had spent every moment of commuting time listening to the "Diz Runs With..." podcasts, I knew something great was uncovered.  The podcast covers a variety of topics from interviews with people in the running community to tips and tricks to improve one's running.  Denny is always releasing new content, so any time is a great time to jump in.

2.  "The DC Rainmaker Podcast"
If you haven't figured it out already, I'm a little (though according to my wife a lot!) geeky, so anything dealing with tech catches my fancy.  Because of this, I really get into the "DC Rainmaker Podcast."  Ray has become a household name for runners due to his in-depth (and fairly impressive) reviews of all things sports tech.  In a way to complement this work, he also runs a podcast geared toward updating the running/cycling/swimming community with the latest releases as well as answering submitted questions from his listeners.  Even though I know I'll never buy 99.9% of the tech he mentions, it's still pretty cool to hear what's going on.

3.  "The Average Runner Podcast"
A podcast title that doesn't mince words in what it's all about is always nice and is something the hosts of "The Average Runner Podcast" must have considered when developing their show.  This podcast, hosted by Sean, Jason and Stephen, gives the listener the inside scoop as to the experience of being an "average runner."  To hear the varying stories of these three guys, you will most likely find one of them to relate to and learn from.

4.  "Run Buzz"
While the podcasts above approach running from some unique angles, "Run Buzz" may be in line with the more traditional approach to running advice and guidance.  However, the podcast sets itself apart by choosing topics that you don't need a degree in rocket science (or sports physiology, to be more precise) to understand.  This may be a podcast to look up for those times when you want some solid advice and have the time to listen.

5.  "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me"
Okay, I know this podcast isn't directly running related, but from what I can tell, a significant number of runners love it.  In a way though, it does deal with running since the more we are enjoying our runs the better we tend to do.  And, if you're laughing hysterically while running, as you will with every episode, your endorphin count has to be skyrocketing.  This NPR quiz show can help your mind wander away long enough to forget you're only a mile into a 14 mile long run!

So, what are you favorite podcasts on running or listen to while running?

Happy running!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Frigid Five Miler

Winter running can sometimes feel like a drag since most of us have our eyes set on spring and summer goals and races.  As a result, when a race in these cool months presents itself, it can add a splash of flavor to the monotony of snowy and chilly miles.  I think this idea was the motivation for the development of the Frigid Five Miler hosted by Elite Runners Racing Management.  Knowing that runners are always looking for new challenges and ways to work out differently in the winter season, this annual run feeds that craving for adventure and the thrill of racing.  

I first decided to sign up for this race when I was planning out my 12 in 12 racing calendar (check out my 2016 goals post for more info).  I will admit, I didn't necessarily read the fine print about the specifics of the race; all I knew was that I had found an event to do in January when races tend to be few.  Therefore, I missed the whole "a very challenging course has been chosen for the race" line in the description of the event.  And to think, I am always telling my students to read the details!

As you may already know from my last few posts, I have been having an on-again off-again battle with shin splints.  These little buggers have thrown a wrench into some pretty awesome plans I had for preparing for some winter running and taking advantage of my Christmas break to run some extra miles.  Instead, I stopped running completely between Christmas and New Years to order to focus on recovery by constantly icing and strength training my shin muscles.  Definitely not as fun as running!

After taking the week off, I eased back into things since most of the information I found kept emphasizing caution when returning to the exercise.  I was attentive to keeping on soft surfaces as well as slowing the pace way down.  The one other approach that I tried for the first time was spreading my mileage over several days instead of alternating between running and rest days.  Interestingly enough, this consistency of doing a few easy miles each day seemed to work!  Now it was time for the race....

To be honest, I was pretty unprepared leading up to the Frigid Five Miler, since the last time I had run that distance had been roughly two months ago.  In addition, I had only logged roughly 11 miles the week prior moving at an extremely slow pace.  My thoughts leading up this race were legitimately, "Oh well, guess we'll see what happens!"  I figured that if nothing else, I could bear the pain for the 5 miles and then spend the next couple weeks recovering if something when wrong (I know, bad approach!).

As the race loomed, I got the usual email with information about the event.  In it, they gave details about parking, arrival time, and the course map.  I then took note to the fact that the run wouldn't be like most of the 5Ks I had done recently - the last 2/3 mile of the race were uphill! I just laughed to myself and accepted my fate.  I planned to rely on a good warm-up and the fact that my shins weren't feeling horribly terrible in the days leading up.

So, as I had alluded to earlier, part of the challenge of this race is that it takes places in the chilly month of January.  However, the weather had been slightly confused and on race morning, the temps were in the upper 40's and the rain that had poured throughout the night stopped.  Ironically enough, the weather was ideal for a great run.  I got dressed for these temperate conditions and made my way to North Park, which I have run various parts before due to having some really nice trails.

When I arrived at the race, I parked a little ways away since we had been told ahead of time that spaces would be very limited near the starting line.  Thus, my warm-up began with roughly a mile walk...up the hill that the race finished on.  In some ways, the hill never seemed to end thus taking away a little bit of hope for someone to PR.  When I finally reached the top, I continued preparing by jogging a mile and performing some dynamic stretches.  As I had learned months before, letting my muscles cool was the worse that I could do prior to the race starting.  I then moved into the starting corral lining myself up with the 9:30 pacer, since I didn't have the slightest clue what my speed would actually be.  A few minutes later the "Go!" was given and we were off.

As I started the race, with each step I took, I reminded myself to keep good form and run on any grass that lined the course if possible.  I didn't look at my watch, but I was always pretty sure as to my pace, since the one pacer was doing his best to loudly motivate anyone who was planning on following him.  Since the course was one big loop, the only way for it to end in an uphill was for the start of the race to be all downhill...and it was.  As I found myself attempting to not pound the pavement, especially when some of the grades of the hill got pretty steep, I actually thought to myself, "When will this downhill end?!"  As one of the few runners in history, I didn't want to keep going downhill, even though I knew time-wise it would be great.  I thus found relief when we reached the flat segment between the downhill and the uphill.

I knew with each step I took that I would eventually encounter that miniature mountain I had walked earlier.  And yet, I wasn't necessarily dreading it.  When I reached the base of the climb, I recalled what good form I needed and just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  I refused to give into walking, even when a cramp in my side was making it hard to breath.  I knew that if my legs would keep going, I could overcome any mental barriers and reach the top.  Thus, I pushed onward until I crested the hill and crossed the finish line a few hundred feet after that.  I survived and, in taking a mental check of my aches and pain, found that I was feeling okay.

And okay I seem to have done at the race as well.  When I went to check the live results, I found that I had actually placed in my age group - first time ever!  This positive news persuaded me to stay until the awards ceremony as well as take part in the pancakes and hot chocolate that were bring served.  

In looking back at the race, I am really glad I did it.  I ran smart and my body thanked me for it by keeping any pain at bay.  I was definitely sore for the past two days, but it was a good soreness.  When I went running today, I found myself enjoying it pain-free, which feels just awesome.  Now, I just need to figure out what race to run next month....

Happy running!

P.S. You can find the full review of the race at