December 29, 2007

Holiday Week

Bredesen Park

Been an up and down week as far as training goes:

Mon: Maiden voyage on snowshoes for an hour.
Tues: easy 6 mile X-Mas run.
Weds: nada
Thurs: planned day off
Fri: strength training, then 1 easy + 2 tempo + 1 easy
Sat: snowshoeing at Bredesen again

Discovered that the battery to my heart rate monitor transmitter died, which is a bummer since I was curious what my heart rate would be on snowshoes jogging vs walking. I still find jogging on snowshoes to be very inefficient - I feel like I'm actually faster walking. Oh well...

I am in the transition between early and late off season, which means:

-strength training is progressing to slightly heavier weights/ fewer reps.
-still incorporating single leg exercises to improve static and dynamic balance since we are only in contact with 1 foot on the ground at any time while running.
-adding tempo runs 1 day/week while continuing to increase long runs at an easy pace.

At this point, my first race of 2008 is shaping up to be Trail Mix 25K, but that may change depending on what we figure out for the MN Trail Running Series!

December 25, 2007

December 24, 2007

Snowshoeing Finally!

Had only 1 client this morning, then free at last! Got in a quick weight lifting session since I was at the gym anyway, then decided to try out the new shoes. Perfect weather for snowshoeing: 10 degrees, no wind, about 4 inches of fresh powder snow, sunshine....went back to Bredesen Park for my first ever snowshoe venture.

The first task was just getting them on - getting straps cinched and tucked out of the way with gloves on (then gloves off). After that it was pretty easy. Walking anyway. Jogging felt very awkward and less efficient than just walking....I think I was slower trying to run! It will take a little practice, but it was fun.

Anyway, it was a perfect winter morning to be outside playing in the the white fluffy stuff - I ended up sharing the park with a few cross country skiers. I even saw a wild turkey (never saw one here in winter before).

December 22, 2007

Let It Snow

Nine Mile Creek - Bredesen Park

Still haven't tried out the new snowshoes, but I did get a little hike in this morning at Bredesen Park. I'd originally planned on getting up early to run with Carl at Lake Harriet, but never set my alarm clock and woke up at 8:30! Peering out my window, everything had a fresh blanket of heavy wet snow, but the ground looked a little slushy.

I decided to lace up my Gortex trail shoes and try a run at Bredesen, which is just a block away from home.

Access trail to Bredesen Park follows Nine Mile Creek through a tunnel under Gleason Ave.

The main trail gets plowed regularly and turned out to be pretty icy, so I headed for the interior trails which are left alone. There were some fresh ski tracks and a few inches of snow - too deep to really run very well. I think this would have been a good test for the snowshoes! Anyway, my run turned into a hike, but it was still fun and very pretty. I can't get used to seeing snow covered cattails.

Earlier this week:
Tues: easy 3
Weds: planned off day
Thurs: 1 easy + 2 tempo + 1 easy
Fri: strength training
Sat: snowy hike

December 18, 2007

Bad Air

It's been a little tough the last few days - been fighting off a bug. I'd planned on a 7 mile run Saturday, but felt pretty whipped after only 5 (usually easy) 10 minute miles so I bagged it early. Sure enough, had a splitting headache on Sunday and sore throat on Monday. After taking those 2 days off for a pity party, I did an easy 3 miles on the treadmill today. Then turned on the noon time news to learn that most of Minnesota is under a poor air quality alert until Friday.

December 14, 2007

Busy Week

It's been a very busy week! Not so hot for training, but I did get some "other stuff" done:

Sunday: 7 mile easy run and a mega shopping spree at Penzeys. If you like spices, this is the place for you! Definately sensory overload, but lots of fun - and I found a few new recipes to try :)
Monday: Finished X-Mas shopping, got all the gifts wrapped & mailed. It took All. Flippin'. Day.
Tuesday: Strength training.
Wednesday: Easy 3 miles on the treadmill. I would have gone longer, but new flooring was being installed at our condo complex and I got kicked out of the exercise room.
Thursday: B-Day celebration.

Tried a new roasted sweet potato recipe:

Cut up a sweet potato into bite size chunks.
Mix a pat of butter, some olive oil, garlic powder, Lawry's seasoning salt, black pepper, and Chesapeake Bay seasoning (from Penzeys of course). I don't like to measure - I wing it.
Stir the sweet potato chunks into the seasoning so that they're coated evenly.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Served with a New York strip steak and a blend of asparagus, pasta, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, shrimp, and balsamic vinaigrette. Washed it down with Summit Extra Pale Ale.

I normally don't like sweet potatoes, but this was pretty good! I'm having more tonight with salmon.

I also picked up my new snowshoes from REI this week, but haven't had a chance to try them out yet. Snowshoeing sounds more interesting than running on the treadmill right now...perhaps I'll give it a go on Sunday.

Gotta go lift weights and get a run in.......

December 11, 2007

December 8, 2007

Nose Hair Awareness

Yep, it's been chilly around here lately. How chilly? Well, you know those mornings when you can hear the snow crunching under your feet and become acutely aware of your nose hair freezing as soon as you step outside? That kind of weather. On the upside, the ticks and mosquitos haven't been bad ;) Not that it matters much when you're a weather wimp and run on the dreadmill.

I didn't accomplish as much as I'd hoped to this week, but it wasn't a complete wash out either:

Mon: strength training + bike (intervals) for 30 min
Tues: treadmill run 3.0 miles
Weds: nada
Thurs: nada
Fri: very short strength circuit + 4.0 treadmill run
Sat: barefoot kettlebell circuit

Planned for Sun: 7 mile run
Hoping that STS-122 space shuttle Atlantis launches if they can get the bugs fixed.

Also did some X-Mas shopping this week - mostly online. In case you didn't already know, REI is offering $20 off purchases over $100 until 12/24. Coupon code = HOLIDAY7

December 2, 2007

Weather Wimp

I must confess - I've been a weather wimp this week. Not just yesterday when we got lots of snow and freezing rain, but the whole flippin' week. All of my runs were done on the treadmill, which I find incredibly boring, especially at this time of year when I'm just doing easy stuff (10 min/mile at 1% incline). Yesterday's 6 mile run seemed to take an eternity. I kept trying to visualize my favorite trails while I was running: the roots and rocks of Superior, the rolling prairies at Hyland, the vista from the top of the campground trail at Afton. I've got a couple more weeks of that until things get more interesting: hill repeats, tempo runs, etc. Part of the reason for the TM is that I've been doing some of the runs after strength training and it's easier to just jump on and go rather than go home, gear up, and go out again. Getting dark at 4:30 ish doesn't help either.

I will be more inclined to get outside again when I get the new snowshoes I ordered from REI in a couple weeks (Redfeather Pace on sale at REI Outlet with an additional 20% off coupon - cost less than $90). I've never even tried snowshoeing, but I think it will help my running, will be more fun that the treadmill, and it will get me outside ;)

Today is an off day, which I spent working on flexibility (I am about as flexible as a redwood). Self myofascial release using a biofoam roll followed by some active stretches. Especially tight areas today were soleus, medial gastroc, and lats. IT Band and quads are usually zingers, but not too bad today.

Self myofascial release of IT Band using biofoam roller.

Time to watch some football and snack on Adam's awesome barley shrimp salad :)

November 27, 2007

Burning Question

Question from an Aussie Mate:

Why is it that when you go into a bank in America, the door to the vault is left wide open, but the pens are chained to the desk?

This is the same Aussie Mate that informed me that what we refer to as a man's pot belly, they call "the awning over the toy shop."

Getting Back on Track

After going out of town for Thanksgiving and missing what sounds like a stellar Fat Ass run out at Afton, I'm finally getting back on track. Last week was spent raking leaves and hanging out with a basset hound in Michigan. It was fun, but no running took place.

Yesterday I got in some strength training and an easy 2 mile run.

Today was a hill pyramid on the treadmill - just walking at 4.0 mph from zero to 15% grade and back down again over 45 minutes.

The plan for the rest of this week is an easy 4 on Thursday, strength and cross training on Friday, easy 6 on Saturday, strength and cross training on Sunday.

I have 3 more weeks of early off season training (easy running, low weight/high reps strength training) until I start adding hill repeats, tempo runs, and a little higher intensity strength training. I'll start gradually increasing my total mileage and long runs too, with the first major race currently being Trail Mix 25K on April 19.

November 17, 2007

The Exercise Every Runner Needs To Do

My phone's been ringin' and my email's been pingin' with lots of runners suffering some type of ache or pain - and they want to know what to do about it. Many of the common overuse injuries incurred by distance runners can be caused by the same problem: weak hip abductors, especially the gluteus medius. In my 10+ years of professional experience working with distance runners, every single athlete I have evaluated has been weak in this area.

Here's why:

We like to spend what free time we have running on the trails, which works the "front to back" muscles, but neglects the "side to side" muscles like the hip abductors. When the hip abductors are weak or fatigued, it becomes difficult to stabilize the pelvis in the frontal plane, especially since we are only in contact with one foot on the ground at any given time while running. Because everything is connected, weak outer hip muscles cause the entire leg to overpronate: opposite hip "drops", knees "cave in" (potential cause of anterior knee pain aka patellofemoral joint pain, patellar tendonitis, IT band syndrome), foot overpronates (potential cause of achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, peroneal tendonitis, posterior tibialis tendonitis), etc. It also means that something else has to try to compensate for the weakness (TFL, quadratus lumborum, piriformis). This is a bigger problem for women because we have a wider pelvis, and therefore a longer moment arm.

Good alignment

Weak gluteus medius

The good news is, it's easy to strengthen these muscles, even without any special equipment. There are several ways to accomplish this, the easiest being side lying straight leg raises. Be sure that you maintain proper alignment - an easy way to do that is to lay on your side with your back against a wall. As you raise your top leg, make sure that your foot remains in contact with the wall (kind of like doing snow angels with one leg).

A more advanced version will also strengthen the core, especially the quadratus lumborum in the low back: hip abduction from a T stand.

Other options include lateral tube walking (put a loop of elastic tubing around your ankles and walk sideways) or standing hip abduction using a low cable (try not to hold on to anything with your hands).

These are just a few options for strengthening the hip abductors. Remember, their job is primarily stabilization, so go for endurance rather than maximal strength. Try just one, or do them all if you wish.
As Nike says, Just Do It.

November 14, 2007

Training Week So Far

Workout #1: 10K trail run at Hyland. Beautiful day - the only other souls I saw on the trail were a white tail deer bounding through the woods and a pair of wild turkeys. The turkeys didn't chase me this time.

Workout #2: multiple bicep curls trying to settle a debate between Tyranena Hop Whore vs Surly Furious vs Summit Extra Pale Ale. They all won.

Rock climbing for the first time since May. Note to self: must make an effort to improve flexibility.

Strength training circuit followed by an easy 3 mile run on the treadmill.

Gotta get up early tomorrow and try to score a copy of the Cities 97 sampler!

November 10, 2007

RT Anderson Fat Ass

What a blast! Very nice trail (kind of like a condensed Afton) almost in my backyard, and I never even knew it was there. I only did 3 laps and left early, but I will definately be back for some hilly runs on that trail.

Thanks to Adam and Matt for organizing the event. It was nice to meet many of the Minnesota Dead Runners folks and put names with faces. I'm a slow runner, so I usually only see the backs of peoples heads as they pass me on the trail :)

Here are a few pictures I snapped while out on the trail:

November 9, 2007

The Rest of the Week

Wednesday: off day as usual. For some reason, Wednesdays are ridiculously busy with work right now, but at least this was a planned off day. Oh yeah, and the space shuttle Discovery came home.

Thursday: hoped to get a run in, but got sidelined with work and stuff that had to get done around the house. Ended up being an unplanned off day. Bummer.

Friday: easy biking and barefoot Kettlebell strength training session.

Tomorrow: planning on a trail run, but here's my dilema:

Do I go out to Baker Park and run with the MDRA Polar Bear group on the cross country ski trails while I can before the snow flies and the runners get kicked to the curb?


Do I go for the Fat Ass run with the Minnesota Dead Runners at RT Anderson in Eden Prarie?

Post suggestions to comments.

November 6, 2007

Autumn Colors From Another Angle

Check out the fall colors around Lake Superior last month - from 220 miles above the Earth!

Photo courtesy of European Space Agency

Short Runs Are Better Than No Runs

With all the excitement of an epic EVA on the International Space Station (ISS) this past Saturday, I've only managed to get a few short runs in (2-3 miles). Haven't been out trail running since last weekend at Carver, so my short runs have been at Bredesen on asphalt or (gasp!), the dreadmill yesterday. It's the beginning of my official early off season anyway, so I'm really not off track at this point. Here's what I've done the last few days:

Saturday: watched an epic EVA all day, with astronaut Scott Parazynski out on the end of a boom.... which was being grappled at the end of another boom... then being carefully maneuvered out to fix a solar array wing while it had 100 volts of electicity running through it... in a procedure that had never been simulated or practiced before. I didn't do any running, but I think my heart rate was up.

Sunday: the crew of Discovery said goodbye to the Exp 16 crew on the ISS, but remained docked with hatches closed until all the leak checks, etc were completed on Monday. Managed to get a 2 mile run in at Bredesen.

Monday: Discovery undocks from the ISS. Check out how large the station is getting! Very windy outside, so I did 3 miles on the dreadmill after weight lifting at the gym.

All photos courtesy of NASA.
Today is a cross training day - combo of biking and rowing. Discovery is scheduled to land tomorrow, so maybe my training will become a little more focused by the end of the week :)

November 1, 2007

World View

I've been almost too busy watching the current STS-120/Exp 16 mission (space shuttle and space station joint ops) this past week to get much running in. Especially since they hit a few speed bumps and are now scrambling to come up with a contingency plan to fix the P6 solar array. I'll be tuned in to NASA TV this Saturday to see what they come up with! The EVA's (space walks) are fun to watch because the astronauts have helmet cameras, so you can see exactly what they're doing. And the view is incredible!

This photo was taken just before sunset over the Pacific Ocean by the Expedition 7 crew on the International Space Station. You can even see the anvil tops of thunderclouds if you look closely. Photo courtesy of NASA.

October 28, 2007

Carver Park

What an awesome weekend to get out on the trails! Perfect weather both days: sunny, cool start then warming up to the 50's, light wind, no bugs, still some color left on the trees. The only clunker seemed to be all the road closures for construction projects that were getting in the way of where I wanted to go. So I dug out my copy of Minnesota Running Trails by Kate Havelin to find an alternative to my usual trail running haunts (Hyland or Afton), and settled on Carver Park near Victoria.

Part of the trail suggested by Kate was closed for the season so I had to improvise a little, but I got in about 5 miles (the longest run I've done with the new Sole footbeds). Nice soft ground with the trails dry and in great condition, gentle rolling hills, lots of small lakes and marshes, a few boardwalks through the marshes, mixed hardwoods, open praries, etc. I think the highlight for me was watching a trumpeter swan family of 3 paddle around and "tip" their back sides up in the air. I felt like I had the park to myself - very few other people there, which I thought was odd for such a perfect day.

October 27, 2007

Don't Mind the Buzzards Circling

For the past month or so, I've been experimenting with insoles. Why? Here's the complete skinny:

I've been blessed with high arches and a neutral gait. Never had any of the common foot maladies that plague distance runners......until September 22, 2007 at the In Yan Teopa 10 mile trail race at Frontenac State Park. Perfect day, perfect conditions, nice trail, same shoes and sock make/model that I've been running in all summer. Why, then, at mile 3 am I getting a searing hot spot on the medial side of my big toe on my right foot? I stopped a few times during the race to tighten my laces, rearrange my sock so the seam wasn't in the "wrong" place, etc. No joy. At about this time, I looked up and noticed a half dozen turkey vultures circling. Not exactly a comfort when one is having a tough day on the trail. I finished a significant portion of the race oversupinating my foot to get off the hot spot, and was glad to finally cross the finish line. The buzzards went away, but my foot was pretty sore. Over the next week or two, the plantar fascia on that foot was pretty riled up (probably from oversupinating) - enough so that I didn't run much at all.

I tried Superfeet at the recommendation of a podiatrist who works with runners, but they were uncomfortable on my heel (which may have still been a little sore and swollen from the plantar fasciitis). Then a mountaineering client of mine recommended Sole customizable footbeds which he uses and likes, especially for long hikes in the mountains. Anything that is customized has got to be better than a generic insole, so I decided to give them a try. I found them for only $45 regular price at REI in Bloomington (they are $55 on the Sole website). You just pop them in a preheated 200 degree oven for a few minutes, put them into your shoes, put the shoes on, and stand in a neutral position for 2 minutes while they mold to the shape of your foot. Double bonus (at least in my mind): not only do they mold to the exact shape of your foot, but to your foot in the particular shoes that you're running in.

Wimpy insoles that came with shoes:

Sole customized footbeds:

So far I've only done short milage with them - I'm still getting used to having something pressing against my arch. But I'm not having any hot spots, heel discomfort, or buzzards circling - it will be interesting to see how they do with longer runs. I'll keep ya posted!

October 25, 2007

Slippery Slope

After becoming smitten with trail running at Afton this summer, I decided to check out what other trail races are held in Minnesota. I'd heard about the spring and fall races on the Superior Hiking Trail and decided to go up to Lutsen and check out the 25K course (which is also part of every other SHT race course). I'd hiked that part of the trail shortly after it was built almost 20 years ago and remembered it as being very rugged - not the sort of terrain I'd be able to run on very well. I also remembered it as being absolutely beautiful. I went up in late July, and as it turns out, my memory was pretty accurate.

A few weeks later I was back, this time crewing on Saturday morning at the Temperance River aid station for the fall races. This was an interesting experience because we got to see runners from all 3 events in various stages of decay. It was mile 8 for the marathoners, who were still fairly fresh. It was mile 83+ for the 100 milers, who were looking pretty glassy eyed if they even made it that far. The 50 milers came through twice: mile 18 and again at 32. I was (and still am) in awe of the folks who had the guts to toe the line and do an ultra on that terrain. Race Director Larry had warned those of us in awe that we were on a slippery slope - starting with a short trail run, crewing at another event, and next thing we're going to be out there with the others experiencing the decay first hand.

I think I'm on the slippery slope. I'm pretty sure I'll see Wayne out there too. The Superior Trail 25K in the spring and the Moose Mountain Marathon in the fall are both major goals of mine for 2008!

October 24, 2007

Getting Started at Afton

So how did I get started trail running? Hmmmmmmmmmm........

Once upon a time, I was nationally ranked in orienteering. This involves running through woods, swamps, marshes, tall grasses, up or down ravines, etc with virtually no trails or footpaths at all. Hard work. Then I got more involved with road running - smooooooooooth pavement the entire way. It only seems logical that I would go from one extreme to the other and end up somewhere in the middle: on trails. As they say, all things in moderation, including moderation. At least, that's what I say ;)

Anyhoo, on a cool April day, I decided to sign up for the Afton Trail 25K to be held on July 7, 2007. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I had access to the course map in addition to topo maps of Afton State Park from MNOC, so I had a chance to check out the terrain that we would be running on. I already knew about the Afton hills, so that was no biggy. In fact, it was a relief to be on trails since my last orienteering adventure in that park landed me in the hospital with a punctured artery in my leg (doncha just love hidden rusty old barbed wire)? That's a story for a different day.

As it turns out, July 7 was the hottest day of the summer - a heat index of 100. Since I really hadn't trained properly, my goal was to stay out of the ambulance. The race director explained The Rule (absolutely no whining) at the start, and we were off into the woods. I already knew what to expect on the course, so I actually felf pretty relaxed. Two things that really struck me about this race: the other runners were all very friendly and supportive, and the aid stations were like running up to a Thanksgiving feast. In spite of carrying my own electrolyte drink, pigging out at the aid stations, eating salty stuff, I did have some problems with my legs cramping the last 2+ miles. It was just too hot and humid to replace the fluids lost from running. I always weigh myself before and after long runs (especially in hot/humid conditions), and in spite of drinking 20 oz of my own sport drink, 4-6 oz of Heed at each of the 5 aid stations, another 20 oz of recovery drink after the race, eating a cheeseburger, chocolate chip cookies, pretzels, potatoes with salt, strawberries, and PBJ sandwiches, I weighed in 2 pounds lighter at the end compared to the start. But I achieved my goal: I finished and didn't end up in the ambulance. Yep, it was hot (but I'm not whining Scott), and I was hooked!

Trainer Tip: weigh yourself (preferrably undressed) before and after long runs or runs in hot/humid conditions. For races I even write my prerace weight on the back of my bib for emergency medical purposes. If you are drinking the right amount of fluids, your weight should stay about the same. One pound = 16 oz fluid.


For the past 10+ years, I have been very busy building a Personal Training business from scratch. Prior to that I was a Medical Technologist for about 15 years, but I got tired of working crappy hours, for low wages, under high stress, and being exposed to chemical and biological hazards. In 1997 I decided it was time for a career change. I still have low wages, work lots of hours (but not crappy ones), and love what I do!

Being self employed (in any field) means that you are always working. Always. I typically put in 12 hour days spending all of my time and energy on everyone else's training program, but haven't had much left for myself. A decade later, I've found myself in the worst shape of my life (physically and mentally). This past year I finally decided that I needed to make my own fitness a priority again. The purpose of this blog is to help keep me focused on my own trail running goals as well as document my progress, triumphs and failures.