The rules of the GPS

Today is a rest day, and I’m trying to especially make a point to rest and ice my back. Except for the part where I spent the morning sweeping and swiffering the floors and vacuuming the bedrooms. That probably didn’t help my back any, but the house has to be cleaned.

Last night I made some shrimp tacos for dinner, with a side of rice.

I actually got the recipe from a coupon book our grocery store sent out a few years ago, and it’s a keeper. The shrimp are coated in minced garlic, ground cumin, chili powder, salt, cayenne pepper, and olive oil and cooked. I like to use corn tortillas and I usually fry a few of them in olive oil and shape them into hard taco shells. We top the shrimp with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and a cilantro-lime sour cream (sour cream mixed with fresh chopped cilantro, ground cumin, lime juice, and a little salt). I think the recipe is meant to be a summertime recipe, but we eat it all year round. I love shrimp!

I’ve been reading through my new issue of Running Times and there’s an article in it about getting the most from your GPS watch, written by Greg McMillan. When it comes to training runs, I am married to my Garmin. It doesn’t matter if it’s a route I’ve run 100 times and know exactly what distance it is. I just have to have that watch on my wrist. Oddly enough, I tend to run longer races (10+ miles) without my GPS. I usually prefer my timex stopwatch. I have no explanation for this. I can explain why I wear it in shorter races, though. When you’re running that hard, it helps to know exaclty how many tenths of a mile there are to go. It’s the only way I can convince myself to keep up the pace.

Haunted Half Marathon, October 2012, Kingsport… a Garmin-less race

So here are the rules:

RULE No. 1: Don’t look
RULE No. 2: Let the pace vary
RULE No. 3: Don’t question the race distance
RULE No. 4: Don’t race the GPS
RULE No. 5: Leave it at home
Some of these are pretty self-explanatory. Rule number one recommends you avoid looking at your GPS watch for the first 10 minutes of your run. You should listen to your body and try not to force the pace you intend to run. Avoiding a peek at your watch allows you to gradually ease into your normal pace. Us runners are known to “stalk” our GPS and doing so at the start of your run can cause you to start too fast.
Rule number 2 also has to do with GPS stalking. If you’re constantly checking you watch, you’re going to drive yourself crazy when your pace varies thoughout the run. I actually keep the main screen on my GPS watch set to “average pace” instead of current “pace” because I used to drive myself nuts when my pace would vary as I climed a steep incline, hit a low point in a run, etc. Having it set to average pace helps me allow my pace to vary naturally.
Rule number 3 is actually a pet peeve of mine. I hate crossing a finish line and hearing the guy next to me go “the course was XX tenths long”. Race courses are measured using equipment that is more sophisticated than our GPS watches. Plus I’m pretty sure certified courses are based on running every tangent, and I’m pretty sure most of us don’t end up running the shortest distance for the entire race. Now, that being said there is ONE time when you can challenge the race distance, and I went through this at a 5K last Thanksgiving. I crossed the line and my Garmin read “2.88 miles”. That was definitely not a 5K and I felt robbed of the PR I was shooting for, that I was on pace to achieve.
Notice the Garmin, since it was a 5K
Rule 4- don’t race the GPS. Sometimes knowing your pace makes you want to go faster, but you have to remember what you set out to do for that training run. If it wasn’t meant to be speedwork, don’t make it speedwork, or you won’t get the intended benefits of the workout.
Finally, rule 5. The one I don’t do or if anything the one I do backwards. Like I’ve already said, I’m married to my GPS watch. I will wear it on every training run but have a tendancy to leave it home during longer races. I am capable of running by feel even with all of the information from my watch coming at me during a training run, so you’re probably not going to find me going Garmin-less during training. It’s a good idea, though. The article talks about running by your “internal GPS”, aka by feel, when you’re going out for a regular run that you’ve done dozens of times. And that’s a good idea, but if my route ends up being 0.01 longer than last time, I want to know!
As Mr. McMillan puts it, get out there and locate some satellites!

Another tough one

Look what came today!!

March issue of Running Times!

Technically it came yesterday, but it was so windy yesterday afternoon/evening that I didn’t go out to get the mail until this morning. Running Times is my favorite magazine (People is a close second and third would be Runner’s World). All of the columns are really interesting and I like trying to incorporate training ideas into my own training (although I usually have to tailor it to my speed/ability).

I am sad to report today was another tough run. I met up with my running buddy at the local trail this morning. It was crisp and clear outside, just a little under 30 degrees and slightly windy. We ran 6 miles, but neither one of us felt that great today. Her legs just didn’t seem to want to go and I was feeling sluggish as well. The muscles in my back were also feeling sore and fatigued today. I’m not sure why it’s feeling that way, but I’m going to rest today and do some icing and stretching (if I can figure out how to stretch the middle of my back…).

The trail itself got pretty interesting at times, due to the flooding we had last week. The trail is paved for 0.8 miles and then switches over to crushed gravel, and it follows a creek. There were areas of the trail that were still underwater today and other areas that had been washed away, leaving large gaps. Other areas were covered with large rocks and mud from the creek bottom, and there were a few branches across the trail. We were practically trail runners for the day. Of course I didn’t bring my camera so I have no pictures to show you…. sorry.

This week I’m going to cut back my mileage in hopes that it helps me feel better. Maybe a cutback week is what I’ve been needing? I haven’t been increasing my mileage, but I have kept it around 20 miles per week, give or take, since Christmas. I have a 10 mile race coming up next Saturday. Initially I was wanting to beat my time last year (you know… shoot for the moon, aim for the stars kind of stuff), but now honestly my goal is to run the entire thing. I ran this race last year and it takes place on my old stomping grounds, so I’m very familiar with where the hills are and how tough they can be. The catch is I haven’t run on that trail in quite awhile. Hopefully everything goes well. Maybe I will surprise myself, get out of this rut I’m in, and have a good race. That is the power of running with hundreds of other people.  

That’s a picture from last year’s race, borrowed from Nicki. I actually met her through her running blog and we ran together for close to a year before she moved to Texas. I met my current running buddy through her, as they were already running together when I joined the party. We ran about half of the race together last year. Don’t mind my frizzy out of control hair and my inability to not look like an alien while having my picture taken.

Reboot your running

I ended up taking a rest today to try and let my body get its act together. Hopefully an extra rest day will help me feel less tired. In the meantime, I came across this article on the Brooks Running blog. It talks about five ways to “reboot” your running resolutions. Now I didn’t actually make any resolutions related to running (or any resolutions, period), but some of these points still apply to how things have been for me lately. I think the article was specifically geared towards someone who made a resolution to start running, but it really does apply to long-time and new runners.

Funny they should mention taking a look at your eating habits, because that’s exactly what I said I needed to do yesterday. Ironically I had not come across this article before yesterday’s post. I’m definitely going to be paying more attention to what I eat and how it makes me feel in regards to my running.


This is the other tip out of the five that directly applies to how I’ve been feeling lately. Their advice to keep a running journal is something I already do, and have been doing since I started running in 2007. Thanks to Team in Training for staring me off right with a Runner’s World training log. I have continued to use this same log over the past 5 years and I have all of my old logs. I really enjoy going back to look at past runs and training cycles. It really gives you a good picture of what works and what doesn’t in terms of how you are training, the amount of mileage you’re doing, etc. I will probably always continue to keep a hand written running log because it works for me and I look forward to writing in them when I complete a run.


In addition to keeping a running log, I think it’s important to try and make at least one of your weekday runs have a specific purpose. You could make it a progressive run, do fartleks during the run, purposefully run a hilly route, or maybe run a negative split. I have a bad habit of just going out and running the same speed each day (or whatever speed I feel like that day) just to get the miles in. This is something I need to work on. I’m going to try and incorporate a run with a “specific purpose” in at least one of my three week day runs.


What resolutions did you make for the new year?

Do you keep a running log? If so, what type?

Do you have a habit of running just to run? Or do you make sure your runs have a specific purpose?

Stuck in a rut

This evening I ran 3.1 miles with Barry. As we headed out the door is started sleeting and it rained/sleeted on and off throughout the run. The temperature is hovering around 35 degrees, so really not too bad outside. I never felt hot during our run, but for some reason I was as sweaty as if it was 80 degrees outside when we finished running. It was a slow run and I felt like I struggled the entire time. I need to get out of this winter slump and get some inspiration.

Penguin Wisdom

Last night’s planned hard, hilly run ended up not happening. Actually no running happened yesterday. When I got home from work something else came up so I pushed my run to tonight. Then when I got home tonight I just didn’t feel up to a 5 mile run with tough hills. I may attempt it tomorrow or I may just put it on the back burner until next week.

As far as this slump I’ve been in lately, I’ve mainly been blaming it on the weather. I have races on the schedule (one coming up next weekend!) so there’s nothing missing there as far as motivation goes. But I think there’s something else that could be contributing to this slump- my diet. I’m going to make an effort to eat healthier over the next week and see if that makes a difference. I haven’t necessarily been eating really bad lately, but I could do for a clean up in my diet. We’ll see if that helps me start feeling like I have more energy when I head out for a run. That makes me think of an ad I saw on a bus last July in Denver:

Except for me it’s going to be: Goodbye junk food. Hello better runs! This is random but there’s a story on the news right now on how they are keeping the Redwood Forest in Oregonalive by cloning trees. They had some amazing shots of the Redwood Forest… wow! I want to run there some day.


What do you do when you get in a running slump?

What’s the coolest place you have ever run?

Skunks and cows

Tonight I went for a 4 mile run after work. It was 43 degrees outside so I got to run in shorts again! My quads were feeling pretty tired today, after yesterday’s faster (for me) paced run. They better get their act together because I have a hard, hilly run planned for tomorrow.

When I started my run today, I saw Mr. Boy (the jack russell that lives down the road that occasionally runs with me) out in a field running around like a maniac. I wondered what he was doing… and then I saw the skunk. Right as I ran by on the road, Mr. Boy ran up behind the skunk barking and I saw that skunk’s tail go up in the air. Poor Mr. Boy got sprayed and then there was a lot more barking and some growling. Hope he keeps his distance because he’s going to stink for awhile.

like this, but with a jack russell

A little further on during my run, I spooked a field full of dairy cows. They’re so funny when they decide they need to run as fast as they can away from the fence, just because someone goes by.


I also ran past a field that had some beef calves in it. They were all right at the fence and when I ran by, only about 3 feet from them, they took off running. There were grown cows in the field, too, that just stood there and looked at me and watched the calves go running.


The sun set with about 1/2 a mile to go and it got chilly out. I was also worried about cars being able to see me, since I didn’t wear my reflective vest today. Every time a car went by I got in the grass along the road as best I could. When I got back to our road I was worried that skunk would still be around. It was an all black skunk and with the sun down it was hard for me to see. Luckily I did not see him, and thus avoided smelling like Mr. Boy currently smells.

"I've opted for fun in this lifetime" -Jerry Garcia