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Showing posts with label road running. Show all posts
Showing posts with label road running. Show all posts

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Capital Backyard Training - One Month Out



Capital Backyard Ultra, which I fully intend to be my longest distance run ever, is only about a month away. This means that the beginning of my taper period is less than a month away and that the longest training plan I have ever used is coming to an end. This training block has been the most gradual, consistent, and intentional training I have ever submitted myself to following. Probably even more so than the plans I used for my first marathon and hundred mile distance races, which were basically the only times I used and followed a training plan. Even in those situations, I didn’t follow the plan verbatim; I used them more as an outline to follow. My plan to prepare for Capital Backyard has been similar. I don’t have specific daily mileage runs at certain effort levels. The whole purpose of the plan I came up with and decided to follow was to build an increased base for sustained endurance gradually without injuring myself.

How did I go about that? It was a pretty simple idea and plan altogether. I took my December running mileage and calculated my average daily mileage for the month (5.94 miles/day). Now, the plan was to just run a higher average daily mileage in January and continue to increase that daily average for February, March, and April. There are no rest days built in, no built in cross training days, no scheduled long runs or speed workouts. None of that typical training plan stuff that a coach would probably include. It has been more or less all based on feel and how my body is reacting and when it is ready to be pushed, using that average daily mileage figure as the target. November and December were supposed to be my “off season” or recovery months after last year’s racing, but we had a pretty mild winter and I really didn’t cut back on running as much as I had intended, so my starting base mileage for this training plan was greater than I originally thought it would be. I thought this might spell trouble for me when trying to incrementally build my mileage each month, but I’ve been able to hit all of my monthly mileage goals thus far without a great deal of difficulty.

Training mileage so far...

That’s not to say there haven’t been a few speed bumps and challenges along the way. Life happens and schedules become disrupted, but I believe if you’re committed to a goal you’ll adapt and find a way to make it happen. My family went through a one and a half week bout with a stomach flu in January. Snowstorms made it difficult to get out for runs on multiple occasions. Most recently, a case of colds and sinus congestion made their rounds through our household which we still have a few lingering symptoms from and are in what I hope are the final stages of recovery. Through all the challenges, the goal never felt out of reach.

Now that the training is nearly complete, the question remains as to whether it was ever a good plan at all. The backyard racing format is still in its infancy. There is a wealth of data to support the science of good and bad training for most race distances. This is not the case for the unique structure, demands, and strategy of the backyard race format. Whether this plan I followed was good or bad will not be determined until the end of Memorial Day weekend when my race at Capital Backyard Ultra is concluded. I am confident and excited for the race. I have high hopes for my day there. I am excited to run through two consecutive nights. I intend to PR my greatest distance ever run and finally surpass that 200 mile distance milestone then continue to see how much farther I can go before breaking. The ultimate goal is to be the last person standing; that is the point of the race. The “B” goal for me is to push until I break, to never quit, but time out on a lap due to sheer exhaustion and inability to continue the required pace. If I achieve either of those goals, I believe it will provide some validation to my training plan.




Scott Snell
24 April 2022

Monday, April 4, 2022

Capital Backyard Training - Month Three - March





March has come and gone, but training doesn't stop! I hit 244.65 miles in March for a daily average of 7.89 miles. I am right on track for my four month training plan to build up my mileage to prepare for what I hope to be a distance PR (over 150 miles) for me at Capitol Backyard Ultra. My training in March went super smooth. I was a little under my target daily mileage average for the first three weeks, but I knew I had a 42 mile run to celebrate my birthday on my schedule for the third weekend of the month. I was sure that long run would pull my average above my target and it certainly did as I comfortably increased in daily mileage from February to March by 5.64%.



Now I just have to do it again in April then sneak in a long run in early May and it will be time to roll into a taper. I was uncertain about attempting this type of mileage build up as a training plan in January, but with only a month and a half of training time left, everything is going splendidly and I am confident I’ll hit the mileage goal (a higher average daily mileage than March) I have set for April! With hard work and dedication, goals can be reached. Look out Capital Backyard; I’m going to be ready!




Scott Snell
April 4, 2022










Thursday, March 24, 2022

St. Jude Fundraising Success and a Happy Birthday Run




I am so happy and excited to report that my fundraising effort for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® has been a complete success this year! Thanks to the generous donations of friends and family, we have raised nearly $600 through the St. Jude Heroes program and I couldn’t be happier about it. I am so grateful to everyone for their contributions!


This success is in stark contrast to last year’s fundraising effort. Last year I ran three events (a birthday 41 miler, Adventure Trail 24 Hour, and Keystone Backyard Ultra) and incorporated a fundraising component. After the three running and fundraising efforts, I came up short of my fundraising goal so I donated a portion of my cash prize from Keystone Backyard Ultra to reach my fundraising goal of $250. This year my fundraising goal was exceeded after the first running event I had lined up, my birthday 42 mile run.


And for an extra thick layer of icing on the cake, my 42 mile birthday run went really well, but not without a few challenges along the way. First off was a small change of plans due to some less than pleasant and potentially dangerous weather. I had planned to run the bulk of the 42 miles on a stretch of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. However, leading up to the Saturday I had planned to run, the weather forecast was predicting showers and potentially severe thunderstorms. I decided to push my run back one day and run on some local trails instead when the weather forecast looked better. Well, Saturday arrived and what I expected to be a rainy washout of a day was a beautiful, sunny day. I decided to make hay while the sun was shining and headed out to run early in the afternoon after the threat of thunderstorms was nil.



An additional challenge was also weather related. Getting a later start than I had planned, the bulk of my run was during the warmest part of the day and it was a pretty warm mid March day with highs reaching the low 70’s. The local trails I run on are only a few miles from home for me, so I figured I’d wear my hydration vest, return home once to refill and then finish the bulk of my 42 miles on the trail. Well, I made it to 22 miles when I stopped to refill my bottles, but I ran through my fluids much more quickly during the second half of my run. With seven miles left and no fluids, I decided it was time to head home and refill. With only about five miles left to go after my second refill stop, I decided to just finish my run on roads around my neighborhood. Although I planned to do more on trails, overall the run was a nice mix of roads and trails. Not to mention, it felt good to get a faster road mile in at the end.

A final challenge that had to be faced during this run was the fact that it had been a decent amount of time since my last long run. My last LONG run was at the Last Squatch Standing at the end of August 2021, over six months ago. I had run a few runs around or slightly over 20 miles since then, but nothing where you get to that exhaustion point when your brain says “quit” and you have to mentally overcome the desire to stop. It is a real mental challenge that seems to me to be more manageable when it is familiar. In other words, I find it’s harder to run long distances if it’s been awhile since I’ve run a long distance. Thankfully, I was able to reacquaint myself with my old frenemy and see my run through to its end.


This was my running my second consecutive year of running my age in miles to celebrate my birthday. For me, this is a fun way to celebrate being alive. It also is a great way to get an early, easy paced long run in to kick off the training season. For those reasons, I intend to celebrate my birthday this way every year as long as I am still capable.




Scott Snell
March 24, 2022




Learn more about my fundraising goal here: https://www.beastcoasttrailrunning.com/2022/02/2022-st-jude-heroes-fundraising-campaign.html




Direct link to St. Jude donation page: https://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=6955516&pg=personal&fr_id=130587



Friday, December 3, 2021

The Importance of "Maintenance Runs"



Beast Coast Trail Running - Maintenance Miles


Long term success doesn't happen overnight.


I know some runners who always have a race on their calendar. It seems like they race nearly every weekend. Which is great if that works for them and keeps them interested and excited about running. I know it’s not for me for a few reasons. First, my running budget would get stretched pretty thin very quickly covering that many registration fees. Second, I try to make family time the priority on the weekends and I don’t want to make that family time unpleasant for everyone else by dragging them along for my hobby. I typically only race about 3-6 times a year. Between those races I’m just focused on training and preparing for the next. I know other runners who don’t race at all. That’s one of the beautiful aspects of running; you can shape it to be what benefits and fits your lifestyle best.

Lately, I’m in what I would consider my offseason. My last race was in August and the next one on my schedule isn’t until May of next year. While I’m a pretty goal oriented person and having a race on the horizon keeps me motivated to keep training, I feel like it’s important to have some down time during the year to allow the mind and body to recover rather than constantly pushing. However, you don’t want to totally fall off and lose all fitness during that recovery period. To keep myself motivated during this longer period without racing that I am in the midst of, I’ve taken to referring to my runs as “maintenance runs”.

Maintenance runs aren’t sexy and don’t bring the excitement of training for a big race. You don’t feel the anticipation of an approaching race day. You aren’t celebrating gains recognized or breakthrough workouts.They don’t culminate to an anxiety inducing taper period with a long day of racing looming. So what is good about them? Easy, they keep you from having to restart from what feels like zero and rebuild fitness when you dive into training for your next race.

For me, doing maintenance runs feels natural. I ran without racing at all long enough to appreciate running for benefits other than those associated with racing. However, since getting into ultrarunning about six years ago I have raced enough to feel like something is missing from running when I don’t have short term race goals to work towards. Reframing my runs as “maintenance runs'' has helped me to continue to run with passion and anticipation for when I do have a race coming up on my calendar. It’s mainly just a change of perspective or purpose, but I have found it to help me during this longer period without racing that I am working my way through. It helps me to consider the larger picture. For me, running isn’t about nailing an insane training block or running the perfect race. It’s great when that happens, but consistency and longevity are more important big picture goals to me than a few stand out performances. Including some downtime during the year to just run for the sake of running and maintain a base level of fitness is important to achieve those bigger picture goals. After all, long term success doesn't happen overnight.

Scott Snell
December 3, 2021

Monday, November 29, 2021

Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

When I got comfortable with an uncomfortable heat index of 109.7°F at Wildcat Ridge Romp.

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” It’s a phrase or mantra you hear or read sprinkled throughout the ultrarunning world. It’s a concept that I’ve embraced and I feel like it has served me well in my ultrarunning experiences. In fact, sometimes I feel that I am more comfortable with being uncomfortable than I am with indulging in extravagant comforts. But what does it really mean and how does one become comfortable with experiencing discomfort? Is it a trick you play on yourself? Do you just learn to lie to yourself really well and believably? Or is it just straight up denial?

When I got comfortable with being uncomfortable at Eastern States 2017.

To me, it is more than just a matter of denying the facts. In the phrase itself we’re acknowledging a feeling of discomfort (“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”). We’re accepting the discomfort as fact and simply altering our reaction to that feeling. Rather than having a knee jerk, panicky reaction to the discomfort with the question of “How do I stop this discomfort?” we’ve trained our minds to recognize and accept the discomfort and react in a much more metered and controlled manner.

For me it’s usually a process of analyzing the situation and going through a checklist of questions:


1. How bad is this and is it going to worsen?

This is the “don’t fix what’s not broken” stage. If it’s not that bad, just don’t worry about it. Eventually it will probably resolve itself or you’ll just grow accustomed to the minor discomfort. View this as an opportunity to set your baseline threshold for discomfort. If you run long enough, there is going to be some level of discomfort at some point. When that discomfort begins to appear, greet it with open arms. Be grateful it is no longer hiding in the shadows. Use this baseline discomfort as a measurement tool to determine if it’s increasing or just persisting.


2. Is there anything I can do to resolve it right now?

Fix it if you can. The example of debris in your shoe is the classic example of this. Stop and get the crap out of your shoe before it creates a larger problem like a blister. If you can’t fix it now, can you fix it at the next aid station? Is it chafing that some vaseline will resolve? Aid station volunteers are some of the most helpful groups of people I have ever met. I believe they genuinely want to see all runners succeed and they will do whatever they can to assist with that. Just ask for help.


3. How serious is this and am I going to further injure myself if I continue?

This is the million dollar question. Sometimes distinguishing between superficial and serious injuries can be difficult, especially when your mind and body are both exhausted. Phantom injuries can quickly not only justify accepting a DNF, but convince you that it is the smart thing to do. Do your best to assess the pain/injury as objectively as possible. Try to get a third party opinion from someone who wants to see you keep going (like an aid station or medical volunteer) and not from someone who it will hurt to see you suffer (like a spouse, assuming your spouse is not a masochist).

It’s the reaction to the discomfort that is really important and to me that is what the phrase is all about: YOUR reaction. Of course I am not suggesting that you hobble the last 20 miles or so of an ultra on a broken leg or continue on after suffering a bad fall and showing signs of a concussion. Injury is a valid and respectable reason to DNF. I am not a big fan of another common phrase (“Death Before DNF”) that makes its way around the ultrarunning world. I mean, I like the idea of refusing to quit, but I don’t take it that far. I’m pretty sure people say it because they think it sounds kinda badass, but when you evaluate it a bit more honestly I would hope you realize rather quickly that you are more valuable to someone alive than dead at an ultramarathon. I know that’s the case for me.

So I encourage you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, but only to a certain degree. You don’t want to cause further injury or do irreparable harm to yourself just to finish a race. Sometimes it feels like a fine line to walk, but I guess that’s part of the fun of ultras. There’s so much uncertainty and so many “what if”s. And that’s part of the reason why I am so drawn to them. They’re challenging and complex in so many regards for achieving the simple purpose of getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible.

Beast coast trail chafing
When I got comfortable with being uncomfortable at Eastern States 2019.




Scott Snell
November 29, 2021

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Post Inspiration 4 St. Jude Fundraising Effort - Asking Billionaires For Help


As some of you may know, earlier this year I attempted to tie in a fundraising effort with several of my races. I set up a St. Jude Heroes fundraising page so all donations would go directly to and benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. After that I linked it to a Facebook fundraiser page to make it easier for people to donate. Then I attempted to promote it. I started it off with a celebratory birthday run where I ran my age in miles (41). I shared this on my social media platforms and asked that anyone who intended to get me a birthday present to please donate to the fundraiser instead. I received a few donations from friends and family.

I didn’t get as many donations as I had hoped. I thought if I went bigger, I would surely get more donations. I tied the fundraiser to my first race of the year, a 24 hour trail race. I set up a pledge system for anyone to donate any amount per mile they like prior to the race. Unfortunately I didn’t have any takers. I thought, “maybe 24 hours isn't enough.” I updated the pledge system for my next race, The Keystone Backyard Ultra, which I was sure would go longer than 24 hours. I was right in my assumption about it going longer (I ran for almost 31 hours), however I was wrong about thinking that going bigger would garner more donations. It was the longest and farthest I had ever run. I was really happy about my performance, but it would have been much sweeter if I had been able to secure any pledges.

After three running “events” that I had attempted to use to help raise funds for St. Jude I had garnered a total of 7 donations totaling $185. I was still $65 away from my fundraising goal of $250 (the base amount for St. Jude Heroes). I concluded that I’m far better at running ultras than fundraising. I got first place at the two races I ran as a part of this fundraising effort, but was still only about 75% of the way to my fundraising goal. Thankfully, I received a cash prize of $12.50 per lap (4.1667 miles) run for a total prize of $387.50! I donated a portion of that prize money to reach my base fundraising goal.

I was happy to have reached my goal, but the fundraising effort still felt like a failure to me as the only reason I reached my target amount was due to me donating. I decided fundraising isn’t my forte. I didn’t give it too much thought after that and tried to move on just focusing on running. Then, as a Bibrave Pro ambassador, I registered to run and promote the Inspiration 4 mile virtual run, a part of which was a fundraising component. It kinda felt like fate had brought this fundraising effort back into my life, and coincidence or not, of all the fundraisers that the Inspiration 4 mission could have chosen to support, they chose St. Jude as I did six months earlier.


The Inspiration 4 fundraising goal was inspiring, as it should have been given the name. They aimed to raise 200 million dollars for St. Jude and were successful in doing so. The success was in large part due to generous donations from two people heavily involved in the mission, Elon Musk ($50 million) and crew member, Jared Isaacman ($100 million). The flight was operated by SpaceX, founded by Musk, and procured by Isaacman.

After following the Inspiration 4 mission and promoting the virtual run, it made my earlier fundraising efforts seem pretty trivial. I know every bit counts, but $200 million counts a whole lot more than the $250 I raised. Then I realized, I was asking friends and family to donate. These are all people with budgets pretty similar to me when compared to billionaires. They might have donated 10, 20, or 50 dollars, which I greatly appreciate, but I doubt anyone I have in my circle of friends and family is going to donate thousands of dollars (let alone millions) no matter how far I run. That’s when I realized, I should have been asking billionaires to donate.

The Inspiration 4 crew traveled to an altitude of 364 miles, making the round trip (just accounting for distance from earth and back) 728 miles. Strictly considering the distance away from and back to earth, Musk and Isaacman’s per mile donations were $68,681.32 and $137,362.64 respectively. I ran 150 miles at my last race, fueled primarily by carbs and not rocket fuel. If either Musk or Isaacman had pledged the same rate for my run I would have raised $10,302,197.80 from Musk or $20,604,395.60 from Isaacman.


So this is my ask of a billionaire out there. Let’s continue to inspire even after the mission of the Inspiration 4 has been completed. It was an inspiring project to see four civilians travel into orbit. Especially when one of those civilians, Hayley Arceneaux, is a cancer survivor, was a St. Jude patient, and is now a physician assistant at St. Jude. I will be running another race in May 2022, Capital Backyard Ultra, that I plan to go even farther than my last. I would like to attempt to tie another fundraising effort in with this race as I did past ones, but fear the results will be the same as before. Is a 41 year old father of three boys who recovered from a hip surgery and now runs 100+ mile ultras as inspiring as the Inspiration 4 mission? Probably not in most people’s opinions. But maybe it adds a fifth pillar to the four pillars of humanity (leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity) represented by the four crew members of Inspiration 4. I would suggest that my story and likely even more so many others’ could represent the pillar of persistence, the undying tenacity of the human spirit to continue forth despite undue suffering and grim odds. The quality of persistence is a common recurring trait throughout many of the most influential turning points in human history; doesn’t it deserve a place as one of the pillars of humanity?


If you would like to support my fundraising efforts, donations can be made at my St. Jude Heroes fundraising page. Want to pledge a per mile donation based on how far I run at the Capital Backyard Ultra? Fill out this Google form and donate when the results are posted.


Thank you for any and all support!


Scott Snell
October 16, 2021

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Why I Registered For The Inspiration4 Miler Virtual Run



"Disclaimer: I received a free registration to the Inspiration4 Miler Virtual Run to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!”

If you recognize the above quote, then I’m sure one of the reasons why I registered for the Inspiration4 Miler Virtual Run is obvious. The quote is the introduction that began every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Spoken by Captain Jean’Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise, these words and his voice are pretty well etched into my memory. While I am by no means a card carrying trekkie, I did watch my share of Star Trek among other space themed sci-fi shows and movies. So, when I heard about the Inspiration4 Miler Virtual Run I was immediately intrigued. I had heard about a plan for an all civilian mission to orbit, but this was the first I had heard of the name “Inspiration4” and the associated virtual run. I think that some degree of fascination and awe of space travel and wonder of what is “out there” in that seemingly limitless expanse are pretty common human feelings. I view this mission as setting a benchmark of sorts of how far we have come in our advancements in space travel in the last few decades. And the fact that running is now tied in with it, even better! Sign me up!


A second reason I signed up so readily for this virtual run was the incorporated fundraising aspect of Inspiration4. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
® is the charitable beneficiary of the mission. As such, the fundraising goal of the mission is to raise $200 million to support the lifesaving work of St. Jude. As a St. Jude Hero, I fundraised for St. Jude earlier this year raising $250 by incorporating fundraising with long distance runs. As one of my preferred nonprofit organizations, St. Jude being named as the charitable beneficiary of this mission motivated me even more to be involved in this history making event in some way.


Lastly, a final reason I was motivated to sign up for this event was the cool swag and how much my kids seemed to love it. When I showed the hat, long sleeve shirt, and the medal with the Inspiration4 logo to my kids, they were super pumped about it, so much so that I ordered the shirt size for my son and told my other son that he could have the finisher medal as long as they both ran it with me. To my delight, they both agreed! Anytime I can share a running experience with my boys is a blessing! Photos of them and their new swag to come! If you'd like to get on board, register here!


Thursday, June 17, 2021

Floundering: Battling the Post Race Blues



The post race blues are not unique to me. Heck, I’m sure it’s not even unique to runners. From the other runners I’ve talked to about them, it seems to be pretty common among most runners. We work hard and sacrifice dedicating a great deal of time all to achieve a singular goal on race day. Then race day comes and goes; we either succeed or we don’t. Regardless of the outcome, following a race I’m always grateful for having the ability and the opportunity to experience the process of training for something that challenges me. I’m also thankful that I have the mindset and the support to even make an attempt at goals that actually frighten me. But when the excitement of race day has passed and the body has recovered, that’s when the post race blues can start to creep up on you. Sometimes it’s sudden, other times they sneak up on you so gradually you don’t even notice it until they’ve taken root.

It’s been about a month since my last race and with no races on my calendar, I’m just starting to feel a bit down. I think I was able to ride the high from my last race (Keystone Backyard Ultra) for several weeks following it because it went so well. Usually I plan my year out ahead of time so when I recover from one race I am excited to start training to prepare for what’s next. This year I left my schedule a bit open, being uncertain of what races would actually happen and entertaining the idea of going after a longer FKT attempt rather than racing. Now with the two races I was registered for this year over, as I started trying to plan out the rest of my year I found myself feeling extremely indecisive and having trouble committing to any race.

It didn’t occur to me until just recently as I was deciding on how and where to run my long run this weekend. I’m planning on recording a 206 minute run to complete the Chase the Sun BUFF Challenge on Strava. Originally I planned to make some progress on my project to run every single street of Egg Harbor Township. Then I wasn’t feeling real excited about that. Usually for those runs I’m stopping frequently to check my map and make sure I’m not missing any small streets and to remind myself of my route. It’s not really the ideal way to run if you just want to focus on letting your mind wander as you click off miles. So then I thought I’d just run laps at the EHT Nature Reserve since it’s been a long time since doing a long run there. Eventually I found myself floundering between the two options, unable to decide.

That’s when I realized I wasn’t feeling excited about either. It was the same feeling I was having when considering potential races to register for. I would look up races and think that they sound cool and would be fun, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I’m attributing these feelings to the onset of the post race blues. It comforts me recognizing it now that I’ve had multiple bouts and knowing that it is temporary. Eventually, the spark is always reignited and until then I’m just grateful for being able to run and stay fit. Even if there isn’t a specific goal with a set date on the calendar, the physical and mental benefits of running always draw me back and make it well worth my time.

Sometimes, until the excitement returns and I need a little extra motivation to get out the door for a run, I’ll use some type of short term challenge or goal to attempt to create a spark. I mentioned earlier the Chase the Sun BUFF Challenge on Strava. Encouraging motivation is the exact reason I decided to take on this challenge. The purpose of the challenge is to celebrate the summer solstice (June 20) by logging 206 minutes of activity. I chose running and decided to run it in a single session. Why 206 minutes? This year, the summer solstice is on 20th June so the time challenge is inspired by the date: the 20th day of the 6th month.


Join me in this challenge by logging 206 minutes of activity (doesn't have to be running) by June 21st to celebrate the official start of summer and qualify for a 30% discount on selected BUFF® products. Or just join for the fun and extra motivation the challenge will provided.



Scott Snell

June 17, 2021





Friday, April 30, 2021

Combating Exercise Induced Immune System Suppression With Science In Sport Immune Tablets - Bibrave Product Review



"Disclaimer: I received Science In Sport Immune Tablets to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!"


I remember the first time I experienced it almost immediately after one of my long training runs preparing for my first marathon in 2009. It was probably a 17 or 18 mile run in some cooler temperatures in late February or early March. Soon after arriving back home, I started sniffling, sneezing, and just suddenly feeling like I was hit with a very sudden and quick onset of a bad cold. In all my years of running I had never experienced this before. However, I was also running a greater volume and the longer distances than I had ever run before. Little did I know how much impact endurance training and workouts can have on the performance of your immune system. In fact, Nieman (2007) reports that exercise induced changes can adversely impact the immune system in multiple ways and may last between 3 and 72 hours. Thankfully for me, my initial experience with exercise induced immune system suppression was nearer the shorter time period of that range and all of my symptoms seemed to disappear as quickly as they presented themselves, just a few hours after I got out of a warm bath.

So what do us runners who enjoy running for prolonged periods do to combat having constantly suppressed immune systems due to our running habits? Nieman (1998) reported that the data from two studies examining carbohydrate ingestion of marathon runners and triathletes suggest that overall physiologic stress is diminished in the groups of athletes that were given a carbohydrate ingestion treatment compared to athletes receiving a placebo treatment based on hormonal and immune responses. The carbohydrate treatment in these studies was consumed in the form of a carbohydrate beverage (think Gatorade or Tailwind) while running or cycling. The data (Figure 2) supports the hypothesis model diagramed in Figure 1 showing that carbohydrate ingestion during prolonged workouts results in high plasma glucose levels and reduced cortisol levels which ultimately helps to counter negative impacts to immune system function (Nieman, 1998).








That’s great to know, but most of us runners are already hydrating during our long runs with some type of carbohydrate beverage. Is there anything post workout that can help lessen the negative impacts of prolonged exercise on the immune system? Step up Science In Sport (SIS) immune tablets, it is your time to shine! These effervescent tablets quickly dissolve in water and are designed to maintain healthy immune system function after intense or prolonged physical efforts. Each SIS immune tablet provides vitamin C (200 mg) and iron (2.5 mg) in addition to key electrolytes that help aid rehydration following exercise. Vitamin C is a highly effective antioxidant that contributes to immune defense in a multitude of ways by supporting cellular functions (Carr and Maggini, 2017). Zinc is an essential trace element that affects the integrity of the immune system in many ways including acting as a cofactor in over 300 enzymes that influence organ functions and have indirect impacts on the immune system (Dardenne, 2002; Rink, 2007).


So the science behind Science in Sport immune tablets checks out, but how did they work for me. I began using SIS immune tablets daily about 3 weeks before my first 24 hour race. I always tend to get nervous about getting sick leading up to a race, so this was the ideal time for me to take any and every precaution to avoid any kind of cold or respiratory issues. The first item to note is the taste. Like all the other SIS products I have tried, the flavor of their immune tablets impressed me compared to workout supplements produced by other brands. I usually find the flavor of most supplements to be overpowering or too sweet. That was not the case with SIS immune tablets. I began looking forward to a tall, cool glass of their light orange flavor during my runs.


But did they work? Did they do what they claim to do?

Well, I didn’t get sick at all leading up to the 24 hour race I was preparing for while using SIS immune tablets daily. Additionally, I didn’t get sick at all following the 24 hour race where I put my body (immune system included) through some pretty serious stress considering the length and intensity of the effort and the sleep deprivation. While I can’t say that my good health was solely the result of using SIS immune tablets, they very well likely played a role and at the very least they gave me the mental comfort of knowing that I was taking additional precautions to protect myself and set myself up as best I could to achieve my goals on race day. So at the end of the day, SIS immune tablets will likely become a standard pre race and post race practice for me.

Literature Cited


Carr, A.C. and S. Maggini. 2017. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients 9(11): 1211.

Dardennene, M. 2002. Zinc and Immune Function. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (56): 20-23. 

Nieman, D.C. 1998. Influence of Carbohydrate on the Immune Response to Intensive, Prolonged Exercise. Exercise Immunology Review (4): 64-76.

Nieman, D.C. 2007. Marathon Training and Immune Function. Sports Medicine (37): 412-415. 

Rink, L. 2007. Zinc and the Immune System. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 541-552.












Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K Race Report



"Disclaimer: I received a free registration to the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"


It’s Virtual! I Got to Run Where and When I Wanted!

I’ll be the first to say it, I miss in real life racing. I miss getting to the starting line with other runners. I miss visiting new places and discovering new areas to run as a result of going to races. I miss the excitement of crowds along a race route and the energy boost they provide. I miss the feeling of an actual finish line and meeting and chatting with other runners there over bananas and bagels. I miss all those things that were a part of in real life races that I took for granted. But COVID, but COVID, but COVID… those two terrible words. At least we still have the option to run events virtually to give us a taste of what we’re missing. And as much as virtual events lack compared to IRL events, they do present their own unique benefits.

Virtual events of course negate the need for travel plans and save all the associated costs making them simpler and more affordable. They are also much easier to work into a busy schedule making them more accessible. Don’t like running in the morning? With a virtual race you don’t have to. You’re busy the day of the event? No problem! Run it the day before or the day after. Or run it a week before as I did with the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K because I’ll be busy running a 24 hour race on the day of the event. Lastly, virtual events allow you to choose where you run and what kind of terrain you run on. I was indecisive as to whether I wanted to run on roads or trails for the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K so I ended up running both on consecutive days because why not?


It Had Been Awhile Since I Had Tried to Run Fast.

One of my goals was to actually try to race this 15K and run it as fast as possible. Well, I did not follow through with this goal. With a racing goal that has been on my “to do” list falling on the same day as the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K I decided to make some adjustments. I have wanted to test myself by running a 24 hour race for the last 3 years or so. I finally registered for a 24 hour race in April last year which was cancelled (COVID) and rescheduled to April 17th 2021, the same date as the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K. Thankfully with the Hot Chocolate 15K being virtual I could run it a week in advance. Even so, I did not want to push too hard for it as I wanted to be completely recovered and in top shape for my 24 hour race. Maybe it sounds like an excuse, but I have what may be some lofty goals for the 24 hour race and I don’t want to set myself up for failure or with excuses when things get tough there, which I expect them to at some point.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the Official Charity Partner.

A major reason why I ran the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K was because the race is an official charity partner of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The mission of St. Jude Children’s Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. I love what they stand for as a nonprofit organization and the fact that no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food. This was such a motivating factor for me to run this race that after registering I decided to start an additional fundraising campaign through the St. Jude Heroes program to raise funds as I train for and run ultramarathons this year.


The Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K Delivered on the Chocolate and Swag!

Another reason I decided to run the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K was a simple one: the chocolate. My kids are pretty big fans of all things chocolate. I figured I’ll run the race and whatever swag and chocolate goodies I get can be shared with them. We’ll both get some of our favorites; it will be a win win!


And what a win it was! My kids loved the chocolates and the hot chocolate mix! They also got a pretty big kick out of the unique finishers medal that flips open to reveal a storage area for more chocolate. And for me, the zip up hoodie is super comfortable, warm, and fits great!

While I’ll never be able to say that I believe virtual races can adequately replace in real life races, I don’t think they necessarily have to. I believe the two can coexist. For the time being and until we can safely get back to larger in real life races, virtual races will help me to tide my racing appetite and continue to enjoy my obsession with running.


Scott Snell
April 14, 2021



Saturday, February 20, 2021

WhitePaws RunMitts Gear Review



Because Runners Don’t Take Winters Off

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Whitepaws Runmitts to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

The reason why I was so excited to try out WhitePaws RunMitts this winter is in the company’s marketing slogan: “Because Runners Don’t Take Winters Off.” As a runner who prefers running in hotter than comfortable temps rather than colder than comfortable temps, I figured I needed some WhitePaws RunMitts in my life to stay active and motivated to run through the winter months. Since I’ve tried them on and worn them for a few test runs, here’s some of the features about them that have been real standouts for me.


They Do What They’re Supposed to Do Well - Keep Your Hands Warm!

I know this one should go without saying, but I’ve used enough other subpar mittens and gloves that just don’t cut it with the one job they’re supposed to do, keeping my hands and fingers warm. The temperature during the coldest training run I wore my WhitePaws RunMitts for was in the mid-twenties. It wasn’t dangerously cold like the MidWest winters I remember while growing up, but with the gusty winds it was uncomfortably cold. Thankfully, my WhitePaws RunMitts kept my hands and fingers protected and warm!


Built in Pocket for Hand Warmers. Very Nice!

I haven’t had the need to use the built in pockets for hand warming pouches for extra warmth in extremely cold conditions as of yet, but I appreciate the option being available. Having used ski gloves with hand warming pouches during some longer, colder days on the slopes, I know what a game changer those hand warmers can be. Having this option makes longer winter trail runs or all day hikes way more attractive to me.


Access to Fingers for When You Need Dexterity.

The fact that WhitePaws RunMitts allow you quick and easy access to your fingers via their patented (US9220307B2) clingable cap gives you the dexterity you need without a hassle. The top of the glove flips open freeing your fingers when you need them and then easily closes again. Here’s a short (and by no means complete) list of a few instances when this feature has been super handy for me:
  • Working zippers - Sometimes you just need your fingers to make a zipper work. I’ve found myself plenty of times on a ski lift taking off and putting on my gloves just to be able to access my zippered pocket contents.
  • Opening energy gel packs - Maybe some people can pull it off, but I just can’t seem to get the traction or dexterity I need to open a gel packet while wearing gloves. On top of it, I don’t want sticky gel goop getting all over my gloves. WhitePaws RunMitts solves this conundrum!
  • Tying your shoes - Just try to tie your shoelaces with your favorite pair of gloves on. I’ve tried it on bitter cold days when I was being stubborn about removing my gloves; every time it ended with me giving up and taking my gloves off.
  • Using your phone - Whether you’re checking a map, answering/making a call, or snapping a running selfie with friends, sometimes you need your fingers to get that touch screen to work!
  • Nature calls - I won’t go into the details here. You can probably figure it out.
  • Adjusting your Aftershokz - If you use Aftershokz you know, some of those buttons to skip tracks or adjust the volume are small! You almost need that skin contact just to feel the button you’re looking for. WhitePaws RunMitts to the rescue!
If you’d like to give a pair WhitePaws RunMitts a try, use discount code “BIBRAVE5” for $5 off all 2020 WhitePaws RunMitts mittens, expires 3/31/21.


And if you like love stories, check out this stop motion animation love story between Whitepaws Runmitts and Hotties Hand Warmers: https://youtu.be/ru-2gAt8-Po



Here are a few links to other BibRavePro's reviews:









Saturday, February 6, 2021

Why I’m Running the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K

 

"Disclaimer: I received a free registration to the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"



It’s Virtual and Won’t Be Cancelled!

If 2020 taught me anything, it’s that life is unpredictable. I never expected movie theaters, restaurants, and parks to be shut down due to a global pandemic, but it happened. As such, most of my running goals had to be postponed as they were based on events that were cancelled. I don’t know what this year entails. I am hopeful that in person racing will return, but I’m hedging my bets by diversifying with some virtual options like the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K. It’s a race that I know will not get cancelled and gives me a dependable goal with a set deadline to work towards.

  

It’s Been Awhile Since I Tried to Run Fast.

I haven’t run an actual race shorter than an ultra distance in almost two years and I was feeling the need for some extra motivation to do some speedwork. What better way to motivate myself to do some faster runs and speedwork than to sign up for a 15K? With it having been so long since I pushed my pace for any amount of time, I’m excited to see what kind of time I’m able to pull off. It also makes it particularly challenging to set a time goal. My base goal, which I think I should be able to achieve is to run sub 8 minute miles. My upper tiered goal is to finish in under 1:10.


St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the Official Charity Partner.

The mission of St. Jude Children’s Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. I love what they stand for as a nonprofit organization and the fact that no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food. 

Additionally, St. Jude Children's Hospital has consistently received high ratings from from Charity Navigator. Their most recent is a four star rating, the highest rating possible, with 100/100 for accountability and transparency and 87.87/100 in financial. 


My Kids Like Chocolate!

The final reason I registered for the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K is a simple one: because my kids are pretty big fans of hot chocolate. Each Virtual Run registration includes a Chocolate Finisher’s Kit! They serve delicious dark chocolate that is gluten free and has no compounds. It's not a problem for me, but if you have a nut allergy; no worries! Their chocolate is nut free. I figured I’ll run it and share the hot chocolate swag with them. We’ll both get some of our favorites; it will be a win win!

 
If you’re planning to sign up, use code “BRHC20” to receive a free Hot Chocolate running hat with your swag package!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Egg Nog Slog - 48 Ounces of Egg Nog Over the Course of a One Mile Sprint - What Could Go Wrong?




So Christmas 2020 was a little different than past ones. And why shouldn’t it have been, pretty much all of 2020 felt out of the ordinary thanks to COVID. This year we found ourselves at home rather than visiting family. Without the family visits that our normal holiday routine revolves around, I tried to do something a bit festive that all of our friends and family near and far could enjoy. I ran an egg nog mile. There was also still the question of whether I would enjoy it or not.

Beast Coast Trail Running Scott Snell prepping for an egg nog mile.
Southern Comfort Egg Nog!
 
I first heard of and thought about doing this in early December. I figured since COVID had forced me to cancel the Annual Fourth of July Hot Dog Run, this would be a fun event to fill the gap that was still vacant since the summer. I initially intended to just do a single serving (4 oz) per quarter mile. Then I started doing a bit of research, to determine how much egg nog one had to drink to run an egg nog mile. The first virtual egg nog mile event I found required participants to drink 1 pint (16 oz) of egg nog every quarter mile. When I saw this I backed off and decided that I did not want to chug a half gallon of egg nog while running a mile. But I did more research. I found a video of the egg nog mile world record which used the beer mile standard of 12 oz per quarter mile. Then I became aware of a virtual egg nog mile hosted by a NJ based group (Sassquad Trail Runners) that only required participants to consume 8 oz of egg nog per quarter mile. I concluded that the egg nog mile has not yet reached the widely accepted standardized level of the beer mile so whatever I chose to do wouldn’t be wrong. I opted to go with the 12 oz per quarter mile to remain consistent with the beer mile standard and to avoid chugging an entire half gallon of nog.

Beast Coast Trail Running Scott Snell drinking egg nog for an egg nog mile.
First glass down!

The anticipation for the run was a bit unnerving. Mentally I was preparing to eventually spew all of the egg nog back up at some point. The thought of which in itself unsettled my stomach. I’m not a huge egg nog fan to begin with, but I will have an occasional glass around Christmas. However, it’s usually a few servings for the entire month of December, not 12 servings chugged while running a mile. While preparing the morning of the event I was spending entirely too much time imagining what egg nog would taste like in projectile vomit form.

While combating this internal struggle, I set up the Facebook live stream so friends and family could watch in real time. Shortly after going live, the clock started and I chugged my first glass of egg nog. It went down quickly and didn’t upset my stomach. I made the quarter mile out and back on our street and grabbed my next glass. The second one was tougher to get down. Not because of stomach issues, it was just that I was breathing heavy from sprinting the quarter and was having trouble to down the thick egg nog while trying to catch my breath for the next run. My stomach still felt fine during the second quarter and I actually picked up the pace a little during that lap. The third glass took a little longer to drink and my stomach started feeling full while chugging it. It didn’t feel like it was upset, just full. I got it down and still managed to run my third quarter faster than my first. The last glass was the toughest to drink. At one point while trying to chug it I gagged a little and thought that I might barf. Thankfully I didn’t and was able to get it down and run my final lap.

Beast Coast Trail Running Scott Snell running an egg nog mile.
Focused on the time.

I felt the egg nog in my stomach the most during this final lap. It didn’t feel like I was going to lose it while running, but I could feel it just sloshing around in there. I finished in about 8:27 without any vomiting penalties (breakdown of time in table below). Once finished I began feeling the worst of it. I was having hot flashes and wondering if I was about to vomit at any moment as I pushed my kids on the swing in our front yard. It wasn’t pleasant, but it passed after a couple hours. By dinner time I was pretty much feeling back to normal.


The egg nog I drank contained 190 calories per serving. My 12 servings during the mile I ran delivered a whopping 2,280 calories into my system in less than 8.5 minutes. No wonder why I felt like I was going to vomit. Would I recommend others to try this? Yes! Would I do it again? Again, yes! But not until next Christmas and hopefully in person with more people.

Scott Snell
December 30, 2020


Time Breakdown:

Monday, December 21, 2020

2020 Goals Review


I’ve had the intention of beginning to write this 2020 running goals assessment blog for a week or two now. I’ve been thinking about it, but 2020 was anything but a typical year. How do I even attempt to objectively assess what progress I have made towards my goals when the very structure (organized races in this situation) pretty much ceased to exist. I’ve frequently heard this year described as a “dumpster fire” and I believe that many of the people using that term have good reason to do so. However, other than the cancelling of in person racing and virtual schooling for my children, I have skated by relatively unscathed by the major impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic. I never even ran out of toilet paper. And for this I am extremely grateful (the whole unscathed thing, I wouldn’t have been that upset about the TP thing; I poop in the woods). Even so, how easy it would have been to just quit on 2020 and not attempt any of my running goals! But I couldn’t have that. I reassessed, recalibrated, and adapted my goals to the new situation.

An effect of this process was my outlook on races and running. Without races, I had to test my beliefs about my true motivation to run. Had I been running to train for races or did I truly enjoy the process of training as I have preached? This idea and method of assessing my running goals developed for me this past weekend during my long run. I wasn’t sure how to approach this blog post and I wanted to run for a few hours so I figured I’d give it some thought while I run. It seems that I come up with more creative ideas and am better at problem solving while running. The ideas usually seem genius to me while running, but too often when I get back home they’ve lost their spark or I’ve completely forgotten them. During this past weekend’s long run I listened to music (something I don’t do regularly while running). A meaningwave song by Akira the Don with excerpts of audio of Jordan Peterson speaking about the value of music came on. While listening to it and running, I realized that what he was saying about music is what I feel about running: the “patterns” I find in a single run or over the course of months of runs with varying tempos, the emotional highs and lows, and the delivery of a feeling of transcendence when everything falls into place and is as it “should” be.

“I think the most accessible form for most people is music.

And music to me is the most representational form of art because I think that the world is made out of patterns.

And we perceive some patterns as objects but fundamentally it’s patterns and what you want is all the patterns of the world to interact harmoniously in something where every element is related intelligibly to every other element.

And I think that when your life is in harmony that you can feel that.

When you’re dancing to beautiful music you’re acting that out.

The music is the music of the spheres and you’re participating in the patterning of your being in accordance with that structure and that gives you an intimation of transcendence.”


---- Jordan Peterson ----


Based on my thoughts and feelings during this run, I don’t think my overall view of running changed, but the value I put on organized races may have been altered. It’s been over a year since I’ve done it, but I think I still love racing. Maybe not for the competition factor as much anymore, but maybe even more so than before for the fact that organized races provide us an opportunity to run some really cool trails in beautiful areas without having to put almost any work in on the logistics side of how to pull it off. 

So with that short introduction, or maybe it was a tangent, here’s my 2020 goals assessment....


2020 Goals:
  1. Run at least one 24 hour event (scratched)
  2. PR longest distance in a single run (>104.8 miles) (complete)
  3. Complete my "Run Every Single Street" of Egg Harbor Township project (progressed)
  4. Run at least one “last person standing” event (scratched)
  5. Volunteer at a local race with my son (altered)
With pretty much all running events cancelled (including the 24 hour race I was registered for), goals 1 and 4 were scratched from the list. I can’t very well run a race if races aren’t happening. I had intended to get my longest distance run accomplished at the 24 hour event that was cancelled. Even with races cancelled, this was something I could still complete. I did so by going after an FKT longer than any race I had ever run, the Batona trail out and back (about 106 miles). It wasn’t that much farther than what had been my longest distance (104.8 miles). I had hoped to increase that distance PR by more than just a mile or two, but an FKT had been on my “to do” list for a while and it would complete one of my goals. I would be able to at least check one goal off of my list and maybe still leave room to improve my distance PR next year.

Goal number 5 could have been scratched altogether for the same reason as goals 1 and 4, but I decided to alter it a bit and complete an adjusted goal. Rather than volunteering at a local race with my son as I had intended, we helped out with a couple organized clean ups along a multi use path that I run on occasionally. It wasn’t as much fun as I had expected volunteering at a trail race with my son would have been, but again I was forced to adapt to the situation. Rather than just give up and do nothing, I wanted to do something. I thought this was a good compromise that would still benefit the running community in my area. 

Last is goal number 3, to complete my “Run Every Single Street” of Egg Harbor Township project. This goal is the only one that was not impacted due to COVID-19 restrictions. Yet I still didn’t complete it. I’ve made quite a bit of progress as I am at almost 50% complete, but that’s only about the halfway point. Why didn’t I complete this one? The main reason is because of the self imposed rules or restrictions I have put on myself and the manner in which I intend to complete this project. When I started, I had planned to drive to starting points to run new streets once I surpassed the 25% complete threshold. Well, 25% came and went and I continued starting all of my runs to reach new streets from home. This of course adds lots of miles as I am “rerunning” the same roads to reach new roads. Is this the right way to do it? Is it the wrong way? I guess that’s part of what intrigued me with these every single street projects.The rules are up to you. Could I have finished by now if I had been driving to new starting points? Maybe. But I’d still like to see how close I can get to 100% before resorting to that option. 


So that was my running review of 2020. Definitely not the year I had hoped for, but I think that goes for everyone. I still got to run plenty of miles and achieved an FKT that I hadn’t even planned to go after so it’s not like it was all bad. I hope everyone else isn’t too disappointed with how their 2020 turned out and that they were able to find some silver linings somewhere along the way. Cheers to all, happy new year and here’s to hoping that all of your running dreams come true in 2021!



Scott Snell
December 21, 2020