Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Heart Rate Training for a Runner or Walker

Last weekend, I discussed the most important for runner to keep running. If I could pick what the second most important thing for beginning runners or walkers, it would be training with a heart rate monitor (HRM).

Most experienced runners probably take Heart Rate Monitoring for granted but it hasn't been around for that long (when compared to the running craze beginning in the late 60's, early 70s). I know it was hard to even afford a HRM when they first came out and there was even a question on its value in training. But both of those issues have been settled in the past 20 years.

What Heart Rate Training (HRT) does for a runner or walker is eliminate any question on whether you are wasting your time in your training. I think a lot of starting runners get frustrated by either over doing it or giving up because they feel they aren't getting anything out of running. Using a HRM will address both of those issues and give you immediate feedback on what you are getting out of running. It will let you know whether you are pushing it too hard, too easy, or just right. Knowing that kind of information will keep you coming back because it will not only give you great information but also injury free. The leading cause of people giving up running is from over doing it and ending up with a long layoff that discourages them from starting again.

I will a lot of future blog posts on Heart Rate Training, hopefully not too much to bore you on the subject. But for my running experience, HRT has made the difference in my staying with it or giving it the ghost. More to follow.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Complete ‘Core Values’ Workout

I'm looking for a great workout routine for runners. I'm always concerned that over the course of a year, a runner tends to hone their body into a running machine without doing the proper maintenance to keep the muscles balanced. If you have any program, book or video that you follow, please send me your ideas for future blog reviews.

Within the last two weeks, I downloaded through iTunes 'The Complete 'Core Values' Workout' from Runner's World. It's a 36 minute workout that goes over stretching, poses and lifts that help keep the core muscles [abs, hips, and upper legs] in shape to balance the weekly pounding that running and walking do to it. It was released at the beginning of this year by Runner's World on iTunes for $7.99. Downloads both a video and audio program for that price and stores in your iPod or computer.

What I really liked about it is that you don't need a ton of equipment to get through all the exercises in the program. I went out and brought the stuff I was missing - Balance Ball, two hand weights and a medicine ball. What I really liked is that the trainer gave you alternatives poses to do if you didn't want to buy any of the equipment, which is useful if you either don't want to make the investment or you want to do some type of exercise before picking the equipment up.

I thought the trainer do a good job of showing you're the basics as well as giving you two alternative poses to make it harder. Two often, the training videos make you switch to 'advanced' programs if you find the basic ones too easy. I especially like that the trainer made sure to put stretches in between the exercises. The only peeve I have with training videos is having you do stretching to begin and end and back-to-back exercise that end up killing you. This is a great mix of both when you need that break between exercises.

Overall, I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars for a workout routine. Having both video and audio is a nice touch and very reasonable for a $7.99 total cost.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

The One Most Important Thing for a Beginning Runner

Today as I was pounding out a tempo run on the treadmill, I thought about what would be the most important advice I would give any beginning runner who is interested in starting and staying with a running program.

Would it be making sure you get the right type of shoes? Would it be starting with a run/walk program of 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week before moving up in minutes or miles? Keeping a detailed running journal of all your runs? Staying consistent in making sure you get 3 or 4 runs in each week?

No, although all of those items are important in getting started and staying in running, I wouldn't have any of them listed as the most important thing for a beginning runner. After 20 plus years in running, my number one thing would be to find, and run with a partner.

It can be a best friend, an established runner, heck; it may be even be your dog. But get someone to run with. Just having someone that keeps you (and you keep them) honest, will keep you committed to a program. It has been argued that just writing down a commitment will get a person to harden their resolve to see it through. I believe that sharing that commitment with one other person sets that commitment to a power of 10.

Now this is coming from someone that trained for his first marathon in 1990 running all his long runs as a lone wolf. But even though I ran all those miles alone, it doesn't change my opinion that sharing a run with a friend beats running it alone. I find it makes the time that you spend running go quicker, more meaningful and overall, more satisfying.

I mentioned the importance of keeping a journal in an earlier blog. After running a while, take a look back and compare your notes on how your runs went when you ran alone vs. when you ran with a partner. If your entries are anything like mine, you will find the runs that you struggled with, will happen much more often in your solo runs.

There is something about running with a partner. You share, and sometimes solve, life's struggles. You encourage each other not only in today's run, but also in life's challenges. You share things during a run that you would not share in any other medium. I'm not exaggerating when I say that you share more than physical activity, you share a spiritual one also.

The beauty about the running community is that it is not a zero-sum sport. When one participant has a good run or race, it is not at the expense of another runner. I've run races with many friends that I've also run with and never felt that when one of them had a better race than me, that it was at my expense.

So the best advice I can give to any rookie runner is to find a partner to share your runs with. It will give you returns beyond your original commitment.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

USA Track & Field (USATF) amended rule 144.3(f) – use of headphones at a USATF Race

Every once in a while, you see a sport make a bone headed decision that diminishes the sport for the everyday participants. Such was the decision in 2007 (and continued to current with some races) of not allowing any participants to use headphones while participating in a USATF event.
As someone that runs marathons, it is very rare not to have a race that is USATF sanctioned. This is because a number of runners use marathons that have the USATF accreditation to qualify for some of the national marathons such as Boston or New York City. When race organizers started to threaten to remove runners from the race (as they did in most marathons), it’s surprising that they didn’t get together and address this with the USATF instead of trying to police an obvious stupid rule. It is too bad that even when everyday runners began boycotting their races, the USATF still wouldn’t amend their rule to exempt everyday runners. Finally, on December 22, 2008, the USATF changed the rule, because it became too hard to enforce equally across all USATF races.
Here’s how the new amended rule 144.3(f) reads: “The visible possession or use by athletes of video, audio, or communications devices in the competition area. The Games Committee for an LDR event may allow the use of portable listening devices not capable of receiving communication; however, those competing in Championships for awards, medals, or prize money may not use such devices." So, technically, if you are in a USATF race and plan on placing in an award position, your award could be withheld if you are found using a device.
I don’t like that they still allow Race Directors to make the decision of whether to allow them or not. I still find myself checking to make sure the races allow them before entering (For Minnesota races, Grandma’s and Twin Cities Marathons changed their rules to allow them starting in 2009). I think the onus should be on the race director to make sure that before anyone is allowed to enter a race, they have to check a box (either online or on an application form) stating that they are giving up that right. No one should have to worry which races are enforcing this rule and which ones aren’t.
I’ve heard the arguments about the questions of safety. I’ve run enough marathons and other races to have runners (right in front of me) pass right into my lane while crossing over to stop at a drink stop without hearing or stopping to look for other runners. But I am more than willing to tolerate that pet peeve vs. having all iPods banned from a race. What happened to running being fun?
I remember running Grandma’s Marathon in 2003 and following two sisters for a two mile stretch. For about one mile, I couldn’t figure out what private joke they were sharing as they ran. Both were wearing earphones and laughing each 4-5 minutes without really talking to one another. It wasn’t until I asked that I found out the reason. They had both loaded the other’s iPod with a song list that the other would listen to, for the 4 plus hours that they would be running. As a surprise song would come up, of course, it would remind them of something – an event, a favorite song, who knows – a former boyfriend? But the point being is that I’m sure it was as much a part of their memory of that marathon as the run itself.
So this blog is an appeal to any race directors that come across it to allow the use of audio devices for their race. In a 9,000 runner race, or for that matter, a 100 runner race, 97% of the runners aren’t running it for the prize money. Remember the reason that most runners are at your race – to participate with others in the running community in a social event that is supposed to be fun.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Nike + System

I wanted to share some tips I've learned in working with the Nike Plus system for the past four years. For those of you that aren't aware of this, Nike offers a Nike Plus system that monitors your distance through an iPod (either Nano, iPhone or iPod Touch – any size storage). It consists of putting a shoe sensor in your Nike+ shoes syncing the iPod with the sensor and setting your preferences with iPod (miles vs. kilometers, Basic vs. distance/time mode, etc.). Each time you sync your iPod with iTunes, it sends you running information to the Nike + website, which keeps track of all of your runs.

What I noticed after using this system on and off for a number of years are that there are times where the iPod will have a hard time syncing with the shoe sensor. I'd be surprise if you don't run into the same experience now and then. I'd like to offer some things to try when this happens to you:

-Try shutting down your iPod and restarting it. I've found this works to fix it 70% of the time.

-Go to your iPod setting for Nike Plus and try to re-sync with the sensor. Sometimes, with multiple sensors being at an Athletic Club, Race Events, or if you have multiple sensors in your house, it will lose the connection. Re-syncing fixes this.

-Lastly, you need to check the sensor. One of things I didn't realize (until after spending a half an hour trying to get the sensor synced) is that each sensor has a battery in it. I thought the sensor was a receiver with a magnet or some type of marker and the power source for keeping track was the iPod. But that's not the case. How long does it last? I haven't had any sensor last more than a year but I put in around 1000 miles a year. So if you push the sync button on the sensor and you still can't get the iPod to find the sensor (after trying the two steps listed above), your battery might be dead.

Now, concerning what sensor to buy. If you have a Nano or an older style iTouch or iPhone, you will need to get a sensor with an attachment that plugs into the bottom of your iPod. This will run about $29.95. If you have an iPod iTouch or an iPhone, you just need the sensor, this runs $19.95.

Finally, a quick observation on calibrating the system for distance. You have two options in calibrating the distance, either Walk Method or Run Method. Either method is fine, but one thing I've learned is that the last method that you use, determines the distance for either walking or running. If you are a walker, this will probably not be a big deal, but for running, it is. That's because your stride, time and turnover rate of your feet determine the distance. So, if you are primarily using this for running, use the run method, for walking, the walking method.

One more item to note on calibration. Remember to calibrate it at a pace that you normally either run or walk. I've found that if I calibrate it for running on my easy run pace, when I do my speed or tempo workout, it doesn't give me an accurate distance (comes up short). I believe this is because the time is faster and the calculation can't account for the quicker speed. So using your tempo speed (which is normally between your slow easy speed and quick speed workout pace) might be the best to use if you want to have a calibration that you don't need to adjust all the time.

I actually keep two sensors in two sets of shoes. One for the shoes I walk in, the other for the shoes I run in. I use a Nano for my running shoes and my iPhone for the walking shoes. And of course, I calibrated each accordingly.

If you have any quick tips that you would like to share, please do. Write me at

Monday, February 15, 2010

Guest Blogger answers “How do you put together a playlist using BPM”?

The posts that I received on what type of music runners listened to, generated questions on how a runner puts together a playlist using Beats Per Minutes (BPM). I asked for help on answering this question from Barb Smith who shared the steps that anyone that has iTunes can use to create this playlist. Here is Barb's process for putting together songs that will inspire runners through any distance:

"Having the right music to run with is crucial for me. I'm not a competitive runner, nor am I very fast . . . until I get past the first mile of my run, I am usually in complete agony. I actually stopped running races where iPods are banned. Having music that allows me to focus and be entertained at the same time is the key to a successful run. But it can't be just any music. Something too slow frustrates me and completely throws me off. I actually HURT more when I'm listening to music that doesn't fit with my tempo. Therefore, I spend a fair amount of time finding the right music.


It's all about finding beats-per-minute (BPM). Simply find your preferred tempo and find songs with the same BPM and you're golden. But where to start? Follow these completely unscientific steps to create the perfect running playlists using iTunes and a BPM calculator:


(1) Think of three to six perfect songs to run to. Anyone who listens to music while they're running has favorites . . . something that makes you completely forget your pain for three minutes yet still keeps your pace. Don't worry about the lyrics . . . but if they fit, that's even better (think: "Running on Empty" by Jackson Browne).


(2) Download and install a BPM calculator. There are a ton of them out there . . . and this is where I'd really like to get reader feedback.


I used to use a BPM plug-in for iTunes on my Mac that was wonderful. It was simple . . . you'd tap out the beat of the song with your mouse while listening and iTunes would store the BPM. The only drawback is that you needed to listen to each song and tap away. That plug-in stopped working after one of the iTunes updates and I'm still in the process of finding the best solution. There are a ton of free apps out there (Google "iTunes" and "BPM calculator"), but I'm currently evaluating BPMer (Mac only) which I'm willing to pay $19 for if it suits my needs. The reason why I'd be willing to shell out the bucks for this app is because it will calculate BPM for your entire music library without you having to listen to each song. I'm still evaluating, however, to determine if I agree with its BPM calculations. BPMer just calculated the BPM of Willie Nelson's "Georgia On My Mind" as 138. I love that song, but honestly, it's like 60, it's so slow. I could never run to that song.


Plus, BPM is pretty subjective . . . faster runners might run double-time, so something that I might calculate as 70 or 80, a someone else might calculate as 140 or 160. Plus there are certain parts of songs that I tune into that might have a faster BPM than the first or last part of the song. If you have found a BPM calculator that works for you (Mac or PC), please post in the comments!


(3) Calculate the BPM of the songs from step (1) above. If iTunes isn't showing you BPM for your songs, right-click (ctl-click for Mac users) on the music headers in the main window of iTunes and add the BPM column to your view). Average the BPM values and consider this your "preferred BPM".


(4) Now calculate the BPM of other songs in your library. If you are using something like BPMer that cranks through your whole library and you don't agree with some songs, you can always manually change the BPM by right-clicking (ctl-click for Mac users) on the song, choose "Get Info", click on the "Info" option, then change the value in the BPM field and save.


(5) Once you have a decent-sized library with BPM, you can start creating your playlist. First sort your music by BPM (click on the BPM header). Then start pulling songs into a running playlist based on the length of your run, how fast you want to go, and whether you have hills on your route. For instance, I have a 3.5 mile route that has hills about 10 minutes in. My playlist contains:

    - the first song at about 100 BPM to warm up

    - Two at 120 BPM which is my preferred BPM

    - Three at 110 BPM to get me through the hills

    - Two more at 120 BPM to get me back into my groove after hills

    - One at 140 to get me really moving

    - Then a final one at 100 BPM

10 songs total, average song length = 3-1/2 minutes, total playlist = 35 minutes.


(6) Now get really creative and put together longer playlists for longer runs. I have a 1/2 marathon playlist that I used for the Gary Bjorklund 1/2 and I had my best time ever!"


-Barb Smith

I'm sure we'll get more discussion as readers put together their own playlists, but this looks like a great process to get everyone started for their own speed workouts, tempo runs and long runs in the next week.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Running Watches

For a beginning or experienced runner, a lot of time can be spent finding the 'right' watch. What should a good running watch have?

There a number of fair to fantastic running watch out there. I have probably spent a personal fortune trying to find the right one. It's almost as difficult as choosing a cell phone. Do you need GPS? What about a Heart Rate monitor? How accurate does it need to be? Should it have it all (GPS, Heart Rate, Time Splits, Zone Alarms, etc.) or should the GPS be part of a watch and the Heart Rate monitor be a different device?

I will save you a lot of time looking and just go with my personal opinion on what to buy/own. Keep it as simple as you can while getting the most out of what you use. What I am getting at is to make sure you are not toting around 6 devices that take longer to understand and use than it does to just get out the door.

GPS – Garmin has arguably the best devices if you are interested in having the most accurate time/distance keeping tool on the market. I owned the Garmin 405 and liked the ability to not only give me a constant time and distance but also give me a map read out when I got back and plugged it into the computer. The downside to it was the battery. I couldn't go three days without recharging it and would be frustrated when I forgot. I also didn't like using it on the treadmill. They do have a foot pod you can use, but switching in and out of the right mode to use it (let alone remembering to bring it) didn't make this a viable option. Also, trees/hills/valleys wreaked havoc on the accuracy of the distance.

Polar – owned at least 4 different versions of this. It is the most accurate in terms of heart rate monitoring. Distance/speed is dependent on a foot pod that approximates to your stride length. What you are giving up in accurate distance you are making up in heart rate accuracy. Moving between the modes on the watch also was challenging without being plugged into a computer.

Suunto – I consider myself above average as being technically competent with new computer hardware and software. But I'll be damned if I could ever figure out how to use this watch. Looked very nice with a business suit or dress clothes but as a user friendly watch, forget about it.

Timex – I like how intuitive the modes and uses of their watch, especially with the five alarms and 100 lap option. But like the Polar, they use a pod that you can strap on your arm or body to give you a distance reading. The pod totally eats batteries like a flood light. So again, your distance going out on you doing a 12 miles run can be a pain.

So, summarizing the above options, what's a runner suppose to do? I think every one of the watches above have strengths and weaknesses that might attract you to using them on your runs. But remember, like a cell phone, no one watch will meet everyone needs.

Currently, I've gone with the semi-cheapest option by having two devices that cover my needs. My Timex Heart Rate Watch takes care of my time/heart rate recording needs (up to ten runs until I have to record the runs and empty the memory). For my distance, I use an iPod Nano with the Nike Plus chip for the shoe for my running, an iPhone (with Nike Plus chip in walking shoes) for my walks/hikes. As I mentioned in my blog earlier, I have to have music/Audiobooks on my runs anyway, so integrating the Nike Plus with the iPod just made sense to me.

So, what do you use? Send me a post; I'm looking to see how other runners deal with keeping track of their runs through time, distance, and heart rate.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

12 Week Plan to a Sub 2:00 Hour Half Marathon

As promised, I am providing a 12 week plan for running a Half Marathon in 2 Hours or less. This 12 week plan assumes that you have built a 21-31 mile base before beginning. As we discussed before, you do not need any more than 30.57 miles to run your best Half Marathon. Any additional miles is just icing on the cake. But your goal is to be consistent in the 21-31 mile range – less when you are running a weekend race and more when your weekend has a long run scheduled.

Now a couple of additional items to go over before you start this program. You must be able to accomplish two things – a distance goal and a speed goal. The distance is easy to determine. Can you run 6 miles in the first week of a 12 week program? Can you run 11 miles in the ninth week of the program? If so, you've met the distance goal.

For the speed portion of the goal, there is a whole different criterion you must meet.

Jeff Galloway, in his 'Marathon' Book, has a simple test to determine how fast you can run a marathon. After warming up, a runner will run their fastest one mile – no to the point of being ready to puke, but at least a speed that puts you out of breath or close to maxing out on your ability to continue running. The runner will then take that time, add two minutes, and multiple it by 26.2 (the distance of the marathon in miles). That total will give you the total time in minutes. Divide that time by 60 and you have the hours and a percentage that you multiple by 60 to get the minutes.

An example to demonstrate this. Say that I follow this test and run a mile, as quick as I can without killing myself and it ends up being a 7 minute mile. I take 7 minutes, add 2 minutes and have 9 minutes. Multiplied by 26.2 and my total is now 235.8 total minutes. Divide 235.8 by 60 and it shows it would take me 3.93 hours to run a marathon. (If I apply .93 hour times 60, my net time would be 55:48, so the time would be 3:55:48 to run the marathon).

This rule can be applied to the speed you need to run to accomplish a 2 hour Half Marathon. But the time needed for that mile run would need to be adjusted because you are running a Half Marathon not a Full Marathon as used in the Galloway example. Don't worry, I'm saved you the trouble of that calculation.

To run a Half Marathon in less than two hours, you will need to run a 7:30 mile. But you will also have to show you can run farther (not at the 7:30 pace) during your training to achieve the speed goal. Your goal will be to run a sub-26 minute 5K race (this is an 8:21 minutes per mile pace). You don't have to do this your first week of race training, but by two weeks before your Half Marathon Race.

To meet the speed goal, you will find a treadmill or track workout that I've included each week. It starts out with ¼ mile repeats at a 1:50 minutes per mile pace (on the treadmill this is the 8.2 speed). That is your goal for the first 4 weeks. The last 8 weeks are ½ mile repeats at a 3:45 minutes per mile pace (on the treadmill the setting is 8.0). Your goal is to warm up for a mile, and then alternately run 1:50 for a ¼ mile followed by walking for 1:50. The number of these repeats are shown on the schedule by each week.

The tempo runs shown on the attached schedule are run at your marathon race pace (9:09 minutes per mile). For these, you run a warm up for 1.5 miles, 4.0 miles at tempo pace, and .5 mile cool down.

Below is the total 12 week plan. Please review and let me know if you have any questions on anything on the schedule that is confusing. For those of you reading this blog on an electronic reader, if the schedule is too condense, please contact me at and I will forward an Excel file for your review.

1/2 Marathon Training Plan to Run a sub-2:00 1/2 Marathon [9:09 minute per mile pace]


Treadmill Workout**


Long Runs/Races




Average Pace









for Saturday


3-4 miles


6 x 1:50 440s [8.2]

3-4 miles

6 Tempo


6-9 Miles

> 10:00 MPM


3-4 miles


6 x 1:50 440s [8.2]

3-4 miles

6 Easy


5K Race [27:00]

8:42 MPM


3-4 miles


6 x 1:50 440s [8.2]

3-4 miles

6 Tempo


7-10 Miles

> 10:00 MPM


3-4 miles


6 x 1:50 440s [8.2]

3-4 miles

6 Easy


5K Race [26:45]

8:37 MPM


3-4 miles


3 x 3:45 880s [8.0]

3-4 miles

6 Tempo


9-11 Miles

> 10:00 MPM


3-4 miles


4 x 3:45 880s [8.0]

3-4 miles

6 Easy


5K Race [26:30]

8:32 MPM


3-4 miles


5 x 3:45 880s [8.0]

3-4 miles

6 Tempo


10-12 Miles

> 9:30 MPM


3-4 miles


6 x 3:45 880s [8.0]

3-4 miles

6 Easy


5K Race [26:15]

8:27 MPM


3-4 miles


7 x 3:45 880s [8.0]

3-4 miles

7 Tempo


11-13 Miles

> 9:30 MPM


3-4 miles


8 x 3:45 880s [8.0]

3-4 miles

7 Easy


5K Race [25:59]

8:21 MPM


3-4 miles


6 x 3:45 880s [8.0]

3-4 miles

7 Tempo


8-10 Miles*

> 10:00 MPM


3-4 miles


4 x 3:45 880s [8.0]

3-4 miles

3-7 Easy*


1/2 Marathon

9:09 MPM


**- For Treamill workout, Warmup for 1 mile at a 9 -10 minute pace, then repeat intervals with 1:50 [or 1/4 mile on treadmill].

-Cool Down with 1/2 mile slow.


*** - Tempos are done at race pace. So '7 Tempo' mean that you will warm up with 1.5 miles, go 4.0 miles at pace (9:09 minutes per mile on average) and with a 1/2 mile cool down. For '* Tempo', the pace distance changes to 5.5 miles.


To Do's


- To run a 2:00 1/2 Marathon, you need to run a 25:59 5K


- A 25:59 5K equals a 8:21 minutes per mile


-To run a 25:59 5K, you need to run a 7:30 mile.


-To run a 7:30 mile, you need to run 1/2 mile repeats @ 3:45.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Signing Up for 2010 Marathons

This may seem a little early in the season to be thinking about, but there have been a number of reports of marathons planning to filling up early because of cutting back on spots based on last year’s increased attendance. There are also early marathons (such as Grandma’s in Duluth in June) as well as lottery marathons (New York City marathon’s lottery cut-off in March) that will close before people start putting their outdoor running shoes on again in the spring. Little Rock has only 200 spots still open and Napa Valley 300 spots. So if you haven't registered yet, it's time to do it.

Since this is Friday, and you’re just catching up with your newspapers and blogs, here are the links for either looking at, or entering into some top marathons around the country: (If you are looking at setting a Personal Record for your marathon, I have listed the Top Five Marathons listed by Marathon Guide as the fastest finishing times for all marathons with an asterisk *)

Little Rock (March 7th)

Napa Valley (March 7th)

Lincoln (May 2nd)*

Brookings, SD (May 15th)

Fargo, ND (May 22)

Grandma’s – Duluth, MN (June 19th)

Twin Cities (October 3rd)

Chicago (October 10th)

Steamtown (October 10th)*

Denver (October 17th)

Detroit (October 17th)

Cape Cod (October 31th)*

New York City (November 7th)

California International Marathon (December 7)*

Tucson (December 12th)*

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Running on a Cruise Ship

Just getting back from a family trip on a cruise ship through the Bahamas that kept me off the grid for over a week. The experience gave me a chance to give some good tips when trying to find a way to keep in shape while on vacation.

First off, I'm not advocating that if you have plans on taking a cruise in the coming months that you must plan on running to keep yourself in shape. There is nothing wrong with taking off a week of downtime. You need keep a balance so that you don't burn out.

But for anyone looking for tips on staying in shape through a week on a cruise ship, here are some good tips.

All good cruise ships will have a running track, many with the red stripe painted right on the deck. You will need to remember that walkers share this running track with you. Most times this running track is on one of the top decks, away from the cabin decks or party areas for obvious reason. Take note to try to remember the following when accessing the track:

-Run before or at the time of the sun rising. Most times this is early in the morning and few folks are out there using the decks for their walks, or at least not a lot of them.

-Walkers have the right of way unless this is solely designated for running only. So don't lose patience with those that are keeping in shape by doing their morning walk.

-Also, you will find that if you are docked and people are out or preparing for their excursions, that the running track will be more open than other times of the day.

-Don't even think of speed during this week. Even if the track is completely open, there are way too many turns and closed spaces where you can hurt yourself. Consider this as part of your vacation downtime.

Other ideas for keeping in shape:

-I did a couple of walks when I went into the small towns on my excursions. You get to see a part of the city that guides don't normally take you to, and are away from the main streets/stores that they are trying to take you to. I'm pretty sure I ended up seeing homes where the drug cartels hide (at least the German Sheppard's and security gates gave this effect). But the view from the town of the hills right outside the town gave me a view I wouldn't have got without actually living there for a while.

-All good cruises have spinning classes, yoga, weight rooms, etc. to plug in an hour here and there, not really too hard to find an activity you'll like.

-I know some of you are wondering why I haven't brought up running on a treadmill while on the cruise. My experience has been that it has been difficult for me to take advantage of treadmills when on a cruise. When the ship is cruising (moving) the motion of the water tend to make me run into the hand rail on the front of the treadmill just to keep my balance. One of the only times I got sick on a cruise was from this constant 'catching myself' and then trying to get back into a rhythm of running. When the ship is docked, I still felt a rolling motion on the treadmill. It could be something with the way I run, but the treadmill is my last choice. But weather may give you this as the only option.

Anyway, hope you find this helpful if you are fortunate enough to have a cruise planned in the coming year.