Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Archive for the category “Running Thoughts”

Sustainable Training: Knowing When to Walk Away

I expected this post to be a post-race recap following a great running weekend at the Cayuga Trails 50 Miler in Ithaca, NY this weekend. However, my body had other plans. I went out for a regular mid-afternoon run last Sunday, and the sun was finally out, which was glorious. However, my brain is clearly not in summer mode yet, especially with the persistently overcast and rainy weather we’ve had for the past month. Thus, I excitedly slipped on a sleeveless shirt, but neglected the sunscreen. This was most definitely a running fail!

Three hours later, and I was feeling great after a nice long run and a solid overall weekend of running. I helped the beautiful epicurean with some garden work, and then went inside to shower off and relax for the evening. No sooner had I taken my shirt off then the bright red glow of my shoulders and arms nearly blinded me!

I gingerly showered, although my arms weren’t all that sore yet. The heat, however, was radiating off of them with enough force to power a jet engine. I’ve had sunburns in the past, but have learned my lesson enough to slather on copious amounts of sun screen. The heat and sun simply took my pale, Northern European complexion by surprise.

It took about 2 nights before the full severity of the burns sunk in, and it became clear that these weren’t merely surface burns, but rather solid 2nd degree burns. My shoulders began to blister, which was of course made worse by the fact that I kept my #runstreak alive each day and the sweat simply had nowhere to escape my body. The nausea and flu-like symptoms set in at about the same time, and by Thursday, it became pretty clear that I was not in race shape.

Baxter had the right idea this weekend.

Baxter had the right idea this weekend.

I absolutely hate canceling race plans, and I’ve been looking forward to our camping trip up to Ithaca for the last month. However, I have to honest with myself and listen to my body. The Aikido ninja epicurean referred to this as sustainable training, and that is a very appropriate phrase. Sometimes it’s important to push through the pain, and other times it’s just as important to recognize when to pull back, let your body heal, and live to run another day. There will be other races, I will be running Cayuga next year, and we were able to cancel our reservations with minimal penalty, so all is well on that front.

I might not be able to shake that gross feeling in my stomach (different from the one that led to my vomiting!) when I think about not racing this weekend, but I know it’s the right decision. I was still able get out and find ways to push myself this past weekend, but I also took the time to make sure my body isn’t beat up and fighting itself the entire summer. There is a lot of pride in ultrarunning when it comes to pushing limits. We talk about the pain cave, and digging deep. We post memes that state “A DNF is better than a DNS”. All of these cultural attributes can make it easy to get sucked into ignoring your body, and I certainly admit that I’ve been guilty of that in the past. However, it’s one thing to push through the pain and discomfort that running for long distances can cause, and quite another to ignore actual injuries and risk more permanent damage.

Brandywine Creek State Park is quite lush and green after all of this rain!

Brandywine Creek State Park is quite lush and green after all of this rain!

I want to be running for the rest of my life, and I want to be finishing ultras long into my twilight years. That means sustainable training is a must. Of course, not racing this weekend also means I’ll be looking at upcoming races this summer and fall and working on finalizing future plans! Registering for races while ill is like shopping while hungry. Danger, Will Robinson! Wherever the path may take me, I’ll continue #chasing42!

Daily Chase: Vol. 43

Spring has finally arrived on what appears to be a more permanent basis, and the urge to run only grows with each passing beautiful day! I can say with some degree of certainty that I’m spending considerably more time thinking about being outside running when I’m not outside running, and more time muttering “just one more mile” to myself when I am outside. When the sun is shining, the winds are light, and the temperatures are mild, the call is just so strong. The light beckons me outside and makes me think that anything is possible, and it’s a wonderful feeling. It’s also delightful to see more people outside enjoying the weather and being active after spending so many long, solitary, dark, cold mornings by myself while the few folks away simply drove by in their cars and shook their heads in disbelief. Our one year anniversary in Delaware is fast approaching, and I’m excited to see what adventures the spring and summer bring for us both!

Spring is in the air!

Spring is in the air!

Chasing42 Log: 20160415-20160419

Run: I’ve found myself running more and more two-a-days as of late, not simply for the added exercise, but because I wanted to spend more time outside. This past Sunday afternoon was no doubt the highlight of the past few days, as I spend several glorious hours out on the trails at Brandywine Creek State Park. If it wasn’t for life’s actual responsibilities, I’d probably spend all of my days out on the trail, and work remotely from a camp chair, soaking in the sun, sounds, and energy of the outdoors. I’ll have to settle for taking it in a few times a week as the #runstreak continues with gusto on a collision course with summer!



Thought: Yesterday was the Boston Marathon, which meant I was rather distracted by race updates, photos from friends, and the general energy that comes with the event. It’s even more exciting for me now that I’m living relatively close, and I’ll hopefully travel up there next year to spectate and take in the experience. I may not be running it anytime soon (not without a 20 minute marathon PR), but you can bet I’ll be enjoying it. That question of qualifying seems to be a constant back-and-forth for many folks. The race has emerged as the go-to bucket-list item for so many people as of late, and although my heart belongs on the trails, I certainly understand the draw. What I don’t understand are the folks that make counterfeit bibs and run the race illegally. It’s a sad statement on our society that the marathon needs to remind folks not to post photos of their bibs on social media, lest they are copied and printed out by cheaters. I suppose I just don’t understand what someone would get out of the experience if they didn’t qualify in the first place. For so many folks, their training all year revolves around that “A” race that will give them their qualifying time. Many people work for years towards that goal, and the marathon itself is simply a celebration of that accomplishment. There is a sense of pride in wearing that medal around your neck, and putting on that distinctive Adidas jacket, but you get none of that if you cheated to get there in the first place. If you are putting on a show, you can only be doing it for people who don’t really know you anyway, since anyone who knows you as a runner will no doubt know you never qualified for Boston. That’s simply not the kind of information you keep to yourself after a race. So, who are you really trying to impress, and is it really worth it once you get caught and are banned for life from ever actually reaching that dream? I’d go out and ask someone these questions myself, but I’m not going to be joining you on a run anytime soon if you think cheating your way into Boston is a good idea 😉 Everyone is #chasing42 in their own way, and as long as they are true to themselves and recognize that they are a part of something bigger than themselves, then I’ll always be your biggest cheerleader!

Daily Chase: Vol. 42

That’s right, folks, today is the day! We’ve reached the golden birthday of daily logs (so to speak). I wish I could tell you that contained within this brief post would indeed be the answer to everything, but it may not quite reach those heights of splendor. However, it has been eventful past week or so, including a great weekend trail run through some difficult weather conditions. As with most things in my life, my running and blogging has only left me with more questions and topics of curiosity as I expand my knowledge and interests. At the same time, I’m constantly amazed by the resources as my disposal. As someone with a very strong “input” strength, I’m constantly collecting information in the form of articles, websites, and new running projects. I truly feel that this makes me a better runner, but also a better student of the sport, and makes me better equipped to do what I enjoy almost as much as running itself…talking to others about running in all of its incredible forms! So, volume 42 may not contain all the answers you seek, but if you do a bit of poking around through the rest of the blog, I’d venture to guess that you’ll find some answers you didn’t even know you were looking for to begin with, and ultimately, that’s an even greater reward!


Chasing42 Log: 20160408-20160414

Run: Most importantly, the streak is still in play. I wouldn’t say that it has been an easy adjustment to my already busy schedule, but I’ve managed to make it work and it feels good to run every day, even if it is only a mile or two. Over the weekend, I participated in the Brandywine End to End, which was organized by the Wilmington Hike Club. The event is a 36 mile hike along the Brandywine from PA down Brandywine Creek State Park. Most folks make it a day-long hike, but myself and a friend (along with a few others) ran the 36 mile route instead. The weather was less than ideal and certainly presented some challenges, but it was still a fantastic event and made for some wonderful memories. You can look for a full report coming soon! My miles this week have remained consistent, and I was even able to sneak out for a bit of a longer run this morning and take advantage of the brisk, sunny morning. These are the weather days I’ve been looking forward to, and I’m excited to spend as much time outside as possible.


Thought: I’ve been thinking a lot more lately about the mental side of running. After conquering the Georgia Death Race, I had a new respect for my own mental toughness and it left me wondering just how much my body is capable of being pushed. The Barkley was recently run in TN, and Jared Campbell emerged as not only the sole finisher, but the first person to finish the event 3 times. After watching that race unfold, listening to an interview with Gary Robbins, who made it 4.5/5 laps before sleep deprivation caused him to get lost and time out, and then watching the Barkley Marathons documentary, my spirit or pushing myself further and further has been renewed. I had been feeling in a bit of a lull after GDR, but I’m not on the hunt for new and unique experiences. There are plenty of races that excite me, but more than that, there are plenty of trails around the country that excite me, even if there is no race on them. The only question is where to head to next!

Daily Chase: Vol. 41

Spring is most definitely in the air! I arrived in Delaware in May of last year, so I missed most of the spring season. My allergies are certainly still adjusting, but I’m looking forward to being here to see everything bud and bloom. Of course, there’s a good chance that it will snow on Saturday as I tackle a 36-mile run along the Brandywine River, but it’s still spring 🙂

Chasing42 Log: 20160402- 20160407

Run: My running has remained consistent, although my legs have felt a bit more sluggish than normal on a few occasions. I’ve been rolling them out consistently, and have been working on doing some more stretching as well. I’m guessing that a lack of sleep has contributed to this as well, so I’m hoping that my body and mind will let me sleep a bit more in the coming weeks! I returned to the Biden loop the past two days, and enjoyed the familiarity, although I found myself wanting to explore tangents but lacking the time to do so. I’m doing my best to spend some quality time running through Winterthur as well since spring means the grounds are beginning to come alive with color!

Thought: I came across this article today and it gave me pause. The author is questioning whether significantly slower runners (more than 6 or 7 hours) should really be running marathons or if they should find other outlets for their interests. There has been even more conversation lately (this article is from 2009), as the number of people registering for marathons increases, about whether these “plodders” take away from the marathon experience and in some way diminish the accomplishments of others. I must say that I’m torn on the issue. On the one hand, it makes sense to consider that we certainly have assumptions when someone proudly shows off a medal or shirt from a marathon. In that sense, it could be viewed as dishonest to say that you “ran” if you finished in 7 hours or more. However, everyone is entitled to their own journey and should have the ability to set their own goals. I would also point out that the increases in marathon entrants aren’t coming from a hidden group of 3 hour marathoners either so these “plodders”, as the author calls them, exert a significant financial influence. Perhaps the more dangerous outcome of this trend is the assumptions folks might make about their health simply by finishing a marathon in 7 (or 8) hours. Being able to walk at a 17 or 18 min/mile pace doesn’t take the place of eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity of any kind is a step in the right direction, however, and it’s always easier to get out there and move when you have others cheering you on 🙂 Whatever your journey, keep #chasing42!

Daily Chase: Vol. 40

You might have been tempted to think that my #chasing42runstreak was in jeopardy based on the lapse in Daily Chase information, but you can let out a collective sigh of relief. The streak is still in play, and more importantly, my legs are fully recovered after my epic GDR adventure. Lord knows my quads were shredded after 40,000 feet of elevation change, but I feel like I’ve bounced back nicely 🙂

Chasing42 Log: 20160325-20160401

Run: My legs were feeling much fresher this week, and I was able to incorporate some more tempo and speed work back into the mix. It was also spring break at the University of Delaware, so I had a bit more flexibility in my running schedule, which meant I was able to spend a bit of time taking in the early spring blooms at Winterthur. All-in-all, it was a great running week and I’m looking forward to the 36-mile Brandywine End-to-End on April 9th!

Such vibrant colors, even this early in the season! The daffodils filling out the "clouds" on the hill in the background are amazing :)

Such vibrant colors, even this early in the season! The daffodils filling out the “clouds” on the hill in the background are amazing 🙂

Thought: The debate between workout approaches seems to be never-ending, with some folks extolling the benefits of hill work to cover strength and speed, and others focusing on specificity. The physiological evidence might be mixed, but the mental evidence seems to be pretty clear for me. Even if I could benefit the most from focusing on one time of workout and one surface, the reality is that I would still need to mix things up. The variety is as much about mental stimulation for me as it is about the physical benefits. I’ve perhaps fallen into the ultra-bug trap a bit too much lately, and found it hard to justify shorter races when a training run will suffice. However, I am hoping to be more mindful this spring and summer of the mental benefits of pinning on a bib for overall training readiness. Distances from the 5K to the marathon each offer me different challenges, and will ultimately benefit my ultra efforts. If the path #chasing42 was straight, it wouldn’t be much fun, right? 🙂

Daily Chase: Vol. 39

Phew! It’s been quite a week. Rest assured that the streak is intact and all miles are present and accounted for as it currently stands. It was a whirlwind weekend traveling down to Georgia for the Georgia Death Race, and I’ve been playing catch-up since I got back. Thus, the delay in my reporting! You can expect a full race report very soon, but for now, let me just say that the weight of the spike was with me!

Chasing42 Log: 20160318-20160324

Run: There’s a lot of running to report, but I’ll keep it brief. I was traveling on Friday, so my mile was tackled near the hotel in Dahlonega, GA after I checked in and got myself situated. Apparently there was an amazing gold mine nearby, but I wasn’t terribly concerned with sightseeing 🙂 Over the weekend, the Georgia Death Race consumed my entire existence, and the running stretched across both Saturday and Sunday, as I knew it would. The race certainly lived up to the hype! I crashed hard Sunday night (and Monday night for that matter), and my quads were trashed, but I managed a mile around the block on Monday. It might have been one of the more painful miles in recent memory. I’ve been taking my recovery relatively seriously, so I stuck to my mile on Tuesday, and tossed in two miles yesterday. My legs were finally beginning to feel somewhat normal last night, and my morning run today left me feeling great and at around 80%, which I’m quite happy with only a few day post-GDR. My legs could tolerate rolling beginning on Tuesday, so I’ve been hitting the R8 pretty hard since then, and it seems to be helping!

Thought: I’ve given more thought to the entire race cycle while training for the GDR than I have in quite some time, and it’s been rather refreshing. I gave myself a legitimate taper after a full cycle of race-specific training, and now I’m focusing on intentional active recovery. I’m noticing the difference, and feeling good about returning to a greater sense of intentionality in that regard. For the past few years, I’ve done a lot of racing and simply kept running throughout the process. It’s absolutely worked well, but I feel like making the effort to truly taper, and truly recover takes an extra level of commitment in some way, and that brings a smile to my face. I’ve always enjoyed running because of the never-ending barrage of goals it hurls at me, and it always feels good to meet those goals. That’s what #chasing42 is all about!

Daily Chase: Vol. 38

It is most definitely the 11th hour, and I have things as planned and organized as I possibly can before leaving for Georgia. Living on the east coast means direct flights are now much more possible, so my flight from Philly to Atlanta will be rather quick and ultimately much more convenient than attempting to drive the 12 hours south. I’ll have some time tomorrow to get things squared away once I check into the hotel, and then hopefully get a bit of rest before a 3:45AM wake-up call on Saturday morning!

Chasing42 Log: 20160315-20160317

Run: I’ve kept my runs nice and short this week and truly respected the taper, despite some beautiful weather that has had me itching to spend much more time outside! I kept my mileage low all three days, and left myself time to take care of all of the other ins and outs that come with leaving for the weekend.

Did I mention there will be some climbing involved?

Did I mention there will be some climbing involved?

Thought: I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the weather. This weekend should be no different. the forecast is calling for intermittent rain during almost all of the race. I have no problem with a light drizzle or misting, but I’m certainly hoping that it doesn’t get any heavier than that. Ultimately, I’m hoping I still get a chance to take in some of the amazing views that were part of the reason I signed up for this race in the first place! Either way, it’s going to be an experience like no other, and I can’t wait to get things started. This weekend will be a true #chasing42 challenge 🙂

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