Monday, January 31, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #5 Safe Road Running

I often see people doing things (or not) when running on the road that leaves me scratching my head.  I am not claiming perfection by any stretch, but I think there are many things we as runners owe to ourselves and our friends and family to do to remain safe.  I also think we owe it to the drivers to do what we can to let them know we are there.  I wrote a post a few months back which you can read here.  The post was sparked by some guy my wife and I saw running down the road in all black, at night. What a knucklehead!  Here are the things I do to reduce my risk of being hit by a car when running on the roads.  I also list a number of other safety tips which are good ideas but I admit I don't always follow (please do as I suggest, not as I do).

What I Always Do
  1. Keep your eyes open and mind as clear as possible and if I can hammer one point home it's this.  JUST BECAUSE YOU SEE THEM DOES NOT MEAN THEY SEE YOU.
  2. Run against traffic.  I never understand people running with traffic coming at their backs.  If you can't see the vehicle you can't avoid it.  One exception I have to this steadfast rule is when entering a blind turn.  In this instance I always want to be on the outside of the curve.  If you are on the inside of the curve the driver (or cyclist) will not see you until the last second and I know I tend to take corners inside when I drive.  Well before the curve I wait to be sure no cars are coming from behind me, I then switch sides and get through that curve as quickly as possible before switching back to again run against traffic.
  3. Wear reflective gear, especially when dark (this means a.m. or p.m.).  There are so many options including, bands, tape, vests, jackets, and virtually every apparel item can be found with some reflection. I recently bought a Nathan reflective vest, Streak version ($20) but I have been wearing your basic orange construction type forever (I think I paid $5 for it).  I also wear a Brooks Nightlife Jacket when it's colder or raining ($100).
  4. Always wear a head lamp or carry a flashlight when running in the dark.  Not only does this make you more visible but it helps you see too.There are many models out there with a big range in brightness and price.  With 55 lumens and extremely lightweight my favorite is the Pezel Tikka which retails for about $40.  I also have a Black Diamond Spot which is significantly brighter with 75 lumens, but I find the battery life to be significantly less ($40).
  5. Red Flashing LED light.  The blinking will attract more attention.  I have had various brands that I usually bought from a bike shop but recently found a small lightweight version from Nathan which I think was about $10.  I also just found Firefly Supernova on the Road ID website.
  6. If you "think" a driver is coming too close get out of the way early because the moment you "know" the driver is too close it may be too late.
  7. When a driver moves over to give you more room give them a big wave of thanks so they do it again.
  8. Follow your instincts.  If you feel like you are entering an unsafe situation trust your gut and get out of there.
  9. Carry ID.  You can of course order a Road ID or what I do is write my name, age, emergency contact information and instructions in the event I can't speak for myself.
  10. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.

What I Do Some Of The Time
  1. Try to run roads with generous shoulders and clear site lines.  I certainly feel more comfortable but it's not always possible and some of my favorite routes have no shoulders.
  2. Run with a buddy.  There is safety in numbers.
  3. No music.  It is very important to hear what is going on around you or coming toward you (animals, cars, cyclists or any other potential threat).
  4. Vary your routes.  I think this is a great idea which I recently read.  I think most runners do this to break up the monotony but it will also help protect you if there is an attacker looming and studying your routine.
  5. Choose a well lit route. Perhaps I should focus on this but I don't.  There are lights on some of the roads and not on others, so I bring my own:)
  6. Carry a cell phone.
There is quite a bit here and it may seem daunting but frankly I think most of it is common sense.  The gear is not so extensive it is burdensome.  In fact, it has become part of my routine and takes no time at all.  Lastly, I know some of the items above are not cheap, but your life is worth it.  Ask someone close to you, I am sure they will agree.  Be safe.  Peace

Friday, January 28, 2011

Embrace the snow. Its more fun that way!

We have been ablolutely hammered here in the northeast with record snowfall for the month of January.  Can it be a bit of a hassle?  Sure, but if we choose to embrace it, the snow and cold can be as beautiful and fun as any warm sunny day.  Enoy the photos!  Peace


Last run before Tony & Chris left to run the Camino De Fe

Pocantico River in Rockefeller State Park Preserve

A fence with snow on it!

Yaks helping me through 16 inches of new snow yesterday

Another fence with snow on it:)

Practicing what I preach (headlamp, flashing LED & reflective jacket)

Do we still have to stop?

Monday, January 24, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #4 I'm Sick! Is It OK To Run?

"I want to run but feel like @#$%^&*"
There are few things more frustrating to a runner than when something creeps up in life and prevents us from running.  During this time of year, the dreaded flu would seem to be one of the most common obstacles.  My brother-in-law Iman was one of the many unfortunate to have the flu during the long MLK weekend and was extremely disappointed about missing what was to be his longest run to date.  He asked me about running when sick and although I am no expert I said the following. 
The long run will be there when you are well again and the risk of getting worse or prolonging the illness is not worth it.  Take the time and rest, which may also provide the added benefit of allowing your body to recover somewhat from all the recent training.
As I am not an expert and am only accused of being sensible on occasion I decided to do a little research.  There was not as much information as I expected but the general consensus seems to be to follow the "above/below the neck rule".  Above the neck: Stuffy or runny nose, sneezing etc...probably OK. Below the neck: Muscle aches, hacking cough, fever, diarrhea, vomiting....NOT OK.  This weekend I had a bit of a cold and before reading this above/below rule I would not have run.  I decided to try it out and continued my training with 19 miles Saturday and 20 miles Sunday.  I still have a little cold but feel fine.

By the way Iman rested and completed his first run over 6 miles this weekend.  He kicks ass!

Here are a the articles I read that cover the when to's, when not to's and the risks. 

Runner's World 2004 "Should You Run When You're Sick" "Can I Run With a Cold"

Web MD "Running When Sick"


Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Running Blog List

I received an email today from Jake whose blog is called Broken Hearted Runner.  First of all his story is awesome as he has not allowed a genetic heart condition to stop him from doing what he loves.  Next he took the time to put together a list of his 50 favorite running blogs for us all to enjoy.  What a great way to bring more runners together.  Great job on this post Jake and nice to know you enjoy reading Just A Mile To Go.  Peace

Monday, January 17, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #3 Cold Weather Running

Tip #3 Cold Weather Running...Now that we are firmly in the presence of winter, staying warm is one of our biggest hurdles.  If you dress right I promise that winter will reward you with memorable runs.  You may even find it to be as enjoyable as warmer weather (if not it definitely beats the treadmill).

1. Hat & Gloves/Mittens. No matter how many layers I wear if I don't cover my head and keep my hands warm I am miserable. I think Mountain Hardware has some good options for hats and gloves and Brooks has a mitten that has a removable water resistant outer shell for added warmth.

2. Layers....Many thin layers feel more comfortable than a bulky jacket and provides flexibility to remove a layer if needed. My outer layer once it gets into the 30s is a jacket with a zipper. This gives me the ease of simply zipping up or down as I go from hot to cold which naturally happens during all cold weather runs as I run uphill, downhill or into a headwind or with a tailwind.

3. Pants....I don't like running in pants and have not found they help keep my core warm but when it gets below 20 I will throw something (thin sweats or tights) over my legs just because I can feel how cold my skin gets if I am out for a long time.

4. Keep moving....As long as I am running I am usually warm, especially after working up a sweat. If I walk and even sometimes running downhill I will get cold.

I recently read a post by Marshall Ulrich which includes some similar thoughts and quite a bit more. Check it out.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why I Run You Ask?

I am often asked why I run or how I cover such long distances.  My answers can be endless but I think the message I received on my new years post below from Anita should explain it (MM is Multiple Myeloma, its incurable, Anita is living with it).

Hey Eric
Happy New Year. I'm always running with you, by your side, even if you can't see me!!!! Thanks for all the money you have raised for MM. It's YOU who is keeping those like me running.
Love you,Tani and the kids,

Me and Anita

Monday, January 10, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #2 Blister Prevention

Tip #2 Blister Prevention....I have learned a little bit about blister prevention in my brief ultra running journey. Mostly from watching and talking to others. While keeping your feet dry is primary, everybody is different and therefore not all solutions will be the same. I have seen runners going through all sorts of pre-race rituals including applying tape, powders, creams, multiple layers of socks and have even read about runners with no socks. Because we are all different I can only tell you what has worked for me and my friend Jason from Atlanta who provided us with the idea for this tip. For us it was simple, choosing the right sock.
Jason prefers the Injinji mini crew performance sock. He says they are ideal for someone like him who is prone to toe blisters. Other than the fact they are funny looking and take only slightly longer to put on than a traditional sock, Jason says they have kept his toes blister free. In addition to the mini crew I counted a total of 13 other types for everything from a travel sock to a yoga sock. I did not think socks were worn during yoga? The prices range from $10-$38 a pair.
Drymax is my sock of choice (Let it be known they do now provide me with my socks, but I would not wear them if they did not work). After trying many socks it is now the only running sock I wear. They currently offer 9 styles of running socks including, for extreme heat, cold and a number of trail socks. While I do like running in specific socks for relevant conditions, if I had to choose one all around pair it would be the Maximum Protection sock. They may feel a little warm in extreme heat but I find the added layer of dense (not thick) protection on the bottom of the sock to be worth it. I noticed this added layer of comfort the first time I put them on and have worn the Max Pro in every ultra since with no major blistering (5 in 2010 including three 100 milers). Prices range from around $8 up to $36 per pair.
Please comment with any other thoughts on what has been successful for you in avoiding blisters when running. Also remember to email me any other ideas for tips you think would be helpful to your fellow runners.

Monday, January 3, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #1 Drying Out Shoes

As runners we are always looking for new ideas to improve our running lives. These may include the obvious tips on how to train differently to become faster and stronger or new gear ideas to improve running comfort. Sometimes the idea could be unique to an individual, perhaps a friend who has some interesting way of storing or better yet cleaning all that gear or avoiding the dreaded chaffing.
Whatever the idea, the beauty of the running community, is the desire to share them with our fellow runners. In that spirit I will begin sharing my ideas and provide a forum for you to share yours. At least once a month I will post one of my thoughts or yours as I receive them. Please email me your ideas on how we can all improve our running lives at
Tip #1: Drying out your shoes...Yesterday was a nasty cold rainy day and therefore my shoes were soaked. I have found the best way to completely dry them out is to stuff them with newspaper. Simply shove crumpled up newspaper down in the shoe until it is solidly packed from toe to heel. After about an hour or so remove and you will see the paper has drawn the water our of the shoe. If your shoes are soaked as mine were yesterday it may be necessary to repeat. I also think this helps with odor. Please comment below if you have a different method.
Looking forward to hearing many other running ideas.
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