Archive for May, 2010

Good Reads for Runners

In addition to my annoying running obsession, I also suffer from a severe reading addiction.

Though I normally spend my bookworm time in fiction novels, there are some incredible books on running that have educated and truly inspired my athletic pursuits. I’m a little too impatient to dive into training theory and coaching books. Instead I prefer good old fasioned stories that detail historical feats, share wisdom and inspire me to continue to get my butt out the door. I highly recommend you check these out if you can!
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
I have mentioned this book in an earlier post, but can’t say enough good things about it. In his quest to learn why he is always suffering running injuries, McDougall visits an ancient tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners living in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. Alongside sound research, unwieldy terrain, a barefoot runner and lots of inspiration, a brilliant story unfolds telling us that as humans, we are truly …

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Feet don’t fail me now

Foot pain is not uncommon in runners. Your feet absorb approximately three times your weight with each foot strike. For the average runner, the journey down Peachtree Road takes approximately 9,300 of those steps. That adds up to a lot of stress on your muscles, tendons, bones and joints.

doctor-joe-big Most foot and leg discomfort that occurs from running is usually minor and can be prevented with proper footwear and good training. When aches and pains do occur, they can often be self-treated, allowing you to continue your training for the coveted AJC Peachtree Road Race T-shirt.

Blisters: Blisters result from friction to the skin that causes fluid to collect underneath it. This can be due to poorly fitting shoes or from excessive moisture on the foot.

If you do develop a blister, it can usually be self-treated by cleansing the skin and making a small hole in the blister with a clean needle to drain the fluid or blood. Once the fluid is drained, leave the skin on top intact, apply an …

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Chasing the Competition

“Dwell on the positive, but have controlled, passionate anger.”
…Pat Tyson, running coach

I am a very competitive person. Though I have never won a race or been a contender in the big picture, I am constantly pushing myself to improve, comparing myself against others of similar physique and my own past performances.

A little competition can be a good thing. It moves us forward and keeps us from being complacent. It allows us to seek higher goals, pushing ourselves and continuing to reap new mental and physical benefits.

But too much competition can be detrimental. Constantly judging our self worth by others’ results can tear us down emotionally and mentally.

I recently found out that a rival of mine – an old acquaintance that I have since found myself competing against in various races – has recently run a pretty terrific race, setting a new PR for herself and beating my best performance by a decent margin. While I would love to say I had positive thoughts – being happy for …

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Focus on the Roadside Bands, Fans and Shiny Objects

I’ve probably flogged this disclosure to death in earlier posts, but it’s worth repeating for this one that I’ve been less than obsessed about my training for the big July 4th race the past 20 years.

Last year I thought I put in a decent effort, although you can see here my time sure didn’t reflect that. But most years I didn’t do much more before the race than trot a couple of miles a few times in June.

But there was little doubt in my mind that I’d be able to run most, if not all, of the AJC Peachtree Road Race.

The secret is Peachtree miles seem shorter than the miles around my neighborhood. With lots of distractions along the way, I can almost forget a little cramping or blistering.

When I run in my neighborhood nobody has a PA blaring “Born to Run” or “Born in the USA” or anything else from Bruce Springsteen’s “Born” anthology. But those and other tunes often blare near the start line.

I can complete my neighborhood run without once hearing a …

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Music That Moves You

As a self-professed music junkie, I live my life according to an imaginary soundtrack.

I find music indelibly linked to specific moments in my life, so it may come as no surprise that I love a good sweat session with great tunes to keep me motivated during my training. 

(Side note: I must admit I am adamantly against headphones on race day! Partially because I’m a geeky rule follower – most races don’t allow headphones. But mostly because I’m a racing purist who wants to soak up the full race experience.) But I digress…

A soundtrack can have an amazing effect on your running. Good music courses through your veins and powers your muscles. It saves you from boredom and drowns out the pain. It makes you feel alive and inspires great performances.

I find that music pushes me through track workouts with more oomph, and keeps my leg turnover quick and in strong cadence during tempo runs. When I am heading out for longer distances, music helps me hit my stride giving me a …

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What is it With the Shirts?

Several years ago I went to Mardis Gras in New Orleans and there was a preacher with a bullhorn yelling at the crowd: “What is it with the beads? Why are you women exposing yourselves for 25 cents worth of plastic beads?”

It was a fair question. And when it comes to the AJC Peachtree Road Race the uninitiated might ask, “What is it with the shirts?”

But for many runners it’s all about the shirt.  All of it – the training, the early wake up on a holiday and sweating through a 6.2 mile race.

Last weekend I decided to pull out my collection of Peachtree T-shirts to vulgarly wallow in loot accumulated over the last 20 years.


One of the first things I noticed was I used to wear the shirts a lot more. I’m still not one to seal them in plastic on July 5th and lock them in a vault. But I do tend to put them away for the winter and only wear the oldest ones a couple of times during the summer. I earned my first one in 1979 and wore it past its useful life span. I don’t …

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Running Hope Through America

Last Friday brought an unexpected treat to my training routine.


Lisa and Sister Mary-Beth Lloyd

Elite ultramarathoner and endurance coach Lisa Smith-Batchen along with her running partner Sister Mary-Beth Lloyd were running 50 miles in Atlanta as part of their Running Hope Through America project.

From April 19th to June 19th, 2010, Lisa is attempting to run 50 miles in each of the 50 states to raise money for orphans in the United States and abroad (the “Running Nun” Sister Mary-Beth completes 20 miles each day). Though others have previously run a marathon distance back-to-back in each state, no one has ever taken on the challenge of completing an ultra in the same period of time.

For the Georgia leg of her 50-state tour, Big Peach Running Co in Brookhaven served as base of operations for ten 5-mile loops that Lisa would complete throughout the day. Big Peach invited folks to come out and support Lisa, running loops with her and her support staff. I was able to make it out …

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Running with Gratitude

There are days when I hate it. Days when it hurts. Days when I can’t stand the thought of putting my feet in incessant motion. I’m tired. I’m burned out.

Then I remember those who can’t run.

I remember the first time I paid attention to the Shepherd Spinal Center while running the Peachtree. I was slowly “making my way” (i.e. struggling) up that not-so-fun cardiac hill, when I noticed three men on the right-hand sidewalk cheering from wheelchairs. One was wearing a previous PRR race shirt. I was overcome by their presence - joy on their faces as they watched us pass – living life despite horrible accidents or illness.

I remember especially the one man in the race shirt – who has known life as a runner, but whose running shoes now can only serve as a reminder of what he wishes and dreams to one day be able to do again. He once was just like me, and now longs to have the opportunity to run down the street, the opportunity I take for granted. Here I am with …

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I’m Looking at a Big Number

When I first ran the AJC Peachtree Road Race in 1979 we didn’t have your fancy GPS watches, iPods or Justin Bieber. It was a primitive time, but we managed.
Another thing we didn’t have was a Peachtree sorted into time groups. With only 20,000 runners the race didn’t seem all that crowded until we all reached a near bottleneck on the trails within Piedmont Park.
In 1990 I started running the race again after taking 10 years off. It was the year time groups were introduced to the race and the number of runners allowed was increased from 25,000 to 40,000. It definitely made sense to separate the sweating masses into smaller groups of sweating masses. Even then I still saw some conflict between faster runners aggressively weaving their way through the slower ones bunched in front of them.
For each of the subsequent years I’ve anxiously looked in my mailbox in late May and early June waiting to see how the number lottery is going to treat me. Of course, I could have run in …

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Happy Trails to You

Through many years of running, I’ve spent my fair share of miles pounding the pavement. And when training for a road race, it’s necessary to acclimatize your joints and connective tissues to running on harder surfaces.

sweetwater creek state park

Taking a stroll through Sweetwater Creek State Park.

But as my internal odometer ticks off more mileage each year, I know I need to focus on taking care of my body. Cross-training is one way I do that, but my favorite way to take it easy on my knees and hips is trail-running.

Smooth, peaceful, lush single-track for miles… it’s a tiny piece of heaven on earth!

Although the technical terrain and pervasive hills of backwoods trails may seem like it is tougher on your body, trail-running is much gentler than running on asphalt and concrete. The trail is softer and absorbs more of the impact of your footstrike.

Don’t get me wrong – off-road mileage is a tough workout. It uses different muscles and connective tissues than road running because your body …

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