Recently a reader sent an email and asked if I could put together a list of articles I’ve written recently about running shoes and training. Thinking out loud, none of the articles are “new”, but it makes a lot of sense to have them all compiled into one spot.
Instead of doing a Running Store post this week, I thought I would get all of the posts together in one spot. As always, if you have a question about shoes, the running store, or anything else feel free to ask. I’m not an expert or professional but I do like running and working in a running store.
There you have it! As always if you have any questions or comments, feel free to ask. I’ve gotten a couple questions regarding nutrition (something I’m still trying to figure out) as well as fun things to do outside of running that I’ll be chatting about soon too!
Questions for you:
What is a fun fact about your job?
What is one thing you enjoy about the sport of running?
It’s now been three years since I started reviewing Diners. Since starting my quest, I’ve been to about 130 diners in New Jersey and about 50 diners in other parts of the world. You can see reviews here or using the link at the top of the blog.
March of 2014 is when I first started reviewing diners. At year three, I decided to highlight some of my favorite (and not so much diners). Keep in mind, these are my personal favorites. Do you have a favorite or different opinion about a New Jersey diner? Comment below.
All Time Favorite Diner: Mastoris
Mastoris isn’t a typical diner. It’s more of a modern and upscale restaurant, but I like their food and cake. This was one of the first diners I went too and I still continue to go back.
Each diner was a definite letdown. Ponzios served me a salad with still frozen fish and canned pears. It’s a shame because Ponzios is almost always listed as a “top NJ diner”, but I haven’t had a positive experience any of the three times I’ve gone!
At the Elmer Diner: A Coffee, cinnamon bun, eggs, toast, and hashbrowns was $8.00. You can’t beat that!
Most expensive:Vincentown: They charge 75 cents extra per coffee with whipped cream. I’ve ordered a salad with salmon which costs $20+. Every meal is going to be at least $18.
Best Pancakes: Red Velvet Pancakes at Four Seasons Diner: Unlike the Springfield Diner, they were actually red velvet. The cream cheese frosting was perfect.
Best Eggs: The Surburban Diner offered a unique breakfast bowl with hashbrowns, melted cheese, onions and a fried egg on top. You don’t see that many diners!
Best Diner Gyro: The Woodstown Diner. Gyros are a staple of any diner. I haven’t posted the review yet, but the Woodstown diner had a neatly packaged gyro with plenty of meat. It was easy to eat as well!
Chit Chat Diner: I love the black and white retro theme.
Tropicana Diner: It felt like a blast from the Carribean.
Angelos: It’s the metallic trolley car diner that you picture.
Best Out of State Diners:
Trolley Car, Philadelphia (fresh ingredients as well as beer on tap)
It’s no secret that I love racing 5ks. While I love racing in general, 5ks are the easiest to distance to race hard, recover, and race again next week.
Recently I was asked about tips and strategies of how to race and PR. I can show you what has worked well for me in the past. Keep in mind I’m not a coach or an elite!
During a 5k, you have two options:
Option 1: You blink, and the race is over
Option 2: You take the race out too fast, and it feels like five back to back marathons.
If you’ve run more than one 5k, you’ve probably experienced both situations.
So first why race such a short tactical and precise race?
It’s clear the marathon bug has bit a lot of people. The word “only” becomes associated with half marathons.
“New Runner” has become associated with those training for 5ks. To be honest, despite being short, 5ks are one of the hardest races distances to run well. There is little room for error. Thinking out loud, most any athlete can benefit from adding a few 5ks into their training plan.
Reason 1: The need for speed: 5ks make you feel fast. Longer distances make you feel strong while shorter distances make you feel fast.
5ks are quick and dirty. 5ks are all of a distance “race pain” in a short amount of time.
Reason 2: Easier to Recover From: If you have a terrible race, try again next week: I’ve had a terrible 5ks only to be followed by an awesome 5k the following week.
A few years ago, I raced one of the most mentally challenging and grueling 5ks I’ve ever run. It was slow (for me), my legs were fatigued, and I felt awful. I had high expectations and fell hard. I was devastated.
What did I do? I rested and recovered. The following weekend, I ran an entire 90 seconds faster. Reason 3: Benchmarks: You can mark your progress. Two years ago in my quest to gain speed back, I raced no less than 30 5ks in a year. I was able to track my progress and see small results lead to bigger results.
For some people, myself included, seeing progress is motivating. I like to feel like my hard work is paying off!
Reason 4: 5ks are Fun! It’s one of the few distances you can see a range of people finish. It could be someone’s first 5k or someone going for a PR. Either way, you see a broad range of people from every fitness level!
Tips for Racing 5ks:
These are tips that have helped me throughout the years. I haven’t counted, but I’ve probably run about 100 5ks. They still remain my favorite distance.
Get a good warmup: While I don’t always warm up for longer distances such as a half marathon, I find I need to warm up at least 2-3 miles with a few striders before a 5k. You want that blood pumping.
Pacing: I’ve learned that you have to give a 5k everything you have and then keep giving it more. If you take out a 5k too slow, you can often regret it in the last mile. My goal is always to make it through the middle mile. I remind myself after mile 2, the race is almost over.
Run the Tangents: Okay yeah so .1 doesn’t matter, but realistically it does! A tenth of a mile run in tangents can mean an extra 30-40 seconds. In such a short race, that is even bigger of a deal.
The 5k Hurts: Of course it is easier to finish running a 5k versus a marathon, but it is not easier to race a 5k. The 5k is all of the pain of a half or full marathon in a short amount of time. Look around while you’re running and you will see plenty of other runners, riding the pain train.
The 5k is a rewarding and fun distance. Sure, it’s the shortest to complete but that doesn’t make it the easiest!
Last year, at Shamrock Half Marathon I ran a 1:26.50. This year, my chip time was a 1:26.49. While not a course PR, I did beat last years time. Despite the race conditions being very similar (I.E. awful), for me, the races themselves were drastically different. My last mile last year was probably 7:30+ and this year my last mile was a 6:11.
So let’s start from the beginning. Shamrock was never a goal race for me. It’s a race I like to do and I was hoping to run better than last year.
How did I quantify running better? By not only having a faster race but also not drastically blowing up like last year.
So technically, even though I’m much faster than 1:26 fitness, I did achieve my goals. But to be honest, I’m effing tired of running in terrible conditions. Over the past year, I haven’t many longer races that are in decent conditions. Most races have been in either pouring rain, sleet, snow, high humidity or windy. The only good weathered race that comes to mind is the Runners World Half, but I ran a 5k the day before.
Enough complaining! Last Friday, I prepared for the worst weather and brought my thick mittens, waterproof Gortex jacket, and appropriate attire. By now, I know I need to be overdressed in cold, pouring rain or I’ll be miserable.
My coach James Mckirdy, Heather, Dad and I got to the race around 6 am, and we were lucky enough to stay with a personal friend right near the start. I warmed up with Mollie and Heather. I rarely do half marathon warmups, but while warming up, I didn’t feel terrible or even that cold. It was pouring rain, but I wasn’t “as” miserable as last year.
We got to the race start at 7 am, and we were quickly off. The first two miles were into a headwind. With the headwind, I began settling into a negative mindset. I hit the first mile in 6:59. I was devastated. Another race I had tapered for only to be foiled by rain. I tried to clear my mind but just progressed on.
In hindsight, it’s easier to look back and see…yes it was windy. Yes, the weather was awful. In the moment, when you look down and quickly see you aren’t hitting your goal, it stinks. I ran the second mile in 6:58. It was mindless, and I was just staying with a pack of people.
As we rounded mile 3, I felt a wind break. While it was still raining, it wasn’t as windy. I ran a 6:54. Around mile 3, I wasn’t sure I would break 1:30 but I hoped I would be able to pick it up. It’s a long gradual uphill from about miles 3-5.
During the fourth mile, one of the UGH moments of running happened. My shoe came untied. I was running in a new pair of Saucony flats, and while I did double knot them, they came untied. Was it a combination of pouring rain and the material the shoe laces are made out of? Probably because it happened 3 times and it stunk. Looking closely at the shoe laces, the plastic coating seems to be the cause.
I stopped to tie my shoe and progressed on. I didn’t catch the people I was with until around mile 5-6. With the stop I ran the 4th mile in 6:49 but I was motivated because I knew I stopped for at least 15 seconds. The race clock doesn’t stop when you tie your shoe, so neither does my garmin.
I ran the next two miles by myself. I was alone and lost in my own thoughts. The race conditions were awful, but I was slowly changing my mindset. I ran the next two miles in 6:30 and 6:36.
As we entered Fort Story, I thought about last year. Last year, the wind from Fort Story broke me. I went from running around 6:30 miles to running 7+ and crawling to the finish line. I was determined not to let that happen. The wind was blowing more through Fort Story this year, and it had blown sand across a section of course. We ran through 2 inches of sand!
This year, I felt good during the middle miles, and I credit most of that to overdressing. My other shoe lace came untied, and I briefly stopped to tie it. I ran a 6:37 mile. As I began thinking about the finish, I knew my body felt able and willing to run faster than a 1:30 than I had previously anticipated during the first few miles.
I crossed mile 9 in 6:24 and mile 10 in 6:25. I began catching a few people, and one male was running with me. I saw Chris who ended up finishing a few feet in front of me and 7th lady overall. The man told me to “go with her”…
The last three miles were a blur. I just found myself counting down the miles. 2 miles to go and then 1 and then the final mile. I saw James and Heather with about .5 to go and shouted: “I’m not dying”. I guess that is always a good thing for an athlete to say. I also saw my friend Sika, who had raced the One City Marathon the weekend before.
As we approached the boardwalk, I saw the finish line, and I knew it would be close to my previous time. Until that moment, I hadn’t even dreamed it was a possibility to actually run faster than 2016.
For no reason, I mentally separate a 1:26.XX half in a different category as a 1:27+-half. I wanted to break 1:27 and sprinted to the finish.
I crossed in 1:26.50…the same time as last year. With chip timing, my official time was 1:26.49.
To be honest, I’m tired of racing in bad conditions. While I’m proud of myself for handling the race well this year, I am also tired of not racing in good (not even ideal but good) conditions. I feel as though I’ve been in PRing shape for the last 6 months but the weather has had other plans. I’m hoping the April Fools Half Marathon will have better weather.
Questions for you: What is the worst race conditions you’ve run in? Which race have you done the most times?
4X2 mile (12:50, 12:48, 12:48, 12:40)
During February, I didn’t make a lot of my workout paces and intervals. My two mile workout was the first one I felt successful and that I finally able to make my intervals and feel strong doing so.
Easily the Double Bridges Run. Despite the cold and having a rough morning, I was able to feel good during the race.
February was definitely a grind month. Instead of racing frequently, I got through a lot of quality workouts. I typically post most of them on instagram and you can follow along there. Not every workout (if any), felt easy and I do feel as though I was pushing out of my comfort zone.
As a whole, I’m happy with the month. Not every month can be an exciting, PRing month. I have come to realize as a runner, I am more confident when I race frequently but grind months do pay off later on.
My goal for March is to get back to enjoying the process of running. I had my fair share of negative (running related) thoughts during February and I’m looking forward to just focusing on the positive. I’m running Shamrock Half Marathon in about 2 weeks which is one of my favorite!
Last week makes two weekends in a row that I did not race. It’s surprising if you know me, but there was nothing that peaked my interest. I have been enjoying catching up with friends and getting quality workouts in as well.
Last week I did just that: I ran with friends and got quality workouts in.
Easy 6 miles
10 Miles with Angela (8:29 pace)
4X2 mile repeats
Easy 8 miles
Easy 5 miles
Easy 9 miles with friends
It’s been great to catch up with friends and run with them. Unfortunately, one of my closest friends (and blogger) Angela is moving to Colorado this week. Last week, we were able to run and go out to eat a diner which was a lot of fun.
On Saturday, my good friend Julie, who is training for the New Jersey marathon, did a long run and I joined her for part of it.
4X2 miles (12:50, 12:48, 12:48, 12:40)
To be honest, this is the best workout I’ve had in a very long time. The goal pace was 6:21, and while I only made one, it was the last. I ran these on the road, and I could not be more pleased with how it went.
Sunday: 6-mile tempo (Goal 6:44) Average: 7:18
2X10 minutes (Goal 6:21) Average 7:01
It was extremely windy on Sunday. The night before, I didn’t sleep well, and body was just tired from training. Am I disappointed that I missed my paces by a lot? Of course, but bad workouts happen, and it was a combination of factors. Upward and onward!
Next week I’m running one of my favorite races, the Grilled Cheese, and Tomato Soup 4 miler. I’m looking forward to seeing how my training has paid off.
Thinking out loud, as someone in their mid-twenties, I can tell you I didn’t always love myself. In college, in suffered from anxiety and over committing to everything. I compared myself to everyone and everything. I didn’t appreciate things about myself that looking back I wish I would have! This doesn’t just include sports but life as well. I never took the time to step back and reflect with what I loved about myself.
Valentines Day is a beautiful celebration of love. You cannot possibly love others if you don't love yourself.
Here are a few ways to embrace and love yourself:
Show gratitude for who you are now. As humans, we are always growing and learning more about ourselves. We are striving to do better and to be better. Take time to reflect on where you are now and how far you have come. Never discount the small achievements.
Do something everyday that makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming but do something each day that you know will make you happy. Is that reading a few blogs? Is that painting? Is it running? Make sure to make a little bit of time for just you each day.
Give yourself an honest chance. If you believe you will fail, you will. Believe in yourself. It’s that simple. This is one of the biggest lessons I learned and am still learning. To have success, you must believe you will.
Distance yourself from things that make you unhappy. One thing I’ve learned in the last few years is life is too short to do things that make you unhappy. That could be things, people or activities but if you are constantly around things making you miserable, you cannot love and appreciate yourself.
Believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else will? Confidence is key.
Valentines Day doesn’t have to be a Hallmark holiday or celebration of giving or receiving gifts. It’s a celebration of love whether it is loving yourself, your family and friends or significant other.
We all have someone to love, and it starts with ourselves.