Archives February 2022

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE | Enjoying The First Few Miles


If you run, you are a runner.


Any speed, any style, any distance. 

Any program, any purpose, any location.

Any age, any ability, any body.


During that run, you are a runner. Let go of whatever insecurities are holding you back. I promise, unless you live in a really small town, nobody’s watching you. Nobody’s judging you. Even if there are witnesses, it’s only for a passing moment. You’re on the move – they’re not. In your life, when you’ve seen runners, have you ever once thought: “oh, they’re just pretending?”


Of course not.


So do whatever you need to do to enjoy it – especially during the early runs. Make a good playlist. Fuel up with your favorite foods. And get a comfortable pair of shoes from a store dedicated to running supplies. You’re just figuring this out, so if that means alternating walking and running? Do that. If that means only running five minutes out and five minutes back home? Do that. In any case, keep a slow pace – between 9 and 12 minutes – for a set duration rather than a distance goal. The majority of your miles in the first month should be easy. The controlled timeframe helps to prevent overuse. 


Oh – and find a pretty place to do it! If you don’t like the physical environment of your run, you’re not going to enjoy running. Remember: for now, you’re building form and a positive association. 


Personally, the rocky hills and grassy knolls of Central Park are my Happy Place. It’s perfect. The outer loop is exactly 10K – my preferred distance. I’m surrounded by serious runners, beautiful dogs, and green. Nothing puts me at ease like the trees. Convenient, as it’s crucial to learn how to run relaxed – especially when you’re just learning your pace. Scan through the body, head to toe, and relax any tension you experience on the run. You’ll find it in your neck, your shoulders, your arms, your fists, and especially your face. All that extra tension is a waste of energy, calories which should be going to your legs! Run with soft eyes, a loose jaw, and smile when you feel like it. Just don’t grimace – this is your hobby, not your job. If it’s making you unhappy, do something else.


And finally, early on, there will be those days that you don’t want to run. 


When that happens, try just getting changed into your running clothes. If you put ‘em on, sit around for a few minutes, and still don’t want to run? That’s fine. You don’t have to run. But 90% of the time, when I try this trick on myself, I end up going through with it. I don’t know what it is… But damn, it’s effective.

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE | Tips & Tricks

run for your life

This post doesn’t need much introduction.


Below, you’ll find bits of colloquial running advice I’ve tested over the years and found to hold true. Use as needed, at your discretion, to make your runs more fun.




Keep Moving

Get up and walk around every 20 minutes or so on big days, especially early in a training program or after a hard run. It’s essential to keep blood flowing, which delivers nutrients to your tired muscles. Stagnation after a big run will cause inflammation and lactic acid to accumulate in areas that were already sore, making for a miserable morning the next day.


They’re Playing My Song!

Possibly the silliest tip on this list, but: if you have a running playlist, add new songs to the beginning instead of the end… One of those realizations that make you go: “huh, why didn’t I think of that sooner?”


Gum Soles

I’m a big fan of chewing gum during runs. It keeps my mouth from drying out, relieves tension in my face, gives me something else to focus on, and helps me keep tempo.


Hole-y Socks!

Wear a pair of old socks on your hands (or even over gloves) when it’s cold out. Not only will they keep you warm – they’re easy to wash, and you won’t feel guilty for wiping your nose on ’em.


Risky Business

Go twice before you go! Once before you dress, and again before you head out. I’ve ruined a couple of excellent runs with a mid-mile trip to the restroom – and that’s when I’m lucky enough to find one nearby. But most of the time, it either means the run is over, or I’m sprinting the last half-mile home…


Keeper of the Keys

Hate carrying keys? Try tying them into your shoe. Pull the laces out of the top two holes, cross them through the keyring, relace, and tuck the keys between the tongue and laces. Solid as a rock.


Bet on the Belt

Chances are, you need more than just keys on the run. Personally, I need my phone, Airpods, keys, a little cash, a mask… I carry it all in a stretchy, low-profile runner’s belt. They come in as many shapes, sizes, and types as do runners, and I cannot recommend them enough. 


I prefer the FlipBelt, but consider all your options.


Keep Climbing

I despise the treadmill. Did you know it was initially contrived as a torture device? One that’s stood the test of time, in my opinion. But if a treadmill is your only option, and you don’t mind it: be careful how you set the incline. Perfectly-level roads don’t exist. So if you’re training for a race, calculate a gradient to match the course average.


Change Spares

I’m rotating through 2-3 different pairs of running shoes at any given time. Not only does this help prevent injury – it makes for more enjoyable runs. Differing levels of support, cushion, and tread create different running experiences. I have a pair of waterproof, high-tread trail shoes, a pair of heavily-cushioned shoes for sore days, and my ultra-light racing shoes. Between the three, I’m ready for anything.


First Things First

If you’re racing, pin your number on your shirt before putting it on. I’ve seen crooked numbers, even upside-down numbers… And you don’t want to stick yourself right before a race. There’s nothing quite as demoralizing as self-inflicted injury at the very start of a personal challenge.


No New Friends

No new clothes on race day! And if you’re considering wearing those new shoes for the next race? How did you even make it this far?


When it comes to gear – especially gear you’re already comfortable with – honor that time-honored maxim: if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it!

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE | Elements of Care


If you’ve really never done it before, consider walking before running.

In a sprint, your strike – that is, when your foot hits the ground – puts roughly 4 to 6 times your body weight on each knee. That’s an incredible amount of force. Even worse if you’re carrying a few extra pounds. If it’s been over a year since your last run – there are structural issues to address before your body can handle the impact. And since the most crucial part, at first, is consistency: you just can’t afford to get hurt this early. Take a walk.

On that note, let’s address this elephant in the room: Injury.

It’s a shockingly normal part of running. Around 80% of serious runners get at least one minor injury a year, and 30% of all running injuries are knee-related. By “serious,” I mean people who fall into that elite bracket of 25+ miles/week. But even if you’re not running a marathon every week, you’re still at risk for all kinds of discomfort. For instance: on my Wednesday run, I broke my toenail.

My toenail.

Split right down the middle. I ended up losing a pretty big chunk of it. I’ve had my share of blisters, shin splints, and Charlie Horses… but this was a new one. I’ll be off the road for a few days while the nail bed dries up.

I hope it’s clear by now that establishing an effective self-care routine – especially at the beginning of training – is the deciding factor in whether or not you continue running. The longer you can go without an injury, the higher the likelihood that you pick back up after one inevitably happens.

And your recovery routine should be as unique as you are! When it comes to my own recovery, I eschew more ritual-based processes for something more eclectic. But, some aspects of care are universal, and I’ll finish by sharing my approach to them:


I don’t think I need to explain this one. Plain and simple: any form of massage will stimulate blood flow, reduce inflammation, and help you heal faster. A firm, textured foam roller is your best friend. And if you can afford it, a Massage Gun. (Best new consumer technology of the last ten years, in my opinion.) Past that, a golf ball can work your feet like a surgeon’s scalpel – hitting bone and muscle groups you didn’t even know existed.


The jury’s out on stretching. Some runners seem to benefit; some don’t see any performance improvement. But I’m a big believer in the power of Yoga. Stretching is like a physical inverse of running – almost the opposite activity, in every meaningful way. For me, yoga and stretching are like diagnostic tests for the body. A way to slow down the mind, reconnect with the body, and discover sources of pain. Additionally, solid mindfulness practice in my back pocket has helped me win more of those mental battles that occur on long, challenging runs.

Three techniques, in particular, help me recover: Downward dog works my hamstrings, calves, and Achilles tendon. Cow Pose works the IT band and anterior knee. And when my shins hurt, I’ll draw the alphabet with my toes. Sounds silly, but it brings a wave of relief.


I love to cook and hate strict diets. But with running, you really do get out what you put in. And pre/post-workout nutrition has an outsize effect on your overall performance, compared to the food you eat between runs. As a rule: you need simple carbs before, at least an hour early. And you need protein afterward, not more than an hour late.

An orange or two before the run and some chocolate milk afterward – that’s perfect for me.


We sleep for a lot of reasons. To conserve calories, give nerve cells a break, repair routine damage to our bodies – the benefits are myriad. In particular: muscle repair, protein synthesis, tissue growth, and hormone release all occur at demonstrably higher rates during sleep. So, if you’re not sleeping well, you’re literally running on empty.

The neural load of running is something frequently overlooked by fitness writers. Our nervous system consumes 20% to 30% of the energy in our body. It underpins every movement we make, and we underappreciate how hard it works during a run. Sleep is imperative for restoring neural function and locking your running form into muscle memory.

That’s why I like to schedule early-morning runs. Like, between 4 and 6 AM early. It gives me a reason to go to bed at a reasonable time the night before. It gets me out of bed in the morning. And by 9 PM that next evening, I’m thoroughly exhausted and ready for bed again.

A virtuous cycle.

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE | An Introduction


When things get bad, we run.

Four times in modern history, humanity has seen a massive surge in the popularity of distance running – a trend that follows the rise and fall of global crisis.

The first boom came during the 1930s, during the Great Depression, with the Great American Footrace. Just a few years after the end of World War II, a medical student named Roger Bannister re-lit the flame of athletic progress by running the world’s first sub-4-minute mile. In the 1970s, running flourished once again. Balm to a country of floundering identity, struggling to recover from the grief of Vietnam, the anxiety of the Cold War, a felonious president, and the state-sponsored murder of Civil Rights leaders.

One year after September 11th, what was the most popular sport in America? Trail Running.

And now, two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, I am doing something I once thought impossible. Several friends – themselves relatively new to the sport – have roped me into training for the 2023 New York City Marathon.

Maybe it’s a coincidence. Or maybe there’s something more to it. It’s as if the abundant danger and pervasive anxiety of our present moment flip the Fight-or-Flight switch, activating our primary, ultimate survival skill. Absent of an adversary to fight, what else can we do but dash headlong into the forest? It is as much our instinct as sex. And in both cases, we’re hard-wired for it.

I am by no means a great runner. Hell, I’m not even good. I gas out around 10 miles, and my quickest pace is 9:30. At 6’1” and 210 lbs, Nature designed me for sprints with long rests between. To lift weights, menace quarterbacks, and toss people out of bars. “Not this,” my knees soberly remind me, after every long run.

After all, I only started in March 2020. A decision borne of pure mania; I’d lost my job, I’d been trapped inside for a month, and I was climbing up the walls – feeling more and more like a forgotten zoo exhibit with every passing day. Those first runs were not exercise. They were desperate bids at freedom, attempting escape down the empty streets of Queens.

A year went by, and runners cautiously returned to the roads. But unlike in my adolescence, I began to notice it was me passing them, this time. It all clicked into place. Somehow, I’d come to crave, enjoy, and even achieve a degree of mastery over this thing I loathed – finding freedom in the form of punishment I dreaded most.

Regardless: I can’t help but notice a silver lining around this beer belly and thoroughly-average pace. Most people who run can’t relate to the advice of elite athletes. Who among us can withstand an hour of philosophizing about heelstrike and stride length? Those bodies and minds are fundamentally, spectacularly different than the 99%. They’ve spent years on form, alone – shaping their bodies to conform with the most-efficient techniques. For the rest of us: it’s quite the other way around. We begin by simply… beginning! By setting out on our first run with terrible form, no athleticism, no cadence, and no endurance. And if we stick with it, our bodies gradually discover and adapt to a comfortable way to run. A natural form, as opposed to a constructed one.

So in this series, that’s what I’ll try to offer — a natural form. Guidance from a dedicated amateur’s perspective, developed over a decade of false starts, half-finished programs, injuries, lapses, and outright failures. You might learn something; you might not. But if anything, I hope you’ll learn you aren’t alone.