Erie…BQ or Bust?

 

 

Less than one year ago, I ran my first marathon. At this time, I said I’d only run one. It was painful. Difficult. Rough. Long.
Yet, I wanted more. Boston. Why not?
Over 700 miles run…over 80 days of 4 a.m. wake up calls.
Dark, cloudy mornings…
Rain, wind, and thunder…
Oppressive heat and humidity…
Hills (oh the hills!), speed work, tempo runs…
Finding the time…
Blood, sweat and tears…
Fear…
Doubts.

Sunrises
Shooting stars
Hitting the pavement as the world sleeps
Sound of footsteps beside me
Laughter
SVR track workouts
Stupid, “punny” jokes
RIT group runs
Feelings of success after nailing a workout
Confidence
Focused.

You all have given me a plethora of positive memories to carry with me over 26.2 miles. When I begin to hurt, when the defeating voice pops into my head, I will think of the fun I’ve had over this training cycle.
I will….
  • remember running around Handley as you ran your first track workout.
  • remember running and listening about the infamous fowl attack.
  • think of running from Winchester to Woodstock with you.
  • think of sharing a glass of wine and pizza with you after a tough run.
  • remember running 14 miles through the streets while kicking a ball with you.
  • think “the floor is lava!” and want to jump onto the nearest ledge.
  • remember sharing in your successes and in your failures.
I do believe things happen and people are brought into your life for a reason. Being surrounded by those who challenge and push me to my limits (and beyond) has changed what I once thought possible.
Do I have what it takes?
One shot, one opportunity to seize everything I’ve ever wanted in one moment. Will I capture it, or just let it slip?
I’m not foolish; this will not be easy. No matter how well the training goes, the race itself is a blank slate. Anything can happen.
The mental battle will rage, my muscles will fatigue, I will have to push through.
Even if I do not BQ, how could I fail? Overall, I’ve won.
To all who comment on my workouts, my social media posts, and cheer me on from the sidelines, thank you.
To those who have taken one step with me along the way, thank you. Getting to run with you at group runs – whether you are in the front or the back of the pack – you’ve inspired me to keep going.
To my teammates, who have seen me at the crack of dawn, no makeup on, sweating, dirty and on the verge of puking (or passing out), thank you for never leaving my side.
To my coach, thank you for the guidance, having the ability to know when to pull me back, push me ahead, speak the truth (“it’ll hurt in the marathon too”) or say nothing at all. It’s been a training cycle full of highs and lows, but we made it to the end.
To my family and husband who have supported my crazy goals, thank you. Thank you for the breakfasts, dinners, and whatever else has been needed so I can train.
Although I will be 300 miles away, you all will be with me every step of the way.
Am I ready? Yes, more than ever. My time is now.
This week has been tough. Allergies, poison ivy, heavy workload; obstacles. The marathon is a monster. Anything can happen Sunday. Besides qualifying, having fun is one of my big goals – I want this to be a memorable experience.
I’ll see you on the other side of the finish line!

Book Review: How Bad Do You Want It?

“You can keep going and your legs might hurt for a week, or you can quit and your mind will hurt for a lifetime.” — Mark Allen

A few months ago, I discussed the mental battle many of us feel when running whether you are a beginner or an experienced runner. A friend read my post and mentioned I should read How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald. 9781937715410

So, during a cold winter weekend, I downloaded a copy and curled up on the couch to gather some knowledge about the mental game. I knew this book would speak to me, but I wasn’t prepared for the negative emotional effect.

I’ll admit the beginning of the book was tough for me to read. To be brutally honest, I was pissed off. Sometimes reading the truth and admitting previous self defeat really sucks.

In college, I felt like that athlete who “pulled up lame”. I was tired. I had lost interest. My passion for running was at a low. I’ll confess I claimed a fake injury once or twice during a race when I couldn’t hang. So many life changes had occurred when I was in college and some days I felt I was just a lost ship at sea. Or maybe I just stopped trying.

For years, my goal was to use my running talent to earn a college scholarship. Looking back, once I achieved this major feat, I don’t recall setting a new goal. No goal to win the 800m at ACCs or qualify for NCAAs. Did I stop dreaming? Was I just happy to settle and have college athletics be my final destination? Unsure.

I’ve strayed – back to the story.

This book is a collection of stories about athletes who share their experiences; their battles and the coping mechanisms they have used to conquer the beast within themselves. I especially enjoyed reading about a runner named Jenny and her disaster of a race at 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Later, you find out her married name – Jenny Simpson – who was just in the most recent Olympics.

Upon finishing this particular chapter, I thought, “thank goodness”. I am not the only one. This fierce battle between mind and matter even happens to the best of the best.
Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone into the area where running is HARD is difficult for everyone. During a typical 5K, you have at least 3,000 steps to conjure up many thoughts – good or bad. And the bad tends to scream much louder than the good.

Since finishing the book, I have utilized a couple key tips while racing.

Embrace the hurt. Accept the fact that some of your run/race may be tough.

One of our local 5ks ends with a windy, gradual uphill about a half mile long. During the race, I knew it would be in front of me soon. I told myself, accept the challenge; yes – it will hurt. But you WILL run the hill and you will be finished soon. Fitzgerald mentions bracing yourself for a tough race or workout can boost performance by 15% or more.

Preparing yourself for the inevitable helps.

Also, reading and being reminded your brain is going to try to quit before your body is ready to give up. Studies show although you mentally feel you cannot take another step, your muscles are not at maximum effort yet. Mind over matter or matter over mind??

I encourage you to read this book if you’ve ever engaged in this mental war while running. You can admit you do – it’s more common than you think.

Whether you are an elite runner or a recreational jogger, I’m sure your mind has tried to make you quit before your body was ready. Arm yourself with a few coping tools and next time, you’ll be prepared to power through!

Now years later, my passion has been reignited and I’m back to racing. I feel as though I’ve been given a second chance to give it my all.

From here on out, and especially when I toe the line chasing that BQ, I will I ask myself, “How bad do you want it?”.

The answer?

Bad…very, very bad.

BQ Journey – Step 1: Find a coach.

“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.” – Tom Landry

Although once a seasoned and competitive runner, returning to running after 1.5 decades was intimidating. When I was younger, I regretfully never kept a running log of workouts, which would have been great to help create a skeleton training plan. Now, older and out of shape, I had many worries. How do I start? How much is too much? Am I going to get hurt?After researching online, I decided to start with a popular couch to 5K run/walk program which definitely helped me as a beginner.

Prior to training for a full marathon, I Googled the heck out of marathon plans. Let me tell you, there are a LOT of sources to choose from and also a variety of training levels on each plan. Taking into account what I knew would be feasible for me, I created a patchwork plan sourcing information from about three different sites. My goal was simply finishing the marathon, so I chose what I felt would work best for me to achieve that goal.

During my early searches, sites for running coaches would often appear.  When thinking of coaching, I would just think of high school sports or elite athletes. Honestly, I was unaware adults were hiring running coaches. As I set my sites on looking to qualify for Boston, I began to consider having someone tailor a specific and personalized training plan for me. I enjoy creating my own plans for shorter races, but the marathon is a whole new ballgame.

My prior experience with coaches has varied from bad to good to best. The best running coach I had was in high school – he tailored the workouts to my needs (my body didn’t respond to traditional long distance workouts), he listened to my aches and pains, reined me in when needed and we communicated well. I’ve also been on the flipside with a coach I didn’t connect with – and honestly, I never performed my best (fault on both sides). Once I decided to have someone help guide me to BQ, I knew it was essential to find a coach that would mesh well with me and my goals.

One of my training partners just happens to be a Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach. Today, Coach Jeremy of RunningDad.com takes on questions I posed to him regarding coaching runners.

Who do you want to coach? Beginner/competitive runners? Would you coach kids?
 
Coach Jeremy: I have coached brand new runners and Boston qualifiers. No matter the experience level, I enjoy helping my athletes establish goals and plan toward meeting and exceeding them. 
 
With beginners, it is all about getting started and building off of each run, in a controlled manner. Doing too much, too fast, is the leading cause of injury for new runners. I collect as much feedback as I can from the athletes to either push them out of their comfort zone when necessary, or pull the reins when rdlogonecessary.
 
With competitive runners, it is all about goals and staying focused on those goals. There can be a lot of outside interference that can impede the path to those goals. My job is help navigate those roadblocks and determine the best way to reach the targeted outcome. 
 
I would love to work with coaching kids on their running. I have coached kids in all sports as my sons work their way through rec and travel sports, but I have not coached kids specifically at running. It is my goal to establish a kids running program under the Running Dad Coaching umbrella.
 
What is your coaching style like? 
 
Coach Jeremy: I would describe my coaching style as flexible, fluid, and fun. My athletes are not professional runners. I am not a professional runner. Work and family takes up a lot of time. I understand the time crunch and help my athletes establish a routine that works for their lifestyle. As opposed to finding an online training plan or one from a book or magazine, I cater each workout to the individual. Based on feedback from each run, I may change the upcoming workouts to best suit the athlete and what they have happening in their lives. I interact with each of my athletes and we have fun. Whether it is sharing a funny story from a run, a personal achievement outside of running, or just chatting about life in general – I try and keep my athletes happy and the training fun.
 
What can an athlete expect from you when hiring you to coach?
 
Coach JeremyAccountability. I care how my athletes are doing in their pursuit of their goals. I am invested in their success and share in their failures. I treat our relationship like a partnership. We are in it together to reach our goals. Having a coach that is invested in your success is a great motivator.
 
What do you feel makes for an effective coach/athlete relationship?
 
Coach JeremyCommunication is the biggest part of a coach/athlete relationship. I feel that the runners I have the most communication with are the ones that are constantly making the most progress. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of what will work best for my athletes and their lifestyle. Like any relationship, communication is key.
 
11187340_845998035454229_2191515153486588883_oWhy should someone hire you as a coach?/What should a runner look for in a coach?
 
Coach JeremyA runner should hire me to coach them to help navigate the path to their goals. I started from scratch, with no coach, just with a goal to lose weight. I made a lot of mistakes. I was often injured. I had no clue what I was doing. Then I hired a coach. My coach spent more time holding me back, than pushing me to my limits. That was a good thing, for me. I have come a long way, and I like to share what I have learned. I derive a lot of pleasure from helping people reach their goals. I feel my style of coaching gives an athlete someone they can trust to keep them on track and prevent injury. 
 
I am always trying to learn more about getting the most out of my running abilities. I share what I learn with my athletes and also learn from what they find works the best for them. 
 
When looking for a coach, I recommend finding someone who will take a realistic look at your goals and discuss what it takes to get there. If your ideas and philosophies don’t match up, move on. It is an ongoing relationship, and you need to be comfortable with the person that you have asked to help guide you in your running.
 
Give me your greatest strength in coaching and your greatest weakness.
 
Coach JeremyMy greatest strength in coaching is my experience. I went from couch potato to ultra marathoner. I learned a lot. I love to share that knowledge to help others. 
 
My greatest weakness that I am still working on is time management. I would love to dedicate more time to my athletes – to be able to actually run with them if they are local – to be able to be available for phone calls or video chats throughout the day. But with work and family, coaching is not my main focus; not my all-day job. I do the best I can and someday hope to be a full-time running coach.
 
What are your qualifications?
 
Coach Jeremy:
RRCA Certified Running Coach (Road Runners Club of America)
CPR Certified
 
Running Experience:
Boston Marathon qualifier multiple times
Sub 3 hour marathoner
Multiple ultramarathons – up to 50 miles and training for a 100 miler
Competitive times for my age group
 
How do you measure success?
 
Coach Jeremy: Success for me as a runner, and as coach, is to find a way to navigate life’s path without hitting the wall. Always moving forward, even if it requires a few steps back to find a new route. Roadblocks for runners can be injury, losing the drive to set and reach goals, or an unforeseen situation that keeps us from running. Every time I lace up my shoes and step out the door, or see an athlete complete a workout I prescribed, I see those as successes.
 
What made you want to be a coach?
 
Coach JeremyPeople had told me that my own personal transformation and successes as a runner were an inspiration to them. That made me feel really good about what I was doing, I decided I would like to help other people find their own successes and healthier lifestyles. 
 
What is your favorite workout? 
 
Coach JeremyOn the track, I am partial to Yasso’s 800’s. These are 10×800 meter repeats with an equal amount of rest time between each round. They give you comparable numbers from each time you do them, so you can judge your progress by looking back at previous workouts. 
 

Off the track, long slow runs with friends are hard to beat.

 

Coach Jeremy & Team Running Dad after the 2015 Richmond Marathon:
2 Qualified for Boston!
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Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to tell us more about you and why we should hire a running coach.

Be sure to visit RunningDad.com to check out a plan that might work for you whether it be monthly coaching or working towards a half or full marathon. I am fortunate he lives in the same city I do; but Coach Jeremy is able to coach you no matter where you live via apps, phone/web chats and more.

I am nervous, yet extremely excited to work with a coach to help guide me to a (hopefully) BQ time. I’ve selected an early September marathon, so look for BQ training updates to begin in early May. Game on!

Until next time,

Becky

What’s Your Why?

“For as long as there’s anyone to ask ‘Why?’ the answer will always be, ‘Why not?”
― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

In 2016, my mantra was to be intentional. If I was going to spend the time working out or running, why not make every second count? Mentally, I kept these simple two words in mind day in and day out. Staying mindful and focused on the task at hand truly helped achieve my 2016 goals.

As this new year started, I began to consider what my mantra would be this year. What phrase would keep me in check and continue to keep me motivated?

Sometime last week, my husband posted a comment on my social media and hit the nail on the head. With the goals I have set for myself this year, I am going to need to BE DETERMINED.

Determined: showing the strong desire to follow a particular plan of action even if it is difficult.

Honestly, I was a bit hesitant to add qualify for the Boston Marathon to the list. Although my 1st marathon was an overall great experience, a few of those last miles were ROUGH.

Committing to training to BQ was hard to say out loud. Thinking about shaving almost 10 minutes off my first marathon does make my heart rate pick up a bit and cause a little anxiety kick in. However, I think having a difficult goal that also scares you a little is awesome.

So, how am I going to stay determined and committed to my goals?

A few guidelines I created for myself:

  • Note down my goals and make them public
  • Surround myself with those who inspire me as well as help me become stronger
  • Remind myself why I run. Why did I start? Why do I continue?

Recently, I sat down to jot down a few reasons why I run.

word-cloud

Nearly everyone who runs has attempted to answer this question at some point. Although running can be tough, it can hurt, and feel boring to some; an estimated 64 million people in the U.S. went running in 2016. And, many of us to continue to do so.

I want to know “What’s Your Why?” Do you have a mantra to keep you on track?

Please share!

Until next time,

Becky