Lessons learned from a habitual outdoor runner

Tag: preparation

You’re slim, why count calories?

Screenshot from 2018-12-06 09-50-44

People watch us. Over time they may be curious enough to ask some questions as to what makes you tick.

Most people in my acquaintance did not know me when I had a 38″+ waist and was around 230 pounds. When or if they hear I run a lot often the conversation turns to my habits. Some have found it strange that I track my calories after losing the weight so many years ago.

I do record my food, and my Garmin tools document my exercise. When I say I track my calories, it’s more superficial than scientific. I know folks who are into the macro-nutrients, proteins, carbs, various fat sources, etc. I think those are great, but they bore me to sleep.

I am in health-maintenance mode, where I want to remain healthy to do battle against the forces of time and environment. The better prepared the soldier, generally, the more success in fighting.

I saw a doctor posted an article on LinkedIn called “Health: One Measure to Rule Them All” where he explores so many elements of our healthy living. A few quotes from his article:

We do not routinely direct our collective will at the true, root causes of our decline.

Even despite the terrible toll of opioids, depression, despair, and suicide- diet is the single leading cause of premature death in America today.

Keep fighting the good fight!


You don’t look like a runner




When you think of someone running outdoors, you may picture an image like the one above. Good looking slender people with nice looking clothes/gear and a smile on their face

Do you have to wear the cool gear to be a real runner?

While traveling last weekend, I had just returned to the hotel at the end of a 9-mile run in the snow (temp@24, w/c@15) and got some odd looks from two young runners just heading out. They were dressed in their “cool gear” and I… well… I’m a utilitarian (warm, dry, safe) and not all that interested in style over functionality.

I’m an early morning runner, and it’s usually dark when I start out, and it is lighter when I return. They looked at me with my flashlight, reflective vest, pepper spray, water bottle, running belt, hood was drawn up, an old pair of gloves, and insulated wind pants. Maybe they thought I was homeless?

I was about to tell them to be careful on the river path when they quickly exited toward the street for an in-town run. Good for them. It did make me wonder if I should get more of the fashionable gear.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried several of the well-known items from socks on up and have found some non-running gear that provided better results. When I speak of results, I mean warm torso, staying dry longer, no blisters or chaffing, comfortable after a few hours of movement, warm face, fingers, and toes, etc. Runner’s World has a neat little what-to-wear tool you may want to check out for some suggestions. This runner has posted her tips on a blog as well, very helpful.

Bodily eliminations and running

When you gotta go, you gotta go!

This topic can be a bit sensitive depending on how you handle it. When you’re a long distance runner, sometimes you need to relieve yourself along the way. When you’re far away from others in the fields or woods, you have some flexibility, but if you’re in town, you need to be a bit more strategic. Men also have a little more flexibility than women here at least for the urination side of elimination. I should state that I’ve known some females that can pee faster than men. 🙂

When I travel to regions out of my norm, I will try to map out routes and alternatives for the next morning. If the area is urban/sub-urban I make a note of where the public restrooms are located should the need arise.

I’m primarily addressing the need to urinate during a run. However, there have been just a few times where the bowels have launched a full-scale attack mid-run. Gas station bathrooms are far from my favorite places, but when your bowels are screaming, they look like a beautiful thing. It’s amazing how low your clean-freak standards drop when your options for relief are extremely limited.

I saw this article last year which adds some additional perspective on this topic.

Most places have decency standards and think about how you’d feel if someone was relieving themselves in your front yard. Plan ahead, have a backup plan, be courteous and civil, then enjoy your run!

Dealing with critters where you run

I really do like dogs, just not the ones chasing me down the road, blocking my path, or of course, biting. Sadly, I’ve been bitten twice by pets that “don’t bite” according to their owners. I no longer trust the word of the owner as they shout out “he doesn’t bite!” above the bark and growl of the rapidly approaching dog.

We do have the freedom to be in a public place without fear of harm from a residential animal, so I do carry and have used, non-toxic pepper spray numerous times. When I am in a rural setting, I also carry a BB Gun. It doesn’t have enough power to do permanent damage, but it would sting enough to get a dogs attention and hopefully slow it down.

Windy days create problems for pepper spray use as it could end up with more in your face than in the approaching animal, the BB gun provides a greater range and resilience against the wind.

Other creatures I have seen on country runs include Coyotes, cats, skunks, opossum, fox, and deer, plus a horse and a cow out of their fenced area. I have heard there are some bobcats in the areas I run, but I haven’t seen any. Here again, the BB gun may provide some additional leverage and time for sprinting away.

If there is an Animal Control Department where you run, be sure to reach out to them if you have been chased/attacked or to report repeat offenders who let their animals roam free. One county I run in regularly does not have such a department, but I have emailed the Sherriff’s office to address some particularly aggressive animals, and it has resolved some issues.

I also have a knife and a cell phone with me at all times.

My morning foods

First thing out of bed – an 8 oz glass of water. This seems to wake up the digestive tract a bit and hydrate after sleep.

My morning exercise routine burns over 1100 calories. I have to consider what the body and muscles need to perform while not eating too much or things that will hinder the exercise.

I’ve tried various fruits, drinks, and snack bars, but what I’ve settled on a regular basis is homemade no-bake energy-bites. You can find various recipes online, ours includes the following:

After my initial in-home exercises (I’ll talk about these in another post) and before my run, I consume another 8 oz glass of water and an energy-bite. I have found this is enough for about 6 miles without getting hunger pangs. Often the hunger pangs are noticeable around the 7-mile mark which I temper with water. When I get over 10 miles, the water is not enough to satisfy, but we can talk about that later as well.

Post-run I need to rehydrate with 12-16 ounces of water. The last few years I’ve included a super-food powder (currently this) in the water to help replenish the bodies needs. I’ll do a post about supplementals later.

I start my breakfast with a Smoothie. The content has varied, so I’ll share the basic ingredients I’m currently using.

I mix this all up in my Ninja-mixer, and it’s like going to Dairy Queen every morning, without the mysterious junk, sugars, and fat.

Finally, I have a bowl of cereal. I have a few go-to combinations like plain shredded wheat mixed with Life (Kroger brand) cereal. The other regular mix is a little Kroger’s Musili with Multi-grain Cheerios. I use unsweetened almond milk in my cereal.

If I have time, I add a cup of hot tea to start the day.

With all the above, I’m usually around the 700 calorie restoration point.


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