One important next step for athletes is to train to the race. In other words, if you want to perform optimally in a trail race, you should train on a similar trail. If you event is on a flat road, spend time training on a flat road so you body and mind can adapt to the specific demands of that course. Taking your preparation to the next most specific level really can make a difference in how you perform both physically and mentally on race day.
When I prepared for the Eco-Challenge in the jungles of Borneo, Malaysia and Fiji my team raced and trained in similar terrain. Although training in humid, muddy conditions produced many bad hair days it ultimately prepared us to perform at our very best in the expedition race. Last year when I trained for my first 50K Ultra Marathon, I ran on the course and other similar single track trails. It not only helped me learn to run on technical trails, I got a visual image of the course and redesigned my strength program to include specific balance and core exercises.
This is the perfect time to plan your season. Set that goal. Register for those races and then plan your strategy to include specific preparation so you too can perform well on race day.
I recently had the opportunity to meet and talk to World Record Marathoner Paula Radcliffe. She is a running phenom who is blazing the trail for all female athletes. Not only is she the fastest female marathoner in the world, she is also the fastest marathon mom in the world too! After giving birth to a baby girl in January of 2007, she won the New York City Marathon last fall! Simply amazing.
Okay, so back to talking with Paula... One of the questions I asked her was how she recovers from a marathon race. Her response was both predictable and surprising. Predictable in that she takes time off. Something most of us mortal marathoners don't do enough. Surprising because she really takes time off. No running and easy cross-training for an entire month! I guess I expected a graduated progression back to running like most of us do but she said invests four weeks to recover mentally and physically from the demands of her training regimen as well as the race.
So, as a coach and runner I was very intrigued with this and decided to try the Paula Method this month. I ran the Disney Marathon with my brother January 13th then another half marathon the next weekend and it was the perfect time to do it. I was tired from the training and all that the holidays had to offer.
To my surprise, I am happy to report it was one of the most effective recovery periods in my running career. I am finishing up my fourth week. I have done only easy cross-training and included activities I enjoy like yoga, cycling and walking and I haven't run a step in a month! It was funny at first because I almost felt guilty not running but soon enough I was in the flow of a new regimen and reaping the benefits.
So, having rested from running for one month I am eager to get back to a training regimen and have a rejuvenated sense of energy and motivation to do so. It almost feels as if I've reset my running odometer and on to a new journey. Mostly because my body has had time to relax and recover and I've had time to enjoy other activities my marathon regimen (and the holidays) wouldn't allow for like seeing movies, visiting with family, Bikram Yoga, snowshoeing. I am no Paula Radcliffe but I better understand her recovery strategy. She trains hard. She races harder. So it makes perfect sense that her recovery is just as hard.
I'm just back from a few marathon race weekends and fielding training questions again. By the way, Disney and the Cabo San Lucas races were a lot of fun and great destinations for runners...
One of the questions I always get this time of year is "I have committed to training for a marathon this year, but how do I know where to start training wise". The key to reaching the start line of any marathon (half or otherwise) is to start with where you are, rather than where you want to be. Meaning, the most successful runners reach the start line safely by following a training program that matches their current running or walking regimen. Everyone can get there but we all take various avenues to safely and optimally reach the start.
For instance, if you are running 3 times per week for 30-60 minutes, you would find a program that start with 3-4 times per week for that same time frame. A program that starts with much more will only invite risk for injury and burn out. If you are running less than that, consider a run-walk regimen that will more safely allow you to progress in mileage and intensity with much less risk of injury. If you have a strong base of mile 4-6 times per week make sure the program starts there and progresses with enough workouts that will challenge you. If the program starts with less mileage, maintain what you have now and build when the program catches up with you. Going back and running less (unless you are in recovery from a race) will only take you backwards.
Successful endurance running training depends greatly on the wisdom to follow the right program based on your experience and current training and the patience to follow it.
I'm just now healing from the Disney Marathon Sunday. I ran it with my brother Scott (Team Hadfield) and we did so in memory of my father who passed away last year from a brain tumor. Disney was the nucleus of our family vacations. My parents use to throw us in the van and drive us from Chicago to Orlando in the Spring. We would be arguing by the Indiana border, have barricades up to separate us kids by Tennessee and my parents were ready to burn the "Sound of Music" eight track tape because it was the only thing we wanted to listen to. Ahhh, the good times:)
It truly was a magical marathon. It is rare to have a perfect marathon from start to finish but we did just that. It was warm for us (65 and very humid 78 by the end) so we took it slow. We took pictures in every park and believe it or not there were lines to get photos with the Disney characters! We picked up the pace in the second half (negative split) and he ran his fastest mile at the end. A picture perfect way to run a marathon! There is almost nothing better than being able to run hard at the end of a race. It takes patience and discipline, but if you can pull it off it is the best! Plus, your finish line photo looks great too.
Life has a funny way of coming back to you. I spent my childhood vacations at Disney World with my family and it always brought us closer together. And this trip was just as special. Four theme parks, 26.2 miles and a fantastic 15th Anniversary Marathon Medal. What is better than that?
Now it is on to Cabo San Lucas for the Half Marathon with my team Chicago Endurance Sports. It should be a fun race with only 2,000 runners and a peaceful weekend with great running buddies. I have been focusing heavily on my recovery over the last few days. Although I ran the marathon easy, it still takes a toll on the body. I soaked in ice (pool) after the race, ate well, and walked regularly Sunday and Monday. Today I got a massage which really helped to loosen up my legs. Tomorrow I will walk easy and stretch and try a very easy run on Thursday and Friday. Full marathon recovery can take up to 4 weeks and depends on age, intensity of your race performance, training and nutrition to name of few. Recovery starts the minute you cross the finish line and continues for weeks. I feel good and I'm looking forward to running a race in Mexico.
Coach Jenny Hadfield
Author, Running for Mortals and Marathoning for Mortals
If you haven't heard yet, there is a very inspiring movie called the Spirit of the Marathon showing in theaters January 24th. For a runner, this is like the Oscars. There aren't many movies about running and certainly none that inspire like this one does.
It was filmed on four continents and follows two elite athletes Deana Kastor (US Women's Marathon record holder), Daniel Njenga, and four mortal marathoners. One of the runners, Leah trained in my marathon group Chicago Endurance Sports so I had the chance to see it in production and post production. It is amazing how many hours go into a film. My dog Bear even got a little cameo appearance:)
I had the chance to see it last fall before I raced an ultra marathon and I left the theater with a bucket load of motivation. It shines the light on what it takes to train, prepare and show up on race day whether you are an elite athlete or a mortal marathoner. "Spirit" leaves you with a tremendous sense of pride in being a runner and a marathon finisher.
It is showing in theaters around the country on January 24th. You can buy your tickets at the following link.
Here's to a year full of happy miles and plenty of smiles. I am looking forward to getting back on the trails this Spring and perhaps even tackling another Ultra Marathon or two this year. But before I can dream about what Spring and Summer may bring, I have to focus on the next two months and the adventures ahead...
Next weekend I am running the 15th Anniversary Disney Marathon with my brother Scott. He's trained hard and it will be his first so it should be a fun journey. The last time we explored Disneyworld together we were knee-high to a grasshopper and there was only ONE theme park there. I know, I am dating myself...
The following weekend our team from Chicago Endurance Sports is running the Cabo San Lucas Half Marathon. I know, it is a tough job but someone has to do it:) Then at the end of February my husband John and I are staff and crew for the Antarctica Marathon Expedition. The trip down there is adventure enough! I put together a slide show from last year's race so you can see how hard the course is. A brutal course filled with off-road hills, two 17% glacier climbs for 3/4 mile and mud or snow that can reach up to your knees at times! Two hundred runners travel from all over the world to tackle the last continent. Most finish, but everyone comes away with a pocket full of humility and a life-changing story.
I am grateful to have so many adventures this season. It's what keeps life interesting for me!
Here's to your next adventure. What is YOUR next adventure?
Looking for a few last minute shopping ideas for your favorite running buddies? Here is a list of my all-time favorite gifts for runners this season.
HATPHONES: Part hat, part headphones the Nike Hatphones has built in speakers and a slot for your iPod Nano and makes this the perfect hat for runners who enjoy music!
Nike Sport Kit: This cool and inexpensive kit turns your iPod Nano into a speed distance watch and verbally tells you speed, distance and pace through your iPod! Combine this with the Hatphones for the ultimate running music holiday gift.
Although Winter officially begins on December 21st, it always starts with the first snow in my book! Cold weather, snow and ice can play havoc on your running program but there are plenty of ways to get in your runs and keep your mileage consistent. Try the following tips and tricks for running this winter in any challenging weather condition.
Layer up in technical running clothes. Dri-Fit, Coolmax and Drylete are just a few technical fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin and avoid getting cold. Avoid wearing cotton as it will stick to your skin and give you a chill.
Wear reflective apparel like a vest and flashing lights. It will keep you visible to drivers in any condition in the day or night.
Dress for 15-20 degrees warmer than the current temperature (including wind chill). So if it 30 degrees out with no wind, I am dressing for 45-50 degrees. If it is windy, go with 10-15 degrees warmer. This allows for the increase in your body temperature as you run.
If you live in an area where it snows frequently it might pay off to purchase a pair of trail shoes that have better traction for the snow and waterproofing material to keep your feet dry. There is also a great product called Yak Trax that I use when we get hit with snow. They will give you better traction and stability in the snow. You can put them on your regular running shoes and cut through the snow with ease! Make sure to avoid wearing them on marble floors and non-snowy roads as they can be slippy!
When running on ice and snow, shorten your running stride and keep your feet lower to the ground. You will be more efficient stride for stride and reduce the risk of slipping, falling or straining muscles.
Choose fresh snow over ice or packed snow. You will get better traction on fresh snow and reduce the chance for slipping. Watch out for snow-covered cracks and holes in the road.
Slow your pace or cut your distance when there is snow or ice. It will be a lot more demanding to run in the snow and the key is to get in a safe run rather than a fast one. You can return to your normal pace once the roads are clear!
Expect to be a little more sore in different muscle groups. Mostly because you will be using your stablizing muscles on your inner and outer legs more than usual.
Make sure to incorporate plenty of flexibility exercises and include exercises for these lateral muscle groups .
Just like learning to run, it is best to ease your way into running in snow and ice. Alternate an outdoor snow run with an indoor treadmill run for a few weeks until your body adapts to the greater demands.
Play it safe on icey stretches. Run on fresh snow or even packed snow versus the icey areas. Your traction will be better and your risk for falling less. Slow down and glide on ice if needed and avoid running across ice unless you are a seasoned ice runner!
Running in the winter is a traquil experience for sure. Relax your body and focus on the road in front of you. Before you know it you will be smiling as you run across the snow covered roads and trails.
I am sure for many of you the start of the winter running season begins when it snows or in December at the Winter Solstice. That makes perfect sense. For me, Winter running always kicks off with racing the local Chicago Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.
It starts at 9am so there is plenty of time to sleep in and still get to the start. It is an 8K and plenty of miles (and Ks) to tackle before grazing those wonderful turkey day treats. But most of all, its a great way to socialize with the runners in the community and wish them a happy holiday. I consider the running community an extension of my family (the part that doesn't think I'm crazy for running!).
I look forward to this day almost as much as I look forward to the official start of the Spring running season (Shamrock Shuffle). On the surface, Winter running sounds just awful, but after a hot and humid Summer it sure is a treat to run in the cold temperatures. There is an honesty to running through Winter. The cold blustery days teach me exactly how strong or weak I am in my running phases and reminds me of the importance of mental strength.
There is also a solitude about running in the Winter. There are rarely other runners out there and in most cases its just me, the cool, crisp weather and the sound of my feet hitting the ground. It is a great way to defrag from the high intensity of the Summer season and run easy for a few months.
Like the change of seasons, our bodies need phases of training. It makes for an interesting and motivating year of running but it also allows our bodies to rest, train, perform at peak levels. So, as the leaves fall off the trees and I begin to set out my Winter apparel for the new season's workouts, I look forward to a fresh phase of running and one that will help me recover from the magnificent year I've had.
I am getting up in miles for my long training runs in preparation for the Disney Marathon . Although I am running the race with my brother, he lives in St. Louis so we aren't able to train together. I had to run 15 miles Friday and I just couldn't motivate myself to run along my usual training route on the lakefront path in Chicago. It is a great place to train as it runs 18 miles along the beautiful lakefront, but it is where I coach year-round and I am just plain burnt out on the course.
So, when the motivation and scenery is lacking in my long runs, I add an element of adventure to spice things up. I decided to run home from the north shore, or on a point-to-point course. I mapped out on the USATF map routing website and calculated where 15 miles north of our home is. Then had my husband John drop me off and ran home! It is my favorite way to get in a long run because every step brings you closer to your goal (home), the course is new and it includes a few great hills which are lacking in the city.
As I ran my way south towards the city, I navigated to find quiet side streets with less traffic. It became a game of finding the best route home. It was a beautiful fall day and there was a nice tail wind to push me forward. Mixing up your terrain is the easiest way to bring new energy and excitement to your runs. Especially when you are running long...
My next long run I hope to run with my brother Thanksgiving weekend. It will give us a chance to catch up and learn each other's pace. It will be a 16 miler, and another good opportunity to run point to point. But this time I may have John drop us off on the south end of the lakefront path and run 16 of the 18 miles north to show off our beautiful city.
The next time your motivation is lacking, try a point to point route and see what you can find along the way!
on salon.com. I encourage you to read it but beware, feelings of anger and thoughts of throwing
something across the room may happen.
The Cliff Notes version is the author (who has never actually finished a marathon, but tried once) writes about how Oprah and all the slower runners have wrecked the competitive spirit. He writes:
"With all these runners, and all this technology, you'd think America wouldbe turning out faster and faster marathoners. Instead, the opposite ishappening. The more we run marathons, the slower we get -- an averageof 45 minutes slower over the last 25 years. Ryan Hall is the swiftestAmerican-born marathoner ever. His best race isn't in the top 250 ofall time."He must not have done his homework when he wrote this blog on Friday because Ryan Hall beat the Marathon Trials record from the early 80s with an outstanding 2:09:02 on a very challenging, hilly Central Park course. And it was only his third marathon ever. That, and the top three men (Dathan Ritzenhein and Brian Sell) a spot on the Olympic Marathon Team are training on "Teams"sponsored by Nike, Brooks/Saturn, and Asics. These companies are investing in developing elite US marathon runners BECAUSE of the masses. And it is working.
He also fails to mention Deana Kastor who broke the American Marathon record and won a bronze medal in Athens. Little does he know that the elite runners are getting stronger because of the masses of mortal runners toeing the line at marathons. The elite runners are also the first ones to encourage mortals to run. They are by no means negatively affected by the slower runners. The larger the race, the larger the prize purse and sponsorship. Runners fast and not-so-fast contribute to their winnings.
It also hit a cord with me because he blames Oprah and the Penguin, who just happens to be my loving husband. I don't know Oprah but I love who she is and what she's done. Her marathon was all about transformation in
her own life. And she ran it in a very respectable time too. John has spent the better part of 12 years motivating inactive people to get active and discover the runner within. With obesity creeping up to being the most deadly disease in the nation, getting people active is a very good thing.
And yes, the average finish times are slower than they were 20 years ago, but there were a mere 1,000 or fewer runners in marathons then too. The times are slower because there are 30,000 runners not 1,000! It simple math. Not to mention, had the author tried to run a marathon 20 years ago, he would have been in the back of the pack. Which is the group he is blaming for the dumming down of the sport.
Today's runners fast and slow are motivating tomorrow's champions. The sons, daughters and even grandkids are watching their parents finish the race and that not only motivates them to run it also gives them permission to try. Life is short. Get out there and run, cycle, and be fit. And never let anyone tell you that you can't. Because being a marathoner is not about how fast you get to the finish, it is about having the tenacity to train, prepare and gather up the courage to show up at the start line.
It was a beautiful weekend in Chicago. The weather was finally cool and crisp and perfect for a long run. We just launched our Winter Warriors half marathon training program with a record sell out crowd and it is nice to be back on the trail this time of year. The path is peaceful, the weather is perfect and there are hundreds of new runners all training for their first half marathon. There is nothing like your first...
I remember my first race. I coudn't believe I finished 3.1 miles. I remember my first half marathon. I couldn't believe I ran 13.1 miles. And I won't ever forget my first marathon. I couldn't believe I finished a marathon with a smile on my face and in 20 degree weather.
The magic of slowly unveiling the runner inside is the ability to believe. "Couldn't" soon became "could" and my life changed with every finish. Every time I launch a new training program I see the dreams in the eyes of all the new runners. Then I get to watch them progress from couldn't to could and cross that finish line. It's simply the best job in the world.
If you are considering running a race, register. If you think you can't, you can. The hard part is starting. The easy part is running. Give it a shot. The next finish line could change your life.
One of things I love most about my job is wear-testing new running and adventure racing products. For a runner, there is NOTHING better than to try out new running shoes. Especially when they are way "out of the box" in terms of technology and innovation.
I've had the pleasure of taking a few test rides in Newton Running Shoes or what I am calling "The New Shoe In Town." Newton shoes were designed by runners for runners to mimic the advantages of barefoot running. Although I've only run barefoot a few times in my life, I can clearly understand it translates to efficient running. It picks up were the Nike Free shoe left off and just keeps running.
The real difference in the shoe is in the sole of the shoe, which mimics your foot and allows your foot to more freely and promote forefoot stride. It feels a little weird when you put them on but because I naturally land on my forefoot and have since I started running, the Newton's felt very natural out of the box. The concept is developed from Sir Isaac Newton's third law of motion...
" It states an object at rest remains at rest and an object in motion remains in motion at constant speed and in a straight line unless acted on by an unbalanced force."
This is also true with runners. Heel strikers are actually stopping motion every time their foot lands on the ground and thereby disrupting the "equal and opposite force". They then have to re-create motion again after every time they land. Not to mention the added impact forces from the heel strike.
I'm no scientist but I love biomechanics and learning how to improve performance via training methods, energy efficiency and form. It took my body a good 2-3 weeks to adapt to the shoe style and in that time I've noticed my effort level is lower at my normal pace and my body doesn't ache as much post run which are signs that they must have helped me run more efficiently.
I give the Newton's a BIG thumbs up and can't wait to see what else is on the horizon and in the mailbox.
I ran my first Ultra-Marathon last Sunday and I'm still on a high. It was a 50K [[The Glacial 50 Trail|http://badgerlandstriders.org/GT50/]]]] on part of the 1,000 mile Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. First-time experiences have a way of unleashing new energy and excitement. I remember my first race, my first marathon, and my first Eco-Challenge. The mystery of the event keeps a constant flow of motivation to train, prepare and of course, obsess.
Although I trained well for the Ultra, I had no idea what the race would bring and that is what makes the journey so darn exciting. It was an out-an-back course on a very technical single track trail full of rocks, roots all covered in the fall's leaves. I tend to like technical trails better because they demand your constant attention. One look at your watch and you could be flying through the air and down on your face.
I love large running events, but I love the serenity of a trail even more. There is also an honesty about Ultra's that I found refreshing. But then again, that could be more about it being my first. Firsts are always refreshing because they're new! Collectively about 105 people towed the line and the race was started with a shout out from the director. No chips, no music, no pace teams. Just 100 or so people looking to tackle 31 miles on a tough trail. It reminded me a lot of my first few adventure races. The races are out there for the experience, not the swag.
As we set down the road towards the trail, I positioned myself in the back of the bubble. Since this was my first one, I wanted to pace wisely so I would look good for the finish (good meaning vertical). I was surprised at how "friendly" the runners were and listened to them chat for the first few miles. I met a runner with a picture on his back and asked him who she was. My running partner of 12 years," he said. He went on to tell me all they had done together and how she was in her fourth round of chemo for breast cancer. For me, it really put perspective on the day. I thought of my dad, who we lost last year from a brain tumor and his journey. It was the first time I could talk about him without falling into sadness. The miles went by as we discussed her spirit and the hope to some day find a cure for all cancers. My dad was with me every step...
As I reached 15.5 miles and the half-way turn around point many of the lead runners were coming back on the trail. The course is set up as an out-and-back. The competitor inside me starting tapping on my shoulder. "I know you are out here to just finish this thing, but if you push a little harder you can pass some of these nice runners." The first half of the race was all about conservation in the hopes of finishing and as I passed the half-way mark, the race became all about picking off runners (nicely) along the trail. There is nothing like being strong enough in a race to be able to pass people.
As the course rolled up and down the rocks seemed to multiply and the hills grew steeper. (Total elevation gain is about 6,000 ft) I didn't remember that many rocks on the way out! It started raining and it quickly became more difficult to navigate over the slippery roots and rocks. My mind was growing tired of looking for the next spot to place my foot. One false step on a rock or root and you're down on your face. In fact, falling is a big part of ultra-running, especially as you fatigue.
Surprisingly, I was able to pass a few runners as I counted down the miles and then something kicked in. The song "The Fire Inside" from Bob Seger came on my ipod and all hell broke loose. It is one of those songs that motivates me to leap tall buildings in a single bound. My arms started moving faster and my legs followed. I passed a hiker with a cute dog and he yelled out, hey, you have about 7 runners just ahead if you push you can catch them. That is like telling me, hey, there is a sale going on at my favorite store and if you get there early enough you'll hit all the good stuff! I kept hitting the repeat button on my ipod and kept passing runners. What a high! As I finished up running my fastest mile of the race, I saw three men and a truck which for this race was the FINISH and couldn't believe it was over already. Don't get me wrong, I was ready for it to be over at about mile 25.
It was a great race and a breaking moment in my life. I've been stuck in a fog the past few years dealing with the loss of my father, grandmother and dog. Running this race cleared the fog and unveiled the trail ahead.
Getting off the beaten path unleashed the fire inside and for that, I am grateful.
Whooo, what a weekend! Unless you've been on a week long expedition in the wilds of the outback, I'm sure you've heard about the Chicago Marathon. I had over 400 runners participating in the event [[Chicago Endurance Sports|http://www.chicagoendurancesports.com%5d/]] and for me, it was like letting your kids go play in the middle of Death Valley in July. I couldn't help but be concerned for everyone. Outside the troubles with fluid on the course, it was an absolute brutal day to run a marathon. 70 degrees is considered hot for a marathon and running a marathon is hard enough without the heat. It was 88 degrees, 90% humidity!
I've crewed for a friend at the Badwater Ultra-Marathon which is 135 miles in Death Valley in JULY. The temperature at the start is typically near 130 and it is unbelievably extreme. So I knew people could tackle the distance successfully. The difference is that many of the runners at Chicago weren't acclimated to the heat and the humidity was at its highest -- a deadly combination. The only way you can get through it is to throw out your plan A, B, and C, and go with the Doomsday Scenario. That may sound negative, but running the marathon Sunday was all about surviving the heat. And our runners did just that.
They carried their water bottles, they brought money just in case and they slowed their pace. I am pretty darn proud of them. Although they are quite disappointed they didn't finish 26.2 miles (some did but slowly) they did finish the event on the day. Although it wasn't a traditional race, it WAS a marathon of an event.
So for those who ran or attempted to run the Chicago Marathon just remember this...
A marathoner is not made in a day.
A marathoner is made like a fine wine.
From long runs on the weekends and fartleks during the week.
From weeks and months of preparation and early Friday nights.
You were all aged to perfection and ready to run.
What makes a runner a marathoner is the will to prepare and the courage to show up on race day.
Hold your head high. There are plenty of marathons to tackle.