BibRave Pro Insight: How I Learned to Like Virtual Races – Run Eat Ralph

With all of our favorite races being cancelled, deferred, postponed, and moved around it’s no surprise that we’re going to see a surge of virtual race options.

After the stay at home orders are lifted how soon will you feel comfortable engaging in: A run with a close friend? What about your willingness to participate in group runs with your local running club or group of friends? Finally how about retuning to races after the stay at home orders are lifted, with the large mass of crowds they draw, will you be comfortable?

Virtual race options provide an opportunity for us to run our favorite race in the comfort of our own environment. Most virtual runs are DIY from the day, time, and setting. This DIY approach provides you with the ability to pick what day you want to run, what time suits you best, and where you are going to run that’s more convenient for you.

But don’t just take my word for it.

What are the BibRave Pros saying?

Fellow BibRave Pro, Run Eat Ralph, shares his insight on how he’s grown to like virtual races, read more on his blog for inspiration on how you might enjoy them too!

Virtual options starting popping up and at first I wasn’t all that excited about the thought. Running a run on my regular routes and calling it a race seems funny to me. There are plenty of good reasons though…

How I Learned to Like Virtual Races

Be sure to show Ralph some love! Cheers!

Video Collaboration!

It’s been a fun quarantine, and being ordered to stay at home with my besties is even better. This lockdown has brought our family closer and has provided us all an opportunity to “stop and smell the roses” if you will.

In our downtime, me and the lovely Mrs have joined creative forces and have produced this short video. No talking, just sounds of my beautiful wife in our country kitchen making a delicious meal for our family.

 

Product Review: NUUN Rest

Disclaimer: I received Nuun Rest to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

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Hydration is key during a workout, long run, race, and in general if you’re going to be active and sweating. There are a few products in the market that can help you hydrate, but none better than Nuun (pronounced “noon”). Now, hydration aside, Nuun is now tackling the second most important aspect of training: Rest!

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Trail Running the Conestoga

As the Frozen Snot lingers in the distance, my good friend and I headed out for some much needed training with an 8-mile point-to-point trail run. Our initial plan was to hit up a familiar trail, but decided to work on better elevation challenges with a more difficult trail (as suggested by his wife and fellow runner). We dropped off my friend’s brown truck at the finish and made the drive to the start.

Difficult is a bit of an understatement. The fact that we couldn’t find the trail start should have been a sign of things to come. After driving around for a bit and doubling back a time or two, we located the trail head.

The weather was cold with rain in the forecast. At 40°F I decided to wear shorts, along with a tech shirt and light running jacket. The plan was to cover 8-miles of fairly difficult terrain with lots and lots of hills. I decided to tote my Ultimate Direction running vest, with a hydration pack full of Tailwind nutrition.

Since the weather was cold, gloves were a must. However I must say, in the end it didn’t matter, it was cold, it was wet, we finished soaked to the bone and freezing. But, I digress.

Mile 1 was quick and easy, and it was swiftly followed by 2 miles of the complete opposite; slowly climbing and punishing terrain. The climbing must have jostled my hydration pack, because (I don’t know how) the top came loose and I ended up dumping half its contents all down my back. Sweet sweet Tailwind Nutrition, just wasted. I cried. I cried inside. It was painful and bitterly cold.

I nursed what little Tailwind I had for the remainder of the run. Thankfully, I had a Honey Stinger gel in my front vest pocket, which came in clutch later on.

The creek crossings in the beginning felt refreshing and were a welcome treat. Given the weather was a steady light rain, everything was wet and slippery so I felt very much in-tune to what and how I was navigating the trails. By mile 4, I was relishing in the fact that we were half-way done and felt strong.

At some point I remember mile 5 having a decent downhill cruise, which was somewhat pleasant. Pleasant as you can be while watching your footing and avoiding slipping on leaf covered dangers.

At mile 6, we stopped for a quick break. We were soaked to the bone, creek crossings were less enjoyable and I mentioned 2 miles was all I had left in me. Everything was wet, and my phone managed to call home 15 times within 15 minutes. My wife left me a lovely voicemail. We were having fun.

Mile 8 came and went and we realized we were no where close to our finish as the brown truck was no where to be seen. We called and got some much needed guidance on how to get back to the truck, a “short” trip down a lone service road was all we needed. I got to thinking we weren’t too far off, but as we rounded corner after corner, the brown truck was no where in sight. Either we were wrong, or just not listening, but that darn truck wasn’t even close. The truck was another 2 miles from where we were.

Miles 9 and 10 were brutal and angry miles. I don’t remember much, the sight of the brown truck was an instant relief. I never thought I’d be see happy to see that truck in all my life, but there it was just beckoning us with its dry interior.

All-in-all, it was 10 miles of perfect training. The weather was garbage, the terrain was tough and technical, but in the end we made it and learned a little bit more along the way.

December Training Plan

It’s no surprise that my running has slowed to a crawl. My August and September 100-mile months taught me a lot of things.  First, I’m not sure if I developed hairline fractures on my shins or not, but I can tell you my symptoms are pretty much spot on from what I’ve read throughout the internet and among my running peers. Playing things cool and keeping mileage low is my tactic for recovery – and it’s killing me because I just want to run. Anyway, now that I’ve had a few “ah-ha” moments, here are some hard-learned lessons I was served and my plan of action to overcome them.

Lesson 1, listen to your body and know when to rest. I think not taking time to properly recover was my downfall (among other factors) that lead up to my leg pains. Also, “running through” the pain is great advice when you are running through emotions and battling the thoughts in your head – it’s a great metaphor. Running through physical pain is sabotage.

Lesson 2, a major factor in my performance I feel is skipping weight/resistance training. I’m a cardio junky, not being able to run really kills my physical fitness, so being plagued with “leg pains” takes me out of commission. Having overall fitness is essential, and I dropped the ball on this one.

Lesson 3, you can’t outrun an unhealthy diet. C’mon Ken! I should honestly know better. I’ve gone a good 2 years of being mindful of my diet to practically letting myself go. “It’s okay, I’ll run 5 miles today” was pretty much my mantra as I consumed pure junk. No more! I don’t even want to know how much weight I’ve gained, I just know my size 32’s are getting snug and that’s no bueno amigo.

So now what? I’ve got two lessons I was served on a hot plate of reality and literally feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. Should I wallow in self-pity and just let myself spiral out of control, or do I pick myself up and get my s**t together? I’m going to opt for the latter.

Plan of Action
Step 1.  Step out of my comfort zone and commit to something that scares me.  I’m already ahead of myself. I’ve signed up for two hellish trail races that have me nervous and scared at the same time.  The Hex Hollow Half (less than a week away), and The Frozen Snot a little over 2 months away.  I seem to have jumped the gun here, panic is slowly setting in… okay, I can do this.

Step 2. Outline and commit to a specific strength training and endurance building routine. I realize there is little I can do over the next few days to improve my strength and endurance for my upcoming race, so I’m going to hopefully ride on the coattails of previous experiences for the Hex Hollow, but for The Frozen Snot, I need to be better prepared. For starters my initial goal will be to hit the gym 3-4 times a week, first thing in the morning. This is a two-part step because it involves a disciplined sleep and wake-up schedule. 

Actions to Improve Performance
1. Weight Training in conjunction with Running
2. Stretching and Foam Rolling Daily.
3. Eat right.

Weight Training in conjunction with Running seems like a no-brainer, but I neglect the process every single time. It’s so easy to just go run that I have to force myself to weight train.  My goal is to build strength in my core and to hopefully help increase my endurance while trail running.  Lesson learned from not taking care of my core was putting all my eggs in my legs basket… err, something like that.

Stretching and foam rolling seems pretty trivial. Not one to perform either activity, who am I to judge? Also, this may have been the one step, post-run, that could have prevented me from getting nasty shin splints. After strength/resistance training, I’m going to spend a few moments giving myself a proper stretch and foam roll.

Eat right.  I mean c’mon, I’m preaching to the choir, but my lesson has been learned on this one. YOU CANNOT OUTRUN A BAD DIET, especially on injured legs.

Gym Routine

  • Warm-up with a 2 or 3-mile run, easy pace.
  • Strength Training focused on different areas of the body:
    • Monday – Arms/Chest
    • Wednesday – Low Back/Abs
    • Friday – Legs
  • Cooldown with a 1-mile jog, stretching and foam rolling.

Running Routine will focus on 3-5 days of at least 3 miles or more, Sunday’s reserved for long runs, all sessions immediately followed by foam rolling and stretching. 

100 August Monthly Miles

This month (August) I embarked on a major milestone – running 100 miles in 30 days!  For some, this may be mere child’s play, but ever since I started running I would typically cap out around 60-70 monthly miles.  I know I have more fuel in the tank, so I set out on this new journey to see what heights I can achieve.

Do I consider myself a runner? Obviously, the answer is: Yes!  I mean, why would I go through the trouble of blogging and sharing my passion on social media?   The real question is, do I feel like a runner?  I know this may seem trivial, but the more of a presence I have on social media, the more I can’t help but notice there are some serious runners out there.  So serious, that I almost feel silly at times posting much of anything.  Maybe that’s why I set this 100-mile goal?

A wonderful thing I noticed about running is that I don’t seem to catch a sense of elitism from other runners (at least from my perspective), just profound respect.  That profound respect is earned through your reputation and your accomplishments.  Not saying there aren’t elite runners, but I rarely catch us runners looking down on other runners.

In fact, in articles from the elite runners, they are just like you and me – they set goals, they train, they have ups and downs, but they just keep showing up and the reward pays them in dividends.

“Some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better.

My advice: keep showing up” – Desiree Linden

Regardless of distance run, or pace, (for me personally) I think what matters most is getting out and giving it your best effort.

KEEP SHOWING UP.

Now, I’m not downplaying pace or miles – after all, that’s how I measure my own accomplishments, but it doesn’t have to be just distance or pace.  I respect other runners who log daily miles, carry on a run streak, set goals and work for their achievements, and embrace the overall sense of community running brings.

I guess the question is: What do you feel makes someone a runner?

By the way, I hit those 100 miles.
110 miles to be exact.

Join us!

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In addition to my love for running, I also love food and eating the right kinds of foods to fuel my passion for hitting the road or trails. I’d love to know your story, and I’d love to be able to share your success with our Podcast audience.

We all have our running story. What’s yours? 

After my weight loss transformation, I re-discovered my love for running and being active.  After overcoming weight issues and lack of self-confidence, I laced up and never looked back.

Now it’s your chance – come run with us on our podcasting adventure, share your triumphs (or even your failures) and join our online community of like-minded individuals!

 

Running for Charity

Let me clear the air for those of you looking for the nitty-gritty details.  Here it is: Download the Charity Miles App – record your miles and raise money for charity or your choice.  Seems pretty easy, right?

For me, not so much. A few months ago I was getting frustrated with always having to run with a cell phone or iPod for my music.  I dabbled in fancy headphones and running belts to try to suit my needs, but just found myself wasting time trying to make it all work.  So I ditched the phone, the belt, and the headphones and run with no music or distractions.  I’m forced to listen to myself breathe and hear nothing but my feet hitting the ground beneath me.

Needless to say, I downloaded this app months ago and never logged in.  After guilt getting the better of me, I decided to open the app, sign-in, and start raising funds.  The interface is simple to use, and you can select between indoor or outdoor walking or running, as well as outdoor biking.  While I’m not 100% sure how comfortable I feel running with my phone again, I have been logging in almost daily to record my morning and afternoon walks – and knowing that I’m helping raise funds for a charity of my choice is pretty rewarding.

Question: What are some of your favorite running apps?

All About the Food! Plant-based!

Physical fitness is a mental and physical game – but let’s not neglect nutrition! After all, it’s all about the food! This week I’m sharing the past three top Plant-based meals we’ve had that I just can’t get enough! Let’s balance this out with my weekly new favorite Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Let’s kick it off with Breakfast! My favorite recent plant-based breakfast has to be: Banana Bread Pancakes These bad boys were filling and so delicious, especially topped with the crumbled nuts and maple syrup!  We paired our pancakes with fresh fruits and some savory peppery potatoes!

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Lunchtime doesn’t have to be heavy, so soups are a classic go-to for us.  This Lentil Soup recipe we tried was hearty and downright awesome!  Paired with some freshly baked bread, this meal is sure to satisfy and will fill you up but not weigh you down.

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Dinner time calls for all the carbs!  That’s why we love this Cauliflower Bolognese and matching salad!  Nothing rounds the day out like some whole grain pasta, covered with bolognese.

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Make sure you check out Beyond 24 Days for the most up to date recipes and meal ideas!

My Weight Loss (and Gain) Storylines

I sort of realized as I’m typing this that there were so many factors in me gaining weight.  I decided to break this up into two parts.  Part I is like the foundation of my weight gain.  Part II will be the weight loss portion.  Sorry for the long read.

Part I, Weight Gain

When I was in high school I wasn’t involved in much.  I tried skateboarding, but I wasn’t into breaking bones as easily as my friends were. It was almost like a rite of passage, the skating kids wouldn’t include you if you didn’t break your arm attempting to pull off a fakie backside off their homemade box ramp.  I just found myself wanting to ride my bike or attempt skating and surfing. Needless to say, I wasn’t the star athlete of my hometown, I was just a regular teen just finding my place in life.

As a teen I never struggled with weight or body image, I was tall, lean, and always active. It wasn’t until I started dating my wife that we both discovered we had shared a love of many things, one most important: FOOD.

We never ate at home, all of our meals were either fast food, diner, or chain restaurants. We ate what we wanted whenever we wanted.  I went from being a lanky 168 lbs. to 200 lbs. in what seemed like overnight.  None of my clothes fit and I started to become very self-conscious and started building a negative body image.  I would try to hide behind bulky jackets and clothing during the cooler months and then squirm with self-doubt and discomfort in the warmer months.  I avoided my picture being taken and stayed away from anything that would draw attention to me.  Aside from my marriage and two wonderful children, nothing else seemed to ever go right.  I had no confidence, and no spine when it came to being bullied at work.  My co-workers and superiors had zero confidence in me and I was belittled and pushed into a corner.  I just assumed this was my place in life.

The only outlet I had I was being involved with the local volunteer fire company and would regularly attend weekly training exercises and drills.  I remember my skewed thought process when it came to physical fitness and wellness.  I thought one night of intense activity was my healthy gateway to justify eating garbage throughout the rest of the week.

“I thought one night of intense activity was my healthy gateway to justify eating garbage throughout the rest of the week.”

Then it happened, well two things happened: First, it was like I had something to prove, I obtained firefighting certification after firefighting certification and just never felt satisfied.  I was missing out on my young family’s early milestones and my wife and I hit a really rough patch in our relationship.  Second, I wasn’t feeling good, I was always sick, always out of breath and just tired all the time. One night during RIT (rapid intervention team) training I was the lucky firefighter that got the role of “victim” or “downed firefighter” and had to be rescued by my peers.  As I felt my fellow team members struggle to rescue me (my weight: 260 lbs plus the added weight of fire gear: 80+ lbs), I came to the scary realization that had this been a real scenario, we all would have been dead.

That’s when I knew, something had to change.  And here’s the thing about change; it can’t be comfortable or easy.  When you make a comfortable and easy change, you are setting yourself up for failure.  When you make a change, commit to the new process and don’t look back!

“… here’s the thing about change; it can’t be comfortable or easy.  When you make a comfortable and easy change, you are setting yourself up for failure.  When you make a change, commit to the new process and don’t look back!”

First, my work was a toxic environment, the management there was inadequate at best, and the atmosphere didn’t make it any better.  I was killing myself for mediocre pay and thought working overtime was the key to making a healthy living.  My boss would play mind-games with me and belittle my contributions.  I was reminded on a weekly basis how much I cost the company, and how it would be cheaper for them to outsource my work.  I was constantly in fear of losing my job.  Being in a constant state of worry led to stress eating and mentally just wore me out.  I was tired all the time and was starved for energy.  I would consume 2-3 energy drinks a day, eat fast food and candy (because it was convenient and easily obtained), and actually thought smoking would help curb cravings.  I even took caffeine pills on a few occasions to stay awake at work and dabbled in weight loss pills to help control my eating habits.

People, are you reading what I’m writing?! Looking back, I must have been mental!  There were so many warning signs that after 5 years of slogging it out, making the decision to quit was long overdue.  When I left that job, I weighed somewhere in the ballpark of 260+ lbs., I say ballpark because I refused to weigh myself because I knew the number would bring me down.

Part II, Weight Loss

Let’s take a look at a few things:  It wasn’t until I left my crappy, toxic career behind and decided to embark on a new journey, that I discovered a few life lessons.

Life Lessons Learned:
Lesson 1. Get rid of toxicity in your life!  Whether it be a nagging boss, negative influencers in your life, so-called “friends”, watching the news, social media, think about what brings you down and let it go.  Then take a moment and think about who you want to be.  Then surround yourself with like-minded people and take the first step in what I like to call a lifestyle cleanse.

Lesson 2. You can’t outwork a bad diet.  One night of intense physical activity is not enough to keep you in shape.  On the same token, smoking, or popping pills, or weight loss gimmicks are nothing but smoke and mirrors.  Ditch the gimmicks and commit to something more tangible and real.  Join a gym and meet with a trainer to develop a fitness program.  I stress, fitness program, and not weight loss program because you need to change your mindset and not view this as a once-and-done program.  This is a lifestyle change.

Lesson 3. Pardon my French, but EAT REAL FUCKING FOOD! Stop eating junk, stop eating what’s convenient and fast, and start eating shit you can pronounce! The simpler the ingredients the better.  Veggies are your friend, and friends help you out and lift you up.  Ditch the crap and start investing in your health with real food.

Lesson 4.  Love and encourage your partner.  So much of my success comes from the love and support of my wife.  Together we supported each other’s goals and together we’ve accomplished great things.  Take a moment and express gratitude for what/who makes you feel good and do what you can to reciprocate that positive energy.

Lesson 5. Do what you love.  Running can be a love/hate relationship and I find the more I run, the more I appreciate this lifelong friend.  We have our ups and downs, and we learn from one another – just like life. Live and learn and don’t give up what you love.