Nutrition and Tough Mudders


I’m sore.

In fact I’m very sore.

I actually brought my stick up to my desk an have already used it twice this morning and probably will again soon.

The past weekend was perhaps one of the most physically grueling weekends that I’ve had since I stopped helping my family with their farms.

SO, why am I so sore. Let me start with Friday Night. A friend of ours who really likes to play board and card games is in from Ohio. So we (Adam, Vicky and I) went over to Vicky’s parents as soon as I got home from work to play games. The trouble that I didn’t realize was that everyone else had dinner before we went. Vicky’s parents being the gracious hosts that they are had cheese spread, crackers and even a little pizza to nibble on while we played and offered my several bottle of beer to wash it down. On top of the burger King I had for lunch meant that it was a whole day of horrible eating.

As I mentioned in the previous post I moved me Sunday run to Saturday. Which meant the I got up and went on a 9 mile run with the intent of keeping a 9:45 pace. This did not happen. We took off with Vick and Adam on bikes and me running. the first mile felt ok, not great but I did keep an 8:45 min/mile pace. Mile 2 everything started to tighten up and hurt but still managed a 9:26. And then I really started to feel bad. I spent the next 7 miles stopping occasionally to try and stretch my calves. I nearly got ill in mile 7 and almost tapped out. However, thanks to the encouragement from Adam and Vicky (who I’m going to start referring to as Coach V on these runs) I kept going and finished the distance.

This brings a thought and a question to mind.

First the question.

When training for an event such as a half marathon or a full is it better get in the distance of the long runs and sacrifice the target pace or hold the pace and not get the distance?

I realize that hitting both would be the ideal but as I demonstrated Saturday I wasn’t going to hit both. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

The thought has to do with nutrition. I know that I ate horribly on Friday and I think that had a pretty dramatic effect on the Saturday run. the nutrition side of things is not something that I’ve ever paid much attention to.

As a high school cross-country runner and track sprinter it never mattered much. I was eating everything I could to maintain my weight. I actually would eat to dinners a night most nights. One at a friends house right after practice and another at mine. (he was doing the same thing)

Now the advantage that we had is that our mothers are both amazing cooks and they where feeding us good balanced meals but as a 17 year old your not paying attention. The adults took care of little details like that so that we could worry about more important things like school, running, cars, music, girls … that sort of thing. although girls didn’t become a real distraction until college, but I digress.

Even in my 20s I didn’t have to really pay attention to what I ate. although by in large I was fixing in myself I mostly stuck with the type of things mom made. I’ve always loved fruits and vegetables. I’m actually a pretty good gardener. Almost anytime I have fruit I claim its one of my favorite fruits. And my love of pasta is nearly legendary among my friends and family.

Fast forward to now and I’m having to be careful how much I eat. What I eat seems to have a much larger effect on how I feel and now I’m noticing performance differences based on food.

Getting old sucks. There I said it. It is however inevitable. So, I’m going to start looking into what I should be doing diet wise. What does a runners diet look like? How can I fit into my lifestyle and family’s needs? If any of you know of some good resources let me know and I’ll review it and report back with what I learn.

Ok, enough with the boring stuff. On to Sunday!

I along with Coach V and Adam ran in Tough Mudder Arizona. And one of the really cool things is that we adopted an abandoned running who would have had to run alone named Katie.

A tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile non-competitive run with 20+ obstacles. They are all about teamwork and comradery with your fellow Mudders. Most of the obstacles you will be helped either physically of encouraged by complete strangers. It is one of my favorite things to be a part of.

The obstacles are designed to test you both physically and your grit. that ability to overcome fears and get the job done. I have seen many people especially new Mudders approach an obstacle with hesitation and fear. But with the help and encouragement of everyone around they time and time again accomplish things that they never dreamed they could. Usually they get to the other side and beaming with pride look back and say “huh, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” It reminds me of how much of running and really life is about our attitude and ability to set fear aside to just get the job done.

It true is an inspiring thing to see and a humbling event to be a part of. I always feel like kind of a badass for a few days afterward, even when I am so sore that typing is a challenge.

Did I mention I’m sore?

I also need to give a shoutout to my teammates:


Coach V (aka Vicky) who got me started on these things even though I thought it was kind of gimmicky. And inspires all of us to fight though. Hopefully, I can continue to keep up with her.


Adam who hates running but loves the obsticales (well most of them). I hope someday to have a quarter of his grip strength. He also has a youtube channel about board games specifically the game Dominion. You can find him there at AdamHorton01


And Katie who we just met but by the end felt like an old friend. You are always welcome in the Mudder Band! And I look forward to running with you again soon.

So, I’ve got a lot to do this week between training, nutrition research and a few life things going on. The next run is Tuesday so until then….C-ya!


Backwards Routes and Knee Pain

Thursday mornings I have a group that I normally run with. The only issue, well I say that but there at are couple, is that they run a 4 mile loop. This because an issue when your training program calls for 8 to 10 miles. The other issue is that they start at 5:30 am. I’m told this will make more sense once it gets hot here.

So to solve one issue I had to make another worse. I got up at 4:15 AM so that I could run the loop before the group runs it. I do not like getting up that early as Vicky discovered. Anyway I got to the place and ran the loop. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish the first loop in time to meet everyone for my second loop. So, I decided to run the loop backward and just turn around when the main group met me going the other way.

This leads me to a question. Do you have a route that you run so regularly that you don’t have to think about it? Its just so engrained that you seem to finish and wonder, “did I really just finish?”

Now try to do it backward. Its amazingly difficult. At least it was for me. nearly every intersection I started wondering if I was suppose to turn there. It was so disorienting that I thought I must have missed something and was lost.

Fortunately, I wasn’t and the group found me. I turned around and ended up with a 7 mile run instead of the full 8 to 10.

It wasn’t a great run for me. After several weeks of runs getting stronger and faster I finally had a ‘meh’ run. Pace was 10:42 min/mile I had ALOT of knee and calf pain in mile 2 which took me 12:33. Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep the night before, maybe I was just due for a non-steller run. Maybe I have actually done something to my right calf and knee.

I’m moving the weekend long run, 9 miles at 9:45min/mile, to Saturday. Sunday I’m running in a Tough Mudder with Vicky and a friend from Ohio, Adam. It should be a good time since I enjoy these kind of events and Adam is a fun guy to be around. I’ll let you know how the long run and the Mudder go.

Until then….C-ya

Playlists and Half Marathons


I went on a 4 mile run during lunch again on Tuesday. This was actually the back up plan. I’ve been told about a group that meets at 5:30 am on Tuesday just down the road from my house and runs 4 miles. Unfortunately, I just missed them because I like to sleep. So, I just went to work early and ran over lunch.

It was a pretty good run. Running beside an airport is fun as I mentioned last week. I’m kinda an airplane nut. I was an aircraft mechanic at one point in my career before moving to engineering. I ran 4 miles at an average 9:12 min/mile pace. But I’m kinda inconsistent. Mile 1 was at 8:20; 2 at 10:05; 3 at 9:40 and 4 at 8:40.

I have a couple of thoughts on why. during mile 2 I had a good amount of pain in my calves and right knee. I actually stopped a few times to try to stretch it out. it mostly worked out for mile 3 and by 4 it felt pretty good again.

Also was my playlist. I noticed that when Oh Yeah by Great Big Sea came on my pace increased. It increased a lot. It played at the beginning of the run and again during the last mile. Something about that song just gets me going. Its got a fairly brisk tempo and it drives really hard.

I’ve heard of people tailoring there running playlist to their running tempo but personally never thought much of it. I’m thinking that it might be a good idea. So, I need to figure out how to find the tempo of songs so that I can try to keep my playlist fairly even. I know that I can be influenced a lot by what I’m listening to so maybe this will even out my pacing.

If any of you out there know how to find tempos let me know. Thanks!

The other topic for this post is my training. After a really long search Vicky and I have determined that there are no half-marathons in AZ mid to late May except trail runs. Don’t get me wrong I like trail runs but I wanted to do a road race. We started looking out of state and found one at the end of April in Illinois. I know that’s a long way from AZ but I’m going to be back in the midwest for a little bit at the end of April anyway.

This has presented a new issue. The training program I’m using (Project 1:59) is set to conclude in mid May. Which means by moving up when the race is I need to move up the training. Instead of being on week 2 I should be on week 4.  So, I need to see if I can jump a couple of weeks.  We’ll see how this goes.

Until then…C-ya!

Lunch Runs and Musical Randomness


Tuesday during lunch I decided to use the Fitness Center at work and go for a run. There were several reasons that I did this and I’m so glad that I did.

First I was up late on Monday night. I wish that I could say that it was because I was out late having a good time and livin’ it up. But it wasn’t. I was up late helping Vicky grade papers. Exciting stuff I know. We finished up around 1 am and I decided that sleeping until 6 was a better idea than getting up for a 4 mile run.

Why 4 miles? Because I am part of a running challenge\club called Project 1:59. It is a group on Strava and lead by two-time Olympian Kara Goucher that includes a training program with the aim of helping people run a sub 2 hour half marathon. I’ll put a link for it here Project 1:59.

Anyway, Tuesday’s run was a 4 mile run at faster than race tempo. And I wasn’t going to be able to in the even because on Tuesday’s I go to Trivia with Vicky and her parents.

Another reason was it was the last day of a challenge that I was a part of on DietBet. Which is an app that runs challenges to help motive and provide accountability for people trying to lose weight. This was a 4 week challenge to lose 4% of my body weight. I had another 1.5 to go so I didn’t want to skip the run.

So, at lunch I walked from my building over to the fitness center about .5 mile away. Changed into my running gear. which now includes a new Garmin 645 music. I was super excited to use this on a run because it meant that I didn’t have to carry my phone to listen to music.

And apparently I was really excited to go on this run. My first mile was 7:54. I haven’t ran a mile that fast since college. The rest of the run went about as well with the 4 miles coming in at 34:44 for an average of 8:41 min\mile. For me this is seriously fast.

I learned several things on this run.

I’m way faster than I thought. I know that isn’t fast for some of you out there but I have considered myself to be an 11min/mile guy for a long time. I am not pushing hard enough.

Running next to a large airport is alot of fun. I really like watching planes take off and land. Running beside Skyharbor airport is like Christmas for me. I watched a V-22 Osprey come in and land.

When one lives in the valley of the sun and its starting to get warm again (80+ degrees) don’t wear a black shirt on a mid day run. Seriously, I got super hot and felt like it zapped some of my energy.

I have a very odd playlist when I run. I was just discussing playlists with thedancingrunner earlier and hers looks somewhat cohesive. I make huge jumps from DMB I did it, Eric Clapton’s Layla, Reel Big Fish Sell Out, Britney Spears Get Naked, Trombone Shorty’s Like a Dog, JT’s Supplies…..and the randomness goes on.

Anywho…I need to figure out how to do a 6-8 mile run tomorrow and the group 4 mile run. Maybe I’ll go early and just do the course twice. I’ll let you know how that goes. Until then, C-ya!

Long runs and Brisket

3-10 Neal and Vicky

Saturday is the tradition day for most of the running world to go on a “long run” and who am I to buck that tradition. I would like to say that Saturday morning I got up early and went for a scenic run whilst watching the sun come up of the desert mountains.

I can’t.

I slept like the bum that I am until 9:30. And let me tell you, it was glorious! I would have stayed longer but there was a run and other plans for the day. So, reluctantly got up. Put on my running gear and loaded Vicky’s bike into the bed of the truck. We had what now seems like a ridiculous plan. She would bike beside me while I ran.

We drive to the bike trail head so that we could bike/run without worrying about cars and started off on a 6 mile journey, 3 out and 3 back. My pace to start with was fantastic 8:40 min/mile. I paid for the quick start toward the end.

If you are ever given the choice between biking while someone runs or running while your partner bikes, be the biker. A runner trying to keep up with a biker is a really hard workout and barely anything if you are the biker. That was one of the hardest runs I’ve had in a VERY long time. But, it felt really good. and I’ll admit that I stopped a couple of times. I still managed a 10 min/mile average so I’m pretty happy with it.

I had all kinds of thoughts about random things on this run. Here are a few of them:

Do you think that Bono of U2 will ever find what he is looking for?

Does he even know what he is looking for?

At what point will he stop?

Would it help if he stopped looking in the Red Hill mining town where the streets have no name?

Why does he not care if he looks with or without you?

Who are you anyway? (I know I switched bands there to the Who).


Being Saturday we went to breakfast afterward. I call it breakfast because that was the food we ate (I love some good B&G) and coffee. We had planned a hike that afternoon but got rained out. I know, its a desert and it rained. Weird right.

On to Sunday. I didn’t run. Sunday’s are a tradition (running and religious) rest day anyway. And I wasn’t able to find out where the group trail run was in time. So, I smoked a brisket. Work hard, play hard right? And since that is an all day event that needs babysitting I wasn’t able to go run. I’ll leave you with that image until next time…C-ya!


Running and Dunkin Donuts

On Thursday’s I met up with a group of like minded crazy people in the parking lot of a Starbucks and we all go run 4 miles; at 5:30 am; in the dark. Which means at 5 am my alarm goes off and I have to will myself out of a nice, warm, cozy bed. Put on my night running gear, make the actually short trip to the Starbucks, and the NOT GET COFFEE! Which just seem ludicrous to me. I may have a small coffee problem. I only drink 10-14 cups a day. That’s just one pot because two pots would be ridiculous.

But I digress….

So, this Thursday I barely got there in time. I missed the group photo that is taken every week. (I think its just so that they can prove they did it) I snuck in behind them just as they were taking off. That did startle a couple of them which amused me. I fell in with a couple of ladies who where talking about everything under the sun (which still wasn’t up yet). I let their conversation distract me as I ran and listened to Britney, Clapton, DMB, Zeppelin and Trombone Shorty. Eventually I joined in and admitted that I haven’t been through a Phoenix summer yet. Which got the standard “just wait, your going to die out here” to which I told them I’ve been through several Georgia summers that where 120+ degrees F (~50 C) PLUS 85%-90% humidity. I think I’ll be ok.

Around the end of the run one of them thought we should kick to the finish so the people who where faster and waiting on us would think that we were running really hard. So I sprinted to the finish. For some reason, no matter how far the run, how fast my pace is, or how tired I am I have always been able to sprint at near 100 m dash speed at the end. In high school cross country the kick even had a scream associated with it and I dropped it down into the sprint for your life gear. I have managed to stifle the scream but I can still kick like none other.

I knew that we kept a brisk pace and that they where pushing me. I was a little surprised I had enough reserve left to sprint as much as I did. for those who have read the post about Tuesday I thought that was my speed day keeping a 9:29 min mile average over 2 miles. Once I looked at my watch I did a double take. I just did 9:19 min mile average over 4 miles. This tells me two things. Thing number one, running with people can push me alot more than I thought. Thing number two, I need to rethink how fast I should be going.

The run was over, I was feeling pretty good and ready for my Starbuck reward. Then we walked to Dunkin Donuts. I’m still a little confused by this but they have coffee so I was happy.

I also want to give a shout out to my 2 followers: thedancingrunner who has a blog you should go check out and my fiance Vicky. Which I didn’t tell I was doing this. She is the main reason that I have been managing to get up and go running at ungodly hours. She is also super supportive of my running goals.

Hopefully, I can get a couple of runs in this weekend.  Until then C-ya!

Early Morning and Coyotes

Tuesday morning the alarm went off at 5 am. After 10 minutes of convencing myself that I really should get up and run I finally dragged myself out of bed and put on my running gear. This time I included my Zephyr Fire 300 made by Nathan (pretty serious running flashlight). Armed with a flashlight and a really reflective shirt I fired up Britney (don’t judge) and took off into the darkness.

For living in a fairly major metropolitan area its really dark at 5:30 in the morning. I’ve decided that Tuesdays are speed days so I only ran 2 miles but I tried to go faster than I felt comfortable. I held a 9:29 min mile average, which I feel pretty good about. It was a good run but I encountered something that I wasn’t real sure what to do about.

My neighborhood over the past several weeks has been having a little bit of a coyote issue. mostly just a lot of sighting and people being scared for their pets. Being a farm boy from Indiana I’m no stranger to coyotes. I’ve even seen them on runs in the countryside before. Generally as soon as they see a person they take off the other way.

Arizona coyotes are different.

I turned a corner and there where 3 sets of eyes about 50 ft away from me. And instead of turning and running off they just stared at me. Probably as confused as I was. They didn’t make a move toward me or away, which I would have preferred. They just sat there. Which got me to thinking. what would I do if they decided that I was a good looking meal. the Zephyr has an alarm feature that is seriously high pitched. Maybe that would scare them off? But nothing happened and I live to run another day.

Until then C-ya!