Thursday, March 31, 2016

Required Running Reading: Stop Phe

Phoebe Wright, who runs professionally for Nike, writes one of the best running blogs on the Internet.  It's not updated too often--you don't run a 1:58.22 800m by typing all day--but when it is, it is always a joy to read.  Funny, literate, self-deprecating, inspiring--it's all of these things.  More important, despite the fact that Wright is a super-elite athlete, her posts are accessible for all of us runners, whether we're elite, competitive, aspiring, recreational, or are just getting started.

Bookmark Stop Phe (we have), and follow her on Twitter, too.

As an appetizer, check out her bio page for an impressive overview of her career and her spot-on thoughts about how to deal with injury--and how to avoid overtraining.

My favorite part:
Collegiate running taught me that hard work is a prerequisite for success. Professional running taught me that hard work does not entitle you to success. That is a hard pill to swallow.
I am definitely going to find a way to write some version of this statement on several student papers in the near future.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Trail Update: Mount Vernon Trail Improvements

The stretch of the Mount Vernon Trail that runs by Washington National Airport has been under construction since the fall of 2015.  The project is expected to be completed in the spring 2016.

Greater Greater Washington offers a detailed overview of the project's history and the goals that it hopes to meet.

This past weekend, I made it down to that stretch of trail for the first time this year, and I noticed that the temporary wood chip detour has been closed off and that the paved trail is currently connected as one seamless pathway.  I also noticed the installation of what appears to be a water fountain.  I certainly hope this is the case, because I have always found the Mount Vernon Trail to be sorely lacking in water on the trail itself.  For runners who are monitoring pacing and distance with any precision, deviating onto Daingerfield Island, as merely one possibility, is often not a readily reasonably option, particularly in the hot summer months.

The project still has a little ways to go, so we'll definitely monitor things as we jog down there.  For now, know that it's looking like the new National Airport section will be much safer and more pedestrian (and biker) friendly than it had been in the past.

Feel free to drop us a line on intermittent improvements in the comments!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Running Motivation: Star in Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's TV Show?

Writing for Runner's World, Heather Mayer Irvine is reporting that actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are currently casting participants for their reality show, The Runner.

If you needed some motivation to get in your weekly speed workout, maybe this is it?

Matt Damon, it seems, is a runner in reality and in movies:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Welcome to Washington, Meb.

According to several reports, elite Olympian marathon extraordinaire Meb Keflezighi will run this year's Cherry Blossom Ten Miler.
The Cherry Blossom Ten Miler is an excellent race.  The course is flat and fast, and if the race even loosely coincides with the peak bloom period for Washington, DC's famous cherry blossom trees, runners are treated to a beautiful scenic tour of some of the city's most famous monuments and memorials. Hains Point can be particularly picturesque, as the tress that line miles 6-9 can create a lush pink canopy when they are blooming.  If the weather conditions are good--and they usually are--this race can offer runners a shot at a lightning fast finishing time, all of which makes for an excellent spectating experience as well.

RunWashington is correct to point out that Meb might not actually race the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, but that is of little consequence.  Dude's fast by any standard.  Come out to watch him run.  I'll see you down there.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Race Review: RRCA MD 10 Mile Club Challenge

Sorry, folks.  It's been busy on the teaching front, and that busyness has kept me away from the Blogging front.

However, the good news is that I haven't been kept away from the running front.  My training has been coming along quite steadily despite a minor setback in January (these things happen, of course). That setback, thankfully, didn't knock me too far off course.  (As an aside, a topic for another day: the need to rest--whether for work or for a minor injury--isn't always a bad thing, and it doesn't always mean that your training and overall fitness will decline.  Exercise caution when necessary.  You'll be better for it in the long run, as the expression goes.)  On February 28, I was still able to compete in the RRCA MD 10 Mile Club Challenge, sponsored by Howard County Striders.

This particular race is restricted to DC and MD RRCA-affiliated running clubs, so it's not open to the public.  Still, if you're in the area, and if you run, there really isn't a reason not to be a member of one of the local running clubs.  They offer great camaraderie, training structure, and definitely (at least) in the case of DC Road Runners, great deals on race registrations.  DC Road Runners actually hosts the cheapest half marathon in the United States, with free registration for club members and a $5.00 non-member registration fee (no, there are no finisher medals or t-shirts).  So yes, join a club.  They are great!

As far as the race goes, the course consists of pretty consistent rolling hills, and it runs almost entirely through a series of residential neighborhoods that surround the main campus of Howard Community College.  Therefore, there is a good amount of friendly spectator support, which is always a great thing.  Also, the field is large enough (just under 600 finishers in the 2016 event), and the roads are windy enough, that the pack never really thins out, which is nice for runners who want to work together during the race.

It's also worth noting that the race is competitive.  Baltimore's Andy Weaver finished in 51:50, and the next 50 finishers all came in under one hour.  This is another benefit of being in a running club: there's a good mixture of recreational and competitive runners, which gives all of us the kind of balanced motivation that we need.

For my part, I put in a 1:05:48, which was totally fine.  (Here is a horrifying picture of me--#1527--fighting to the finish.)  I was restricted to walking and light weight lifting for all of January, so putting in this kind of a performance with just a few weeks of consistent running under my belt was a great confidence-booster.  Which gets me back to my little aside up there: when injury strikes, sometimes the best thing that you can do (after resting and healing--and getting in a good amount of recovery training) is to find a low stress race to run.  Go out somewhere between 75%-85%, and see what you can do.  When things go well, it will really help reorient your thinking toward your future running goals.  They won't seem so (frustratingly) far-fetched as they might when you're healing those sore tendons.

All of this is even more the case when you've got a supportive group of peer runners around you.

See what I mean?

Have fun out there.  After all, the weather is warming up!