Racing vs. Training: What’s the Proper Balance?








I have one friend who runs every day (and runs pretty fast).  His grand total of official races he’s run?  One.  He just does not do races.  Another friend, who also runs every day, once logged around 40 races in one year.  And somewhere between those two is another friend who runs perhaps three times a week but plans to run 17 races this year.

What’s the proper amount of races per year in which to participate in comparison to just training?  Having races for which to train can help motivate people to keep running even in the dead of winter, the sogginess of spring or the heat of summer.  On the other hand, too many races can burn someone out.  In fact, having too many races may actually be detrimental to your performance due to lessened training and recovery time.

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Running in Groups: Plenty of Running Club Options

Some folks have no problems motivating themselves to run everyday.  They have the discipline to get up and run by themselves, through hot and cold weather, day in and day out.  For others, it’s a little more difficult, and some additional motivation is needed. 

A good deal of that motivation can come from running in groups.  There’s something to be said about specifically scheduled days and times to run.  You’re more likely to either get up early or perhaps skip a post-work happy hour to run if there’s a group run with others in the same boat.  Group runs also seem to go by a lot easier, so you hardly notice that you’ve just run 5 or 8 miles. 

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Running While High: The Altitude Effect

Last week, I spent time in surrounding Salt Lake City, Utah area.  In addition to taking in the many beautiful sights, drinking low alcohol beer (only 4.0 percent or lower beer is sold at grocery stores) and enjoying the respite from 95 degree Philly temperatures, I also did get a chance to do some running.

Running in most areas of Utah, of course, is much different than running here in Philly.  In addition to gorgeous mountain and lake scenery, Utah is at a substantially higher elevation than our sea level city.  Eden, where I did most of my running is at an altitude of approximately 5,200 feet, with many hills along the way.  So what’s it like to run at altitude for a week?  Quite an adjustment and challenging but also possibly rewarding.

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Race Running Weather: What Are Perfect Conditions?

At the starting line of the Broad Street Run this past weekend, you could see a colorful array of clothing.  With the race having over 34,000 participants, it was no surprise to see so much variety in the attire being worn.

What was particularly interesting, however, was how people dressed for the weather.  With the temperature at about 58 degrees at the start and climbing no higher than 60 by 10 a.m. (when many runners would be finishing), many treated the race as if they were running on a summer day, with t-shirts or tank tops and shorts.  Others took a more “pessimistic” view of the cloudy conditions and accounted for the lack of sun with long sleeves, pants or crops. 

Then, there was the humidity factor.  Some said that the humidity (which averaged 78 for the day) was relatively low.  Others, like top American finisher Michael McKeeman, believed the high humidity hindered performance. 

So, were the Broad Street Run weather conditions good?  If not, what constitutes ideal running conditions? 

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GPS Run Tracking: Some Applications Are Better Than Others


Recently, I joined the modern age and switched from a BlackBerry to an iPhone 4s.  It has taken some time to adjust to the new operating system, but you can definitely do a lot more with the iPhone.

In addition to its advanced features, the iPhone also provides access to a wealth of applications.  One of my interests was finding a good GPS run tracker.  The App Store happens to offer several free run tracking application options.  Given the choices, I decided to test four different free applications to evaluate which run tracker to use.



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Wissahickon Trails Offer Dramatic Contrast to City Landscape

In the middle of Center City Philadelphia, there is the prototypical urban jungle.  Office buildings, high rise apartments, new condominiums and brownstone houses all spread across the city as far as the eye can see.

Within the city, however, is Farimount Park , a 9,200 acre system that is the largest urban park in the world, spread out across nearly in every neighborhood.  Though the primary area considered to be Fairmount Park is located to the west and northwest part, there are approximately 60 distinct areas, including in Northeast, North and South Philadelphia.

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Track Access in Heart of South Philly

The city has many great running spots.  For flat trails, there’s Kelly Drive/West River Drive, Columbus Boulevard and through Center City.  For hills, there’s some routes off Kelly Drive and in Manayunk.  The one thing that I did not find readily available, however, has been a track for sprints and speed training.  Franklin Field on the University of Pennsylvania campus has a historic track, but access to it is very limited (you can’t use it when the cross country or track teams are practicing) and almost non-existent when school is not in session.

Perusing Google Maps, I pondered whether there were any visible tracks that could be used by the public.  Down in South Philadelphia, I noted there appeared to be a track in the area of 10th Street and Bigler Street, which is south of Oregon.  It was not clear whether the field was associated with a particular nearby high school.

So, one morning, I decided to investigate and take a trip down to 10th and Bigler.  I was pleasantly surprised to find both the gate to the parking lot as well as the gate to the track open.  The track, which I learned was called the Bok Field Track, is run by the South Philadelphia Communities Civic Association.  It  is open for public use on weekdays from about 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.  On both of my recent visits, I found folks walking or jogging around the track. 

The track is definitely a hidden gem and asset for those looking for speed training in the city.