Posted on 17-11-2011
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

I’ve got a streak going! This is my second blog post in as many days.

I’ll be the first to admit that my own training has suffered since I’ve started coaching more. Lately, however, I’ve been getting back into the groove. Maybe it’s the end of the cross country season, or maybe it’s the cooler weather. Certainly the time change and the open windows have conspired to deliver sunlight to my bedroom early in the morning and that gets me out of bed earlier.

Sure I’m captaining 8 Ragnar Relay teams in 2012, but I’m not officially running any of them. So, I’ve registered for the inaugural St. Petersburg Rock and Roll half marathon. It’s in late February and it’s in my hometown! I’ve run a few 5K’s and 10K’s in St. Pete, but I’ve never run a major race in my hometown. So, that will be fun. I figure that if I ran 1:36 and change at the Wine and Dine half marathon on very little training, then I should be able to get myself back under 1:30 on 12 solid weeks of training.

That, of course means speed workouts and speed workouts mean I have to get rid of this nagging tendonitis in my left knee. So, I’ve been getting up early and hitting a yoga mat in my living room. I haven’t been doing yoga. I’ve been doing my own body weight strength training routines.

I start with the Myrtl routine (which actually isn’t mine). It’s great for attacking the basis of the tendonitis in the knee. Then, I progress to the leg routine, the upper body routine and the core routine before going back for one more pass at the Myrtl routine. I go from exercise to exercise without stopping to rest in between so it gets my heart rate going too. In a way, it’s a little like P90X.

I’ve been doing it three times a week and running easy on the in between days. Sometimes I run with the cross country team in the afternoon after doing the strength workout in the morning. I feel stronger and my knee feels more stable everyday. I can still feel odd pressure there, but the pain is gone. I think in another week, I might be able to throw in a tempo run or some cruise intervals.

I’m also leading a run group on Saturday mornings and a lot of people attending that group are doing the same race. So, it’s nice to share that common goal with everyone else. My long runs are at 10 miles and I’ll have no problem safely getting up to 15 for a few of them before race day.

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Posted on 16-11-2011
Filed Under (Races) by Brian

I think the last time I posted about a Ragnar Relay, I used 3 full posts. Don’t worry, I’m not going to do that this time. After all, I didn’t really run this one. I was just the captain. As most of my loyal readers know, I’ve dedicated my life to bringing runners together for social running opportunities. While I’m always open to suggestions, the thing that has worked the best is getting a bunch of strangers together to run relay style for 200 miles in some of the most beautiful places in the country.

The 2011 Tennessee Ragnar Relay was my first such attempt and it couldn’t have gone much better. I announced that the Digital Running Club was putting a team together way back in June. Interest was slow at first and I started to doubt whether I might pull this off. By the time we reached the early bird deadline for the relay, we had 5 people signed up for the team. I had also promised all those people their money back if the team didn’t fill up by October 1st.

So, I took a very deep breath when I forked over a non-refundable $1200 to register the team for the relay. Fortunately, interest grew after the early bird deadline and the team filled with all 12 members only a day or two in to September. Now, you might think that putting a team of 12 strangers together could go very wrong. I was worried, for instance, that one or more of the team members would not show up. I figured that if that happened, I would just fill in. Then, of course there’s always the worry about how people will get along. Would there be drama in the vans?

Everyone got along great and they all became fast friends. Here’s how it all turned out in video form:


If you like that video, please, please, please vote for it by clicking HERE, scrolling past the sign up form (you don’t need to fill it out) and clicking the little “vote” square underneath our video. We’ve got a solid hold on second place, but we need to catch the Trunk Monkeys for the win. If we win, we’ll get a free entry into next year’s relay and I’ll sweat much less when I register the team. Go. Do it now. You can come back and read the rest of this later.

I did manage to get an 8.2 mile run in during the middle of the night. I decided I was going to escort John, our fastest runner through his nighttime leg. I followed him closely for about a mile and then he turned it up and dropped me. He ran that leg in just over 53 minutes. I think I squeaked under and hour. If it had been my leg, I would have been happy with it, but it’s always pretty sobering when they guy you’re pretending to escort comes in 8 minutes before you.

It was funny later when I heard people talking about the “young sleeveless guy” passing everybody on that leg. Sleeveless me passed 6 people. Fully sleeved John passed 11. Clearly they did not even see him run by.

I’m so excited that this relay went off so well, though I did learn a few things for our next relay. The Florida Keys Ragnar Relay team is full and it’s only a month and a half away from lining up at the starting line in Miami! We’re headed to Arizona for the Del Sol Ragnar Relay in February and we’ve still got a few spots left on that team, so be sure to sign up if you’re interested.

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Posted on 09-11-2011
Filed Under (Injury) by Brian

Get your own free sample - see below

Last month, I ran surprisingly well at the Disney Wine & Dine half marathon. One of the reasons I had low expectations for that race was that I had previously injured my left knee trying to out sprint a high school runner at the end of cross country practice. I was experiencing inflammation on the lateral part of that knee and had only maxed out my long runs at 12 miles. Both of those workouts were painful.

Shortly before the race, Hyland’s sent me a package of goodies. Enclosed was a huge bag of samples of their Muscle Therapy Gel containing Arnica. I had never heard of it, but the package read “Natural Pain Relief”, so I slathered the gel all over my left knee before I departed the hotel for the race.

The inflammation in my knee disappeared almost immediately. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it because I’ve used other products before that just seem to mask the pain with another sensation. This gel, however, is different. It’s a little runnier than most gels or creams but it’s not greasy or sticky and it dries quickly. Unlike other topical pain relief products, it has no detectable odor.

I ran the half marathon pain free until the 10 mile mile mark. With all the waiting around we did before the start, that was about 4 1/2 to 5 hours after I applied the gel in the hotel.

The next morning, Raffi woke up with a pain in her neck (not my fault). Since we were planning on hanging out at the Epcot Food & Wine festival all day, she wanted to be comfortable. I suggested she try the muscle therapy gel. She did and she described the same almost instantaneous relief of the pain in her neck and shoulder.

Being a studious scientist, I did a little research when I got home. It turns out that Arnica montana (also known as Wolf’s Bane) is a poisonous plant native to mountainous regions of Europe. It contains derivatives of thymol, which have anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, a study published in 2007 showed that Arnica gels were just as effective as daily ibuprofen use for relieving pain in patients with osteoarthritis and had fewer side effects. Another study showed that people with arthritis of the knee who used Arnica gels twice daily for 3 weeks experienced significant reductions in pain and increased mobility.

I’ve never been a fan of long term usage of ibuprofen because of it’s associated risk of myocardial infarction and stroke in addition to the potential for hypertension – not to mention the gastrointestinal effects. So, having an all natural alternative that actually works well is awesome. To be fair, Arnica gels do cause mild allergic skin reactions in a small percentage of people and they should never, ever be used on damaged on broken skin. All in all, however, Arnica gels are a safe and effective alternative to ibuprofen and I’m happy I’ve still got several Hyland’s Muscle Therapy gels left over. I only I hope I won’t have any reason to use them!

If you’d like to try it for yourself, Hyland’s is giving away samples of the gel. All you have to do is check out Hyland’s Fit Talk on Facebook, “Like” the page and let them know that Coach Brian from the Digital Running Club sent you. They’ll contact you and send you a free sample.

Alternatively, you can follow them on Twitter, then let them know that @RunCoachBrian from @DigitalRunning sent you. They’ll get in touch for your mailing info so they can send out the free sample.

Edit: The giveaway will close on Sunday 11/13/2011 at 11:59 PM ET. You will be contacted on Monday 11/14/2011 for the mailing address where you’d like to receive your free sample.

***Disclaimer: The Hyland’s Muscle Therapy Gel was complimentary, but the opinions expressed and background research are all mine. ***

(3) Comments   
Posted on 06-11-2011
Filed Under (Gear) by Brian

Did you know that the typical running shoe has a 10-12 mm drop? Do you even know what that means? It means that the shoe places the runner’s heel 10-12 mm higher than his or her forefoot. That’s all about to change, though.

Recently Saucony has discovered that an 8 mm drop allows runners to adjust their stride in order to land mid-foot without sacrificing cushioning or stability. A mid-foot strike greatly reduces impact when compared with a heel strike. At 8 mm, a runner’s ankles, calves, knees, quads and hamstrings are in better alignment allow these joints and muscles to better absorb the impact of the road.

Check out the following video, which introduces the new shoe geometry:


Is this the perfect marriage of minimalism with cushioning/stability technology? Time will tell, but you can decide for yourself by heading over to Saucony’s Facebook page where you can enter to win a pair of Saucony 8 mm running shoes. Hurry because the offer end on November 8th.

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Posted on 02-11-2011
Filed Under (Races) by Brian

Tonight, I’m packing for a trip to Tennessee for the 2011 Tennessee Ragnar Relay. I’m not actually running, but I’m very excited about experiencing the event as driver of van #2 for Team 196 Proof. It’s the first of many overnight cross country running relays that I get to participate in over the next 12 months. I’ve been planning this relay since June and it’s kind of hard to believe it’s actually going to be happening on Friday morning.

Tomorrow morning is the district championship meet for the cross country team I coach. Both the boys and the girls should easily make it through to the regional championships and both teams have a pretty good shot at being district runners up. Who knows, if the day goes well, perhaps one of them might even pull out the district championship. The meet is at a very familiar course and the weather looks to be perfect. It should be fun.

So, after packing tonight, I’ll be coaching the district meet in the morning, then hopping on a plane to Nashville, then driving to Chattanooga. On Friday morning, the relay will start and we’ll run 196 miles to Nashville where we’ll celebrate Saturday night. On Sunday morning, I come home. I call that a fun weekend.

After that, time will undoubtedly speed up as Thanksgiving comes and goes, then Christmas and New Years and on to the Florida Keys Ragnar Relay. The next two months are going to rock!

(1) Comment   
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