When the ants are marching, I run faster

About half the days I run, I listen to music. The other half I don't because I either forgot my headphones or I like to listen to myself breathe. But there's nothing like some good music to get one foot going in front of the other. I have an mp3 player, but instead of a fancy one with endless hours of music, I have one that holds about 90 songs. And when I get through those 90 songs a couple of times, I take a couple of hours to change them out, often with the same artist.

So what gets me going? Nothing says running like a good Dave Matthews Band tune (that's where the title of this entry came from). Currently on my player, I have one of many DMB's live recordings, along with an O.A.R. CD, an older Vertical Horizon CD, Stone Temple Pilots first CD and an older Bare Naked Ladies CD. I craft the songs together so that no artist has songs back to back. I have found over time that listening to music can really set the tone for a good run. If you have trouble with speed workouts, get a good mix of a fast song, then a slow song, then another fast song. Before you realize it, you'll up your pace all because of the music.

Over the past two years I've included just about everything on my player. There's ALWAYS something from the Dave Matthews Band on there, but besides that it's unpredictable. I've included artists from Garth Brooks to Alison Krauss to David Gray to Ben Folds to Counting Crows to Abba. (You can step up the pace pretty good to "Dancing Queen.")

Is there anything you'd like me to write about? Or do you have any running questions? If so, leave a response and future posts will include those things.

Want to run? Just do it.

The number one question I get asked about running is, "How'd you start?" I've gotten this from strangers, friends, and family (who can sometimes be strangers). It's a question that runners ask runners. The answer often begins with, "Well, I wanted to lose weight for my wedding, so I started running." However, that's not completely true.

I guess you could say I was a runner before I called myself a runner, but I couldn't commit to it. When I was in high school in the mid-1990s, I ran track on and off for about three years. I would always begin a season of indoor track, only to stop when winter break would hit. That didn't mean I sat around and did nothing. I play rec league basketball through my senior year, so even then I was running. In my junior year in high school I ran a year of outdoor track, often finishing in the back for the mile or two-mile events. I never cared about placement -- I was having fun. And looking back on those years, I sat PRs that I'll never come close to again.

But what about today? I wish people would ask, "How'd you restart running?"I just did it. It's that simple. At the beginning of 2004, I stepped on a scale for the first time in years. I was nearly 220 pounds. I was getting married six months later. I wanted something to change. I didn't like forcing myself to exercise. I wanted something easy, like it was when I was a teen. But I knew "easy" wasn't going to happen. So on Jan. 1 of that year, I went out for a walk and ran a little bit. The next day, I took the same course and ran just a little bit longer. That patterned continued for about a week when next thing I knew the weight was coming off and I could complete a workout totally running.

There's much more to this story (and a LOT of nutrition changes that I made), but this isn't about me. What about you? How do you start? Or if you used to run, how do you restart? You just do it. Find a few blocks near your house and run only a portion of them, and make it a goal to go a little farther each day. If you live in Lynchburg, go to the Blackwater Creek Bikeway, and walk a half mile, then run a quarter mile. Turn around and walk three quarters of a mile. Extend that quarter mile just a little bit each time you go out. In order to run, you have to take small steps.

Running while sick ... just avoid it.

It's a bit strange that I started this blog on a Friday and then the following day I woke up with a temperature of 101 degrees. I was supposed to get up and run a 5K that day. I was hoping to use that as a test of my endurance following a half marathon in mid-March. It would've made a good second post on my thoughts of a 5K vs. a half marathon. Instead, it was my first race I've signed up for and missed. It had to happen sooner or later though.

That leads me to thinking about what runners should do when they get sick. For me, three days later, I'm still feeling sluggish and don't feel like pushing anything. That's what you're supposed to do, right? "Take it easy" is what everyone says. But I feel this bond to hitting the pavement several times a week and it drives me crazy to "take it easy." But you can easily do more damage to yourself when you run when you shouldn't is pretty much the standard. It's best to let your body fight the fever and whatever else is going on. Some people will disagree, but the few times I have gotten sick in the past few years, I usually feel a lot better running a week or so later than I did the week up until getting sick. Earlier this winter I had a bad cold for a couple of days, took a few days off and then a week later I was running the strongest I had ever ran. Running is just funning that way.

For more reading on running while sick, click here for a story on Runner's World's Web site.

Getting started

Greetings all. I want to first discuss what this blog will be about. In November, I will run my first marathon - the Richmond Marathon. In the past three-plus years, I have gone from running to lose weight to running my first race to training for the Virginia Ten Miler to running two half marathons to this. My first marathon. My point of blogging is to take you along my personal journey of training to run 26.2 miles, as well as giving running advice and receiving running advice. I do not consider myself a pro, but I now feel pretty experienced having run numerous 5Ks. I have been involved with two different training groups - one for the 10 miler and another for speed/endurance. And I'm planning more this summer. As always, please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

So if you have any questions about running in general, please ask. Over these next six-plus months I hope to discuss getting ready for your first ever race, what I did to lose weight, how I've been able to shave about a minute per mile off my various distances, give advice, tell race tales, etc., etc. Thanks for reading, and please respond away.