Running week of March 7-13

I thought after reading my friend Katie’s blog that a weekly update on my running would be a good idea for me to keep a “journal” of how my weekly fitness is going.  I think by logging the mileage and how I feel after each run and at the end of the week will definitely help me to see what’s working and how I need to adjust.  Wish I started this a couple of years ago so I’d have a much better idea of how training is going.  My next race is the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon in Springfield on April 2nd.  I know that I’m well prepared and my goal is to hit a new PR of below 2:00.  We shall see…

Monday 3/7
5 miles at 8 minute 22 second average
Treadmill run
Nike Air Zoom
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Tuesday 3/8
6 miles at 9 minute 21 second average
Savannah trail run
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Wednesday 3/9
3 miles at 8 minute 26 second average
On duty at the firehouse treadmill run
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Thursday 3/10
5 miles at 9 minute 14 second average
Savannah trail run
Nike Air Zoom
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Friday 3/11
Rest Day
Legs were definitely a little sore in the Achilles area

Saturday 3/12
5 miles at 8 minute 23 second average
On duty at the firehouse treadmill run
Nike Air Zoom
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Sunday 3/1
5 miles at 8 minute 13 second average
Rainy day treadmill run
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Weekly Mileage
29 miles
Less miles than I planned but this weather just isn’t cooperating and I think I’ve been pushing it a little.

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2XU Racing Vectr Socks & Compression Sleeves

Disclaimer: I received the 2XU Vectr socks and Compression Performance Run Sleeves 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!

I was fortunate enough to try out the Vectr racing socks and compression sleeves thanks to BibRave and 2XU.  Being a big fan of most of 2XUs gear, I was excited to try them out.  So, we’ll begin with the socks…

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I kind of laughed when I first saw the L and the R on the socks but then truly appreciated the ergonomic feel to it.  So what makes them special?  Well, I like the low profile and stability of the sock.  It actually stands up on its own due to quality design.  As advertised, other features include X-Lock technology which keeps that sock in place as well as reducing the risk of blisters due to constant rub.  They are extremely durable and I have tested them thoroughly while running inside/outside as well as trail runs in the snow and sleet.  I do like how they feel in most conditions and appreciate the heel cup for cushion during my type of running.  The design (though not crucial in my purchases) is pretty darn cool too.  I do wish that there were more color choices to vary things up.

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The Performance Run Calf Sleeves are a new thing for me over the last year and I can honestly say that I’ve become a fan of them.  Compression sleeves have become a staple in most runner’s arsenal and for obvious reasons.  With a long list of benefits such as greater oxygenation of blood for quick recovery, faster muscle warm up, reduced fatigue from less muscle motion, reduction in muscle soreness, and minimizing the long term overuse injuries.  2XU has excelled at the design of their sleeves.  There is a great color selection and they are pretty darn durable after many uses.  The UPF50+ sun protection is just a plus.

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So how did they work together for me?  When you combine an ergonomic properly fitted sock with the benefits of a compression sleeve, how can you go wrong.  They seemed to work best for me after the first 2 miles of any run.  Without them, I used to get some mild irritation in my Achilles tendon and needed to occasionally stop my runs and stretch them until the pains went away.  Wearing the 2XU sleeves has virtually eliminated that need to stop and stretch.  I like the way it fit me and compressed in the right areas.  You need to have the properly fitted sleeve for the compression to actually work for you and the sizing chart is spot on.  After my long runs, I wear the sleeves again and definitely appreciate the lack of muscle soreness I get.  It keeps the swelling to a minimum and cuts my recovery time in half.  All in all, I like the way they feel pre run, during the run, and especially post run.  I probably put in close to 100 miles on my current pair in both running and OCR training and am impressed with the durability.  You will get a quality product in 2XU.

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See my fellow BibRave Pros reviews here:

Rachel, Jessica R, Mark, Sarah M, Samantha, Laura M, Jeremy H, Heather, Lisa, Haley, Christine, Ang, Erica, Shannon, Chadd, Eric, Jen S, Jessica B

Running and Nutrition

Now I don’t need to preach to you about what you put in your body everyday as most people know that a piece of fruit is a better choice than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup!  Yes, I get it that it tastes great but realistically, I am looking at the long haul as opposed to the quick fix.  I’ve had my dietary problems for years and after I began my running adventures, I found myself opting for better choices and how they make me feel when I do run.  This is coming from someone who had an unreal metabolism and could burn off anything I put in my body!  Over the years, I entered hot and spicy contests and ate so many foods that I never realized would affect me in the long run. (Pun)

A few years back, I was diagnosed with incredibly high cholesterol and triglycerides as well as Gastric Esophageal Reflux Disease.  I blame working at the firehouse and not really having a choice and what we ate.  Most of the time, we had to eat quick unhealthy meals in case we had extended calls.  Well, sadly, that catches up to you.  Of course I was prescribed meds for both the cholesterol and reflux and hated how they made me feel.  I know they did their job to an extent but still made me feel horrible.  After a couple of years on the meds, my numbers didn’t really come down to where we’d like them.  This is where I decided to make some changes.

I started running and while I was slow at first, the constant exercise just made me feel better!  I minimized (not stopped) my love for Dr. Pepper and stopped eating highly acidic and damaging foods.  Over the last 3 years, my running intensified and my diet changed to stay in line with my training.  I began juicing and eating more salads and fruits.  I even convinced some of the guys at the firehouse to try new healthier meals.  My cholesterol and triglycerides and back down to safer levels though I still have a hereditary factor to contend with but off of medications!  I no longer wake up with stomach pain and a horrid taste in my mouth.  I contribute that to what you hear every day…DIET AND EXERCISE!

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That brings me to my running nutrition…

Weeks leading to races – less pop, more fruits and vegetables, and basically a healthier choice of meals with few refined sugars and oily choices.

Couple of days before races – Starting to build on my simple sugar carbs with pastas and high fiber fruits/vegetables

Day before races – Smoothie breakfast (recipe below), Sandwich lunch (some sort of sub with turkey, bread, veggies), and a medium sized carb dinner (pasta with meatballs and a light sauce like pesto)

Morning of races – I’m not usually a big breakfast person but only during big events like races or OCRs I’ll have a bagel with honey or peanut butter a couple of hourse before that activity.  I’ll hydrate well before a race but still take a drink during the race.

Post races – Depending on the type of race I did (OCR, 1/2 marathon, 5k) I am usually brutally hungry!  I’m more apt to splurge and eat heavily to refuel.  Right after races, I always opt for a water and some sort of fruit like the usual apple or banana.  But that night???  I am eating like a pig!  This is where I’ll be opting for my muscle rebuilding proteins like meat filled pizza, steak, burgers, chicken marsala, or seafood.

So, I’m still learning what works for my body and I feel it works for me, I still understand that it can be tweaked and adjusted to make it better and more effective.  To be continued…

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My recipe for my favorite morning smoothie:

1 jalapeno

1/2 cucumber

1 banana

1 peach

1 handful of kale

1/4 cup of cilantro

1 cup of rice milk

10 blueberries

Squeeze of lime

Either 1/2 cup of watermelon or pineapple

MeStrength

Disclaimer: I received a 10 pack of MESTRENGTH 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!

I was lucky enough to participate in trying the MESTRENGTH drink mixes that I’ve heard so much about.  I don’t have to preach the importance of proper hydration in not only your fitness but everyday activities.  For the most part, I’ve usually been a water only kind of runner and athlete.  Lately, I’ve been craving anything that not only replenishes what I’ve I’ve lost but also has some memorable taste.  That’s where MESTRENGTH came in.

So why this brand and what does it do?

Well, simply put, it’s a sugar free and zero calorie drink that gives the body some much needed refueling.  And, it’s gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian!  I am definitely a fan of a drink additive that has no chemicals or unnecessary sugars.  Plus, giving you a kick of 5 electrolyes and 5 gms of creatine for that extra boost of muscle energy.

Now onto the taste…with the package I received, it came 2 packs of 5 flavors.  While all of the flavors are great, I became seriously addicted to the Kiwi Strawberry.  There is just something about the distinct taste and it’s not sugary.

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I’ve always been pretty good about staying hydrated in both summer and winter and I know just how important maintaining an equal balance of water in and out is.  I’ve drank the typical sports drinks out there during my sporting life but never finished one as it just tasted too sugary.  I always ended up watering it down just to make it tolerable.  MESTRENGTH has given me what I need and tops it off with being tops for the amount of added electrolytes and flavor all in the absence of chemical additives, preservatives, and sugars.

Something about this time of year…

Now I’m still young enough to enjoy living in the Midwest and experiencing all four seasons.  But I continue to get those winter blahs that January and February bring.  Oh I still manage to get what needs to be done by running almost every day.  I think that my last two coast-to-coast adventures have spoiled me a bit.  The breathtaking views of running along the Pacific coast in Monterey haunts me quite a bit.  I never thought I’d be a fan of California but after visiting and running along the serene trails, I contemplate going back frequently.

I’ve done a few races and plenty of runs mid-winter around here and dressed accordingly so I know I’m able to do cold runs.  Looking at my running times over the last few years, I’m seeing where I’m strongest and more effective.  Surprisingly, the intense heat brings me my best!  Maybe it’s because I hydrate properly or maybe it’s because I’m a firefighter and used to incredible amounts of fire.  It really shocked me as the times were noticeably better.

Having certain goals seems to be helping with these blues as being signed up for a race gives me something to look forward to.  I find myself starting out looking for a local race but veer of course and look for races out west or south.  Hmmm, maybe my destiny is to be out of the Midwest and somewhere more scenic.  Time will tell…

What looks more enticing?

2XU HYOPTIK Thermal Compression Tights

Disclaimer: I received a pair of 2XU HYOPTIK Thermal Compression Tights 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!

Make the 2XU sponsored #BibChat on JAN 26, 2016!

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I decided to put off today’s run until a little later when I was fortunate enough to receive a pair of these to try out thanks to Bibrave and 2XU.  The delivery guy dropped them off around 3:45pm and I was out the door by 3:50pm!

So what are they and why use them?

Ok first, I never thought I’d be the type of male runner who wore running compression tights.  I also never thought I’d be a runner.  But then the more I ran, the more I understood the equipment and proper uses of them.  Considering I put in close to 1800 miles this year, I thought I’d make a pretty good assessment of the HYOPTIKs.

Upon first opening them, I thought that they may be a bit too small, but after putting them on (I’m 5’10” and 185lbs) I found the medium to actually fit pretty well.  They felt comfortable and looked pretty darn good.

So again, why compression?

  • Oxygenates the blood for fast recovery
  • Faster warm up of muscles
  • Reduces fatigue through less muscle movement
  • Reduces long term overuse injuries
  • Reduces muscle soreness

Well that’s a lot of promises but I can assure you that they are all true!  As soon as I started my run, I could feel them doing what they claim.  They kept my legs warm and though the temps were in the 30’s for my run with a decent headwind, my legs felt great.  The winds did a number on my thighs last week but after tonight’s run, I can positively say that I’m a huge fan.  I ran a quick 6 miles in them to break them in and really like the way that the HYOPTIKS kept my muscles from vibrating and seemed to compress at just the right level.

After the run, I kept them on a short while to cool down and really felt as if my legs weren’t even challenged during the run.  I usually get a slight soreness after my runs and either ice massage them or just stretch but I didn’t need it tonight!  Now, they weren’t the easiest things to get off but then again, what is after a run?!

All-in-all, I’m very happy with the look, the feel, the reflective logos, and the experience with them.  I look forward to building in some miles with the HYPOTIKS and if they are anything like tonight’s results, I will be getting more out of the product line!

You can use the code: “Run20″ to get 20% off all their gear! Hurry, because the code expires February 29th.  Be sure to follow them on Twitter @2xu_usa, #RunHyoptik, and #bibchat.

Check out these other Bibravepro reviews:

Cass, Mark, Sarah, Erin, Katherine, Heather, Josh, Jeremy, Brie, Lisa, Allison, Christine G, Ang, Amy, Gina, Abbie, Jen S, Sarah M, Chadd, Jessica R, Jenny

 

 

 

2016 BibRavePro

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I’m so happy to selected as a 2016 BibRavePro!  I’ve followed some of the pros for years and feel fortunate to part of it.

I cannot wait to start contributing to such a reputable group and sharing my experience with running races, trying selected vendor products, and participating in the Tuesday night #bibchats.

I will be reviewing races and gear and sharing them with social media on Twitter https://twitter.com/fjnardo, Instagram https://www.instagram.com/fjnardo/, and of course on http://www.bibrave.com. 

Unseasonable running weather

With the last few days of beautiful weather in mid-November, how can I not get out and enjoy the sun and run?!  60 degrees and sunny during this time of year is definitely keeping me sane.  Last year at this time, we already had a quick bout of snow though not accumulating.

I ran close to 20 miles over the last couple of days and this warmth is rejuvenating.  I really wish I was running downtown Chicago along the lakefront as I’m sure it was packed with runners, bikers, and walkers.   I’ve been running in the Savannah near my home and while it’s beautiful, I’ve racked up a couple of thousand miles on these trails and just simply need a change of scenery.

I’m not going to complain because in about a month, this weather will have taken a turn for the worst with bitter cold temps and most likely – snow.  Still, I’m grateful to even still be running and not hibernating at the gym on the treadmills.

I’ve been running in my Reebok trail shoes and I’m still on the fence if they’re the right shoe.  The trails I run are crushed limestone and pretty even terrain so virtually any shoe will work.  But, there is a very noticeable difference in the weight and feel of the Reeboks over my usual Saucony Zealots.  They feel heavier and slow down my pace just a tad but also hurt the instep of my feet for the first couple of miles.  After mile 3-4 they seem to be better but not perfect.  I’ll keep at it as I only have about 50 miles on them.

I hope you got out over the weekend and soaked up some sun.  After all, we’ll be wearing snowshoes soon…

In the market for OCR shoes

After participating in the Battlefrog Chicago, I have come to the realization that running shoes are definitely not ideal for muddy and rocky terrain.  So I’ve been reading articles, browsing websites, and mentally shopping for the ideal shoe.  Surprisingly there are quite a few on the market for this ever growing sport of obstacle course racing.  I’ve already signed up for the 2016 Battlefrog as well as the Spartan Sprint, Spartan Super, and the Spartan Beast so I know that I’ll give them a true workout.  Obviously I’m new to OCR races and would love the input of others who may have more to offer.

Reebok All Terrain Super 2.0

Reebok All Terrain Super 2.0 – This is the one I’m seriously looking at.  I’m not sure who uses this shoe in OCR racing but I like the look, the tread, and a reasonable price.

Reebok Spartan 2

Reebok All Terrain Super 2.0 Trifecta – I like the tread on here also coming from a reputable company but also for the cool logo!

Icebug

Icebug Zeals – This seems to be a pretty popular shoe amongst the elite OCR runners and I wish a store around me had them so that I could try them out.

Innov-8 Mudclaw

Inov-8 Mudclaws – What an awesome aggressive looking tread on these!  No mud is slowing these shoes down.

Galena Lead Rush 1/2 Marathon

I was totally in need of a runcation and saw an ad for the Galena Lead Rush sometime during the summer.  I haven’t been there since I was a kid and don’t remember much about it!

The price was right and I wanted to run some hills.  How naive!  I obviously didn’t prepare for the amount of hill work that I needed.  No worries…I can handle anything that comes my way.  (I’ll come back to that!)

Packet pickup and a nice backdrop!
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Flat Frank all ready and anxiously awaiting the next morning!
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This is just one of the hills!  Doesn’t it scream leg pain?!
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Now I’ll be honest, while it may have been a more challenging course, it was absolutely breathtaking.  I could not have asked for a more scenic route.  The first 5 miles were mostly flat but still beautiful.  It hits you right in the legs from miles 6-8.  Right when you make the turn and see the elevation – wow!

The next few miles had it’s elevation changes but still not as drastic as the 6-8.  Now, I may be in the dissenting opinion, but I LOVE the downhills.  I know it’s not great for anyone with knee problems or ACL injuries, but if you take the hill the right way, it is manageable.  And finally, we come to the finish line…

How can you beat a finish line with a huge crowd, scenic river views, and a ski lift back to the top??

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Don’t let it fool you.  This pic may show a superstar runner in his prime, but the legs are jello!  I still managed to get a PR for a 1/2 marathon and a finer appreciation for hillwork!

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So, I’ve contemplated starting a blog for the last couple of years…

I’m not even sure where to begin but can honestly say that at this point in my life, running has become much more than a necessity.  In a million years, I would have never thought that would come out of my mouth.  But, here I am, constantly thinking about running and what it has done for me.

So, where to begin?  Hmmm, maybe an introduction to who I am and why you’re even reading this.  Simply put, my name is Frank Nardomarino and I am a career Lieutenant/Paramedic and have been doing so for the last 18 years.  I have always been into fitness and sports of some sort and have dabbled in mountain bike racing, baseball, athletic training, and hiking to name a few.  But over the last few years, something changed.  Something drew me to running and the whole mindset of “I have to run!”  It’s hard to explain and yet most runners have been there and have that same urge.

While my racing portfolio is modest, I have become rather addicted to the whole race experience and running in general.  There is something inside me that allows me to think more clearly and understand what is important in life while I run.  Maybe it’s the scenery and maybe it’s my heart beating out of my chest.

Either way, I plan on using this blog as my personal journal of running, races, obstacle course racing, nutrition, and fitness in general.  I always encourage input and if you’re enjoying it, please let me know.

Thanks for listening,

Frank

Yiannis Christodoulou

GB Aquathlon team captain, 2018 National Gold Medalist (Age Group) 2017 National Silver Medalist (Age Group) 2016 National and European Bronze Medalist (Age Group) 2016 National and European Bronze Medalist Representing Great Britain in the 2017 European and World Aquathlon Championships (Age Group)

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