Oh my gosh Becky, look at her….quads?!?

workoutwednesday

Although my marathon training plan includes a mixed bag of runs – long, easy, speed training, hills – there is one that generates maximum force. Hills!

When you think of a hill workout, I’m sure you think of a workout like this one.

Run up hill, jog down, repeat.

Uphill-road

And, I’ve done those….but….

Coach’s prescribed workout for me yesterday consisted of 10 x 1 minute downhill repeats. Jog up and barrel back down.

Sounds easy – just let gravity do its job right? Not.

Hellloooo quads!

19142246_10154617227312747_1281705755_n

My upcoming marathon is pancake flat. So, why do I even bother with hills?

Currently, I am in the strength period of my training plan which includes a variety of hill-based runs. Running hills help build strength, increase VO2Max and of course, tackle hills more easily.

What happens when you run downhill? The muscles in your legs elongate and actually generate more force than when running uphill or on level ground. Running hard downhill also produces more impact on our bodies – joints, bones and muscles. Training on hills helps the body to adapt to the force, repair itself and in turn, become stronger.

Strengthening the muscles used on downhills easily translates into faster paces on any type of terrain.

As you descend down the hill, it is important to work on quickening your cadence and shortening your stride to have better control over form. Stay off your heels and don’t brake!

Planning on running Boston 2018? Add this workout into your regimen to ready your legs to tackle the 4-mile downhill in the beginning of the race.

Tips:

  • Add in the downhill workout early in your training plan.
  • Choose a hill that’s less than a 10% grade. 
  • If you can get on a softer surface, do it. Otherwise, it’s okay to hit the pavement.
  • Start with 5 downhill repeats and work your way up to 10.
  • Use rocks or chalk to help you count your reps!

Result? A great workout, fun stats and killer quads!

19182130_10154617217677747_1880587810_o19212630_10154617217652747_1974542159_o19179304_10154617217567747_914556169_o

Thanks Coach!

Sign up today for more information and upcoming events!RIT_TRIANGLE_woWeb

 

 

 

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!
16776987_10154285480102747_1449918097_o

 

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

The Mental Game

Fatigue whispered, you cannot withstand the storm. The runner replied, I AM the storm.

The distance doesn’t seem to matter – 5K up to a marathon – the battle is always the same. Mind over matter or matter over mind?

Some races I feel like my own counselor:

Me 1: Man, this is hard; maybe I should slow down.
Me 2: Why would you slow down? You feel great. Stay strong.

Me 1: Oooh, my IT band is kind of nagging.
Me 2: Your IT band is just fine; keep up the pace.

Me 1: Are we at the next mile marker yet? Why hasn’t my watch beeped?
Me 2: Woohoo, halfway mark; almost there!

We train physically; but do you train yourself mentally?

No matter if you are a novice or seasoned runner, I believe the mental battle always rages on. Thankfully, I do feel the little voice inside of you shouting negative feedback can be trained to be softer and softer.

Running is 90% mental and the rest is physical.

Whether you are running short or long, the mental aspect is always there. I feel once you start running longer races (half marathons, marathons and ultra), you have a lot more time to think about what you are doing and once fatigue starts to set in; you could easily start to struggle.

Let’s explore a few strategies to help you work on your mental game:

1. Visualization. Knowing what is to come can help prepare you mentally. Get a map of the course and try to run or drive prior to your race. Watch for changes of elevation and places where you can run the tangents. Using this knowledge and visualizing yourself on the course will help you strategize where you can use your strengths along the way.

coach1
Coach leading me through a race visualization – ~1992

2. Find a running mantra. Consider finding a short phrase which inspires, motivates or relaxes you. Practice using your mantra during tough training runs. When your brain starts shouting negative thoughts at you, repeat your mantra to maintain focus. Even at the starting line, I have a specific set of words I run through internally to ease the starting line anxiety.
strong-enough-running-mantra-300x205
3. Stop worrying about everyone around you. Run YOUR race. It’s no surprise; I am highly competitive. Seeing my competition on the line can spike my heart rate and increase my anxiety. However, I remind myself to run my race. I cannot race harder than I train and if I run my own race, to my best ability, the results will come.

4. Prepare yourself for the worst. Creating a couple of goals (Goals A, B and/or C) can help you stay positive. If you have just one goal and start to miss the mark, negativity can set in and you may not have a reason to keep pushing. Having a secondary goal can help; especially if you encounter the unexpected (blisters, cramps, GI issues, etc.).

Find something that works for you and start training that brain! Already training that brain? What works best for you?

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

TRM

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

 

Tackling Your First 5K

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” – John Bingham

 

16442983_10154248038302747_1251023079_o

So you’re thinking about running your first 5K. While running 3 miles in a row may seem intimidating or overwhelming, you can train and complete a 5K in approximately 8 weeks. Training for a 5K is very feasible and can be accomplished in less than 30-45 minutes each session.

To help get you started, I recommend finding a walk/run program to begin your training. There are several free and easy-to-use apps that will help keep you on track. With a walk/run program, you will begin building your training base – alternating walking and running in varying increments of time. For example, week 1 would include walking for a 5 minute warm up and then alternating 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of  walking for 20 minutes; then a 5 minute cool down. Plan on training at least 3 times per week.

A few tips to help you along the way:

Choosing a 5K Race: While not necessary to plan at the beginning, selecting a race and having a set date can help you stay motivated and have a finish line in sight. Can’t find a local 5K? Websites such as active.com or runsignup.com list races all over the country.

Selecting the right shoes & gear: If you’ve never run before, it’s usually a great idea to visit your local running store. Most running stores will have a fitting process – they can analyze your gait and help fit you with the ideal shoes for your feet. In addition to shoes, be sure to find the right undergarments, socks and other clothing for running. If you are local to Winchester, try Runner’s Retreat or Two Rivers Treads.

Schedule your runs: Life can be hectic. Most of us use a calendar to accomplish daily appointments and tasks. Treat your workout just like another item on your to-do list. Morning runs may work for some people; but others may like evening best.

Unsure where to run? Check out a site such as www.mapmyrun.com to plan your route in advance. Check out your local tracks, trails and paths to mix up the scenery. Don’t be afraid to take on some hills along the way!

Find a friend to join you: Having someone run/walk with you can help keep you accountable and you can also have someone to chat with!

Don’t worry about your speed: Work towards finishing each workout and not your speed. Don’t be afraid to walk in the beginning. Each week you’ll be building a base and I promise, it will get easier!

S-T-R-E-T-C-H! Before you run, try to add a few dynamic stretches to help warm up your muscles and can also improve your range of motion. Walking lunges, slow high knees and butt kicks are a few examples of dynamic exercises. Also, stretch after you run. Stretching can also help prevent injury and increase your flexibility.

Continue your strength training, HIIT and/or cross training: HIIT workouts are effective cross training for runners and other endurance athletes, due to the focus on anaerobic work, which increases the body’s lactate threshold and allows your body to work at a higher intensity for longer before reaching fatigue.

If you’ve already tackled the 5K and want to attempt a 10K, check out this article and program being offered by Runner’s Retreat.

Or, want to strive for something longer? RunningDad.com offers coaching/training plans for half marathons and marathons.

Hope to see you at the finish line!

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” – John Bingham

Year in Review and a Blank Slate

“A good goal should scare you a little. And excite you a lot.” – Joe Vitale

This past year was the first full year of running for me since we all sat around watching and waiting to see what disaster the year 2K would bring.

Heading into 2016, I had little idea the year would be full of milestones. When the calendar flipped into the new year, I was still working towards my weight loss goal and I made the decision to try for a new distance; the half marathon.

Looking back over the year, I’m still amazed of what I accomplished and most importantly, what fun I had. I tackled new distances, yet still fit in my old favorites.

Here’s my year in review:

15878215_10154163703067747_1019695957_o

  • Not 1, but 2 half marathons (1:52 & 1:53)
  • Apple Blossom 10K – only my 2nd time running this race since we moved to Winchester; crushed my time by about 12 minutes (47:40)
  • Loudoun Street Mile – it’s been a long time since I ran an all-out mile so I was excited to see what I could do. I was pleased with 6:03
  • Several 5Ks. In 2015, my 5K time was 22:59. This year, I bested my 2nd running career PR – 20:40
  • An 8K trail race – a lot of fun!
  • 20K – close to the half marathon distance (1:36)
  • A 4 miler (26:42)
  • MY FIRST MARATHON, Richmond (3:46)! At the beginning of 2016, a full marathon was not on my radar. After 2 half marathons, I decided, why stop here?

Non-race related highlights:

  • Reached and surpassed my weight loss goal in the 1st Quarter – Total of 66 lbs. lost.
  • Became an instructor for HIIT Like A Girl
  • Became a kid’s running club coach through our county Parks & Rec program
  • My stepdaughter and husband have become runners (my son has already been running for a few years)

Over the 12 months, I was lucky to share so many miles with a great group of friends. I had a fun (and adventurous) 12 mile trail run with friends, several loooong training runs, breakfast runs and a Christmas fun run. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know people better and meet some amazing new folks too.

So, where does that lead me for 2017? Wow, it will definitely be hard to beat!

I have a target in mind and I’m going after her – the old me. 

Now that Mack Attack is back, I have some serious work to do. I have a target in mind and I’m going after her – the old me. Unsure if I’ll ever touch my old PRs (20 years and 20 lbs lighter) but that won’t stop me from getting as close as I can.

Goals for 2017:

  • Race-Related:
    • Mile – all guts. Back in high school and college, the mile and half mile were my specialties so I still have a sweet spot for this distance. I love the feeling of laying it all on the line and finishing keeled over; all energy spent. I’m hoping to break the 6 min. mark and aiming for 5:45.
    • 5K – Striving to break 20. Up until about 2 weeks prior to the marathon, I was hitting the track once per week. Now, I’m ready to add speed work back into my weekly plan to help achieve my 5K and mile goals.
    • Half Marathon – My initial try at this distance was a good race; although freezing cold and very low key (no spectators and an out-and-back). Second try was awful – high humidity and a rough course. My split at Richmond was a 1:47; so I aiming towards the 1:40 mark.
    • Marathon – Yes, I’m going to do it again! I’m going to follow the same path as last year and train for a fall marathon. I’ll announce which one soon. Unfortunately, a lot of my weekends are already unavailable due to work, so I’m trying to determine which will fit best with my schedule. Goal: Beat 3:46. Aim towards BQ? Possibly.
  • Other goals 
    • Try for an ultra? Maybe – if I have a friend that’d join me  🙂
    • Trail race – love the trails – also want to do a Ragnar; so maybe I can knock out two at once.
    • Run a race in my hometown
    • Training my first person (my husband) for his first half!
    • I also plan on finding more opportunities in the fitness/running industry and have been working towards my PT certification. It’s been great getting back into my career.
    • Blogging more often!

 

What accomplishment are you most proud of from last year?

What goals are you working towards this year?

Let me know! 

Until next time,

Becky