Team: Run Faster

Usain Bolt, 3x Olympic champion 100m, 200m

Usain Bolt, 3x Olympic champion 100m & 200m

Which runner do you know that doesn’t want to run faster? Who wouldn’t want to do a better time or run a faster PR? No one I know. Rarely will you find a runner who is contented with just being average; and if you think you have, then I’d go so far as to say, they’re visitors ( for want of a better word) and not really runners at all. Runners are a mostly competitive lot. Whether we’re competing in races or among each other or even with ourselves, the goal is always to improve. While improvement can vary to include better form, more endurance and/or strength, it ultimately translates to becoming more pace efficient or a faster runner.

One can never be too run savvy, not unless you’re an élite or pro and even then, I’m sure they keep up with relevant and new information as it pertains to the sport. They must in order to stay on top of their game and so too should we. As such, here are a few pointers I have found that ishelps with increasing speed and can make you a faster runner:
  • Speed work: tempo runs, hill repeats, interval and fartlek training increases your anaerobic capacity. It’s important to keep these speed workouts short and focused to avoid over-training.
  • Racing: 5ks and 10ks are good for cultivating a competitive spirit and encourages you to put your best foot forward each time through establishing PRs and pitting yourself against others.
  • Rest and Recovery: Just as important as training is resting. The body needs time to recover and heal itself after racing and training hard (reducing inflammation and joint pain and speed up healing times when you’re injured), it’s why any good training plan includes rest days. Sleep is also very important for this reason as well as to improve performance.
  • Cross-training: builds strength, develops complimentary muscles and fosters all-round better performance ( breathing, flexibility, endurance) which translates into increased speed.
  • Protein and Muscle Recovery Supplements: provide a faster turn around and an added energy booster pre and post workout.

In essence, there really is no magic to faster running. While there is such a thing as a natural fast runner, he or she still has to work to harness that ability. For the rest of us, we simply have to work harder. Practice really is everything. As is the case with anything, so it is with running; the more you do it, the better you become. Next week I’ll touch on some approaches to proper running form that can also help improve your pace; but for now, let’s stick to the standard methods above that has worked for me and many other successful runners.

Run Rio-Inspired



The Olympic games are here! It’s the only other time beside the World Cup, when I log enough television viewing time to be compared to a couch potato. Better still, track and field, my favorite part, is on. I cannot pretend not to be extremely awed by those runners in Rio; their speed, agility and determination is something that we, runners, would love to be able to bottle up and save for ourselves. It’s no wonder they are the best in the world. I, however, can dream. And that’s what the Olympic games bring to us: the dreams of ordinary people finding within themselves the fortitude, determination and commitment to make extraordinary happen.

The most awesome thing about these games are that athletes come from everywhere with their stories of hope;many overcoming adversity to get a few brief moments to show the world a small piece of why they matter. Few will make it through the first rounds, fewer still will medal, but all will have been changed by the process of qualifying to get there. This, if nothing else, makes the sacrifice and hard work worth it in my view and, I wager, most runners agree.

Living in the United States gives one the opportunity, while being from anywhere in the world, to support any athlete or country and feel right at home doing it. Too, it’s totally cool to be seen supporting multiple teams; that’s one of the beautiful things about this country and its rich and diverse population and culture. You can bet that Team USA is a melting pot with athletes hailing from every country under the sun but who now call the United States home and thus for all accounts and purposes are deemed American.

Don’t be surprised to see my tweets featuring Americans, Trinidadians, Jamaicans, Italians, Portuguese, Brazilians and Australians. I throw a lot of support into the ring when it comes to swimming, gymnastics, soccer, track & field, basketball, cycling and tennis and who I’m supporting varies depending on my favorites at the time. I must say, I love it; the excitement, looking forward to watching the games and meeting up with friends to enjoy some Olympics hanging-out-time. It’s all about celebrating sports, athletes, and their journeys to the Olympic world stage; inspiring, encouraging, celebrating and rewarding those who have given their best to the sporting world in true Olympic-spirit-style.

The Thrills of Hills: A Recap of The San Francisco Marathon


I’ve heard it said often enough, “Learn to love hills, they’ll make you a stronger runner.” After last Sunday’s run, I believe it. It’s hard to know when you register for a race online what you’re really signing up for? You can’t know, not with any degree of certainty, what you’re getting into – the run of a lifetime or the challenge of a lifetime? You can only research the course, maybe suss out a few runners who have done it before and get some feedback, but really just hope and pray for the best. I suppose that’s what makes it challenging and exciting to begin with – the unknown factor, the anticipation of discovery – in the end, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The San Francisco Marathon (SF Marathon) was a dream hills course, that is, if you ever have such dreams or nightmares. Lol. Truthfully, I wouldn’t describe it in nightmare terms because despite the hilly terrain, I enjoyed it and thought it was quite scenic and interesting. My favorite part of the course was running on the golden gate bridge (big thrill)..about three miles out from the Bay area into Marin and back to the tune of perfect San Francisco-type weather, overcast and drizzly with a cool breeze. I was in my element at tempo pace with a slight incline to relatively flat run in the company of thousands of runners and spectators lining the bridge; a perfect run setting if there ever was one, if only it could have stayed that way. But it was San Francisco, you would think I didn’t know it as I really didn’t expect it to be quite as hilly; suffice to say my expectations were surpassed. I especially wasn’t thrilled with the downhill portions of the race as it was hell on my lower back and butt cheeks but on the other hand, the variance kept the race interesting. What I knew of the law of gravity kept me sane and pushing forward on the hills and if you know anything about running downhill, then you know the momentum pretty much carries you; only there needs to be some sort of control to your running, which was the hard part, since there was no traction.
Running along the bay area was another thrill. Starting from around mile 3 to 6, it was beautiful, cool, and calm around 6am looking out over the bay to the boats as they floated on the still water. The heavy fog surrounding us like a cocoon made as if to seclude us in a space where only running existed. One could feel the immense hush settling over us as we dug in and psyched ourselves for what lay ahead. Of course nothing in my training on those very miniscule hills (in comparison anyway) in Central Park, New York could have prepared me for what must have been mountains (or so it seemed at the time) I had to run. However, it was encouraging to see the locals running with slightly less effort, it gives me hope that mastering those hills is possible after all; I only have to incorporate it into my training. Only, right.
In hindsight, I should have made more of an effort to tame my pace in the first half, and to be fair I tried, but with the early ups and downs and stronger muscles to play with, pushing it kind of just happened and I was able to keep up a more or less steady 8:15 min p/mile. It was the steady decline of mile 13 that saw my decrease in pace which just about summed up the rest of the race. Getting past the historic residential areas and closer to the city provided a bit of a reprieve in terms of a flatter landscape and difference in scenery but it was a case of too little too late, as I was already heading toward a 3:50 finish. Not much that could have been done at that point and not for a lack of anything not provided on the course.
The 31st running of the SF marathon ran pretty smoothly. Lots of fluid and energy gels strategically placed along the course made sure we were ready to take on the hills right up to the finish line. Crossing under the merciful covering of an overcast sky was a blessing I did not take for granted, for San Francisco’s glorious sunshine soon appeared as if out of no where. Boy was I grateful to have finished and was especially heartened to see the streams of runners that kept pouring in despite the damnable heat. 27,000 runners found their strong last Sunday, which I think speaks a lot to what determination, perseverance and the right attitude can do when coupled with a runner on a mission. That said, it’s a course I’d love to run again; maybe I’m a sucker for punishment after all.

26 Running Terms You Should Know

There is a jargon – a technical language applicable to every subject and/or occupation under the sun. The world of academia, sports, medicine, theater and the arts along with various other practices and their many subsets each speak a language of its own. Most of us are quick to point this out when we find ourselves at a loss to understand the various technical terms that are often leveled at us when we come across a subject foreign to us. I, for one, am always quick to ask for layman’s’ terms or explanations in a language I understand. I suspect that’s why we have so many books written “for dummies.” We can all relate at some level.

Running is no different. Runners and people in the field relate just like any other and often find themselves speaking a language known only to them. If you’re a new runner, the following are a few terms you should get comfortable with, for those of us who have been in the game a while, this is a good time to pick our brains and see how we fare. Don’t be surprised if you’re a bit out of the loop, I had to look up a few.

  • Aerobic Running: running at an intensity that’s sufficiently easy for your respiratory and cardiovascular systems to deliver all or most of the oxygen required by your muscles, and slow enough that lactic acid doesn’t appreciably build up in your muscles.
  • Anaerobic Running: running at an intensity that makes it impossible for your respiratory and cardiovascular systems to deliver all or most of the oxygen required by your muscles, and fast enough that lactic acid begins to build up in your muscles, thus producing a tired, heavy feeling (unsustainable pace.)
  • Aerobic Capacity or VO2Max: The maximum rate of oxygen utilization by a person that is transported and used in the body’s tissues.
  • BQ: Boston Qualify/Qualifier
  • Cross training: Engaging in other physical exercise such as swimming, biking, weight training etc.
  • vVO2max: The velocity or pace at which a person reaches VO2max.
  • Lactate Acid: A substance which forms in the muscles as a result
    of the incomplete breakdown of glucose. Associated with
    muscle fatigue and sore muscles.
  • Lactate Threshold/ Anaerobic Threshold/ Threshold Pace: The transition phase between aerobic and anaerobic running and the point at which your muscles start fatiguing at a rapid rate (5-20 mins slightly slower than 10-K pace)
  • Resting Heart Rate: Your heart rate before you get up in the morning.
  • Ultra: Any race event longer than a marathon or 26.2 miles.
  • Tempo Run: Sustained effort training runs, usually 20 to 30 minutes in length, at 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than 10-K race pace.
  • Taper: A period of reduced running or cutting back mileage (depending on the distance event) leading up to a race.
  • Intervals: Training in which short, fast “repeats” or “repetitions”
    often 200 to 800 meters, are alternated with slow “intervals” of jogging for recovery.
  • Fartlek: Variable Pace Running; a mixture of slow running, running at a moderate pace and short, fast bursts.
  • Splits:  Your times at mile markers (eg. 5-k, 10-k etc.) or other pre-planned checkpoints along the way to the finish line.
  • Pyramids:  A combination of a ladder and a cutdown (opposite of a ladder), such as 200-400-600-800-600-400-200 meters.
  • Ladder: An interval workout of increasing interval lengths, such as 200-400-600-800 meters.
  • PR/PB: Personal Record or Personal Best.
  • Pace: The rate or speed at which you run.
  • Recovery Run: An easy run meant to help with recovery to muscle soreness after a marathon or a distance race.
  • RICE: A method of treatment for common running related injuries such as sprains – Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate in that order.
  • USATF: USA Track and Field
  • WMM/ The Abbott World Marathon Majors:   Six of the largest and most renowned road races in the world – the Tokyo, Boston, Virgin Money London, BMW Berlin, Bank of America Chicago and TCS New York City Marathons – make up AbbottWMM.
  • Bonk/Wall: A feeling during
    a race when your muscle glycogen stores become depleted and a feeling of fatigue engulfs you.
  • Negative Split: The ability to run the latter half of a run or marathon at a faster pace than the first half.
  • Running Economy: How much oxygen you use when you run.


Overtraining: How to Identify it and its Effects


If you’ve been running for any period of time, chances are you have either succumbed to overtraining or only just been able to head it off. It is posited that more than half of all runners will overdo it at least once in their running career ( After much debate and analysis, I believe overtraining was the reason for my underperformance at the Boston Marathon earlier this year. Overtraining or Under Performance Syndrome (UPS), according to Dr Mark Wotherspoon, Sport and exercise Medicine Consultant, develops on a continuum with the initial stages being that of ‘overreaching’ – fatigued but being able to recover and continue training with a few days rest – to developing full blown overtraining, a persistent, unexplained performance deficit, despite two weeks of relative rest – if sufficient rest is not gained. The main difference between the two is the recovery period.

It’s difficult for the average runner to determine at what point they’re in the overtraining zone since it can be confused with basic fatigue from training or overreaching. This unawareness poses more of a threat as a runner is more likely to rest inadequately and train harder if he or she feels as though they are underperforming, which can then propel them over the edge into an overtrained state. Despite this, some coaches agree that there are subtle signs to help you recognize when you’re in danger of falling victim to overtraining.

Continuous Elevated Resting Heart Rate: it is recommended that you check your heart rate every morning before getting out of bed for a period of time to determine its elevated state, ani dictator of overtraining.

Decrease in training capacity, performance, and continuous feelings of fatigue and lack of energy.

Moodiness and Depession coupled with feelings of increased anxiety and irritability.

Prone to sickness and infections: many of us know this as having a low resistance, which can be brought on by stress, fatigue and overwork.

Increase incidences of injury: tired, overworked muscles coupled with feelings of stress and fatigue can make the body susceptible to injury  more so recurring ones, which never get the time to heal properly.

Disturbed Sleeping Patterns or Insomnia: overtraining affects the body’s ability to rest well causing you to wake up earlier and or have trouble falling asleep.

Prolonged bodily aches and pains and muscle soreness.

While there are varying  life factors that can give rise to any one of these symptoms, experts argree that if a runner is exhibiting three to four of these symptoms  simultaneously then there’s a very good chance of he or she suffering the effects of overtraining. The caveat to this is that there really is no help for it aside from giving the body the rest it needs to recover and heal properly. Rest, an adequate diet with the necessary vitamins and  a lot of sleep is the best prescription. The extent of rest needed will depend on the individual and their body’s recouping ability. For some it might be two weeks, for others four or anywhere up to eight weeks. The important thing is to listen to your body and give it the rests it needs so that you can resume running and training and become a better, faster and more efficient runner.


The ABC’s on Safe and Fun Running this Summer

My mantra for Summer running have always been to run at the sun lowest points of the day, which can be either at dawn or dusk or thereabouts. So many of us get disenchanted when summer comes knocking with its sweltering, humid days but it would be a shame to pack it in and give up on all that spring momentum we have going to a seasonal shift that will soon pass. In fact, given all that we have been through with the preceding cold of a long winter, we should strive to make the best of all this sunshine and try not to complain too loudly of the heat.

With that in mind, I figure we could all benefit from a few tips on taking on this challenge in a safe and enjoyable way.

  •  As noted above, stick to early mornings or night runs; that way you not only avoid the heat and damaging effects of the sun, but you get to enjoy the coolest, quietest and often most picturesque part of the day. I promise there’s nothing quite like running to the tune of a breathtaking sunrise or sunset, it restores your sense of awe and belief in God and His creation. 
  • Discover new trails and the fun of trail running. It’s a favorite of mine, which sadly, I don’t get to do enough of. Trail running adds the benefit of running in the shade and at more convienient times amidst nature. It also challenges your fitness level while adding variety to your runs. Gear up with proper running shoes and get ready to blaze a trail like you won’t believe.
  • We can never be reminded enough in summer time to hydrate daily. This is the one thing that many of us take for granted and it really is that serious. More than eight glasses a day, we should all make a small investment in a “fancy schamcy” water bottle that becomes an appendage of sorts and never leave home without it. Proper hydration will power your runs and safeguard you against heatstroke and other assosiated ills that runners are prone to.
  • Nothing says I’m ready to run like new gear. Around now is a good time to beat out a summer tune to the steps of new running shoes and some fun active wear, and there’re a lot of variety in styles, brand and colors at competitive prices. Gear up and you’ll find you’re actually looking forward to hitting Sumner streets to make that active statement.
  • Lather and Layer up. This sort of sun (90°+) calls for all guns blazing when it comes to sunscreen, putting it on should come second only to what you wear. Being smart and safe demands a sunscreen of at least SPF 70 on exposed areas while running in direct sunlight and even when it’s humid and overcast if you plan on a prolonged run. It is also wise to cover up as much as you can. Where possible, use proper breathable, thin material to shade the the sun from direct contact with your skin and use hats and polorized sunglasses to protect your face and eyes. While beautiful and thoroughly appreciated, the sun can do serious damage to your skin.
  • Another aspect of safety deals with running in numbers when at all possible. Whether in company with other runners or just ensuring that the area you’re running in is populated and well lit is just plain smart. Running with music can also render one incapable of keeping a presence of mind so take care to either eliminate it entirely when the running environment seems a bit iffy or stay focused and present.
  • Keep a charged phone, metro card ( or ticket for bus/train) and emergency money with you on all runs. Most active wear now come with enclosed zippers/pockets to stash stuff such as these. Make your money work for you when shopping to get more for you dollar.
  • New technology has its advantages for night running. There is now active wear with reflective technology that glimmers and glows in the dark and even those with LEDs. This is another good investment to make for night running.

Hope this helps in setting you up for your best Sumner running experience yet. Keep it fun, safe and running!

The Freedom to Run – Happy 4th!

Happy Fourth Of July!

Happy Fourth Of July!

Many of us take our freedom for granted. We live in a country unrivaled in its advocacy and support for  individual freedom and one’s right to practice, speak, share and do just about anything that does not endanger or threaten that same freedom we all enjoy. To the extent that we embrace these rights responsibly, we have a very good chance of living a fruitful, productive and healthy life.

Four years ago Blomberg Rankings did a survey on the world’s healthiest countries, many wondered where was the US on this list.                   Ranking 37th, the United States, arguably one of the most developed countries in the world did not then produce a rating worthy of its standing. The question is, why? And have we progressed for there at all?

Chief among the reasons for our poor showing on Blomberg’s list is our inability to take responsibility for our health. More than how we treat our bodies (diet and exercise), holistic wellbeing ( body, mind and spirit) speaks to correctly embracing an attitude of health and wellbeing that informs our decisions and subsequent actions, thus creating a lifestyle of worth and enduring happiness.

Can we truly say we are free if we fail to use our freedom to educate and liberate ourselves from a mindset that harms and hinders us from realizing our full potential? Blame a fast food culture, advertising, social media, everything but ourselves, and our responsibility to make wise choices. We’ve heard time again that nothing in life is free, it is true. Our freedom came at great cost to many, we have the responsibility to embrace and promote it. To whom much is given, much is expected. One way we can do this is by adopting a healthy lifestyle; for those of us who run, we’re halfway there already. For all of us, let’s commit to embracing freedom beginning one step at a time. Celebrate: get out, get going, get active. Be Healthy. 


Happy Independence!

Hello Summer, Runners

source: welland


I’m probably the most excited runner you’ll meet for the entire summer. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard, “are we there yet?” It’s finally safe to say we are! Gone are the coats and heavy jackets and reels of scarves etc. Bring on the hats, sunglasses, shorts, tanks and well.. gallons of sunscreen. It’s all good; as long as we’ve got trees, breeze, trails, dusk, dawn and the gym, we’ve got this.

source: she

source: she

Some may argue that summer is just about the hardest time to get yourself motivated to exercise – it just being so hot and all. I beg to differ. Summer implies a time of adventure, frolicking, fun and getting out and about. Many of us grab some time off to go on vacation, whether for a week or a month, what better time to get and stay active giving all the running around that entails. Some of you may know of my penchant for destination marathons, I try to get at least one good adventure run in during these months, but there are so many more runs going on, whatever your style it’s out there. Add to that some exciting activities one can get up to and man.. you’re talking three months of endless fun.



Summer fun activ-ities include hiking, camping, trail running, obstacle racing, surfing, kayaking, roller blading, biking, dancing, cross fit and yoga and its variations. There are many other options for the average runner or person to add some variety to their regular schedule; summer provides the opportunity to do away with routine and shake it up, to wring from these sunny days all the fun they’re worth. Regardless of how you choose to do so, it’s a bonus when you look and feel better as a result of actively engaging those muscles to stay fit and strong. An important point to remember is to try to run at the sun’s lowest point to minimize heat & sun exposure. This means early mornings or late evenings as well as sticking to the shade when necessary. Couple that with lots of fluid to stay hydrated and loads of sunscreen and you’ll have a summer to run for.  Beach bodies you’re welcome!


A 10k of Woman Power: 8,833 strong


Last Saturday 8,833 female runners took over Central Park for the 45th running of the original all-women mini 10k for which the run was aptly named as it celebrates women’s advancement in the field of running. It was a hot and beautiful day, not an ideal race day, but the stellar cast of elite women headlining the race, who are set to represent us at this summer’s Olympics, provided ample motivation for the rest of us.

It was a heartening sight, to witness and be a part of an occasion of such monumental significance. While I’ve only been in this country for about 10 years, I’ve been a runner for twice that time and have read about as well as observed the strides women are making in the sport of running. This makes me firstly a proud woman, then a proud runner.

We took to the street, all 8,000+ of us in an array of pinks; women from all over the world in the splendor of diversity and rolled out wave after wave for all intents and purposes united in the cause of woman power. Beyonce’s “Who run the world” might have been our anthem as we raced up Central Park West and headed into the the park at West 90th street. Of course the answer was girls, girls and more girls..taking on 6.2 rolling miles of Central Park to the cheers and support of spectators lining the course.

Jemima Sumgong of Kenya led the way in a heat-defying time of 31:26 but whether you finished under an hour or as much as 3 hours later, each woman out there had something to be proud of. Truth is, in a city such as New York there is possibly 8,833 other things either of us could have been doing. For sure we had varying goals going in – many of us were looking for PRs – but I’d wager that we all had one overwhelming desire that day and it was to make our mark as women; to represent an international community of womanhood and to celebrate our powerful presence in the greatest city in the world. We did it and then some! #werunthiscity #proudnewyorker #womenrunners

Running Addiction or Not



“When’s the next race?” “Where’s it gonna be?” “Isn’t that too soon?” I field questions, though some sound like accusations, like these pretty regularly from friends, family and just about anyone else who knows of my propensity for running. Recently, someone made the comment – jokingly I think – that I must be addicted. How absurd – I thought, and that was that or so I thought. Much later, like a weed that has sprung out of nowhere it came to me, and just like a weed is wont to do, it insinuated itself into my thoughts and made me question myself; Am I? Can a passion for or belief in something turn into an addiction? And if so, in this case, is that such a bad thing?

Because exercise has always been a part of my life, it’s easy to see how I have attached myself to running: the form I am best at. Turned out running is the best outlet for my stresses and it allows me to stay healthy, fit and happy. There really is no other motivation necessary to keep doing it. On the contrary, there are numerous reasons to switch to something else; something easier, more social and interactive, less competitive, less likely to cause injuries etc. That I latched on to running is a credit to my belief in the good it does to the individual, and by extension, the larger community.

As to whether it has become an addiction, I doubt it. Running and racing for a competitive person like me is not easy, and every run where I don’t meet my goal is seen as s setback. It’s the main reason I race.  In this competition with myself, I’m always looking to improve my time with the ultimate goal being to perform at my full potential. So there you have it.. supremely self-motivated with a personal agenda driven by nothing but my own desire to give of my best in every area of my life; hence the next race and the next and the one after that and so on. I could easily exist without running but then it wouldn’t be called living and I would never know the heady joy of personal bests and true accomplishment upon challenging myself beyond perceived limits.

It is easy to see why one might call this an addiction but I promise there is no 12-step recovery program to become better. I am already better because of running: healthier, fitter, motivated, inspired and so much more as a person, mother, sister, friend, neighbor and one who hopes to inspire and motivate others to a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life. Is it any wonder I look forward to the next race? One tends to be pretty involved in what ignites their passion. For me that’s running.

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