All posts by The Running Architect 501

Running and architecture have been a part of my life since early childhood. I have owned my own award winning architectural firm for over 25 years. My work as an architect has been published in local and national journals and been recognized with receiving design awards. I am currently the Director of Architecture at an engineering and architectural firm (see My Work Place link below). My favorite projects are those that include a client that values my contribution as an architect. My competitive running began in Jr HS and continues well into my years as a Masters Runner (over 40yrs). I regularly finish at or near the top finishers of my age group (60-64). When I compete in races from 5k to marathons. I enjoy my second career as an assistant coach in the Running Fit 501 training program. I am a husband, father, proud grandfather, and dog owner.

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Architect

The image of the prototypical architect and long distance runner is one where the architect or runner is each alone in taking on their respective challenges.  While there are plenty of times that an architect or a runner welcome seclusion the reality is that architects and runners come to depend upon a growing list of specialized experts to help them reach their respective goals.

An architect may be identified as the “Designer” for a building and in fact in some instances the architect my in fact be the only architectural person involved to produce not only the design concept but the balance of the necessary duties required to complete the building through to the end of construction. The more common scenario is one where a single architectural firm produces the design and provides on going services through the entire construction.  In this situation, there will likely be several individuals who lead various stages of the design project.

Yet even  a single architectural firm does not have sufficient capabilities to provide all the necessary services.  Most firms will sub-contract services to provide mechanical (HVAC and plumbing), electrical, and structural engineering services. Then in an attempt to provide the client with the required expertise there are also an ever increasingly list of specialty consultants.

The list of specialty consultants can be never ending list of experts. The most common include such disciplines or specialties as; acoustics, kitchen equipment, interior furnishings, signage, elevator, historic, and many more. It is the architect who determines the need for such specialists and who is also the one responsible to coordinate the efforts of the entire design team, including all of the specialty consultants.

So it is for the runner too! In my early days of running the sport was extremely simple.  A runner bought a pair of running shoes, put on some shorts and a shirt and ran.  More than thirty years ago shoes started to become more and more customized to match a runners style, the pace and diversity of options available to the runners started to increase. Then there were changes in a runner’s gear too. Specialized fabrics designed to keep runners cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather became popular.  Now there is an entire specialty industry to serve the runner. The list of toys and tools is probably best left to another post.

My point here is the observation that like architects, who have become to rely upon a team of specialists to help the architect perform better, there is a comparable list of specialists who have emerged to help the runner!  Most runners who take their training seriously must admit they seek outside experts to help them perform at their best. This list of experts are likely to be as simple as the experienced runner and sales person at a local running specialty store to, a group or personal coach, yoga instructor, massage therapist, sports trainer, nutritionist, medical doctor, and perhaps even a runners personal IT specialist to help the runner maintain their digital tools.

Sure it used to be such a simple sport. In my opinion, the sport may have become significantly less simple, it has become even more enjoyable!

Now go lace up your shoes, find your nearby satellite, and RUN HAPPY 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to read this today.


A Little Break In The Action

Runners will always Lee Martian Sm 10K 4-3-10talk and sometimes brag about how many miles they run each day. Non-runners may often take this to mean the runner actually runs the entire distance at a consistent, fast, and non-stop pace. In fact nothing is further from the truth. About the only training run that meets such criteria is a very short run. If a runner claims to run 5, 10, 15, or even 20 miles, the fact is, is that they are not running the same steady pace non-stop for the given distance.

Think about how you work at your job. Do you produce work at a constant effort and quality for the entire 8 hour work day?  Of course not. There are times for breaks, scheduled or unscheduled, time to move from one task to another, time to assess your next task, and of course we all have meeting time. The point to this is that to be efficient at your job, you need to vary your daily routine within the confines of that day’s duties.

When training runners need to do the same. While few runners actually stop during a race, most will stop at some point along their training runs, especially the long runs, to take a brief break and re-coup, even if for only a matter of a handful of seconds. I take breaks during my longer runs about every 3-5 miles depending upon the route and my performance for that day.

Not all runs are run the same way either. During any training run the pace will vary. All training runs should start at a slower than average pace for the runner. However, after the first mile or two the runner should be at their average goal pace for that run. Beyond pace is the intensity or style of running too. I prefer to train to meet the challenge of hills at every opportunity. Thus when I meet a hill during my long easy paced run, I will increase the pace.  Then there are stretches of flat roads or paths where I feel an extra level of energy and I decide to pick up my pace for several hundred yards and simultaneously attempt to focus on my running form. Of course, each such “intense” moment of running is often followed by a brief “relaxing” moment of running. These methods of running combine over a period of time to improve the runner’s overall running performance.

To improve one’s job performance, you should try to do similar variations of performance on the job. As an example, when working on a difficult challenge to resolve at work, there is nothing wrong with taking a break from the work scene. It may be a longer stop at the coffee counter or a long walk around the block. Put your problems aside, albeit not for too long. When you return, you will be refreshed and more than likely actually complete the overall job task in less time than you would have had you persisted through the challenge.

OK, enough of this writing stuff, time to take a break and go for a run!

Thanks for taking this moment to read this and remember to Run Happy!


WInter Winds


A few days ago I posted a note to our local training group about winter running tips. One of my tips was to always try to finish your run with the wind at your back. Even non runners can imagine what it might feel like to run a few miles dressed to accommodate below freezing temps. It will not be long until you begin to build a sweat and your body’s heat clings to you because you are running with the wind.
Now imagine what happens when you stop and turn around to return to where to started. The cold wind is not only in your face it is also working to remove that comforting and perhaps over heated layer of warmth away from your body too! To make matters worse you can add 5-7 mph (your running pace) to the effective wind velocity too!  In no time at all what started as a feel good winter run will end as a nasty chilling winter run regardless of how to dressed to prepare!
There is a similar comparison in architecture. Obviously buildings do not run down any road, but they are exposed to winds and elements of nature everyday.  Careful attention to the placement, siting, or orientation of how a building is located on a piece of property will have a huge and permanent affect on the energy performance of that structure.
Imagine a house designed to take into consideration year around of the evening sunsets over a special view such as a lake. It would likely include a considerable extent of windows or openings to capture the view. The problem is that these same well intended openings will become easy targets for the prevailing winter winds (in Michigan) and without special attention to detail will become cold spaces or at best spaces that are costly to heat and thus waste precious energy.
Beyond winds, sun angles, micro climates, shading devices, material selection, and similar items all need to be carefully considered if a building or house is to take the best advantage of nature and have any hope of becoming an energy efficient structure.
On your next run through the neighborhood take a mental inventory of how many prototypical (or “builder” homes) there are in your neighborhood that fail to take into account basic strategies of design to positively influence the energy performance for the life of that house. Then zip up or your outermost layer and enjoy the balance of your run. 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to read this today.
Run Happy

Welcome to The Running Architect’s Blog


Good  Morning and welcome to my Blog. With at least a gazillion other blogs  in cyber land today, what makes mine different?  I have yet to find one  that focuses on the comparison of running (particularly distance  running) and architecture.
The two endeavors are very much alike. I hope  by following my postings you will come to understand the strong  relationship between running and architecture. Perhaps one  reason I have yet to find a similar blog site is that runners and  architects are each a small percentage of the general population.  Among  the 308 million Americans, only 233,000 (less than 1%) are architects.

There are comparable numbers of runners who compete in a marathon each  year too. Thus the number of architects who also compete in a marathon  is an extremely small percentage of the population.  I am both lucky and  proud to be a member of this very small and special group.
Thanks for your  visit today and I hope you become a regular follower of this site,  perhaps a new runner, or best of all, a runner and a client!
Run Happy!