How I Track My Running

There is nothing more exciting for me than to see how I improve and get better at doing something. Since October 8, 2013, I have been using an Excel Spreadsheet to track my mileage every week. I also keep track of the shoes that I am wearing and the surface I am running on. I want to know exactly how many miles I can run before it’s time to buy new shoes. So far, I have run 467 miles in my Asics Gels and 31 miles in my Saucony Progrid shoes. The graph below represents my daily mileage since October 8th, 2013. The peak is on October 27th, 2013, when I ran the Hallowed Half Marathon in Wake Forest, NC.

LineGraphThe spreadsheet is also helpful since it allows me to keep track of my progress towards my goal of running 1,000 miles this year. In my Asics, I’ve run 351 miles on pavement and 96 miles on the treadmill.   I want to know how much I run on each surface to see the effect that the surface has on wearing out my shoes. The pie chart below shows that 79 percent of the miles I ranhave been on pavement and 21 percent of my miles have been on the treadmill. Generally, it is recommended that runners get new shoes after every 400 miles. With almost 450 miles on my Asics Gels, it looks like it’s time for me to buy some new shoes!

PieChartI use a Nike+ Sportswatch GPS to pace myself when I am running outside. I set the watch to the default level, so I can see my pace when I am running and the distance I’ve run. I try to run faster by keeping a fast pace at an interval. For example, usually try to run 0.5 miles at a pace of 6:30 per mile.  After a run, the watch shows how far I ran, my average pace, and the amount of calories I burned. The watch has a history feature allowing me to go back and see all my runs as well as my personal records for the fastest kilometer (3:47), mile (6:20), 5K (21:31), 10K (44:20), and longest run (13.1 miles). The watch also includes an interval and a stopwatch feature, which I don’t use as much.

I also have the Nike+ app on my smartphone. It tells me the same information as the Sportswatch. However, I prefer to wear the Sportswatch since it’s light, more convenient than the smartphone, and it tells me the basic info I need to know. The drawbacks are relatively minor. It usually takes a few minutes for the TomTom GPS locators to kick in. The watch’s memory becomes full after 10-15 runs. After that, I need to upload my runs to my Nike+ on-line account. The account shows maps of all my runs, the elevation, and it specifies the pace that I ran on every point in my run. The picture below shows my typical route in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

mymap

One advantages of running with a Smartphone is listening to music. However, considering that I run through a busy urban environment with cars and plenty of pedestrians, listening to music is not a good idea. There is no doubt that the Smartphone app is a more efficient and sophisticated method of tracking my runs. With a running app on your smartphone, there is no need to take the additional step of uploading information in order to see it.  However, I feel the best way to keep track of my running is to do what feels right and what is most comfortable for me. So far, I feel this strategy has worked out.

Miles From Last Week
Tuesday: 5 miles
Thursday 5 miles
Friday: 4 miles
Saturday 5 miles
Total: 14 miles
Miles Ran in March: 87 (Personal Record)

Ideas for Future Posts
Time for Cross-Training
Running in Parque Central
Time for New Shoes
Running Rhymes
Running in Different Cultures
Best Running Movie Scenes Ever
How Running relates to Other Sports
Let’s Stretch
What do I think about while I’m running?
How I Started Running
Old School vs. New School Runners

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Food for Thought and Running in Puerto Rico

CoconutLast weekend, I drove out a few hours west of San Juan to visit my friend Pedro in Hatillo, Puerto Rico. We met up at El Buen Café (the literal translation is The Good Café), where I enjoyed a delicious Puerto Rican lunch. My meal consisted of pechuga de pollo a la plancha (grilled chicken breast), arroz con habichuelas (rice with beans), and a postre con guyava (pastry with guava) . I never knew that rice could be prepared in so many ways until I came to Puerto Rico. I also had no idea that it could be so good! My favorite rice dish so far is Arroz Con Gandules (rice with peas). The portion was bigger than what I normally get at the Cheesecake Factory. At the end of the meal, I barely had enough strength to sink my teeth into the freshly baked guava pastry.

After lunch, we took a tour of northwestern Puerto Rico and its beaches. We drove to the town of Camuy and visited the old square. Then, we took the trip to the spectacular Playa de Jobos (Jobos Beach) in Isabela located in the northwestern tip of the island. Here, we relaxed by the palm trees as we were sipping coconut water from coconuts freshly cut from the palm trees. When it was time to head back, who could forget about dinner? Right across from the beach at Playa de Jobos , it looks like there is an abandoned shack with a drive-thru window and no name on it. They only serve freshly cooked empanadas (fried pastries). This is literally a hole-in-the-wall joint. The prices were unbelievable. Everything was below $2.00! That is completely different from San Juan where the average meal can range up to $30. We munched on empanadas de canrejo y camarones (friend pastries filled with crab and shrimp) as we quenched our thirst with Malta Indias (local malt beverage).

The next day, when I went out for my timed 5K run, I noticed that I’ve slowed down a bit. For the first time in a month, I decided to weigh myself and saw an increase of six pounds! I imagine that my meals at El Buen Café and the empanada stop at Playa de Jobos were contributing factors, but they weren’t the only ones. As a recovering chocaholic, I also couldn’t ignore my morning trips to Casa Cortés Chocobar café in Old San Juan where I’ve had chocolate shakes, waffles, and quesitos (cheese filled pastries) . How could I forget all those pastellones de yucca (chicken lasagna made from yucca root), mofongos, the pork tamales, and the mangus (mashed plaintains) that I’ve been eating? I am positive that the amounts of calories, carbohydrates, and sugar in some of my meals have been astonishing. Even the non-alcoholic Malta Indias have helped add a few pounds as well. A 12 ounce bottle of Malta India packs nearly 200 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrates!

TamalePork Tamale With Rice and Avocado

After a week of running, working out, and most importantly, eating less saturated fats, I am back at my normal weight of 140 pounds. I am not entirely convinced that a few pounds was the only factor that added a minute to my 5K time. I didn’t get that much sleep the night before and the wind was pretty strong. However, I am sure that losing the pounds has helped improve my time. Most importantly, I feel better, more energetic, and faster. My dining experience in Puerto Rico has taught me a few things. It is much easier to gain weight than lose weight. On some occasions I knew that I bit off more than I could chew, but I ignored those warning signs. I also learned that it is important to treat myself with dessert and something sweet. However, it shouldn’t be three to four times a day.

Running and exercise do make a difference. However, I believe that strong abs are made in the kitchen , sculpted in the gym, and supported by a healthy diet. Eating right makes a real difference. Now, I will do my best to consider substituting my favorite mofongos with healthier options such as the equally delicious falafel wraps. Like all cuisines, Puerto Rican food has nutritious and healthy options. The pechuga de la plancha (grilled chicken) in Puerto Rico is generally grilled to perfection, and it is relatively fat-free. The amarillos and tostones (fried plaintains) are absolutely mouthwatering sides, but they pack a lot of carbohydrates and should be eaten in moderation. For a lighter meal, I think soups and salads are universally healthy. My favorite soup is the plantain soup. Another excellent choice is Sopa de Bacalao (codfish stew). Some common ingredients found in many salads in Puerto Rico are sliced mangos, cabbage, radishes, and lime juice.

pechuga de polloPechuga De Pollo A La Plancha (Grilled Chicken)

Staying in shape and eating what I wanted seemed incompatible to me at first try.  Over time, I discovered that both running and food are key ingredients for a healthy lifestyle recipe. Sometimes, it can be difficult finding those ingredients in a different culture, cuisine, and environment. However, with a bit of research lots of trial and error, I learned that eating healthy in Puerto Rico is a real option, and that is some good food for thought.

Miles From Last Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 5.5 miles
Thursday 4 miles
Friday: 4.5 miles
Saturday 5 miles
Total: 26 miles
Miles Ran in February: 80.8

Ideas for Future Posts
Time for Cross-Training
Running in Parque Central
Time for New Shoes
Running Rhymes
Running in Different Cultures
Best Running Movie Scenes Ever
How Running relates to Other Sports
Let’s Stretch
What do I think about while I’m running?
How I Started Running
Old School vs. New School Runners

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No Pain, No Gain: My Top Running Injuries

Mo Farah
In his book, Running Fast and Injury Free, Gordon Pirie writes: “Statistics compiled by the American Medical Association indicate that as many as 70 percent of the more than 30 million “serious” runners in the United States can count on being injured every year. This disturbing injury rate is not limited solely to beginners and elite athletes, but applies to runners at every level, across the board.”

Today, Mo Farah, the gold medal winner of the 10K and 5K events at the 2012 Olympic Games, collapsed at the finish line of the New York Half-Marathon after finishing second. He remained unconscious for nearly three minutes and had to be taken away in a wheelchair.

My road to running has not been pain free either.   However, I have learned from my mistakes, and I would like to share the following top running injuries and the lessons I learned from them:

1)  My Legs Refused to Run
I was out on an evening run around Lake Crabtree in Cary, NC.  I ran about 3 miles, and I had about 1 mile left to get back home.  Suddenly, my legs froze, and I could not run any further.  My body felt fine.  I could breath and move my arms.  However, something was wrong with my legs.   I felt helpless, but I didn’t feel any pain.  It seemed like I didn’t have any energy to keep moving.  It’s like they turned into wax, and I could barely stand on my feet.   It took me about 30 minutes to slowly walk back home.  After searching on-line, I am still not sure what happened.   Some of the most common causes I have found could be versions of leg cramps or Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome.

Lessons Learned:  I’ve taken some basic precautions.  I try to rest before running and increase  my nutrient and vitamin intake.  Luckily, I have never experienced anything like that again.

2) Runner’s Knee
Whenever I run a distance over 7 miles on pavement, I am certain to experience pain and discomfort around my one of my knees.  When I try bending my knee, I hear a soft cracking sound as if I were snapping my fingers.  Occasionally, I experience a  twitching feeling around my upper knee cap.  This feeling comes and goes, and it usually lasts for several days at a time.  Most of the time it’s pain in my left knee, but sometimes I feel it in my right knee as well.  After the half-marathon in San Antonio, I remember heading straight for the first aid station and asking for ice-packs for both my knees. That was the only time I used ice-packs on both knees.

Lessons Learned:   I’ve had this pain in varying degrees.  When I started running, the pain was more intense.  After my weight dropped from 180 pounds two years ago to 140 pounds, the pain decreased.  With less weight, I am not putting so much stress on my knees when I run.  I can also run faster.  There are things I’ve done to mitigate the effects of Runner’s Knee.  The main ingredient is much needed rest.  Usually, after a day or two of not running and a good night’s sleep, the pain goes away.  I try to avoid running fast on pavement whenever possible.  Lately, I’ve been running on a race track several times a week.  I also rely on the treadmill to increase my endurance.   Finally, I’ve alternated my running shoes, and I’ve started tracking my mileage for each pair of shoes I run in.

3) Sore Hamstrings
On several occasions, the pain in my hamstring was so great that I could not even walk after the race.  Unlike runner’s knee, the pain in my hamstring endures when  I’m standing up or sitting down.   This is the most frustrating pain I’ve had, since it lasts longer than any other pain.  Sometimes, I feel the soreness for up to three days after going out for a run.  To say the least, it’s a very unpleasant feeling when I can’t run because I am hurt.

Lessons Learned:   This pain is probably the main reason I have started doing more cross-training to strengthen my hamstrings.  Now, I go to the gym specifically for that reason.  The weeks before my last two races, I spent considerable time on the elliptical.  I also changed my running technique by trying not to overextend my legs and taking shorter steps.  Finally, I can’t stress the importance of stretching my hamstrings before and after running.

4) Slippery Ground
When I run, I don’t like to stop.  Since most of my running occurs outside, I run in all kinds of conditions.  One of the biggest hazards I’ve faced is the danger of slipping and falling down.  I’ve seen many runners fall down, especially when running in the rain.

Lesson Learned:  I learned it’s better to walk around a slippery spot than continue running and risking an injury. It’s just not worth it.

Final Thoughts:  There are many other types of running hazards like Achilles Tendinitis,  Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain), IT Band Syndrome (pain in the left side of the knee), sore calf muscles, ankle sprains, and shin splits.  Not to mention, runners have to worry about dogs, cars, and severe weather.  As I continue running, I will do my best to avoid all hazards.  Still, the risk of getting hurt will not prevent me from running.  After all, no pain, no gain.

Miles From Last Week
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday:  5 miles
Saturday 5 miles
Total: 20 miles
Miles Ran in February: 84.2

Ideas for Future Posts
Let’s do some cross-training
Running Rhymes
Running in Different Cultures
Best Running Movie Scenes Ever
How Running relates to Other Sports
Let’s Stretch!
What do I think about while I’m running?
How I Started Running
Old School vs. New School Runners
Time for New Shoes
Move your feet to the beat of your heart: Tunes for Runners
Gear up for Running
Let’s go Grocery Shopping!
Physics of Running

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Running the World’s Best 10K Race

best10kpic3In March 2012, I ran my first race, the Austin Capitol Statesman 10K in Austin, Texas. Having been overweight all of my life, I was amazed that I survived such an incredible ordeal. When the race was over, I wanted to know how my time compared to the world’s record. As soon as I got home, I googled “world record for 10K race.” The Wikipedia article for the “World’s Best 10K race in Puerto Rico” came up in the search results. As a junkie for random and useless information, I had to click on that link. After reading about the race, it had been my dream to run it ever since.

The “World’s Best 10K” is in the top 20 most competitive races in the world, and the prize for first place is $25,000. The prize for achieving a world record is $100,000. In 2003, Paula Radcliffe of the United Kingdom achieved the women’s world record in 30 minutes and 21 seconds. Her record has never been broken ever since. I was not really aiming for a world record given that my finish time was 59:20 in my first 10K race. Any professional runner could probably run two 10K races in less time than that. However, I wasn’t discouraged. I decided that I had to participate in something so special. After all, wouldn’t it be great to say, “Before that guy achieved the world record, he had to pass me first!”

After two years of running  in different races, my dream finally came true on Sunday, February 23rd, 2014. Running alongside some of the fastest runners in the world, I placed 613 out of 9,052 runners. Though I must admit that there were some hurdles in the beginning, my overall race experience was positive.

If you decide to run the World’s Best 10K next year, I would encourage you to do your homework. As long as you book your flight a few months in advance, you could probably buy round-trip airfare to San Juan for under $250. The hotels are pricy, but it’s not impossible to find a room for under $100, especially with a group discount. If you are not afraid of some heavy traffic and aggressive driving, renting a car in Puerto Rico for a few days could save you the cost of taking a taxi to get around the island.

The race started sharply at 5:25 p.m. This was different from any other race I ran. All of my previous races started in the morning. I couldn’t just leave my car in a parking lot next to the start line and run the race. The race took place in the middle of a freeway behind the Puente Teodoro Moscoso toll bridge. All the surrounding neighborhoods are guarded off by electric, barbed-wire fences. Visiting those neighborhoods is not a good idea if you don’t live there.

I stayed in the Condado district in San Juan, which is located about six miles northwest of the starting line. My friend Hector picked me up at 3:30 pm and we drove to a train station in Bayamon, which is about 6 miles southeast of where the race started. The cost of the roundtrip ticket was $3 per person. We took the train to the Hato Rey station. From there, we waited for a “guagua,” which is the Puerto Rican word for bus. Puerto Rican Spanish is somewhat different from Castilian Spanish since some words have different meanings. The guagua took probably 30 minutes to go two miles on that Sunday afternoon because of heavy traffic. When I got to the race, it was already 5:10 pm.

With over 9,000 people in attendance, I wanted to be closer to the front based on my experience at the San Antonio Half Marathon. However, I had no idea that in order to get to the front, I had to start all the way in the back. I also didn’t realize that I wouldn’t even get to the front no matter how hard I tried. The crowd stretched the length of two football fields and the width of a four lane highway. Somehow, I managed to make my way about three fourths of the way to the front before the Puerto Rican national anthem started. It seemed that everyone around me knew the lyrics, and they were all singing along.

At 5:25p.m., the gun went off, and the crowd started moving very slowly. Even though I was in the section for a finish time of approximately 45 minutes, most runners around me seemed reluctant to go anywhere. I felt like the further I ran, the slower everyone got. By the time I reached the start line of the race, there were lines of people just walking in front of me, and I felt like my cloisterphobia was kicking in. At that point, I just wanted to escape the crowd and get some fresh air.

Luckily, I spotted a few runners who were running at approximately an 8:00 minute per mile pace. They knew exactly where to go since they were dodging the crowd in all the right places. I didn’t think twice before starting to follow right behind them. About 10 minutes into the race, I saw the group of elite athletes coming back from the bridge. I’ve never seen anybody running so fast. Sure, I’ve seen videos on Youtube of professional runners, but it’s a lot more real when they are doing it right in front of you. They were running with speeds close to 15 miles per hour. About 15 minutes later, I saw the runners a second time around as they were heading full-speed towards the finish line. By then, they were already a good deal apart from each other, and I could tell who would probably win the race.

In the last half mile of the race, I doused myself completely with a cup of ice-cold, water and ran as hard as I could to the finish line. According to the race clock, 50 minutes had gone by since the gun went off. That meant that it took me 5 minutes to get to the start of the race. I still can’t describe the sheer feeling of exhilaration and excitement when I was crossing the finish line.

A few runners who kept up with me most of the race, stopped by to congratulate me.  After that, I met up with Hector, and we headed back to the train station. A word of caution: if you ask for directions after a race make sure you ask several people. We went the wrong way to the bus stop until we finally made it to the train station.  On the train, everybody was talking to each other and sharing their running experiences. One runner told me that she ran half-marathons all over the world, and she didn’t run them for time. Rather, she ran for the pure joy of running. At first, I was unhappy with a chip time of 45:50. After four months of training and running around twenty miles per week, I expected to do better.

However, the conversation on the train helped me realize that running the race is an incredible achievement in itself, and I should be happy with what I achieved. After all, I bet Bidan Michiri of Kenya was pretty happy having won first place in the race. Sure, he didn’t break the 10K world record of 26:51. Still, he ran the race in 28:35, which is also an achievement for him. The most important thing is that it’s a personal achievement. The fact that I ran the race and did my best is my personal achievement, and I am proud of it now.

race photo

Miles From Last Week
Sunday: 3.5 miles
Tuesday: 3.5 miles
Friday:  5 miles
Saturday 7.5 miles
Total: 19.5 miles
Miles Ran in February: 84.2

Ideas for Future Posts
No pain, no gain: My top running injuries
Let’s do some cross-training
Running Rhymes
Running in Different Cultures
Best Running Movie Scenes Ever
How Running relates to Other Sports
Let’s Stretch!
What do I think about while I’m running?
How I Started Running
Old School vs. New School Runners
Time for New Shoes
Move your feet to the beat of your heart: Tunes for Runners
Gear up for Running
Let’s go Grocery Shopping!
Physics of Running

Posted in Running, Travel | Leave a comment

Running with Fashion

runway

Valentine’s Day was coming to an end as the clock was slowly approaching midnight (no, this is not another Cinderella story).  I was sitting right next to a group of photographers who looked like they were falling asleep after having just finished their martinis.  Occasionally, they would get up and take photos of the catwalk as if they were trying to stay awake and find the perfect angles for their shots.  The fashion show was supposed to start an hour ago, and the crowd was ready to head for the door.  At that point, the DJ turned on the lights and turned up the Reggaeton music mixed in with some light Techno.  The doors slowly opened, and one by one, beautiful, bikini-clad, Puerto Rican supermodels gracefully made their way across the catwalk sporting the latest line of swimwear by Sol Azul.  Watching the supermodels,   I was thinking about how fun it would be to ask them a few specific questions like:  “Does fashion save more lives than medicine?  How fast can you run a 5K?   Would buying Rosetta Stone give me a real shot at impressing you?”

On a serious note, there is no doubt that fitness and fashion go together, and running is no exception.   Running shirts, shorts, and socks, are now available in a wide variety of sleek, stylish, wrinkle-free, and sweat-proof synthetic fabrics.   It seems like running shoes quickly become obsolete with companies constantly offering the next generations of their cutting edge technology.   Nike, Adidas, and New Balance, now sell even more expensive shoes in order to compete with higher-end brands like Saucony, Mizuno, and Asics.

When it comes to accessories, just send the sweat-bands back to the 80s!  After only a few taps on your smartphone, you can pick from an infinity of compression calf sleeves, visors, hydration pacs, insoles, running lenses, sprinter sticks, earphones, and GPS watches.  Fashion has no limits.  The most popular running accessory is your smartphone that would have the latest version of your favorite running app and music player.  Even food for runners and athletes has fallen victim to fashion.  It has now become accessorized into a consortium of electrolyte drinks and energy gels that come in tiny, colorful packages full of ingredients you didn’t know even existed.     Fashion is neither free nor cheap.    A new pair of running shoes with the latest shock absorbers, memory foam, and enhanced visibility in the dark can cost over $200, tax and shipping not included.

How do we benefit from fashion?  Are fancy running shoes, clothes, and accessories really going to make a difference in our running?  Maybe.  For the serious runners, shoes with a bigger cushion can absorb more shock and last longer.  Still, I’m not sure if there is such a significant difference between a $100 shoe and a $200 shoe, as opposed to between a $25 shoe and a $100 shoe.   The real question is:  “Are we going to feel better about ourselves by looking better in front of other people?”   After all, fashion comes with a certain set of bragging rights.   It’s natural to want to share the good news with your friends, family, and co-workers after buying a new house, car, or even smart phone.   At first, it may feel good. However, it feels only good for a while.  Overtime, when your car and your smart phone get older, you will be thinking about a new version and the cycle will repeat itself all over again.

More often than not, I see how so many runners agonize over choosing different brands of running shoes, clothes, and accessories.  Sometimes, I find myself doing the same thing.  In those situations, I find it helpful to realize that I run not for the sake of looking good in front of other people.    I run to be healthy, stay fit, and develop the self- confidence to feel good about myself by doing what I love.  Therefore, I will buy the running gear that will help me do exactly that.   Reminding myself of that fact makes it a lot easier for me to run with fashion.

Miles From Last Week
Sunday: 4.5 miles
Monday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 5.5 miles
Friday:  8 miles
Saturday 5 miles
Total: 27 miles
Miles Ran in January: 80.8

Ideas for Future Posts
Running the World’s Best 10K
No pain, no gain: My top running injuries
Let’s do some cross-training
Running Rhymes
Running in Different Cultures
Best Running Movie Scenes Ever
How Running relates to Other Sports
Let’s Stretch!
What do I think about while I’m running?
How I Started Running
Old School vs. New School Runners
Time for New Shoes
Move your feet to the beat of your heart: Tunes for Runners
Gear up for Running
Let’s go Grocery Shopping!
Physics of Running

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Running in Puerto Rico

 Puerto Rico

Ever since I was a kid, it has been my dream to live in a Spanish speaking country.  I have always loved the language, music, food, and culture.  It was this dream that made me want to major in Spanish in college, live in Spain, and study abroad in Chile.   Too bad, it hasn’t happened yet.  However, two weeks ago, my dream partially came true when I arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Since then, I discovered tropical beaches, gorgeous weather, delicious cuisine, friendly people, and the most beautiful chicas in the world!  On the other hand, I also found a country with high unemployment, dismal poverty, rampant crime, and really heavy traffic.   It’s important to keep this in mind going anywhere in Puerto Rico, especially out for a run. 

 Ashford Avenueashford avenue

Where to Run:  The best street to run on is Ashford Avenue in San Juan’s Condado neighborhood.  The road is approximately two miles long, starting west of Parque Barbosa and ending just north of the Laguna del Condada.  With all the hotels, restaurants, boutiques, the Condado area is full of tourists, police officers, and cars.  Despite the heavy traffic,   you will always see runners going alongside Ashford Avenue. Generally, most runners turn around and head back after crossing the bridge over the Laguna del Condada.

Parque Luis Muñoz Rivera

 Munoz Park

Running in Parks:  As you go further east on Ashford Avenue, you will see more apartment buildings and less hotels and restaurants.  Eventually, you will come to Parque Barbosa.  The park features a race track, so if you are willing to do some laps and are looking for a softer surface to run on, you’ve come to the right place.  If you choose to cross the bridge over the Laguna del Condada and keep running west, you will soon get to Parque Luis Muñoz Rivera.  The park is a lot bigger.  Here you will see a lot more locals and a lot less tourists.   The park has some nice trails through groves of palm trees alongside Escambron Beach.  

San Felipe Del Morro Castleel morro

Most Scenic Run in Puerto Rico:  If you choose to keep running west past by Parque Luis Munos Rivera, be prepared to stop for some breathtaking scenery.    You will pass the beautiful San Juan Capitol Building just before entering Old San Juan. You’ll know when you are there when you get to the walls of San Cristobal castle, the largest fort built by the Spanish in the New World.  Afterwards, take a right and keep going straight until you reach the San Felipe del Morro castle. There, you will encounter a gorgeous panorama of the San Juan Bay surrounded by the mountains in the distance.  By the time you get back to Condado and check your GPS, you will have probably covered approximately seven miles!   

 Watch out for Traffic:   It is not surprising to see a car or even a truck driving over a sidewalk in a vain effort to get through rush hour.   Especially, be sure to watch out for traffic while you are jogging on Ashford Avenue.  Due to the heavy traffic, I do not recommend listening to music while running on the street in the San Juan area.  The good thing about jogging in parks is that you don’t have to worry about traffic, so you can plug in your I-phone and enjoy some good music.  For a taste of local pop music, check out “Mi Chica Ideal” by Chino y Nacho. That song is on almost every time you turn on the radio.

 Carolina Beach at Isla Verde

La Isla verde

Running on the Beach:  The best place I would recommend to run on the beach is La Isla Verde’s Carolina Beach.  While it is only 0.75 miles long, it is one of the longer beaches you will find in the San Juan area. As you go back and forth from one end to another, you will see others doing the same thing since there is not that much space to run.   Many joggers in La Isla Verde actually prefer to jog on the beach since the traffic in the area can get so heavy.  

When to Run:  Just like during summer time in Texas, the best time to run in Puerto Rico is in the early morning or early afternoon.  At that time, the temperature is usually in the mid 70s and the chance of getting sunburnt greatly diminishes. 

Running Groups:    Many of us are used to running by ourselves.  However, in Puerto Rico, I encourage finding someone to run with you.   While there are people jogging by themselves, you will see most people jogging in pairs or even groups.  After all, there is strength in numbers.     One resource I found is the Borinquen Runners Community: http://www.eteamz.com/BorinquenRunners/   

Final Thoughts:  Please keep in mind that there are safe and unsafe neighborhoods in every city, not just in Puerto Rico.  Due to the distressed local economic conditions on the island, safety is definitely a concern at this time.  However, it shouldn’t stop you from visiting and running in Puerto Rico. I haven’t seen so many runners in one place than in San Juan, and almost all of them are Puerto Ricans.  I feel that seeing so many runners is a positive sign that things are headed in the right direction for Puerto Rico.

Miles From Last Week
Sunday:  4 miles
Monday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 4.5 miles
Thursday 6.5 miles
Friday: 7.5 miles
Saturday 3.5 miles
Total: 30 miles
Miles Ran in January: 80.8

Ideas for Future Posts
No pain, no gain: My top running injuries
Let’s do some cross-training
Running Rhymes
Running in Different Cultures
Best Running Movie Scenes Ever
How Running relates to Other Sports
Let’s Stretch
What do I think about while I’m running?
Running the World’s Best 10K
How Alcohol Really Works for Runners
How I Started Running
Old School vs. New School Runners
Time for New Shoes
Move your feet to the beat of your heart: Tunes for Runners
Gear up for Running
Let’s go Grocery Shopping!
Physics of Running
 

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My Top Ten 10K Race Destinations (Part 2 of 2)

6. Grand 10 Berlin

Berlin

Berlin has something for everyone from all over the world. The city is home to 153 museums, 147 foreign embassies, and 3.4 million people. Berlin’s coat of arms features a bear, therefore, it’s not a coincidence that the mascot of the race is a running bear, and the race course goes through the Berlin Zoological garden. The Berlin Zoo has the largest collection of species in the world, and it is the most visited zoo in Europe.

The race starts and ends at Charlottenburg Palace and gardens. It is the largest palace in Berlin. The race is held every October, right around the time for Oktoberfest!

7. WestVan Run

Vancouver BC

Vancouver, British Columbia, is famous for its architecture, breathtaking views of the mountains and ocean, and delicious Chinese food!

The race is scheduled for March 2nd. Not to worry, Vancouver BC is one of the warmest cities in Canada receiving on average, only eleven days of snow every year. This year’s theme is retro 60-80s, so don’t be surprised if you run into Richard Simmons or see Chubby Checker doing the twist.

8. Seoul International Sprint 10K

Seoul

The “soul of Asia,” Seoul is not just the capital of South Korea, but it is perhaps the most technologically advanced capital city in the world. It has some of the fastest internet connections in the world with speeds up to one gigabytes per second. It also has the world’s largest subway network, which provides 4G LTE, Wifi, DMB, and WiBro networks.

Fun Fact: After finishing the race, you dance to Gangnam Style (only kidding, but why not?)

9. We Run Buenos Aires Nike 10k

Buenos Aires

Affectionately known as the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires is rich in performing arts. It has the highest concentration of theaters in the world. The city is the birthplace of the Cumparcita and other irresistible tangos. On my trip to Buenos Aires, I would also pay a visit to El Atenedeo Grand Splendid. This is not your typical Barnes and Noble, the building was a former theater that was refurbished into a book store!

10. San Sebastian 10K

San Sebastian bay

Last but not least, my tenth 10K destination is San Sebastian, Spain. Home to only 186,000 inhabitants, San Sebastian is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of the Basque Country. The natives refer to it as Donostia, which is a short version for San Sebastian in Basque. San Sebastian is famous for many things – the stunning shoreline, San Sebastian International Film festival, ancient history, and exquisite architecture. Basque cuisine is regarded by professional chefs as some of the finest in the world. A popular item is the pincho, which is an appetizer on a toothpick. The toothpick can be used to track the number of pinchos eaten by a customer as a tally for the final bill! Why is Basque food so good? Since the late 1800s, the Basque region has hosted Txokos, “members only” gastronomical societies of cooks that come together to socialize and experiment, never ceasing to amaze and create the best dishes in the world.

The race will be held in late November. In addition to the 10K, you could choose to run the marathon or the half-marathon race.

Miles From Last Week
Monday: 4.5 miles
Tuesday: 3.5 miles
Wednesday: 6.5 miles
Thursday 4.5 miles
Total: 19 miles
Miles Ran in January: 80.8

Ideas for Future Posts
Is there any place to run in Puerto Rico?
No pain, no gain: My top running injuries
Let’s do some cross-training
Running Rhymes
Running in Different Cultures
Best Running Movie Scenes Ever
How Running relates to Other Sports
Let’s Stretch
What do I think about while I’m running?
Running the World’s Best 10K
How Alcohol Really Works for Runners
How I Started Running
Old School vs. New School Runners
Time for New Shoes
Move your feet to the beat of your heart: Tunes for Runners
Gear up for Running
Let’s go Grocery Shopping!
Physics of Running

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