Thursday, December 10, 2015

Don't Die: New Years Resolutions

January 1st, 1:03pm : FitSpace, A Local Binghamton Gym
Your fingers are tingling with the visions of a futuristic you.  A future you with leaner, stronger legs, a more defined muscles, a healthier complexion, a spring in your step.  Today is the first day towards a healthier you.

“Make a plan but don’t be made by that plan” – David Malinowski

January 1st, 1:15pm : FitSpace
You walk into FitSpace and can feel the intense energy of everyone who is feverishly working towards their 2016 goals.  You can see their goals on each one of their faces.

“Lose 50 pounds” 
“Bench 210” 
“Tone my arms”

January 8th, 1:45pm : FitSpace
You are 35 minutes into your elliptical training.  Only 25 minutes to go.  Each minute seems to pass by dreadfully slow.  You watch as the seconds tick by, 35:21, 35:22, 35:23, 35:24.  The gym’s atmosphere doesn’t seem to have that electrified feel that drove your workouts in the first week.  You feel sluggish, your legs; heavy.  Your calves have been sore to the touch for three straight days and you have been having difficulty walking down the stairs. 

January 15th, 1:01pm : Fitspace
You look around in the 10,000 sq ft facility.  Many of the familiar faces you’ve seen over the past two weeks have disappeared.  You no longer need to fight for the lat pull-down, you no longer need to worry about staying on the cardio machines past the allotted times, you can get right onto the treadmill with no hesitation

But do you want to?

We must realize that behavior modification does not occur all at once.  It takes months of small consistent efforts to successfully bring lifestyle change to life.  Daily tasks, weekly efforts, and monthly visions should be all part of the plan to positively improve your physical, emotional, and spiritual life. 

All too often we see gyms packed in the first few weeks of the new year only to be deserted two weeks later.  Our motivation, our goals, and our golden visions become deflated by the bubble of energy that dissipates as more people fall off the wagon. 
Your New Year’s Resolutions Start Today.  Pick a simple task for your overall goal and vision. 
  •          Financial: Putting a quarter in a jar every day.
  •          Physical: Do 15 minutes more exercise every day this week than you accomplished last week. 
  •          Mental: Take 10 minutes out of your day to stimulate your mind, read 6 pages of a book.
  •          Emotional: Take 5 minutes to breathe and relax, just for you, whether it’s meditation or just truly taking the time to enjoy that morning coffee.

Take your time.  Goals and accomplishments do not occur all at once.  They are typed letter by letter.  They take step after step.  They accomplish one small task after another.
  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  - Lao-Tzu

I challenge you to accomplish 1 small, minuscule task for 30 days.  That’s all.  The future is now.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My First Half Marathon: The Greater Binghamton Bridge Run

By Richard Docalavich  

So: it is Sunday May 3rd at 7-ish in the morning and I am at NYSEG stadium in Binghamton NY with a crowd of other people getting ready to run the Greater Binghamton Bridge Run 2015 Half-Marathon. This is my first half-marathon. It’s a beautiful day for a run - sunny and a little chilly. I am thinking to myself "what was I thinking getting ready to run 31.1 miles for fun. Who does this?" My stomach is in knots and my head is racing. I position myself toward the middle and the back of the crowd because my goal is to just finish I am not looking for a specific time. Next thing you know I hear the Star-Spangled Banner being sung - and quite well I may add. I hear the countdown then the horn! The race is on!!!
First let’s do a flash back. This all started about 8 months ago when I was going through some major issues in my life. A little background - I smoked and weighted nearly 270 lbs at 5”7’ in height. I was clearly obese. So I started walking because it cleared my mind - and walking a lot. The problem was the walking took a long time. So a friend suggested I try running. I did the "walk two minutes run two minutes to get started running" twice. Then one day I ran three miles straight. It took me almost an hour but, I did it. I felt like a superstar. I was pretty heavy to be able to just start running like that, but let me tell you the feeling of accomplishment from doing that was awesome. So I started running a lot. It was my new addiction. I went from 0 miles a month to 70 miles a month. I signed up for my first 5K “The Pink Dress” which I halfheartedly planed to do in September.
Needless to say I ran that and loved it. The people cheering was amazing and even the runners that finished before me stayed to cheer people on. I was hooked. I ran a few more 5ks then a 10k. In the process I have lost nearly 52 lbs from running. I lost weight so fast that I couldn’t keep clothes fitting. I was the incredible shrinking man. I know - not really a "bad" problem, losing weight really fast. So, lets get back to the point of the article: my first half marathon.
Like anyone that runs, I knew a good portion of the race is in the preparing for the race before it even starts. The race start time was 7:30. I planned the night before to wake up at 5:00. See, in my training I found out that around 5 or 6 miles I tended to have to go "number 2" and I wanted to avoid that in the race. My plan was to wake up early enough so that hopefully I could get that out of the way. So I woke up at 5:00 all ready and excited. I had laid my clothes out the night before. I went down stairs and made a smoothie for breakfast since I was afraid to eat anything that was solid. The smoothie consists of yogurt, a banana, peanut butter, and a blueberry\strawberry\raspberry frozen mix all blended up. Then I took 1 Imodium which I was hoping would help with not having to do the "number 2" during the race. I also drank lots of water to make sure I was hydrated.
I arrived at the race around 6:30 I walked around a bit and was hoping that I could take care of the "number 2" thing maybe get my system to work that out. Unfortunately I think my nerves were not letting that happen which in turn made me even more nervous! I ran into some fellow runners that I knew and we talked. I wasn’t sure if I was shaking because of being nervous or chilly. Everyone was telling me that I would do well and I, of course, was hoping they we right. I stretched a bit and was really hoping that I was actually ready for this. Thirteen-point-one miles is a long ways. THIRTEEN-POINT-ONE MILES! Am I crazy? I am not ready for this! "Stop. Stop." I told myself "You're psyching yourself out. Baby step it. I am just doing a 5k (4 times). I can do this! I am ready. -- I have run this distance before once and stopped a few times. I am not ready!!"
Back to the start of the race: I lined up with a friend that had run 4 of these before and she said she was running around the pace that I had set on my watch. I set my Garmin watch for a pace of 10:40 min/mile which was a little faster than I though I could run it in, but I could always slow down. 
Race starts: so the first mile's done. Not so bad, only 12.1 miles to go. I have been keeping up with my friend. The watch is saying I am ahead of my pace, OK not a bad thing. I notice there are a lot of bystanders watching the race and cheering which is really cool and actually makes it easier and the sign were great! “13.1 miles you are only half crazy” and “When you legs give out. Let your heart take you the rest of the way.”
Approaching mile 2: watch still saying I am head of my pace and I feel like I am really moving faster than I had trained for, which is great but I am doing 13.1 miles not a 5K. I check my watch my friend and I are running a 10:19-10:15 pace this is too fast I can’t keep this up for another 11. I tell my friend I am going to have to drop back I am afraid that I can’t keep that pace. She says "ok, good luck!" and now I am on my own. Half way between mile 2 and 3 I have to pee. No porta-poty until mile 4. I can hold it - well, I have no choice! I can’t just stop and go, people are all over the place. I will get arrested.
Mile 3: the sun really starts showing itself and I start really working up a sweat. It keeps running into my eyes and I can’t see well. I have to keep adjusting my hat and wiping. My eyes are burning and I still have to pee. But the running I am doing well. I'm still ahead of my pace. The watch beeps and I put in a cough drop. Oh I forgot to mention I don’t do well with drinking water so I take cough drops when I run to keep my mouth from getting dry and it keeps my nose free and wide open. All in all, mile 3 feeling good besides the eyes.
Mile 4: yes! Bathrooms coming up! I have to go pee. I run off to the side to the porta-potties and they are full. I wait a minute in my mind it’s an eternity I see people running by. I am in a race! Forget it, I can hold it till the next one - another 2 miles. So basically I was worried about making to the bathroom all of mile 4 and mile 5 and listening to my head phones. I had a good beat going. I had chosen club music for the fast beat to keep me going. The burning in my eyes stopped. Still sweating but I think I am just used to it by now. My body is feeling good. I got this!! Just have to pee!
Mile 6: yes! Made it! Pee time! I run to the porta-pottys - OMG full. People running by. I am getting passed waiting to pee. Seriously, I have to go!! Waiting: can’t do it. I start running again. Two more miles and I can go. Two more miles and I have to go. No ifs or buts - even if I have to wait. 
Mile 7: I have to pee soooo bad. I start thinking about how I have read articles that some people just pee themselves in the race. Now I am pretty dedicated to running, but to pee myself - not sure if I am that dedicated. I spend the next mile weighing the pros and cons on peeing my pants. Next thing I know.
Mile 8: bathrooms I make a bee line for them. One is open. Awesome!! You have no idea how happy I was that one of the porta-potties was open.  The release of pressure from my bladder was pure joy. My legs went weak for a bit it felt so good. OK, I don’t have to go pee anymore. I start running again and I am feeling awesome - you would have never guessed that it was mile 8. I had a pep in my step. I even drank a Gatorade. I am feeling surprisingly good.
Mile 9: noting special starting to get tired of running but not too bad. 
Mile 9.5: I think I hit a wall. My body is saying I am done. Everything is starting to hurt. I am convincing myself to keep going. How can I stop now I am over half way? Then it hits me. If I stop I will still have to walk back to my car. My car is at the end of the race. Why would I walk it when I can just run it and get it done faster?
Mile 10: I start joking with people that are cheering me on. That I am just looking for my car and that I will never park so far away again. I am trying to keep my mind off the fact that my body wants to quit. I am not going to quit I didn’t sign up for this to quit. Besides I have to get to my car to get home and that is at the finish of the race. This is what I keep telling myself anything to keep me going. Then I started thinking "wait I only have 3 miles left. This is a 5k. I do 5ks all the time! I got this!!"
Mile 11: Still have in my mind it’s a 5k and I hear in my head one of my run friends saying that you need to give it all on a 5k. Give it all so I keep treading through. I have yet to walk or stop except for the bathroom breaks I am doing good. Miles 11 and 12 are kid of a blur not really sure how I got through them. Half way through 12 I actually walked for a bit but I found that it hurt to walk. My body had been running for so long that it was painful to walk. My pace had slowed down considerably and my watch said I was behind pace. I did not care I just wanted to finish. At mile 12, I took 2 cups of Gatorade and sipped then as I really slowed down didn’t walk because it hurt but went as slow as I could without walking. It hurt to walk. I was still encouraged by the bystanders cheering me on encouraging me. These were people that had no idea who I was and they were telling me that you can do it you got this. More signs that I remember reading “Pain is temporary but the online stats are forever”, “ Run like you stole something”.
Almost to mile 13. Seriously what was I thinking signing up for this? I paid for this, what is wrong with me? Where is the finish line? My watch says 13 miles I see nothing but more road. Where is the finish line? Seriously what is going on? Freaking out a bit at this point thinking this will never end. I notice that everyone is turning left. I turn left and come over a knoll and I can see the finish line. People are lining the streets cheering for us for me. There is nothing more powerful that a bunch of random strangers cheering you on. Suddenly I feel lighter. I feel like I got my second wind, actually more like my 5th or 6th wind!
The last .1: This is where all the pain from the race was wiped away. I was sprinting to the end (not really but it was all I had left). I have people cheering. I remember they take a photo at the end. Strike a pose while running! I hear my name called over the loud speaker. Well not my last name - a version of it when you can’t actually say it correctly, but still awesome. I cross the finish line and the feeling of accomplishment is crazy. Friends are there congratulating me because most of them are faster than me and have ran these before and finish before me.
Richard before weight loss and after finishing his first half marathon!
All in all I am going to run more half-marathons. All the pain sweat and tears (yes, there were tears) are worth it in end. I am proud of myself for doing this and like the one sign said “Pain is temporary but the online stats are forever”. This is an accomplishment that no one can take from me and I did all by myself. I did have a lot of support and I would like to thank everyone for that. Also I would like to give a shout out to the all the bystanders and their signs and support you have no idea how much a part of a race you actually are. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Community is Hosting a Road Race: Now What??

by Julie Drozdowski

I recently ran a half marathon in a city in upstate NY.  It was a lovely race with good support, particularly from the local Police Department
and the race crew.  Generally when I have run races, the local community has been wonderful; but there is always an incident or two that gets me thinking about what could be better.  So, I asked some running friends what they loved and didn’t love about running races in a city.

Here are some tips from your friendly area runners…


  • know when the race is and what streets will be closed when.  It is usually pretty well publicized
  • map out a way to cheer at multiple points, it keeps things interesting for everyone.
  • more cowbell, noisemakers, be loud, be funny (runners love to laugh)
  • be original (play music, play instruments, dance, costumes, high fives from kids)
  • volunteer, or at least be supportive.
  • keep track of where your elite runner is place wise, especially if they have a goal.
  • call out names, or even bib numbers. Make it personal-you never know how much it means.
  • make funny posters, Google has some great ideas.
  • stick around and cheer on the runners at the back of the pack, they need the most encouragement, since they've been pushing themselves for a much longer time
  • ask your runner friends and family what they would like in terms of support.
  • consider jumping in a running a block or two with a runner you know, especially toward the end when they’re tired and need the motivation to finish.

  • get mad at runners or volunteers for blocking streets. The road marshals are trying to keep the runners safe.
  • cut in front of runners, even slow ones, especially near the finish line.  It’s not an obstacle course race (unless it is)
  • smoke in places where the athletes will breathe it in.
  • take food/drinks intended for runners.
  • say “you’re almost there” unless the finish line is in sight.  Most runners push at the end and don’t want to burn out 
  • yell “Run, Forrest, run” (or any other cliché for that matter, be original!)

Above all, please remember that races will happen and runners love your support (and participation!)  Don’t be afraid to encourage the runners in your life and give us a cheer when we run by.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spectators: an Important Part of Every Race

By Michael Cordi

My first race was Saturday Oct 1, 1971 - four days after my first run. I was 12 and it was a terrifying 1.5 mile cross-country race at Arnold Park in Vestal. I remember a few things from that blur of a 10 minute run. One of those memories is the spectators. If you’ve ever been to a high school XC race you know there are plenty of spectators screaming and cheering for you, for everyone, as you push yourself along the trails.

Fast forward to March 7, 2015 and Confluence Running's Parade Day Mile. One mile up Court St to Main along the parade route, lined with thousands of screaming spectators. Those people have no idea how much they motivated me. When I was getting tired their encouragement kept me going. It was like I didn’t want to let them down, though I didn’t even know them and most of them didn’t know me!

Whether the runner passing by is the first or the last, competitively fast or simply seeking a personal record or to just finish, you spectators motivate us to keep going, to keep pushing. You give meaning to the training runs before or after work, the hard workouts when we runners just want to sleep in or stay home and watch TV. Yes, you are an important part of the race.

I don’t run, train, and race because there will be spectators, no one really does. But on race day, when people are cheering for me(!) I can’t describe how much I truly appreciate you being out there. I mean, look at this - you are out there in the rain, the cold, the snow, the wind, the heat and humidity. You’re probably thinking how crazy I am for being out there running. But guess what - I am just as impressed that you’re out there supporting me.

There’s this thing about the loneliness of the long distance runner - the inner battle when I race; the voices in my head telling me to slow down and take it easy. You, the spectator, are a louder voice and you keep me going.

You keep me going when I’m having a great day and I’m with the leaders.  You keep me going when I’m having a bad day and I’m further back than I want to be. You keep all of us runners going all along the course and especially (at least for me) at the finish. There is an incredible feeling coming into the finish of a road race, the course lined with spectators, feeling so tired and physically uncomfortable, as you cheer for us to keep us going for a few more steps to the finish.

If it was a great race, you’re cheering my accomplishment, if it was a bad race, your cheers are consolation. No matter what, your cheers make the training and racing worthwhile.

But you know what?

Your cheers help, not only the leaders, not only the middle of the pack age group aces, they help (and maybe this is where you help the most) the runners at the back of the pack- the last runners to finish. Remember, they didn’t lose the race, they won their own battle with the same demons telling them to slow down even stop; and, they struggled for a longer time.

The Greater Binghamton Bridge Run Needs You!

One of the major area races is coming up May 3rd , the Bridge Run. Thirteen-point-one miles (there’s also a 5K) around Binghamton. It’s a long way to run and we need help. Yes, some runners can finish a half marathon in less than one hour, but most of us are out there longer. Some of us are out there for two hours or even three or more. In a marathon they might be out there, running, for four or five hours. You, the spectators, help them just like you help the leaders. You keep them going all the way to the finish.

So get out there! Get some family, friends, and neighbors. Make some signs and cheer for every runner. Show community spirit, make your neighborhood the loudest most boisterous one out there.  Have fun with it!   Throw a race-watching party!  Go to the finish line and watch the winners win but stay and watch everyone and cheer real loud to drown out the voices telling them to stop. Take in the scene as people celebrate their own little victories.  Be inspired while you inspire others! Who knows, this might motivate you to be one of the runners someday.

If you’re a spectator you may never know how much you’re appreciated and how much you’re needed. But you are just as much a part of the race as the volunteers, the race director, the timing system, the awards, and the food and drink after.  Let's make this a great race, together!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Boilermaker: a Beginner's Journey

By Rebecca Vandawalker

For a few years, my friend Sharan from college had been trying to get me into running.  She had started a marathon training program herself as an absolute beginner and she had fallen in love with running.  I laughed off her suggestions.  First of all, Sharan is tiny and I am not.  In college she was the girl on the crew boat with the bull horn shouting at the team rowing.  She is also adventurous and I wasn’t.  She is from Malaysia but ended up at the University of Rochester just like me.  I had never run before nor did I have the desire to try.  Nonetheless, she brought up trying it every time we talked.  When I went to visit her one time, she took me on a run.  She had this little timer that beeped every so often and she would tell me when we had to run and when we could walk.  I was proud of myself that I even kept up for 45 minutes.  I was out of shape (not that I had ever really been in great shape) and not exactly thin (not that I have ever really been thin either).  Sharan was quick to point out to me that my steps were too big and that I tried to go too fast.  Well, like everything in life that I don’t want to do, I tend to just try to get it over with.  Then she took me to this palm reader who told me that in the next few years I would change my life and get really into physical fitness.  I laughed.

Needless to say, I didn't run again for a while once I left her house.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have a stubborn side and that I don’t like to listen to others advice for my own life.

Fast forward a few years:  My girlfriends and I are having our annual holiday get together and trying to figure out when we will be able to see each other again.  Someone makes the suggestion that we all sign up and run The Boilermaker 5 K.   We all agreed.  Maybe it was the wine but we did.  We all had plans to train.  I did not do too well with this.  I walked the Rail Trail a few times a week.  I figured that at least I could walk 3.1 miles in 45 minutes if I hustled.  Some of my girlfriends did some training.  My friend Cori seemed to really take to running.  She had done cross country when we were in high school.  She started signing up for 5k’s left and right.

Becky before her first Boilermaker 5k
By the time came for The Boilermaker 5k, I was scared to death.  I even have the before pictures to prove it.  I got up really early in the morning, puked because that is always what happens when I am nervous, and debated whether or not I should eat or drink coffee or water.  I was afraid my nervous bladder would mean I would spend most of my time in the port a potty.  At least I was not alone in this.

All of us were texting each other about what we should wear and if we were eating or drinking.  None of  us really knew what we were doing.  We all started out together when that gun went off.  We ran with the sea of other runners.  Some people really looked like they knew what they were doing while others looked just as lost as I felt.  I made a promise to my friends that I would do this so I started running.   I was out of breath in the first 2 minutes and walked and ran the whole way.  I felt like I was dying.  One of my girlfriends started hyperventilating and didn't finish the race.  I was way behind three friends and two were behind me.  I was on my own.  A funny thing happened though about a mile in.  A woman I didn't know started running and walking with me and encouraging me.  She pushed me when I wanted to quit.  I cannot remember her name but I will always remember what she did for me that day.  She got me over that finish line.  She kept yelling, “We got this Becky!”  I started to believe it.  My time was 44 minutes and something.  I finished under 45 minutes.  I got a finisher’s pin.  I promised myself that day that I would do this the next year and actually train for it.

Ready for your first 5k?
Sign up for the Greater Binghamton Bridge Run 5k!
Feel the sense of accomplishment that comes 
with finishing your first race!

Fast forward to December that same year.  I started doing some exercises at home to make me stronger.  After I did these a few times a week for a month or so, I decided to try running.  I got a book about the Run-Walk Method by Jeff Galloway.  Jeff Galloway was the one who actually trained Sharan for her first Marathon from scratch.  I started going to the rail trail a few times a week.  I would run for a count of 30 in my head and then walk for a count of 30 and just kept doing that for a few miles.  After a few times out, I would run for a count of 60 and then walk for a count of 30.  I did this for quite some time and each time, I would try  to run longer and longer.  I seemed to have trouble breathing.  I called Sharan up and she said to slow down and make sure I could talk while I run.  If I couldn’t talk, I was going too fast.  I told her that I run alone and am not talking to anyone.  I simply count in my head the whole time.  She said I needed to find a group.

Mission: Accomplished.  First 5k done!
I set out to find a group.  Luckily for me, I have a local friend who runs and he invited me to a Beginner’s Group Run at Confluence Running in February through Facebook.  I was very nervous to go since I didn’t know anyone there.  I showed up with Jeans on over my running tights and a regular hat.  I had on the only running sneakers that I owned.  Well when I got to the store, I realized I looked ridiculous in my jeans and ran out to my car and took them off.  I came back in and stood against a wall.  A few of the guys there came up and said hello but I am sure that I did not look at all approachable.  I can be very closed off in new situations.  I like to watch and figure people out first.  Then the group went out for a two mile run.  It was a mile out and a mile back.  I had never run even a quarter mile without stopping to walk yet.   I started out with someone that just walked and I began to run.  After a little while, she went back to the store and I kept going.  I walked and ran the whole mile up and almost the whole way back.  I was alone until I noticed someone from the group ran back to finish with me.  Helen introduced herself and said she was getting back into running after a break.  We talked a bit and then became Facebook friends.  Because of the time she took to reach out to me, I came back.  I learned to run with others.  This helped me with my breathing and my pace.  Once I got my breathing under control and pushed past those feelings that I couldn’t catch my breath, I just breathed through it and begin to run without walking.  First I ran a whole quarter mile, then three quarters of a mile, and when I finally ran a whole mile without stopping, I was so proud of myself.  By the time I went to my next Beginner Group Run, I could run the whole two miles without walking.  I became more open to the other runners.  I even recall when someone asked me if I was training for a race, I said I was training for the Boilermaker 5K but really I was going to be running from now on.
Becky after her second Boilermaker 5k!

I made it to the Boilermaker 5K last July.  None of my friends did the 5K with me this year.  Cori did the 15k and so did my brother and sister-in-law.  I was on my own but I did not stop the whole time and my time was over 12 minutes faster than the first year.  I really felt like I earned that beer at the finish.  I have worked on distance since then and still attend the Beginner Group Runs so that I can get to know new runners and do for them what Helen did for me.  Next Sunday, I will run and hopefully finish my first Half Marathon which I will run with Cori.  When my runs get tough, I automatically start going back to counting in my head.  I just think that since that is how I started, it just keeps me going.  Well that and the fact that I really do like to run now.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Morning Cuppa: Caffeine for Performance Enhancement

by Coach Matt Gawors

Caffeine is a ubiquitous drug that can enhance the body’s chemical processes. When most people think of caffeine, a picture of a mornin’ cupoa joe pops into their mind. When most think of the use of caffeine, so often it is a substance to get jolt of energy in the sleepy time morning or mid-afternoon.

Athletic Performance

But what about caffeine use in athletic performance? Can it be used efficiently? Is it a necessity? Is the use that effective? Yes, Yes, and YES! Major studies have been done on the effects of caffeine on athletic performance and these are some results from

“The average improvement in performance is about 12 percent, with more benefits noticed during endurance exercise than with shorter exercise (eight to 20 minutes) and a negligible amount for sprinters. More benefits are also noticed in athletes who rarely drink coffee, hence are not tolerant to its stimulant effect.”


Caffeine can not only be an effective tool in athletic performance, but athletic recovery as well. Because caffeine speeds up chemical body processes, it inherently speeds up the time it takes for the body to repair itself from previous workouts. Additionally, Caffeine can increase the effects of carbo-loading for race weeks. Read Caffeine used as a Recovery agent for a more in-depth analysis.


But is this legal in endurance sports? Again, Yes! In the ITU, USAT,as well as USATF rules it explicitly states that Caffeine is NOT a banned substance and can be used in competition.

How about ethically? Is it wrong? This is a matter of opinion but I believe it is not wrong. Caffeine is widespread, available to everyone, and is generally not harmful (extra high doses can trigger anxiety attacks and such).

According to the New York Times, “Caffeine, which is legal under International Olympic Committee rules, is the most popular drug in sports. More than two-thirds of about 20,680 Olympic athletes studied for a recent report had caffeine in their urine, with use highest among triathletes, cyclists and rowers.”


So what is the proper dosage of this drug? Studies show that fewer than 2mg of Caffeine per kg of body weight has no athletic enhancing effect while over 6mg of Caffeine per kg of body weight actually hurts athletic performance.


Where to get it? Your first thought is probably “coffee.” While this is easily the quickest and cheapest way to obtain caffeine, studies show that caffeine in coffee may not be utilized as effectively as other sources. While this may be true, other options include eating 1000 calories of 90% dark chocolate (I love chocolate but let’s not get carried away), tea, or caffeine pills. Personally, I’ll take a few more ounces of the joe’ to compensate.

How to use caffeine efficiently?

When used on a regular basis, the effects of drugs on the human body tend to diminish over time. This is no different for the use of caffeine. Those who use it as a wake-up call every morning are going to see less pronounced effects.

While I haven’t found any studies pertaining to the tolerance effect of caffeine, I recommend scheduling it’s use sparingly (not daily) based on trial and error experience. I find that the athletic enhancements of caffeine diminish greatly after using the drug three or more days a week. Use caffeine twice a week on Lactate/Aerobic Threshold and VO2 Max days to enhance training performance. Three weeks before an “A” race, use is cut down to once a week to break tolerance levels so there is a greater effect during race week.

Schedule caffeine use on days with higher carbohydrate intakes for maximal carbo-loading. A study from the Journal of Applied Physiology (July 2008) found that glycogen levels were substantially higher with carb/caffeine ingestion as opposed to just carb ingestion. Most endurance athletes would call this glycogen storage “carboloading.”

Example for a Build week in Triathlon

90min Ride

2 Hour
VO2Max Run
90min Run

90min Swim
2.5 Hour
LT Ride
(Long Sets)
90min Ride

60min Swim
60min Swim
2 Hour
Weighted Run



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Running Smart: Hydration and Nutrition

by Joe Geronimo

Long before I was inspired to be a runner I never really drank, water that is. To be honest I cannot even tell you why. I've been running now for almost three years and my hydration habits are horrible. Research shows that an average male weighing 200 pounds needs 70 ounces of water per day to replace just every-day water loss. That does not include any extra effort or exercise. I can tell you this I don't think I've drank 70 ounces of water on a hot summer day. Throw in my running routine and it's a potential date with disaster.

I have a rule, its my own and I think it needs some modification to say the least. If I was running or racing anything less than a half marathon I would not drink water during. I never liked the "sloshing" feeling. After my run or race I might have a 16/20 ounce bottle of water and that is pretty much it, then it was "beer me!" Like I've stated I really have not been a water drinker. During the New York City marathon I carried no water but did make it through a few water stops along the course.

Over the past year I have been battling muscle injuries in my lower half, hip flexors, glutes & calves. I attribute a lot of this to my change in running shoes. I went from a stability shoe "i.e.. Brooks Adrenaline" to a more minimal drop neutral shoe as in the Brooks Pure Flow. I'm a big boned guy who hits the pavement hard when I run so I believe that lack of stability did some damage. It also didn't help that I rarely took a day off over the past two years and I ran 99% of my runs hardcore with barely a slow run. Yes I over-worked myself and I am paying the price. Fall 2013 through winter 2014 I was running 200+ miles a month in bitter cold temperatures before I fell to my injuries. My last race, the 2014 Binghamton Bridge Run half marathon, I was in so much pain I think I was crying crossing the finish line.  Recently and I mean in just the past few days I've been looking at how I am truly feeling. Muscles constantly tired, achy and sore. It hit me like a freight train, "hey dummy something else is going on here." I thought to myself: I wonder if my lack of hydration is play an integral part of my issues? After some online research, conversations with my wife, friends and trainers pointed me in the direction of hydration as a huge culprit.  

Sign up now for the Parade Day Mile!
Get your speedwork in while enjoying this fun race!
Cash awards for top finishers, prizes for best costume.

Over the past several days I have been working very hard at hydrating myself and as of today I feel pretty darn good. My muscles don't ache and I feel quite considerably less sore than they have in a long time. This revelation of hydration came to me after my long run this past Sunday, don't ask me why. Over the last 20 years my nutrition had been terrible. This is why I weighed over 300 pounds before making some life changes. I never met a drive thru I didn't like or a foot long sub that was too big, pass me a 55 gallon drum of soda with a side of fries. In 2012 I ditched the Whopper with cheese so to speak for a more thoughtful and healthier lifestyle and it changed my life forever. I won't bore you with the details but a 3 ounce serving is VERY small. I've never been really good with nutrition.  How could I be? I work for the railroad and we were on call 24/7 365 with only a 2 hour notice to come to work. We'd work 12, 13, 14 hours a day, rest for 10 hours, and right back at it. We were zombies and I remember packing enough food to make sure I could stay awake for those long hours. Sometimes that wasn't enough and we'd find a Mickey D's or a diner. That poor nutritional lifestyle finally caught up with me and I needed to make a change. Finally, I have managed to keep my weight down with good choices and exercise. Lately though I have had this idea wrestling around my head that since I'm a runner I can eat whatever I want, WRONG! I've let things slide as of late, eating way to much candy (damn you chocolate & peanut butter), pizza, burgers, beer, etc. I love my family to death but I know when we all are together its going to be days of eating like crap.  Hey, we're Italians and we like to eat. It takes my body a full week, yes 7 days to recover from an eat-a-thon. I've gained several pounds over the last 9-10 months using this "I'm a runner" mentality and its time for me to get back on track. Its ok to enjoy that burger, pizza, beer and so forth but I am now making it a once in a while deal rather than more routine as it has been.

Don't miss out on our Nutrition for Runner's Clinic!
Feb 8, 2015
For more information, click here.

I'd like to ask you this, do any of you struggle with hydration or nutrition? If so I would love to hear about it.



Monday, January 26, 2015

Why Run the Mile? The Parade Day Mile!

By Coach Michael Cordi

Brooks Johnson was one of the best distance coaches in the USA. He coached Stanford University and National Teams. I remember he used to say, “Speed kills …. those who don’t have it."  Johnson was coaching runners at the highest level of the sport who wanted to win NCAA, National, and Olympic and World Championships. But his philosophy can be applied to any runner at any level who wants to improve.

There comes a point in any runner’s journey where “just finishing” is no longer the goal.  You’ve finished your 5K, 10K, ½ marathon, marathon. Now what? How about getting faster? Setting PR’s? Beating that Age Group Ace who finishes just in front of you every time you race?

To achieve your goals you need speed. A recent article posted on the Confluence Running Beginner’s Running Facebook page suggested that racing a mile might help you run a faster marathon!

Race a mile? Isn’t that intensely painful? Don’t young college age studs run that real fast?

Well, yes but so do thousands and thousands of Age Group runners all over the nation in all-comers track meets throughout the winter, spring, and summer. Just check out results posted on the Fingerlakes Runners Club and Triple Cities Runners Club web sites and you will see that, yes, anyone can and should race the mile.


I can tell you from personal experience. I used to be an 800 runner and I loved the mile. I could run 2:00 for the 800 and breaking 5:00 for the mile was a walk in the park. But there was a catch, I was young, real young, and had natural speed in my legs. I started my running career as a cross-country and track runner and had the natural speed of anyone from 14-20+ years old.

Then, I stopped racing on the track, I stopped running short repeats and I lost my speed. So, last fall I decided to go back to my roots and train for and run some 800’s and miles. I admit I’m not as fast as I used to be but I noticed something really cool. When I would go out for an easy 6 miles, what used to feel easy at 7:50-8:00 pace now felt like I was barely moving along at 7:20-7:30 pace!

What happened?!

I’ll tell you what happened - I got some speed back in my legs. You see the key to running to your personal potential is leg turnover- how fast your legs turn over from stride to stride. I was propelling myself along the ground faster than before with less effort because my legs have speed. After 15 years of neglecting that part of my training I actually felt fast again!!!

A lot of my Team Confluence friends will tell you that last fall I swore off any race longer than 5K. I just wanted to race fast (and I have to admit, being ranked #1 in the USA in my AG in the 800 for a few weeks got me excited).  But back to the easy runs. I got thinking (as I watched a 13:15 5k runner run his first ½ marathon in 60:51, one of the fastest times ever by an American): Hmmmm maybe I could run a faster ½ marathon because I have this new found speed in my legs!! I mean if I could “jog” 6 miles in under 47:00 on a cold and windy day after a long day on my feet at school, maybe I can run a decent ½ marathon!!!

Sign up NOW for 
the Greater Binghamton Bridge Run Half Marathon & 5k!

How do you get this speed?

It’s easy (ok, it’s painful but the idea is easy) you train for and race a 1 mile run. Check out local opportunities- the TCRC will offer meets in the spring and summer with runners of all abilities so no one has to be intimidated.

Parade Day Mile!

Coming up March 7 ( is a 1 mile race down Court and Main Streets right before the Parade! Confluence is bringing back this event from a few years ago for good reason - it’s fun. I know - I’ve done it. Running by thousands of screaming parade goers is a riot.

Bring your friends and sign up - if you’re 21 you get a free beer at the finish! Set a goal to run a mile March 7 and to get there add some speed to your weekly routine. You’ve never done it? It’s easy (ok, it’s NOT easy but figuring out a program is). Keep your mileage where it is (World Class Milers run mega miles, like 100+ per week). So, don’t decrease mileage, just add a couple workouts twice a week.

Parade Day Mile

Speed Work in Disguise

Frank Shorter, 1972 Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist and the guy who got this whole running boom thing going once said, “Hills are speed work in disguise.”

Warm up, cool down 1 mile, 2 miles, whatever suits you. I recommend hills once a week. Run up and jog/walk down. Over and over as much as you can/want to/have time for. Find a hill- roads, grass, sidewalk, it doesn’t matter. Keep it short (you want speed) 50-100 meters and do it. Or, you can run hilly courses- go out and run how ever many miles you want and make sure you go up and down as many long, short, steep, gradual hills as possible. Lucky me- Endwell is great for that!

Go Fast!

Then, once a week try something shorter than you’ve likely done. I think the perfect distance is 300 meters with whatever recovery interval you feel is appropriate for you and your level of fitness. Find a track run 300 repeats.

The time you should run? Honestly, don’t worry about it, you’re new to this plus the weather might not cooperate. But, as a guideline figure out the pace you can do (or think you can do) for a mile. Use one of those running calculators if you have to, but find a time. Let’s say you think you could run 1 mile in 6:00. Now comes the math- divide- 6:00 is 1:30 per 400 and it’s 1:08 for a 300.  If we're talking hitting an 8 minute mile, then you're looking at 2:00 per 400 and 1:30 for 300.  There you go - easy math.

Think like a Kenyan

No track? There’s snow on the track? The local high school team is practicing? Run them on the roads? You don’t how far 300 is on the roads? Run for your target time then rest. Then run some more- however many you can based on your ability and time constraints. Many of the great Kenyan runners come from an area with no track, so they improvise - no excuses. If there’s a secret to Kenyan success it’s that they make no excuses they just do what it takes.

I do them at 5:00 am - I am very lucky to live on a block that measures 409 meters around and it’s flat. I also live at the bottom of a hill that is about 150 meters long. Lucky me, again.

The point is, you can do them. Your time for the repeats doesn’t matter and do not overdo it. What you’ll notice is that fairly quickly your legs will start moving faster with no extra effort.

If you like it (I LOVE speed work) add in some 200’s and 400’s - all at mile pace.

One other thing that anyone can do, anywhere are 100 meter strides. At the end of your run, you do four or so 100 meter “runs” at about the effort you would race a 5K.

This is Important

At the end of a workout you should not feel all sore and tired (that’s for Gatorade commercials). You almost feel refreshed, like you just did something good for your body (because you did)!

You’re training your legs to run faster. These workouts WILL make you a faster runner at every distance (including the marathon) and you just might find that you like the shorter races more.

Running and racing is about a lot more than just finishing. It’s about finishing at the limits of your own personal potential be that a ½ marathon in 1:00 or a 2:00. Getting faster is fun and rewarding and completing a tough speed workout is a great feeling.

Change up your running and gain some speed and you can run the classic distance the 1 mile run! See you on Parade Day!!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Eating Healthy is LAME!

by Matt Gawors

Nutrition, like exercise, is considered by many to be lifestyle, not a means to an end. What’s great about lifestyle is it can shift, but only in small increments. The human body craves nutritious and healthy food and good quality exercise. Yet because of the way we have evolved, it is easy to be self-destructive with the foods and activity patterns of modern society. I would like you as the reader, not to be defensive towards the ideas listed here. Read them, learn them, and even apply them if you wish.

I have been living a low sugar/carb, natural diet for a few years now. I stay away from most processed and high sugar foods. Though last week I visited my Aunt’s house in long island and fell away from my normal diet. She makes the greatest chocolate chip cookies known to man and just like crack-cocaine, the high of getting one is all about getting more. After eating about 12 cookies, I became nauseous (like I usually do) and felt sluggish for the next 2 days. It's easy to realize how un-healthy certain things are when you don’t have them often. But how can you move to a healthier lifestyle? It’s not as easy as a magical transformation or going cold turkey from all un-healthy foods… It’s about small lifestyle changes.

Below is a screen shot of a healthy lifestyle presentation I made for increasing athletic performance. The graph stresses the importance of taking small steps to change your lifestyle. You will notice you become stressed when your lifestyle shifts toward the less-healthy, you also become stressed (temporarily) when your lifestyle shifts to a healthier state. Only when this new stress dissipates and becomes part of your normal lifestyle should you include another healthy habit and stress the lifestyle again. (Athletes, does this sound familiar? Stress the body, rest, stress the body, rest)

How to: Try using the following steps to make small lifestyle changes healthier and happier living!

The LAME Method

Limit – Every 2-3 weeks, limit intakes of damaging nutrition. Find one “un-healthy” staple of your diet and greatly reduce your intake. Some examples would be Soda, Fast-food, or other processed foods that may be high in added sugars, hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated oils. This goes for activity as well, for instance, you could limit TV to two hours instead of three.

Add – Every 2-3 weeks, increase your intake of healthy nutrition. Find a healthier food to try to regularly add to your diet. These can include fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, olive oil, eggs, or even daily goals. Goals could be shown as “eating a fresh vegetable/fruit at every meal,” or eating a healthy non-sugar/carb-heavy breakfast every day. You can commit to add a 15-30 minute slow walk around the neighborhood after meals. These smalls decisions will add up over the weeks and months and slowly develop your lifestyle without stress.

Maintain – After your 2-3 week lifestyle shift ends and a new cycle begins, try to continue with the small lifestyle changes you had made recently and try to incorporate another cycle of changes with those. If you haven’t become completely accustomed to the new changes that were made, don’t incorporate anything new but take another week or two and get used to what you changed. It’s not perfect, but what lifestyle is?

Enjoy – You may find that over time you can’t imagine how you lived without the new changes. Your changes hopefully become routine and easy to remember over time. Just remember, it’s just a series of small, slow steps to healthier living. But the most important factor is to ENJOY what you are doing. If you don’t like tofu, try eggs, if you don’t like zucchini, try a cucumber instead. Tastes, preferences, and abilities all vary and there are endless possibilities to living healthy! Eat, Exercise, Enjoy!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Drills, Plyometrics, and Running Form

As most weathered athletes have heard, we do drills to increase our running economy, power production, and agility.  Though many of us don’t understand WHY we do these drills.  We go through the movements, have a picture in our mind, but can’t quite put two and two together of there specific purposes.  With 16 weeks to go before the Binghamton Bridge Half Marathon, form training is essential.  This article will attempt to put a clear understanding of the purpose of drills. 
Running speed is a combination of (Stride Length) x (Stride Rate).  The following drills allow for an athlete to develop different sections of his or her stride.  While not all the drills directly relate to a particular variable (Length vs. Rate), many of the drills increase general running economy and allow for a passive movement to be graceful.  

Passive Movements
"Increase Efficiency = Increase Stride Rate"
Unlike common perception, almost all movements of running should be passive, except for the push off phase.  These first few drills allow the runner to learn these passive motions in an active way.  The stride rate not only requires higher speed of passive movements, but the ability to “fire” and contract  muscles quickly. 

Drill                                           Focus                                                              Purpose
Learn how to do High Knees
This drill focuses on driving the knee forward
Form Movement
Learn how to do Butt Kicks
Drive the heel of the foot toward your butt
Form Movement
Learn how to do Egg Shells
Fire your legs up and down as quickly as possible
Muscular Adaptation

"Increase Strength = Increase Stride Length"
(3 Variations)    
Learn how to Bound.  This drill allows for an Athlete to develop a longer stride length.  Without worrying about stride rate, the athlete can focus on taking the longest stride per step possible.  This drill needs to be practiced properly as an athlete can develop an “overstride” which can lead to inefficiencies and injury.
High Skips
Learn how to High Skip.  High Skips are a variation of the Bounding technique where an athlete develops the push off phase of running.  The over exaggerated arm swing allows for a higher jump and therefore requires more strength on impact yet can develop a stronger push off phase. 
This drill is a variation of Skips and is used by many jumpers.  The only subtracted difference is there is no “skip” phase between push offs.  This drills focuses on force production rather than stride length, or rate.  This bounding drill requires and develops the most strength.  

Active Movements
"Sustains Momentum = Increase Efficiency"
Straight Legged Bounding
Learn out to Straight-Leg Bound.  While this drill does not focus on stride rate or length, High Kicks allow for an athlete to better understand how their foot should make contact with the ground.  The foot should have a constant “pulling” motion rather than the usual “stop and go” impact that usually occurs with most runners. 
Learn how to use the Falling Drill (“Segway” drill in Video).  This drill teaches an athlete the proper lean for running which is usually a neglected part of running education.  As described above, running is almost an entirely passive motion.  The proper lean forward recruits and allows passive motions to take place more efficiently. 
Tip: While on a treadmill, lean on the forward handle while running.  This will allow you to practice the forward lean while running without feeling uncomfortable and unsafe.
Backwards Running
Learn how to use the Backwards Running drill.  With this drill an athlete can more easily experience and recognize the “falling” motion that should be felt when running forwards. After the feeling is learned, the athlete can apply this experience of “falling” or consistent momentum when running regularly. 
We may do drills regularly, and may even execute them properly, but we don’t always actively think of each drills purpose.  We passively execute drill after drill without consciously thinking about what we are developing.  The next time you do your drills, actively think about what you’re doing to properly execute and learn the required movements and adaptations.  Tune in week to week for more information!