Tag Archives: stars

No head. No heart. No feet.

Ultrarunning is hard.

I was supposed to run 20 miles this morning for my log run leading up to the Marquette Trail 50 mile run in August.  Except I only ran 5.  Actually I covered 5 miles, but most of the fifth mile was spent walking, reflecting and watching satellites zoom overhead.

Yes, ultrarunning is hard.  And I’m likely dropping from the Marquette Trail 50 miler again this year.

After the 50k I ran on January 2nd, my running imploded.  I intentionally took a couple weeks of rest / relaxation after that race, and then some things happened at work over the course of a few weeks – some planned and some not – that impacted my ability to run what I wanted / needed to run.  After that much time of inconsistent running, my head was out of the game.

Within the last couple weeks I realized that if I’m still running the MT50, and I still planned too, I had to start training seriously.  Except – one can’t just jump right back into training for an ultra without really training to train for an ultra.  It was foolish think I can hop right back into running 35 mile weeks right out of the gate after not running that kind of mileage for a few months.  And so I sit here with a with pain in my knee and pain in my foot.

Just after starting my fifth mile this morning, I stopped to watch a satellite zoom across the sky.  Once I started hobbling forward again, it was only a couple minutes before I stopped again.  My heart wasn’t in it.

At that point I realized I had – No head.  No heart.  No feet.

It’s also at that point I realized ultrarunning is hard.  It’s not just training for the miles, but it’s training the mind.  It’s training yourself to get up at crazy hours.  It’s training yourself to run through shit weather.  It’s training yourself to push through pain.  It’s training yourself to sacrifice time with family.

What I learned this morning is – you can’t just jump back right to where you were.

So with that … I don’t know.

I don’t know what’s next.  Will it be an ultra?  Or a marathon?  Half marathon?  I’m not sure.  I need some time to heal my knee and my foot.  I need some time to rebuild my head and get my heart into training for something again.

 

Running into darkness …

Out the door, down the driveway, start the watch, run … I reach up to my headlamp and click – I’m instantly swallowed by darkness.  And I love it.

A few months ago, on a whim, I turned my headlamp off mid run.  There was supposed to be a meteor shower that morning and I wanted to see some shooting stars.  I felt distracted by the headlamp so I turned it off.  I instantly noticed a sky full of stars and it was awesome.  I saw two shooting stars that morning – not as many as I’d hoped, but these were the first two shooting stars I’d seen while running.

I find myself time and time again, especially when the sky is clear, reaching up to click myself into darkness.  I found this to be a similar experience to when I first started running without music.  Dropping the music made me feel more in tune with my surroundings.  Dropping the light took it to another level.  It’s me and the morning.  And it’s beautiful.

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It’s amazing how well our eyes adapt.  And I don’t even really eat carrots.  What I found is the headlamp gives me tunnel vision.  Running w/o the light seems to open up the world around me.  It’s hard to explain.  But it’s cool.

Dude – you’re crazy for running around, in the dark, with no headlamp.

Eh.  Not really.  But I think safety is still critical.  Given that, here are my tips for running into the darkness … should you decide to give it a whirl.

  1. Wear a headlamp.  When I see a car coming, I click the light on so I’m more visible and then generally step off the road to let it pass.
  2. Wear lights on your back.  Even though my headlamp is off, I have red flashing lights on my back.  Nathan makes a cheap clip light.  Get one.
  3. Wear reflective gear – that’s really a given whether your headlamp is on or off, if you’re running in the dark.  I’m a big fan of the Amphipod xinglet.
  4. Run known routes.  If you know where the pot holes are, it’s much easier to relax and enjoy the run vs. looking at the ground for something that’s going to twist your ankle.
  5. I don’t recommend trying this in the snow.  It’s too hard to tell what’s good from a footing standpoint.
  6. Relax and have fun!

Do you run in the dark?  Ever tried to click the light out?

I should be running …

I first felt it last night, while walking out to my car after work.  My ankle felt a little stiff and there was pain between the front / outside of my right ankle.  I also felt it bother me a bit during my sleep last night – or at least when I should have been sleeping.

Oh well, up at 2:20am to run this morning!

I needed 15 miles today and another 20 tomorrow to cap off my peak training week for the Yankee Springs Challenge 50k.  The sky was clear, the stars were out, and it was a beautiful morning.

Except … for my ankle.

I felt some discomfort pretty much immediately after I started running.  It was minor, but it was there.  Nothing to keep me from running though so I continued on.

The further I ran, I started noticing that I was changing my stride to compensate for it.  I don’t like to do this because it seems to eventually aggravate some other muscle / joint / leg eventually.

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5 miles into this 15 mile route, I was heading back past the house.  With the discomfort increasing, and the fear of injuring something else by over compensating for another 10 miles, I bailed on the remainder of the run.  So here I sit – at 5:30am blogging – while I should be out running.

I’m content with the decision. I feel I have the endurance to run my race in January, and I’m guessing I just need a couple of days off anyway.  It may very well jeopardize my mileage goal though – it was going to be close, even with the 15 miler today and 20 miler tomorrow (which I don’t plan on doing now).  That’s not the end of the world though.

This also isn’t an A list race for me, but more of a target to keep training and in shape through the end of the year.  I’m definitely looking forward to it, but it’s just a short 20 minute drive away.  If it were my 50miler next summer, in Marquette, and I was in this spot, perhaps I’d be freaking out just a bit.

 

So what’s up with the ankle?  I don’t know.  I’m not a doctor.  And I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  My whole right leg has felt a bit tight for a few days.  I’m guessing something’s just finally gotten to the point where it’s out of whack and causing the discomfort.  I’ll work a little harder on the stretching / rolling / icing for a couple days and see where we’re at.

So instead of running this morning – I’ve been icing, watching a rerun of last night’s football game and blogging.

I hope you have a better weekend than me!

On the plus side, I did see a meteor this morning!

 

What’re your favorite running apps?

I was 9 miles into my 12 mile run recently, texting with a co-worker at 5am about a problem at work (I’m a computer nerd – we’re always available) and I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye.

That’s weird, it seemed like lightning – but … we don’t really get much lightning this time of year …

A few minutes, and a few texts later (by the way – thankfully I’m working on HR training and have been moving SLOOOOOOOOOOWLY, otherwise this texting thing isn’t really doable) I saw another flash.

Hmmmm – maybe that is lightning.

I opened one of my favorite apps ‘Storm’ from Wunderground, and sure enough – there was lightning about 75 miles out.

Good – I’m not rushing home for work and now I don’t have to rush home for the lightning, it’s headed North vs. East.

With the work crisis behind me, and the lightning headed North, I spent the last three miles thinking about what my favorite running apps are.  Then I got to thinking – what other cool running apps are there that I’m not aware of?  That’s where you come in … but I didn’t think it was fair to ask you without giving you my favorites as well.

Mine are below.

What are your favorite running apps?


 

IMG_3438.PNGStorm – Free

Storm is awesome.  Yes it has the hourly / daily forecast like all weather apps, and I use that to help me gather the proper clothes the night before a run, but the radar is what I love about it.

As you can see, it’s possible to overlay a lightning map.  I’ve used before to bail on an 18 miler when there was a storm moving in quicker than anticipated.

The pie shaped area ahead of the storm gives you an idea of how fast (each tick mark is 15 minutes) and what direction a storm is headed.  If you click on the storm, it will give you estimated times it will reach cities in the path.

This app also allows you to look an hour into the future with the radar.  Obviously it can’t really see the future, but it’s the best guess as to where a storm is headed.

Lastly, it will alert when lightning (or precipitation) is in the area.  Since it does that via notification, and my Garmin Fenix 3 receives notifications from my phone, this is a pretty sweet deal.  Typically I don’t like to be close enough to rely on that for lightning (I think it alerts at 10 miles), but I’d rather have that last bit of warning vs. nothing.


 

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Garmin Connect – Free

Not all apps are sexy, and this one definitely falls into the ‘not sexy’ category.  But, for what it lacks in sex appeal, it makes up for in functionality – usually.

This app can do all sorts of things – track sleep, steps, download golf courses??, plus probably some other stuff, but what I love it for is the ability to link up to my Garmin Fenix 3.  If you don’t have a watch this will link to (I think it’s compatible with newer Forerunner watches also) then you can skip this one.

Before I start a run, I click the ‘Start LiveTrack button’ and then as I’m running, my wife can see where I’m at.  This is very useful if I end up hurt and she needs to come pick me up (fortunately never had to use that), wants to swing by a run with the girls after grocery shopping (has done that in the middle of a 17 mile run), track me during a race, or just see how close I am to returning home on the weekend.

The downside to the liveTrack functionality – after recent updates to my watch software and the Garmin Connect App, I’ve seen a few occasions where it hasn’t worked.

Lastly, Garmin Connect is the app that allows my to pair my Fenix 3 to my phone to receive notifications.  Any notification that appears on my watch (including the aforementioned lightning alerts), come to my phone.  So – while I’m running a race, those following my progress w/LiveTrack and send me words of encouragement during the race.


 

IMG_3443.PNGStrava – Free (Premuim $59.99/yr)

I log all of my runs (and walks / hikes) to Strava.  it’s my go-to app for logging / tracking my activities.

I enjoy the ability to compete in the challenges (typically I do the monthly distance / 10k / half marathon) and commune with other runners.  Seeing what other, local, runners are doing out in the cold of winter helps to keep me motivated.

I used to use Map My Run, but it because very slow, especially when reviewing old data.  I’ve never had that issue w/Strava.

Strava will track mileage on your shoes too.  I find that very helpful.

I’m a Strava premium subscriber.  I utilize that for weekly goals, personal heat map (where I’ve run) and to a minor degree the trophy case.  I’d say most of the best functionality is in the free version though.

One bummer though – I couldn’t bring my data over from Map My Run.  But I got over that soon enough.


 

Pace IMG_3444.PNG– Free

I use Pace a lot – like multiple times a week a lot.  It’s another app that falls into the ‘not so sexy’ category, but it’s very useful.

As my runs get longer and longer, the math to figure out what time I need to get up in the morning gets harder and harder.

Pace helps my plugging in my distance / anticipated pace and, Voila!, there’s how much time I need.

I also used it before my last marathon to help me understand what pace I needed to run to break 4 hours.  Yes, anyone can google it and get a result of 9:09/mile.  BUT … if you run 9:09, per your watch, you’re likely not going to break 4 hours.

Because you really run more than 26.2 miles in a marathon!

Looking back at my previous two marathons, I figured I needed to plan on running at least 26.5 miles.  I plugged in 26.5 miles, 3:59:59 in the ‘time’ field, and it spit back a pace of 9:03.

I shot for 9:02 just to be safe.


 

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Google Sheets – Free

Spreadsheets.  On your phone.  That’s really about all I need to say about this one.

I personally use a Google spreadsheet to maintain my training log.  This gives me the ability to view / update that on the fly.

Coolness.

It’s pretty full featured too.  The training log is simple math, but if you wanted to you can format with different colored cells, etc.

If you keep a spreadsheet as well, perhaps this would be useful to you.

 

 


 

IMG_3452.PNGGoogle Maps – Free

Google Maps helps me explore new places visually before strapping on my shoes to run for real.

Yes, I like to explore while I run, but I also like to be safe, and there’s some comfort knowing what I’m getting into – before I get into it.

Case in point, I was looking at the area near a Fairfield Inn that I stayed recently.  I saw lots of industrial stuff that didn’t look too welcoming to a run.  And given that I like to run early, before the sun’s up, I took a pass and hit the treadmill instead.

 

 

 


 

 

IMG_3447.PNG ISS Spotter – Free

I love to run early in the morning – aka Darkness!!

Why???

Well first off, that’s what my schedule allows, but … there’s some really cool stuff to see in the wee hours of the morning – like the International Space Station!

How do I find the International Space Station?

I’m glad you asked – simply download the ISS Spotter app and it will provide you a forecast of when you should be able to see the space station fly overhead.

It also provides a nice map of where the space station is at the current time.

If you’re really into looking at the space station, you can set an alert to let you know when it’s nearby and very visible.


 

IMG_3445.PNGThe Night Sky – $.99

Another benefit of early morning running – Stars!  And I love stars.

There are plenty of apps that act as a star chart, and I’ve used a few.  Honestly, this one doesn’t get great reviews in the app store, but it meets my needs.

First, it was one of the star charts with the smallest installation footprints.

Secondly, it’s very responsive.

What more does one need?

I’m not real big on seeing the artist representation of the constellation, but there’s probably a way to turn that off.  It just hasn’t bothered me enough to look into it.

I like that this will tell me what a particular constellation, or planet, is and that it also helps me look for a specific constellation on planet.

Recently it helped tech me that a constellation I was looking at was Canis Minor.

One other benefit – when I read reports of a meteor shower, centralized on constellation XYZ, I use this to find XYZ in the sky so I know where to look.


 

IMG_3446.PNGAurora Forecast – Free

I’ve always thought it’d be cool to run under the Northern lights.  To date, that’s never happened, but I’m hoping this app helps me with that.

This app does exactly what the name implies – helps one understand the forecast for the Northern lights.

One of the cool features is the globe that you can spin around and see where the Aurora is currently active.

While I haven’t been successful from a running standpoint, this app has been useful in notifying me of an opportunity to take my daughter out to experience them the first time.

 


 

 

IMG_3448.PNGScope Nights – Free (but in app purchases)

Another app that’s rated poorly in the app store, but I dig it.

It’s offers a quick glance as to whether or not I’m gonna have a poor / good / great star viewing run in the morning.

One of the extras I purchased was the dark sky map.  It shows you where the sky is darkest around you.  Not necessarily useful for running, but it helps me find the dark sky if I want to take my daughters out for a ride to look at stars.