Race Recap: SVR Winter Series 2016-2017

Staying motivated to run in the winter can be challenging. During the warmer17125165_10212738307679542_592867006_n months, there is a plethora of races to train for, but once the frigid air descends, chances to race may be far and few between.

Luckily, Shenandoah Valley Runners offers an 8 race winter series from December to March to help runners stay on top of their game and also have fun. Each race, runners earn points relevant to their place. The two lowest scoring races are tossed and scores are added up. Awards are given at the end of the series instead of individual races.

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Out of the eight races, all but one were 5Ks. Some races had themes – one was a 2-person team event, one was a poker run and in another runners were encouraged to support their favorite basketball team for March Madness. In addition to runners just racing, tangible and monetary donations were accepted each race for a variety of local non-profit groups. Love the giving back aspect.

 

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Old shoes collected for donation

For being a winter event, we were lucky enough to have fair weather for most races and only one needed to be canceled due to ice. Otherwise, nearly 300 runners toed the line almost every 2 weeks to attempt to maintain or increase their running fitness.

I greatly enjoyed my first Winter Series – hit a few PRs, met new friends and loved the camaraderie between my fellow harriers. We united in laughter and in fatigue; supporting one another through each race.


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Overall Female: 2nd Place

Female 35-39: 1st Place

Best 5K: 19:11

Thank you to all of the organizers who worked hard to execute each race and to the volunteers and spectators who braved the elements to help us crazy runners.

Although I am thankful for spring to be upon us, I definitely have one reason to look forward to this December and the bleak winter months!

Until next time,

Becky

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

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.

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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.
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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

Silencing the inner critic…

Try to find the joy wherever you are in your journey.

 

“Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination.” – Drake

 

As far back as I can remember, I have always been competitive; some may think to a fault. Whatever the activity – from coloring contests to board games to bowling and to running – competition lights a fire within me and I can’t help but to try my best and try to outdo others.

I hate to lose.

I won’t lie; I am hard on myself. However, I feel if I am going to spend time doing something – whether a hobby or a vocation – I am going to give 100% effort to be the best I can be. But, I try to also enjoy the process and not just solely focus on the end goal.

On November 12th, I am running my first full marathon. Marathon training is not an easy or quick affair. Saturday mornings are spent waking at 4:30 a.m. and running for up to 3 hours straight. I am fortunate to have several motivational running partners to help the miles pass. Do I have a goal? Sure do. But, whatever happens on race day, I am still going to be so thankful for this journey – grateful for the new running friends I’ve made and for the reigniting of my passion for running.

Over the last year, I have had conversations with many of you or I’ve watched you from the sidelines. I’ve heard, “If I can’t be competitive in this race, I might as well not run” or “I’ve only lost 8 lbs. so far”. Sometimes I’ve even caught you saying, “I can’t ________ (fill-in-the-blank).”

During these conversations, I become a bit sad and I can’t help but ask myself, “WHY are we so hard on ourselves?” Why does it seem the failures or the mistakes take center stage over the small successes we have along the way?

You should feel accomplished, no matter if you’ve fully reached your goal. Try to find the joy wherever you are in your journey.

Today, I encourage you to do two things:

1. Live intentionally. When 2016 began and I was looking at the year ahead, these two words popped into my head. Be intentional. Whatever you are going to do, actively interact and engage. Make it count.

“When you get right down to it, intentional living is about living your best story.” ― John Maxwell

2. Celebrate small successes along the way. While it is important to create and focus on your long-term goals, be sure to set a few short-term goals. Run the race and don’t focus on time or placing. Remember, there are some people that are still contemplating on how to get to the starting line. Or, if you are on your long run for the week and are feeling terrible; but still finish anyway, celebrate. You still ran 20 miles! Losing weight and you only lost 5 lbs? That’s amazing!

Reaching your goals after pushing through obstacles makes that finish line so much sweeter.

So I ask of you – stop being so hard on yourself; silence your inner critic.

Find the positives and celebrate the small successes!

 

Until next time,

TRM