Holiday Shopping for Runners

Looking for the perfect running-related gift for the Holidays?
Hoping to take advantage of holiday sales and get some new gear for yourself?
Want to buy me something?

I got you.

Here are a few great gift ideas:

Brooks Ghost 10 – $120 

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A classic shoe that will suit everyone from savvy veterans to first-timers. Balanced, smooth, sharp. Highly recommended by Camp Becket alumnus Henry Wynne; sub-4min miler, NCAA Champion, professional distance runner for Brooks Beasts, and amateur tattoo artist. 


Milestone Pod – $30

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The Milestone Pod attaches to your shoes and tracks your mileage, location, and spits out personalized gait and performance metrics.


Racing Weight ($13) + 80/20 Running ($13) 

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Matt’s books are my go-to resources. Racing Weight is the best guide book for fitness nutrition that I have read. Period. While 80/20 running explains the science of training and provides blueprints for runners at all levels.

AfterShokz Premium Audio Headphones – $50

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These high-quality headphones deliver premium audio quality in a comfortable design. Outstanding for cross-training. 


SENSO Bluetooth Headphones – $30

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If premium audio is less important than being untethered while running, these inexpensive bluetooth headphones will more than do the trick for a fraction of the cost of high-end bluetooth headsets. 


Grid Foam Roller – $40

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If you’re not foam rolling, you’re doing it wrong. Stay limber and recover faster. 


Trianium Armband – $10

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Still holding your phone in your hand while you run? That is so 2012. Don’t be that guy. Make sure and buy the right size for your phone.


WrightSock Anti-Blister SocksStarting at $10

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I swear by these. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors for both men and women. If you get blisters, get these socks.


Run Gum Caffeinated Running Gum – $1.50/pack

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We know that caffeine can help boost running performance. Run Gum is an awesome way to fuel up and get an added boost without the downside that comes with drinking coffee or energy drinks. I chew on Run Gum before and during almost all my hard workouts and races. 


Picky Bars – $2/bar

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Created by some of my favorite athletes, Picky Bars offer the ideal 3:1 carb:protein ratio perfect for a post-workout snack. They’re so good that Jess and I have a supply delivered every month! If you subscribe and order by the month, they’re available at a hefty discount.


Goodr Running Sunglasses – $25

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These glasses are inexpensive, high-quality, and great for running. I was surprised at how comfortable and unobtrusive they are. 


Race Pass – Starting at $110

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If you’re in the Greater Washington DC area, this pass is for you. If not, Google your local running stores and see if they’re offering similar deals. Or just come to DC and run with me!


And if you want to buy me something….

Nike Zoom VaporFly 4% – ($250 PRR Gift Card)

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Workout Recap: 8x300m

This week’s hardest workout fell on Wednesday when Coach Matt had me run 300m intervals. Here’s the whole workout:

  • 0.5 miles in Zone 1 
  • 1 mile in Zone 2
  • 8x300m in Zone 4/jog 200m between each in Zone 1
  • 1 mile in Zone 2

It was…. not awful! The intervals felt tiring just the way a hard workout should, but I a) didn’t seem to injure anything and b) was able to hold a Zone 4 pace throughout the workout. 

At my currently level of fitness, Zone 4 pacing means my heart rate ranged from 155-162 bmp, which is about a 5:35-5:55/mile pace. That meant that each 300m interval ranged from about 60-65 seconds. Not bad for an old man… kinda demoralizing that I used to cruise at this time for a full 400m in workouts just a decade ago. Oh, well. 

With no racing this weekend, the rest of the week involves about 24 miles at a slow pace with a few miles at moderate speeds along with some strengthening exercises. 


Race 13: Veteran Moves

Potomac River Running‘s Veterans Day 5K made for the 13th race of the 30@30 campaign. The 30 degree weather scared away a lot of would-be runners but aside from the temperature the race conditions were terrific. 

The theme for this week: Discipline.


This was a workout race… Coach Matt instructed me to run two miles before the race in Zone 1-2, race in Zone 3 (about 155-160 bpm) and run another two miles in Zone 2 afterward. 

Goals for the Race:
1) Don’t get injured. ()
2) Complete my two mile warmup run just as the 5K race begins. ()
3) Stay disciplined and run the entire race in Zone 3. ()

Coach was very explicit in his instructions: “Do this in Zone 3. Be disciplined and don’t race! You’ll have plenty of opportunities for that coming up.”

Go slightly slower… no problem, right?

I suppose I’ll take it as a positive that I still have a competitive bent… but man, it was hard to hang back.

I raced with a heart rate monitor on so that I would be sure to keep my pace steady and that was immensely helpful. Given how much my heart rate fluctuates with the slightest inclines/declines, keeping a tight (155-160 bpm) range almost gamified the race and made the event more fun. Although slowing down when I felt particularly strong and watching other runners surge past me was frustrating.

I did manage to stay in Zone 3… until the last 100 meters. A younger kid tried to pass me and I wasn’t having it, so I picked up the pace and then passed another few people.

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As you can see in the photo, my hips are terribly weak. As I get tired, my form deteriorates and the most noticeable result is my overlapping knees. Not good.

Aside from that, I was pleased with my overall result: 22:26 (7:14/mile in Zone 3 – 43rd/358 overall, 36 men, 3rd in age group).

Just over two months ago on Labor Day, I ran a 5K on the same course and struggled to a finish of 22:09 – so this morning’s workout-race felt like progress.

I cruised another two miles afterwards to complete the workout and immediately got in the car to warm up.

No races for a few weeks but I’ll be back in Boston for a 5K on December 3rd. Join me!


Season’s Best 10K in DC

With winter around the corner and my formal training with Coach Matt about to begin, I wanted to run a hard 10K and gauge my fitness level. 

Enter: the Parks 10K in DC near the Jefferson Memorial. Significant rain throughout the night made the course a bit wet, but the rain largely subsided for the race itself leaving a crisp mid-50s temperature and minimal wind. Couple that with a very flat course and we had pretty great November conditions overall.

Quite usefully, this was a Potomac River Running event, so the entire affair was expertly managed with a well-marked course, safety spotters at the turn-around, chip start/finish timing and all sorts of good post-race snacks and tunes. 

This was a fairly important test and I had a few specific race goals:
1) Don’t aggravate my leg injury. ()
2) Don’t injure anything else. ()
3) Run fairly even mile splits (+/- 8 seconds). (X)
4) Break 46 minutes (approx. 7:24 pace). ()

Given that my 5K times have averaged just under 7min/mile, a 7:24 pace was theoretically doable… but I needed some help with my pacing and some encouragement for the longer race. 

I needed to enlist a rabbit.

Enter: Lindsay Donaldson O’Brien. 

It helps when your Maid of Honor is a 6x All-American. (She’s also crazy humble and will hate me for bragging about her… but too bad, Linds).

Lindsay agreed to racewalk a few feet in front of me while I ran (a comment on her relative pace and effort, not her form, which is textbook as you might imagine) and push me throughout the race. 

Our first mile was a bit too fast (approx. 7:08), owing to the crowd of runners we had to weave around at the start and early race adrenaline. My abs and legs were hurting more than I would have liked and Lindsay wisely took notice and settled in a bit for the second mile (approx. 7:38) to even things out.

Not feeling great only 1/3 of the way through the race, I normally would have slowed down a ton. This is where having a rabbit helped. Especially a rabbit who wasn’t sweating. 

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As you can see above, our third mile was right on pace and out fourth mile was overall the strongest of the race. That fourth mile hurt and didn’t feel any faster than mile three, but Lindsay increased the pace ever so slightly and put us in a strong position to break 46min with only two miles to go.  

That fifth mile hurt. My hips and knees were bearing the brunt of the force as my form began to deteriorate and I was clearly fatigued. I remember thinking that if Lindsay had not been there, I would have slowed way down. Instead, I just had to focus on staying within 10 meters of her. Yuge.

With only about a half-mile to go, Lindsay calculated that we were slightly ahead of pace and that gave me a much needed boost of confidence. The last half-mile was pretty quick and we even caught a few people before the finish line for a finishing time of 45:32 (74/551 overall, 59th men, average 7:19/mile)! 

I was very pleased and even more exhausted. That one hurt. 

The race was mentally exhausting as I was fighting my body from the first mile onward. Luckily, my relative cardio-vascular fitness made up for my lack of experience and mental toughness. I can tell that the 80/20 training has begun to pay off.

The out-and-back course was a bit mentally fatiguing, as I spent the first half of the race thinking “shit, I still have to run all this way back?!” I think I prefer a loop or point-to-point course for longer races. 

It was so great to have Lindsay there for pacing, support, and fun. No way would I have broken 46min without her there and instead I shattered that barrier. 

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Now it’s lots of ice and ibuprofen while I begin Coach Matt’s training and look forward to the Veteran’s Day 5K next Sunday. Join me for the race if you’re in the DC area!


Workout Recap: 4x10min Cruise Intervals

(Don’t) let me get in my zone. 

A moderate-intensity workout was in order just two days before my next race. After 10min of warmup jogging, I hit the track and the trails for some Zone 3 work.

4x10min in Zone 3 followed each followed by 2min in Zone 2.

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Right now, Zone 3 is about 155-162 bpm for an average pace of approximately 7:40-8:05/mile. 

It wasn’t too bad! I felt pretty weak during the first interval, but once I threw on some 90s tunes, the rest were not too bad at all. Add on another 10min of cool down (in this case, an uphill walk) and the workout was about 66 minutes and just over 7 miles. 

Varying the running terrain helped a lot, as the trails kept my mind a bit fresh and the track kept me focused. Bumping Jellyhead (remix) by Crush also helped. 

Sunday is the Parks 10K – I am bringing in a pacing rabbit to see if I can hit a certain goal…

Attention DC Area: Local Races & Fantastic Offerings for Runners

Every now and then, I get word of some really great stuff that the team at Potomac River Running (PRR) is putting together for runners at all levels in the DC area. 

While there are many companies that like to talk about how embedded they are in their local communities, PRR walks (runs?!) the walk. Potomac River Running has been a huge supporter of the 30@30 campaign right from the start. By providing financial support to enter their races, they ensure that all donations to the 30@30 campaign go directly to camper scholarships. I have been so fortunate to come across a local business that is so passionate about helping local runners. 

Here are a few awesome events at their local stores and races throughout the DC area:

– Looking for a tough track workout? Check out Track Friday on Black Friday
– Free weekly core strengthening 30min class every Monday!
– Need a free injury screening? Fast Track Runners’ University: Educating local athletes to become smarter, faster, and stronger
– Track your runs precisely with a Garmin GPS 

Anyone want to join me for a (hungover) New Years Day 5K? #Resolutions
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If you have any questions at all – just shoot me a note!

Races in NY and Florida Scheduled

Have you checked out the Schedule page to see if there are any races in your area? 
A few more races are now on the schedule into January.

I’ll definitely be running a 5K in Westchester, NY, on Sunday, December 10th, and as of now I am planning on JOGGING a half-marathon in Naples, FL, on Sunday, January 14th. 

So if you’re in one of those areas and want to join me – let me know!
Would love to have you.

Also, if you’re in the Naples, Florida, area and have access to a segway or hoverboard of some sort, please let me know. Asking for a friend…