Sunday, April 19, 2009

The long run, the meet-up and the salt problem

I don't usually blog about specific runs anymore, but I had an interesting experience today and wanted to share it in hopes of getting some advice.

I did a 16-mile run this afternoon. I ran the 6.5 miles downtown to meet a friend to run around the downtown area. We ran about 3 miles and then I ran the 6.5 home for a total of 16. It was so neat to run to meet someone rather than driving. I felt very environmentally friendly today. I even stopped to hug a couple of trees along the way.

I made good time, too. I did 16 in 2:21, which is just under a 9-minute pace, and I only stopped to cross intersections. If I kept that pace for another 10 miles, that'd put me under a 4-hour marathon. Probably couldn't keep it up, but that sure feels nice to say.

So, here's where I can use your wisdom/advice. I've been taking salt tablets because I've come home "ashy" after long runs. I didn't have the problem the last time I was training, though it was during the winter.

I've been taking the Hammer Endurolytes. The bottle recommends taking 1-3 pills before and then each hour during the run. I took 3 before I started and then 3 more an hour into the run.

When I got back today, I was completely caked with salt on my face. It's never been that bad before. I practically looked like a ghost. I didn't have any cramping issues or light headedness, so that's good, but I'm becoming a bit concerned that I'm losing so much salt, especially after taking the salt tablets.

If you've had this problem before, what have you done that's worked? Should I modify my diet to include more/less salt? Take more or less tablets more or less often? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Running blogs - how and why

Writing this post takes me down memory lane to July 2007 when I started this blog. Wow, in a few months, it will be 2 years old. Crazy. In the blogging world, that makes me a dinosaur.

Side note: should we multiply blogging years by a number to make it more accurate like we do with dog years? 2 years blogging is like 14 years in the same job, or something like that. But I digress...

The how

Anyway, the process of starting a blog was quite easy. I use's templates/web space which is all free and I purchased the domain name from You can link the URL to the blog in the settings and then you're all set.

Also, make sure that you set up your site feed so that people can read your blog through Google Reader through a feed called RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Everything I read on the web starts from Google Reader which uses these feeds. Blogger sets them up for you. Make sure to put an RSS icon on your site as well.

The why

The idea of the web site was to keep me motivated to hit the roads as I went through my three years of law school. I knew that being away from friends and family would make it easy to stop running, and I have to exercise to keep my weight south of a hippo. So, I picked a route from Philadelphia to Los Angeles that I'd "run" over a period of 3 years. It is 2,736 miles (about 900 miles a year).

I could then visualize where I was by mapping my route across the country. (I discussed how here). I've shared the progress along the way and I'm currently in Texas (though actually located in New Hampshire). It's been a very cool way to keep me motivated as I try to reach LA by the time I graduate in May 2010.

And keep me motivated it has. When I started the blog nearly two years ago, I didn't expect to run as much as I have. I've run an ultramarathon, countless 5Ks and 10Ks, 4 or 5 half-marathons, one marathon and I've got another marathon planned for the fall.

Why do I do it? Part of it is self motivation. But a lot of it is being inspired by the people who read this blog and whose blogs I read. They (you) have inspired me to keep pushing myself to run farther and harder and faster.

The content

I was a little worried that I'd have nothing to talk about on this blog and that no one would care to read it. But that hasn't been a problem. It's amazing what types of things come into your head when you're running. I think 80-90% of my topics come from my time on my runs. Some posts are reminiscent of Seinfeld (have you ever noticed that... or what is the deal with this guy...), but others are questions that need answers. And I always get the answers from you.

I've also loved the Runners Lounge Take It and Run Thursday. While not every topic speaks to me, most of them do. And those topics send me down other paths and eventually I've got another post.

A good deal of people talk about non-running things on their blogs, too. What's going on with their family, job, etc. I really enjoy reading it, especially because I've gotten to know them better after reading their blogs through the years. But that's not me.

I'm quite private and I tend to stay almost exclusively in the running mode. Just a preference.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Running technology tips

We runners talk about how simple running is. It's just your shoes and the road and it can't be simpler than that. Oh, how we try to coax those newbies into running by mentioning its simplicity.

Little do they know that not only can running get to be expensive, but it's also not all that simple, or at least doesn't have to be all that simple. We've got technology to complicate our lives, and complicate it it does.

I started by using the Nike+ system since I already had an iPod and figured that'd be the path of least resistance. Fast forward 6-8 months and the distance calculations were all over the board. I did a 20-mile run and it only recorded 18.2 miles. I'd go for a track workout and it'd be off by a couple tenths of a mile over a short 3-4 mile run.

And recalibrate and recalibrate I would. But the darn thing just didn't like me or it wasn't a good piece of technology. Either way, I broke up with my Nike+ in favor of a Garmin 205.

I've been quite happy with the Garmin 205, despite its large size. I've learned to set it outside a couple of minutes before heading out so that it can acquire it's satellite. I've also learned to start it about 10 minutes early if I'm in a new city more than 400 miles away. It will eventually find the satellites, but it takes a while.

And it's quite accurate, at least for me. If I map out a run ahead of time, the Garmin is almost exactly on. I haven't had the Nike+ problems.

I've even had good look in cities with tall buildings or running trails with lots of tree cover. The Garmin has certainly worked as advertised. I like the running calorie count, time and mileage, along with the elevation. In all, I'm quite happy with my Garmin.

That said, if I forget my Garmin or the batteries die, etc., then I tend to rely on two web sites: and While MapMyRun is good, I think RunningAhead is even better.

MapMyRun tends to require a lot more waypoints to map out your run. You have to go and click at each intersection and turn of the road to ensure an accurate distance. However, with RunningAhead, it somehow knows the shape/turns of the road and makes the adjustments for you.

Additionally, you can get elevation maps on RunningAhead. I used it to map my 48 in 48 run last year. It's free and I still use it quite often in new cities or when I'm trying to map out a longer run.