Category Archives: Fitness

Posts related to fitness: running, kayaking, hiking, exercise routines, etc.

Fifty Miles

It has been two years since I first thought of training for the half marathon. I was having the best running year of my life. Earlier in the year I scored a personal record in the Monument 10k. I was getting faster and healthier, and had learned how to work around issues that help me up before. In one month I had covered fifty miles! That was a huge accomplishment for me.

Richmond has a wonderful training team run by our local running club. I figured with the help of these people who know best, even I could cross the finish line. Unfortunately, training isn’t a once-size-fits-all kind of thing. Each team’s coaches can help tailor the program to the individual, or help with cross-training ideas. But they can’t help if you don’t ask. Or, more accurately, they can’t help if you don’t know you need help.

At week seven, about halfway through the training program, I developed this crazy pain in my right shin. I stretched it out like everyone said to do. For the next week I did the famous RICE treatment: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Except without the compression, that’s just weird and kinda time-consuming. Oh, and the elevation. Who has time for that? I mean, I propped up my legs at least once an evening during my TV shows, and put ice on my shin at least twice a day. When I remembered. The ‘R’ is RICE, rest? Yeah, I got that one.

The next week I ran the first mid-week run later in the week and skipped the Saturday morning training team run of 8 miles to give my legs some more time to recuperate. Saturday and Sunday was spent doing more of the required REST, and there wasn’t really enough time on the weekdays to do 8 miles, so I split up the long run. Monday I did four miles in the morning and hobbled off to work. Right after work I pounded out the other five miles in the neighborhoods around my house. My friend had surgery that day and I was headed over to her house for the evening to give her some company. That didn’t leave a lot of time for the forgiving treadmill at the gym, or seeking out some soft trails further from home. Did I forget to mention that most of my fifty miles were on pavement? Hunh…

Needless to say, when I got to my friend’s house I could barely walk up the starts from the pain in my shins. Yes, both by this time. She commented that I didn’t look so good and shouldn’t be hobbling like that after a run. Nah, I told her, it’s nothing. It will go away tomorrow. I didn’t have time to stretch after all.

A couple of days later I took off for the first mid-week run of three miles. My wife sat on the front porch steps with the dogs and waved me off. I made it to the next corner before stopping. Something was definitely wrong. The pain was definitely not shin splints. I hobbled back home after a miserable quarter mile shuffle.

It was time to go to the ortho doctor. The next day I was given crutches, a diagnosis of possible stress fractures (plural), and set up with bone scan appointment for the following week.

During the bone scan, I was injected with some radioactive dye into my blood stream so the machine could follow the course of blood through my body. Since white blood cells heal the body, they gravitate en masse toward any site of injury. I was able to watch these little black dots flow all through my body and arrive at two very specific spots on my lower legs right where the intense pain was. The longer I watched, the larger these clouds of black dots became, hovering around my shins trying to heal them. I didn’t need a doctor to tell me what I was seeing. I had stress fractures in both of my legs. There wouldn’t be any half marathon for me.

It has taken me a full two years to get even close to where I was in 2014. I’m easily two minutes per mile slower, but I’m also much more cautious. I don’t run when tired or ignore pain. I also use dynamic warm up before running, and stretch out completely after my runs. Every run, no matter how short, is followed up by some quality time with my foam roller no matter how good it hurts.

This year I’m determined to finish more than just my first fifty miles injury free. I plan on finishing the half marathon and wearing that beautiful medal with pride all weekend. In order to do that, I’ve got to get to the starting line.

It’s Global Running Day!

I was supposed to go for a run yesterday but decided to go straight home instead. Two seconds after sitting down on the back patio I knew there was no hope of lacing up my running shoes. Some days it just isn’t going to happen. This morning was a different story. It’s Global Running Day! I set my alarm so I could wake up in enough time to go for an easy, rush-free run. Turns out the alarm wasn’t needed. My eyes popped open right on time. My clothes were all laid out in the guest bedroom so I didn’t wake up my wife digging around for a headband or a missing sock. Five minutes after waking up I was lacing up and out the door.

I did a brisk walk uphill to get warmed up, with the full intention of heading back downhill toward the park to finish my run. There’s a perfect 1-mile out and back from my doorstep that is a great “warm-up” since the park has maybe two miles of trail. Maybe. Turning right on my usual route, I jogged past a young man on his way to the park. He carries what I assume to be a large camera bag. I’ve seen him some mornings heading out of the “secret” back entrance with the same bag slung over his shoulder. This morning, as usual, I waved to him. He wished me a good morning and we continued on our separate ways.

A little while later, I headed into the back entrance of the park. The street dead-ends at the woods where a narrow trail continues on past a small county substation before dipping down into the cool shade of the oaks and pines. The first step onto the lightly graveled trail puts a smile on my face every time. This is where people were meant to exercise. Outside, in nature, with the earth beneath their feet. It’s been too long since running has been a regular habit for me. Today, here, is the perfect way to kick-start my habit.

I duck onto another path, this one even narrower, my arms and legs brushing the leaves as they close in around me. Happiness spreads across my face. I can already tell this is going to be the best part of my day. A foreign sound reaches my ears, soft at first, in the distance. Then, louder, I can make out the sounds of a woodwind instrument as the earthy tones cut through the morning silence. The make-shift trail opens up onto the main path around one of the park’s lakes. Through an opening in the trees I can see the young camera man setting up his equipment at the tip of a tiny strip of land jutting out into the middle of the lake.

A few more steps and I realize he hasn’t been carrying a camera bag to the park every morning. The unmistakable song of a bagpipe floats across the misty water as I run around the first curve of the trail. Is this really happening? It’s Global Running Day, and I get to run on a magical dirt path around my lake while listening to bagpipes. A chill spreads through my body as the song continues. The water easily carries the haunting sound to me as I follow the path around the lake, around the bagpiper. This is the best, most bizarre morning ever. I pass by the trail leading back home and decide to make one more lap around the lake, my runner’s high kicking into full gear. One more lap around the lake and this bagpipers music.  This is definitely a feeling I will never forget.

Check out the stats for Global Running Day at

Race Training

Tomorrow is the first day of my 8k training team. It seems a bit silly to me that I even felt the need to train for such a short race, but this last week is proof that I need it. I have plantar fasciitis in my right foot, and it is really killing my running game. Every morning I wake up, barely able to walk, limping to take a shower. I get up my from my desk at work and hobble to my meetings. It is so painful that I’ve started walking a bit awkwardly to avoid putting any pressure on it. Of course, that has caused the tendon on the outside of the foot to start screaming at me, too. I can’t win.

The last time I ran was about a month ago. I took a very leisurely five mile jaunt around my area. It felt fantastic. I was running easy, my pace was great, and my breathing was never better. Then I couldn’t walk for the next two days. After way too long of dealing with the aggravation, self-diagnosing, and doing everything the internet said to do for plantar fasciitis, I gave up. The sports medicine doc gave me the same diagnosis with the same treatment, and included icing it three times a day. Getting over this annoying foot problem is definitely going to be a full-time job. PT starts next week. Shoot me now. Please.

The first training run tomorrow? I get to be there at 7:00am. Time for bed.

It’s time to get Stronger

Tomorrow I will start my journey to get Stronger – Day 1. It is an eight week challenge and is the best way I can think of to get back into shape. A little less than a year ago I was training for my first half marathon. I was in the best shape of my life – running three to four time each week after a targeted weight routine. Then I developed stress fractures in both shins. No walking, no biking, and no running. It was terrible. By the time I was able to start running again, I could barely run a mile without gasping for breath. My legs cramped up and it felt as though I had weights strapped to my feet.

Since then I have been plagued by several annoying injuries caused by poor form, not warming up, not stretching correctly, and not multi-training. You name it, I’ve done it. Now it’s time to do this the right way. From the beginning. Slow and steady, with hard work and sweat.

The Stronger series was created by Live Strong and contains ten different workouts. The first five of the routines are done for four weeks before moving on to the final five, more advanced, workouts. The trainer, Nicky Holender, was a pro soccer player and definitely brings his A-game for this series. It’s time to get Stronger!

I can’t wait to start tomorrow!