Category Archives: Running

Are You Really Running on That Treadmill?

Get out and go for a run!

Get out and go for a run!

I have often been heard to remark that indoor cardio (with machines like treadmills or stationary bikes) is, at best, a mixed blessing.

On the one hand, it is nice to be able to know exactly how fast of a pace you are keeping. And it’s nice to be able to adjust your intensity with the push of a button. Treadmills can also be beneficial when doing interval running and/or sprints.

But my big gripe is with people who consider themselves “runners” but have never actually run outdoors.

Anyone who has a considerable amount of mileage under their belt on both treadmills and actual terrain already knows that they are quite different experiences.

When you’re on a treadmill, the conveyor belt moves towards you and you stay in the same place. All you do is lift your foot. You don’t actually propel yourself forward. All this probably sounds obvious, but bear in mind that this phenomenon makes it considerably less work, and it can give you a false sense of how fast you are.

You might be setting yourself up for a rude awakening when you actually start running for real. It is so much more challenging–and of course, the greater the challenge, the greater the reward!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sound like an elitist here. Treadmills are great for all the reasons I mentioned above. But it’s easy to rely on them too much. They are designed to supplement actual running–not replace it. The majority of your training should be done on real terrain. If you only run on the treadmill, you are missing out on one of the greatest joys that I’ve known in life.

The recent boom in popularity of outdoor running is undeniable. This past November, over 42 thousand people completed the NYC marathon (including me)–the most finishers ever!

So think about it, are you really running on that treadmill?

Running Accessories: Heart Rate Monitors

I'm in there somewhere In life, there are things that you need to have and there are things that are nice to have. You need basic things like food and shelter–we can’t survive without them.

On the other hand, luxuries like cell phones and elevators fall into the category of nice to have. Sometimes we feel like we need them–but we wouldn’t die without them.

In running, the only thing that you really need is your body itself. For me, that simplicity is part of the appeal of running.

Hopefully you have a body already, so let’s focus on some of the other things, the ones that are nice to have. Afterall, there is nothing wrong with having nice things.

Heart rate monitors typically have two components: a wristwatch and a chest strap.

Heart rate monitors typically have two components: a wristwatch and a chest strap.

Heart rate monitors allow you to gauge your intensity by telling you your average heartbeats per minute.

This can be be helpful if you have a tendency to sell yourself short and not push yourself hard enough. It can also be helpful if you are bad at pacing yourself and push too hard at the start.

The biggest drawback of wearing a heart rate monitor is that it can be uncomfortable, especially during longer runs. They often have an elastic band that wraps around your torso, which can get sweaty and start to feel heavy after several miles. Many heart rate monitors have other features as well, like calorie counters (which don’t always give accurate readings).

While heart rate monitors have their pros and cons, I think that they are overall a worthwhile accessory and can be a valuable performance tool. There are other means to track your intensity (like a simple wristwatch, for example), but the heart rate monitor is probably the most reliable, without being too much of a hassle.

Cold Weather Running Tips

Winter is just about here, but that doesn’t mean your running regimen needs to get put on ice. You shouldn’t feel confined to using a treadmill for the next three months either. In fact, if you plan accordingly, running outside in the winter can be fun and invigorating!

Layering your clothing appropriately is very important when running in temperatures in the forties and below. I like to start with compression shorts or pants, and a compression shirt as my bottom layer. Compression shorts and tops are stretchy and should fit you tightly (no you don’t wear underwear with them). Under armor is one brand that I would recommend. Compression gear is also great for preventing chafing.

Depending on how cold it is, the next layer will either be a t-shirt or something a bit heavier like a thermal shirt on top, with track pants or sweats below. The last layer could be a fleece, windbreaker or hoodie, depending on how cold it is. Gloves, hats, and earmuffs become important as well in colder weather.

At first, running in the cold may seem unpleasant, but once you get a mile or so in you’ll warm up and start to feel better. Even though it’s cold, you should still work up a good sweat, so make sure that you drink plenty of water before and after your run (just like you normally do, right?).

Extreme conditions such as snow storms and temperatures below zero could put a damper on your running plans, but if you dress appropriately, you’ll be surprised how much cold weather running you can endure–perhaps even enjoy.

What will you do during your runs this winter in order to combat the cold?

Finding Inspiration at the 2009 NYC Marathon

Blindness and age didn't stop this woman from finishing the NYC Marathon.

Blindness and age didn't stop this woman from finishing the NYC Marathon.

This is a guest post by Mike Lieberman. He came to support me at the marathon, and took some great pictures. (It’s also his voice you hear cheering me on in my marathon video.) In watching the marathon, he was inspired by some of the participants and asked to write a post.

I went to check out Al on Sunday and support him in running his first marathon. Besides supporting him, I found a great source of inspiration while I was waiting for him to run by – the “handicapped runners.” This group included a 75 year old blind woman, a dude with cerebral palsy on a modified bike, an older couple using one of those bikes that you peddle with your hands and some dude with no legs using a similar bike.

I stood there in complete and total amazement. I felt like starting to run myself. The feeling that overcame me was a bit overwhelming.

The only thing that made them handicapped was the label that we placed on them.

It got me thinking about family and friends who come up with excuses as to why they can’t exercise. I don’t expect everyone to run a marathon, but at least doing some form of physical activity to know that you are alive.

Take the stairs, walk for 20 minutes, step away from the TV and do something!

I have a relative who is on Weight Watchers and drives the three blocks to the meetings. Am I the only one that finds that to be ironic?

Or another who complains about all of their “ailments” and does 0 physical activity. These ailments are just excuses for living a dormant life.

It saddens me to see people that are close to me come up with excuses as to why they can’t take care of themselves, then complain about their ailments. handicapped marathoners

You think the 75 year old blind woman says, “I’m blind, I’m not doing this.”

You think the dude with no legs says, “I have no legs, I’m not doing this.”

These runners gave me a whole new appreciation for life, inspiration for working out and taking care of myself. It showed me that with the right attitude, anything is possible.

We are all going through our own thing in life. I get that. It comes down to how you deal with what happens. Are you going to feel bad about yourself and do nothing? Or are you going to take that negative and use it as a source of inspiration?

I’m not sure about you, but I’m certainly not letting a 75 year old blind woman show me up.

Mike Lieberman resides in New York City and provides simple solutions for living in a complex world. Besides his own blogs, he contributes to others across the web. You can find all of his work at CanarsieBK.com and follow him on Twitter @CanarsieBK.

Running the 2009 NYC Marathon

Running the NYC Marathon was such an overwhelming experience. Just getting from my apartment in the East Village all the way out to the start in Staten Island was an ordeal all in itself.

My day started at 5am when I got out of bed and immediately started drinking water and eating bananas. I wanted to be sure I was hydrated and had lots of potassium in my system. Plus I love bananas!

By six I was already out the door and on my way to the train to catch the 7am ferry to Staten Island. After the ferry ride, there was a shuttle bus to the check in area. Then I had to check my bag, wait for a porto-potty and find my way to the start corral. By the time I got there it was already 9:30. Even though at times it was disorienting or frustrating due to the incredibly large crowd (over 40,000 entrants!), the New York Road Runners did a great job organizing this amazing event!

Thousands of us waiting in line to check in.

Thousands of us waiting in line to check in.

The race itself was incredible. The excitement of the crowds, the support of friends and family, and the beauty of the city itself all served to make for an unforgettable experience. The highs were some of the most amazing moments of my life, the lows were among the hardest. I felt great for the first 3 hours of the race but around mile 19 or 20 my legs started to feel very fatigued.

My original plan was to finish in under 4 hours, but I knew I couldn’t keep up a 9 minute mile pace any longer, and if I tried I would be asking for trouble. At that point the game plan simply became to finish the race. From then on I knew that no matter how much pain I was in, even if I had to crawl, I was not going to stop until I crossed the finish line!

I finally made it at 4:22:11, which averages out to almost exactly a 10 minute mile pace. Crossing the finish line was an unexplainably exhilarating feeling, but it was soon followed by one of the worst feelings in the world. When you finish a marathon it hurts to walk, but the only thing that hurts even more than walking is having to stop and stand. And that’s exactly what you have to do for a good twenty or thirty minutes while everyone is huddled together trying to get their bags, take photos, and meet with loved ones. But overall it was an absolute blast! I definitely plan on doing another marathon at some point, but I think my next race is going to be a 5k.

Check out this short video clip of me taken during mile 23:

Rainy Day Running

It’s been raining a lot lately here in NYC. With the marathon looming two weeks away it’s got me thinking about what it would be like to have to run it on a day like today. This past spring I ran in the NYRR Scotland Run. It was a miserable rainy day like today but I gave it my all–and at least I got this great souvenir photo out of it!

Scotland run 09