Core Workout for Runners (Video)

I put together a very amateur (not quite wood paneling amateur, but close) video for the Gatorade program that I am a part of, and I wanted to share it here as well. Please excuse the not-so-subtle product placement (and the bathroom shots).

I tend to let the strength work fall off when I am in the middle of training for something; I figure if I only have time for one thing, running or strength, then I should choose running. However, I have been doing more strength work than I am used to in order to prepare for the Canadian Death Race. I'm pretty sure that my body is going to take quite a beating, so I have been working on strengthening my legs, back and abs to deal with it. I don't have time to go to the gym, so I do 2-3 strength workouts a week in my office. Unfortunately I don't have a fallen log to throw around, so I make do with what I have (a couple of dumbbells, a physio-ball and a pull-up bar).

I like to mix it up, and not stick to these particular exercises, so if you have a favorite, please share it in the comments below and I'll add it to my repertoire (which is a word I just added to my repertoire).

2011 Racing Schedule

It's already January 20th, and I'm not big on goals, but I do love to schedule races, throw a bunch of things down on paper, then run that by the auditing, accounting and travel office (my wife), and whittle it down to include some road, some trail, some long, some short, some races, and some epic adventures that I want to do before I die. Then there is always that little rush I get when I press the "submit" button on After that, the hard and fun part begins, the training, the nerves, the self-doubt, the rationalizing of bad performances, the A, B, and C races, which ones should I try to put the ego aside and run as workouts, pushing down the urge not to throttle past the tool with the bright orange Kinvaras. The process took me about three weeks, and the schedule will change. Someone will email me saying you should do this, and without giving it a second thought, I hit reply and say I'm in. It already happened once today.

So, here's what I have planned for 2011. Should be a fun year...

2/13 San Dieguito 1/2 Marathon

I love this course, this race, and the Stone beer garden at the end. It's hilly, and I went 1:30 here last year, but that's because last year it was held on Valentine's Day and I was in a rush to get home. Not the same motivation this year.

3/12 Avalon 10k

This is run in conjunction with the Catalina Marathon, which I ran last year, which I puked at last year, and which I will not be running this year. My lucky wife will, and I will be there at the end of her race, showered, well-rested, and well-fed.

4/2 Warrior Dash

I'm doing this with my wife and my brother. You get to jump over fire, swim through mud, and you get a sweet hat at the end. Should be fun.

4/17 Painted Rocks 1/2 Marathon

This is part of a trail series put on by the San Diego Dirt Devils.

6/12 Coyote 5k

Mix it up with a trail 5k.

6/11 8,000 Meter Challenge

My friend and fellow Death Racer, Jess, asked me if I wanted to do this with him. It includes three summits in one day, Mt Baldy, Mt. San Grogonio, and Mt. San Jacinto.

6/18 Camp Pendleton Mud Run

We're getting the team (and we can only hope, hats) back together to defend last year's 1st place.

End of June -- Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali Coast

I'd like to run as much of this 22 mile out and back as I can.

7/9 Harding Hustle 50k

7/30 (and probably into 7/31) Canadian Death Race

This is one I've wanted to do since I saw some pictures of the course a few years ago. 78 miles with 17,000 feet of elevation gain. This is definitely an "A" race for me.

9/24 Noble Canyon 50k

This was my second ultra ever, and I love the course.

10/9 Raptor Ridge 1/2 Marathon

Another Dirt Devil trail race.

Sometime in November -- Zion traverse

I want to do this really bad, but this may not be the year. We'll see.

12/4 California International Marathon

This is probably the one that I am most scared of, and that is why I am doing it. I don't like road marathons, I don't like pushing hard enough to qualify for Boston, but it is something I want to do. This is my second "A" race of the year.

My coach, Lucho, has his work cut out for him this year.

Sunday Run at Mt. Laguna (With Pictures and Video)

I had a great run on Sunday. I spent most of it with Ralph, Chris (who just peeled off a sub 2:50 marathon and took it easy on us), and John (whose butt has been featured in such classics as New Year's Day Elfin Forest Trail Run and Iron Mountain Thanksgiving Day Trail Run). It was a warm day and most of the recent snow had melted, although there were a couple of icy sections, and it was a strange feeling to run on ice and snow on a sunny, 75 degree day. We did about 12 miles, most of it between 5,000 and 6,000 feet. We ran from Sunrise Highway to the Laguna Meadow and out onto the PCT. The views from this section are spectacular and reminded me why I need to get out to the mountains more often, it cleanses the soul.

There is snow in San Diego, and if you look close you can see my yellowish initials (my 5-year old son would be proud)

Spring water at the top of Noble Canyon trail

Chris trying to convince us to keep going up (he was overruled)

Thanks to Mick from Movin Shoes for organizing the run. It was a near-perfect day and a good reminder of how out of shape I have become over the holidays.

Streaking (with video)

Apparently a lot of the people who end up on this blog are searching for streaking pictures (because of this post on my running streak), so I am the proud owner of a first page Google ranking for "streaking pictures." I know this, not because I went searching for streaking pictures on Google, but because I have the stats of what people are searching for when they wind up here, and a lot of the people are searching for streaking pictures. So, to appease this audience, here's a great video. I have watched it over twenty times today, and it just keeps getting better, kind of like The Godfather.

Racing Tips for Beginners

I ran the San Elijo Hills 5K with my daughter this past weekend.  She is nine and her previous running experience included hanging out at the track, trying to beat the neighborhood kids to the pillar at the top of the trail-head on the way to school and saying "first," and the limited amount of running they let kids do during PE (when they aren't watching movies about health). I knew it was going to be tough for her, I also knew she could do it, the girl has an amazing will, and I knew that she would finish even if she had to crawl the last mile.

The SEH 5K is billed as the toughest 5K in North County and they put together a challenging course.  A mile and a half of running downhill, then a long mile and a half climb back to the finish.  This is a neighborhood race and the neighborhood was out in full force, the moms and dads pushing strollers, whole families walking together at the back of the pack, and the high school cross country and track athletes at the front (along with their coaches).
At the start
It was a great experience for both of us, a PR for her, and one of the most memorable races I have done.  She was so nervous about the race and I tried to talk her through it, seeing the race through beginner's eyes and giving her tips to help her finish the race with a smile on her face.  I wanted to share some of these tips and I hope that they help novice runners.

  1. About the nerves. They're good, and what keep a lot of us coming back. Those pre-race butterflies, the restless sleep the night before, it's all part of a good performance come race day. Think of it as your body preparing itself to perform at its best. Look around at the start line, everyone is nervous, the 5 minute milers and the 15 minute milers clench their teeth the same way. Fear is anticipation. Once the gun goes off and you are in the moment, racing, there is no longer anything to be nervous about, you are doing it, and you will do it
  2. Control yourself. My daughter shot out of the gate, bouncing high on her feet, and after a couple of minutes of this pace, she turned to me, saying "this is so easy." There is no better way to destroy yourself in a race than taking off too quick. Go out easier than you think you can, hold back at the start, and save some energy for the dark parts. Speaking of...
  3. There will be lows. At about mile two, I could tell my daughter was struggling, saying "I can't believe I wanted to do this." I smiled and told her I think I have said that at some point during every race I have ever done. There will be dark times during a race, times where you will learn about pushing through your limits. Grit your teeth, think positive thoughts and know that this too shall pass.
  4. Efficient motion. Practice good form, train with good form, and try to hang onto that form as long as you can during the race. Sometimes it's just better to walk. Road racers don't want to hear this, and I'll see them at the back, hunched over, shuffling along in something resembling a jog. If you can walk faster than you can jog, then walk, it will save energy. I could tell that my daughter wanted to run the whole thing, and I knew it wasn't realistic, so around mile two, on some of the steeper uphills, I encouraged her to walk, but walk fast, swing her arms. It was amazing to see how much faster she could walk at that point than run. Then, after a minute or two of walking, she was ready to run again.
  5. Pass boys. Motivation comes in all shapes and sizes, and for my daughter, that motivation was passing boys that she knew from school. She wouldn't acknowledge them as she passed, but I noticed a slight smile every time she passed someone she knew. Use this, pick people off up ahead, even if you're not usually competitive. It's a race, so race.
  6. Have fun. We all go through highs and lows during a race, but most finish with a smile on their face. My daughter was beaming for the rest of the day; she didn't want to take her finisher's medal off.

It's Something Children Can Teach Us

I know I'm risking being one of "those" parents.  I probably talk too much about my kids, take too many pictures of them, brag about them, write about them, and spend too much time worrying that they're going to be okay in this world.  I think I have become the parent that used to really annoy the unmarried me, the me without kids who used to tune out the parents when they started in on how amazing/cute/funny/smart their kids were.  Well, I'm a parent now, and mine are all of those things.

I never wanted to push my kids into running, especially my girls, because I have seen firsthand what unhealthy body issues, burnout, and serious competition at a young age can do to a little girl.  There is a track team at the elementary school and my daughter tries out for it every year, she wants it so bad that she loses sleep the night before the tryouts, getting physically sick from nerves, but they only take one boy and one girl from each class, the rest have to wait for middle school, where the cross country and track teams are much more accepting, thank God, because track and cross country were always the sports that you didn't have to try out for, you just showed up and ran.  If you were crazy enough, that is.  In my high school, we were the misfits, the too skinny to play football, the too unskilled to play baseball, the too uncool to surf all day, we wanted to do a sport, and track became that outlet.  For me, that lasted one year, but it was a memorable one.

When you live in a house like ours, where either my wife or I is in some form of serious training, wearing stinky running clothes all day, torturing our kids with post-run sweaty hugs, it is hard to keep this passion of ours to ourselves.  When the local 5K added an option to pay for one family member, and the rest of the family can join and run/walk the event, I thought about asking my daughter to jog it with me, and I did some research in one of my favorite running books, Lydiard's "Running to the Top," and came across this...
Is running bad for young children?  
We have discussed the behavior of children and their ability to use oxygen but they also, usually, have more common sense than the average adult.  Adults will very often push themselves beyond their capabilities in the effort to succeed but a child, once he starts to hurt, will ease down a bit, even to a walk, and then start off again.  At that age, winning isn't as important for most of them as it becomes when they are older. 
We should all proceed like children in training, letting ourselves be guided by our own reactions.  We should understand our limitations and keep within them.  If we do that, particularly when we are training, we will get better results in the long run. 
It's something children can teach us.
I floated the idea to my daughter over dinner a couple of nights ago.  She screamed, more like a high-pitched wail, the one she reserves for something really good, or really, really bad.  Then she started crying.  Oh shit, what had I done.  My wife ran to her, hugging the 9 year old ball of emotional wreck.  She quickly told our daughter that she didn't have to run if she didn't want to, giving me a puzzled, one eyebrow raised, accusatory, bordering on dirty, look.  "No," my daughter said wiping the tears, "I want to run; I'm just so happy."

So, yesterday we talked about pacing.  I told her she could take as many walk breaks as she wanted.  I told her we would jog/run/walk the thing together on Saturday, and even before the gun has gone off, she has made me proud.

New Year's Day Trail Run with Pictures and Video

I can't think of a better way to start off the year than a beautiful trail run with friends and family.  This year, our 3rd Annual Hangover Run, drew more than 50 people, including 10 kids.  For many of the hikers and runners, it was the first time ever running the trails in the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, and for some, it was their first attempt at trail running.  I'm pretty sure I had a big stupid grin on my face all day as I shared the trails with friends I've been running with for years, and some that I met that morning.  I took it easy, stopping and talking to some of the kids, including my two older kids who hiked 6 miles with my mom, who informed me that my son had jumped in every mud puddle he passed, having too much fun to realize this was a workout.

Happy New Year,


I was hoping the music would cover my heavy breathing, but no such luck.

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