It's actually a great barometer for knowing when to cut back on pace
and go with what the day brings, and I did just that. I actually used
this race as a training run for my Rim2Rim4Roy challenge in early October. I ran to the start, ran the half marathon
and then walked back to the hotel. Twenty miles in total and a perfect
training day for me. If you're looking to get in a fun training run and can control your pace, try using a half marathon and warm up with a few miles before the gun goes off. I will often use half marathons as supported long runs, especially if I am on the road traveling. Plus, you get the extra bennies too (sports drink, bathrooms, shirt, medal...)
So I guess we're headed into fall, and with that begins my search for the perfect carmel apple. Because what is fall without carmel apples? Not a fall at all...
I sat for a while on the edge of the water cheering on swimmers and noticed a nice trend. Mothers, fathers, and grandparents walking along with their kids in tow. Many of the kids had "Go Dad or Mom" on their shirts and all of them were eagerly awaiting a chance to cheer them on. I have to believe this is going to have a profound impact on the next generation and how active they choose to be. With parents (and grandparents) as role models out there in the water and on the roads getting it done their kids are going to choose to live an active lifestyle because it will be normal. And what a great way to be proactive in the battle with childhood obesity.
Way to go moms, dads and grandparents! You are a tremendous role model and your achievements today will make a huge impact on children tomorrow.
Every once in awhile I find myself surrounded by an amazing "group" of people. Meaning everyone in the group is simply amazing.
Sometimes it is a small group and other times, like on our cruise, it is a larger group. In either case, the group is fueled by the collection of amazing energy that comes from each person. I like to call it "karma." The best way to describe this journey, the Great Alaskan Maritime Marathon was a fun adventure with some of the greatest folks I'd ever want to meet. We had runners from Thailand, Australia, Canada and all over the nation. All of whom immediately bonded at the cocktail party on our very first evening together.
I think it was because everyone was willing to put their preconceived expectations aside and went with the flow. We set up the staged marathon so that in each port you run a race...and by the end of the trip you complete 26.2 miles (the fun way:). That, in and of itself is a challenge, but we added to the adventure by asking them to gently step outside their comfort zones for the week. To try something new and challenge themselves in less traditional way. From learning to navigate to running on a tough trail, everyone took on the challenge, embraced the path less traveled and grew together and individually for it in the end. BTW, I am a firm believer that you practice what you preach so I made myself where pretty high heals (okay, high for me) and formal dresses most of the week. (completely out of my comfort zone) It as tough but I loved every minute. Well, except when my feet began to talk to me.
Anyway, I am grateful that I get to do what I love for a living and others are willing to adventure on with me. It was a privilege to spend a week with such a great group of runners and walkers and I have a lot of wonderful memories to boot!
'Tis the season for pedicures...even for the guys! Many runners have regular pedicures to keep your feet looking good in the summer, but are they good for you? There is much controversey about this and the short answer is they are both good and bad. Pedicures can be
useful for runners in maintaining healthy feet, but you do need to practice a little caution when you head to the salon. A typical
pedicure includes a warm water foot soak, cuticle and nail trim and file, buffing/shaving of calluses, polish and a foot and lower leg
massage. All of which can be useful in keeping your feet healthy.
The area of caution is in the buffing and shaving of calluses. If this is done too aggressively, it can cause problems with blisters,
especially if done too close to a long training run or a race. In fact, many even suggest skipping the buffing altogether due to a risk in developing blisters. Most salons have stopped "shaving" due to risk of infection. If they get out that tool, ask them to use the buff and to do so very gently...The best thing to do is to tell the pedicurist that you are a runner and you want a soft, gentle buff (or none at all). And if you have huge calluses that are painful, it is best to see a sports doc to evaluate the best way for them to be removed.
For those that are new to getting pedicures, don't expect the magic to happen overnight. It's like running, depending on the condition of your feet, it may take a few months and a couple of pedicures to get your feet on the right path.
If you are an endurance runner training for an event, schedule your pedicures well in advance of your longest training runs (1 month) and after the race to avoid the risk of blistering. Some may not experience problems, especially if you forego the callus work, but it
is always wise to error on the side of caution.
Also make sure the salon is clean and sterilizes the tools before and after each pedicure. This is not the place to save money. It pays
I guess I am stuck in a "Top-Ten" rut...Letterman would be proud.
Getting fluids in you during your long runs is key for optimal training. But how much, when and why? Here are 10 tips to making sense of it all...
10] Have fluids on you rather than depending on water fountains. You can hydrate at a specific rate (time) and better control the amount of fluids you are consuming.
9] Take the thinking out of it and set the timer on your watch to 15-20 minute intervals. Every time it goes off, hydrate.
8] Like an eyeglass prescription, everyone's fluid needs are different. Some may need more fluids as their sweat rate is much greater. There is no one specific amount of fluids that will work for everyone. Calculate your "Sweat Rate" by weighing yourself before a 60 minute run. Mark down your weight in your log. Go for your run. Weigh yourself again and mark down the temperature, speed you ran and how much weight you lost. For every pound lost = 16 ounces. So, if you lost 2 pounds (32 ounces) on that run, you would aim to hydrate IN THOSE CONDITIONS, about 6 ounces every 15-20 minutes.
7] Your goal should be to offset hydration, not replace all the fluids lost. We are not capable of 'replacing' all fluids lost in sweat when we run. Especially when it is very hot and humid. That is because the body can only absorb so much fluid per hour (about 1 liter or less).
6] Train with the sports drink that is served on the racecourse. Consume sports drink 'most' of the time on the run. It will offset electrolytes lost in sweat and also provide quick fuel to the muscles.
5] Mix it up and put water in one Fuel Belt\ bottle and sports drink in the other three. It's fueling on demand and a great way to have a variety of options on the long run.
4] Walk to get the fluids in. Unless you've mastered drinking on the run, it is better to get the fluids in you rather than on you. You will more than make up the lost time walking over the duration of the run.
3] For those with a sensitive system, consider drinking fluids more frequently, but in smaller quantities. Perhaps 2- ounce sips every 10 minutes.
2] Watch the color of your urine when you go to the bathroom. If it is "clear" that means you are drinking TOO much. If it is dark, you need to drink more. If it is light yellow like lemonade, your hydration is just right.
1] Clean your Fuel Belt and hydration system right after your run with soapy water. It is easier to clean and avoids mold from growing (yuck).
I finished up my long run on the trails Sunday and was about 15 minutes slower than anticipated. Funny thing about the heat and humidity...it doesn't care what your goal is for your long run. You just have to learn to work with the heat, rather than beat it because it will beat you every time!
Like altitude, it takes a good two weeks for your body to acclimate to heat and humidity. That is, your body learns to cool itself more efficiently. The key is you have to run in the heat to acclimate. You won't acclimate if you are in the nice air conditioned gym. It just doesn't work that way...so here you go. My top ten tips for running with the heat.
10] Run at cooler times of the day; in the morning or at dusk until you acclimate.
9] A few times per week, run at mid-day if possible. Your body will better learn how to acclimate if you actually run in the heat. Keep the pace slow and remember to hydrate.
8] Wear loose-fitting, light colored wicking running clothes like Dri-Fit or Coolmax and sunscreen and sunglasses.
7] Let's not get crazy...Run Smart. If there is a heat alert or poor air quality day, take your workout indoors. You won't get any super-human reward for pushing in dangerous heat and it will most likely take your body longer to recover from the workout. Train smart.
6] Cross-train to acclimate. If you always have a hard time with the heat, consider taking Bikram Yoga (Hot Yoga). I did this to prepare for crewing for the Badwater Endurance Race - a 135 mile ultra-marathon in DEATH VALLEY in JULY! The Bikram Yoga classes help your body learn how to adapt to hot conditions. It really helped the team and I noticed a huge difference in my warm weather running performance as well.
5] Use your many gears and adapt. Slow your pace, reduce your intensity and get the run in rather than pushing through it. Doing so will allow you to more efficiently acclimate and continue to run. Your body will gradually become better at cooling itself in the warmer weather allowing you to continue to run at your normal pace.
4] Change how you define your runs. Run by your effort level rather than your typical pace until you acclimate. You can also add power-walk breaks every 4-8 minutes to cool yourself during your runs. This also works well for speed work. It is all about managing your body core temperature and not allowing it to rise too much, risking overheating and really slowing down. Like a car, if the temperature rises too high you will overheat
3] Hydrate every 15-20 minutes while running and take a look down when you go to the bathroom. You'll know if your well hydrated if it looks like lemonade and pail yellow. If it runs clear, you are drinking too much. If it runs dark, you need to hydrate a little more! For runs 45 minutes or longer, consume a sports drink to replenish electrolytes lost via sweat.
2] Pay attention to your body's stress signals and if you begin to feel dizzy, light-headed, overheated, experience cramping, stop running, seek shade and a way to cool yourself.
1] Be flexible with your goals for the run. You may need to get in a tempo run or easy run at a certain pace according to your training plan, but the heat will get in the way of that. Be flexible ad modify your plan. You can switch days, modify pace or the workout so you have more rest, less speed or take it inside to a treadmill to get in the quality.
Well, I had a great race in Santa Barbara and then came down with a nasty chest/sinus cold on the way home. Serves me right for having so much fun on those wine country hills, not to mention the wine too:) It's always fun trying to get back into running after you've been sick for a week. My lungs hurt, I gasp for air within minutes of my warm up and I just don't have any energy.
But, there is good reason for this. My body is actually helping me out by forcing me to slow down and recover. The more I push or try to run through this, the harder it gets and the worse I feel. Just my body's way of saying, "excuse me, but I need some time to recover. I know you want to get out and run, but I need a little more sleep and a lot more TLC." Then it turns into a negotiation similar to buying a new car. "Well, okay, I will talk to my manager and see what I can do..."
The more I rest at this point, the better I feel and the sooner I will be on the trails again. I know it's always best to lower your effort level (walk or very easy activity) when you have anything going on in your chest. But it's surely tough to tame my inner runner, especially now that spring has sprung.
I just returned from running one of the prettiest half marathon courses I've ever run. I brought a team of about 100 runners from my company Chicago Endurance Sports to run the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon, and although it was hilly, they ran, they conquered and they tasted wine at the end! That's not something I recommend or even do myself post race, but when in Rhone, I mean Rome...
One of the coaching lessons I've learned through the years is to go
with the flow. Some races you get out there and hammer, and other times you
go with what the day brings. And when you run a race through the Santa
Barbara Wine Country, that means making friends with the hills and
enjoying wine at the end... And as you can see from the wine tasting tent below, we did just that.
These days, running a race can mean so many things for so many different people. There are charity runners running for their cause, the elites trying to get the win and every day mortals, getting away for a fun-filled weekend with a challenge thrown in the middle. What ever your reason, find a race that you can enjoy. Because if you're not having fun out there, what's the point.
I just returned from my first warm-weather run of the season. We've had an extended winter and a mini-spring so here we are at 80 degrees! Don't get me wrong, I am NOT complaining, but it sure can trip up your running pace. It takes our bodies about two weeks to acclimate to the warmer temps so I typically run by effort level rather than pace or speed. Which ultimately means I slow down to let my body cool itself efficiently.
It's truly amazing what our bodies will adapt too. I crewed for a fellow adventure racing friend Rob Harsh a few years back in the Badwater 135 Ultra-Marathon. This is a 135 mile race held in Death Valley in JULY! The temperature at the start line was 130 degrees. Although I only ran a quarter of the race, I still had to train and prepare my body for the heat. One way was I took Bikram Yoga Classes (aka Hot Yoga). The studio is over 100 degrees and the class is 90 minutes long. It not only helped me train for the Badwater, it also improved my body's ability to train all summer long in the heat and humidity. Gradually my body became very efficient at cooling itself in Bikram, mid-day summer runs and eventually in 100+ heat in Death Valley. I wouldn't want to run in Death Valley every day (and wouldn't recommend it either) but when I returned an 80-85 degree run was a piece of cake.
Our bodies are amazing tools. When trained gradually, they can adapt to almost anything!
I just returned from a trip to Nashville, for the Country Music Marathon where the hills are plentiful and so is the country music! I was there to speak at the Expo and I can tell you it is one of my favorite half marathons. Mostly because I love to run hills. Living in Chicago, I am hill-deprived and have to drive 30 minutes to get to what most people would call a bump in the road.
While speaking in my clinics I noticed whenever I talked through the course, the crowd began to look worried, scared and very nervous. I figured out it wasn't because they were all first-timers, it was because it IS a very hilly course. But a fun, hilly course. The key to racing on hills is to "make friends" with the hills. You've got to "be the hill" and not "be afraid of the hill."
Most people dread running hills because they go at it in the least effective way. They run it hard to the top, trying to maintain the same pace as on the flats and that just doesn't work. Well, it works if you enjoy pain, suffering and being completely spent by half way through the race!
The key to racing hills is to run them like a cyclist, efficiently. What do cyclists do when they head into a hill? One, they anticipate, two, they change gears and three, once they get to the top, they change gears again and use the downhill to gain speed and momentum for the next one. Runners can do the same. Try this the next time you run a hilly course. It not only works, but you will end up loving hills by the end of the run...I promise!
When running up the hill, keep your EFFORT level (not your speed or pace) the same as what it is on the flat (in essence you are switching gears like a cyclist) So let's say you are running a 10:00 pace before the hill, you will have to slow your pace to maintain the same effort level (breathing rate, heart rate...). Trust me, this works. You will begin notice a lot of runners pass you. Let them go... Keep your stride length shorter, your torso tall and focus only on your effort level. Once you reach the peak of the hill switch gears again extend your stride, lean slightly into the hill and let it pull you down. This is key. If you think "let go" and really let the hill pull you down like a cyclist you will hit the base of the hill faster than you might have if there was no hill! Plus, you mix up your muscles, have a strategy to focus on mentally and it makes for a fun race!
Try it, you just may like it and it sure beats cursing at the hills.
Although we're within weeks of springtime, it still feels so far away. Today's high in Chicago is a mere 5 degrees and the windchill -15. I know, I know, I shouldn't complain as it is colder somewhere else but this season has really been quite brutal. it's a good thing it is base building time. This is the perfect time of year to build a strong base of easy paced (aerobic) running. It's cold, we have less sun and running outdoors can be challenging to say the least.
Heading out or in for an easy run and staying at conversational pace is the perfect strategy for developing a strong foundation of mileage from which to launch your speed, hills and longer runs in the coming months. I see many runners make the same mistake every year and train at the same intensity or too hard year round. That only ends up with injury, aches and pains and in many cases a slower than expected race performance because you end up fatigued and burnt out by race day.
If you are training for a summer or fall event, take the time now to build a foundation of easy effort mileage. You may find that you enjoy it and you will for sure reap the benefits down the road as you move into more demanding phases of your preparation.