Training Day: long-run Saturdays


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For the past four weeks or so, I’ve been in training mode preparing for the Boston Marathon in April. Seems I’m always in-training these days, though I did have a few weeks off last November. No matter, the important thing is to get it in to be up and ready when the big day comes. To this end, I’ve been paying mind to the necessary components of a good training plan, particularly the long run aspect. I should stress that all parts of a plan are important; however the long-run, for me, is of great significance because of two things, the opportunity to develop strength and endurance and, in the latter phase of training, the opportunity it presents to simulate your race day strategy.

Developing strength and endurance happens over time, it involves steadily increasing mileage and alternating workouts to encompass building speed, endurance and running efficiency. Any good training plan, for the average runner concerned with running a marathon goal time, will include interval training, some hill work, tempo runs, long runs and rest days. The long run develops over time, building slowly over weeks (between 16-22 weeks) of training until two weeks before race day. During this period, the focus is on building endurance through getting the body accustomed to running for longer periods each week, gradually increasing mileage to the point where one can confidently and comfortably complete 20-22 miles. For example, in my training, my long runs may start at around week 8 with 12-13 miles (which is really a bit of a medium-long run) to which I will add-on a couple of miles each week.

From early on, it’s important to plan these days and decide on which works best for you. Turns out Saturdays are ideal for my long runs as I’m mostly off from work and I can choose to either rest longer in the am ( during winter anyhow) and run later in the day or get it in early and have the rest of the day off. Usually, I try to get to bed at a decent hour the night before so I’ll wake up rested and ready to go. Also, I try to eat my carbs and hydrate well leading up to Saturday; this is all to make sure I’m in the best place to accomplish my mileage without killing myself. Most times it works out great, I clear my schedule and leave my day open for running and I’m able to do just that.

As it gets closer to crunch time – by then I will have racked up the necessary mileage and developed the level of endurance I need – I’m able to use my remaining long runs to simulate race day. On these runs, the focus is on running efficiency: pace, hydration and strategy. The idea is to perfect a plan based on the above in as near to similar conditions as race day to help project performance on that day; this will help to build confidence and race preparedness. I’m under no illusion that mastering the long-run will ensure stellar performance on race day. On the contrary, there are no guarantees in running as so much is particular to that run and that day. What your training long-runs do is give you the ability to control what you can and give you the confidence – ammunition if you will –  to go out there on race day and do the best you can.

How to make Running Fun

 Dreamstime.com

Dreamstime.com

For many people running is categorized as hard and can hardly be described as enjoyable. For them, it’s complexing that others can embrace a sport that literally takes your breath away and sometimes quite painfully so. I posit, that it is precisely this that captures runners’ imagination. It challenges them to take a seemingly solo gig with little excitement and make it something fun, something happy, and something that’s even anticipated.

The age of technology and social media have made it so easy to rally around just about anything: to garner support, incite action and encourage others to join you in living adventurously. Running is a no brainer really – aside from its health and many other benefits – it has tremendous potential to change your typical everyday routine and bring out your fun side. Of course it all depends on what your goals are. And, even if you have serious goals like losing weight or running a marathon, there is still fun to be had. Indeed, fun must be had or else it’ll be a long and lonely road quite literally.

Lucky you, I have it all figured out (wink) – not really. Here are a few ideas I’ve picked up along my running way; thought I’d share with you. If you’re just starting out:
  • Find a running buddy or group; the leader usually has the scoop on how to encourage, challenge and support your goals while mixing some fun in there
  • Make goals; small, measurable ones. It feels super when you get to check them off
  • Keep it regular and add variety; different courses and different workouts encourage consistency and provide enjoyment
  • Sign up for a fun race; obstacle, mud or color run. It’s something to work towards and look forward to
  • Embrace the challenge and the difference running brings to you physically and to your life in general; new community, new friends, good health, new habits and even new goals
  • Show up with the right attitude; sleep well and plan accordingly, this will allow you to be ready and excited to get out and have fun

If you’re a running veteran beware; it’s easier to fall into a routine and a rut if you’ve been at it for some time. In this case, it behooves you to take stock periodically to make sure the correct attitude, level of enthusiasm and challenge still inspire your runs. If it’s not, it maybe that you need to shake things up a bit and so a sit down with your group leader/ coach may be necessary to help figure things out. On the other hand, even super heroes need to rest sometimes, and so it could be time for a break, to give yourself time to shift gears and refocus.

With all that said, it really won’t amount to anything if you’re not open-minded and armed with the right attitude. I’m of the view that attitude amounts to at least 50% when getting a job done. For running fun, you need at least 75%. I think that’s totally doable. Don’t you?

It’s Running Goals Time

Body I0

  Body I0

“One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this:

To rise above the little things.”           – John Burroughs

Each year we put ourselves through the wringer establishing goals that are all too often dreams we wish would come true. I’m so guilty of this. I figure why settle for the stars when men have walked on the moon, only, they would have had just that one goal in mind when planning. Not so I. Rather, I’m one to have many spoons in different pots – so to speak – and well.. honestly, that never has turned out quite right. In other words, being an overachiever is not such a good thing most of the time. You would think I’d know better, hell I write about SMART goals every year! What is it about not being able to see your faults but being able to identify the shortcomings of others? I’m hoping this new year will inspire me differently, that the goals I aspire to will ground me, keep me focused and ensure the wise use of my time.

If my record is anything to go by, I’m a tad bit out there and in dire need of keeping it real. I’ve tried to stay as simple and attainable as I can and in so doing aim to get the following done:

1. Run a 2:30 finish at the Boston Marathon
2. Develop my strength and fitness by completing a cross fit program
3. Finally get into a swimming program RE summer sprint triathlon
4. Log my miles daily – really stick with it this year
5. Run the NYC Marathon as a charity project
6. Run at least one destination marathon
7. Qualify for the NYC Marathon 2018 and PR with a half marathon
8. Volunteer running time once a week from the Spring
9. Develop a better sleeping pattern: bed by 11pm during week days and…
10. Read more running literature to gain more knowledge of the sport
When coming up with this list I’ve tried to be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) as in the past, only this time I’ve carefully considered the factors that could hinder me from following through. And, save death, illness, injury or some other inconceivable threat, there’s really no obstacle that can get in the way of my success. I’ve got faith, determination and the endless will to succeed; this year is gonna be ridiculously amazing! May it be the same for you.
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Happy New Year: 13.1 reasons to stay running

new-year-2017-fitnessTwo Sunday’s ago despite my best intentions and feelings that day I couldn’t pull of the goal time needed to qualify for NYC’s marathon next year. Off the top, I could come up with a few reasons as to why – as there are always excuses when a run doesn’t go our way. However, this time I’m owning my failing and moving on. While I have yet to figure out how I’m getting into said marathon – you didn’t think I’d just give it up, did you? I’ve already set my sights on ways/runs to keep me on point with training for my next big goal in 2017. I figure if I ever needed to keep my running mojo happening during winter, then now is the time to focus and get my game face on. Perhaps you too may have found yourself stranded in the valley of indecision as it pertains to running in the cold weather. Here’s why you need to stay strong and focused:

  • Running this winter provides an opportunity to add cross training and other versatile methods, encompassing the treadmill among others, to improve performance.
  • Less crowded streets and parks to get your workout in. Amen!
  • Easier and more flexible schedule over the holidays to employ a training plan that will bring about the desired results.
  • A consistent running schedule and/or plan ensures maximum fitness for racing in the Spring.
  • Running is a great way to off-load those holiday calories and then some.
  • Running is convenient and mostly accessible to provide stress relief or as a means of getting away or even when seeking inspiration.
  • It’s a good way to meet people and make new friends, especially now to help carry out your new year goals.
  • If you ever needed motivation to get outfitted and be fit and healthy running is it.
  • Despite the cold weather associated with winter, running generates enough heat to give you a good sweat and keep your temps at a comfortable level leaving you better off than when you started.
  • They say summer bodies are made in the winter, they’re right. Put in the work now and reap the rewards when it counts.
  • Running is a great escape for winter blues. What better way to give it a well deserved kick than getting some miles under those shoes.
  • In a time that often comes with so much change and ups and downs, running can provide necessary routine and balance to your life.
  • Just in case you didn’t know it, people who exercise and run are known to be, aside from healthier, happier, more confident, driven and successful. Now this definitely is the way you want to step into this new year.

There’s no denying challenges abound, in society, our lives and the world at large. Our best chance at getting this right and making the most of life is to give it our best shot and we can only do so if we’re healthy and happy. Don’t think me bias if I say running may be the way to get you there.

🎄Merry🏃Miles 🎅 on 👑 Christmas🎄

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Christmas Day bombed! Don’t panic..that’s good. Starting off a day with a run is almost always a guarantee that it’ll turn out right, but yesterday just had that extra Christmas magic happening. To be clear, I rarely spend Christmas in New York but go back to Georgia to enjoy it with the family. Over ten years, I may have spent two Christmases in the city and one was with my family from Georgia. So choosing to stay in New York this year was a big deal and could have very well been a hit and miss. To begin with the family was much smaller this year..what would that bring? Then there’s the fact that much of Christmas in the past was spent at  house parties and get-together with my friends in Georgia – true southern style. Christmas in New York was relatively new territory to me.

(Photo Credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

After a late night of food preparation and organizing, I managed to drag myself from bed around 8:30 am and headed out the door a half hour later. Turns out, the weather was pretty decent for running – slight chill but endless sunshine and blue skies. This made for an easy 5 mile run through my neighborhood in relative quiet with just one other runner sighting. Trust me,.nothing excites runners like clean streets when we have to run them, so that was darn cool already. Tempted though I was to up the mileage, I restrained myself as I had plans for church with the family. But I felt exhilarated and energized – simply wonderful – running out there on Christmas morning and I dare it set the tone for the rest of my day.

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Christmas Altar

Church happened, it was beautiful and close by, which was immensely helpful as we didn’t have to deal with commuting. Definitely praise-worthy. When we returned home there was the gifts exchange bit, which is always a fun time and then I prepared a couple of dishes to complete dinner prep. Though I didn’t sit down for very long during this time, I was energized and happy bustling around getting stuff organized. I retired the kitchen and sat down to an early Christmas dinner around 5pm, too hungry for words. For even though I had been cooking, I hadn’t really eaten anything for the day.

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Dinner Table

After dinner I collapsed on the couch for a bit of TV time and hung out with the family for the rest of the evening alternating between some idle chatter, goofy jokes and a couple of movies with a few eats and drinks in between. We crowned off the night watching, what is now a new family tradition, How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Truth be told, I have never felt more satisfied and relaxed on Christmas Day than I did yesterday; It must be a New York thing.

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“The Grinch”

Racing with the Snow

“Bid me run and I will strive with things impossible.” Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

I woke up this morning smack dab in the middle of winter! I exaggerate. Seems snow tends to make fools of us all since it’s been setting up like that for the past few days, and but for my head in the proverbial sand, I would have seen it coming. Oh mother of wisdom – to sign up for a race in this crazy weather. Oh well, deal with it, I’m told; that’s what runners do best anyway. So, here I am – well within my element I guess – if I could just get this ugh hair appointment out-of-the-way, get a cross-training class in and get on to the chilling out pre race day part. See, I have such great plans, they just have to work out that way.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m running a half-marathon tomorrow with which I hope to qualify for the New York City marathon next year. Since the qualifying window closes on Dec 31, it’s kind of do or die..well maybe not die, but close. I get no do overs, not this year at least. Am I ready? As much as I’ll ever be in this weather. I’ve been pretty constant with running and though I haven’t been in full-out training mode since October, I’ve maintained a minimum level, which I believe is enough to bring it home tomorrow. The unknown element remains the course and how it pans out after the snow and rain today.

In keeping with tradition, I’ve had the huge pasta dinner and after resting up some, I’m ready for bed. Pretty early for me, but again it’s all part of tradition and good sense. Wish me luck!

A Running Wish List

Source: DHGate.com

 Source: DHGate.com

Each new year I find I end up with a host of stuff, some I’ll probably regift, some I’ll put aside for that opportune moment that’ll be a while in coming, and then there are a few I’ll give to those who would put it to better use. Make no mistake, I’m extremely appreciative of my family and friends gestures of love and affection and I love that they want to show it in a tangible way. The truth is I love receiving presents almost as much as I love giving but what I love even more is the thought that went into it. A lot of people say, it’s the thought that counts and indeed it is but I figure one’s thoughts are only as good as how informed they are. To this end, I’ve compiled a short list of things runners would find really useful this season and beyond.

  • Running Shoes – which runner out there doesn’t love a pair of sneakers? We go through them with ridiculous speed. Of course a favorite brand has the promise a sure hit.
  • Compression Gear – we use it for support and, now that it’s cold, the warmth and comfort. Hint, these can also be personalized and comes in different patterns and colors.
  • Fleece Jackets/Pants – Ideal for running in cold temps, these are a runner’s staple and proves you’re thoughtful & knowledgeable on the topic.
  • Socks – runner or not, we love socks. Funny, athletic, colorful, fuzzy, cute and everything in between will fill our heart and Christmas stocking.
  • Watches – we love our Garmin or other similar styled GPS training watches and really don’t take a step out without them.
  • Headphones/ Earbuds – it’s a rave and a serious necessity out there on the roads and trails. It keeps us connected, happy and going. Love for life those “Jaybirds” or similar styled wireless pieces that gives a perfect in-ear fit.
  • Gloves – A key component of successful winter running and/or training is covering up the extremities and gloves created for this purpose keeps our hands and heart warm.
  • Running Pants or Tights – A saturated market does not mean that we can ever have enough tights. Printed patterns, plain, colorful, simple or funky tights are our definite go-to for everything running, exercise, gym and even hanging out. Just make sure they have the breathable element, which is super important to us runners.
  • Caps and Hats – whether for the cold, the sun or glare, or just because… hats make great gifts as it provides protection and comfort and is an all-round pleaser.
  • Wind/Rain Jackets – These add another outer layer which can make a huge difference when there’s wind, rain or sleet out. It’s no surprise that tis’ the season.
  • Books – Avid reader that I am, I’m always game for a good book; when you couple that with one of my favorite things to do then it’s a no brainer. “Born to Run” anyone? Most runners will love a good running read.
  • Earmuffs/Ear Warmers and Headbands – another great stocking stuffer that comes in all shapes and sizes. Aside from the comfort and protection elements, they’re trendy and can be quite the girl thing, though of course there are also guy-friendly.
  • Gift Cards – an easy and convenient way to share your love without the hassle.
  • Medal Racks – We love our medals and love having them on display. Coolest is that they can be personalized to say something inspiring, sweet or sassy.
  • A Subscription to Runner’s World or Running Competitor magazines.
  • Finally, though by no means least, and as I have one that gives me great joy and adds a bit of umph to my workout: a jump rope. On the few days when it is impossible to get out or even just to work up a sweat, you can keep pace while skipping to some tunes. It goes without saying that it can give a good workout.

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The above list is not exhaustive and for sure there are a lot more gift ideas such as water bottles, decorative items, key chains, cool printed shirts, sports bras/wear etc. for runners. This is more of a loose guide to things that will get you into our good book – so to speak (wink). In truth, it will endear you to us for your thoughtfulness and care to making our wishes come true.

What’s Running In December

Socks4Life.com

Socks4Life.com

Why, Hello December! The month of sugar and spice and everything nice – we’re hoping anyway and praying as far as running is concerned. I figure we’re in good stead this being the month we celebrate Jesus’ birth and all, plus the weather has been pretty decent so far. Hope is alive and the runner in me celebrates this with a happy run and a slight adjustment to end of year goals.

Truly, I’m not making this up on the fly nor do I believe I’m alone in my mid-goal pivot. I have always believed that it is the person who is able to grasp opportunities as they are presented that is more often than not successful in his/her endeavors. Of course it’s always a bit risky to veer off a predetermined path but you’ll never discover your strengths or true potential if you never challenge yourself to discover the badass within. And the truth is, we all have that person in us. It may take different things to incite us to action, but that’s only because we’re all uniquely different and does not speak to any timidity or lack of initiative in us. I firmly believe that runners are by far an enterprising lot. Consider the  tenacity it takes to train for a race and the sometimes brutal conditions we must endure only to fall short on race day. Our response, usually, is to right away sign up for the next race with as little fanfare as possible – tenacity is only outdone by the determination to minimize the achievement. So I’m in awesome company I know.

To this end, I had no problem on deciding  to push up my decision to qualify for the TCS NYC Marathon 2017 this month. With not a lot of options left in terms of races to choose from, limited time left to qualify and with the weather at its uncertain best, it will take a lot of faith and some crazy running to pull this off. I think I’m up for the challenge though. Since I’ve opted to go the half-marathon entry route, it’s crunch time with training and racing happening all in the next couple weeks.

The rest of the month will find me keeping my Wednesday group runs, doing speed work twice a week in Central Park, weather permitting, and getting a long run in on the weekend. I usually add some cross-training somewhere in there to mix things up a bit. So far, so good; while I’m optimistic we’ll close off the year in good spirits, so much depends on the weather. Hopefully, my optimism is contagious and that will only bring good running.🙏

🍂Tis’ the Season to be Thankful🍁🍂🍁

thanksgiving

“I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.
We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.  .  .”  ~Maya Angelou

The truth is I’ve had a pretty amazing year and have so many reasons to be thankful. I think of thanksgiving as a time to count our blessings, for though they are many, sometimes we can get mired down in the nitty-gritty stuff that insidiously plants itself in our psyche, and causes us to forget the tremendous miracle that is life. For this reason this day is important; a day for us to consciously remember and actively express our gratitude to a God who is unmatched in His favor toward us.

My gratitude extends beyond being thankful for the amazing runs this year. Though I am indeed thankful for those, I am even more enamored with my journey via running: my travels, the people I’ve met, new friends I made, the development of my body – strength and endurance, how I was able to redefine my boundaries and limits, the ability to use running as a platform to impact lives and channel growth, change and inspiration and learning to see God everywhere. These are by far the more valuable things I am exceedingly grateful for this Thanksgiving and beyond.

I’d like to think that many of us who share a passion for the same sport have some of these things in common as well. And so, as we sit before our table today surrounded by loved ones, I pray that our hearts are as bountiful and overflowing as the spread before us and that we give thought and prayers to those who may not have the same opportunity to give thanks. We are blessed always to be a blessing my friends.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Fall Running and End of Year Goals Check

Courtesy shutterstock.com

Courtesy shutterstock.com

Mirror, mirror on the wall, I’ll always get up after I fall. And whether I run , walk or have to crawl, I’ll set my goals and achieve them all.

Who would have “thunk” it? I mean, Thanksgiving is less than a week away, we have about a month left of Fall and the year’s end is less than a month and a half away at this point. If your life is anything like mine, or even if you’re the average Jane just taken up with getting life done daily, I’ll wager that you’re one of those that’s watching the fast-approaching New Year with some trepidation and the sound of the words “Wait, I’m not done yet!” are not just mine I hear echoing.

Most of us make a big deal about setting goals at the beginning of the year with every intention of seeing our very noble ambitions come to fruition by the year’s end. But unless you’re a human machine, by which I mean you’re perfect, then it’s probably not turning out quite the way you planned it. Welcome to life. The good news is that you’re not alone. On the other hand, there’s not a lot of time left if you’re wanting to separate yourself from the pack.

We, who are focused and goal-oriented, understand that fulfilling all our goals in a given year has a 55% or greater chance of not happening; yet we make them anyway because we’d rather have a success rate of 75% than nothing to show after 365/6 days. And so that’s where I’m going to assume you’re at – more than half way there. We can recommit to making the most of this last month of fall days, as for sure colder weather is on its way and then we’ll have to reconfigure what that means for running. Right now, the parks are lovely, the sun is still warm and daytime running is happening.

For those of us still goal focused then this is the time to make it happen. Let these last weeks count and stay the course. Granted, there’s only so much you can do and that’s fine. Each day is a day to push forward just a little and bit by bit we will get there. So drum up those miles, get some training in if there’s a race coming up, run some new routes (for the adventurous) or just basically enjoy running for the next few weeks and stay fit (even with and after all the turkey and holiday treats). While we rarely get do-overs in life, each day presents an opportunity to either start something new or add to what we’ve already done. My promise is, come December 31, when you’ve given it your all, you’ll be glad you did.

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