Reviewing Ragnar Cape Cod: 200 miles in 24:11:56

Team ‘Merica

Last weekend I journeyed to The Cape for some Ragnar fun and found my inner wild and then some. Typically, these events take some planning and organizing and I’m grateful that our team had an amazing organizer for had it been left to me, I would have been too stressed with the logistics to run. As it is, our guy didn’t run but only because he was recovering from an injury. Thankfully, all I had to do was pitch in, show up, run and have fun; pretty easy stuff really and totally done.

A group of eleven of us split into two vans and left the city early Friday morning. Our intention was to make it to Nantasket Beach, where the race began, in time to check-in, grab a snack and get a few photos in before start time at 2pm. We did too, with just a few minutes to spare, and after an orientation video and a few pics, our first guy headed out amidst much fanfare for a short but fast 4.9 miles. We divided into two groups, whereby the first van held all the runners running the first leg, which was five of us, while van two held the second group. From then on we paced ourselves from point to point, to simultaneously meeting our runner while dropping off the next one as part of the relay. Van 2 went ahead to meet up at the first change-over for leg 2, and I suspected,  to get some food in.

I was next up and we were just able to make the change. Since this was my first time running this type of event, I had little idea what to expect and was pretty anxious and uncertain while running. Turned out it was much ado about nothing as save for my underlying anxiety, it was pretty routine running, just in uncharted territory, which made for an interesting run. I had a couple early kills (passing other runners) and made my 6.4 miles in about 46 minutes. Not bad for a rookie!

My most anxious moment came when it was my turn to run at 2am. Though we got decked out in lights, reflector vests and head lamps, I couldn’t help but be nervous about running under darkness. I will probably never forget it. There’s nothing quite like being able to hear yourself think. What started out as cold, about 40℉ soon warmed up as I concentrated on staying the course and not getting lost. It helped that I passed a few runners along the way and even got passed by one speedster, that way I was sure I was in the right track. Of course there were markers but the dead of night can play crazy tricks with you given that they’re not manned and there’s no one at all to question or to give directions. It’s not hard to figure that your senses would be hyper-alert as a result.

It’s crazy though, running in the dark: the utter stillness of the night, the darkness covers you like a blanket, the air smells sharp and crisp and one could be forgiven for thinking it all a dream. However the constant whisk of the wind as I sped on by was evidence enough that it was real alright. I recall peering into the darkness attempting to sift some shape out of well..nothing..but knowing that just beyond there was something, something worth seeing, but that darn it, I couldn’t make out a thing. Only the occasional bobbing headlight or flash of light from a fellow runner, or what I hoped was a runner, kept me from total isolation. In fact, that might have been among my fastest 4.7 miles, which ended on a high note.

I was up again at 7am for a double stretch of 11.9 miles total. Not my idea of a perfect run coming from what amounted to a few hours dozing in the van, but the idea was floated and I succumbed to treating it as a medium-long run of sorts. Not my smartest move without sleep and food (breakfast), so while the first half of the run was good, the second half was tough and not helped by the last two hilly miles. However, I survived, earned my bragging rights and wrapped up my mileage with around twenty-two miles.

For the rest of the race, I was cheerleader, supporter and even went back for a run with another team member to encourage one of our runners and help bring her home on a tough leg.

We wrapped up our two hundred miles around 2:25pm on Saturday in Provincetown and everyone was definitely happy to be finished and we’re ready for beers as we moved to meet our final leg runner, who had a really tough last leg of 9 miles. He killed it at a 6:25 p/min pace and was pretty much cooked at that point. We all celebrated with a run up the last stretch and headed into the Ragnar finish area for food, drinks and medals and spent a couple of hours doing photos and recon – talking about highs and lows as we ate.

It was the coolest thing to be a part of that running extravaganza and get to see all the teams that had finished – others were still running – and to swap stories and grab some swag. Eventually, we made it out of there and headed to crash for the night, at a local airbnb which consisted of more beers and wine and pizza and wings and showers and some pictionary and ultimately a movie. For my part, movie aside, my lights were out at 10:30pm; it had been a while since I had slept that early.

We were up at 6:30am next morning to showers for mother’s day and to cold pizza for a pre breakfast. True teamwork spirit in effect, we were out of there and in the car wash by 8am and heading back to New York soon after we stopped and grabbed some breakfast at a local breakfast shop; 200 miles accounted for.

Official Finish Photo
Team ‘Mercia

Running into Adventure this Summer with Obstacle Racing

Source: cloudlineapparel.com

Time goes on and so must we. A truer saying does not exist. It’s May-day – my way of ushering in the first day of May – and we’re one giant step closer to Summer. Oh the running possibilities that this awakens in my adventure-craving soul.

In the wake of both the Boston and London Marathons, many of us may feel a sort of push to run – to up our game or even to switch things up and say, maybe, compete? Maybe it’s neither of those but surely in the wake of such Kenyan greatness,  and for sure they dominated prized placings in both races, some of us have figured to find our own little niche to excel in and maybe even have some fun with. If so, I think you’re on the right track; for what’s running if you can’t enjoy some of it at the very least? Despite what non-runners may think, we’re not crazy, running can be fun!

Source: theclymb.com

Summer presents some fun opportunities for runners. While there aren’t much in the way of long-distance races, such as the marathon or other ultra running events, in the hot months ahead, in these United States, there are a variety of running events tailored to the fun-loving adventurer in each of us. Whether you decide to trek cross-country or stay local there are lots of running choices. Some popular ones that feature across the country at various and different times include: Ragnar Relay Races, Obstacle Races, which includes Mud Runs such as Reebok Spartan Race, Rugged Maniac,Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Savage Race, The Color Run, Foam Fest, Night Runs, and some even include biking. There are many others that are spin-offs and/or localized versions of these races.

Whichever or whatever you decide, even if you choose to sit these out – truly your loss – you should endeavor to get outside. Go walking, hiking, camping, swimming, riding, surfing, learn a local sport – take up soccer or baseball. On the other hand, should you choose the fun way out, make sure to bring your A game ( best effort) and best attitude to make sure you have the best experience and maybe fall in love and develop a life-long habit along the way?

As an aside, note that while adventure/ obstacle races are not endurance races, they are challenging and are strength and skill-based and requires participants to be fit and have some knowledge of extreme sports and training in some of the activities involved. Thank goodness that they’re pretty short on average or you team up and assign legs, though that in no way detracts from the skill element. They require determination, commitment – both financial and physical, and your spirit of competition and fun of course. Also, be ready to travel and overnight over a couple of days sometimes. My recommendation? Get busy, tag a team and get to planning. One last note, these races are extra fun with friends or team-mates. So team up, Summer is about to happen for you!

The Run of Champions: A Recap of the Boston Marathon ’17

Photo by Madeline Bills, Boston Daily

Most times when you run a race there’s a clear case of “hated it” or “loved it” only rarely are you caught in the middle, ambiguous about where on the running experience spectrum it belongs. My Boston run this year falls somewhere along the lines of amazing and disappointing.

@the start line

No surprise that the disappointment was all due to the weather, which, in all honesty, was hardly surprising as for days leading up to the event we were made aware of the impending warm temperatures. Of course one can always hope as in instances such as these, that maybe, just maybe, it won’t be as bad as all that. It turned out to be maddeningly so, though it felt slightly better than last year, or maybe I was just better prepared. Whichever it was, I’m thankful that I had a better experience.

The truth is, it was amazing. I can find no fault with organizers as the race was seamlessly executed and we were treated to the full effect of phenomenal volunteers and spectators along the course. It’s hardly the organizers fault that the sun graced us with its unabashedly glorious presence from the moment we disembarked the busses at Athletes Village until about mile 22. I did then what every runner had to do, which was adjust my expectations and my strategy – got comfortable with the idea and was able to enjoy the race – for the most part.

Spectators @ Framingham, Massachusetts. (Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images), abc2news.com

The cheers helped tremendously, so did the endless supply of Gatorade and water, both from the amazing volunteers and the awesome spectators. And then there was the sprinklers and open fire hydrants and soaked sponges and wet paper towels and the ices and the list goes on and on. Even the dreaded heartbreak hill and the other minor mountains didn’t seem so bad at all. In fact, the steady down hills for the first half of the race proved more difficult and taxing on my prevailing runner’s knee issue, that flared up during those said miles, than when the course was flat or uphill.

In the end, it was the sure knowledge that I was in Boston and approaching Bolyston Street and the finish line that bolstered the last mile and saw me running it in my fastest time since mile 3. Nothing like running down the home stretch to the uproar and cheers from a sea of spectators rooting for you every step of the way.

Running Inspiration: Ed Whitlock

Ed Whitlock @ the 2016 Toronto Marathon (competitor.com)

Inspiration abounds, you have only to look around.

There is nothing more disappointing or wasted than an unfulfilled dream or unrealized goal. Now imagine going through life not once allowing yourself the chance to see where “it” could have taken you; by “it” I mean that dream or goal that started as a little seed, planted by some per chance wind somewhere in the deep recesses of your psyche. I have a theory that many of us will never achieve our full or real potential, that fear and/or the lack of motivation and inspiration will be the chief deterrents to our success and happiness. However, that is another issue. Here we’ll focus on how, despite that theory, there are those who will go on to inspire, motivate and encourage others to greatness, even in spite of themselves, as was the case with Ed Whitlock, an older Canadian long distance runner and Master, who died in March.

The running world has indeed lost a great soldier and runner in Ed. Without much fanfare but with a lot of heart, he set about running, on and off over his lifetime, a simple life as he termed it – and incurred a host of records to his name and the history books in his latter years and leading up to his death. Over a course of about twenty years from ages 65 to 85 he acquired single-age world records for the 5K, half marathon, and marathon. What is particularly fascinating about Ed is that he never employed any expensive, extensive or intricate system or even had a secret to his success, he simply had a passion for running, was good at it, and had the ability. As far as he was concerned, he just ran and would argue against being called an inspiration by those of us who revered him. Simplicity and humility more than any specific training regimen seemed to be Ed’s modus operandi. I would argue that his investments, unlike so many current-day runners, never graduated to high-tech or inventive methods to improve efficiency or performance but stayed modest and relatively unchanged over the years. Old sneakers, a relatively normal diet, the average shorts and tank in good weather, slightly more for the colder temps, and a body fully engaged in continuous running motion at a steady pace were in essence his tools of trade. He went on to die of prostate cancer at the age of 86, a few months after running a sub 4:00 marathon time.

It would be a mistake if we did not take a step back and see what we can learn from Ed’s life and running ethic. If we want to honor his memory, we would do well to adopt at the very least his modesty and passion for what he believed in, his ability to defy convention and worldly standards. Ed proved once and for all that the only limits that exist are the ones we place on ourselves; that while we operate within the confines of life, we are solely responsible for our choices, attitudes and perspective. Ed chose to live his life each day limitless, ran when he could, as well as he could, where he could and he did it as long as he could. He did it his way.

Ed Whitlock @ Rotterdam Marathon
(globalnews.ca.com) The Canadian Press

A 15K with a Kick

Saturday gone, I ran the annual 15K put on by the Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC) here in New York. Suffice to say, sometimes it pays to just dive in while other times it could be a monumental mistake. In this case I think my tendency to the impromptu turned out fine though I wouldn’t always bet on it. Deciding on Thursday that I would do a race on Saturday is not mired in good, well-thought-out decision-making but then I hardly make any such claim. Fanciful, impulsive, adventurous, committed, and a host of other attributes I can attest to, but always being sensible and cautious would not describe me – not by a long shot. Hence why I found myself standing outside in below freezing temperatures in Kings Park out on Long Island Saturday morning.
I was to see that my friends and I weren’t the only crazy ones making rash decisions; more and more runners kept filing in to the school compound which served as the base and start and finish area. Now in all honesty, this is a course I’ve run before. A few months back, a group of runners invited me out there for a long run and we pretty much ate up the course. Hilly, but only nine miles, it went pretty hard and fast. What we did not have then was the weather factor, which turned the tide of the run this time around.
We began in15℉ with real feel temperatures of 2 degrees. Blisteringly cold, I figured it was smart to ration my heat and wrapped myself in a heat sheet to run the first couple of miles, except it lasted about three-quarters of a mile before the wind became too much and said sheet became more of a hindrance than the help it was originally intended for. I had to dump it and face losing feeling in my face, feet and fingers. Despite my strategy of taking it easy on the hills/inclines, it slowly became harder to breathe with intermittent head and cross winds at various intervals and it took a mean mind to keep one foot in front of the other and not give in to the urge to stop and walk.  Add to that the snow and ice on the ground, in some areas, and what should have been a simple challenging run ended up being hazardous. There was little choice but to go into self-preservation mode to guard against getting injured. I reduced my pace – to a crawl really – for about a mile with three miles to go and finished up with a blistering dash in a time of 1:16.
 
We can all agree that the best part of racing in sub-temperatures is finishing and getting to enjoy the post-run eats and hot drinks. The organizers didn’t disappoint offering quite the spread to chase the chills and any discomfort away, so much so that we hung around for the official results ceremony and the raffle and giveaways. Turns out, this is one time my rash decision-making proved to be a bit of a chill running experience.

 

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!

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.🙏

Tips to a PR in the TCS New York City Marathon

Chief Petty Officer Noah Bray from Coast Guard Sector New York crosses the finish line at the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, Nov. 2, 2014. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Frank Iannazzo-Simmons.)

Chief Petty Officer Noah Bray from Coast Guard Sector New York crosses the finish line at the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, Nov. 2, 2014. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Frank Iannazzo-Simmons.)

It’s nine days to Marathon Sunday here in New York City. For a lot of runners that means nine days of excitement, anticipation and tapering. For many others it may mean nine days of trepidation, anxiety and stress. It doesn’t matter where you fall on the emotional spectrum, your feelings couldn’t be more valid as it relates to this marathon. Trumped as perhaps the best and one of the more challenging marathons out there, the hype is real and you will need all of your wits and will to master this course and wring a PR out of it.

The competitive runner understands that each race is different and that despite a well-executed training plan one has to be ready and willing to look at all avenues and consider all possibilities if the aim is finishing within a goal time.  As it is, the TCS New York City Marathon boasts a field size of 50,000 runners, the largest in the world, who are geared up to run the race of a lifetime hoping for the experience of a lifetime. It will be their special time on the running world stage where everyone gets a moment to shine – a shot at glory – if you will.

As a two-time New York City (NYC) and all-round ten-time marathoner I have found this to be a tough and challenging course if you’re running for a goal time. If you’re simply wanting to finish, then you can easily do that, the crowds will get you there. However, if you’re looking for a personal best, a PR or sub 3:30, whether you’re a newbie or a repeat marathoner, you may want to bear these pointers in mind:

  • November’s weather can be very unpredictable. In the days leading up to the race pay careful attention to weather advisories and prepare your body by eating well – carbing up, hydrating well and resting well. This is standard pre-race procedure and will serve you well on race day in being alert, focused and feeling energised.
  • Use a foam roller or the stick the night before race day to get out any kinks or muscle tightness. Roll out leg and thigh muscles especially, it leaves you limber and loose and ready to run.
  • Dress appropriately. Use layers that can be efficiently discarded on course since it’s very likely that the start will be cold. I like to run at least the first three miles with a heated sheet so my body temperature slowly builds to comfortable race temps, then I discard it.
  • First time marathoners or first time NYC marathoners should be wary of the start. If you’re in the early corrals, the start can be really packed and chances are you’ll be running toe-to-toe with other runners for a few miles, be prepared to adjust or slow your pace to accommodate this.
  • Engaging in dodging and weaving in the early segments of the race utilizes a lot of energy and can cost you later on. It is better to follow the crowd while awaiting the opportunity to increase your pace.
  • It is also very easy to get caught up in the crowds and excitement in the beginning, be wary of going out too fast too soon; pace yourself and stick to it until you’re at least half-way there.
  • Ideally, you want to go for a negative split and up the ante at the halfway point, just be careful to increase gradually.
  • To stay properly hydrated and energized, I would suggest a grab and go strategy at each fuel station indulging in a brief sip before discarding.
  • Alternate between water and Gatorade if available.
  • Add energy gels every four miles after mile 8 (miles 12, 16, 20, 24).
  • Try not to stop at the fuel stations and stick to the outside of the pack in order to get to the middle or end of the tables to grab your fuel so you don’t get caught up in the rush at the onset of the stations.
  • Drink just enough fuel. This a good strategy that will save you time, energy and discomfort as you want to minimize or eliminate any bathroom breaks or any stop as this will impede your goal time.
  • Appreciate the crowds and volunteers who are there to make your race experience an amazing one. Buy into the cheers and raves and encourage them with a smile, a wave, a clap and/or a thank you; it adds to your momentum especially in the latter part of the race when you’ll be needing all the encouragement you can get.
  • At this point it will be helpful if you have a number, name, country, or cause on display that the crowds can tie you to. They will use it to call you out and cheer you on and you’ll appreciate that.
  • Look out for the Queensborough bridge ( you cross five bridges in the NYC Marathon), it’ll be around mile 16, at this point you’ll be on the threshold of tiredness and pushing real hard. If you can keep the momentum going up this seeming mountain then you’ll be rewarded on the other side with the rising crescendo of voices, all cheering for you. What a thrill! You’re treated to the screams and cheers of what feels and may very well be a million spectators, from all over the world, as you enter 2nd Ave in Manhattan. This is the reason you run, there’s no greater feeling for a runner than right there and then. Remember that and own it.
  • Running down Fifth Ave from the Upper East Side in Manhattan may feel like the toughest part of the race for some, it appears to go on forever ( for about four miles) lean into it, use the energy of the crowds to push you and provide momentum heading into Central Park at 72nd Street.
  • Now is the time for what I call the fishing strategy: keep your eyes on the runner just ahead of you and slowly aim to pass him or her ( as if to reel them in). This will do two things: give you an immediate goal , which feeds your competitive spirit, and take your attention off yourself and whatever discomfort you may be experiencing.
  • Use the downhill in the park, lean into it and glide. On the other hand, power through the inclines feeding off the crowds and knowing that you’re almost there – less than a mile and a half away at this point.

Finally, getting out of the park and onto 59th Street/ Central Park South, it’ll be your quarter mile final stretch before heading into the park once again at Columbus Circle. You’ll hear the roar of the crowds, see the flags lining the roadway to the finish line area as you get into your final turn, the voice of the announcer and spectators will be urging you on; enjoy it, smile for the camera, finish strong. You did it.

The Chicago Marathon, my running sweet spot

source: bankofamericachicagomarathon.com

@ the start line          bankofamericachicagomarathon.com

Last Sunday 40,400 runners crossed the finish line in Grant Park at The Chicago Marathon. We weaved a determined and exhilarating path through the streets of Chicago, from the downtown area through the suburbs and neighborhoods, out to the medical district and back. Runners came out in their numbers, each wanting their moment of glory, some with personal goals, others as part of a collective effort to raise money for a favorite charity. Whatever the reason, we embraced the warmth, cheers and encouragement of over 1.7 million spectators and thousands of volunteers to cement this, at least in my mind, as the most superbly organized marathon event I have run thus far.

The New York City Marathon runs a close second to Chicago because of its phenomenal crowds and volunteers and because..well, it’s New York. I don’t for one second take for granted how challenging it must be to pull of an event of this magnitude in any city. We, runners, are just super thrilled that organizers of these racing events have the experience and know-how to make it happen and thus afford us these epic moments. Because this was my second time around in Chicago, I was prepared for am amazing race. I had such a good time last year even with a slight injury; this year I had no such encumbrance and felt that as long as I was well rested I would do well. While circumstances did not permit such ideal conditions – I missed my flight on Friday and got in Saturday afternoon, which is an entire blog by itself – for various reasons, many having to do with optimal training (no over-training this time), better rest, hydration and diet in the weeks leading up to race day – all somehow conspired to make sure I ran amazingly well.

bankofamericachicagomarathon.com

bankofamericachicagomarathon.com

Chicago is a beautiful city with a diverse populace and a common passion, or so it seems – a love for running and the marathon. Because I always credit the success of a race in large part to its spectators and volunteers, I truly appreciated the huge turnout on both counts. I maintain there is nothing in the world quite like running down the home stretch of a race to the tune of a roaring crowd urging you on while suddenly hearing your name announced over the loud-speaker as you approach the finish line. That is one of the remarkable moments, and there are others, that we, runners, run for. That and the medal of course.

Like ever race though, this one was different and special. Foremost was my reason for running, I felt so motivated to run for the kids at St Jude’s to the extent that I kept up an average 7:45 min/mile pace for most of the race. My intent was to try for a negative split but I ended up running faster in the first half, then fluctuating a bit, then dropping down to a 8min/mile until mile 24 where I was able to up the anté and run my fastest time through the finish line. I finished at 3:27:11 – my fastest Marathon and a personal best. I was/am thrilled. However, like most type A personalities, I’m quick to see that I could have done better. Because I  was scared of running out of energy, for the first half and a bit beyond, I consciously reigned in my enthusiasm, which was probably wise, as it ensured I finished strong, but it’s also possible I could have put out just a little more, since at the finish I felt reasonably strong.

me @ around mile 15.5 in Chicago's medical district

me @ around mile 15.5 in Chicago’s medical district

Oh well.. hindsight remains what it is while I remain committed to improving that time. My next big race is the Boston Marathon in April while I volunteer at New York City Marathon next month. In the meanwhile before Boston, chances are looking really good for another race.

2016 Bank Of America Chicago Marathon Medal

2016 Bank Of America Chicago Marathon Medal

Run Faster Still with Better Form

The Olympics games are over. Bummer of course, but life goes on as must we. As promised, taking up where we left off last week, here are some practical tricks/tips, if you will, to speed up your everyday runs and help with better form. As you will see not all of running is hard work, there are various ways we can tweak workouts to make allowances for a bit of fun.

1. Run Hills – whether as part of speed work training or as part of  your long run, at least once a week, hill repeats are bound to make you faster as it develops aerobic capacity, leg strength and running economy.

2. Sprints – weekly sprints can add variety and fun to your workouts while increasing stride power and running economy, even better if you can get on the tracks to do so.

3. Proper Arm Movements – can power your runs and ensure running efficiency. The forward and backward motion of the arms should remain short and to the side while running and should increase in power and momentum with increase in gradient and speed.

4. Core Exercises  – strengthens the core which allow runners to tap into more force and speed out on the road. Core work can also be fun and easy to do as it can be as easy as a crunches in front of the television or a Barre or Pilates class.

5. Good Breathing Technique – allows for better oxygen distribution through the body which ensures you’re able to run at aerobic capacity longer. As such, using the nose and mouth while inhaling and exhaling will get the maximum amount of oxygen to the muscles.

6. Staying Focus by Looking Ahead – staying in the zone by keeping your eyes ahead while running/ racing and giving oneself small goals to reach will keep you pushing the pace and elimate the chance of getting distracted.

7. A Hot Running Playlist: songs that make you sing out loud, shake and get your adrenaline flowing will add a boost to your step and some sparkles in your eyes maybe?

8. Forefront Running – runners who land on the forefront of their feet and not the heel has a faster step turnover which translates into a faster pace.

9. Stretching and Yoga – practicing good stretching techniques before and after runs guards against injuries but practicing specific yoga poses for runners increases flexibility and fluid, limber movement, which boosts speed and  has the added benefit of aiding recovery post workout.

10. Less is Better – when all is said and done running efficiency can be achieved with as little as possible in the way. Do away with all the extra layers and embrace the minimum in terms of running gear to get a faster time or pace.

I’m sure there are lots of other ideas on this topic so please take the time to share whatever has worked for you as we’re all in the business of getting better at our running game. And please, give some of these a go, you’ve got nothing to lose but time off your last run.

 

 

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