Fun run

For some of us it’s hard to stop focusing on how fast we can run, on how to improve our times. I’ve certainly fallen into this trap before and I’m sure I will again, but right now (partly because I’ve been forced into it), I’m in a period of running for the sheer enjoyment.

My plan for the upcoming London Marathon was always to just enjoy it with no focus on times, but that wasn’t my intention with other races this year. However, a calf muscle issue has slowed me down in my training and plans, so when it came to this past weekend’s Miles for Music I could not race.

As I had already registered and would be there to support my club, I decided to run the 8 miles I had planned as part of the race (I wasn’t sure I could do 8 yet, but I was hopeful I would be able to).

I carried my phone with the intention of taking pictures as I ran (I recently received the Hansnap which worked out extremely well).

It was hard to stop running at 8 miles. I felt good, but also knew that I shouldn’t be pushing my luck.

I had such a good time I started to think about what runs might be good for running for fun. There are courses with great views, but sometimes it’s not about that, and the crowd support (this was a great thing on Sunday), or just the number of runners will come into the equation – several times I had conversations with other runners on the course as we ran together.

Potentially a good course for a fun run (perhaps apart from some of the earlier parts) is the Newport 10k on May 14th. This might be another “forced” fun run for me as it’s 3 weeks after London, but that won’t be so bad. There is a pretty decent level of crowd support, a large field of runners, and the views of Manhattan as you head towards the finish. (I am an official blog partner of the Newport 10k, but have run this race for many years and my assessment has not been influenced by this).

From other races I have run in recent years, the Clinton 15k is a scenic event, but you can end up lonely on the course.

I would imagine a Cherry Blossom race, such as the Newark one would be good, although I have not taken part in that.

For me the Highland Park 5k is one of these events. Always people cheering the runners on, and a nice course, but it could be said I am biased – it probably helps that I live there.

What other races in NJ are just great to be a part of because of the atmosphere, or any other reason?


Training when injured

Injury is more likely during a training cycle so it’s important to have a plan that’s not too aggressive to limit the possibility of getting injured

Of course, there’s never a fail-safe way to avoid getting injured, and it may be something not directly related to your running that causes it.

My own “injuries” in the past (I use quotation marks as I’m not sure they count) have been minor and have barely stopped me from running. Invariably they were caused by tight muscles and usually originate in the calf. The first time it happened was relatively minor and I was soon able to determine what was pulling on my knee and massage it out myself. The second time was more uncomfortable and more widespread, but finding a massage therapist sorted that one out (and I’ve had monthly massages since).

Right now I’m in the middle of a marathon training cycle (a marathon I’ve already declared to be my last for many years, but which I am running for charity with no time goals) and just over 2 weeks ago I felt the pull on my knee that indicated to me that I had another muscle issue.

Given the timing, the fact that this was worse than anything I’ve had before, and that I have good insurance, I booked an appointment with a Physical Therapist. By that time I had pretty much decided that what caused this was an overenthusiastic Bodycombat session a couple of days earlier (the pain happened during my first run after that class and I had been giving the kicks everything I had).

So what did I do to keep myself active in the hope that I wouldn’t lose too much?

  1. Rowing machine – my morning routine includes going to the gym near my office, so rather than getting on the treadmill I used the rowing machine (at first the bike was also pulling on my knee but the rowing machine caused no issues)
  2. Strengthening exercises as indicated by the PT
  3. Occasional attempts at running – at first my knee would hurt half a mile into a run, so I would run half a mile, or extend it out to see how I coped. I wanted to see how quickly it recovered. As things seemed to be working themselves out through PT sessions, regular stretching and the strengthening work, recovery was better, and the distance I felt I could safely run got longer.
  4. This final exercise was the unusual one. Just a couple of months ago I had received a Halfbike which was the outcome of a Kickstarter campaign. I will write a full review of the Halfbike in my next post, but I have to say that, whether it helped or not overall, it was mentally the best thing for me. It kept me out with the running club and I was surprised at how much distance I was able to cover on it.

Clearly the type of injury and advice from doctors or PTs will make a difference to what you are able to do. I was able to isolate my injury to primarily one muscle and that helped determine what I could do. I’m happy to say that after 2 weeks I have now managed to run 4 miles pain free so hopefully I can build on that safely.

Miles for Music 20k

We’re less than 3 weeks away from the start of the first USATF Team Championship race of the year, the Miles for Music 20k taking place in Johnson Park, Piscataway on Sunday March 20th.


Miles for Music not only has a 20k, it also has a 5k and a 1-mile event. Money raised at the event goes to school music programs, and you can run for a registered school to increase their portion of the funds.

As a team championship race, the 20k will give you an early “category 3” 700-point race in the 2016 New Balance Grand Prix.

Make sure your USATF membership is current, and if you’re not already running on a team, why not join a club and see if they have a USATF team. Even if you consider yourself a slow runner, there’s a club out there waiting to cheer you on.