Running Terms For the Newbie

When you are new to running, there are a lot of terms that may not be familiar to you, but you don’t want to look stupid by asking.  Instead of staying ignorant forever, I am here to help you define these unique terms to running in a way that the novice runner can understand.

This is my way of saying I am making all this stuff up.


You know how you say “Bless you” when someone sneezes? Well runners say “fartlek” when someone passes gas while running.


If you look up vert online, you will find out it has to do with the color green and forest vegetation. Since this is what is online, you know it is total crap. Vert refers to how high you have to jump to get over all the obstacles like roots on a trail run. So, if you want to impress your trail running friends, tell them you had 19 inches of vert on your last run.


The opposite of Vo2Min.

Yasso 800s

Bart Yasso is like the Yoda of the running community (except less green, taller and better looking).  One of his Yoda-like skill is that he can predict what your marathon time will be.  However, to gain this wisdom from Bart, you have to pass a physical test of running 10 800m repeats.

Single Track

If you live in the DC area, single track is when all the Metro trains use the same track and it causes traffic to get backed up. Single track in trail running is basically the same thing with more spandex involved.

Cruise intervals

How fast liberals run away from Ted Cruz.

Lactate threshold

The limit of how much chocolate milk you can drink post long run.

What, pigs can't chafe?

What, pigs can’t chafe?

Zero Drop

What you are hoping for mid-race when you REALLY have to go to the bathroom.

Body Glide

Body Glide is used to prevent chaffing.  A tip to new runners: Given the places that people may have chaffing issues, NEVER borrow another person’s Body Glide.

Hope this clears up some of the mysterious terms that runners use!




I am worried that history is repeating itself and not in a good way.  One of the nice things of being older is that if I want to relive the good ole days, all I have to do is go to a museum.  One of the bad things of being ancient is that you start to see patterns emerge (even if they really are a series of random events).

2014-Coming off the Spring season my knee starting hurting and finally gave way during a half marathon.  I had to take three weeks off running and slowly build my mileage up.  This injury was mostly avoidable because I could see the wheels coming off but keep trying to increase my mileage anyway. #fail

2015- Coming off the Spring season I had run myself hard enough that I was felled by pneumonia.  This one was less foreseeable, but trying to come back too soon (and having a relapse) was infinitely foreseeable and avoidable and I blew it.  It took several months to completely recover.  On the other hand the dark dreams I had when I had a 103-104 deg F fever would have allowed me to be a horror novelist if it weren’t for the writing part. #fail

2016-Coming off the Spring season I thought I was in good shape. This is where life gets the last laugh.  My calf had a problem on Saturday which I thought was a cramp. I rested a couple of days but on my run on Tuesday my calf started to mildly hurt a couple of miles in and really started hurting at mile 3.  My chiro yanked my foot and it moved. He provided a long explanation (which I don’t remember because I wanted him to get to the “Am I OK?” part but basically has something to do with my calf having to work harder because of a tendon between the tibia and fibula was jammed up). Basically I will likely be OK with rest, but I suck at rest and excel at trying to come back too early (worked OK in 2014, not so much in 2015). #futurefail?

Foam Roller Man. I somehow don't think this will get me invited to be part of The Avengers

Foam Roller Man. I somehow don’t think this will get me invited to be part of The Avengers.  When I don’t spend all my free time running, crap like this picture happens. 

It’s easy to go all spastic about how the world is ending and how I won’t be able to run Javelina Jundred which means I’ll never be a badass and The Pig will leave me for some younger, sexier blogger (a little surprised that the later hasn’t happened but I assume it’s due to my credit card limit). All of those may happen (and I could win Western States and I still wouldn’t think of myself as a badass), but 20 years from now it won’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

So it will be pool running and swimming this weekend. Hopefully I don’t scare too many people, and don’t get passed by too many kids with water wings and most importantly–don’t drown.

Hope everyone has a Pigtastic weekend!



More Ways to Sabotage Your Training

Optimal training is a fine line between when to push hard and when to go easy, Some of us blow through that line like a politician blows through the truth.  Here are a few ways that runners sabotage their training.

Crappy Comparisons

One of the great aspects of social media is that it gives you insight into how other runners train. One of the bad aspects of social media is that it gives you insight into how other runners train with absolutely no context. So maybe so-n-so ran a 75 miles week and they aced their most recent marathon so you should start running 75 miles a week even though your base is 21 miles.  All aboard the injury train…

Listening to Yourself

 Some of us are born to put together a training plan and execute it in a thoughtful intelligent fashion. For the other 99% of us, it is a struggle to reign ourselves in some days and get out the door at all on others.  Think that resting a day or two will help that nagging injury? Admit it, the thought NEVER crossed your mind.

No, it didn't cross your mind.

No, it didn’t cross your mind, nice try.

Listening to moronic bloggers

Would you let your average blogger perform surgery on you? No? <The Pig puts away his scalpel> (and yes, he looks cute in scrubs). So why would you believe just anything you read in a blog.  Sure some bloggers have good and innovative training ideas (not me mind you, but SOME bloggers), but there are a lot of bad ideas out there. Steph Curry could play with one eye closed and still put up some great numbers, but it doesn’t mean you are going to become a multi-millionaire NBA player if you close one eye (your first clue should have been you don’t play basketball (the 2nd is that you are reading this blog)).

It could be worse however. If you were me, you would be trying to glean new ideas from social media, listening to my frenetic brain, and would have this blog to guide your training.

You are welcome I managed to put your training in perspective.



Uh, no.

Uh, no. Also, nice try.

The core problem

I have been slacking off on my core work, and it is starting to show up in my back being sore. I took an extended break from racing in 2011 after I ran the Richmond half marathon and couldn’t turn my neck more than a couple of degrees.

The following spring I started seeing a chiropractor who put me on a regiment of core work and lo and behold it helped. Me being me, I have slacked off (and by slacked off I mean stopped) on my core work.  Now, I could do the obvious and start my core routine back up.  Then again I thought about alternative ways of strengthening my core.


Coughing is great for your core.  Sure, you must have some bad disease to need to cough a lot (or take up smoking but even I won’t go that far), but it’s great for your abs. Even my doctor was vaguely impressed by my core when I went in for some drugs for pneumonia (and by impressed, I mean he didn’t shake his head in disgust).

So, coughing isn’t the right choice for you?


They say that laughing is the best medicine. Although I prefer antibiotics and Demerol, laughter is a great way to work out your core.  So next time you are watching old monologues of The Daily Show, just tell people you are working your core (and the fact that you are eating potato chips will be our secret).

So you don’t like coughing and you are reading this blog so laughing is out of the question. So what’s next? I got you covered.

It's pictures like this that cause me to have like 4 followers on Instagram

It’s pictures like this that makes it so I have like 4 followers on Instagram. It also won’t help you get 6 pack abs


Fits of intense crying are a good workout for your core, but most people don’t like events needed to cause one to sob.  Well, here is one trick.  Read one of my race reports and pretend it was your race I was writing about.  By the end you will crying like a three YO who dropped an ice cream cone on the sidewalk, and your core will be stronger for it.

You’re welcome.



If only pictures that had nothing to do with blog posts worked your core

If only pictures that had nothing to do with blog posts worked your core

What’s weak this week

Back in my drunken formative 20s there was a show on Comedy Central (pre Daily Show so back in the stone ages) call Almost Live.  It was a skit show much like Saturday Night Live minus the musical acts and the skits actually funny most of the time.  Bill Nye the Science Guy got his start on the show (and it was much better to have that character become big than “The High Fiving White Guys”) One of the staples on the show was ” The Lame List: or What’s Weak This Week”. An example video for you:

So here are my whining like a Presidential Candidate weak of the week

Safe Track

For those who don’t commute in the DC area (#jealous) you may not know what Safe Track is.  No, it is not safe sex for a rail system (when a mommy rail and a daddy rail love each other…third rail (that joke even made me cringe)) but rather is an attempt to keep the system from catching on fire on a regular basis (yes, that was (is) happening) by doing maintenance “surges”.  Metro will shut down parts of the system to replace track, wiring, and other items that should have been replaced 10 years ago (made up fact, not to be quoted by Congress). Of course, you are wondering–how does this impact Running Lonely? OK, nobody is thinking that. How does this impact Marsden? (OK, The Pig). These surges will last around 8 months. For the running community races like Marine Corps marathon and Army 10 miler won’t be able to have an early opening of Metro (so best of luck to those who can’t walk to the start line). The first surge increased car traffic on the freeways (because the people who couldn’t/shouldn’t take the train took buses or drove (or in rare cases biked or ran). This wasn’t a huge impact to me, but over the next month stations I go through will be closed. I may see if I can maneuver around the system, but I am thinking about run commuting a couple of days a week. This helps from a time perspective (not having to worry about rushing home to get mileage) but has the disadvantage of having me show up to work totally drenched in sweat. We have showers, but they don’t turn on the AC in the building until 6:30 so during the summer it is warm until 8-9 AM which would make me look like a waterfall without any of the natural beauty. We shall see.

Trees that need umbrellas----Lame

Trees that need umbrellas—-Lame

The News

The news sucks. People suck. Alligators suck. One of the problems of living in the  DC area is that news coverage is very in your face.  I in general I try to avoid it, but I find myself getting sucked in more recently.  Let’s just say it’s lame that I go out of my way to increase my despair. That is what work and running are for.


Speaking of things that need maintenance and cause despair– I have been slacking off on my core work (and by “slacking off” I really mean “am doing none of it”). At first I didn’t notice, but I am starting to notice my back is getting sore after sitting a while (my posture slumps like a .150 hitter in baseball).  I need to get back after it.

So that the weak this week.

Everyone have a Pigtastic weekend!



A Day Without My Phone (Part 2)

In the last exciting installment of “A Day Without my Phone”  (if you need to catch up and read it, go ahead, we will all wait)

OK, waiting is over, come back now

In the last exciting installment I was barely surviving last Monday without my phone (and trying to ignore the fact that it was totally my fault). As we last left me, I had gotten so desperate I actually wished for a Facebook account.  Would I survive day? Would The Pig figure out I left my phone at home and go on an Amazon shopping spree?

12:30 PM

I feeling of being out of touch has pushed me closer to the edge (and let’s face it, it wasn’t like I was that far away before any of this happened). I decide to pull out a work relic of ancient times—The Blackberry. However, being a work phone, it had no interesting apps to use. I have 175 messages from my boss.  I figure they can’t be that important and delete them en masse.

12:31 PM

Yes, I used the term en masse. No, I’m not impressed either but give me a break, I am suffering from the severe psychological duress of not having my phone. To make things worse I don’t have my phone so I can’t look up if it is “en masse” or “en mass”. Then I remember this is my blog which is always a wasteland of typos.

1:30 PM

Without my phone I don’t get breaking news like there was an anthrax scare in DC about a mile from my office.  It turns out to be coffee creamer, but I missed a perfectly good opportunity to leave early for the day. Stupid phone. Stupid Monday.

2:30 PM

I think that I can use my office phone to actually call and talk to someone.  I quickly realize that the only numbers I remember are my office phone (useless), my boss’ office phone (really useless) and the local pizza delivery place.  I call them but as soon as they realize I am not ordering anything they hand up. Given the amount of business I give them I think they should be a lot more respectful of my dire situation.

3:45 PM

My phoneless anxiety is ramping up.  I think about if this qualifies as a disability. I shudder at my callousness and then realize that even if I apply they would want my cell phone and I don’t know my number. Life is suckier than usual.

4:30 PM

I return to the train station to make my way home.  I am so utter desperate for something to entertain me on the way home that I pick up a newspaper off the Metro train floor.  This is basically the equivalent of licking a petri  dish at the Centers for Disease Control.  I make a note to bathe in hand sanitizer when I get home.

5:30 PM

Finally home sweet home! I sprint (well for me, I understand it resembles a 200 pounds of jello rolling in slow motion) to my bedroom to grab my phone. If this were a romantic comedy there would be an Air Supply song playing in the background as I run in slow motion and embrace my phone (For the younger members of my audience I would say to look up Air Supply, but don’t, just don’t).

I am reunited with my phone, but I notice an unusual number of DMs in my Twitter account. I go and I am horrified by what I see.

Bringing home the bacon

Bringing home the bacon

Yes, The Pig was sexting with Miss Piggy using my phone. I look at my phone, realize what I am seeing, and instantly drop it to the floor with a clunk.

Now I need a hand sanitizer bath for my eyes as well.

You win Monday. You win.



New Measures

Running is a sport (although you need to give me a very big head start to make it very sporting).  However, the measures of running haven’t changed much over the last century.

Well I’m here to change that

I know that it may seem odd coming from someone who is so old school, I predate education, but this is an area where my expertise (creatively making stuff up) comes in handy. Yes, we could stick to distance traveled over a period of time (6 MPH, 10 minutes miles, 13 deg C (just kidding Canada)), but isn’t that so 1998 (I picked that year figuring most of my audience was alive then).

Here are some ideas I have on new ways to measure running performance (and I am not just doing this because by traditional measures I am slower than video of grass growing in slow motion using a 56K modem (that on the other hand most of my audience will have to look up or just assume it was some lame joke (or one of many typos)).

  1. Selfies per run

Let’s face it (see what I did there), the trend of taking selfies during races is increasing, so why not measure how many selfies are taken during a race?

2. Coffee required to get out the door to run

Getting up early to run is hard.  Getting up early to run and being even half awake is even harder.  So how many ounces (or kilograms) of coffee does it take to get you moving for your run. This brings me to my next measure…

3. Pee Breaks

Runners are chronically under hydrated (I would post some link to provide proof, but it’s Sunday and I am too lazy to go look for it).  One way to get runners to drink more is to make the number of pee breaks a competitive  category.  Of course that would require more porta potties (or let’s just hope that would be the natural fall-out)

There is water. There is a bridge. There is grass. It has nothing to do with this post.

There is water. There is a bridge. There is grass. It has nothing to do with this post.

4. Number of different types of races raced

Sure most of us have run a 5K at some point, but what if you got props for the different distances you raced?  I almost didn’t add this one because it would make it even harder to get into Marine Corps 1775k (which thankfully is only 17.75K).  However, given my track record of people listening to my ideas, I’m not too worries about it.

5. Number of Celebratory post race drinks

I wrote this idea on a beer coaster, but I have to admit I don’t remember anything else afterwards.  I will assume that The Pig did most of the damage to my credit card that night.

6. Klutz Index

If you are going to wipe out–wipe out in style.  So judges will be around trail races to score falls and how epic they are.

So those are some of my “ideas” on new ways to measure race performance.  Do you have any ideas, or were they washed away from the alcohol needed to get through this blog?




Jumping forward

I am looking forward, and want to close my eyes. When training for an 100 miler, it is easy to get sucked in by the mileage monster.  I run 4 days a weeks and run around 40ish miles a week (or 41.23458693 miles when you are tracking via Garmin).  I am looking to start ramping my miles up to something like 65 miles (or 65.9539386301 Garmin) a week.  Running 4 days a week that would be roughly 3 half marathons and 1 marathon a week (which, now that I type is makes me want to close my eyes even tighter (and yes, I am using this an excuse for my many typos) ).  Adding one day a week would let me cut the non-long runs some (because 4 10 milers and a marathon sounds SOOOOOOOO much better).  However, at my prehistoric advanced age having a three non-running days does help my body with recovery(for the record I cross train two of those).  Maybe I should try water running to add a run (or do more water running in general). I haven’t been going to the pool (thus reducing the screams in the Arlington VA area). I keep meaning to go back and renew my membership but haven’t for many reasons (being lazy top among them).  Then again maybe more walking is the way to go since that is what I will be doing for much of the time anyway.

OK, the mileage monster has totally sucked me in.  There is no magic number (well, three if you remember schoolhouse rock, but I don’t think they were training for an ultra) for mileage for completing a 100 miler.  Training plan vary wildly with peak mileage being between 50-120 miles a week.  Some say that standard marathon training can get you through (of course that would be more useful if I had ever completed a standard marathon training plan).

For now I am looking to increase mileage without hurting myself. So it will be slow and steady increases for a while.  Well that the theory anyway.  Then again maybe I will leap before I look.

Hope everyone has a Pigtastic weekend!!



The long road ahead. Once again has very little to nothing to do with this post.

The long road ahead. Once again has very little to nothing to do with this post.


A day without my phone

It was Monday, and if Monday wasn’t already bad enough, I was walking to the train station and was about 5 minutes from my house when I figured out I left my phone a home.  If I went back I would miss my train (it’s only 12 minutes for the next one, but it was humid out and I really didn’t want to turn back and show up at work drenched in sweat). I decided I would make a bold decision. I would live a day without my phone.

Would I live to tell the tale (yes, obvi)

Is obvi still a thing? Anyway, here is what I remember:

6:30 AM

I arrive at the Metro station just as the train is pulling out. It’s 9 minutes to the next train (as you might guess, with Metro schedule is really “schedule”). I immediately go for my phone but my pocket is as empty as my mind. I look around at my fellow commuters hunched over their glowing screens and I am very jealous.  At least I have my Garmin.  I check my step count for the 30th time in 5 minutes. Since I am sitting on a bench my step count isn’t going anywhere. I feel it is unfair that checking your step count doesn’t count for anything.

6:39 AM

The next train arrives and I am able to get a seat. Since I have nothing better to do I look around the train car. I see a person with a historic relic. It is made of paper and has print on it. I squint and recognize an article I has read online from a day earlier. The person glances up from his artifact and notices me gawking. I quickly glance down at my hands, but without a phone there the ruse doesn’t work. Monday sucks.

7:15 AM

I arrive at work sans phone. It just dawned on my that not only am I Twitterless, I’m textless (yes both Twitterless and Textless are words, feel free to use them at Scrabble, or Words with Friends, or whatever people do with words these days other than butcher them writing blogs). This day is going down hill fast.

8:00 AM

I wonder how the online world is surviving without my wit. I then remember that for someone to miss something it has to be there in the first place. I want to tweet that observation.  I spend the next 15 minutes searching my office for a pen and paper.  I scribble something on the paper and quickly realize that my handwriting resembles something a drunken Russian would pen and that I have no hope of reading my handwriting. Life is cruel.

8:10 AM

I have breakfast. Since I don’t take a picture of it (duh, no phone) I can’t post it to Instagram.  I can’t remember if you don’t post your food if it has double the calories or not. I am really hoping not.

9:30 AM

I am rather productive since I don’t have a phone to check every 30 seconds. I think about using my work phone to call The Pig and asking him to bring my phone from home, but realize letting The Pig know he has access to my phone probably isn’t the best of plans since the Amazon App is on my phone and he would put me into bankruptcy.

 11:00 AM

I go to Starbucks and get in line during my lunch break with a platoon of office workers looking down at their phones. I am quickly reminded that checking my phone is the only thing that makes the line bearable (side note, I hate lines) and decide it’s not worth it.

11:05 AM

It is odd being the only person around without a phone.  I look around and feel invisible.  Then I remember that I am in DC with a ton of surveillance cameras and I look very suspicious looking around.  I scurry back to my office before one of the three-letter agency notices and puts me in a black ops site somewhere.

11:15, yes still AM

I nuke my lunch, an Unhealthy Choice frozen meal and realize the meal is even less appealing when you aren’t distracted by social media.  I get so bored I read the ingredients lists of my meal.  I wonder if modified potato starch has anything to do with Mr. Potato head.

High Noon

I have reached a new low—I wish I could access Facebook (even though I don’t have an account).

Without a phone I couldn't take pictures like this.

Without a phone I couldn’t take pictures like this.  

Will I survive the rest of the day without my phone.  Will The Pig use my phone to sign up for 20 more mud races?  Find out the answer to this, and other questions you don’t care about, next Tuesday in the next exciting installment of a day without my phone.



Listen to your body (except when farting)

One of the things you hear quite often in the running community is “Listen to your body” (well except when you are farting, everyone tries to ignore that)

.But listening to your body is almost always pitted against “pushing forward”.  Sometimes it is obvious, like when you have a bone sticking out of your leg, that may listening to your body and stopping your run in the right thing.  Sometimes it is only obvious only after the fact “Hey, anybody want to do tequila shots?”.

This had nothing to do with the post, but who doesn't want a picture of The Pig looking badass

This had nothing to do with the post, but who doesn’t want a picture of The Pig looking badass

But most of the time, it is isn’t so obvious when to listen to your body or not.  Last weekend I ran a 6 hour race, and I was amazed afterwards that I didn’t feel very sore and ended up running a short run on a Monday, and long run on Tuesday with some tempo thrown in (unfortunately my tempo running resembles my musical tempo (which is a nice way of saying lurching and out of sync).  I ran again on Thursday and the run went well except I started to have a slight niggle in my right knee (this is not the knee with the ACL surgery that caused me problems a couple of years back).

Fast forward to Saturday and my long run.  I was going to run 15 miles.  As soon as I started, my knee flared up.  I kept pushing forward (NOT listening to my body) but soon my HR was above where I want it for a long run.  The weather was humid and the sweat was running off me like water at Niagara Falls (you are welcome for me putting that image in your head). My pace started to drop off and I was having to use mental tricks to keep going (it never ceases to amaze me the number of times “just get to that tree” works). However, after spending 6 hours last weekend trying to convince myself to move forward, I really didn’t want to do that again.  After 7 miles I called it a day and decided that I would try again on Sunday.

Listening to my body or being a wimp?

Today I hit the track to run a few recovery miles.  My HR was under control.  I was still sweating the falls (yes, now I have ruined water falls forever and for that I apologize) but everything felt better.  I didn’t push to try to make up mileage (OK, I may have snuck as extra mile in, but that was only because I was going out to brunch afterwards with The Pig).

It’s hard to prove a negative (other than -1, that’s easy to prove (sorry for the math joke)). but listening to your body is one way to turn a negative into a positive (sorry for coming up with that (maybe this is just my blog post to be sorry)).



Someone is so embarrassed by  this blog post he won't even look at the camera. Maybe I shouldn't have paid for bunch

Someone is so embarrassed by this blog post he won’t even look at the camera. Maybe I shouldn’t have paid for bunch