My New Favorite Running Partner!

While running cross-country in high school I thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie of running with others and found myself running in a group as often as I could. Since then however I have found it difficult to find someone that runs a similar pace let alone is following a similar plan with workouts that have the same intensity and/or distance.  My new running partner isn’t an actual person, but a GPS watch.

I had been looking at the Garmin Forerunner’s since I was doing triathlons and preparing for my first marathon.  The size of the previous versions of the Forerunners was what caused hesitation in not purchasing one.  Since Garmin released the 610 the size has decreased and become more in line with what you’d expect from a normal sports watch.  From the moment I opened the box I have very pleased with the watch.  From it’s sleek design to endless features this watch can be used in a very basic manner to the perfect training partner/coach.

As I continue to use more and more settings and features I will write future blog posts detailing the features that I find to enjoy most. So far the features of just knowing my distance, pace, and heart rate instantly with a quick glance to my wrist has allowed me to follow my workout plan better, not over doing it.  I encourage you to check out the Garmin 620 Forerunner if you are looking for a GPS watch to take your training to the next level.

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I love Nuun & I want you to too!

I had been on the search for a hydration product that doesn’t contain the sugars, high fructose corn syrups, or other things that seem to upset my stomach and I found one.  If you are not familiar yet with the running community, whether you’re next to them on the starting line or you’ve never met them but talk regularly on #RunChat on Sunday nights with them and thousands others, they are happy to share their experiences and advice.  They want to you do your best, accomplish your goals, and succeed.  This advice is free and might not work for you but the more information you have I believe the better the outcome will be.  Whether the product is $5 or $500 it’s nice to get someone else’s opinion that has used the product in the same application that you will.  How I came across Nuun hydration wasn’t even through someone talking about their experience with the product however rather through an experience with the brand. So how did I discover Nuun?

One of the Runner World editors that I follow on Twitter (@megrunnergirl) had talked about her trip to run the Hood to Coast relay as part of Team Nuun. From her tweets leading up to the relay to the race recap on her blog you could tell that they were treated to an awesome experience.  How often do you find brands going above and beyond like this?  After doing some research on the Nuun website and reading a few other reviews on the product, I needed to find a place to try it out.  As an employee of Swanson Health Products (& having over 18,000 products) I was curious if we carried the Nuun products and I found out we do!  Since then I have been trying the Nuun Tri-Berry and have been very pleased.  I have my full review here but the exciting part is that I want to give a bottle away to someone so they can try these awesome products too. So how do you register?  Just comment below with “I want to WIN & try Nuun products” and I’ll randomly pick one winner on Monday (11/4/13). If you share this on Twitter or Google+ and tag me in it, I’ll give you an extra entry.

Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tablets Tri-Berry

Training Update – 10/23/13

Snow has been in our forecast over the last week or so however we have been lucky enough to not see anything on the ground yet.  For many people in my area of the country we find extra excuses this time of the year to put off training with the thought that we’ll continue it when spring comes.  If you’ve ever visited the Midwest in the spring, you’d know that spring can come any time between March and June depending on the year.  With my race plans for 2014 beginning to take shape, I’m making the committment to staying in great shape throughout the winter to ensure I’m fully ready when I find the starting line for the first time in 2014.

I have still not developed much of a training plan for the “off-season” months other than I’m going to do long runs of 10 miles, 12 miles, 14 miles, 16 miles and then start back over at 10 again.  My current training has had me running 5.25 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then lifting on Tuesday and Thursday, and getting my long run on either Saturday or Sunday (weather pending) and the other day being my rest day.  So far I’m pleased with where it has taken me, however I do not like mundane plans and am looking to change it up.  Before I write on here again, I plan to map out the next few months knowing it may change due to different circumstances but having it written down.  My current lifting routine for the next three weeks is as follows:

Day 1:
Superset 1: Barbell Lunges (8 reps), Dumbbell Flys (8 reps), Bicycle Crunches (30 reps)Superset 2: Slide Board Leg Curls (8 reps), Single Arm Bent Over Rows (8 reps), Toe Touches (30 reps)
Superset 3: Alternating Hammer Curls (10 reps), Overhead Triceps Extensions (10 reps), Supermen (20 reps)

Day 2:Superset 1: Squats (8 reps), Alternating Extension Bench Press (8 reps), Diagonal Crunches (30 reps)
Superset 2: Single Leg Press Machine (8 reps), Seated Rows (8 reps), Leg Raises (25 reps)
Superset 3: Dumbbell Pullovers (10 reps), Front Raises (15 reps), Scissor Kicks (30 reps)

Time to put my head down and figure out this training plan for the off-season.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions on what you would suggest.  Either way I feel like by continuing my weekly mileage I will be in a much better spot come time for the marathon training to ramp up.  Until next time…Happy Running!

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Nuun Hydration Review

Although running is an individual sport (except for a few relays in track and the team aspect in cross country) there is nothing simple about it.  Some could argue that the 100 meter dash is so short, you just line up run for about 9-13 seconds depending how fast you are and you’re done.  However for anyone who looks to continually better their personal record or chase the world record, if you are Usain Bolt, you realize that more goes into achieving that PR other than just lining up at the start line.  It takes practice, dedication and a few lessons learned along the way.

During my recent Sioux Falls Marathon I was thrilled for race day.  My training had gone very well with no injury downtime and I was ready to give my best shot at qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  You can read my full report here, but in short my nutrition failed me. Actually I failed my nutrition.  In my training runs leading up to the marathon I ran my long runs with none to little water, sports drink, or food during them.  I had felt good during each of them and still struggle to not be uneasy about carrying extra things.  I had planned to the aid stations as my water/sports drink fueling spots and had planned to have my wife at designated miles with an array of fueling options.  When I went to take food from her around mile 8/9, my stomach rejected it.  I have now had the opportunity to hone my nutritional strategy and realize that it was most likely the sugary sports drink my stomach didn’t like, so I’ve been on a quest.

I needed something with electrolytes, a little bit of sodium, but no sugars or high fructose corn syrup.  My stomach isn’t too fussy, however when I’m hard at it during a race I’ve learned it doesn’t like sugars.  Luckily through a few friend’s posts on Twitter, I came across Nuun Hydration. Lucky for me we carry these at the company I work at (Swanson Health Products) so I placed an employee order for the Tri-Berry flavor.  The directions for them are simple, add one tablet to 16 oz of water, wait two minutes and like magic before your eyes you have an electrolyte enhanced drink.  My first step was to drink one during an afternoon of work and make sure it didn’t cause any unpleasant situations when my body was not working out.  From the first sip, it reminded me of sugary sports drink but without the super sugary flavor and more thirst quenching.  It has a very enjoyable flavor so it doesn’t come off as bad water, but definitely not as sugary tasting as pop or soda.  Of course there was no problems and so I took it on the road with me.  Through about a dozen trials now during my training I have not had any stomach issues to speak of.

If you are struggling with sports drinks during your workouts I encourage you to give Nuun a try.  Of course I’d suggest you get it at Swanson and you can get a $5 coupon by signing up here, but more importantly as a fellow runner I hope you try it in an effort to get better to achieve that lesson learned that’ll take your running to the next level.  As new runners often tell me, the running community wants each and everyone to get better.  We compete against ourselves with the encourage of others all around us.  Thanks for taking time to read this and I hope it helps you.

Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tablets Tri-Berry

Marathon Training Update: Knee Injury, New Shoes and Speed Workouts

The last month has seen some of my training highs and lows since I started running again in early 2013.  After running a “slow” 6 miler on Friday, I woke up Saturday (7/20) with a swollen knee. My knee felt like a rubber band that someone was stretching to it’s max and all it wanted to do was snap.  I had a 18 mile long run planned on Saturday and rather than further injuring myself I took to the ice and advil plan.  I know how much it helps to get the long runs in during training for a marathon, but knew I still had plenty of time to recover, get some long 20 mile runs in, and still be in great shape come race if I just was smart about this swollen knee.

After five days of resting my knee, it was feeling great so I ventured out for a 2 mile run with no pain during, after or the following day.  I slowly was ramping my mileage back up and have been very careful since ensuring I listen to my body and treat it like a delicate tool.  Although there is no high like crossing the finish line on race day like I did in May at the Fargo Half-Marathon and plan to do in Sioux Falls in just a few short weeks, great training runs are a close second.  The marathon plan that I have modified is to run a sub 3:30. My goal has been the entire time to run a 3:04:59, the qualifying standard for my age group, so for all the speed workouts I’ve increased the speed at which they were to be done.

The speed workouts have reminded me very much of my high school cross-country training days besides not having the large group of people to push you through the  800 or mile repeat.  Although they many times can be tougher than a long run, the pain from them is temporary and once it is over, the feeling of what you just accomplished can leave one speechless.  Every time I have one of these speed workouts I can’t wait to run that day and almost get jittery at work with excitement.  As I write this blog post I’ve already been looking ahead to when I have 800 repeats again.

Lastly, I made a change in the footwear department.  I will write a more extensive blog post about my reasoning on why I decided to make the change, but I am enjoying my new New Balance 890v2’s.  Through five runs now I continue to like the feel of them more each time and am looking for a pair of race flats for New Balance for future marathons.  For the Sioux Falls marathon I have decided to use the New Balance 890’s that I have been wearing for my training as they will be broken in but should still be very comfortable over the 26.2 miles.  Please check back for my extensive post about why I made the switch the New Balance as I feel very passionate about this decision and encourage others to do the same.

I hope everyone has many happy miles in their training and upcoming races! I already am giddy about the Sioux Falls Marathon on September 8th when I will look to crush my PR of 4:13…by hopefully over an hour 🙂

Initial Thoughts: New Balance 890 Running Shoe

When I recently discovered an old pair of running shoes that I had been moving around the country with me (without me knowing this) the thoughts of all my previous triathlon races and full marathon experience came rushing back to me. I had put quite a few miles on this old New Balance shoe and had 4 pairs of this shoe over a couple summers. I took note of the style number and reached out to both New Balance and my favorite running store (www.runningwarehouse.com) to see if they knew what the current style of the most similar shoe would be. They both responded quickly with the 890.

At the time I was only about 100 miles into my Saucony Ride 5’s so despite my excitement I told myself I needed to get my money’s worth out of the Ride 5’s and then I could make the decision to switch once I wore them out. As much as I enjoyed running in my Ride 5’s, something about the 890’s made me want to give them a shot. Not sure if it was the color choices, knowing that the company still employs many Americans to manufacture their shoes here in America, or the numerous memories in my old New Balance shoes and wanting to give them a shot again.

Either way as I approached 400 miles I decided it was time to get the shoes from the Running Warehouse (@RunWithTheHouse). I put them in my closet and paitently waited to finish wearing out my Ride 5’s. Today was the day (7.30.13) that I was ready to start breaking in a new pair. I only had a 6 mile run on my training plan so I knew I could suffer through it even if these shoes were not comfortable or they caused pain…but how could they, I was so sure they would perfect.

When I first put them on I was astonished at the fit. Running Warehouse has a Shoefitr program that suggests what size to get in a new style based on how your old shoe fits which made knowing what size to get while ordering online very easy. The shoe was constructed of different materials than my Ride 5’s and you could quickly tell the 890 was a cut above the Ride 5’s in quality.

With the shoe fitting very comfortably right out of the box, I took off on my 6 mile run. Around mile 3, my right foot had some slight discomfort however it went away a quarter of a mile or so later which has me thinking it was stride related vs. a new pair of shoes. The rest of the run went very well and finished the run with an average pace of 6:59/mi. I always get a “high” from new equipment or a new route, but wow I felt good.

Overall, I am very pleased with the initial run in the New Balance 890 shoes. I look forward to many more miles in them and hopefully will have multiple pairs of these shoes like I did with my old New Balance running shoes.

New Balance 890

Is Running Even About The Exercise?

With my weekend training runs getting longer in distance and equally longer in time, I am spending more time putting one foot in front of the other, putting the other foot in front and then repeating many times.  I know with each step I’m getting more in shape and although I’ve never had a problem with being overweight, my weight will stay in check. I know that if I run my races will become easier and my times will hopefully begin to fall.  But why do I lace up my shoes four to five, sometimes six days a week?

For me it’s my time to relax and unwind. You might ask how does one “relax and unwind” while you are running on short days, 4-5 miles, and upwards of 10-12 miles on the weekends?  Running is my mental escape, 30 mins to well over an hour to let my mind wander and except for looking out for cars at crosswalks, nothing that goes through my head is planned.  Sometimes I put myself in a race situation where if I have four miles left in my run, I imagine myself four miles left from the finish in a marathon and force myself not to give up now.  Other times I think about my past and some individuals that told me indirectly that I wasn’t good enough at something.  I use them as my motivation to pick up the pace or just put one foot in front of the other when my body doesn’t want to move.

I encourage you to find that relax and unwind time in your life.  With the world getting more hectic and crazy with each year that passes, I believe every person will go crazy without relaxing and unwinding.  It might be reading a book, sitting on your patio, or exercising, but you need to find it.  For me it’s running and I’m glad I’ve found it, but I encourage you to find your “relax and unwind” time too!