Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 Bike Commute Summary

One of the things I wish I did more of in 2010 is ride my bike to work. Here's how 2010 ended up for me (I'm on vacation next week, so no opportunity to change these numbers).

  • Bike Commute Days: 46
  • Miles: ~ 550
  • Gallons of Gas Saved: ~ 27
  • Gas Money Saved: ~ $70

46 days is ok, but I would have liked to have done better. In 2009, I set a goal of riding 90 days. I rode 34 days in 2008. Despite the much higher goal for 2009, I only slightly increased my number of commute days to 39. This year, without really trying, I increased to 46 days, so I am happy about that.

But I still want to do better.

Here is where I go wrong: I don't really start riding until March, and I pretty much quit in November. Hmmm... Could it be the winter weather that keeps me in?

We had a lot of snow and ice winter of 2009/2010. And so far for the end of 2010, it has been the cold weather and wind.

Seems like I need to gear up!

Some things on my dream list I need to turn my LeMond Poprad cyclocross bike into the ultimate year-round commuter:

  • Full length fenders, front and back
  • 38c Knobby or Semi-slick tires for potential winter weather
  • Better pants for cold weather riding, perhaps rain pants too
  • Comfortable Balaclava that will fit under helmet
  • Reflective tape to make me more visible

What else? Is it too late for me to go see Santa?

Run hard out there...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Thankful that, for now at least, I am blessed with the ability to run. Thankful that sometimes I can even run fast and/or long. Thankful for a family that lets me get out and run, even if, for now, it is not their thing. Thankful for a job that allows me to get out on some trails on my lunch hour and a city that gives me places to do it. Especially thankful for friends and co-workers who keep me company out there.

Of course I am thankful for a lot more than just that. But it's a start.

What are you thankful for?

Run hard out there...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This is why I wrote the book...

To inspire others. I love it when I hear people say that it was my book that got them to start running trails or running ultras. That's why I did it.

Run hard out there...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mobility exercises for Plantar Fasciitis

Great Mobility WOD for the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis.

Check it out here.

Thanks Kelly for another great set of exercises.

I'm definitely going to remember this one.

Run hard out there...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My other book

It's interesting that Running Through the Wall sells pretty well while my other book, almost the exact same format, but about adventure racing, is not selling at all.

Does this say something about the two sports?

If you are not familiar with my other book, Google Books has a large portion of it online. Check it out.

Run hard out there...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mobility vs. Injury

Long time no post. Anyone who knows me personally or follows this blog knows that the only time I ever stop talking about running is when I am injured. Well, it's that time of year again. Some things crept up on me, then a hard descent down Mt. Mitchell in the wrong shoes along with a couple hours of ultimate frisbee in the wrong shoes have introduced me to the wonderful world of ankle tendinitis. I've never felt one like this before.

Along the way, however, I have discovered that working on mobility is the way to keep things like this from happening. The injuries of my past and present: ITBS, foot and ankle tendinitis, and low back pain can all be cured, that's right cured, by introducing some mobility exercises into your daily routine.

This guy, Kelly Starrett, or KStar, is here to show us the way. Runners start with this post, and work your way around his blog and around you body. Regain your youth in 10 minutes per day. While I cannot run, this is what I will be working on.

Run hard out there...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


What is it about rain that turns an average run into an Epic Adventure? Today's run was a perfect example.

The plan:

Run to Highland Park, and run 2 miles worth of hill repeats (about 20 hills), doing 10 push-ups at the bottom and 10 sit-ups at the top of each repeat. There was some dread about running through the long grass that we jogged through yesterday. On the way to the park, the humidity was very high, it was going to be a sweaty run to say the least.

The reality:

We got there to find the grass very freshly mowed (the mowers were parked at the top of the hill, taking a lunch break). Good, but the grass was about 10 inches tall, so what's left was a wet, green, shirt staining mess.

Oh well. 3, 2, 1, let's go!

Just as we started the workout, the sky opened and the rain started to fall. The temperature probably dropped 10 degrees almost instantly. A few minutes into the workout, it really started pouring. I mean torrential.

It was beautiful.

We found ourselves laughing like children running up and down that hill. We were blinded by the huge summer droplets, making the pot holes hard to dodge. Still, the kid in us ran, as hard he possibly could. It turned into an epic workout that we will remember for some time. Somewhere along the way I told Sammy that I hoped we never got tired of working out like that, and that I hoped we never said, "Not today, it looks like rain."

And I mean it.

On the way back downtown, the rain stopped. It's funny how things work out like that.

Run hard out there.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fog on Fulhardt Knob

It's amazing what a difference one day can make in the weather.

Friday it was in the 90s, sunny and hot. Then a front moved in.

Saturday we ran in temperatures in the high 60s, low 70s in the hottest part of the afternoon. Here is a pic from the top of Fulhardt Knob, in a thick fog.

Then today, it was back in the upper 80s again.

What will tomorrow bring?

Run hard out there...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mountain Running

What a way to end the week: three days in a row of mountain running.

Thursday we ran up Mill Mountain. Not a mighty mountain, but also not a bad start to the weekend. 6 miles.

Friday evening we ran up and over McAfee's Knob. That was a fun run finished off with a good (late) meal with BBQ and (some new) friends. 8 miles.

Saturday Jay and I ran the AT from 220N to Fulhardt Knob Shelter and a mile beyond before turning around and running back to the car. The humidity had to have been 111%, but the temperature was comfortable for the first time in weeks. The mountain was covered in a heavy fog which collected in the webs of the orb weavers, decorating our path along the way. It was the most beautiful run I've had in some time. A bit challenging too. 14 miles.

Sunday will be a day of rest, before getting into another week of fun.

Run hard out there...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Run the mountain

(Sandbag Hillclimb, 2009 CrossFit Games)

Today we run the mountain at lunch. How high can you get on your lunch hour?

Run hard out there...

Thursday, July 29, 2010


So here's what one of my lunchtime running friends told me this morning:

"I washed my running clothes last night and forgot to get them out of the dryer. I remembered when I was about half way to work this morning (he has an hour long commute). So I stopped by Walmart and bought a pair of shorts and a shirt. I hope they fit!"

That's what I call dedication. What's your excuse for not running today?

Run hard out there...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crossfit Endurance WOD review 7/20/2010

Today I did the Crossfit Endurance WOD as prescribed.

One Minute Ladder:

All Out Efforts.

1min on, 1 min off, 1 min on, 50 sec off, 1 min on, 40 sec off, 1 min on, 30 sec off, 1 min on 20 sec off, 1 min on, 10 sec off, then go back up the ladder until you finish with 1 min on, 50 sec off, 1 min on.


Timing this workout can be difficult, especially in the later intervals when the mind gets a little fuzzy. I programmed the workout into my Garmin Forerunner, and it worked beautifully. It even features a 5-second countdown timer as each interval is about to end.

The recommended warm-up is an 800m easy jog followed by a few short sprints to prepare the legs for hard running.

This workout definitely got harder as the rest periods got shorter. But I was surprised to find that my distance covered on the run intervals was consistently 0.18 miles. My average run pace was around 5:30/mile. I think I was being conservative, but I won’t know until I try it next time.

The total workout was 2.35 miles, just over 16 minutes. 1.8 miles of hard running.

Give it a shot sometime, and let me know what you think.

Run hard out there...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Today: Sprints

It was just a few of the boys today, so we ran to River's Edge and did some sprints on the soccer field. Total running 5 miles. Sprinting all out? Probably about a mile.

Before the workout I was having the Monday morning "blahs," and almost opted for a slice of pizza instead of a run. But it is amazing how much better I felt after that workout. Instead of the pizza I had some garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

What a great way to start what's going to be a great week.

If you are not sprinting in your workouts, you should try it. Google "benefits of sprinting" to see why. But ease into it if you are new to sprinting.

Run hard out there...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Crossfit Games

Want to see some elite athletes? Watch the Crossfit Games live. Good stuff.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Constantly Varied

One of the reasons Crossfit workouts work is that they are "constantly varied." Keep the body guessing. What's next? You want me to do what?!?
Variety in exercises, sets, reps, weight, rounds, etc. is the key to developing every component of physical fitness.
It works for runners too. Run slow miles every day? Great if you want to be a slow runner.

Keep the body guessing.

So I asked my friends Jay and Amanda at Brickhouse Crossfit today, "At what point will constantly varied not equate to constantly sore?"

They did not really have a good answer. Variety is the spice of life.

You know that "good sore" feeling? I'm feeling it right now. And loving it.

Run hard out there...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Circle Work

This is always a fun workout when you are with a group.

Circle Work

Form a circle. Every 30 seconds take turns calling out a favorite exercise. Repeat this for 20 minutes.

We did burpees, crunches, squats, jumping jacks, pushups, high knee raises, mountain climbers, plank, more burpees, and so on.

Constantly varied, almost random. Very easy to time with the Gymboss.

Run hard out there...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Crossfit Endurance

I'm heading down to Charlotte, NC this weekend to take a Crossfit Endurance Certification course. I've posted about Crossfit Endurance before, and I believe it works. Now I am going to dive deeper.

I'll post details next week.

Run hard out there...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sweaty Clothes

Okay, Summer is here. Not officially yet, but lunchtime workouts in the 90s confirms it in my book. The result for me and plenty of others I know: Several pounds of wet clothes.

Today my shorts were so wet (from sweat!) I decided just to wear them in the shower, rinse them out and maybe get another day out of them. But alas, they ended up in the grocery bag at the bottom of my messenger bag with the wrung out shirt and very damp socks. A heavy reminder of yet another great workout (today was a 5-mile tempo run).

I visited one of my co-workers today in her office and the first thing I noticed was her clear plastic bag of wet clothes in the floor. She quickly moved it out of the way, perhaps embarrassed, I don't know. They certainly did not bother me. But it got me thinking... there has got to be a better way.

So I did a quick search, and I found a lovely solution. The Sweat Bag.

Most of the designs are a little feminine for my taste, but I think they might make the perfect gift for the woman in your life who has to deal with 5 pounds of sweaty clothes on a daily basis. Come on guys, encourage the sweat!

For now, I'll probably stick with the plastic grocery bag. Turn it inside out each day and it will last for weeks.

What do you do with your post-workout sweaty clothes?

Run hard out there...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Running Through The Wall: a new review

With only a few reviews of my book on,
I'm always excited when I get a new one.
Here is the most recent:

Hey, 3 out of 5 ain't bad! Thanks J.

If anyone wants to borrow my copy, let me know.

Run hard out there.

Crossfit-like Endurance Training Revisited

On April 24, I ran the first ever Blue Ridge Marathon. It was a tough road course, boasting 3,100' of climbing, all within a few miles of my hometown, Roanoke, VA. It was a great run, and I had a very fun time.

I was a bit nervous about this one because I was trying again to run a long, tough endurance run on very little mileage. I am no longer following "Crossfit Endurance" as prescribed, but I do still workout like that. My daily runs are usually 3-5 miles with lots of high intensity sprints, hills, squats, planks, pushups. burpees, etc. thrown in. In fact, the workouts focus on the sprinting and the "calisthenics," the running is just transportation to/from the park were we workout. I think I did about 4 long runs (13-21 miles) in preparation for this marathon. But they were very spread apart, and most of them on trails, not roads. To break it down even more, my 2010 weekly mileage has only crossed 25 miles per week 3 times. My longest week was just under 40 miles two weeks before the marathon. Most of my weeks this year have been at or under 20 miles running with lots of cross training.

(image from, where I log all of my runs)

I approached the marathon not knowing how my body would respond to this low mileage. So I started out very conservatively. My goal was to run aerobically (conversational pace) for as long as possible. I knew that would last only a few miles before the climbing started. Over the first few climbs I was feeling great. The fourth climb is the big one up Roanoke Mountain Overlook. This would be the pinnacle of the race. I chose to walk most of that climb, and still caught many people along the way. I knew I could comfortably walk a 12-13 minute mile, so that's what I did.

At the top of that climb, I realized that with most of the climbing behind me, I was averaging 9 minute miles, and feeling great. At that point I knew a sub 4-hour marathon was in my sights. I continued to push, anticipating the "wall" that hits me in most marathons around 18 miles in. 18 miles came, no wall. 20, no wall. 22, no wall, and at this point I was picking up speed. Several times between 20 and 24 I caught myself running a 7-minute per mile pace. I was having a blast, passing people, cheering on other runners and (half marathon) walkers. I found that the more I encouraged others, the better I felt.

End result: a pretty tough road marathon, 3:53, on very little weekly mileage. I recovered quickly, and was back to my crossfit-style workouts on Monday. Can this type of training get me back into ultra shape? I'm going to find out.

Run hard out there.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Swimsuit season is 25 days away

Swimsuit season is almost here. Are you ready? What sacrifices will you make to be ready?

Eat cleaner. Give up deserts. No empty calories.
Exercise more. Up the intensity. Run some hills.
Sleep more. It really does matter.

Run hard out there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How to take down a giant

Now we're talking! Could a 25-cent toy be the chink in the fast food industry's armor?

Happy Meal toys could be banned in Santa Clara County

A county supervisor has created a stir with his proposal to bar the inclusion of toys in restaurant meals that contain high amounts of sugar, salt or certain fats.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy EARTH DAY 2010

Happy Earth Day everyone. Take a small trash bag on your run today and see if you can pick up a few bits of litter.

May is Clean Commute Month. See what programs are in your area and take the pledge to walk, run, bike, hop, skip, jump part or all of your way to work.

My commuter bike is on display this morning in the lobby of the building where I work. Last year we were able to get a modest number of people here to ride bikes to work. I'm hoping for more this year.

Run hard out there.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Poor Mountain continued

Some of my favorite images from our Poor Mountain run:

Trespassers will be shot on sight.
Yeah right.

Jay reaching the top before me.

"Well, it looks like the gangs have run up here." -Jay

"Do not stop, keep moving." Something about radiation?
Uh, okay.
(What's that tingling sensation?!?)

Cool towers.

Pretty neat, huh?

Did I mention we missed the summit by a few hundred yards?
I can see the real summit from my neighborhood.

It is taunting me.

Run hard out there.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Exploring Poor Mountain

Jay, Anita and I decided to spend the first day of spring exploring the highest mountain in both Roanoke and Montgomery counties. The 3928 foot summit of Poor Mountain is home to several (many!) radio, television, and who knows what else antennas. That was our destination, and man what a day to do it. 19 miles total for the run. Probably about 3000 feet gain for the day.

I'll post some pics of the structures we found up there at a later date. But for now, here is the topo.

We didn't know it until we got back to the car and looked at the map, but we turned around just short of a lookout. Oh well, now we have a good excuse to go back.

Run hard out there.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring is (almost) here

Friday's forecast is 71 degrees, sunny. If all goes well, I'll be taking my lunchtime-workout buddies up this route. Most of them are very new to trail running. The snow is gone, so I am interested to see how much easier this climb is on dry turf.

I told my friends that when we finish we might have some small scratches on our arms and legs, but we will definitely have BIG smiles on our faces.

I'll send an update after the run.

Today's lunchtime workout:

Bodyweight 400

Run to the park
Repeat the following circuit 4 times. Minimal rest.
  • 25 Squats
  • 25 Pushups
  • 25 Crunches
  • 25 Burpees
Run (walk) back downtown.

This is one of the toughest we do in the limited time we have. Today everyone completed the entire workout. That's 16-20 minutes of pure anaerobic activity.

Run hard out there.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

AT/Catawba update

I've got some friends planning a little run on the AT around Catawba this Saturday. Here is a trail report:

I was on the trails on Sunday. The dark sides of the mountains still have lots of snow, and we are getting more now, tonight and tomorrow. My front yard was clear this morning, now it is white again. I can see the slopes that lean towards I-81, and they are very white. Nights between now and Saturday are below freezing. Days are above. Saturday the forecast is for sunny, with a high of 53. Perfect afternoon for refreshments off the trail. But first you have to make it off the trail.

I recommend: gaiters, beefy shoes, a change or two of socks, pants with the ability to change to shorts, short sleeve shirt with a light wind breaker, gloves and something for the head. Sunglasses (snowglasses ?) will be important too.

Run hard out there...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

More than one way up a mountain

I've lived most my life here at the base of Mill Mountain, and probably looked at that "scar" (I prefer to call it a beauty mark) up the side the mountain more days that I care to count. There used to be an "incline" (cable car) that took wealthy patrons straight up the mountain to the theater at the top. The incline is gone. Now there is a power line and a 20 yard wide strip of briars and other thick brush left behind.

(The "scar" rises from behind the hospital to the top of Mill Mountain)

As a child, I always wanted to explore that incline. Once I became a trail runner the attraction was even stronger. And with the snow on the mountain this winter, it has looked more appealing than ever.

So today I did it.

Getting to the scar involved some skirting around public works and hospital property. But from the road, I was climbing the incline in less than 10 minutes. Staying the middle of the scar was almost impossible due to the briars that wanted to shred my legs and arms and back and stomach and face. I quickly learned that if I were smart (like the deer whose tracks I finally followed to the top), I would get out of the scar and stay in the natural woods to the right.

(looking up at the steepest part of the climb)

It only took me about 30 minutes to make the climb. My GPS tells me it was about 0.6 miles of steep climbing. Enough to break a sweat, but not nearly enough to wear me out. I have seen the view from the top many times, but today it was better than ever, knowing I had finally realized a boyhood dream.

(View from the top)

From the top I took a series of trails back down, turning a 0.6 mile climb into a nice 4 mile run. The trails around here are still very snow covered. But the 50+ degree temps today made them quite runnable.

Run hard out there...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Top 5

I don't follow sales ranks very closely, but it's always fun when I see something like this. Click on the image to zoom.

Today's Workout

Snow Shoveling! 2 straight hours. Oh man, does the sofa feel good about right now.

Some people do this for exercise!

No wonder I'm tired!

Run hard out there...

Friday, February 5, 2010


This is our second large snowstorm in two weeks. We have a good 6-8 inches already, and it is still falling. I cannot wait until I can get out to the Parkway for some good running in the snow!

Today's workout:

Run 3 miles on the treadmill (that's about all I can take). Every half mile, hop off the treadmill and do 2 minutes of high intensity exercises like Burpees, squat jumps, mountain climbers, etc. Then hop back on the hamster wheel and run some more.

I followed that up with a full hour of snow shoveling.

Run hard out there...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Crossfit Endurance strikes again

Mark Matyazic, 2nd place Javelina Jundred 100 Mile run. 17:22:09. Check out the video [wmv] [mov]. It was his first hundred miler. He seems to be in pretty good shape at the end too.

He trained the AnaerobicEndurance (aka Crossfit Endurance) way. No details yet about his training, but you can bet it was not the traditional long slow distance high weekly mileage plan.

Run hard out there...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Today's Workout -- Hill Repeats, 100 Burpees

Went to Fishburn Park, and ran hill repeats on one of my favorite hills. I was only looking for about a 40 minute workout due to time constraints, so 10 repeats worked out great. I did 10 Burpees at the top each time for a total of 100 Burpees. There is still a whole lot of ice and snow here. Temperatures are finally going to get above freezing this week, so maybe some of it will go away.

I think the Burpees are getting easier.

Run hard out there.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Today's workout, 10K and Burpees

I ran the Frozen Toe 10K this morning. Most of the run is on the 5.6 mile Chestnut Ridge Loop, one of my favorite running trails in this area. The trail was about 70% covered in snow and ice, which made for some interesting running. Despite going out too fast, I was pleased with my time and performance.

Mountain Junkies not only put on great races, but they catalog all of the local trails and give a whole heck of a lot back to the community. Check out their races. You will not be disappointed.

I was home alone after the run, and had some extra energy, so I knocked out 100 Burpees while listening to The Ramones, Rocket to Russia. Most of the rest of the day will be spent on the couch watching college hoops.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Nice day to be outside

We've had a warming trend here, so a couple of us got outside for a lunchtime workout:

  • Jog to the park (about 1 mile)
  • 10 x (10 burpees, jog down/up hill)
  • Run the long way (3 miles) back to downtown

A great day to be outside.

Run hard out there...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Today's workout

No time during lunch, decided to fire up the treadmill at home:

1/2 mile run
10 Burpees
Repeat for a total of 6 times

3 miles, 60 burpees. Particle in the earphones. Not a bad way to spend half an hour.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

100 day, 100 Burpee challenge ends today

But I did do three Burpees today -- January 3rd, 2010.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

100 more Burpees

100 more Burpees today and oh man, two days in a row of this and I've just about had it.

Friday, January 1, 2010


I've written about them before. Beloved exercise of tough people everywhere. The mighty Burpee. Yes, with an uppercase B. Approach this one with respect my friend. Because it will slap you down hard if you don't.

People everywhere talk about the 100 day Burpee challenge. 1 burpee on Jan 1, 2 on the 2nd, 3 on the third. Are you asleep yet? No offense to those who attempt the challenge. Never having done it, it could be a lot tougher than I think. Recall my history with New Year's goals.

But here is a real challenge. 100 burpees per day for 100 days. Or as long as you can do it. I just did 100... not my best time at it, but I finished them all during No Quarter from The Song Remains the Same.

Run hard out there.