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.

These old Newtons don’t owe me a dime.

Runners often get caught up in the latest shoe that is marketed to make them run faster. Personally, I like a shoe that feels good. I want shoes that have a wide toe box and won’t rub my toes wrong.

Time to say goodbye

Once, after a 1/2 marathon in Delaware, I took my shoes off to learn the more narrow toe box had chewed away a toe nail during the race.  Others followed after a few days of unsuccessfully trying to hang on. Since then, I’ve worn wider shoes.

The Newtons I wear seem just about perfect for my feet. Like must of us, my feet aren’t exactly the same. There not mismatched to the degree where one foot needs another size. Both feet are either 9.5 or 10.0 depending on the shoe. A little wider shoe compensates for the minor difference in my two feet.

Hello my new friends

I’ll run in a pair of shoes until they fall apart. Over time my shoes do fall apart. Those old Newtons (the red pair) had about a year of running in them before they gave up the ghost.

Home After 14 Days on the Road

We’re back in New Hope, North Carolina after two weeks on the road living in our Winnebago Micro Minnie. The trip began as a three-day outing to Madison, NC to attend an indoor archery tournament. The adventure expanded to six campsites over three states: North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina.

Our first stop. Although a lot of potential with the rustic barns and such if you see this cabin when looking for a campsite – move on

From the various campsites we took day trips. Among those was a drive to Wilmington, NC. Wilmington is a nice little town except for the traffic. I especially wanted to go there to see some of the sites where “The Hart of Dixie” was filmed. I have no idea how popular this show was when it ran. I watched it after it had been canceled. It is one of those rare series that had me laughing so hard at times I could barely catch my breath.

“Mayor Lavon Hayes'” home from the show The Hart of Dixie. This picture by no means does it justice.
“Dr. Brick Breeland’s” office

In Kinston, NC we stopped and for a second time had dinner at the Chef and the Farmer. Kinston has a nice first come first serve campground at a Nature Park on the Neuse River. It is one of the best deals going at $15.00 per night for a full hook up roomy campsite.

From our campsite in Kinston, NC

Our longest stay was near Tignal, Georgia at Hester’s Ferry campground. By far this ranks as the best campground we’ve used since we bought the RV. This was our longest stay on the trip because we were in Tignal for Thanksgiving.

Set-up at Hester’s Ferry

At all the campsites I found great running trails and got in some off road cycling several times. After the tournament in Madison, NC, I was able to continue archery practice in Tignal.

Little Pee Dee Campground near Dillon, SC

What I can say about two-weeks in a Winnebago Micro Minnie (the 2106 Model) – there was plenty room, we never ran out of hot water, and the heat at night (temperatures down to below freezing a time or two) was toasty. Nevertheless, it is good to be home.

River eager to hit the trails

Playing and Practice on the Wild Side

Sunrise on the river

The past few days have been a bustle of cycling, running and shooting. The weather, despite ever-present wind, has been excellent. Wind impedes cycling in one direction and then repeats the trick in the reverse direction. You’d think there would be a tailwind. Running with the wind in your face may slow faster runners down a tad. A slower paced runner seems unaffected by an equivalent blowing resistance. The leaves that now cover trees suggests the wind across the 3D and the 50-meter range will be less pronounced. Outdoors here means, for most days, playing in the wind.

“Boat Ramp Road” is a spot to pause during a ride. The title of this road hopefully was not a mental taxation for the creators.

Yesterday, Brenda and I planned to head out in the boat for a cruise between archery practices. Just as we walked out to the dock we observed the waves picking up. Before we got the boat off the lift there were white caps across the water’s surface. Cursing in a Carolina Skill over a river capped in white is a rough trip. We postponed that adventure.

Our adventure may be have been put on hold but there is a bass tournament underway in the Little River where we live. We watched a boatload of anglers, its passengers slamming across the water, heading out for more casting. They bounced along for about 500 yards before getting smart, or battered the right amount for common sense to emerge, and returned to port.

This little fella was enjoying the warm afternoon

Shooting has been just fine in the spring woods. The first few 3D targets are a bit exposed to wind but certainly not like they were in the leafless months. The main drawbacks this time of the year are snakes and mosquitos.

This is why I was sweeping leaves that had gathered under an outside storage area

Our area of the coast is swampy. Ideal for both the problems: snakes and mosquitos. There is a third annoyance, poison ivy, which a watchful eye can avoid.

Snakes mostly try to evade River, my snake hunting lab, and me. River joins me in the woods and is vigilant in her sniffing for the slithering outlaws. She’s pretty good at finding snakes. She did walk right past a copperhead. I stopped as we approached it seeing it coiled to strike.   Its hostility terminated with a lead induced amputation its head.

Copperheads are nice looking snakes. But, they will bite you which leads to no good.

Most of the snakes we meet aren’t a problem and prefer to let us alone. In that respect, we leave them alone as well, taking a live and let live stance on the encounter. The snakes that care little for avoidance are either poisonous or don’t give way because they’re so large they think nobody will mess with them. We don’t mess with the non-poisonous variety of serpent irrespective of it size. Still there are plenty of the lethal reptiles to warrant keeping eyes constantly examining the ground. There is no way a sane person would head back to those boggy ranges without snake boots.

This big ole snake could have cared less that I was watching

Already the swamp is minus one copperhead and three water moccasins. One of the chunky vipers escaped after I shot at it with my Ruger 380 and missed. I actually missed it twice. My neighbor, Jimmy, who is competitive with a pistol, would not have missed. He shots them with a little 22. I need a modest bit more lead to compensate my non-archery aim. Even so there’s that one that got away despite the larger caliber projectile. As my pistol friend said, “You’ll see him, again.”

Keeping an eye to the ground uncovers all sorts of critters
Typically how things are when walking up on legless trouble

I could probably do as good hitting snakes with an arrow as with a bullet should the circumstance arise. The operative adverb being probably and thus far there’s been no opportunity for an archer’s test. I’ve yet to stroll up on a snake when I wasn’t walking to pull arrows.

Look over every log before putting a foot down

A firearm does make me feel a bit more certain as opposed to shooting an arrow angled down at close range. In addition, I would rather not fire arrows that will, whether hitting the mark of not, end up in stuck in the ground.

Care is taken not to step on these little ones

Mosquitos, those blood-sucking pests, are swarming in clouds so thick that occasionally I have to letdown on a shot to swat them away to see. Yes, I have an operating Thermacell hanging on my quiver’s belt and am drenched with bug spray when I’m shooting in this swamp. Without those chemicals surrounding me in a cloud and soaked onto my skin there is a chance the bugs would harvest me whole.

Knee high Swiftwick sports compression socks are perfect for 17-inch snake boots

Despite the somewhat primitive environment where I practice it is fun to be outdoors in the wooded wetland. You just have to be careful where you step, be willing to reek of bug spray, and watch where you squat.

An Eye on Exercise

Archery is not a sport where the athletes involved are going to gain a lot of fitness. ESPN created a method to determine the level whereby sports could be evaluated related to: endurance, strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, nerve, durability and analytic aptitude. Of the sixty sports measured boxing topped the list of 60. 1 Archery ranked 55th followed by curling, bowling, shooting (non-archery), billiards, and fishing.1 Depending on how you search sports there is some variance in ranking. Archery is never among the most difficult when measuring athletic fitness.


If you have read the site you may be aware that fitness is a frequent topic. Archers to some degree are not really fit. That is not to suggest that a skilled archer is not a great athlete. It is my opinion that being physically fit is an important adjunct to an archer.


As a former internationally competitive cyclist and later triathlete I continue to complement archery with the training needed for those sports. In other words, I still run, swim, cycle and lift weights. Occasionally, I log the distances I walk while practicing archery.

Swim Start of the F1 Triathlon in San Diego

On one of those recent occasions I continued to log distances, after running, using my Garmin Forerunner 310XT while I trained against an 18 meter 3-spot. In that session of shooting I walked an additional 1.66 miles.


Walking less than two miles is not a huge accomplishment. Still not everyone can walk that far. It seems easy, but there a many people who consider 1.66 miles quite a hike. The calories burned per hour, for me, during that session of archery was 238. Obviously, there is more involved with archery than walking, but not much related to physical activity. Without adding archery for the 1.66 miles (walking only) the caloric burn is 203. On average I shoot 4 hours per day and burn 952 calories through archery.

Considering the other exercise I do, I think of it as an adjunct to archery. Being more fit means I can practice longer. It may also help me live longer. Fitness isn’t the sole avenue to longevity but it does help. Fitness and strength training, at least for me, are part of my archery-training program.


Adding a fitness program to your archery training can be beneficial. If you aren’t already involved in other training systems, it is a good idea to have a physician give you a green light to begin.


It’s a Matter of Fitness

At nearly all archery competitions people are talking about their health. Some talk about injuries, others mention medical aliments, still more complain about their excess weight. At one outdoor competition, a 50-meter event, the archer on the line next to me said, “I’ve never shot more than 30 arrows in one day.” We had 72 arrows to shoot and we’d had 24 shots for warm-up. Plus, the guy’s weight was a tad on the excessive side. I knew this guy was in for a rough day. I wasn’t mistaken.

Days on the range can be long, hot, and require a lot of standing around

Once I heard a bit of braggadocio that went like this, “In practice, if I shoot 10 good shots I quit.” That may be fine if the bulk of the tournaments were 10 arrows or less. Ten shots will not prepare anyone for a 100 shot day.

Another time, a self-proclaimed expert said, “I shoot 30 arrows 3 to 4 times a week.” On the range during 3D tournaments I’ve heard this several time, “I haven’t practiced all week.” Before too long that same individual is whining because he’s making poor shots.

I make a lot of bad shots. Prior to this season, there’s not been a year when I didn’t miss a 3D target entirely. Heck, during my first year of shooting, on an indoor range no less, I put arrows into the ceiling on more than one occasion. This past weekend, I shot all 12’s and 10’s with two exceptions, an 8 and (hanging my head) a 5. (Amazingly, I still won – I just knew that 5 if not the 8 were going to blow it for me.)


Archery is a sport and it takes a great deal of physical effort. That effort isn’t a major cardio workout. At the last 3D tournament we walked 1.36 miles over the course in about 2 hours. Not a grueling pace. Yet, there were people who seemed totally wasted from the effort. (I ran further than that before the tournament.)

You do not need to be a marathoner to shoot archery. But, you should be in shape to perform to your highest level. The better fitness you process the more time you can spend training. In that regard, I consider fitness training part of my archery training. Aside from archery specific training, I spend nearly 1000 additional hours a year on general fitness training.


I can’t shoot well more than about 4 hours per day broken into two practice sessions, morning and afternoon. Nearly every morning, before archery practice I run. Not far, never more than 6 miles, and not too fast. Between archery practices is when I do more fitness training.


I understand most of you work during the day. As such, you probably do most of your archery practice in the evenings and on weekends. That still leaves early mornings for addition fitness training.

When I worked at my medical career I trained (not archery) before work, after work and at times (when I was not traveling) during my lunch break. That pattern began when I was 17 and would train for cycling before school and after school. The pattern still rules today – 44 years later.

Being fit doesn’t mean I need to be able to run a marathon or do an Ironman. It also doesn’t mean I won’t do another of each. What it does mean is that I am in better condition for the rigors of archery.

Getting our on my bike or running offers some great views

I don’t focus on the number of arrows I shoot per day. Some days it’s a few as 30 (tapering or active recover) or as many as 240. To help prevent should injury I only pull 52 pounds and lift weights year round. My mid-day workouts are critical to my ongoing development as an archer. Mid-day I swim, ride a bike and/or weight lift.


Not everyone shares this view of archery. That’s obvious by the phenotypes I see in the sport. Regardless of opinion, being healthy and fit are beneficial. Find a plan, create a plan, do what you can for your health. You’ll appreciate when you’re in your 60s.


A Muddy Dog

River runs with me. She’s a lab and she love water. Muddy water is as acceptable as a clear lake. When we pass any wet area she will test the water.

Clear running

Today as we headed down a trail I spotted a puddle that was red with saturated clay. There was no way to change River’s inertia once she got a whiff of mud. She made an all out sprint to the crimson pool.

The mud fun begins

As we headed home my running partner was no longer strictly brown, she was more of a rust color. Thankfully, she took a nice long swim in the lake, which, in effect, was her bath.



Congratulations Chris

I met Chris though archery. We shot together in Delaware and Maryland. He’s a good man, husband and father. He was also a big man.

Chris had a weight problem. His health wasn’t as good as he wanted. He also wanted to be around a long time for his family. Chris set out on a mission to eat better, lose weight, and run to improve his fitness.

Since beginning his mission he’s lost 147 pounds. This past weekend completed Monster Mash Marathon in Dover, DE.


Way to go, Chris! We’re all very proud of you. Look forward to shooting with you and hoping to get in a run with you.

Putting it on the line at Darleen’s Flamingo 5K

On November 1st,  I ran in the 5th Annual Darleen’s Flamingo 5K. The run is a charity event with proceeds and donations benefitting the Shepard Cancer Foundation. It is held in honor of Darleen Smith. It was a unique experience among 5K runs.


Darleen fought a hard battle against Breast Cancer and lived by her favorite slogan, “Make Your Own Party”. The run took place in the waterfront community of Smithton, NC.

View from the start finish line

The event was a scenic drive from my home  that took nearly two hours to complete. As I approached the race I recognized I was getting close because signs and Pink Flamingos were posted on roads and in yards. Nearing registration I was directed to a parking area some distance away. The weather was windy, wet and cold. I wasn’t looking forward to a hike or jog back and forth to my car to get ready for the run.

Pulling into the parking area I was saw dozens of ATVs. This caravan of ATVs was on hand to shuttle people back and forth to their cars. And, the caravan was in full operation.

Shuttle service to registration then to the start line

I was amazed at the turn out for this 5K. It seemed the entire community showed up in support of Darleen’s Flamingo. Her motto, “Make you own party” appeared to have been adapted en masse. The start / finish line were in the community which had the atmosphere of a block party.

Start line

The race started without delay and the wind did its best to remain forcefully in our faces. I drafted two ‘big’ guys; they looked like high school football players until there was a tail wind. The tail wind, short lived, was enough to help me gain a lead over the ‘big’ guys and I maintained it until the finish where I placed third in my age group.

The 80 year old Winner of the 66 – 99 age group. He finished the 5K in around 30 minutes

After many races there is food for the runners. Food often means a bottle of water and perhaps a piece of fruit or cold bagel. Darleen’s Flamingo did it differently – they served breakfast. (The race started at 5 PM)

This wasn’t a half-hearted Hampton Inn breakfast. They served: grits, eggs, cheese biscuits, pancakes, bacon, sausage, a variety of desserts and fruit. It was incredible. I am going back next year if for nothing else the food!

Post-race food line

It seemed hundreds of people turned out for this block party charity event. Each, in their way, “Put it on the Line” for a good cause. Darleen’s Flamingo stands out as one of the coolest 5Ks I’ve ever run.