Saturday, May 23, 2015

It's the Little things

There are a few things I do to get started for running. I do these things because it truly is the little things that make each run a pleasant an experience as possible. Also, doing some of these things will make the days after the run even better.

The two things I do with each run is the following, apply some lip balm and apply some Body Glide. I use both for a number or reasons, all of which make the running experience a good one.

So what are my reasons.

The lip balm is simple, what I do is use ones that have a good SPF rating. While this is important during the winter, it's also important during the summer. While it might be an easy thing to think of apply sunscreen to the face or any other exposed skin during the run, because we are aware of the potential risks of the full sun. When you think about it, running for an hour or two in the sun will give you some nice tan, or if you're susceptible sun burn. Of course, it's good to wear the sun screen. What I also have learned over the years is the lips can suffer the effects of too much sun, wind or extreme temperatures. While it may be unique to me, although my reading indicates it can be a problem with some runners.

Cold sores can happen due to exposure to extreme conditions, too much wind or cold temperatures. As well, UV rays can have an impact and if you've had fever blisters or cold sores, you know it is an annoying and painful experience. I have learned that I need to have more then just lip balm, I need the SPF of at least 30, certainly more is better. I know that the lips can be something that is forgotten because, how many times do we think about our lips. Probably not often, usually only when things go wrong.

It takes only moment to apply the right lip balm, one that moisterizes and protects. I've tried a number of brands and they will all help. As with all things, the higher the SPF number, the better. I bought some at a Color Run, it has a distinct orange colour, which works when I'm wearing my orange compression socks and my orange top.

The next process is the Body Glide. It is to deal with the potential risk of chaffing and blisters that is the bane of each and every runner. With all parts of our body moving and with sweat being a part of the equation, there is also the risk of chaffing and in the feet, blisters. Since the feet take the most of the pounding, blisters can be very painful. I've had a few and they are not only painful when running, but for all aspects of life. Plus in the midst of training, it can stop a few runs just because of the pain, or the risk of infection if it bursts during a run. I do make sure there is a good layer of Body Glide on the feet before the run. If you're not sure if you've got enough Body Glide on, just see if you slide.

There are other places where chaffing is a problem, such as in the thighs areas. The rubbing of fabric against sweaty skin can be problematic. It may not be a problem for short runs, or during cool temperatures, but they can be a problem. Part of the problem can be dealt with by the right type of running shorts. So it's worth shopping around for a comfortable pair.

Then there is the problem which impact men runners and it can be found in places like "Embarrassing Running Problems". The problem is 'bloody nipples'. It's one of those topics we don't talk about or discuss, but it is a problem. Now, they don't start bleeding right away, that would be too simple, no it usually starts with sensitivity. You jump in the shower, and start soaping up the face cloths and when you do your chest, it's like "OWWW", whoa that's sensitive. It might go away and then perhaps the next time you run, the pain is still there, it's not going away, in fact it might even be a little worse, if that's possible. Then it happens, you're running along, there is some pain and then you look down. There you see them, two tell tale red lines. Sweat makes it look worse but it's there. Blood running down the shirt from the nipples. It is embarrassing and painful. I tried a number of solutions to the problem, the first was bandages. After all, band-aids stop bleeding and with the nipples covered, they are protected. They work but there is the risk they will fall off, because of the sweat and the constant movement. By the way, bandages on the toes can help protect against blisters.

Then I tried petroleum jelly. This is a good solution but they leave stains on the clothes. Which can be annoying, although not painful. You end up with two darkish lines on the running shirts. By the way, it has to be said again, cotton is not to be worn. Cotton tees can be a way of getting the bleeding nipples because of the material and the fact it holds all that nice sweat. Plus do you really want to see those bloody stains on a white cotton tee. Not a nice sight and will probably scare small children.

The best solution to bleeding nipples is Body Glide. Hands down it helps. It helps and there is no oily smear on the clothes. I can give encourage and advice that this is the best product there is on the market. I say that and I don't receive anything from the company. It is good and I don't mind paying for it.

As I said, it is the little things that can make the difference between a wonderful run and a painful one. Don't forget the little things.

Monday, May 18, 2015


All the staff at my office have an android based smartphones. We've gone from BlackBerry and Apple. This has happened in the last six months. One of the features we've got programs that incorporate both the the GPS and pedomeeter abilities.

Since the weather has now turned better, we're using this programs and getting out to walk. I think we've all got it set to 4000 to 5000 steps per day. This means we're working to take off at least 150+ calories a day. It is too easy to sit at thr desk in front of the computer. I know there is a great deal of information on the problems of sitting all day. I know itit's being compared to smoking, but now everything is being compared to smoking.

As I write this 3 out of 4 of us are taking time at lunch to go for a walk. While we're located in the downtown core, we are close enough to the River we can cross and there is a hiking trail that follows one of the creeks. It leads through a park as well.

Besides going for a walk, we're counting the steps at work and we are encouraged to stand up and move through the day. Walking is helping us to keep away from sitting all day. It is intriguing to discover how many steps are either done or not done during the day. For me I've set for 4000 steps a day.

It's only been a couple of weeks so too early to tell. One of the big parts of this walking habit is it gets us out of the basement office and into the fresh air.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cambridge Mill Race

I mentioned a few weeks ago I was going to do another race, and this time it was going to be the Cambridge Mill Race. It was going to be a 8K race for everybody. There was also a 1K race for kids, which was fun to watch. Actually some of those youngsters had a good pace too.

This is the third edition of the race and the first that was going to take place during a weeknight and not a Sunday morning. This got me interested, since I'm busy on Sunday morning. Being the only Double B Flat tuba player is an awesome responsibility and not one to be taken lightly. So when I read about it in a pamphlet, I immediately checked my calendar and registered.

The race was going to take place in West Galt, which is my side of the river. It was described as being picturesque and challenging. It was going to take runners through a part of the City that was used as the backdrop for the movie "Saint Ralph". The write up descibed the race in this way:

This challenging and scenic course literally runs through a historic residential area, along the Grand River and includes a race section as seen in the movie “Saint Ralph”.

What I've learned is the movie looks at the life of a young boy who wants and trains to run the Boston Marathon. I've not seen it, but from what I've read, it's a typical underdog does good type of movie. So a good way to waste a few minutes with a snack or two. So part of the race goes through the part of the town that is featured. It is scenic as the opening half follows the Grand River, so if you look to the right, you can look at the Golf Course which hugs the other side of the river. The pity is that weather conditions, cooler temperatures and high winds meant there wasn't anyone playing golf.

As you may know, one of the recommendations is that before the race you attempt to run the course, if you can. As I've mentioned it took place on my side of the river and I've spent a lot of time running through the neighbourhoods around the Public School which was located at the start/finish. I managed to run the last 3 kilometers of the race so I was aware of some of the unique aspects, which included a downhill and an immediate uphill. As well, the last 800 meters would be a gradual climb to the school. In fact I would say there are two parts to the race, the first 4 km was following the river and the second 4 came away and was hilly. As I mentioned the final 800 meters had a gradual climb, so that meant the first 800 was a gradual descent and then a sudden drop to George Street. It was one of those downhills that featured a 90° left turn, so you had to be careful going down otherwise it might have been an interesting turn. Either that, or you're going to blow out a few calf muscles on such a fast and early downhill.

Weather conditions were totally different then a few days earlier when the weather was high 20's or low 30's. As well, the humidity was on the high end. Now take those conditions and turn them around, from high 20's to barely at 10°. The day had been very cool, very windy, cloudy with a threat of rain. Checking the forecast indicated that the wind would be an issue. The direction of the wind was such that the last few hundred meters would be into the wind.

One of the promises was a free sports bag filled with some nice swag. It was some energy drink powder and a hot/cold compress. Yay for that. The case was a small little utility bag which will be very useful. There was a good bag check and with the school open, access to bathrooms. It was a public school, so the facilities were sized for the general population of the school. But it was all inside. Before the race time most of the runners stayed inside to keep warm. I think conditions were such that muscles could have gotten cold quickly and the risk of cramping would have been increased. After the children's 1K, people slowly began to move outside until about 10 minutes before the start. We all gathered at the start gate. What I found interesting was all the racing tee's that were worn. I noticed there was a lot of runners who had done either marathons or half-marathons. Most were local or regional, but there was a few from notables such as the New York Marathon. There was also tee's from races I had done and during the same year. It's a neat aspect to look at the quality of runners that were participating in the event. This was a race that was respected by the local running community. What I like was not only the day, but the locations, a local race within minutes of my home. There was a lot of residential parking, and since I did the recommended arrive at least an hour before, I had a good spot above the school. For my wearing apparel, just in case people are interested, I wore my Fitocracy technical tee. I wanted to extend some love to Fitocracy and I got a compliment for the tee. I shared a bit about the website.

After the announcements, the race started, there was cheering and the gestures of setting off the gps watches. It was a good crowd, over 130 participants started off. As I said, the first kilometer could have been very fast with the steep hill at the end of the street. Here it was important to remember to keep to your pace and not everyone else's. While it was only 8K, it's still 8K and the best was still to come. While the road to the school was closed to traffic, the rest of the course was not, but there was a lot of marshals to help with the direction and a good police presence keeping the cars honest and respectful of runners, especially at the major corners and turns. The volunteers and marshals were pleasant, smiling and talkative, one suggested that once we turn the corner, it would get easy and then he laughed and said 'No it won't'. He was right by the way. As the first half followed the river, there was slight changes in elevation, but nothing to stop the pace. Of course, on the way it, it was into the wind, fortunately by race time it was down to 28 kph and not the 39 kph with gusts up to 50kph. Now that would have been nasty. The runners were friendly and it was a good pace for running.

Then there was the turn just before the 4K sign, and each kilometer had a sign, so you had opportunity to strategize. Once past the turn, it became fun, the race became hilly and pronounced. Some good climbs and good declines. It was where the training and the pace became important. A water station was there, so a good place to walk through and have a quick drink of water. I have to wonder if the people who worked it out moved the race from April because they believed the weather would be warmed in May. Yeah right.

After the 5 kilometer mark, which was under the elevated rail tracks it became the picturesque neighbourhoods of older and established homes. It was nice to look at them and see the gardens just starting to develop. There was one house that was going through quite a nice renovation, looking good. Yes it is possible to look around and check the sights. Again, a lot of volunteers and marshals kept us on the right track.

Then came the last kilometer, where the course followed Crescent Street, which was a decline and sudden incline. All I could think about was, 'this is where all the plank training and hill running will become important'. I had spent a few minutes earlier that afternoon walking up that hill and to the first block of last part of the run. I knew what to expect and it was just a matter of not letting it get to my head. I talked to one of the marshals during the post-race dinner and he mentioned to me he had been there last year at the turn and some of the language that came out of people's mouth... Apparently it was something else. This is why you don't run fast during the first kilometer. Get the pace and keep to it. I hit the last 800 meters and another thought was 'where is that finish line?'. I saw it and did what I try to do at each race, and kick it up the final meters. I checked my pace for the final kilometer, it was 5:15. I was impressed with it. I wanted to take that last distance and not let it defeat me. I also saw the time and realize I would be under 45 minutes, in fact my finish time was 44'31", the chip time was 44'24". I felt real good at the end and was happy with my finish. Overall, I was 68th and 12th out of 16 in my age category.

The apres-run, is there such a thing? Was back in the school at the gym. The bags were there and so was the food. Pulled pork sandwiches, where were nice and hot. Plus ice cream bars, nice. There was a draw and a number of nice gifts, none of which I won, by the way, and awards. A lot of good people won and it was nice.

I wrote to the race co-ordinator and commented on how enjoyable the run was. He mentioned they will do it again around the same time and to make it a positive experience. I hope the group will have more runs around Cambridge because they did a great job.

I will say, it was a great experience.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Finally Heat

Going over the record of blogs, most of them has dealt with winter running. The experience of winter running is a challenge, there's no two ways about it, the challenge is the temperature, keeping warm, surface conditions and light conditions. Winter means shorter days, longer nights and weather that can change very quickly.

I've commented on the number of layers you have to wear when you go out, because while the usual comment of being 'cool at the start', may never be a problem, the issue is keeping the heat in while running. It's too easy to start losing heat due to the wet or wind and that is a concern during a longer run.

Now we come to the other extreme and that is, what happens when you start running in heat and humidity. It's an important consideration because we're seeing weather of extremes, it is either going to be hot or cold. The weather of intermediates seems to be disappearing. renceSo unless the climate controlled conditions of the gym with the treadmill is going to become the norm of your existence, learning to run in heat is important.

The one difference between the two conditions is the amount of clothing you can wear to make you comfortable. If it gets hot you can only go down to so few pieces of garments, unless getting chased by the police is an important part of your training plan. Besides do you really want to run with everything hanging out? That's never a good look for anybody. Okay seriously, you are down to a pair of socks, shoes, shorts and tee. One thing that you will read over and over again, and probably a lesson learned through personal experience, is never wear cotton. Cotton is usually a great material for clothes, it feels good, looks good and when you sweat, absorbs moisture. You will end up wearing a top that weighs a considerable amount of weight, because all that sweat has been absorbed by the top. If the socks are cotton, again, the moisture is absorbed and when it comes to the feet, the concern is blisters. Blisters can be a huge problem, not because you might see it at the end of the run, but rather because it might burst and rub raw during a part of the run. This becomes painful and the risk of infection happens, all that sweat, blood and nastiness. So ditch the cotton. There is a lot of good material that will wick moisture away from the body and not absorb it. Also the material itself will feel lighter throughout the entire run rather then getting weightier as the run progresses. During times of high humidity, this feature might not be as obvious, since the higher the humidity, the less evaporation, there will always some evaporation taking place, especially if there is a wind for example. As well, you will always feel wet and damp someplace on your person. It is the reality, you've just done some heavy work, your body is working as it should and you're sweating.

I came across an interesting article from Men's Fitness. The opening paragraph has this:

Sure, autumn's cool, less sticky weather will make you want to strap on your sneakers and get outside, but pushing yourself in the summer heat could help improve your performance in running, cycling, or other fitness-based activities. So long as the right precautions are taken, hot-weather workouts may give you a boost if you’re training for an endurance event, such as a marathon, Tough Mudder or some other sort of weekend warrior-style event. Hot-weather training may even eclipse high-altitude training when it comes to improving your performance. Here's what you need to know to sweat it out safely. - See more at:

While the opening few days of hot weather can be challenging and feels horrible, to sum it up, it has some positive aspects on training. There has been experiments done that demonstrate training in heat can have very positive affects on overall training. The writer stresses the positive impact may be better then training at higher altitudes. I suggest reading the entire article, but it seems the improvement to the training is quite noticeable. So it might be a suggestion to forget the comfort of the climate controlled gym and treadmill and lace them on and head outside.

It has been pointed out that it takes about 4-12 days of running in summer temperature and humidity to get used to running in these conditions. Although at the same time, the extreme temperature and conditions will have an affect on speed, you will be slower, so don't worry about it, plus there will be likely more walking at the higher temperatures. This is not bad because the ability to walk will give more energy later on in the run. In other words, if you feel totally dogged at the end of the run in the first day of the heat, don't let that get you down, you will get used to it, just like you got used to the extreme cold. Whether or not the word, comfortable can be used, it is something you can get used to, and appreciate it. This will be more noticeable if the weather cools down a bit, which it will now and then, the stamina and strength will be amazing. It will be far better then being in that gym.

An article in Runner's World states that a person can love running in the heat. It concludes with:

In the summer, water fountains are on, bathrooms are open, and long-mileage workouts require less preparation. Take advantage of such conveniences by scheduling long runs accordingly: Plan jaunts with stretches through parks that have plumbing. And enjoy a break from the layering tactics (and resulting laundry) needed in chilly seasons. "Summer is great for folks who like to wear very little," says Mierke–which makes summer equally great for people-watching.

Like the thought of less laundry, although it has to be said, your family members may encourage you do some quick showering, make sure you hang up whatever you're wearing outside and for heaven's sake, don't sit anywhere!. I know the last point from personal experience.

On the subject of hydration, it now becomes important. During cold weather, it's easy not to worry about hydration, plus there is an inconvenience issue, if it's cold, whatever drink you bringing will probably freeze and it's now useless. During hot weather, you sweat and it's important to either start hydrated or make sure you drink along the way. Of course, have some liquids available when you finish and can drink quickly and drink something that's cool. It will help with the core temperature. Also, get ready for the cooler shower when you get home. It will feel nice, almost as nice as those hot showers during the winter.

Summer training will help with autumn races. Just as winter training helps with spring races. As well, there are more opportunities to race in the summer then in the winter. It will be good.

If I can return to hydration, there are a lot of water carriers to use. Also, keep the water nearby after you run to replenish, you will feel a lot better. Plus the more liquid you get in the risk of cramps will become lower, especially those nasty night cramps that get you jumping out of bed.

Get out and run.

Monday, May 4, 2015

What's on my bookshelf

Let's get the disclaimers out of the way, I'm old enough to appreciate paper. By that I mean I still enjoy holding a book, newspaper or magazine in my hand. Yes I do have a Kobo reader, and it is great, but at the end of the day, I will still possess and take a product made out of paper with me to read and enjoy.

There, I said it, I am officially old I suppose by making that claim.

I thought about the resources we do have out there and how they can make an impact with our training in whatever activity we want to do and enjoy. Certainly the Internet has a plethora of material out there which will make you a better runner. From training plans, to discussion on injuries, and the avoidance of the same, it is there online. Plus you can always find the right wallpaper that is a running motivation wallpaper. Something good. As well, online, there is a place for discussion and dialogue. I should say for the most part, the running community is very supportive, rarely will you encounter attitude. You can have a very slow time and there will be people cheering you on. Thank goodness for that, because for some reason, running brings out the worst in non-runners. Just recently in one of the US papers, the columnist told us runners to shut up. The writer was not impressed with our tone or our topic of discussions. It's really like television, if you don't like what we talk about, then simply ignore us, we won't mind. In fact, I would say we are happy to be ignored by people who can only find fault. I realize we can be boring at times, but at the same time, we are excited to hear about the work of others.

While this is entitled "What's on my Bookshelf", I want to mention the magazines I have. Yes I still have subscriptions for magazine, I know they are available on tablets and readers, but I'm not impressed with how they turn out. I know I should try again, but the form factor just doesn't seem right. The first magazine is Canadian Running. This magazine fills the need of giving news about the Canadian running community. There are articles on the history of running in Canada, and some of the figures that have been a part of the scene. Discussions on meals, nutrition, and fitness fill the pages. Reading running magazines got me doing even more planks. There are the columnists with their insight and there are the reviews of running apparel and what runners should consider. Yes there are reviews of running shoes, I mean it is the most important part of our overall gear. I have to say, I've learned through reading magazines that I should get rid of the cotton tee's and stick with technical material. Living in Southern Ontario will make this lesson abundantly important, especially on a summer's day. Want to put on 10 pounds? Wear a cotton tee and run for a couple of miles, yes cotton has great absorbing and keeping powers. I should point out that Canadian Running has reached 50 issues, so congratulations.

Before I forget, two more, they will highlight a running club and give a discussion of what they have done for the community, and they will always have a city. They will present in their article, at least three different routes for the visiting runner to try, a short, a medium and long run and some of the best parts of the city, such as running stores and restaurants/pubs. They also go beyond Canada, they will have international locations; a recent issue featured Reykjavik. As you might have read in an earlier blog, last year, I spent 10 days visiting Iceland. Had a great time and I also brought my runners along, so I got a few runs in. I wrote a letter to the editor and gave a few more insights I had received while visiting. I want to say again, if you visit, bring your running gear, think about it, a pair of shorts, a couple pair of socks and tee's, plus the runners and you are good to go. Doesn't take any room in the suitcase, but will give you hours of fun, plus what a better way to learn about a place then by running. Of course, the caveat is, be aware and be safe. I suggested in my letter, the author didn't mention the true Icelandic meal, which is hotdogs, seriously. It is. So if you want to know what is happening in the Canadian running community, plus give you prices in Canadian funds, it's a good one to have. Also visit the website.

Of course, the magazine when it comes to running is, Runner's World. While Canadian Running comes out 6 times a year, 7 including the Trail Running Special. Runner's world comes out 11 times a year. It's also one of the oldest magazines out there. What's it got? Practically everything. There are notable columnists, lots of learning and technique articles, fitness, injury prevention, training plans, interviews, and fun stuff. Their orientation is American, but running is universal. One of the better columists is Peter Sagal, of "Wait, Wait, don't tell me", fame. You know, the NPR quiz show. Yes you do, I'm not the only one who listens to it. You do too. Admit it. He can be witty and can have very serious columns. The most recent issue, he talks with a woman runner and what she has to deal with in the way of catcalls, comments and the danger of physical violence. There are some great articles for beginners, usually the April or May issue will deal with beginners. Some good stuff, in fact worth reading if you've been running for years. Also cover stories on interesting events and people. Also cover stories of marathons, half-marathons, 5k's and 10k's. Always something to read. Plus reviews of equipment, athletic wear and of course runners. Lots of runners. Some very good reading. Plus it is the source of running in all things, more later.

The third magazine that I've read, but don't have it right now, is iRun, the Official Magazine of iRunNation. The "IRun" concept is the mastermind of Mark Sutcliffe, the author of the book "Why I Run", which is a very enjoyable read. The book give the stories of ordinary runners. People who answer the question 'why I run', in fact it's the starting of many of the simple statements, "I Run..." because, this leads to the stories. Since the vast majority of us are ordinary runners, it's a good source of motivation, people who wear our shoes and have gone through the same experiences we have. I read this book on the Kobo, I know, 'gasp' and no I'm not contradicting myself. It's easier at time to find a book, download book and pay for book. Here's a link to learn more of Mark and the book. I got a subscription by entering the Army Run, and since I'm signed up again, I wonder if the same will happen, I should really subscribe. Probably will. One of the columnists is Krista DuChene. I mentioned in an earlier blog, I ran in the same race as Krista last year, I was passed by her, she is an amazing runner. I also want to stop and congratulate her on reaching Olympic qualifying time in the Rotterdam Marathon. She got the time she needed to qualify, according to Athletics Canada, so we might have a woman Marathoner next year in Rio. Way to go Krista!

As for books, well the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote: "But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body". First of all, yes the writing of books is endless, because human creativity is endless, however the devotion of books is never wearying. Perhaps if Solomon had read a few more books instead of collecting all those wives and concubines, he might have enjoyed life a bit more. Just saying. To that end, there are a lot of running books out there. There are also a lot of good books. Overall, some of the best come from Rodale Press, which is the same publishing company that produces Runner's World. So you know the information and writers will be good. They have a lot of practical books. If you buy a book from Rodale you will not regret the purchase. There are always advertisements on the various books in the pages of Runner's World.

A book I just received is an older one, it's "Jim Fixx's Second Book of Running. As I just received it today, I've got no review. I read his first book, which was fascinating. He is considered one of the leaders of the first wave of running. While it's over 30 years old, it is still worth the effort to find and read.

A good source of books is either the public library or Amazon. What I like about the latter is the marketplace, for very good prices, you can get one of those books. I purchased Jim's book from Amazon. For a penny, you can't go wrong.

Good books will always be practical. Plans to get you started and keep you going if you have a specific race you're interested in running. As I said, there are a lot of books out there, and if you do some searching, you can find what you need.

A book that truly fascinated me was not a practical one, but a historic one. It's "The Dirtiest Race in History". The book looks at the individuals involved in the infamous Seoul Olympics 100m race. It was the one that put Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis in front of the world. As you might know from your history, practically everyone tested dirty after the race. Of course, Ben Johnson, who run the race, tested positive and was stripped of his gold medal. It led to a lot of hand wringing in Canada and a very large examination through a crown inquiry.

I'm looking for a few more books, and so I will probably write a few reviews.

So that is what's on my bookshelf.