Tips for running in the dark

Lately, most of my running has been done in the dark. I am usually cruising through the woods before sunrise.  That may change when we switch to daylight saving time.

I like running trails in the dark. I like running trails in the light. Either way, trail running is more appealing to me than pounding pavement.

There are a few things to do when running in the dark that are less significant issues when running over trails in the daylight. You need to be aware of how you plant your feet. You need to lift and plant a bit more slowly. Otherwise, you could snag a foot and trip. If the trail is tight don’t run into a tree. You aren’t big enough or fast enough to run through a tree. You are not The Flash. Trees will stop you.

Wear glasses with clear lenses so you don’t poke an eye out on a low limb. You should have a good outdoor bearing for direction. Trails coming and going don’t always look the same in the dark. Have a good headlamp and fresh batteries. Bring a spare flashlight just in case.

During hunting season light yourself up. More than one light isn’t a bad idea. If you are running with a dog, put a red light on her collar. Try to run where you know no one is hunting. You don’t want to get shot because some idiot thought your dog’s red light was Rudolph’s red nose.

Coaching tip

If you are a hunter or 3D archer running though the woods is another way to enjoy the outdoors without a bow in your hand.  It is also a good method for getting you archery fitness on track.

Taking a Look At Archery Phenotypes

Nearly anyone can pick up a bow practice and get to be pretty good.

At your next tournament look around at the competitors. They’ll look a lot like the spectators. You see folks that look; by look I mean phenotype, sort of like everyone else.

Everybody else means this for the US: Males weight on average 196 pounds and are 5 feet 9 inches tall. Females weight 168.5 pounds and are 5 feet 4 inches tall. That pretty close to how archers look in general.

Certainly, this isn’t everyone that picks up a bow. These are averages. My friend, Mike, is 6 feet 8 inches tall and weights 180 pounds. Mike is an outlier.

Consider the Body Mass Index (BMI) of the average US male and female using the numbers from above. You’d see both coming in as overweight.

Being overweight is, well, not good. But, archery is a sport where overall conditioning is often neglected. In fact, during a recent tournament when archers needed to move large outdoor targets a number of athletes couldn’t help because of their fitness level. One person said, “I can’t help, my doctor has told me not to lift more that 10 pounds.” Yet, there he was shooting and doing a pretty decent job of arrow placement. (Good not great)

Coaching tip

Archery is a sport where fitness isn’t a key factor for the average shooter. Just about anyone that wants to enjoy a sport that isn’t a major cardio activity can have fun with a bow and arrow. That’s fine. That’s not my philosophy when it comes to athletics.

When it comes to archery training I think athletes in this sport should incorporate fitness training. No, it is not a requirement to be a good shooter. However, taking your training to a higher level will provide strength and stamina to archery performance.

Having a Training Plan

Each week I look over training plans. These cover the daily, weekly and monthly practice sessions. The plans are arranged around tournaments. Those tournaments are graded as A, B, or C events.

Coaching tip

‘A’ events are the major tournaments such as a State, National or World Championship. ‘B’ are typically local tournaments where I want to do well but leave some room to try new things and make adjustments. The ‘C’ events are mostly league shoots where I want to do well but may not have exactly what I need to provide the best score.

River surveying range before practice

During a ‘C’ event, such as indoor league, I might compete with outdoor arrows rather than the wider indoor arrows. In these events I focus on applying skills yet to be mastered that I worked on during the day at home.

The archery training plans I follow have blocked time everyday for fitness. Each morning there is a stretching routine followed by running before I pick up a bow. In the afternoon, before shooting I ride a bicycle. On one to two days a week, depending on the training cycle there is time allocated for lifting weights.

Nearly everyday includes a morning and afternoon archery practice. On days when there is an evening league shoot I might shorten the afternoon practice allowing for the additional time spent on the range at night.

The chase is on

The training plans are associated with specific goals. Improving, as an archer is best accomplished with exact plans in play for each practice. Incorporating general fitness is an important adjunct to being a complete athlete – even for archers. By following written training plan archers can increase the likelihood of accomplishing their goals.

A Great Day to Play

The weather was great, today. Sunny with very little wind and not too cold. It was a good day to train.

For the 2018 Duathlon National Championships I’m using a modified triathlon training plan. There’s no swimming in a duathlon so those workouts are replaced with more running. It’s no big deal since running is a daily activity pretty much regardless of a formal training plan. In other words, I’m not running too much.  This is a modified plan that I’m following so there is flexibility.

There are lots of sport training plans available for purchase. There are an ever-growing number of coaches for hire through the Internet. What they offer are programs available to you sight unseen. Perhaps, if you are new to a sport an online coach you never see can provide a starting point. After decades of sports, in my opinion a face-to-face coach is a better investment. I’m making no investment. I took a plan I’d created years ago and adapted it for the upcoming race.

I’ve had some great coaches in cycling, football, and track. I’ve also spent decades studying sports physiology and feel fairly confident I can put together a plan that will get me across a finish line. Of course, there are the hours of work that need to be completed and today was ideal to add to those hours.

In an abridged overview my general training goes like this: Run, shoot, rest, shoot, cycle, and sometimes run again. It was hard not to do a second run today, the weather being so nice. It was the archery practice that pushed me away from a second run.

The second practice with a bow was going just fine. Well, good enough for second practice. That session was planned for 60 arrows at a 3-spot followed by 30 at a 5-spot. The morning was just 60 arrows into a 3-spot.

The afternoon 3-spot when okay with 32 Xs and 28 nines. Sure, Reo Wilde doesn’t need to be worried for the moment. But, not too bad. Then, I put up a 5-spot.

Man, those X rings looked huge on that blue and white paper. I shot 10 arrows and called it a day. As big as the X is on a 5-spot I was doing good to hit white. It was time to stop. While I didn’t feel tired, my arrow placement suggested otherwise. It also indicated I’d had enough exercise for the day, so not second run. Instead, a hike in the woods was perfect to wind things down.

Tomorrow the weather isn’t going to be so nice. I’ll have to go into Elizabeth City to shoot. I’m glad there is an indoor range within a 40-minute drive. Still, I am looking forward to moving to Georgia where on days like tomorrow promises to be, that drive becomes 15-minutes.

A Little Running and Cycling to Go With Archery

Before archery practice I run then I ride. Running is as much for River, my lab, as for me. She really seems to enjoy it and acts eager to go every morning. When we get home from the run I head out for a bike ride. Not hard, not too far – between 10 and 25 miles. Then, I’ll head out to the range for archery.

I own several bikes and I rotate them for rides. The past few weeks I’ve been using either a Litespeed road bike or Cannondale mountain bike. Neither bike is new. The Litespeed is 21 years old. The Cannondale is twelve. Both are in excellent condition.

Some of my bikes

The Litespeed is one of my favorite machines. The only original component on the frame is the front derailleur. The frame, titanium, feels amazing.

Part of the training I do is for fitness. One day I may decide to do more triathlons, mountain bike racing or cycling time trials. Or maybe not. Either way, I believe being fit provides an advantage for me in archery.

Savannah Wheelmen at a race in Virginia – 1972 (Me in the middle with the light colored hat)

Certainly, I’ve shot against a lot of archers that I would say aren’t physically fit. There are a lot of good shooters that aren’t what I’d consider healthy. At least they’re doing something beyond watching television or playing video games. And many of them can really shoot a bow.

For me, I prefer being in better health. I don’t mind running or cycling. Of course, I swim –just not very fast.

Turn the TV Off, Stop that Video Game and Go Play Outside

I often write about stuff I do outside. That’s because I am outside a lot. We have a nice home but not so great as to keep me indoors. Outside, for me is where the action is.

I find it amazing when I look at the activities of others how it is that so much of those actions involve indoor play. The play is not so much the physical type unless finger movements are considered exercise. Playing a video game while sitting on a couch is not my idea of sport.

In the newspaper today there was an advertisement for a bed. The bed could be elevated at the head and the knees could be propped up. The newspaper ad promoted this comfortable position for binge television watching. A bed specifically marketed for people to remain in it for extended TV show viewing. Seriously?

How did the bed company come up with this market segment?  Did information gained from intensive focus group questioning reveal a significant segment of their potential customers are so lazy they’d rather not bother getting out of bed to watch TV?

It is no wonder that 2 out of 3 US adults are overweight or obese. Among children ages 6 to 19 one third are overweight or obese. (1,2)

Archery isn’t what I’d call a sport where cardiovascular fitness is rampant. Still, rather than sitting around for hours on end getting to a range an hour of more a day is a lot better than spending the same amount of time exercising fingers or watching TV.


[1] Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Ogden CL. Prevalence of obesity and trends in the distribution of body mass index among US adults, 1999–2010. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012; 307(5):491–97. Available online:

[2] Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among US children and adolescents, 1999–2010. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012; 307(5):483–90. Available online:

Considering Past Pain While Taking a Break

Over the past few days I’ve been taking a break. No doubt, I needed a rest. The past six months have been fairly intense. Days have been filled with fitness and archery training.

That training consisted of two to six hours a day of archery. The archery was supplemented with another 8 to 10 hours a week of running, cycling, swimming and weight lifting. Granted, there were small breaks, a day off every 7 to 10 days and time off for holidays. The target of those efforts was an indoor archery tournament held in Snellville, GA. Now, that it’s behind me, I’ll enjoy this break and move into my 3D season.

While on this break I’ve been thinking about some of the hardest sporting events where I competed. Archery and racing are very different disciplines. In sports, they are about as opposite as possible.

If you’ve ever run a marathon, you know it is not just heading out to take a leisurely run. Even if you’re not a fast runner, the miles take a toll. At the 2011 Tokyo Marathon I was prepared and very fit. Then, in Japan, on race day, the temperature plunged to freezing with pouring rain. The conditions became the force driving in every runners’ head urging them to drop out. At around mile 18 the rain stopped but it never did warm up. It was not the hardest sporting event ever for me.

Of the Ironman events I raced, not one of them reaches the peak of pain. At 2008 Ironman in Hawaii with around six miles left to run (the race is 2.4 mile swim, 112 bike, and 26.2 run) I was pacing with an ex-professional athlete. But, not an ex-pro triathlete, he was Jeff Conine, member of two Baseball World Championship teams. The conversation was pleasant and baseball never came up although a camera crew in a convertible Ford drove slowly next to us asking related questions. It was quite cool.  Still, I mostly listened – I’d didn’t have enough breathe for a conversation. It’s amazing how much communication can come from grunts.  Still, not near the most difficult physical / mental effort of my life.

The most difficult was a race where everyone shared the pain. All runners watched out for one another. Everyone gave encouragement to his or her opponents. It even seemed the other athletes were far less the opponent. The opponent for us all was the racecourse. The race was the Mt. Evans Ascent.

The run up to the peak of Mt. Evans, over 14,000 feet, was on North America’s highest paved road. We started the race in near 60°F temperature surrounded by trees and finished on a barren mountaintop being snowed upon at 26°F. It stands out as the most difficult sports event of my life. It was as much a physical strain as a mental strain. The higher we got, the lower our oxygen saturation.(1) The thought to stop never once entered my head. I thought I might die did, which would have been a good reason to have stopped running.

Archery is very different. There’s a massive degree of mental exercise along with the physical elements that makes the sport difficult to frustrating. One little mental error and that 10 becomes an 8. But, it’s not physically painful. Still, over months containing many long hours of practice it’s best broken by a bit if rest.



Needing Just 4% More for the Moment

The difference is 3 points.  That is over the past three months comparing 60 arrows shooting a 3-spot with a thumb versus a hinge release the slight advantage goes to the hinge still release.  The problem is the highest single score goes to the thumb and that score is 8 points higher than the highest using the hinge.

After 50 are so shots I’m down to a t-shirt to keep cool

It continues to be a frustrating activity searching for a few more points.  Percentage-wise both style releases are equal.  I am only looking for a 4% increase in my scores.  No, a 4% increase is not a perfect score.  I’d like to shoot a 600 every time, but that’s unrealistic for the moment.

Had to tack a target up to keep the sun out of my eyes

When I set a goal I try to make it achievable within the time frame I’ve established for reaching the goal.  In order to achieve the goal I practice a lot.  I measure then manage almost all shots.  For sure, there are days where I simply relax and shoot for fun.  But, most days it’s serious work.

Taking a break and jumping on the Computrainer for a little mind clearing

After this morning’s indoor practice I may have uncovered another small change I can make that may lead to another incremental gain in points. I’ll work on that for a awhile then practice and record some more.

Note: after making the changes things started off great for the first 30 arrows.  The second 30 were par. By then, I’d shot nearly 200 arrows.  I’ll rest tonight and start fresh in the morning.

Get Outside and Play

I write a lot about ‘playing’ outside.  It is my opinion that too many people are not giving themselves time to enjoy the outdoors.  There are times when I notice others outside and to my dismay I see them typing away on cell phones. That’s crazy!

View from my morning run

I own a cell phone.  It’s primary function is to take pictures and play audiobooks.  Nearly every picture on this site was taken with my cell phone.  I listen to audiobooks when I run.  I don’t always have audiobooks on while running.  But, for those long out and back runs it’s a good way to learn something new.  Most of the audiobooks I listen to pertain to sports, history or science.

But, I am outdoors everyday regardless of the weather.  I’ll spend hours practicing archery outside even on the days where I add an indoor session to my training.

A little snow and cold is not a barrier to being outside

No one can shoot all day.  When I take breaks, I find there are plenty of other activities that keep me outside.

Need a break, take a boat ride

When I worked, I found time to get outside.  Before work I ran or rode a bike.  Travel didn’t keep from fresh air.  I found a great way to experience a new city or country was to get outside and run.  I even have a Bike Friday that I traveled with so I could ride.

You know, an hour or so playing outside is a great way to refresh yourself. I’m fortunate in that my work paid off and I can spend a maximum of time doing outdoor activities.  But, you can find the time – so do it for yourself.

Out of Light and Range Finding

Wednesday, December 15th was a long day of training. First there was shooting, then swimming, weight lifting, running, (lunch and a nap), and finally more shooting.

The afternoon archery session began at 2:30 PM and lasted until  4:30 PM when the light faded.

There was still enough light to take a walk and practice guessing yardage on the 3D range. All other practice in archery today have been focused on 18-meters.

Maybe I am left eye dominate. That might explain things.

Just a few more months of short days. I’m already looking forward to more daylight.