I have written before about how much I enjoy American Ninja Warrior and the fact that I find the athletes inspiring. I found two more athletes that are, I think, even more impressive the ones the attack the Ninja obstacle. What do they do? They run. And run. And run. Sounds simple, right?


While the obstacle course tests agility, strength and will (something I still love and find inspiring), these guys are running Endurance Runs all over the world.  These are multi-day races that can be over a hundred miles.

The races are captured in a series following the runners, Paul Turbo’ Trebilcock and Simon Donato.  The series airs on Esquire, although I yet to see a current episode. I found it wandering through the channels in the morning hoping for something to watch.

The first race I watched was in Cambodia, following an ancient path called Khmer.  At 142m, it was run in six stages. One runner, a young woman, had to be airlifted out after she went into  shock overnight. She had ‘overrun’,  far exceeding her body’s ability and not replacing her electrolytes. She had in fact drank a good deal of water, but it didn’t have the electrolytes her body needed.  A good lesson for all of us, no matter how far or often we exercise!

what a gorgeous place to run

Endurance running, usually of fifty miles or more, have become very popular. But Simon and Paul are tackling the eight most difficult in the world. One was across the Sahara desert, which had incredible vistas. It was incredible how small these humans looked trekking across the desert.

 155m of heat and sand…and beauty  

One  of the things I love about this series is the attitude of the runners. They are all willing to help each other, it is more about the effort and companionship than being the first to cross the finish line–although they all want that too, of course! But good sportsmanship is the rule of the race.  And strength  of will the top most need.

“…it’s not the physical side I’m worried about, it’s about controlling your fears, because  we are all afraid of things, and tackling these challenges give me a sense of accomplishment, not necessarily for getting to the top, but for actually getting on the wall and controlling the fears….”
                                        Simon Donato

                                                                              Turbo and Paul

 In these eight races, they do a bit more than run. Some are bike races, and some are kayaking. But the majority are run, and run over extremely impressive terrain and distance. The two that stand out to me were the Scotland and Mongolian races.

In Scotland the race was twenty-four of the highest mountain peaks in twenty-four hours. The views were breathtaking, but the trails were back-breaking. It was one of the harder races they tackled.

The Mongolian race was a Sunrise to Sunset, racing 100km around the mountain in the length of time it took the sun to ride the sky.

  dawn painting the sky as the runners start

Check out Paul and Simon’s travels for yourself on the Esquire channel,  or at  Between the personalities and the views, this show is fun to watch even if you don’t plan on running a step.



Those of you who have been following along will know I just don’t like running on a treadmill.  Part of my joy of running is being outside. The wind, the sun, even the occasional rain drop. Just letting go of the rest of the world as my feet slap the pavement.  A treadmill just doesn’t compare.

But I missed a lot of running last winter, so I decided I better suck it up and run on the thing.  First I tried in front of the tv. That didn’t work. I barely made it ten minutes, and twenty was torture! What could I do if even having the tv to distract me was unbearable?

Then I had an epiphany.  I decided to just get on it and run in the library, which is where it had been stored. Instead of setting a time, I decided to run for four songs. And I hid the console under a towel (useful for that sweat) so I couldn’t watch the minutes creep by.

And it worked! I ran for the four songs, which equaled just about 21 minutes, and walked out for one more. I ran like I do on the road, letting my mind wander. I worked on my form, keeping my core strong and light.

Still not as good as running outside, but definitely doable. I think I will be in much better shape this spring 🙂

Running like a Spartan

1. [spahr-tan-ik]  of or relating to Sparta or its people.
2.suggestive of the ancient Spartans; sternly disciplined and rigorouslysimple, frugal, or austere.
3.brave; undaunted.

4.a native or inhabitant of Sparta.
5.a person of Spartan characteristics.*

Most of us know the story of the Spartans, fierce warriors renowned through the world for their prowess, minimalistic life style and stern determination.  How would one run like a Spartan?

Through mud and over every obstacle they throw at you, of course.

 The Spartan Runs are sweeping through the world, gathering athletes of all stages as they go.  Spartan runs are wonderful because anyone can attempt the race. While there are many elite runners who are looking to reach the World Championships, any runner can stumble into the “sprint” and pit their determination and will against the obstacles. The events have also have a great community feel. Encouragement of your fellow Spartan is key.

How do the Spartan founders describe themselves?

Born in the gritty green mountains of Vermont by Joe DeSena, world-class adventure racer, Spartan is a frame of mind.
Gritty. Resilient. Passionate. Spartans aren’t soft. Spartans overcome obstacles. And yes, Spartans burpee.
Spartan is a sport, community, a philosophy, a training and nutrition program – with daily advice, a podcast, a book, an activity for kids, workout gear, a media channel, an NBC Sports series, a digital magazine, and a timed obstacle race.
We offer three core races each escalating in distance, obstacle count and challenge level. The Spartan Sprint (3+ miles/20+ obstacles), the Spartan Super (8+ miles/ 25+ obstacles) and SpartanBeast (13+ miles/ 30+ obstacles). Courses are riddled with signature obstacles: mud, barbed wire, walls, rope and fire. Challenge yourself to complete all three and become part of the TRIFECTA tribe.
We also offer a kids race (½ – 1 mile), Special Spartans (for racers with intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities), and for those who looking to push themselves even further, the Hurricane Heat (bootcamp-style challenge) and the Ultra Beast (26+ miles, 60+ obstacles).**

I am fortunate that I know some Spartans, and was able to get the inside take on the races. I have mentioned before that my brother and Isaac, his oldest son, ran a Spartan.  My brother ran another sprint this year, teaming with a cousin in law. And to keep it all in the family, my youngest nephew, who is 12, ran the children’s sprint that morning. Considering how much I enjoyed my Urban Raid, I may need to get involved in this family event.

Isaac, however, ran 5 Spartans this summer! I asked him what he liked, what he didn’t like and what exactly he had accomplished this summer. Isaac said he “loves the people, the atmosphere, and likes the competition. The courses are always well done.”  He ran 3 sprints (3.2-5m), 1 super (7-11m), and 1 beast (13-15m). Preparing for these events involved Isaac pushing the family cars back and forth in the driveway, and buckets of rocks carried up hills. Truly a Spartan effort.

The fierce young man on the right with red hair is Isaac

His last race was the Beast in Killington, Vt. It was 13 miles long (that’s a half marathon!!) and had 35 obstacles to clamber over, under and through.

I am so absolutely  proud to say that out of 250 competitors, Isaac came in 17th!

Isaac said that there was nothing about the experience that he disliked. The barbed wire crawls were the most draining obstacles, with the rope climb and Hercules hoist following close behind. The Killington (the Beast) was the most challenging course.

“The hardest obstacle was the spear throw. It was on top of Killington, and it was impossible to stick it in the constant wind.”Which meant, as Isaac ran with the elite, 30 burpees:

Isaac had a good run, only 90 burpees in all 🙂

The Spartan Code:
A Spartan pushes his/her mind and body to the limit
A Spartan masters his/her emotions
A Spartan learns continuously
A Spartan gives generously
A Spartan leads
A Spartan stands up for his/her beliefs, no matter the cost
A Spartan knows his/her flaws as well as his/her strengths
A Spartan proves himself/herself through actions, not words
A Spartan lives every day as if it were his/her last

The Conquering Heroes

Throwback Thursday

In light of my busy schedule, I decided to go with a throwback post today. This is the post I wrote for my first race last September:

Today’s Plan: 5K Race

Finally, my first race day was here. Outta bed at 6, had my first cup of coffee and a shower. We got there shortly after 7 and registered. The parking highly amused my husband (a onetime fireman) when we were told to park at the fire station. Apparently there is a well trod path between the fire station and the brewery.

The race was in the same town that we boated to yesterday, as it was all a part of Harbor Fest.  I work in the town, and yesterday I saw quite a few people I know. I was amazed that today I knew no one except the owner of the brewery when I registered. Apparently, my clients are not runners! And yes, it started and ended at a small craft brewery: much to the enjoyment of my husband. After wandering aimlessly, and making friends in line for the bathrooms, it was finally time. A half marathon was also slated for the day, and they got sent off first. Then, we lined up. Next to me were two outgoing ladies who kept me entertained as we waited for the gun. In front of me was a dad with 2 kids, a girl and a boy. They started in front of me and finished in front of me. Can’t beat youth. But I can beat my best time. My first mile was 9:05, and then entire run was 29:18. The entertaining ladies were behind me on the run out and kept me moving to stay in front. After the turnaround, they caught me and we ran together, encouraging each other. They managed the last hill better than me and finished just ahead of me. It was a fabulous race. Cresting the first hill and seeing the rainbow of tshirts stretched out in front was invigorating. Hitting the turnaround was cause for thanks, and climbing the last hill was, well, painful but over quickly and then the race was finished. I saw the young girl after and asked if she beat her brother. She hadn’t, but she did beat dad.

Things I learned from my first race: I went out too fast, I couldn’t find my pace tempo that I’d been practicing because I was going to fast for it. Not knowing the course ahead of time means uncertainty in pacing: always ask where the turnaround is (not where I had thought) and where the finish line is (it’s not always the starting line!). Runners are a gregarious bunch willing to share experiences and always cheer each other on. I can’t wait to do it again.


Oh Dear

it’s almost here! 5km with 16 obstacles. What was I thinking?!

The Urban Raid is two days away and I might be a little nervous. I got my email with the course:

Oh my. Tractor Flip? Do I have to flip a tractor? I mean, it looked easy in Cars. But I’m not a car! Marine Hurdles? I am soooo not a Marine. About the easiest thing I can see is the run up Munjoy hill.

Ok, it’s not that bad. Tractor flips are really just flipping a tractor wheel.  I got that. Marine Hurdles?

  Not so sure I got this, I am only 5′ nothing tall. But maybe with momentum?

Cargo net crawl? I think my lack of height will be helping here! 

Cargo net climb: Bring it on!

 Cone  bars? Well, let’s hope my klutziness doesn’t kick in. Ditto with the tire fields.

Sand Bag–that’s just like a feed bag, right? Of course, I don’t usually lug them up hills and back  

And the deal is for every obstacle you can’t finish, you must do 10 burpees: 

I foresee a lot of burpees in my future  😉

Terms of Addiction

they’re worse than the cats!

Addictions are bad, right? The very term indicates the inability to stop, the ever-increasing quest for the source of our dependence. It means we overdo whatever it is that we are doing, and that we can’t stop doing “it.”

My “it” is running. A running addiction? Is there such a thing? I have never thought I had a particularly addictive personality, at least not for the “normal” things. One glass of wine? Yup, I’m done. Drugs? Why on earth would I want to lose control of myself? How would that make my life better? Hmmm, seems like my OCD may have saved me there.

But books, those I am addicted to. My favorite authors, my favorite genres, I can’t put them down. I would read until 1 am to finish the book, then end up going into work groggy the next day (not that different from my hung over co-workers, I guess). And now running. At least I don’t run in the dark, so no grogginess there! Just the inability to move easily the day after a hard run.

What are the signs of a running addiction? These are my symptoms:
 I get jealous when I see other runners when I am working or driving
 I measure hills, wondering if I could conquer them
 I look at the scenery when I am driving with the thought, “this would make a great run”
 Reading what other runners are doing make me want to go out and do that too
I go through withdrawal when I am prevented from running by weather or happenstance
I plan my week around when I can run

Are you addicted to your sport? Are your symptoms the same as mine, or do you have others? And, really, do we care if we are addicted?

If we are 90 lb runners, made of sinew and bone, then yes, we need an intervention. And fast. But as I am at least 40 lbs away from that, I am not going to worry just yet. I am, of course, not the first person to delve into the idea of a running (or exercise) addiction.

In one article  the authors–Adam Goucher & Tim Catalano– compare the actual 7 signs addiction to how they feel about running. In it, Goucher & Catalano point out that when runners say we are “addicted,” we are not in any way making light of “real problems people addicted to substances or detrimental behaviors like gambling face.  Rather they are trying to communicate their passion for running and how much of their lives revolve around making sure they get their next fix.” Check out the article to see if you really do have the 7 signs of addiction.

And if you do, then check out this article to make sure your addiction is a positive one! Everything, even our exercise, can devolve if taken to excess. “The exercise addict has lost his balance: Exercise has become overvalued compared to elements widely recognized as giving meaning in a full life — work, friends, family, community involvement — in short, the fruits of our humanity.” Happily, although I do check off several of the addiction sign boxes, I still have a positive addiction 🙂

I still have days when I just don’t wanna!


healthy running

There has been a lot of buzz recently about whether jogging is or is not actually good for you.  I look at this research with a grain of salt. There always seems to be some research saying that this or that is not good for us…then the next month, it is good for us. Do milk or eggs ring a bell?

This was a long-term research project, and there are some interesting facts found in it.  The researchers, from the Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen, found that running can be good for you, but not at speeds of 7 miles per hour and over. Running each week a few times at a moderate pace will improve your health and help you live longer. But overdoing it with high speeds won’t offer those same benefits.

It is important to emphasize that the pace of jogging corresponds to very vigorous exercise,” researcher Dr. Peter Schnohr said. “When performed for decades, this activity level could pose health risks, especially to the cardiovascular system:  if your goal is to decrease risk of death and improve life expectancy, jogging a few times a week at a moderate pace is a good strategy. Anything more is not just unnecessary, it may be harmful.”* 

Dr. Schnohr said there seems to to be an “upper limit for exercise dosing that is optimal for health benefits.”* So what does that mean to us? Well, for me personally, this is clearly not an issue yet. And unlikely to be. I may, at the outer limits of my goals, want to pursue a half-marathon. If I get over 30 miles a week, I would be very surprised. But some ultra-marathoners may be concerned. Both the speed and amount of jogging may be an issue for them. On the other hand, I know some older runners that have been running for years that are very healthy. I wonder if genetics of the people studied affected the results. It can be amazing that what is good for one person can be incredibly damaging to another.
The study has pointed out that light and moderate joggers do have lower death rates as compared to people who don’t jog at all. Dr. Schnohr,  who is the lead author of Dose of Jogging and Long-Term Mortality, said that excessive exercise for long period of time can be linked with diastolic dysfunction and coronary artery calcification. It can also stiffen the walls of large arteries. The study came to a conclusion that one to 1.4 hours jogging each week is best to reduce mortality but with no more than three days a week. Further, the study figured out that the people who jog between one hour and 2.4 hours in a week had 71% lower risk of dying as compared to the couch potatoes, who don’t exercise at all.Running for mere five to ten minutes provides several health benefits, revealed a new study. People usually believe that it is important to run long distances to stay fit. However, the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, has shown that running for even five to ten minutes significantly reduces the chances of heart attacks and strokes. Dr. Duck-chul Lee, of Iowa State University, the lead author of the study, said people who ran for less than an hour a week were found to have benefits similar to those of running for more than three hours a week. “Running may be a better exercise option than more moderate intensity exercises”, added Lee.**

So what I am hearing is those of you who are just starting out and running short distances are more likely to live longer! Oh, wait, there’s more:

About 25% of participants said that they ran each week to stay fit. Of them, greatest health benefits of running were sought by those who ran for more than six years, helping them to have 50% less chances of dying from cardiovascular disease.**

Ok, running isn’t bad in moderation? But there are limits to the benefits if you go overboard. But what is overboard?There are too many overlapping numbers in this report.

The US Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines  had recommended exercising moderately for 150 minutes or briskly for 75 minutes a week. But the new research has debunked that belief, showing that same benefits of running for longer time and intensity can be gained by running only 30 minutes a week as well.**

So, running is good. But not in excess. That pretty much describes everything, doesn’t it? Milk is good, but not two gallons a day. Pizza is ok, but not every day. Aspirin is good for your heart, but can thin your blood too much in excess. Common sense seems to be key here.

My mile speed doesn’t put me in the danger zone either. The report suggested that jogging should be done at a slow or average pace. This average pace was described as five miles per hour.**  That is actually about where I am right now. I am trying to improve my speed, but  I will going to be lucky to do 9 minute miles sometime in the near future.

I think, in the end, that this report doesn’t mean much to me.  If I want to run an ultra or a marathon, then I would take it into consideration. But there are benefits to running that this report doesn’t address. The mental benefits, for one thing. Running is my stress release–and I can’t be the only one who feels that. Running also makes me feel strong as I conquer new hills and distances. It improves my self-image. And it does help me lose weight, which is good for me. If I can run 5 times a week at a half hour or more, I will consider my time well spent 🙂



A NEW Page!

This Drills page is thanks to Warrior Freya. She asked what my drills were, as she was having problems finding the original posts that described them. It then occurred to me that having a page listing my drills might be easier for people who read a Rundown saying that I did a drill, but not what it was. How will they know if it is a hard drill or if I was just lazing through my week? (that does happen, you know) Also, some people might even want to try these! I gave credit to the sources that gave me these drills, but you may notice that I was happy to modify them for myself. If you want to try them, feel free to modify them for yourself and your level. Walk instead of run. Go shorter distances or times*. And tell me how you liked them!

*just be sensible and don’t hurt yourself!

Why did we need to work on breathing again?

So a recent post discussed ways to breathe better while exercising. But did I mention why that might be important?

If you are going to be exercising for more than a couple of minutes, your body needs to get oxygen to the muscles or the muscles will stop working. Just how much oxygen your muscles will use depends on two processes: getting blood to the muscles and extracting oxygen from the blood into the muscle tissue. Your working muscles can take oxygen out of the blood three times as well as your resting muscles. Your body has several ways to increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood to working muscle:
increased local blood flow to the working muscle
diversion of blood flow from nonessential organs to the working muscle
increased flow of blood from the heart (cardiac output)
increased rate and depth of breathing
increased unloading of oxygen from hemoglobin in working muscle
These mechanisms can increase the blood flow to your working muscle by almost five times. That means that the amount of oxygen available to the working muscle can be increased by almost 15 times!*

And Some Milestones……

This is my 100th post. Shall we celebrate?


And another waypoint: I finally hit the 500 mile marker and my shoes were feeling it. I had noticed that I was feeling stones more through my toe area. But it was when I got on the treadmill that I knew. I do a mid-foot strike when I run, and immediately noticed the lack of padding.

Some sneakers last 150-300 miles, some 500ish. I really don’t know what category mine fell into. When I bought them last year, it wasn’t something I looked at.  Last year I was looking at fit and price. The year before that I knew even less! Of course, as I learn more, the cost of the shoes goes up. But so does my running ability.

This year I expanded my research. First, am I showing my naivety by calling them sneakers? The technical term is, of course, running shoes. In actuality, my running shoes are my running shoes. I don’t do anything else in them, not even walk Daisy. The previous running shoes become the walking sneakers.

So the first thing I did was research. Mizuno, Hoka, New Balance. I am not a brand junkie. If it fits and works, I am happy. My last issue of Fitness had a wonderful article on running shoes. I have been running long enough now that I know what I need, but not always how to translate that to my shoes. So many dang terms! Zero drop, overpronation,  stability, toe box, the list goes on. What does it all mean?

Zero drop means exactly what it says–no height difference between the heel and toe. Most sneakers have a 6mm to 8mm difference with the heel being higher. There has been quite a bit of discussion about whether a zero drop is important or not. It does make you run differently, more like running barefoot with different stressors on feet and leg muscles.

Proponents suggest zero-drop shoes are a safer and more practical way to emulate barefoot-style running. Still, medical experts and running form gurus recommend runners take time to transition to shoes with lower ramp angles than what they’ve been running in, and Harper and Beckstead agree. Even if you’ve been running and racing for years, if you don’t conscientiously work on form and strength along with minimalist running, you could wind up with sore calf muscles, strained Achilles tendons, aching feet or more serious injuries, Dicharry says. Other factors, including a runner’s weight, body composition, past injury patterns, level of fitness and running goals should be considered before making a drastic change in footwear styles*

I did consider zero drop shoes. However, I have high arches and, frankly, running barefoot is not very comfortable for me. I know a lot of runners do run races barefoot and do very well. But they have been running that way for years. I think at this point in my life, barefoot would be hard for me to get used too. No zero drop for me.

Pronation, under or over, is running with your foot rolling towards the outside. This is where stability comes in.

[stability is important for] runners who experience mild to moderate overpronation. This means that they have moderately low arches. Overpronation can cause a lot of strain on the feet since the impact is distributed heavily across the area that pronates. When the foot pushes off from the surface, the ankle and lower leg all experience strain. This situation can even lead to various running injuries. **

Most running shoes are considered either neutral or stable. While individual brands rate their shoes somewhat differently, there are some correlations across the board. The neutral shoes add no additional stability, allowing the foot to fall into its natural placement. There may be a couple of levels of neutral shoes within a brand. Then they move up to the stability shoes, which have several different  stability features built into the shoe to prevent overpronation.  Generally speaking, there are several different levels of stability features within brands as well.

When you think about a running shoe, think about how you feel on a long run–whatever that may be for you. I have wide feet with moderately high arches. If the toe box is too narrow, my toes tend to fall asleep around mile 4.  Because of my mid-foot strike when running, metatarsal cushioning is more important (and harder to find) than heel cushioning to me.

The next step is to find a store with knowledgable staff. I am going to give props here to Dick’s Sporting Goods. I went to my local store; more just to look, having been advised to try a store in Brunswick but not having time to get there yet. When I got to Dick’s I had the good fortune to find a salesperson who knew his running shoes inside and out. I told him what my running needs were and he helped me try on a dozen shoes (like jeans, be prepared to try on many pairs).

It came down to two pairs of Brooks. Dick’s has an excellent return policy: 30 days to return, even if you ran in them every day before deciding they didn’t work. So I took one of them home. They were a narrow fit, but they were comfortable. Until my feet swelled the next day when I was running on the treadmill.  Back I went and picked up the other pair. They are light and lovely to run in. My toes feel much better after mile 4 🙂 So what did I end up with? Brooks Glycerin 12, neutral. And I am ready for the next 500 miles.