Tag Archive for running

Achievement Unlocked: 5K Run

I’ve never been a runner.

I was that kid who hated running in school. Loathed it. I stole all the usual clichés, like, “I’m only going to run if something’s chasing me.”

Of course, we never stop to realize if we’re not good at running, we’re not going to do very well when our lives depend on it.

I digress. Point is, I hated running.

Past tense. When it sunk in that improving my cardiovascular endurance would not only be good for my health but would improve my karate performance, I decided I’d best hit the track.

I’ve been running on and off since (except in Winter, because screw that noise), and I’d get in a 5K (3.11 miles) every session, alternating walking and running. I completed two Warrior Dash events that way in 2012 and 2014, though before long I could hit a mile consistently.

Earlier this year, I was able to hit two miles straight. That felt good. I couldn’t even do a mile as a teenager.

Then, Monday night, for the first time ever, I was able to run the full length of a 5K.

Runkeeper tracking

Runkeeper tracking

I’m pretty damned happy with that. The pace is nothing to get excited over, but speed will come with time. Meanwhile, I’m in better shape now than when I got married.

Metal. \m/


About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Warrior Unleashed

I survived the Warrior Dash!

Mike Medal

Mud has never tasted so good

I’ve never been a runner, but I have been running more in an effort to burn off a little of the extra padding I’m carrying around and to complement my weight lifting and karate training. I’ve never run in a race before, so many thought it odd I’d choose one with obstacles.

May as well make it interesting, right?

43268 Reporting for Battle

The before photo, aka “Poor bastard doesn’t know what he’s in for.”

Some friends of mine had run the Warrior Dash before, and they all had a blast, so I turned around and talked a few coworkers into running the Dash as well. We couldn’t all hit the same start times, but I did run with two of my coworkers.

We set out with an easy pace. Steve and Beth had run half marathons before, but they were content to hang back with me for the Dash. Our only goal going in: finish the thing. We had heard mixed stories about the obstacles, and we saw no point in burning out before we got to the last of them.

My Biscuits Are Burning!

“My biscuits are burnin’!”

The obstacles presented a mix of climbing, crawling, jumping, and lots of mud. We had to crawl under barbed wire and across cargo nets. We had to go up mud-slicked climbing walls and down fire poles and slides. We had to crawl, trudge, or swim through creeks and mud pits.

And yes, we jumped over fire.

The obstacles were not as difficult as I expected, and I’m happy to say I went through all of them, no cheats or bypasses. I never stopped, either, with the exception of bottlenecks entering an obstacle or lining up to grab a quick drink of water (they had three water stations to keep competitors hydrated during the hot day). We never stopped to catch our breath or to take a break.

Leisurely Swim

Just a leisurely afternoon swim

My only regret, in fact, is not pushing the running stretches a little harder. There were several hills on the course, not counting the obstacles, and again, I didn’t want to wear myself out and be unable to tackle one of the obstacles. As it turned out, it wouldn’t have been an issue, with the possible exception of one known as the Giant Cliffhanger.

The photos on the website didn’t do this one justice. There’s no bypass around this one, no easy way up. Competitors have to climb a muddy slope, already torn to bits by the several thousand people who climbed it before, using a rope which is wet and caked with mud. Wooden planks lined the top, offering a small foothold every four feet or so, but then the rope ends and we really had to claw our way over the top edge. I managed to leap from foothold to foothold without tumbling back down and taking out the dozen or so people behind me.

Victory Beer

Miller never tasted so good.

They clocked my final time at 1:05:20.40. Less than stellar, but my normal mile pace is on the slow side, so throw in obstacles and less running and it’s not surprising. It’s also far from the end of the pack, so I’m content with that time, if not happy with it. I’m just thrilled to say I finished it.

We had a great time on the Dash. I did tweak my ankle in one of the creaks, but no break or sprain so I’m good. My weight lifting training helped get me over the obstacles, and my only sore spots have been the stabilizer muscles around my ankles. Next year leading up to the Dash, I think I’ll do some more field and trail running to get used to the slopes and uneven surfaces.

And yes, there will be a next year. I was sold before the end of the Dash. If they were taking signups for next year, I’d have registered on the spot.

Now I have a time to beat, too.

They Were Blue

Time to retire these Nikes. They were blue and silver/gray before the race.

St Jude Children’s Research Hospital reported they had a great weekend. 18,911 competitors ran the course, raising $272,073. And that was just the Illinois event! Another Warrior Dash went down simultaneously in Pennsylvania.

Thanks again to those of you who sponsored my run. I’m glad I could bring in even a little bit, and having access to the St Jude tent turned out to be a great benefit.

I donated my shoes to GreenSneakers at the end of the race, too. I retired this pair from the running track a year or so ago and only use them when lifting, so I was happy to throw them onto the pile. If GreenSneakers can clean them up and send them overseas, then more power to them.

All in all we had a great day. My wife hung out with Steve’s family, and though they couldn’t see us running until the very end of the Dash, they enjoyed watching people in costume and listening to the live bands. Just a fun course, a great atmosphere, and a good excuse to get outside and stay active.

If it sounds at all like your kind of thing, then I highly recommend you keep an eye on the Warrior Dash website to see when they’ll be nearby. You won’t regret it!

For more photos, click on over to my Warrior Dash Flickr set.

Bonus video! This must have been shot on Saturday before the storms rolled through and mucked everything up.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.


For the first time, I did a full 5K this evening. Hell yeah!

For the first time, I feel like I can actually finish this crazy Warrior Dash thing.

I’m not going to pretend it was a record-setting pace or a particularly outstanding run, only that for me it’s a milestone. My first lap or two I started to worry I didn’t wait long enough after dinner, as I’d started off better during my last run on Wednesday. However, by the end I kept telling myself “just one more lap” and decided I’d keep doing so until I knew I’d put three miles under my feet. Even better, while  my calves did start to lock up, by the end of the run they’d loosened back up and I had no problems.

Now I’m going to celebrate by doing the weight lifting workout I missed last night: arms and shoulders.

Also, a reminder: my Warrior Dash run is also an attempt to raise some cash for the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I’m a little over halfway to my goal of a mere $250. If you would like to help out, please click on over to my fundraising page. Thanks!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Brain Dump

Feeling hyper at the moment. Things are moving through my head at a million miles an hour. I’m going to exorcise some of it here so I can get some work done.

* * *

Part of my jaw still hurts from last week’s wisdom tooth extraction. More accurately, some of my teeth still hurt. So far I’m told this is normal and to stay on the ibuprofen regimen. I half wonder if these teeth are adjusting themselves now that the sideways bastard in the back has been ripped out.

Also, the insides of my cheeks look like I tried to eat a paper shredder. I suspect the reason I never got to see the dentist the day of surgery is he called in sick, and they brought in a substitute.

Edward Scissorhands


* * *

Looks like I’m running the Warrior Dash this year. I’ve been telling myself I should run a 5K sometime, so hey, why not run one with rope bridges, rappelling, fire, barbed wire, and mud pits? I must be insane.

Some of my karate classmates have run it in previous years, and now I have coworkers who may do it, too. We’re going to have a planning meeting Monday, narrow down a time slot, and then I’ll sign up and make it official.

I started running again last weekend. Tonight, I ran after weight lifting. My cardio is back in the shitter after what little running I did last fall, but hopefully not for long.

And all of it—the running and the weight lifting—is to improve my karate. I don’t want to look like this guy in my gi:


I will also need the cardio for my black belt test when it comes. It’s an all-day and, on some occasions, all-night affair at my dojo. You can’t cram for fitness.

* * *

Hell, I just want to be healthier in general. Cut a few pounds, look better, feel better. I know too many people with health problems who accept it as part of life. Cholesterol’s high? Eh, they have a pill for that.

I hate that little pill. It’s a crutch. I’m better than that. I may not be able to fight heredity, but I can minimize the damage.

Now I enjoy lifting weights almost as much as I enjoy karate. I’m getting addicted to the pump and the burn. Unlike running.

Fuck running.

Sometimes running feels like my mortal enemy. I do it anyway. Every time RunKeeper tells me I set a distance record, it’s like I just kicked running in the balls.

* * *

Tonight I lifted, stretched, and then went for a run. Could have been trouble because the Wife doesn’t know CPR.

It got me up to level 14 on Fitocracy. Anyone wants to connect on Fitocracy (or RunKeeper, for that matter) is welcome. Geeking out on those sites by tracking everything helps keep me motivated.

* * *

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu athletes are the latest to cross over into music.

The first song I learned of in Jiu-Jitsu Magazine is “Jiu Jitsu” by Eddie Bravo and his band Smoke Serpent. I can take or leave the rap, but I dig the guitar track. Good song overall. I bought it and my kids will dig it, too. Has a Linkin Park vibe, if that’s your thing.

The other song… ugh. Let’s just say Ralek Gracie should stick to jiu-jitsu. Extra negative points for the lyric about broccoli.

Incidentally, Jiu-Jitsu Magazine is pretty good. I only know a little judo, but I still appreciate the articles on nutrition, workouts, and warm-ups, and there are some good technical hints I’ve been able to use. I’m stockpiling the breakdowns of specific techniques for when I start hitting judo class on a regular basis. I just wish they’d hire a copy editor who knows what paragraph breaks are.

* * *

The outline for The Pack Book 3 is coming together. Book 2, Lie with the Dead is still with my editor.

Book 1, Winter Kill, is cheap on Kindle and Nook. Or you can get a dead tree edition. Make with the clicky. You’ll dig it. I promise.

TPWK Limited Edition Cover

Horror or crime? Flip a coin.

More work coming soon. Things are in motion, but nothing to announce just yet.

* * *

That should about do it.

I’m going to go be productive now.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Like the Wind

I’m starting to enjoy this running thing. According to my RunKeeper account, I’ve been doing it steadily for almost two months now. I sometimes dread getting out there, but once I’m moving and later when I’m finished, I feel great.

It’s good to have that quiet time, too. It’s time to think, figure some things out, plan a few things.

There’s so much stuff coming your way, though, starting with Lie with the Dead and a handful of shorts, and possibly another novel. Is it one already written? One I’ll write soon? Maybe a NaNoWriMo attempt?

You’ll see. And you’ll dig it.

And now off to bed early. Gotta run in the morning.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

RunKeeper vs Nike+: Running App Smackdown

I’m a geek. If I didn’t have some way to track my running and see progress to give me some incentive, I probably wouldn’t be running. (And I still don’t run as often as I should, but I’m working on it.) When I discovered Nike+, I was sold. I get to run, listen to music and track my runs all at once. I’ve never been a fan of their Flash-driven interface, though, and I had frequent login problems. The screensaver and little Mini avatar crapped out a lot, too.

This summer, some running friends told me about RunKeeper. I used Nike+ on my iPod, so I didn’t have GPS. RunKeeper, meanwhile, has apps for both Android and iOS, and my Android phone does GPS beautifully. But I still had my little Nike+ gizmo in my shoe, so I kept plugging away until those shoes finally crapped out.

That’s when the good folks at Running Central set me up with a pair of Mizuno shoes. I didn’t want to mess with some little pouch to attach to my shoe for the Nike+ sensor, so I gave RunKeeper a shot.

After just one run, I gave up on Nike+ forever. Sure, it has coaching options and a social networking side just like Nike+, but it blows Nike out of the water in several areas.

First of all, RunKeeper has a much cleaner interface. No Flash garbage to slow things down, and the moment you log in you see all of your recent runs. You get a lot more flexible access to the data, and with GPS, you even get a cool interactive map that will even let you see your running data at any point along your route.

Second, the app just runs. The Nike+ iOS app has given me fits, and at times has just locked up completely when I tried to turn it off. I also have to sync through iTunes for my runs to appear on Nike+, where RunKeeper shoots it right up to the RunKeeper server.

Third, while RunKeeper gives me similar audio feedback to Nike+, RunKeeper also sends me an email if I’ve set a personal record or had a better run during a given week. It’s a small thing, but it’s a cool extra little encouragement.

Finally, RunKeeper is lot more flexible with its activities. I may not ever use it to bike or swim, but apparently it will work just fine for those activities.

I’ve only used it a few times now, but I love it. I always carry my phone and iPod while I run anyway, so now the phone has a function instead of just bouncing along in my pocket in case of emergencies. Now I still have my iPod for music, or I can choose to abandon it altogether if I don’t feel like tunes for that day (for example, I’d rather not have earbuds in on a busy road).

If you run at all or are considering taking it up, definitely check out RunKeeper. I’m using the free version and am having no problems with it.

And with that, I’ll leave you with the music that got me through the last leg of my run this morning.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Big Guy Under the Fat Guy

Running is for little people.

That’s not to say I’m giving up on running, as I intend to get back out there at least a little bit when my hip muscles are done trying to tear themselves apart. I just mean that someone my size is just not built for running and I’m not sure I’d ever be good at it.

It took an injury to make me realize that. I did some upper body work, then looked in the mirror before a shower and I could see the potential hidden beneath the layer of pudge. A lot of my muscle is still there, and I’m confident my strength is, too, thanks to my karate workouts. More and more I realize I could probably bring that muscle out pretty quick if I start a weight lifting regimen.

So, this evening I dragged the old comics boxes out of my office to store elsewhere, cleared space, got rid of some old, crummy filing cabinets, and ordered the weight bench I’d been eyeballing on Amazon. It should be here by Monday. In the meantime I will head out to find a 6′ Olympic barbell, because a full seven-footer won’t fit in the space I have.

What better gym than my own office? I get my best thinking and brainstorming done after a good workout, and any excuse to spend more time in my office is a good one. As long as I don’t let it turn into an expensive coatrack or bookshelf, I’ll be golden.

I don’t expect it to be a problem. I will be adding judo to my karate soon and will need both the strength and the muscular endurance. But that’s a story for another blog post.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Course Correction

Despite an impending deadline for The Pack: Lie with the Dead (sequel to Winter Kill — shill, shill), I’ve spent most of the week obsessing about health and fitness.

I started by thinking about diet again, both what I eat and the quantity I put in. It’s a lot better than it used to be, but it’s still not what it should be. I’ve stalled out on weight loss since my first couple of years in karate, and my doc would like to see my cholesterol figures improve. Make no mistake, my karate training keeps me fit for my size. If I lost a few extra pounds, though, it would help prevent future problems.

I also need to put running off for a bit. While I did get a run in the other night, I woke up the next morning and discovered my plantar fasciitis had gone into overdrive. I’m working on some stretches out of a Men’s Health sports injuries book to correct it, but I see no sense aggravating it in the meantime, especially because it will interfere with my karate training. I’m going to wait until late Spring or early Summer to reevaluate. (In the meantime, I did pick up another Nike+ sensor and it’s ready to go when my damn foot is.)

That’s when I started thinking about my body type. I’m short and stumpy, not built for speed at all. I can fool myself into running when my foot’s up to it, but I can accept it’s not something I’ll ever be good at. I am, however, built for power. I’ve been doing well with the One Hundred Push-ups plan again, and in karate I can pick up a 220-pound classmate, spin him on my shoulders, and set him down to mimic a throw without dropping him. My karate instructor and I have been talking about supplementing our karate workouts with strength training, and this week it occurred to me strength training may get the best benefits for me for the time being.

Unfortunately my karate instructor and I couldn’t make our schedules jive, so he joined a gym near his home. I checked out two local gyms, but they were all about machines. To get a full range of traditional weight gear, I’d have to drive a half hour or so and I wouldn’t have 24-hour access. I have a bad habit of waiting until late to get my home workouts done. It’s not uncommon for me to be doing karate in the living room at 10:30 or 11:00pm, and I’ve even been out for runs at midnight the last two summers.

So, it’s time to look at getting my own bench. I found a folding bench set on Amazon, and the Wife and I measured my office and it will just fit.

Bench Set

If I turn it into a coat rack or book shelf, she'll shoot me.

We’ll be ordering it soon. I don’t need to get huge or buff, but if I can tone things up and trim off some more fat like I did when I worked out with a pulley machine in my old garage, I’ll be happy. It’s also right here in the house, putting off excuses like having to travel, going out in the rain, etc. I just have to fit it into my existing home workout schedule.

Of course, it reminds me of the Joe Piscopo reference in Family Guy. I’ll just work out when I’m not writing. D’oh.

I guess that’s my long, rambling way of saying it’s time to change things up. If I can’t run without threatening the primary exercise, it’s time to find another way to supplement it. I can always use more strength for both karate and judo, and as artist and gym rat Mike Henderson tells me, I can still get a good cardio workout if I do it right.

I’m not giving up on anything, just making a course correction. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some more push-ups to bust out before I get back to the keyboard to write.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Ran, Didn’t Explode

I woke up, got out of bed, looked outside, and thought “Yeah. This is a good day for a run.”

I must be feeling a heavy dose of self-loathing right now. I started the One Hundred Push-ups program again a couple of weeks ago, and tonight I went for that run. I should probably just throw myself in front of a truck and save some time.

But hey, I got through it and my heart didn’t explode, so I guess I should call it a win.

Tomorrow I need to pick up a new Nike+ sensor. My current sensor is about three years old, so the battery is dead as a doornail. After I get  new one I can start tracking my runs all proper-like again. I’ve set a simple “run more often” goal in Nike+, shooting for 10 runs over the next four weeks. Tonight’s probably won’t count due to said dead sensor. C’est la vie.

This is the first time I’ve not run on a track, too. Everyone tells me I’ll have more fun if I run through town or the park or something. This town doesn’t have the best reputation for taking care of its streets and they aren’t big believers in sidewalks, so I don’t know that I’d call tonight’s run fun, but I’ll grant it did feel a lot different from running on the track. For one thing, I’m sure the school’s cinder track is a spongy, horrible mess right now. For another, if I pussed out halfway through a run around town, chances are I’ll be far enough from home that I may as well suck it up and finish the run.

Unfortunately this is more time away from the keyboard when I’ve got a deadline for The Pack: Lie with the Dead looming. I need to get my act together on that one. Of course, I could also argue if I croak because I’m not in good shape, I can’t finish anything.

Maybe I just need more folks to buy my book or preorder the hardcover so I can afford to stay at the keyboard for a living.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Crackle Crackle!

That’s the sound my left knee makes. I’m assuming that’s not a good thing.

I worry it’s the result of a sparring match in karate class last week. I went in for a kick to my opponent’s ribs, and he raised his knee to block. The top of my shin, about an inch or so below the knee, connected hard with his knee and it’s been hurting ever since. The only external sign of injury is a small red mark, but I’m sure there’s a nice bruise deep inside and I’m wondering if that’s what’s lead to the problem in the knee. No pain (yet), just noise. I’m taking a break from the running as a result, as the last thing I need is to aggravate the problem.

Meantime, I’m going to try the One Hundred Push-Ups program. I’ve improved my push-ups quite a bit since starting karate, and the program suggests I start at Week 3. Cut the program from six weeks to four? I can deal with that. It’ll be fun to see if I can make the same gains.

I’ve learned push-ups are important to my karate as well. There’s a physical requirement to making black belt in my style, Shuri-ryu, and my school tests prospective black belts on six exercises: jump rope, push-ups, sit-ups, two dumbbell exercises, and front kicks. They want black belts to hit 45 consecutive push-ups.

I’m getting there, as I’m now able to hit at least 30 consistently. It’d be nice to blow that number out of the water, though. While a black belt does not have to hit 45 push-ups, my understanding is if you can’t, it counts against you in your overall score. This means your kata, techniques, written test, and so on, all have to be just that much better to make up for any physical deficiencies. My black belt test is at least a couple of years off, so it makes sense to start now.

Not to mention that it’s just good for me, period.

Then there’s sit-ups. Black belts are shooting for 75. I don’t do as bad at sit-ups as one might expect given my size, but I’m certainly not going to hit 75 any time soon. I wondered if there was a similar program for sit-ups, looked through the site’s links, and found Two Hundred Sit-Ups. Then I clicked the link and learned it’s actually two hundred crunches. Swell. Somehow I can actually execute more of what most people think of as a sit-up than I can a crunch; the middle of my abs gives out before my hips and lower abs so. And neither are comfortable as I near my limit.

I must be a masochist. But again, it’s good for me. If I keep at ’em, maybe this belly will be less in the way and I can execute them better.

The real question is whether to keep these programs separate or execute them together. I’ll have to give that some thought. Meanwhile, if anyone out there has tried them together, I’d love to hear about it. Official initial test will be this weekend. First workout will be Monday.

Incidentally, this summer when I get sick of working upper body, I can move on to Two Hundred Squats. Woo!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Run For It!

What keeps me running?

As stupid as it sounds, it’s this guy:

I keep this Nike+ avatar on my screen saver and on my Facebook page. When I run, he’s happy. When I don’t, he gets bored and makes smartass comments while he plays paddle ball or video games. They’re subtle jabs, but man, I hate seeing them.

I really didn’t feel like running tonight. I was nodding off in front of the tube, the ground is saturated and mushy, I had some email to take care of… pick an excuse and it ran through my head. I had my laptop nearby, and when I jerked awake I noticed the screensaver had come on. There was the little guy, running right along. He was happy for the moment, but I didn’t run for a few days due to travel and the rain, so he wouldn’t be happy for long. I finally decided to suck it up, grab my sneakers and iPod, and hit the track.

Half an hour later I limped back to the house, sore and drenched with sweat but feeling pretty damn good. And though the numbers I uploaded didn’t reflect it, I had one of the better runs I’ve had in some time.

So thanks, you little bastard. You rock.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

First Run of the Season…

…And boy did it suck.

I probably shouldn’t be so hard on myself as it was on par with how I started out last season, but I started cramping up about a quarter of the way through and it threw off the whole session.

At first I feared my leg conditioning took a step back to before I started karate classes. Time was, any real distance at a brisk walk would cause the outside of my calves to seize up. Fortunately the cramping is already clearing up, so I’m confident that’s not the problem. With luck it’s something simple, like I didn’t drink nearly enough water today (which I didn’t) and it’s just standard muscle cramps. It could also just be the couple pounds I gained back over the winter.

My pace may have been less than desirable, but I did make it through my minimum target distance of 3 kilometers. I’ve also got my Nike+ set up for the new season and my goal established, so I’ve got something to shoot for. Just getting out there and breaking the seal is important, and here on out it’s just a matter of developing the habit again.

Onward and upward.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.