Tag Archives: Beach

It’s A Long Road Up To Recovery From Here…

Well, for once I’m hoping that Frank Turner (despite all his English boy wisdom) is incorrect and that my post-marathon recovery is swift rather than prolonged…

Regardless, there’s no denying that I am not a superhero and thus this guy’s quads, knees, calves, feet, toes, and spirit all need a bit of recovery time following my first ever full marathon.

For better or for worse (it may very well be that I’m deluding myself), I feel as though I’ve bounced back surprisingly well to this point. The afternoon immediately following the race was clearly a wash. Both my mind and my body were in some strange post-marathon dimension where I wasn’t physically in too much pain but simply felt “off”. I was tired but couldn’t fall asleep. I was excited, but also worn out. I was hungry, but couldn’t stomach much food.

Luckily, that weirdness abated by the next day (although the leg pain did not!). The afternoon following the marathon I took part in a short, easy 2 mile recovery run around our housing development with the lovely Alicia. It took a half mile for my legs to loosen up to the point of actually being able to engage in any sort of movement aside from a geriatric shuffle (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). After my legs broke out of their invisible plaster casings, however, I felt pretty good (not good enough to run any more than an easy two miles, but pretty good nonetheless).

The day after that (two days post-marathon), I ran 3.5 miles out on the beach. Again, I took it easy and though my legs felt heavy, I felt solid overall. In fact, I felt good enough to pick up the pace during the second half of my run to a point that is respectable for this guy.

Then, I took two consecutive days off from running which is something I very rarely do. I took the first day off on purpose, but the second one was not intended. It was simply one of those nights where I wasn’t feeling a run at all. I tricked myself by proposing to my brain the possibility of taking a “short nap” at around 9:30pm and then waking up to go for a short 1 mile jog around the development (after all, it’s just as dark and cold at 10:15pm as it is at 9:30pm, I reasoned with myself). My brain loved the proposal! And subsequently held my body hostage in a sleep state until early the next morning…drats!

I figured I could get by with a couple of days off in a row, though, given the fact that I had just run my first full marathon.

As an aside, earlier in the week a boss of mine at work gave me a hard time about running a marathon in relation to the dangers of long distance running. He cited the studies that point to increased cardiovascular stress and subsequent increased morbidity/mortality of marathoners and ultramarathoners. I countered with the notion that we are “running people” with  a long tradition of such that is still alive in some cultures (ie, the Tarahumara) and that we are most likely capable of much more than we realize. Ultimately, the debate was never truly settled. It is a very interesting topic, however, and one that I think about/fret over from time to time (possibly a future blog topic?). Perhaps luckily (or lazily?), I don’t envision myself transitioning into a regular marathoner or ultra runner.

The icing on the cake came when I asked him that given what we had been discussing, what did he then think about another co-worker of ours who is an Ironman triathlete and regularly competes in triathlons of varying distances. My debate partner simply shook his head,  and said (deadpan): “He is going to die.” He was joking, of course, and the delivery was pretty hilarious.

Dead endurance athletes aside, I picked back up running this afternoon by squeezing in a late run out on the beach. I almost didn’t make the trip out to this sandy haven, but ultimately dragged myself out there to get in a few miles and boy, was I glad that I did! The run wasn’t all that great (tired, heavy legs), but the view was simply jaw dropping. The sky looked to be on fire as it lit up the whole beach on the second leg of my out and back run.

Honestly, the backdrop was downright spectacular and once again made me thankful for the beach running opportunities I have nowadays.

Pre-run views with the Folly fishing pier in the distance
Pre-run views with the Folly fishing pier in the distance
The sky was on fire!
The sky was on fire!

So here’s to more beautiful running views and continued recovery!

 

 

 

 

It’s The Final Countdown!

AKA Sh** is getting real.

Tomorrow I shall be attempting to run and complete my first full marathon at the 2014 edition of the Charleston Marathon (at least it’ll be flat!).

Before we get to my anxiety  thoughts on that, let me rewind a day and mention that I went for my last pre-marathon run yesterday afternoon (two days before race day). The training plan schedule that I’ve been following pretty closely (at least with respect to tempo and long runs, as well as total weekly mileage) called for two days off before running a final 2 mile run today. As I tend to not run the day before a race (I like to keep my legs fresh) but also do not like taking two consecutive days off before a race (I don’t want my legs that fresh), I opted to go out for my last run two days before the big race day.

Thus, I took to the beach late in the afternoon yesterday for an easy, breezy two miler. I felt good and focused on going nice and slow, which made the jaunt peaceful and calm. The upside of running on the beach during the “magic hour” was that it afforded some beautiful (albeit blinding at times!) views.

Mr. Sun, why you be blinding me?!
Mr. Sun, why you be blinding me?!
Always trying to catch the sun and never succeeding...yet!
Always trying to catch the sun and never succeeding…yet!

Back to the lecture at hand (shout out to old school Dre and Snoop…I know you two G’s are following along), I have to admit that I am pretty anxious about the run tomorrow. I generally don’t get too nervous before a race (it’s not like I’m anywhere near an elite runner and am not challenging for any sort of age group (or otherwise) win or placing), but I definitely find myself feeling anxious as I sit here typing away. Part of it has to do with the fact that this is a new distance for me, and a distance that I have never covered before. Yes, I guess the unknown is indeed scary. However, I feel as though most of my uncertainty and unease come from the fact that my last long run was less than stellar.  Had I dominated (or at least survived) that training run, I am pretty sure my head would be in a different place (as would the butterflies in my stomach).

But none of that matters now! The past is the past, right? No need to dwell on that and I should instead focus on the positive and visualize myself crossing the finish line tomorrow so that I can add “marathoner” to my CV. That reminds me that I need to add “blogger” to that as well…

So tonight and tomorrow morning, I’ll carry out my typical pre-race/pre-long run rituals and have faith in the notion that these acts have gotten me this far and thus will help power me through to the finish line tomorrow.

For me, these rituals include constructing and subsequently devouring a home-made pizza this evening along with a couple of beers (as you need those liquid carbs…and some of us need to write blogs incorporating running and craft beers!), getting to bed early (often the hardest part for a perpetual night owl like myself), getting together my race gear tonight so I only need to do a minimal amount of thinking in the AM, eating a bagel with peanut butter in the morning along with only one cup of coffee (below my normal day-to-day intake but I’ve found greater quantities can be hazardous for longer runs), and getting to the race early enough to hit a port-a-potty (hey, you gotta do what you gotta do!).

Perhaps I’ll also watch some sort of inspirational or running themed movie tonight to set the tone. Or maybe I should just watch one of my favorite movies to put my head in a good place? Hmmm…

I’m curious to hear about anyone else’s race eve or race day morning rituals along with any suggestions for a good flick to check out the night before a race. Also, is there anything you do to ease your mind or get yourself focused before a race? I’d love to hear about it!

I shall be calm and serene like the afterglow (maybe that'll be my mantra for tomorrow morning...)
I shall be calm and serene like the afterglow (maybe that’ll be my mantra for tomorrow morning…)

 

Beach Running

Yes, you read that post title right. Tonight’s edition of largely pointless and meandering thoughts will indeed be dedicated to running on the beach. And yes, I am posting this in the dead of winter.

Ok, I realize that a more intelligent or macro thinking “blogger” would in all likelihood pen such a themed post in the summer time, or at the very least in the spring when anticipating the arrival of summer (such a post would probably be seen as “timely”). Well, not this guy! I ran on the beach today, and thus the topic is on my mind. Plus as an added bonus, I hope that such a post about running on the beach (which is inherently thought of as a warm weather activity)  can bring some hope and spiritual warmth to any readers that are stuck in more Arctic like conditions currently. Conversely, this post may also fuel hatred and scorn in those readers for yours truly. Let us see, shall we?

While out for my beach run this afternoon, I was thinking about the pros and cons (at least in my mind) of using the sand and the ocean as your running backdrop. As I’ve alluded to in a previous post, I don’t think I allowed myself to enjoy running on either the beach, road, greenways, or really any surface that wasn’t my beloved trails upon first moving to the Lowcountry. Luckily, I’ve gotten less stubborn with time and now definitely enjoy running on the beach when I get the opportunity. Sure, it can get monotonous like any other running route you utilize often (that’s why you have to mix it up!), but I find myself saying to myself more and more while running the beach, “Dude, you are out on a beach. How bad can things be? Seriously. Just get over it”. Such self scolding (or mindfulness to put it in gentler terms) helps me keep things in perspective.

So without further ado, here are my thoughts on beach running broken down into “pros” and “cons” (as one should analyze all aspects of life).

Let’s start with the “pros” as we strive to be optimists here…

Pros:

  1. Excellent for Barefoot Running                                                                                    I know that there are a lot of people out there that barefoot run on all terrains (trails, streets, treadmills, volcanic ash), but I am definitely not one of those people! In fact, I do not do any barefoot running at this point in time. However, after getting a little beach running under my belt and having heard the benefits of barefoot running for years now (and having just finally read “Born to Run” which further touts the benefits), I’m seriously considering working in some barefoot running on the beach once the weather warms up. Now unless you’re running on the Jersey shore and thus may very well risk running over broken glass or used syringes (I can say that since I’m from Jersey!), I can’t think of a better introductory terrain for barefoot running than the beach!
  2.  No Stoplights, No Street Crossings, No Fuss!                                                 Though the beach may offer some other obstacles (as discussed in the Cons section below), it is generally a great spot to get in a run without worrying about needing to stop every 50 yards for traffic or a street crossing. This fact in and of itself  has been a strong motivator for me to hit up the beach on many days!
  3. Decreased Stress on Joints/Utilizing Different Muscles                As one would expect, running on the sand is generally less impactful and punishing than pounding away on the pavement while road running. Concurrently, you are working muscles in the knees, ankles, and feet that you do not typically target while running on other terrains. While both of these facts are most likely good things, one has to always be wary of increasing mileage or pace on a new terrain too quickly or transitioning to training solely on one type of terrain as either can increase your risk of injury (again, mixing up running terrain/routes/habits is good for your body and mind!).
  4. The Scenery                                                                                                                          This is probably the biggest selling point for me. Even on the worst weather day, it is still an amazingly beautiful experience to throw down some miles on the beach. Simply put, nothing compares to running with the ocean as your backdrop and the sunrises and sunsets are all that more crisp and vibrant when seen from the vantage point of a beach run. The only downside to this is you may want to spend more of your time snapping photos than you do running!
You could most certainly do worse with respect to running views!
You could most certainly do worse with respect to running views!

 

The Cons:

  1. Crowds                                                                                                                                        Due to the fact that the beach is so innately and unquestioningly amazing, people tend to flock to it. Crazy, right? Thus, you can sometimes find it difficult to even spot the sand under the throngs of people, let alone run on it. In addition, you may also find yourself dodging run away toddlers, unleashed dogs, frisbees, bocce balls, and drunk undergrads as you weave your way along the beach in a twisted version of “Frogger”. My advice: Hit the beach early or later in the day for your run so as to avoid the masses.
    "Excuse me please, runner coming through..."
    “Excuse me please, runner coming through…”

     

  2. Not Much Variability                                                                                                 There isn’t any elevation gain, pretty much all piers look alike, and the terrain can become monotonous to a degree overall. In the end, beaches are amazing and awesome but kinda look the same after a while. Though it is pretty neat seeing dolphins, crabs, and huge jellyfish during your runs at times…
  3. Gosh Darn Tarnation Overpronation                                                Apparently in contrast to the overall positive benefits beach running can have for your joints and muscles, there are also some papers and studies out there that suggest beach running (especially when barefoot) can increase the odds of overpronation. I’m not a sports med/ortho doc or PT dude, but I’m guessing that such terrain would thus not be ideal for you if you tend to overpronate at baseline. However, I also believe that variability in terms of your training regimen can nullify this risk at least a bit.
  4. A Tale of Two Runs                                                                                                              As I chronicled in a prior post, the wind is a fickle mistress while joining you on beach runs. For half the run, she’s supportive and making you feel invincible, while she berates you and tries to hold you back on the other half of the run. This fact could be flipped into a pro if you like significant resistance training built into half of your run. However, it could also be seen as a significant con when you tend to do as I do and run with the wind for the first half of your run and into the wind for the second half. When will I learn?
Wind or no wind, these views are poppin'!
Wind or no wind, these views are poppin’!

 

Enough random rambling from me, how do you feel about beach running? What have your experiences out there on the sand been like? 

I Had To Wear Pants

That’s how cold it was today during my run. I know. It was brutal.

Come on, Mother Nature, what’s the deal here? It’s only early January and I live near the beach so I’m thinking it should be tropical all the time.

Yes, I know the thermometer is hitting southward of the 0 degree Fahrenheit mark and there is a significant amount of that white stuff on the ground up at home in Northern Jersey. I also know that Winter Storm Ion (not really an intimidating name, eh?) is about to unleash some chilly wrath upon the Rockies and the Midwest.

But guys, I had to wear pants. Outside. While running.

Not exactly what the beach looked like, but it felt this way...
Not exactly what the beach looked like, but it felt this way…

 

Ha! Now assuming I haven’t offended everyone reading this, let’s talk about what today’s run was actually like, shall we?

First thing first, it honestly was a bit chilly. Remember we’re talking South Carolina chilly, though. The fact of the matter is that it was in the mid-30s (not all that horrible for early January when you grew up becoming acclimated  to Jersey winters), but the wind is what was truly intense!

That wind was whipping around with gusts over 20mph and throwing sand every which way. Considering that the ol’ wind is usually a bit more significant along the coast line, one might ask why I would have chosen the beach as the backdrop for today’s run in the first place. I would reply by affirming that your question is indeed a valid one, and then point out that I have never made any claim as to being smart when it comes to my running (or to any other arena of my life for that matter). I would, however, further appeal that at least I was not attempting to fly a kite on the beach today. Seriously, everyone seemingly dusted off their old rickety kites today and attempted to have them take to the sky. Most ended the morning with new-found knowledge that a little bit of steady wind is good for kite flying, but a lot of swirly and strong wind is not.

For me, today was supposed to be a 4 mile pace run, though I decided to turn it into a 5 miler as I’ve been semi-slacking as of late. With the aforementioned frigid temps and kite dodging already setting up as obstacles for the day, the outlook was less than ideal. Throw in the fact that it was “leg day” yesterday at the gym and my lower limbs were certainly feeling it this morning and you’ve got yourself a possible disaster on your hands.

Even my shadow was cold...and wearing pants
Even my shadow was cold…and wearing pants

With that in mind, I set off on my run, trying to keep my tight quads and achy hamstrings off my mind and instead quietly singing along (in my head) with Brian Fallon (who wasn’t running with me but who was singing his heart out in my ear buds). For the first 2.5 miles, I felt great. After I wove my way through the kite death chamber and the beach gloriously opened up before me, my pace quickened, my breathing evened out, and I felt as though I was gliding oh so lightly just above the sand. I passed a couple strolling the beach right before the turnaround point, and I’m pretty sure they looked at me with admiration and a bit of awe as one asked the other if they thought I was an Olympian. I hit 2.5 miles on my Garmin and made an about-face to dominate the second half of my run.

Well, the thing about wind is that it doesn’t change direction when you do. Thus, when running in windy conditions, you have a friendly wind at your back going in one direction and an evil wind in your face when running in the opposite direction. Guess which way the wind was blowing on the first leg of my run. You got it! It was at my back and essentially pushing me down the beach for the first half of my jaunt on the beach. I’m not sure if I was more runner or kite for that first half of the run…

In any case, the once friendly wind had an abrupt mood change and slapped me in the face as soon as I made my U-turn. Immediately it felt as though I was running through some sort of quick sand and my once even breathing was now jagged and forced. That couple that had been planning on snagging my autograph on my return trip? Oh, they were now conferring with one another as to whether they should call for an ambulance.

Still, once I got my breathing down and perfected an optimal squint of my eyes that allowed me to see just enough while minimizing sand trauma and wind annoyance, I opted to treat the second half of the run as an exercise in “resistance training”. I forgot about my pace and the fact that the wind was preventing me from running in a straight line, and I just ran.

And you know what? I made it back to my car and felt pretty darn good when all was said and done.

I can take the wind, but I’ve only got so many pairs of running pants so let’s calm down on the dipping temps, huh? I’d hate to think about needing to break out my running tights…

2013: A Year in Running

As 2013 comes to a close, I was able to get out for my last run of the year earlier today. Fittingly, this run came on the beach as has become somewhat the norm since I moved to the greater Charleston, SC area this past June.

To the Beach!
To the Beach!

This running terrain was also fitting as it was quite the opposite as my running backdrop on December 31st of 2012. On that day, I ran a little over four miles on the single track trails of Eno River State Park. Back then, those trails were my go to spot when I needed to get out for a run (and boy, did I “need” to get out often). It was in late 2011 and early 2012 that I began to identify as a “trail runner”. Running had never felt so free, liberating, or natural as those times out on the forest trails trying to outrun the sun, avoid twisty and tricky roots, and race along side babbling brooks and rivers. Ultimately, it became more of an expectation than an oddity that 90% or more of my monthly miles were put down on forest trails.

Thus, it was somewhat of a buzzkill when I moved to the Charleston area since (shocker!) there aren’t a ton of trails near coastal towns. I know…who would’ve thought? The lack of trails combined with the sweltering heat that my body had not yet adapted to made for one unhappy and grouchy runner. This overall runner’s funk persisted until one July day when I was running a greenway loop in a local county park. I was thinking a lot of Debbie Downer thoughts to myself such as, “Why do they call them greenways anyway? It’s just a bunch of blacktop. I don’t see any “green”! Stupid people…”, when I came across something rather spectacular. There was an alligator just chilling in the pond along side the trail! Yes, I know that gator sightings are far from rare down in this neck of the woods (heck, I was seeing one in a county park!), but it was a sight to see for this transplanted Jersey boy.

This reptilian sighting automatically boosted my mood and put a bit of a pep in my step for the rest of my run. It was then that I decided to make my terrain work for me in terms of my running and embrace what I had in front of me. Hey, it isn’t exactly torture living ten minutes from the beach.

Embracing the terrain has definitely meant a lot of beach running at times. Maybe in some other post I’ll get more into my thoughts about running on the ol’ sand, but for now let’s just say that the lack of elevation change isn’t ideal but the reduced impact on one’s knees is a positive. Plus you get to see some epic sunrises and sunsets, and let’s also not forget that in the end you’re on the beach…which is awesome.

I’ve still made an effort to hit the local trails whenever time allows (a 45 minute car ride one way is somewhat of a day drain), and I think that’s kept my running sanity in check somewhat. I have definitely found this past year that varying one’s running terrain goes a long way towards keeping things fresh and avoiding a rut (though those inevitably come).

Looking back over this past year, I can say that I feel more like a true “runner” than I did as 2012 came to a close. What defines a runner in my mind? Well, that’s probably a lengthy discussion and a thought that I haven’t fully fleshed out yet. Suffice it to say, I have a low threshold for looking in the mirror and calling yourself a runner. If you’ve ever found yourself thinking about running when you’re not actually doing it or if you’ve gone for a run when you definitely did not feel like doing so or had others questioning your “need” to run…well, then you’re probably a runner.

With myself, I’m a bit of a harsher judge (I guess we’re all our own worst critic, right?). There are definitely times when I feel like Pre reincarnated (ok, maybe not that extreme), but there are also times when I think I barely qualify as a glorified walker, let alone a runner. Running’s like that, ya know? There are definitely ebbs and flows, but we keep coming back for more. I think my improved consistency over the past year is what makes me feel more like a true runner, and hey, I’ll take it!

Looking forward to 2014, these are a few of the running goals that I have for myself:

  • Finish my first full marathon
  • Run a total of 1500 miles
  • Beat my buddy in the Krispy Kreme Challenge again
  • Run more often with my lovely fiancee (when she allows me to!)
  • Run more with the forever lazy Puppy Pete
  • Get involved in a running club again
  • Run a relay race (not sure if that one’s feasible, but I’d like to do it!)

Here are a few of the final stats for 2013:

  • 1381 total miles (707 Road/523 Trail/161 Beach)
  • 18 total races run (including the infamous Krispy Kreme and Doughman races)
  • 10K and Half-Marathon PRs
Bibs o' 2013
Bibs o’ 2013

 

Here’s to another year of happy running to all those out there in 2014!