Sunday, March 1, 2015

DEAR DIARY

In previous blogs and in motivational speeches I deliver at marathon race expos around the country I preach about the importance of keeping a daily running log.

A running log is your personal running diary. One's daily entries may be brief, or may read like a Russian novel. No matter, by looking back through one's running log, a runner may get a complete picture of his or her running regimen. A complete running log can let you know what works for you and what doesn't. Your running log can tell you where your running has been and where it's going.

If you examine my running log since November 26, 2014, it appears as though I have been in Buffalo, New York, or International Falls, Minnesota.

You see, since I kept my first logbook in 1976, I have always included weather conditions in my daily running diary.

That way, when I wonder why a race time was particularly slow, the 90-degree heat may have been a factor.

When a workout seems as though I turned a calendar page before I completed it, snow-covered roads may have played a part in my snail-like pace.

Here's a sample of some of my "Greatest Meteorological Hits," as recorded in my running log, from the past five months.

Wednesday, November 26-4 inches-snow, slush
Friday, November 28-20 degrees, windy, cold
Wednesday, December 10-Snowing
Thursday, December 11-8 inches-snow

Rain and moderate temperatures teased us for the remainder of the month, and on December 28, I logged an 8-miler on my favorite wooded trail.

Saturday, January 3-Snow, sleet, slippery
Tuesday, January 6-2 inches-snow
Wednesday, January 7-Wind chill-1 degree

For nine days I escaped to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, only to return to:

Wednesday, January 21-4 inches-snow
Saturday, January 24-5 inches-snow
Monday, January 26-Windy-3 inches-snow
Monday, February 2-2 inches-snow, slush
Thursday, February 5-Wind chill 5 degrees

Back to Myrtle Beach for a week, then:
Friday, February 20-Wind chill-2 degrees
Monday, February 23-Wind chill-0 degrees
Saturday, February 28-13 degrees

And as we entered March:

Sunday, March 1-4 inches-snow

Most runners, in many areas of the United States, feel like one of Mike Tyson's opponents, during the days when he was a boxing champion. We are beat up from five months of a Polar something or other.

I promise to stop whining, but, "Dear Diary, please make this end soon!"



Saturday, February 28, 2015

A FINAL ROAR?

Here's the latest.

We are not strangers to snow here in northeastern Pennsylvania, but this is ridiculous. The latest statistic reveals that the 2014-2015 season will have featured five calendar months with snow on the ground.

Tomorrow's forecast is calling for 2 to 4 more inches of snow, with some sleet and ice mixed in just make things more interesting. Our first snowfall arrived the week before Thanksgiving, and we haven't seen much of the ground ever since.

The old saying declares, "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb," so there seems to be hope.

An extra hour of daylight on March 8, Saint Patrick's Day, and the first day of Spring all arrive in the next three weeks.

Here's another positive sign of better days to come.

This morning I ran five miles at 9:00 a.m. The temperature was 15 degrees. The air was calm, not a bit of wind, and the sun shone brilliantly. It certainly did not feel like 15 degrees. The sun is now higher in the sky and its rays are becoming more direct. A few days of 50 degree temperatures and our massive snow piles will shrink.

If you have maintained your fitness level throughout these dismal months, the next few weeks will be exhilarating. The air will smell better. Warmer temperatures will slash your workout times. You'll be able to get back on to your local track for speed workouts.

It's all part of this magnificent cycle of life that we runners experience more vividly than most folks. We are right there to observe the blossoming trees and plants. We hear the sounds and see the sights more clearly, we appreciate the many things nature has to offer, and we truly realize that, for all of us, our best running days lie ahead.

For spring book deals, more blogs, and personalized coaching, visit: www.muldowneyrunning.com


Friday, February 27, 2015

LEAP YEAR?

March is nearly here, and there's no leap year this year, but my publisher, Lulu www.lulu.com, is celebrating leap year anyhow.

From now until March 2, you can save a whopping 29% (Leap Year...get it?) on books, using the code below. So now is a great chance to jump start your spring running and racing season by reading my books about the sport I love and have been a part of for 39 years.

The cool thing about having written two books about running is that they are two contrasting works.

My first book, Running Shorts: A Collection of Stories and Advice for Anyone Who Has Ever Laced Up a Pair of Running Shoes, published in 2011, is a compilation of my experiences as competitive runner for 39 years, but many of these tales reflect experiences YOU have had during your years as a runner. As one of the Amazon reviewers stated, "It will make you laugh and it will make you cry."

Traveling the country, promoting my first book, prompted me to write, Personal Best, my second book, published in September 2014.

Runners told me what they wanted in a running book, and I tried to respond by writing a book that is instructive to runners of all ages and abilities.

Personal Best took a tragic turn in April 2013, soon after I crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon. I devoted my first chapter, entitled "Was That Thunder," to the events, and my experiences of that day. I guarantee you, it is worth the read, and it is my fervent hope that I was able to capture the emotions of that fateful day in a manner in which every runner can relate.

If you would like read an electronic version of Personal Best, it is available for only $2.99 at Amazon, Lulu, iBooks, Nook, and Kobo.

You can visit my website: www,muldowneyrunning.com, and I will personally sign and send a book to you. You can go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or take advantage of the sale at Lulu, to purchase running books that will positively influence your future running efforts.

And, it doesn't end there!

Read the books and stay in touch. email me here, look me up on Facebook at: Joe Muldowney Running, or on Twitter at: rdrunnr00. Tell me about your running, ask me questions, discuss training or injury issues.

I love this sport, and I love runners.

Let's get to the finish line together.


UNBALANCED?

Are you unbalanced?

I know I am.

This morning I paid my weekly visit to my chiropractor, Doctor Jason Burgess. Dr. Burgess, an accomplished runner and coach, is the cover model for my latest book, Personal Best. www.muldowneyrunning.com  He and his wife, Jennifer, are veteran runners, and possess a wealth of knowledge about the sport as well as how to heal and prevent injuries. Their practice, Healing Hands Chiropractic, has two locations, in Mount Carmel and Minersville, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Burgess is currently working on loosening my lower back and left leg muscles.

After a a tear of two hamstring tendons in my left leg in May of 2013, my rehabilitation has been long, slow, and frustrating. I have worked diligently at strengthening the affected area, and I have never stretched so much in my running life. I've taken to doing a yoga routine two or three times a week. I've performed one-legged bridges, used stretch bands, and an exercise ball, all in an effort to return to where I was before the injury.

Today, as we discussed some of my recent physical setbacks, Dr. Burgess offered an excellent suggestion.

"Did you ever try balance exercises?"

My answer was, "No, I haven't."

It didn't take me long, however, to process his advice, which makes a lot of sense.

Although strong, my affected leg is often wobbly. Sometimes, it seems to "slap" the ground.

When I returned home, I immediately went to You Tube and looked up "Balance Exercises for Runners." The video I found is a simple, 3-minute routine, which is relatively easy, although, I'll admit, I was pretty woeful. (stay close to a wall, or have a chair handy)

We are constantly seeking ways to improve our running and to stay healthy. I'm going to continue with this balance routine. I'm sure there are many more versions of it out there, so do your research.

From where I stand, (wobbly as it may be) balancing exercises for runners make a lot of sense.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

GOOD RIDDANCE!

The snow pile has almost reached my Margaritaville Way sign, near which so many summer celebrations occur on my outside deck. It's time for me to gear up for a run, which will require a half hour of proper layering. A light snow falls, the temperature is 19 degrees. It's a beautiful winter scene, but... ENOUGH ALREADY!

It's not enough to have to endure the elements each day.

Enter the weathermen.

Turn on the television and this is what you get.

"The third coldest February on record."

"Temperatures continue to remain 20 degrees below normal."

"The Polar Vortex."

"More winter weather on the way."

"Expect a slow commute."

"Boston remains buried."

"The long-range forecast for early March predicts more below average temperatures."

It's almost like they delight in this stuff.

Yesterday, I scheduled a 4 x 800 meter workout. To think about running on a track is ridiculous, so I traveled to an area, near a local lake, where I can run a loop that is half mile. As I neared the right turn to take me around the lake, a 3-foot, icy, craggy snow pile blocked my way, causing me to alter my course. Not a major obstacle in the big scheme of life, but representative of the frustration we are all feeling right about now.

March, with better days and better weather, is right around the corner.



Good riddance February!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

BEST PART OF THE DAY

There has been some debate lately regarding running and mental health.

High profile suicides, like the death of Robin Williams, have prompted some folks, including this writer, to promote running as a means to sound mental health.

I am not a mental health professional, nor are most of the folks who write for major running publications. A person with clinical depression or serious mental health problems needs to seek professional help. Running will not "cure" a mental illness.

But, in the same manner in which running can improve one's physical well-being, I believe it can help one maintain good mental health, or as the ancient Greeks said, "A sound mind in a sound body."

There is no doubt that running can provide stress relief. A bad day at the office, difficulties at home, or problems in a relationship, can all be brought into focus by turning in a good workout.

Last summer, as I wrapped up writing my second book, Personal Bestwww.muldowneyrunning.com, I interviewed Jenny Burgess, a wife, mother, chiropractor, and four-time Boston Marathon runner. At the end of a difficult day, when she announces to her three children that she plans to go for a run, she tells them that when she returns, she will be "A better mommy."

Jenny's quote is right on the money. For the most part, our running makes us "better" at whatever we do. We are, indeed, sounder in mind and body when we return.

Sometimes, when things have gone splendidly, or when that perfect day of weather appears, we can't wait to lace up our shoes and get out there.

Anger, frustration, and disappointment are all reduced after a training run.

I've run on the happiest days of life, after the birth of each of my three children; and I've run on the afternoon of September 11, 2001, on the day of my father's death, and the day after my wife and I were in the midst of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. At races all over the country, in the weeks and months following the bombing, runners used races with fellow runners as a means of coping with the senseless act.

Whether one runs in the pre-dawn hours or after dark, our daily run is often the best part of our day.

Our mental health is severely tested when we CAN'T run.

During the summer of 2013, I was unable to run a step for six weeks after I tore two hamstring tendons during a fall on a routine training run. Midway through the ordeal I became irritable and very easily agitated. Outdoor therapy was my release. My lawn, yard, and garden received an overabundance of attention. One June day, however, my inability to start my weed whacker, after several attempts, got the best of me. After shouting an expletive, I hurled it like a javelin. I really needed to get back to running real soon.

Continue to use your running as both a means of physical and mental health. It is our positive addiction. We have been introduced to running as a great gift. By utilizing this gift, we are able to maintain our sound minds in our sound bodies.

                                                  Jenny Burgess-2013 Boston Marathon

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

GETTING CREATIVE

With spring marathons rapidly approaching, most runners have included a weekly long run into their training regimens.

When training for a fall marathon, the most pressing consideration is often late-summertime heat, so we find our shadiest spots under which we conduct our long runs.

Things are a little more difficult this year. Temperatures in many places averaging 20 degrees below normal, combined with above average snowfall amounts have created difficult conditions for turning in training runs of 15 miles or more for many runners around the United States..

Long runs are rarely fun, so we attempt to find scenic routes that, hopefully won't become too monotonous. Well, forget about that now. With marathon season nearing, the objective is to "get it in," no matter how it's done.

Some hearty souls, I'm not among them, have the ability to grind out 20-milers on the treadmill. It takes perseverance, copious amounts of water, and a playlist or movies that are lengthy and upbeat. Keep the treadmill on at least a 1% grade to simulate outside conditions. An upside, of course, is that wind will never be a factor.

Most trails are covered, so that means logging all of your miles on the roads.

Safety, safety, safety is paramount.

If you find a 4-5 mile route that has light vehicular traffic, run it 4 or 5 times in order to complete your proscribed distance.

Lean on friends and relatives to assist you in case you need to bail our. There's no problem running in single-digit temperatures, but there is a problem stopping. Frostbite or death could occur rather rapidly. Don't go it alone in the winter. Let someone know when and where you plan to run.

If you have an indoor facility nearby, utilize it. 8 to 10 laps a mile is not a lot of fun, but it IS better than running on the treadmill.

It is sometimes difficult to find training partners who share your pace on a long run, so you may need to coordinate with several runners who will agree to run segments of your training run with you. It can be tricky to mesh meeting times, but, hey, it's winter. What else is there to do?

Another option may be to find a race to use as a training run. Maybe there's a nearby half marathon that you could run, adding another near seven miles at the end to give you your 20-miles. Roads will be clear and traffic will be controlled, increasing your safety.

If you want to avoid the dreaded "wall" in your upcoming marathon, or if you don't want to run the last 10-miles of the race with the feeling of a piano or your back, a solid foundation of long runs is necessary.

To build that foundation in this 'year of the frozen tundra,' may require some creativity on your part.

For books, blogs, and personalized training programs, visit: www.muldowneyrunning.com