Fall Favorites for Running

Autumn in all its gorgeousness and “otherness” is here! It came self- announced with a sudden coolness despite the sunshine and on the heels of two major hurricanes, which made landfall here in the US in the past two weeks leaving behind scenes of havoc and carnage in a merciless path of destruction. While we can’t forget those who lost their lives, livelyhoods and homes, the country remains resilient in these adverse times with people coming together in solidarity and support for those affected here and in the Caribbean. It’s not so easy to move on though, as in addition to rebuilding efforts the weather remains uncertain at best with the threat of still more storms looming out there in the Caribbean sea.

Yet, just a bit beneath all this lies the dawn of Fall: its colorful trees and dropping leaves, and cool sunshine and quieting breeze, a brisk smell that invites a deep breath, a spring in one’s step, a quick adjustment to goals and maybe even a search of the soul. Surely somewhere in there is a desire for more, for different, or better, or new. Such is the challenge that the change in season brings and what better way to respond than to gear up and head out on some running adventures with 7 seasonal favorites to inspire even the most timid of us.

Fall Favorites

New running shoes – nothing says I’m ready to run like a new pair of running shoes, if nothing else it will entice you to try ’em on and break ’em in. That’s a major first step.

Running gear – it’s time to bring out all the really gorgeous autumnal tones in fancy tights and tanks and best yet you can still try ’em in shorts too! Who knew that running could be just as sexy as it is healthy. So a bonus!

Marathons – some of us have done some mean training for the last 16-18 weeks and d-day is fast approaching. We have major marathons like New York, Chicago, and the Marine Corps among others headlining this Fall.

Fun races – Unlike its more serious counterpart, the marathon, there are many shorter and more fun runs this Fall for those of us chasing a PR, an experience, any other goal, or just for the heck of it. Popular ones include Grete’s Great Gallop – Central Park, NYC; Harpoon Octoberfest Road Race -Windsor, Vermont; Napa Wine Country Half Marathon and 10K; The Color Run – Hudson Valley, NY or at various other locations throughout the Fall.

Cooler scenic running – welcome to the season of anytime running. No longer relegated to early morning or late evenings, lace up just about anytime you’re able and head out for a gorgeous fall run in near always perfect temps. Add to that the profuse display of color and the earthy scents and sounds and you’re excused for thinking running heaven.

Outdoor variety – much like Spring but better, Fall is the perfect opportunity to add some hiking, camping and/or biking to the mix to complement and challenge your running.

Volunteer – not running? Choose to volunteer at a race instead and experience the power and satisfaction of giving back. Many of Fall’s major races have amazing opportunities to serve.

Fall is a beautiful season that holds all sorts of tasty and colourful promises for the holidays. For those of us who dread the cold months ahead, it is especially dear, as we endeavor to get as much running and outdoors in as we can, while we can. I’d even venture to say its gorgeous days makes for all-round easier running.

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Loving Fall Running In New York City

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

       Fall foliage @ The Mall, Central Park

If ever there was a time it’s now, if ever a place it’s here, and if ever a reason it’s Fall. Maybe I’m biased as I live here, but there is something essentially beautiful about this city amidst the bloom of Autumn; It’s in the smell of the air – the musky yet sharp scent of the foliage, the kalidescope of colors dotting the trees and sweeping the ground, the gentle brush of the wind the almost-there kisses of sunshine and of course the abrupt arrival of early sundown and the subsequent coolness. I liken early Fall in New York City (NYC) to one of the most stimulating assault on your senses you will ever experience. The setting is ideallic and brings out the runner in just about all of us.

finish-line

           TCS NYC Marathon, Finish Line

The true NYC Fall experience calls us to embrace Fall fashion and trends, its colors, its shopping – fall fashion meets running wear, its fitness, exercise and the marathon fever that permeates the air leading up to the NYC marathon in early November. There is an expectation in the atmosphere that fills the parks and spills out into the streets; running is everywhere.

15126805808_a582f5e3f6_mRunners welcome, should be our tag line because truly the city embraces runners like it does tourists. It is what New York does. And so it’s easy to fall in love with running here; you have a community of runners that is easy to become a part of and the access to many different courses and routes from bridges to parks and trails and beyond. Be a part of the city running community, the outer boroughs, or, head to the outskirts and get closer to the mountains and more hilly terrain; there it gets even more scenic and if you’re a nature-lover like myself, you’re sold. NYC boasts views, sunsets and snapshots and photos to run for.

808c919cef9194c11828e1701181e186Just a small disclaimer, don’t be surprised to see yourself starring in a famous shot. Central Park is just about the most popular park and boasts many fabulous photo and movie spots. But better than that, it is a beautiful green oasis in the midst of the concrete jungle of New York City, and, my running home. It embodies the beauty of Fall for six miles all the way around and among its many hills, trails fields, playgrounds and various other scenic spots.

Central Park

       Bridge over the Lake in Central Park

It’s easy to see why running is easy here in marathon city. We have all the trappings to make a great runner out of you. Your only responsibility is to bring your enthusiasm and willingness to give it a go. Despite what the corporate people may say, of which many are runners, it is us..runners who run this city. I promise.

Embracing what’s left of Fall and Running On

Source: runnersworld.com

Source: runnersworld.com

I often wonder what I would do with myself if I weren’t always training for a race, how would I keep my very active self motivated to stay running; then I think I’d probably divide my time equally between running and hiking – my next great love. As it is, training for a race or two at a time keeps me pretty much in a marathon frame of mind year round with an endless wish list of races to run with the only thing impeding my characteristic jovial attitude being the winter weather.

Looking ahead to what’s next now that New York’s behind me, for this year at least, I’m filled with nervous energy as it pertains to Boston 2016. My track record this year has been anything but stellar though I began with a PR at the New Jersey Marathon in March, my performance took a dive thereafter, finally succumbing to injury a month ago and it’s been pretty much “bleh” since then. Given all that, I have reason to be antsy though I’m one for not dwelling too much on things out of my control. What is needed is a quick plan of action to get me up and ready for Boston in April and so I’ve been getting some feedback from some of my “groupies” aka my running group with the sole intent of tailoring my training and diet from here on (or as soon as my ankle allows) so as to maximize strength, efficiency and distance.

While all this is in the works, there’s still the holidays and winter to get through. The holidays present it’s own challenges with eating and drinking, family, travel and then there’s winter: an even bigger challenge for me. Where, how and what to run becomes a very real dilemma that has very little hope of being worked out or planned for in advance. It becomes a sorta wait-and-see season, which cannot be good for runners planning a big race in early spring. Now we know where we are and where we’re heading, all that’s left is finding the best way to get there – the easy half. Haha not really, but definitely doable. That’s my running mantra these days.

In spite of all that’s gone down so far, I remain encouraged by the running community and the various inspirational stories that come out of all the dedicated training and sacrifices that many runners subscribe to in order to achieve their goals. It’s that kind of spirit that drives me and provides the impetus for subsequent runs. The variances in running also keeps me on my toes; despite all the training and plans, one can never be quite sure what will give as time progresses. This can prove to be a good thing more often than not as hard work often brings rewards. That being said, I will try not to dwell too much on the upcoming season but remain solidly rooted in Fall, enjoying these rainy, sometimes chill, sometimes humid, sometimes perfect, pretty, falling-leaves days when running outside is still very much a treat.

10 Reasons to Run a Marathon this Fall


Source: smileswithmoms.com

Source: smileswithmoms.com

You never know what life is gonna throw at you. One day you could be trading stocks on Wall Street, the next serving a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. While that may be an extreme there exists many others; from health to sickness and every and anything in between, a person’s goals and life could change in an instant. And so we plan, our God-given right we believe, in the hopes of a million dreams coming through while ironically we have no control whatsoever over any of it.

So what does that mean for you the runner? For my part it says that while planning is necessary to maintain an illusion of order and control in our lives, it is far more important to live in the moment – making use of the days and seasons as they come and fulfilling our dreams as far as we can now. Dreams of running, loving, living, adventure, missions, service..whatever they may be, more often than not, we only get one shot at.

With that in mind, I propose a running dream come true this Fall. How about a marathon? The ultimate running experience for every person who considers him/herself a runner awaits you.  There will never be a better time, a more perfect season or better reasons to challenge yourself. Here’s why:

  1. Fall weather rocks a marathon with near perfect running conditions and is the most scenic and awe-inspiring to runners who are closet nature lovers. Think trails, mountains, foliage etc.
  2. It’s great for destination marathoners. That would be me! I love to pick a beautiful city right off the map just because it promises a beauty of a course.
  3. This is the best time to run (for first time marathoners), complete and even record a PR as it follows Summer where you would have had ample opportunity for executing a great training plan.
  4. Generally, travel rates are lower since it’s post summer so deals are on to make it a few days vacation with a marathon added for good measure.
  5. It presents the perfect opportunity to cross off that bucket list event or new year resolution. I’m guessing a marathon was high up on there.
  6. If you’re anything like me, you love a challenge. Well maybe I’m a bit much, but hey.. how about a Fall challenge to take it to the next level. For steadfast half-marathon folks or those who enjoy still shorter runs, how about pushing those limits while increasing your mileage and building endurance and ability. I promise you will be pleasantly surprised.
  7. Lots of charity runs happening this Fall as we head to October and Cancer Awareness month. Your marathon miles can do a lot of good to so many.
  8. Training for a marathon could just be what you need to put you in tip-top shape for the upcoming holiday season and all the irresistible food and treats that will surely tempt you then. The hard work you would have put into training to get you looking so svelte will help temper your palette as you will want to stay fit and healthy.
  9. A marathon is an inspiration to so many people, those who can’t run, those who do, and others who want so much to. Why not earn bragging rights as a marathoner while inspiring others to do the same.
  10. Lastly, if you didn’t know it, Fall is unofficially marathon season with two really big marathons taking center stage, the New York City Marathon and the Chicago Marathon. You could have a place in either one of these and run the opportunity of a lifetime. Now which runner out there can say no to that?

I guess if after all that you’re not thinking in terms of 26.2 then there’s really no hope for you. Tick-tock, tick-tock, the clock’s a’ticking – to marathon or not to marathon.

Fall In Love with Running this Fall

imageI am the eternal optimist. Let me tell you right off that I haven’t always been this way; times past, I have been quite the critique and complainer, what some people call.. high-maintenance, but a couple of years ago I made an important discovery.. my Aha moment if you will. I figured life is full of disappointments and dread but juxtaposed to this is its wonderful surprises and beautiful things.. depends on who’s looking and from where; remember my “perspective is everything” mantra? You see, battling disappointments can be a consuming past-time, who has time for that, so I decided to lean on the side of beautiful things as I really don’t have time for much else. Fast forward today and finding out yesterday that I missed the cut off 1:02 under qualifying mark for Boston 2015 by 22 seconds.

After the initial dread and tears which lasted a few minutes, I cannot allow for days as others who’ve described their past experiences, I smiled. Because I’m proud of me. Proud that I qualified within my first year of trying and that I came so close. While I’m in solidarity with the 1,946 other qualifiers who didn’t get in, I have so much hope for next year. Now to be honest, it is no easy feat to qualify: the sacrifice, commitment and hard work, that went into doing so is a testament to running excellence and is reason enough to be proud of your achievement. For some though, it might be impossible to do so again.. It is for those that my heart goes out; that you will never know the reward of your effort. May it be enough that you qualified. For others like myself, we know that runners never quit. It is the indelible spirit that unifies us, that we will train harder, run faster, do better and we will RUN BOSTON.

So tears aside, the race goes on and there are some great races all over the country to choose from if you’re going ahead with trying for Boston 2016 right away. Just so you know, the qualifying window opened last week, so all qualifying races that you run from here on until next year can count. I’m playing around with ideas such as Philly, New Jersey, Marine Corps DC or Anthem Richmond Marathon; all in beautiful Fall and with good courses to do a fast time. Whichever you choose, don’t forget to make sure it’s a qualifier.

The best things about running in the Fall season is nature and its transforming beauty. I heart its colorful changes, musicality and cool sunshine. And I get to do it from beautiful New York, oftentimes, in lovely Central Park. Therefore, it was only fitting that I ushered in the season with a 12 mile exhilarating run there two days ago. I felt so buoyant, so hopeful, so filled with wonder then and even now. I hold on to that, not allowing the disappointment of yesterday to steal my joy in today and in the promise of some beautiful Fall runs.

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Running a Fall Marathon (Part 2)


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If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s that running long distances in the heat is not for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love summer and I’ll take 100 degrees over -10 any day, but the heat and I do not make good running buddies. So during summer, I run 10 miles and under races and train either at the gym, late evenings or early mornings.  By the time Fall comes around, I’m filled with anticipation and bursting with energy..all revved up and ready to go.

Establishing your base & building mileage

These days I’m running 5x a week and truly that’s the best way to build up you running base and mileage. Each day I try to increase by as little as a mile but the important thing is running consistently. Six days a week isn’t too much to aim for and increasing your mileage by the week is much more realistic. Say you’re running between 20 miles this week, you want to slowly increase that to 25 by next week and then 30 and so on. That’s ideally of course, but there are those with a slower pace, here you want to focus on consistency over pace.  Let’s say you’ve never raced before and this is going to be your first marathon, then you would benefit from starting slowly and gradually increasing pace and mileage but ensuring that you stay consistent with your running.

Building Core Strength & Upping Your Fitness Level

It’s said that good running form is essential to completing 26.2 miles.  There’s really no contesting that. Good running posture ensures economy of movement, which in turn maximizes your speed, strength and endurance.  However, this all begins in your core area, which needs to be strong to help you perfect your running plans.  Core exercises such as planks, crunches and push-ups are very helpful as are Pilates as it deals with contracting your abdominal. Also, swimming, biking and weight-training are great cross-training methods. It is also important to get proper sleep and maintain a nutritious diet high in protein and to ensure post-workout recovery; proper stretching, eat, drink and rest.

Long/Tune-Up Run

This is super-important. About 3-4 weeks before race day do a couple long runs. So 4 weeks before, then 3 weeks before; whether it’s a half marathon, 18 or 20 miler, this allows you to know where you’re at in terms of your race day goal as well as it gives you the opportunity to run at your goal pace, determine your fitness level and practice your nutrition and hydration strategies..which work best for you..that you’ll use on race day.

Race Day

All your perpetration culminates on this day. By now you know your level of fitness, you’re comfortable in your skin and you’re ready to run the race of your life. There is no room for doubt or dissension, you’ve done the work and your body will thank you. Follow your race-day plan which would have included a good night’s rest, getting up early to have a good breakfast, which would entail only the stuff you’ve eaten before, don’t try anything new but stick with the tried and true, says Coach Lindley from Boulder, Colo.,. This is your day, paint yourself a mental picture of your race, see how you plan to run and see yourself overcoming whatever minor obstacles that may turn up. Let the finish line and the celebration you would have earned propel you towards it. As most coaches like to say, finish strong.

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Running a Fall Marathon (Part 1)

Bank Of America Chicago Marathon

Bank Of America Chicago Marathon

Sometimes there’s no help for it, you just have to take the proverbial bull by the horns and have faith in your handling. Deciding to run your first marathon or going for a fall goal after some absence away from running or maybe you’re like me, just looking for a good race in cool weather; whatever your reason, let’s pave the way to make it happen with as little pain and pomp as possible. Choosing your run should be among the first set of things you do so here’s a list of some great, local ones. Choose your fancy.

  • The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, Minneapolis, St. Paul/Minn.
  • The Bank of America Chicago Marathon
  • Under Armour Baltimore Marathon
  • Detroit Free Press/ Talmer Bank Marathon
  • Nike’s Women Marathon, San Diego, Cal.
  • New York City Marathon
  • Marine Corps Marathon, Washington DC
  • Anthem Richmond Marathon, Virginia
  • Philadelphia Marathon

For some of these races there are pre-conditions to racing or some pre-qualifying standard to be met, so that should be taken into consideration when choosing. For my part, I’ve decided on one not on the list there but part of the Rock n’  Roll series which are always loads of fun,  this one in Denver, Co.

So you’ve signed up..Congratulations! Now what? It’s time to start training. Various training plans exist ranging from 12 to 18 weeks but before taking up one it’s wise to get your body used to running four or five times a week and build some base mileage. This can offset injuries and help you prepare for the longer training runs due in a few months.  There are five parts to a successful marathon training plan says Jason Devaney, writer for Competitor Magazine, 1. Establishing a base. 2.Building core strength 3. Increasing mileage and developing fitness 4. Running a tune-up race and 5. Executing on race day. Next week we’ll cover similar aspects to these according to my experience in tandem with what the experts say. For now, let’s focus on building our base mileage by continuing to put in a few steady runs per week, slowly increasing as we go along.

Happy and focused running!

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