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Review: Mio Fuse

What is it?  The Mio Fuse is an activity tracker and heart rate monitor.  It is a pretty nifty little device.  As an activity tracker, you can set goals, monitor your heart rate, and keep track of steps, calories and distance.  It will show you, via the app, how many steps you have taken, and how many you need to reach your goal. The heart rate monitor is an optical sensor.  Meaning it shines a little light on your skin and the sensor pick up heart rate.

My interest in the Mio Fuse is primarily as a heart rate monitor.  As an athlete and coach who trains with heart rate based periodization, heart rate is an important piece of information.  Each athlete has their own individual heart rate zones.  No two people are alike.  Using a standard formula for everyone does not produce individual zones and is not useful for training (and in fact could be detrimental, as too much time in the wrong zone, or too high a zone can lead to burnout and injury).  I want to run in specific zones in my own training, and when I write workouts for athletes, they are assigned zones based on the intent of the workout (endurance, tempo, or recovery for example).  As a woman prone to chafing, I have some serious issues with the Garmin heart rate strap.  For me, it causes painful chafing under the sensor (for other people it can cause chafing anywhere under the strap itself).  Its not possible to put anti-chafe under the sensors, as that interferes with the signal.  The Fuse seemed to be the solution to this problem and I was excited to give it a try.

The Fuse comes in two sizes, depending on the size of your wrist.  I chose the small size and as you can see, even while wearing the Fuse high on the wrist (more on placement later), I have enough extra band.  The Fuse has 3 buttons, or touch points.  The two on the side scroll through time, calories, steps, distance and goal.  It will also display your heart rate.  The midde touch point is for finding your heart rate and starting, pausing, and ending an activity.  The Fuse finds heart rate pretty quickly.  Touch the middle point, it will say “find” then wait for heart rate to pop up.  To start a workout, touch the same point again.  It will read “go” as the timer starts.  Touch it again to pause, then hold it down, when paused, to end an and save an activity.

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Pairing the Fuse with the Garmin was easy.   Put the Fuse on and find your heart rate.  Then set your watch to scan for the heart rate device.  It pairs quickly, and since the first pairing,  Garmin finds it right away (no scanning again required).  Heart rate will then show on your Garmin/watch screen.  The Fuse does not have an “always on” screen, which I would like, but I imagine this is a battery life issue.  You can customize your zones in the app (which “talks” to the Fuse via Bluetooth) and the Fuse will vibrate for a split second to let you know when you have changed zones.  It will display heart rate at that point, so in that way you can see on the display when you putting out too much heart rate effort, or not enough, and stay in your proper zones.

The first run I did with the Fuse, I experienced long dips (into the low 100s when I should have been in the high 140s), and conversely, spikes into the high 170s/180s when I should have been high 140s/low 150s).  This happened after about 3 miles of perfect heart rate numbers (compared to rate of perceived exertion, which I know quite well, having been a heart rate based athlete going on 5 years now).  This was disappointing.  I then did a run wearing two Garmin watches (910xt and 110).  The 110 was paired to the strap and the 910xt was paired to the Fuse.  Here are the results.  You can see the Garmin strap (top in both examples) is accurate, whereas the Fuse has dips and long surges.

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I called Mio and left a message (there is an option for a call back, but if you just let customer service ring it will put you to voicemail).  Surprisingly I received a call back in a few minutes.  The rep made a couple suggestions.  One, put the Fuse on your wrist, with a little room on the strap. Then “snug” it up your wrist about 3-4 inches.  Let the strap conform to you, instead of putting it on tight.  The Fuse is meant to be worn high on the wrist, as it needs enough surface area to get an accurate reading.   Being female with small wrists, I need to wear it on the high side to get accuracy.  He also suggested wearing it on the inside on the wrist, although I did not find that in practice to be accurate.  The last suggestion was to wear it for a few minutes before pairing to the Garmin and starting a workout. On my next run, I did as suggested and the Fuse was accurate.  The take-away – wrist placement is key for accuracy.  I find I have to wear it high and a touch off center.  It does sometimes slip down and needs to be gently nudged back into proper position.  After wearing it for a few more runs, if it is place in the right spot, it is highly accurate.  When it deviates (either error in putting it on or it slides around), that is when the dips and spikes occur.

The Fuse will record distance a bit low.  For example, an 11.2 mile run on the Garmin read as 9.69 miles on the Fuse. The Garmin had another at 11.01 mi. with the Fuse reading 8.92 mi.  But not always.  A different time, Garmin had 10.22 mi. to the Fuse at 10.8 mi., and my 10k (with mile warm up) came up as Garmin 7.34 mi. and Fuse 7.35 mi.  Again, not a big deal for a runner using the Fuse paired with a GPS watch.

I also used the Fuse on the bike for trainer rides.  The weather hasn’t been conducive to outdoor riding so I have tested it indoors only.  The accuracy is 100% on the bike, most likely because your arms are in a more fixed position than when running.  The accuracy is the same whether the ride is recovery (low HR), endurance (Zone 2) or tempo and intervals (pushing into Zone 4 and beyond).  This is very encouraging and the Fuse getting very sweaty did not affect accuracy.  Again it paired easily with Trainer Road via Ant+.

TRMio

The Fuse was a pleasant surprise on the swim.  Unfortunately, the Garmin 910xt does not have an available heart rate data field under the swim function.  So there was no way to to pair it for a swim, and no way to get a heart rate graph from Garmin Connect.  I wore the Fuse by itself in the pool.  It stayed in place pretty well, and the heart rate readings were accurate as compared to perceived exertion.  The distance is not correct, but that doesn’t really matter, as athletes are typically following a written swim workout.  One swim I did was 2500 yards, it recorded .91 miles.  The next at 2600 yards recorded .89 miles.  Not quite right, but again, not an issue.

Mioswim

The Fuse needs to be synced via Bluetooth to the Mio app on your smartphone.   Cloud/web capability is currently in the testing phase (according to Mio).  Implementation with 3rd parties such as Garmin require business agreements and such.  This is good news, as hopefully a few months down the road (from publication of this review) there will be a way to export Fuse data.  It has a limited amount of storage, and if you don’t sync it frequently it won’t be able to record an activity.  This is no problem, syncing is fast and easy.  The app is easy to use.  You can set up your profile and customize heart rate zones, or set daily goals.  All very straightforward.  Where the app lacks currently, for me, is data analysis.  Select an activity (it asks you to confirm, you can choose from running, road biking, walking, mountain biking, climbing, swimming, rowing and hiking) and click on it.  Then you can see the stats (avg HR, time, distance, calories, most frequent zone, time, speed and pace) but for Android users, no heart rate graph.  It is shown only on the iOS app.   According to Mio they are testing this and it should be available for update for Android in the upcoming weeks (from publication of this review). A heart rate graph will be very nice to see, particularly for the swims (as there is no heart rate data field option on the Garmin 910xt, you can pair Mio to the 920xt in open water swim mode, not as a data field but it will show up in analysis on Connect). It sounds like Mio is very aware of what consumers want in terms of functionality and data analysis, and are in the process of making that happen.

All told, I am impressed with the Fuse and would recommend it to any athlete who is interested in an alternative to the chest strap, or to any active person interested in activity tracking.

Compatibility of the Mio Fuse to other devices and apps can be found on its product page. It can be purchased directly from Mio or at Amazon with the affiliate link below:
Save 20% on Mio heart rate monitor watches with promo code Mio-Bucks at checkout! Valid through 3/31/15 11:59PM

Fit Challenge 2015 – March Challenge

Fit Challenge 2015 continues with a new challenge for March, Lunges conducted by the amazing athlete and coach, Rebecca Adamson of KR Endurance.

As one of the head coaches and founders of KR Endurance, Rebecca has numerous certifications along with a B.A., including International Triathlon Coaching Association (ITCA), National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) Sports Injury Specialist and Lifestyle Weight Management Specialist, and is a US Masters Swimming certified Level 1&2 Coach.

In addition to helping many athletes find their own personal best, Rebecca has massive racing experience herself, having run the Boston Marathon in 2010, 2011, and 2012, New York in 2014, and has completed two Ironmans – Lake Tahoe 2013 and Coeur d’Alene 2014. Her race history can be seen on Athlinks.

Rebecca demonstrates proper form for the lunges below. Please make sure that you check out the challenge page http://hamptonrunner.com/challenge to like the KR Endurance page and get directions for Final Surge so you can be eligible to win a monthly prize.

Setting Expectations

rock_and_roll_halfI am within three weeks from my goal spring marathon and it’s time for me to start second… And third guessing myself. Time to think about setting my goal.
This race is going to be interesting. I’m super-excited because it is an inaugural marathon (I haven’t run an inaugural race before) in the city next to mine. It’s practically a hometown marathon. I’m also looking at the race with trepidation. I have had a nice dose of humility this past fall.

A little bit of history…

I was trying to train up with my eyes on the big prize – a Boston Qualifying time.
I was hitting training hard. Harder than ever before and something started happening. While my training runs seemed like I was getting strong and my Garmins showed my estimated VO2Max to be higher than I imagined, I started to fall apart at races.
It all started with the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach.
I had some issues in training. Early warning signs like a shin splint. I was pushing through it and decided that I would run the half marathon at a 7:15-7:26 pace. 7:26 being the BQ time for my age group. I started out on track with my first mile at 7:19 and my second 7:12, but it wasn’t coming naturally. Between the heat, humidity, and my shin splint, I was having to push myself. I held on through the 5K mark slipping to a 7:30. Then things just got ugly – 7:48, 8:11, 8:35, 8:48, all the way to 9:28 on my slowest lap. I was having to stop at aid stations to get water. Then I had to just stop and walk intermittently.
I wound up with a time of 1:51:27 – Rock ‘n Roll Half. This was a typical workout time, not a race.

 And things kept going downhill…

A week later, I ran an 8K and turned in another poor performance, albeit much better than the week before.
Two weeks later, I was running another half marathon. This time, I decided to just keep my pace around 7:30. Try to just turn in a respectable race that is close to my goal marathon pace.
I was starting to feel that there might be hope. I was holding the pace pretty well and felt like I had a good rhythm. I was in the zone and the miles ticked off until mile 10. Almost the second I crossed the mile 10 mark, my hip gave out. I’ve never had the sensation before, but it was quite distressing.
I never realized how complex it was to force your leg to track on a swing. I learned that morning. I forced myself through the last 5K of the race.

And the wheels fell off…

A couple weeks later, I was scheduled to run a challenge of a 5K on a Saturday with a Half Marathon the next day. This was a really important race for me. The half marathon course actually runs in front of my house and it is really exciting for me to have a real “home race.” I ran the 5K on Saturday and it was slow, but expected. I was trying to heal up for the half marathon Sunday.
Sadly, I woke up Sunday and was hurting as I got out of bed. As I stood in the shower, my legs were shaking and I could barely climb the stairs. I was done. There was no way that I could run the race. I bundled up and walked outside later that morning to wave at my friends running by.
I then deferred my goal marathon for a year.

Rebuilding…

I stopped running for a month and hit the pool for aqua-jogging. I also started to ride my bike and used my elliptical. I finally started to jog a couple miles here and there. After rebuilding for a few months, I am finally at the point where I feel that I can finish the race. But, I am in no shape to attempt a Boston Qualifying time. It’s time to reset my expectations.

Setting Expectations

I have a few basic principles that I try to follow. I am not perfect at doing so and have to often remind myself of these things, but I do attempt live by these views.
  1. Be audacious, not ridiculous – I believe that a goal should be big. There are two ways to set a goal. It can be tiny and easily achievable to build confidence. Or it can be a giant challenge that will strain your abilities to their fullest. I try to do the latter, but sprinkle some of the former on the path to the big goal.
  2. Don’t be in too big of a hurry – One thing about having a big goal is that it should be very difficult to achieve. By its nature, it should take a while. Why rush it? Consider the fact that once you achieve it, you will have to find another goal.
  3. Find satisfaction on the way – You often can sustain your journey by turning in little victories. There is a philosophy that it’s about the journey, not the destination. There is a lot of truth to this. I really try to find the joy in workouts. Try a different route. Tackle a tough workout. Find a new running buddy.
  4. Your goal is for you. Don’t focus on others – Whatever your goal is, it is your’s. Don’t worry about someone else’s. If you are trying to break 5 hours, get a BQ, or break 3 hours, it doesn’t matter. Your goal is meaningful to you. You are competing against yourself. Very finish is a victory.
Those are my thoughts and what I have been trying to use for perspective as I get ready to tackle my second marathon. I’m not always successful and a master at second guessing myself, but I am trying to grow.
How about you? What are your goals? How do you tackle them? What do you recommend? Please comment and share.

Are fitness trackers a waste of money?

Graph from original Daily Mail article demonstrating differences between devices.

There was a study done recently that examined the effectiveness of several fitness trackers on the market. It was covered in the Daily Mail with the descriptive but provocative headline Why your fitness tracker could be a waste of money: New research shows the must-have gadgets are often wildly inaccurate by as much as 40 PER CENT.

This is a great question. Is tracking activity and diet a waste of time and money? I think it depends on how you look at it. Why are you tracking your activity? What is your goal? Are you following a plan to the letter, or the spirit?

I feel that there are a couple of camps on this. There are some who want everything to be an exact science. They want to have specific numbers. How many calories did I consume? They want to know this to the exact calorie count.

I would argue that this is an impossible task. There is calorie guidance available from the FDA, but it can’t be exact. This article from the New York Times — Counting of Calories Isn’t Always Accurate — demonstrates this point. The FDA allows for up 20% variance for packaged foods and similar results can be found in restaurants. This seems to be obvious as a food item prepared can be vastly different depending on different factors – size, ingredients, source etc. If someone orders a cheeseburger with no pickles, the count will be different. Extras and other modifications will make things worse.

So, should it be any surprise that fitness trackers are not completely accurate? After all, they are based on varied ingredients as well – us, what activities we are doing, and what effort level we are achieving. If you are going for a walk, how many calories are you burning? Well, let’s think about it. How fast are you walking? Are you swinging your arms? How fast? Are you carrying anything? Are you walking up or down a hill?

All these factors can lead to vastly different results. Believe me, I feel the frustration of not having all my steps counted in a day. A good example is March 16th of 2014. On that day, Fitbit counted me having 43,706 steps and 25.38 miles – the most steps I had in a single day. The only problem is this. I ran the Shamrock Marathon on that day. In the event alone, I had more distance than I was credited by Fitbit.

This happens frequently on days that I run. Does this mean that I get no value from the Fitbit and throw it against the wall? No.

This is where the spirit of things come in. As I have written before, I was 283 lbs in January of 2012. I decided to change. In order to accomplish this, I used two tools – MyFitnessPal and later a Fitbit. I saw results quickly with MyFitnessPal. Was this because I was following a specific diet, or getting exact numbers of calories as I consumed? No. It is because I took some responsibility, ate healthier and kept my calories within a prescribed range. This is the most important thing. The numbers were not exact. I made it a point of being comfortably under my ceiling and paying attention to my consumption.

I feel that people get in trouble when they try to parse things out too much. An example would be, “I am allowed 1800 calories for the day. I am at 1746. I can have that piece of candy that is 52 calories.” This is not a great attitude. That is being too clever by half. It’s probable that with other factors like the 20% accuracy issue etc, that the person may not lose much weight at all. Maybe even gain.

Now if someone is at 1500 of 1800 and wants to have another food item that is not a huge number of calories and especially if it is also healthy, that is not bad. Playing games with numbers is what gets people in trouble. Just try to stay in the spirit of things.

Back to my tale. I felt that MyFitnessPal and my diet changes were good, but I could make them better if I managed to get over 10000 steps per day, so I got a Fitbit. As soon as I started trying to get over 10000 steps a day, I found out how it wasn’t super easy and that my normal lifestyle didn’t accomplish this. I had to make changes to meet the goal. I walked all over the place and hit the treadmill to make up the difference. I went from little activity to much more activity than I had before that point.

What about calories? They didn’t matter. The Fitbit got me up and active. I exercised within the spirit of the thing. I didn’t even eat the extra calories that were allotted to me from the Fitbit exercise.

I find that activity trackers or tracking period is invaluable as long as you understand how it is most effective. If you are looking for exact figures of how many calories you burn, you are likely to be frustrated. However, if you are looking to challenge yourself, be accountable, and have a record to prove your efforts over time, they are a great choice.

What do you think? Do you use a fitness tracker? What kind? Do you track calories? How has it worked out for you. Please comment and share.

Shameful Running Representation

As a runner, I feel ashamed when I read stories like this one – Thanksgiving Day Race organizer: I can’t sleep. This poor organizer had to deal with behavior from runners that is absolutely reprehensible.

It is common for there to be snacks or treats after a race for racers to consume to replenish energy spent. It can be anything from bananas to protein bars to beer (although I can’t drink beer myself after a race in the daytime). This helps fill emptied stores and add to the social element of all the runners finishing – kind of a party.

Well, in Cincinnati, at the Thanksgiving race, participants turned things upside down. It’s almost like Black Friday greed took ahold of them early and they decided that they were entitled to something for nothing. There was a vendor who provided post race snacks – Pure Protein who handed out small boxes of treats. Many runners apparently couldn’t stop with just one… Or two… Or several… They were so disgusting about it that they actually dumpster-dived to hoard as many snacks as they could.

These individuals couldn’t care less it appears about any runners who came behind them, or even for the homeless who would get the leftovers in previous years. This is truly a bleak day for the sport.

I think of running as a sport of good competition and fellowship. I have seen some of the most generous people imaginable sharing courses whenever I have run. That has made me very proud to be among their ranks.

Incidents like this one however, make me sad. Perhaps I am not jaded enough. I considered running to be a safe-haven from the cynicism and greed plaguing the world around us. Now, I fear that it is seeping in. I only hope this is an aberration and doesn’t repeat itself.

The Cry Babies Aren’t In the Stroller

As described in the post Julia Webb pushes baby stroller 10K in record time from GrindTV, another Webb, has set a record. In this case, Julia Webb, wife of American 1 mile record holder Alan Webb has set a new world record — the fastest 10K recorded while pushing a baby stroller. Her time was 38:15 surpassing Allison Tai of Canada whose time is 43:07.

After reading the exciting events in the article and feeling good about the world — An amazing woman accomplishing a great feat with the help and encouragement of her friends — my glow was quickly dimmed when I read the comments.

Someone actually wrote “So she selfishly took a baby out cold, wind and rain, just to try to set a record, sounds like child abuse.” Then the back and forth began. It is really discouraging to see this type of thing.

I mean, child abuse? Are you kidding?! Because someone runs with a baby in a high end stroller made for runners. A baby who was swaddled in blankets and protected by a rain cover. A baby who was being pushed at a pace of 6 minutes and 9 seconds a mile or 9.7 miles per hour. There are babies being taken around on bicycles at more than 10 miles an hour all the time with no complaints.

And little Ruby has to grow up with the shame that she participated in a world record being set. Oh wait, that’s pretty cool. Which kid wouldn’t want that? People astound me.

Social Media Community: Good People. Good Friends

I am a very shy person. It doesn’t always seem that way to people in real life and some folks think that I am standoffish. I am often by myself at races because I don’t always know how to approach anyone. Ironically, in the past I have corresponded with people in the community online, but never interact with them at races we both attend.

I have almost always felt like I needed a purpose to be comfortable at a location or in a setting. This frees me to communicate with much more confidence. I was very fortunate that my beautiful wife is a librarian. As a bookish type, I was able to go in and “check her out” (her words).

I think that my shyness contributed to me ballooning up with weight. I let it act as a buffer between me and the world. This of course exacerbated my issues and I started to feel even more out of touch with others.

In 2012, I finally decided to lose the weight and eventually this led to my taking up running. After I had some success at it and shared my history, I was asked if I would like to appear on a podcast to talk about it. I was honored for the opportunity and then realized that I liked to write and would like to continue sharing with people what I had discovered.

That is where social media has come in. I launched this blog and then created a Facebook page facebook.com/hamptonrunner and Twitter account twitter.com/hamptonrunner. I had always been leery of social media in the past. I had an aversion to the word “social”, but I wanted to try and promote my blog, where I started to meet a cast of really good people.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the amazing people I have met online, but rather a chronological sampling of the kind of generosity and good will I have discovered on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Brian Burk of Brian’s Running Adventures

As the user @Cledawgs on Twitter, Brian was one of the first people to follow me back and to read some blog posts. Then later on, I was surprised to see that someone had come to my site from his. I looked it up and he had posted about my blog and shared it with everyone.

He also introduced me to the concept of Follow Friday. It is amazing to have people like Brian out there who gently take a newbie like myself and give me such support. I try to practice the same as much as I can to follow his example.

Steve Carmichael of RunBuzz Radio

Steve was kind enough to invite me out of his thriving RunBuzz community on Facebook to appear in a podcast. It actually was the first one published online even though it was the second one recorded.

Steve is always following his community closely and really giving sound advice to help aspiring and experienced runners. He does this with humility and wisdom.

Lisa Hamilton of Conscious Runner

Lisa Hamilton is an elite runner who only surpasses her talents with compassion. She runs a very popular podcast The Conscious Runner and has started up her own community on Facebook – The Conscious Runner Academy where runners can support and cheer each other in addition to getting great training input from her.

My first interaction with Lisa was when she put out a call on Facebook asking if anyone had any questions or issues. I seized the opportunity and asked her about a problem with my gluteus medias.

I expected a quick reply with maybe a link or two. Instead I received a long multi-paragraph response with great information and links to videos that could help me. Then she kept checking up on me from time to time.

We have corresponded many times since and she is always generous with her time and knowledge.

Brandon Wood of Gearist and IronBrandon

Brandon is a special case out of everyone here. I actually got to meet him in real life and he exceeded my expectations for what kind of person he would be.

I first heard Brandon Wood on Episodes 9 and 11 of GingerRunnerLive. I immediately checked out his YouTube channel The Gearist TV where he does very thorough gear reviews and just completed his excellent 23 part Ironman Chattanooga series.

I of course followed him on Twitter and to my surprise, he followed me back. We then talked and I found out that he is actually from Hampton, VA and grew up a few blocks from where I live now.

We chatted back and forth on Twitter and he mentioned that he was coming out in about a month. We tentatively planned to run together.

When he did come out, we went out for a ten mile run. Toward the end of the run, we saw an older gentleman sitting down on the sidewalk with a lady speaking with him. Brandon and I approached the scene.

Apparently, the man was a little confused and was wearing a medical wristband. He said that he was trying to get home. Since we were on the grounds VA Hospital campus, we figured that he was a patient.

Brandon immediately started chatting with the man in a very friendly manner. He seemed completely comfortable and amiable. He offered and helped the man up, meanwhile apologizing for being sweaty.

I was extremely impressed with the kindness and charity that seemed to just flow naturally from Brandon. This, I feel told me more about him than any of our conversations up to this point. I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words.

Jill Angie of Running with Curves

Jill is an always supportive netizen and communicator. She has put together a tribe of other incredibly active and supportive people. She is always jumping into groups and engaging with others in any way she can.

She is also amazingly generous. Recently, I had commented in her very active Running with Curves Discussion Community on Facebook (you can find out how to join by clicking http://www.runningwithcurves.net/jointhecommunity) and felt an immediate traffic surge on my site. I also started to get some likes on my Facebook page.

Then later, the likes really started to come in. As I looked at the tags, I learned why. Jill gave me a shout out and asked for people to check out and like my page. I never asked her to do this and was blown away. She is yet another wonderful giving person on the Web.

All of these folks are trying to build a Web presence and increase their business. But that never stops them from helping each other or promoting others. It is a real privilege that I can associate with them.

My Facebook Ghost Town

Tumbleweeds are blowing by my empty Facebook page. Kind of makes me wonder. I have a fairly engaged Twitter audience and it is doing well with many lively folks.

However, I have a dearth of likes on my Facebook page. We’re talking multiples of ten. A 10/1 ratio from Twitter to Facebook would be a sizable improvement.

I post the same articles to both platforms, but Twitter seems to get the engagement. What’s odd is I that have online friends who have the opposite problem. A highly engaged Facebook page and relatively few Twitter followers in comparison.

Do you think that different voices are better suited for one platform than another? What has been your experience? Do you have any suggestions?

And now, the shameless plug – please come by and Like my page http://facebook.com/hamptonrunner, or follow below. It’s small but welcoming.

Tips of the Scale

I am really honored to appear on Tips of the Scale Episode 113.

This podcast was a little different than the others. While I have spoken about my weight loss the other podcasts I have appeared, the one was really focused on it.

It was actually a little tougher to do. While I am very cavalier about my losing weight, etc, it’s still kind of hard to face what I did to myself. I am proud that I was a able to turn things around, but I am very aware and feel shame for letting myself get in that position.

Sam is a great interviewer and has a real sympathetic ear. I feel he does an outstanding job of connecting with his guests.

Please check out the podcast. There are some really good stories. He is at nearly a million downloads in his first year and it would be great to push him over the top!

Race Directors to Back of Packers – Drop Dead

Runners World recently ran the article A Dispiriting Experience at the Back of the Pack, which pointed out experiences of back of the pack racers written from the perspective of a strong runner who was sick in a race.

I feel like I have discovered another point of pain just this week. A race that is run where I live, the Bay Days 8K posted on Facebook a link to race information and the schedule of events. I opened the link and saw that the race started at 8:30 AM and the awards ceremony was at 9:30 AM. This seemed odd to me.

With the race being an 8K, there were very likely going to be racers still on the course when the awards ceremony was held. Now going by last year’s numbers, there were 307 total finishers as shown on Athlinks.com. Of these, 65 finished in over an hour, or 21 percent. This number looks even worse if you consider that the awards ceremony is held nearby and it takes a few minutes to get there. So let’s look at how many came in later than 55 minutes — 107 or nearly 35 percent.

So, when the award ceremony is held, it is likely that over one third of all race participants will not have finished the race. There is something wrong with this picture.

I commented about it on the Facebook post and got the response, “Hi Eric! We are only recognizing the top 3 overall runners at the awards ceremony, and will be mailing out all other award winners. I hope this answers your question!”

I was speaking back and forth with Coach Meredith @FitNiceRunner on Twitter and she put it very well, “Definitely makes it feel like less of a ‘family’ and ‘community’ event.”

I called a friend of mine who is also running in the race, and she confirmed that it happens a lot to her. And it is terribly demotivating.

I really was shocked. I run most of my races with the local running club. And the awards ceremony is held after every racer is back. We start out together, and we celebrate together. It’s hardly a ceremony without all the participants.

The other races I have been in, don’t have a ceremony at all. They mail out the awards later and there is just a big post-race party. Either approach seems reasonable.

Have you or anyone you know been out on a course while the awards ceremony happens? If so, please comment or Tweet about it. I would love to hear back.