Friday, February 17, 2017

ALMOST HEAVEN!

"Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River."

Take Me Home, Country Roads--John Denver

Morgantown, West Virginia is a magical place. Nestled in the Appalachian Mountain range, along the Monongahela River, the city of about 31,000 residents swells from August to May with the arrival of students from around the world who attend the famed West Virginia University.

Football and basketball dominate the West Virginia University scene. In fact, the University's basketball arena bears the name of perhaps it's most famous alumnus, NBA legend, Jerry West.

Since 2015, however, this small, friendly city, with a big-city atmosphere has become known for another athletic endeavor, and people are beginning to take notice.

On September 23, the third annual Morgantown Marathon will be contested.

Morgantown is a city of rolling hills, so if you're looking for a pancake-flat marathon, this race is not for you. But the Morgantown Marathon is a unique, runner-oriented race that will both challenge and motivate you, as you run through all seven wards of the city, past festivals, bands, and enthusiastic spectators.

For many runners, qualifying for the Boston Marathon is a major goal. If you hail from a region where the geography is flat, the hilly Boston Marathon course can be devastating. Running a race like the Morgantown Marathon is excellent preparation for a course like Boston.

Temperatures in the 50s and 60s during September, along with plenty of shade, are both beneficial to marathon runners, and are featured at the Morgantown Marathon.

If you're looking for a challenging marathon course, a race that is well-organized with many amenities, cheering neighborhood crowds, and breathtaking scenery, you owe it to yourself to place the Morgantown Marathon on your running bucket list.

And if you're not quite ready to tackle the marathon, consider the 'Morgantown Thirteener' Half Marathon.

The out and back course will take you through the city's neighborhoods, keeping you motivated with festivals, bands, and cheering spectators.

Or, you can run the Mountain Mama 8K race. This event begins at the WVU Coliseum, courses through city neighborhoods, and back to the coliseum. The race will kick off the 3rd Annual Morgantown Marathon weekend experience.

For additional information, check out the race website: www.morgantownmarathon.com, go to the Morgantown Marathon Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter @MotownMarathon.

Hope to see you at this great marathon event.












Tuesday, February 7, 2017

7 FOR '17

Following is an column that appeared in today's Republican Herald newspaper, published in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

We are a little over a month into a year that, thus far, hasn’t been too bad for runners. Temperatures have been relative mild and snowfall has been minimal.

As you embark on your training for this calendar year, I would like to offer seven tips for ’17 that should make your running more productive and enjoyable

1. WRITE IT DOWN- I believe it is essential to keep an accurate log of your workouts. I've done so for over forty years. Write your workouts in a log/date book, on your computer, or on a calendar. Write a Russian novel, or keep it brief. However you choose to do it, writing it down allows you to study what works and what doesn't work for you, why you ran great or poorly, and any changes in workouts that may have caused you injury.

2. SPEED-We all love to get out there to take in the scenery, listen to music, or enjoy a workout with friends. But, once a week, on weeks when you're not racing, go to your local track or stay on the road, and run something fast. Intervals or tempo runs are fine, but if you want to race faster, speed work is a must.

3. GO LONG-Whether you are planning to run a 5K or a marathon, a weekly long run is essential. If you're running a 5K, your long run may be 6-8 miles; whereas for a marathon it could be 20 miles. (but not every week) Now here's the key. LSD, long, slow distance, is meaningless. Make your long runs count. If you are aiming to run a race at an 8:00 pace, run your long runs at an 8:30-8:45 pace. Long, slow distance makes long, slow runners.

4. PUMP IT UP-Running is great exercise from the waist down. Too many runners, however, neglect their upper bodies. Two or three times a week, design a 20-30 minute upper body lifting regimen that features low weight and high repetitions. Build strength, not bulk, so when your legs tire, your upper body can carry the day.

5. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY-Take a rest day if you feel a specific pain rather than soreness. Resting when the pain or illness occurs will keep you from missing much more time if the condition worsens.

6. SAVE YOUR MONEY-Stop racing so much!! Your body needs time to heal. If your goal is to run more races than anyone else, by all means, race every weekend. But if you like EARNING your hardware, by winning age group awards or more, then target and select your races and make them count. Quality, not quantity goes the distance.

7. ENJOY-Run a beer race, crawl under the barbed wire, dress in a tutu, do a zombie run. Keep it fun. Does this contradict the aforementioned Rule #6? Not at all. Select your races, but keep your running fun. Go to big races, but support small races. Both in training and racing, keep it fun, and you will enjoy this sport for a long, long time.


Have a happy and healthy 2017.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

QUANTITY OR QUALITY?

Back in 1976 when I began my road racing career, I sometimes was forced to drive several hours to find a race.

Today, on any given weekend, I am able to locate several races within 45 minutes of my doorstep.

And that's a good thing.

I think.

Through my personal contacts and posts on various social media outlets, I hear about folks running back-to-back marathons. "Festivals," where one can remortgage the home and run a 5K, 10K, AND a half marathon on the same weekend. More and more races, all willing to take your bucks, while you water down your times and risk injury.

If you slow down, chances are you won't slow down.

Pick your races carefully.

If you are competing in more than two races a month, your times are suffering and your risk of injury is increasing.

Select fewer races and aim higher.

It's January, and in most places, it's cold. Dress properly, log big miles, and run one, yes one race, during the month.

Increase to two races in February, and continue with that schedule throughout the year.

If you plan to run a marathon or a half marathon, don't overrace during the month before the event; then, allow your legs to heal after the race. If you run a marathon, it takes one day for each mile of the race for your body to completely heal. In other words, you should wait a month before you race again.

Racing too much may increase your medal count, but it will inflate your times.

In the end, quality eclipses quantity every time.

Race less and your times WILL improve.

And, if you want an inexpensive, personal training plan, check out my gigs on Fiverr. www.fiverr.com. Go to Health and Fitness, and check out my Running Shorts training plans.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

RUNNING:IT'S A FAMILY THING

Following is my monthly column, which appeared today in the Republican Herald newspaper.

Running can truly be a generational thing.

Our region has produced many great runners, many of whom have distinguished themselves at the scholastic, collegiate, and national levels.

In a few rare instances, however, running success has spanned generations. The Lowthert family of Pottsville is a classic example.

On November 22, 2016, the patriarch of another local running family which has left an indelible impact on our sport, passed away, at the age of 71.

John Granito, Sr., a veteran of five marathons and hundreds of road races, grew up in Pottsville, but picked up competitive running later in life, literally following in the footsteps of his fleet-footed sons.
During the early 1980s, the Granito boys led the Blue Mountain cross country and track teams to prominence.

Under the tutelage of legendary cross country coach, Ralph Jaeger, and bolstered by the coaching of former Millersville standout middle-distance runner, Mark Herb in track, John, Jr., Adam, and Jason Granito, at one time, comprised 3/5 of the scoring on a cross country team that became one of the most feared teams in the state of Pennsylvania.

John Granito was the leader of a Blue Mountain cross country team that place third at States in 1984. During his four years at Blue Mountain, the cross country team finished in the top ten every season. John began running track in fourth grade, and was a member of the 4x800 meter relay team that made it to States in 1984. He also placed seventh at the prestigious McQuaid Invitational, in New York, leading Blue Mountain to the team title against teams from 13 other states and Canada. John earned a scholarship to American University, where he became captain of the cross country team for all four years of his career.

Adam Granito was a 5-time District XI champion in track and cross country during his running career at Blue Mountain. He was also a 2-time State medalist, placing 6th  in cross country and 6th in the 3200-meter run. Adam went on to have a distinguished running career at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Jason Granito competed with his brothers when he was a freshman at Blue Mountain. That year, he placed second at the McQuaid Invitational.

John Jr.’s son, Nico, and daughter, Mia, both ran cross country at Blue Mountain.

Nico Granito is currently the captain of the Penn State Schuylkill cross country team. In 2015, he earned Second Team All-Conference honors in the Penn State University Athletic Conference, and in 2016, he led the team to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Championships in Virginia Beach.

Running has united the Granito family.

At the annual Rhoades Race 5K, held in Saint Clair, three generations, consisting of eight members of the Granitos once ran the race. Six of them earned awards.

John Granito, Sr. won his age division at the Yuengling Light Lager Jogger 5K in 2015.

It was John Granito’s character, more than his running knowledge, that guided his sons to success.
According to his son, John, Jr., his dad encouraged he and his brothers to, “Strive to be your best,” and to, “Do what it takes to succeed.”


It is a legacy that has spanned three generations of the Grantio family of runners.

                                                                       Nico Granito

Friday, January 6, 2017

DKM

Today, the Irish punk rock group, Dropkick Murphys, released their new album, entitled, "11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory."

It is already downloaded on my running power playlist.

Dropkick Murphys is all Boston, and for runners, DKM is all in.

One of the songs on the new album is, "4-15-13," written in honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Dropkick Murphys is not a group of loudmouth, spoiled entertainers. After the bombings, the group sold t-shirts, and gave 100% of the proceeds to victims of the bombings and their families.

On 4-15-13, I finished my 16th Boston Marathon. I wrote the account of that day in my book, "Personal Best," amazon.com/author/joemuldowney , in chapter entitled, 'Was That Thunder?'

We witnessed terror up close and personal, and the day is indelibly forever etched in my mind.

Three weeks later, at a Dropkick Murphys concert in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, DKM lead singer, Ken Casey spotted my Boston Matathon yellow shirt, asked me if I was ok, and we embraced.

This is a special group of entertainers who give back to the community.

For Boston!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

FOR '17...AGAIN...WRITE IT DOWN

Happy New Year to all.

My wish to all of you is to have a safe and healthy 2017, and that you have a year in which each day is a personal best.

'Baby write this down.

Take a little note.

To remind you in case you didn't know.

Tell yourself I love you and I don't want you to go.

 Baby write this down.'

George Strait

"Write this down"

I believe there are two things every runner needs to ensure success.

The first is easy. Shoes are critical. They are the runner's most essential piece of equipment. Shoes need to fit properly, be suited to a runner's gait, foot plant, size and weight. If you sustain an injury, look at your shoes. If they are excessively worn, or display an unusual wear pattern, it's time to get a new pair.

As essential, I believe, is the runner's logbook. I devoted a chapter to it in my book, 'Running Shorts: A Collection of Stories and Advice for Anyone Who Has Ever laced Up a Pair of Running Shoes." amazon.com/author/joemuldowney At my race expo seminars I sing the praises of a good, complete running logbook.

Now, we are a full sixteen years into the 21st century, and I realize that our GPS watches, computers, and phones have the ability to store our workouts, spitting out all sorts of vital statistics, but there is something about writing down one's workout that not only memorializes it, but allows one to see where one has been,, and map out where one might go.

In my desk, I have stored running logbooks since 1976, my first year of road racing. Thanks to the generosity of my local insurance agent, I receive a logbook (datebook) over the Holidays, and, by January 1, the old one is on the shelf and the new one is ready to go.

Your logbook can read simply: '6 miles, 45:00.' I always log the weather conditions, distance, time, and pace. My former running partner, Rob Crosswell's logbook read like a novel. On most days, he ran out of space, forcing the wordy description of his workout to be shoved off to the margin of the page.

By logging your workouts, you can look back and determine what type of training has worked for you. If you have sustained an injury, study your logbook from the weeks prior to the injury to determine if you have altered your workouts in any way. Your logbook can assist you in preventing an injury before it occurs. By reviewing your logbook, you can keep the workouts that bring success, and toss the ones that cause a bad race.

My logbooks tell me how I felt during a particular workout session. They tell me when I have run through knee-deep winter snow, through tropical storms, into gale-force winds, and through hot, humid Pennsylvania summer days.

I have recorded my training runs on beaches, islands, and through the mountains. I have chronicled two dog bites, the births of my children, the death of my dad, a broken foot, a devastating hamstring tendon tear, and an accumulation of over 121,000 total miles since I began this magnificent journey, some 40 years ago.

This is a very personal sport, and your logbook is a unique personal running diary. Like your shoes, your logbook is an essential piece of equipment, and it can be vital to your running success.

So, write it down.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

CONFLICTED

It's here!

Today, in the Northern Hemisphere, we are "celebrating" the Winter Solstice.

In northeastern Pennsylvania the sun rose at 7:25 this morning, and it will set at 4:41 p.m., affording us the shortest amount of possible daylight.

That's the good news.

From today on, the days will get longer.

But...

As I gaze out my window, snow piles abound and a blanket of crunchy ice covers my back yard.

And the official Pennsylvania colors of brown and gray are in full bloom, and will be until sometime in April.

Running will be challenging for the next 90 days or so. Last year, we had no snow until mid-January, when a storm pummeled us with 30 inches of white stuff.

Already, we've had our share of snow, ice, and temperatures in the single-digits.

I write for a great website, www.linkedfitness.com, which is located in Australia. Several of my followers on the site have reported to me about training conditions during their summer, which is now.

Makes me want to hop on a plane and join them.

So, on this conflicting day, let's make our collective glasses half full.

The days WILL get longer.

We ARE coming out of the darkness.

Maybe the winter won't be so bad.

If not, there's always Australia.