Tag Archives: Marathon

The 25 Golden Rules of Running

I came across this list recently and was pleasantly surprised to find myself either in agreement or relating to the vast majority of the 25 Golden Rules of Running…

The 25 Golden Rules of Running: 25 of the most universally accepted rules of running.

By Bob Cooper

September 2005

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Runner’s World a few years ago. The article remains popular online, and the rules are as good now as they were when first published.

Golden Rules of Running

In most cases, these rules started out as a lightbulb over one runner’s head. After a while, that runner told a few running buddies (probably during a long run), word spread, and before you know it, coaches were testing it, sports scientists were studying it, and it evolved from idea to theory to accepted wisdom. Along with each of the rules we present, however, we list the exception. Why? Because, as you also learned in grade school, there’s an exception to every rule.

1. The Specificity Rule

The most effective training mimics the event for which you’re training.

This is the cardinal rule of training for any activity. If you want to run a 10-K at seven-minute-per-mile pace, you need to do some running at that pace. “Runners are best served by running at goal pace and in the expected environment of that race,” says Ann Snyder, Ph.D., director of the human performance lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The Exception: It’s impractical to wholly mimic a race–particularly longer distances–in training because it would require extended recovery. So, when doing race-specific training, keep the total distance covered shorter than the goal race, or run at your race pace in shorter segments with rest breaks (interval training).

2. The 10-Percent Rule

Increase weekly training mileage by no more than 10 percent per week.

Joe Henderson, the first editor of Runner’s World, and Joan Ullyot, M.D., author of three women’s running books, first popularized the 10-percent prescription in the 1980s. “I noticed that runners who increased their training load too quickly were incurring injuries,” says Dr. Ullyot.

The Exception: If you’re starting at single-digit weekly mileage after a layoff, you can add more than 10 percent per week until you’re close to your normal training load.

This is a good rule of thumb to use to avoid getting shin splints or other similar “new runner” ailments. While it’s easy to get sucked in and want to go full steam ahead right from day 1, ramping up slowly is a really good idea. Of course, if things start to hurt, feel sore, or just generally not work quite the way they are supposed to, 10% might even be a bit too much (especially during high milage training).

3. The 2-Hour Rule

Wait for about two hours after a meal before running.

“For most people, two hours is enough time for food to empty from the stomach, especially if it’s high in carbohydrate,” says Colorado sports dietitian and marathoner Cindy Dallow, Ph.D. “If you don’t wait long enough, food will not be properly digested, raising the risk of abdominal cramps, bloating, and even vomiting.”

The Exception: You can probably run 90 minutes after a light, high-carb meal, while you may need up to three hours after a heavy meal that’s high in protein and fat.

What? Really? PPPPFFFFF! So if I didn’t eat within two hours of my meals I would never run. Everyone is different of course and I personally have no problem eating what is a (more or less) normal meal meal for myself and then going out for a run in ~20 min or so.

4. The 10-Minute Rule

Start every run with 10 minutes of walking and slow running, and do the same to cool down.

“A warmup prepares your body for exercise by gradually increasing blood flow and raising core muscle temperature,” says Jerry Napp, a Tampa Bay running coach. “The cooldown may be even more important. Stopping abruptly can cause leg cramps, nausea, dizziness, or fainting.”

I typically start out a bit slower and easy into my workout pace by feel. Thinking about it, I bet this is ~10 min process. I’m not so good about slowing down at the end though :-/

The Exception: It takes less than 10 minutes to rev up on warm days.

5. The 2-Day Rule

If something hurts for two straight days while running, take two days off.

Two straight days of pain may signal the beginning of an injury. “Even taking five days of complete rest from running will have little impact on your fitness level,” says Troy Smurawa, M.D., team physician for USA Triathlon.

Yes.

The Exception: If something hurts for two weeks, even if you’ve taken your rest days, see a doctor.

6. The Familiar-Food Rule

Don’t eat or drink anything new before or during a race or hard workout.

Stick to what works for you. “Your gastrointestinal tract becomes accustomed to a certain mix of nutrients,” says Dallow. “You can normally vary this mix without trouble, but you risk indigestion when prerace jitters are added.”

The Exception: If you’re about to bonk, eating something new is probably better than eating nothing at all.

Yeah. Also knowing what alternatives are the most similar to your fuel of choice can be helpful in a pinch.

7. The Race-Recovery Rule

For each mile that you race, allow one day of recovery before returning to hard training or racing.

That means no speed workouts or racing for six days after a 10-K or 26 days after a marathon. The rule’s originator was the late Jack Foster, the masters marathon world record holder (2:11:18) from 1974 to 1990. Foster wrote in his book, Tale of the Ancient Marathoner, “My method is roughly to have a day off racing for every mile I raced.”

Deal.

The Exception: If your race effort wasn’t all-out, taking fewer recovery days is okay.

8. The Heads-Beats-Tails Rule

A headwind always slows you down more than a tailwind speeds you up.

So expect to run slower on windy days. “I disregard the watch on really windy days because headwinds cost me 15 to 25 seconds a mile, and I only get a portion of that back after I turn around,” says Monte Wells, a longtime runner in Amarillo, Texas, America’s windiest city. “The key is to monitor your effort, not your pace. Start against the wind, so it’s at your back in the second half.”

Isn’t this the frustrating truth?!?! I despise wind!

The Exception: On point-to-point runs with the wind at your back, you’ll fly along faster than usual.

9. The Conversation Rule

You should be able to talk in complete sentences while running.

A recent study found that runners whose heart and breathing rates were within their target aerobic zones could comfortably recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Those who couldn’t were running faster than optimal.

Singing along with your favorite trashy hip-hop/pop tunes will also do the trick if you’re running alone. This will also solidify your reputation as the crazy runner from down the street, but chances are there isn’t much of a debate left on the topic at this point. Maybe it’s just me…

The Exception: Talking should not be easy during hard runs, speedwork, or races.

10. The 20-Mile Rule

Build up to and run at least one 20-miler before a marathon.

“Long runs simulate the marathon, which requires lots of time on your feet,” says Gina Simmering-Lanterman, director and marathon coach of the Denver Fit training program. “And knowing that you can run 20 miles helps you wrap your head around running 26.2.”

I’ve had my longest run be as low as 16 miles and as long as 22.

The 16 miler was through a snowstorm during a 1/8 ass attempt at training for the Kili marathon. Soooo….the horrific experience that that marathon was, can hardly be pegged on the short long run. The overall single digit weekly milage was more likely the culprit (just maybe). Never mind the +75 F temperature difference.

The difference between 20 and 22 miles probably is physically beneficial (assuming that you don’t injure yourself of course) but the mental advantage to having those extra 2 miles under your belt is probably the biggest bonus. Knowing that you have another 6.2 miles to run at the end of the marathon, after you’ve already run the distance of your longest training run seems a lot more daunting than just a little 4.2 mile / 30 min joke. It’s amazing what I can convince myself of after 3.5 hrs of running.

The Exception: Some coaches believe experienced marathoners can get by with a longest run of 16 to 18 miles, while other coaches suggest runs up to 24 miles.

11. The Carbs Rule

For a few days before a long race, emphasize carbohydrates in your diet.

“Carbo-loading” became the marathoner’s mantra after Scandinavian studies in 1967 suggested cramming down carbs following a period of carb depletion produced super-charged athletes. Experts now say simply emphasizing carbs a few days before a race over two hours works just as well.

Hmmmmm…I say be careful with this one. If you aren’t used to scarfing down loads of carbs, I don’t think that the precious few days before the big race is the time for a diet overhaul. Upping the carb intake a bit with an extra serving or two of your favorite fresh fruits and veggies and easy to digest grains and pasta would be my (kind-of qualified) recomendation. Carb-bombing or consuming massive amounts of a food that isn’t usually in your diet are two approaches that I’d steer clear of.

The Exception: There’s a word for carbo-loading during regular training or before a short race: gluttony.

12. The Seven-Year Rule

Runners improve for about seven years.

Mike Tymn noticed this in the early 1980s and wrote about it in his National Masters News column. “My seven-year adaptation theory was based on the fact that so many runners I talked to ran their best times an average of seven years after they started,” he recalls.

Sad. 😦

The Exception: Low-mileage runners can stretch the seven years to well over a decade before plateauing.

13. The Left-Side-Of-The-Road Rule

To keep safe, run facing traffic.

“While running, it’s better to watch the traffic than to have it come up from behind you,” says Adam Cuevas, a marathoner and chief of the Enforcement Services Division of the California Highway Patrol. It’s the law in California and many other states to run on the left side unless you’re on the sidewalk.

Be careful! This can be tricky, especially if you’re on a road that doesn’t typically get much foot traffic. Wearing bright colors, choosing routes with wide shoulders and keeping your attentiveness up (music volumes low and one eye on the approaching vehicles) are helpful for staying safe. The sidewalk is just a pain (literally…hahaha….maybe? just a bit? :-/) on all the joints and shins, I really much prefer the road and I’ll try to make just about anything work. There usually is a way, but sometimes it requires creativity (ditch vs. shoulder, musical-sides-of-the-street, speed work across narrow bridges and through stretches of no-shoulder) and patients. Just keep paying attention!

The Exception: The right side of the road is safer when running into leftward blind curves where there’s a narrow shoulder. The right side can also be safer if there’s construction on the left side.

14. The Up-Beats-Down Rule

Running uphill slows you down more than running downhill speeds you up.

So, you can expect hilly runs to be slower than flat runs. “You don’t get all of the energy that you expend going uphill back when you run downhill,” explains Nimbus Couzin, Ph.D., a marathon-running physics instructor at Indiana University Southeast. “That’s because when your feet strike the ground on a descent, a lot of energy is lost.”

And going like a bat-out-of-hell down a hill is a great way to roll an ankle or hurt a knee. So crank up the speed carfully on the decent and remember that you can make up time on the straights too. The down hill can be a very effective opportunity to get a little “rest” and regrouping before laying down some fast miles on level ground…a lot more effective than a sprained ankle.

The Exception: When you run point-to-point with a net elevation drop, your average pace should be faster than on a flat course.

15. The Sleep Rule

Sleep one extra minute per night for each mile per week that you train.

So if you run 30 miles a week, sleep an extra half hour each night. “Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on training,” says David Claman, M.D., director of the University of California-San Francisco Sleep Disorders Center. “The average person needs seven and a half to eight hours of sleep, so increase that amount when you’re training.”

Training on less rest can train your body to be able to do more with less. This can end up being useful on race day (provided that you haven’t run yourself into the ground before then). Striking a balance of getting enough sleep to keep functioning but sufficiently little to put a little extra stress on the body can be tricky but effective. Cutting back on sleep early in the training schedule and seeing how things go on that little bit less is a good way to start (IMHO). Adding 15-30 min on the front and/or back side of your night in the few weeks before race day will help ensure you are well trained and rested. This might come naturally as you hit your highest milage weeks ~3 weeks out from your race.

The Exception: The extra sleep may not be necessary for some high-energy folks.

16. The Refueling Rule

Consume a combination carbohydrate-protein food or beverage within 30 to 60 minutes after any race, speed workout, or long run.

“You need an infusion of carbs to replace depleted muscle glycogen, plus some protein to repair and build muscle,” says Nancy Clark, R.D., author of Food Guide for Marathoners. “Ideally, the carb-protein ratio should be 4-to-1. Some examples would be 150 to 300 calories of low-fat chocolate milk, a recovery-sports drink, flavored yogurt, or a bagel and peanut butter.”

The Exception: Immediate refueling is less important if you aren’t running hard again within 24 hours.

17. The Don’t-Just-Run Rule

Runners who only run are prone to injury.

“Cross-training and weight training will make you a stronger and healthier runner,” says TriEndurance.com multisport coach Kris Swarthout. “Low- and nonimpact sports like biking and swimming will help build supporting muscles used in running, while also giving your primary running muscles a rest.”

I think there is a lot of value in cross training. It works different muscles than running and keeps things fresh. Unfortunately, I’m very bad about cross training. I rarely have the time, patients or facilities. There is no excuse for not doing at least some cross training though. Hiking, biking, football, swimming, etc… one or two days a week, while running your tail off on the other days is not too much to ask.

The Exception: The surest way to run better is to run. So if your time is limited, devote most of it to running.

18. The Even-Pace Rule

The best way to race to a personal best is to maintain an even pace from start to finish.

Most of the 10,000-meter and marathon world records set in the last decade have featured almost metronome-like pacing. “If you run too fast early in the race, you almost always pay for it later,” warns Jon Sinclair, the U.S. 12-K record holder and now an online coach (anaerobic.net).

I like warming up at a slightly slower pace and finishing hard. This keeps it a bit more interesting and eases me into those tougher, quicker miles at the end. It also greatly reduces the chance of blowing my legs out in the first half of the race. I haven’t exactly sent any land-speed records recently though, so…

The Exception: This doesn’t apply on hilly courses or on windy days, when the objective is to run an even effort.

19. The New-Shoes Rule

Replace running shoes once they’ve covered 400 to 500 miles.

“But even before they have that much wear,” says Warren Greene, Runner’s World gear editor, “buy a new pair and rotate them for a while. Don’t wait until your only pair is trashed.” Consider shoes trashed when the spring is gone.

I have two pairs of shoes going at all times more or less. Mizuno Wave Creations for most runs and then my lighter Mizuno Wave Elixers for my long runs and race day. This combo has worked well for me for quite a while. Running with a bit more junk in the trunk for the short runs helps make for a speedier long run. Rotating shoes also does definitely help get higher milage out of each pair.

The Exception: A shoe’s wear rate can vary, depending on the type of shoe, your weight, your footstrike pattern, and the surfaces you run on.

20. The Hard/Easy Rule

Take at least one easy day after every hard day of training.

“Easy” means a short, slow run, a cross-training day, or no exercise at all. “Hard” means a long run, tempo run, or speed workout. “Give your body the rest it needs to be effective for the next hard run,” says Todd Williams, a two-time U.S. Olympian and online coach at pushthepace.com. Apply the hard/easy rule to your monthly and yearly training cycles by treating yourself to one easy week each month, and one easy month each year.

Deal!

The Exception: After the most exhausting long runs and speed workouts, especially if you’re 40 or older, wait for two or even three days before your next tough one.

21. The 10-Degree Rule

Dress for runs as if it’s 10 degrees warmer than the thermometer actually reads.

To put it another way, dress for how warm you’ll feel at mid-run–not the first mile, when your body is still heating up. This means choosing the right apparel. (See the “Dress for Success” table) “On cold days, the new soft-shell tops and tights are light, warm, and breathable,” says Emily Walzer, fabrics editor for Sporting Goods Business Magazine. “On warm days, wear a lightweight performance fabric next to your skin, which will disperse sweat through evaporation.”

Definitely. Overdressing sucks!

The Exception: There’s a limit to how many clothes you can take off without getting arrested, so if it’s in the 70s or warmer, wear minimal lightweight, light-colored apparel.

Dress for Success
Here’s a cheat sheet to help you dress appropriately for your runs, no matter what the thermometer says. This chart factors in the 10-Degree Rule but doesn’t account for a significant windchill. On very windy days, you may need to dress warmer.
TEMP
(in degrees)
BASIC APPAREL
above 70 Lightweight/light-colored singlet and shorts
60 to 69 Tank top or singlet and shorts
50 to 59 T-shirt and shorts
40 to 49 Long-sleeve shirt and tights or shorts
30 to 39 Long-sleeve shirt and tights
20 to 29 Two upper-body layers and one lower-body layer
10 to 19 Two upper-body layers and one lower-body layer
0 to 9 Two/three upper-body layers, one/two lower-body layers
below 0 Three upper-body layers, two lower-body layers

22. The Speedwork-Pace Rule

The most effective pace for VO2-max interval training is about 20 seconds faster per mile than your 5-K race pace.

The best way to increase your aerobic capacity and long-distance speed is through VO2-max interval training. A pioneer of VO2-max training is Jack Daniels, Ph.D., coach at the Center for High Altitude Training in Flagstaff, Arizona. “By stressing your aerobic system,” he says, “this pace optimizes the volume of blood that’s pumped and the amount of oxygen that your muscle fibers can use.”

Yuck, but effective :-/

The Exception: The exact pace is closer to 10 seconds faster per mile than 5-K race pace for fast runners, and 30 seconds faster per mile for slower runners.

23. The Tempo-Pace Rule

Lactate-threshold or tempo-run pace is about the pace you can maintain when running all-out for one hour.

This pace is about 20 seconds slower per mile than your 10-K race pace, or 30 seconds slower per mile than 5-K race pace. “The key benefit of this pace is that it’s fast enough to improve your threshold for hard endurance running, yet slow enough that you don’t overload your muscles,” says Daniels. The ideal duration of a tempo run is 20 to 25 minutes.

I have come to quite like my temp runs. Is this insane? Probably.

The Exception: The exact pace is less than 20 seconds slower per mile than 10-K race pace for faster runners and slightly more than 30 seconds slower per mile than 10-K race pace for slower runners.

24. The Long-Run-Pace Rule

Do your longest training runs at least three minutes per mile slower than your
5-K race pace.

“You really can’t go too slow on long runs,” says RW “Starting Line” columnist Jeff Galloway, “because there are no drawbacks to running them slowly. Running them too fast, however, can compromise your recovery time and raise your injury risk.”

My long runs are usually quite a bit faster than this. Sooooo….either I’m slacking on race day or I’ve gotten damn lucky having not injured myself yet. Frankly, I do not want to stretch my 20 milers out to consume even more of my precious weekend days so I’m going to go with my issue being that I’m not maxing out on race day. Until things start to feel not so good (or I find myself with way too much time on my hands) I’m going to keep running my long runs by feel and at this ~9:15 min/mile pace. Good luck to me :-/

The Exception: Galloway says you should run even slower on hot days.

25. The Finishing-Time Rule

The longer the race, the slower your pace.

How much slower? Jack Daniels and J.R. Gilbert spent years compiling a table (see “Predict Your Performance”) that shows how much you should expect to slow down from one race distance to the next. “We did some curve-fitting to come up with a formula that generates a pseudo-VO2-max for each race time,” says Daniels. They sweated the math; now you just need to sweat the race.

The Exception: Terrain, weather, or how you feel on race day could all throw off the table’s accuracy.

Predict Your Performance
Want to know how fast you should be able to run a marathon without actually running one? Look for your most recent race time in one of the columns on the left, then follow it across to your predicted marathon finish time. The chart is based on the best times from runners of various ability levels.
1-MILE 5-K 10-K HALF-MARATHON MARATHON
4:20 15:00 31:08 1:08:40 2:23:47
4:38 16:00 33:12 1:13:19 2:33:25
4:56 17:00 35:17 1:17:58 2:43:01
5:14 18:00 37:21 1:22:38 2:52:34
5:33 19:00 39:26 1:27:19 3:02:06
5:51 20:00 41:31 1:31:59 3:11:35
6:09 21:00 43:36 1:36:36 3:21:00
6:28 22:00 45:41 1:41:18 3:30:23
6:46 23:00 47:46 1:45:57 3:39:42
7:05 24:00 49:51 1:50:34 3:48:57
7:24 25:00 51:56 1:55:11 3:58:08
7:42 26:00 54:00 1:59:46 4:07:16
8:01 27:00 56:04 2:04:20 4:16:19
8:19 28:00 58:08 2:08:53 4:25:19
8:37 29:00 1:00:12 2:13:24 4:34:14
8:56 30:00 1:02:15 2:17:53 4:43:06
Source: “Oxygen Power: Performance Tables for Distance Runners,” by Jack Daniels and J.R. Gilbert.
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Week 18 part 2 + Philadelphia Marathon race review

Saturday 11/16 – 2 mi

Good morning marathon weekend! Dr. Annebelle and I got up early and got our 2 easy miles out-of-the-way with no problems. Thank god. Then off to Philly it was for the weekend festivities to begin!

Accommodations

We stayed at the Wyndham hotel in the Old City, 1.7 miles from the start of the race. The hotel was actually pretty perfect — located in Old Town there were great bars and cafés and restaurants and shops within walking distance and it was a cute are to walk around. Also, and maybe/probably/definitely the most important selling point, is that they extended our check out to 1 pm for no/zero/zilch additional charge and allowed us to extend it further to 5 pm for only $50. This was an absolutely beautiful luxury to have after running 13.1 or 26.2 miles.

(Note: Only the very coolest of people check into their hotel room at 9:30 am.)

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Two very cool people.

Pre-race expo:
After displaying our supreme coolness, it was off to the expo for a very crowded and moderately frustrating packet pickup.

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Drs. Marmia at race packet pick-up. (As Drs. Smaroof does not run marathons.)

The place was loaded to the gills with runners and their entire families and all of their friends… The vendors I had hoped to hit (based on the Chicago expo) weren’t there and those that were, were not giving out nearly enough free goodies. I did manage to snag a pair of sweet arm warmers for $9 though. I can’t complain about that! Also on a positive note, the venue was perfect (although a bit too full), a convention center in the heart of the city. It was a piece of cake (or two or three…but who’s counting) to get there and around the city for some sight-seeing in the afternoon.

After the expo, a walk around town, a nap back at the hotel and new arm warmer modeling…

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Superman!

…we all headed out for the classic pre-race Italian dinner at Panini’s Trattoria in the Old City.

I won’t include a full review because I was too preoccupied to pay a whole lot of attention to what the hell was going on around me. But, I will say that we had the back room more or less all to ourselves which was pretty cool and I got the lobster ravioli and it was bomb.

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Also note that this was in stark contrast to the service, which was horrific. On pre-race night though, you kinda gotta cut them some slack…kinda…

After dinner it was back to the hotel to lay out all of the vital components for a successful tomorrow and then off to bed!

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Vital components for a successful tomorrow.

Sunday 11/17 – 26.2 + 4 mi (4:01:40 + ??)

Location:

Philadelphia, PA (beginning and ending in the center of town)

Weather:

Perfect! Morning: ~50F and cloudy and calm. Afternoon: 60F and partly cloudy and calm.

4 am came damn early and it was time to rock and roll (and run). Breakfast was English muffins with peanut butter and banana and yogurt and cuties and granola bars and coffee….ahhhh….coffee…

And then it was off to the start by 5:30 to get through security…and to take photos…

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The three full marathoners!

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Drs. T & A…

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…and more T & A.

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Drs. T and S (Sorry, I can’t come up with anything trashy involving those two letters.)

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The girls…

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…and the guys.

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Maroof  the runner from Japangladesh (Not to be confused with either Dr. Aki from Japan or Dr. M from Bangladesh…)

Threads and treads:

Very cool CEMS team uniforms (see below…and above…) including Champion tank and running skirt, yellow and pink swirl Pro Compression marathon socks, and my wonderful Mizuno Wave Riders

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Our feet…

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…and the rest of us.

Field:

All kinds (~30k) of people. Not quite the elite crowd that you find at Chicago, but a nice mix of paces for both the half and full marathon.

Race start:

We got to the start area by ~5:30 (only 30 min after the requested 5 am arrival due to increased security) and had absolutely no issues. Once inside we

  1. We hit the port-a-potties (there are NEVER enough, but considering that, this was fine)
  2. Got some water (ONE water table? really? and zero coffee, Gatorade or pre-race fuel? Unimpressed. )
  3. Took a picture or two shit load of pictures
  4. Dropped our bags off at the gear check (UPS trucks organized alphabetically = smooth sailing! Nice going!)
  5. Excitedly bumbled around trying to stay warm and
  6. Headed to our start corals!

The run:

The first half of the course was for both the full and half marathon. It weaved through town and was overall a really pleasant 13 miles. Some areas were a bit narrow for the number of people trying to charge their way through though.

The second half was tough. It was an out and back along the river, with little jogs out here and there to hit the necessary mileage. These little jogs seemed to keep fooling me – being much less little in reality than I remembered them being from the map. And then the turn-around point “must be just over this next hill.” I’m not even going to tell you how many times that thought went through my exhausted pea brain! The rolling hills would have been lovely (I’m sure ) if I wasn’t trying to get things done quickly.

I’m convinced it was a modest net elevation gain on the way out which made coming back much less of a pain in the ass and much more of a pain in the quads. Now, full disclosure, I was really hoping to be under 4 hrs for this run. The plan was to run the first 1/4 with Dr. Annebelle and then to give it a go for the next 3/4 and see what happened. I turned it up as much as I dared for miles 6-13 and then just tried to hang on for 13-20. I had started feeling my joints and then my hamstrings and then my quads moving through miles 6 to 20. The lungs were holding on (miraculously…and thank you…) so coming back on the home stretch I was hoping to able to pick it up enough to see 3:xx on the clock. I did what I could, I really did, but even with the net descent (which my quads selfishly complained about for 2 days) I just didn’t have the turn over. The last few miles were hot, sunny and I needed to be done.

In 4:01:40 I was done. Not quite what I’d hoped for, but within 1:40 of my goal and as fast as I was going to go for the day. I had negatives splits and a PR, so zero bitching allowed. (Never thought you’d hear me say that did you?!?!

More importantly, the rest of team CEMS did AMAZING. There were 3x first time half-marathoners, 3x seasoned half-marathoners, 1x full marathoner with a double-digit PR and 1x full marathoner who finished with a sprained ankle!!! Yeah, my friends are a hell of a lot tougher than I am (which explains why they can put up with me I suppose…)

Support:

There were 17 water/Gatorade stations and 3 Clif Gel Shot stations. This was just about the right amount although I would have loved an extra water stop during the last few miles. I get that they were more front loaded to accommodate all of the 1/2 marathoners that were running that part of the course with us, but would anyone have dropped dead if they put one more in the last few miles? I doubt it. The Clif Gel Shots were well spaced and were offered in all flavors. Way to go!

Post-run:

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Team CEMS after a most successful Philly Marathon!

Messages, iced ankles, showers, a relatively easy exit from central Philly, 8x delicious pizzas, yummy beers opened with the hotel room door handle and naps…

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Executive summary:

I hate to start off like an ass hole and say “it wasn’t Chicago.” But, it wasn’t Chicago. The crowds, support and course just weren’t quite up to the same bar (all of these things were ~80% of Chicago…soooo….). That being said, neither were the hotel room $$, the commute difficulties or the congestion. Overall a lovely city marathon in the northeast.

Philly is a great city on a normal day. The food, the people, the sights. Now on a beautiful day when you get to spend the morning running through the city with almost 2 hands worth of your best friends, Philly is  most excellent.

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How to Build Mental Muscle

While hard at work (of course) this article from Runner’s World basically read itself to me…

How to Build Mental Muscle: New research reveals that if you really want that PR, you have to train your brain—hard.

By Alexander Hutchinson

September 16, 2013

How To Build Mental Muscle Oct 2013

Lately work has been nothing short of insane and there really isn’t much hope that it’ll let up over the next 3 yrs. Getting work outs in at the end of the day or, better yet, crammed in between time points, can be stressful, draining and not feel like the high quality work out that I was hoping for. Heading out the door, I want to either feel good and be able to enjoy the run or feel like I’m getting in a productive work out. God forbid both I do both… 😮 Lately however, running has seemed like just one more irritating, not particularly productive, task that must be crammed into an already full day. Not cool. Not cool at all.

So, while lamenting at my desk (now this is productivity) the above article imposed itself upon me with exactly what I needed to hear…

After a few weeks, I’d progressed to 30-minute brain sessions. Sometimes, following Marcora’s advice, I ran immediately after to practice running while mentally fatigued. The result was familiar: It felt like heading out for a run immediately after a stressful day of work or travel. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t run faster—it just felt harder than usual. I’d check my pace partway through a run, realize that I needed to speed up, but be unable to summon the willpower to make it happen. The purpose of these combo sessions was to simulate the point in a race when your brain starts to feel fried, and practice pushing through it. Essentially, they were brain-training sessions, minus the shapes and letters…

Until recently, coaches and sports scientists believed runners should be as fresh as possible for workouts—well fueled and fully hydrated with rested legs. Now elite athletes sometimes do the opposite: train on empty stomachs and tired legs to stimulate the adaptations that help them cope with the rigors of racing. We’re due for the same shift when it comes to the brain, Marcora believes: Fresher isn’t always better. The military excels in training soldiers to function despite mental fatigue—forcing them to perform grueling marches when they’re already sleep deprived, for example. But it doesn’t have to be that crazy. If your brain is fried after a stressful day at work or a sleepless night with a sick kid, don’t follow the usual advice and reschedule the hard workout you had planned. Instead, embrace the mental fog and hammer the run. Yes, your times will be slower than usual, and the adenosine levels in your brain will be sky-high. You will hate running, and life in general, and Sam Marcora in particular. But if, a few months later, those please-stop-now runs translate into a PR, you’ll forgive him.

(While these more or less…maybe less than more…anyway…get the main point across, the whole article provides context and a good read.)

So, after work and during work workouts are going to be sticking around. The focus will be simply have to start shifting, well, to focus! Hopefully come November there will be a succesful Philly marathon and a shiny new PR to show for it.

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My email tells me I’m running the Philadelphia Marathon…

philadelphia marathon

So last night (after a much needed fire was lit under my ass by Dr. Sami) I pulled the trigger and registered for the Philadelphia Marathon (at full price…oops…) The marathon is on Sunday, November 17 so if you’re good at math (hell, even if you aren’t good at math you should be able to handle this one) that puts me 18 weeks out exactly. So, hello first day of (being pissed off about not being able to justify dinners of beer and cheese curds) my next marathon training cycle! 

Yikes.

I have to say, I am super excited about this marathon. Of course, I’m stoked to be doing it with my partner in running crime, Dr. Annebelle.

Dr. Annebelle and I at #1 in Chicago

Dr. Annebelle and I at #1 in Chicago

This will actually be our first non-Chicago marathon that we’ve run together. (Full disclosure, I am a bit sad about not doing Chicago again this year. But apparently you can’t do everything…) Also, a number of other grad school + running club buddies are joining in for the fun this year! Drs. Sami, Alex, Ian, Corrie, and MtJK to be exact (and hopefully Drs. Mazar and LizzyBeth and maybe Cousin TC too!!) As if this all isn’t awesome enough, Philly is only an hour from “home” (I’m still not sure how I feel about this, but never mind…)! It’s going to be a fantastic train wreck of a weekend of drinking running!!

My training plan for the 2012 Chicago Marathon went extremely well — i.e. a very comfortable (relative definition) 4:13 PR

#2 @ Chicago in the coolest of headbands (and w/4:13 PR)

#2 @ Chicago in the coolest of headbands (and w/4:13 PR)

Now I think this was largely due to:

  1. Running 4 days a week rather than 5 (yet still keeping my weekly mileage up)
  2. Dr. Jenny, my genius, god-send chiropractor
  3. Self deprivation of aforementioned calcium rich dinner options
  4. Luck

So, the plan is to shoot for something similar.

  1. For starters, here is the tentative training plan for the next lovely 18 weeks:
week Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Weekly miles
1 4 7 5 10 26
2 4 7 5 11 27
3 4 8 6 8 26
4 4 8 6 13 31
5 4 9 7 14 34
6 4 9 7 10 30
7 5 10 8 16 39
8 5 10 8 17 40
9 5 11 13 29
10 5 11 9 19 44
11 6 12 10 20 48
12 6 8 6 12 32
13 6 12 10 20 48
14 6 8 6 12 32
15 6 12 10 20 48
16 6 10 4 12 32
17 5 8 4 8 25
18 4 6 2 MARATHON!! 38
  1. Of course this will change here and there to accommodate for the rest of life. But overall, this is the plan.
  2. Next, it’s high time I find a new chiropractor in the Princeton area. That being said … HELP!! Does anyone know of a good chiropractor in the Princeton area?
  3. So to keep myself on track to maintaining a relatively training friendly diet (via the threat of public humiliation and sheer laziness), I’m now keeping a public food log on MapMyRun. Good luck to me and enjoy (and partake) in the beautiful opportunity of public mockery.
  4. Lastly, the fingers and toes are all crossed (when not pipetting or running) and the evil eyes are all strategically positioned.

With that being said, I’m off to go get in my first, 4 mile, training run of the season (have to shift everything up this first week of training to free up the weekend for Master David’s big wedding weekend).

P.S. Dr. Trot told me that she is going to try and switch things up just a bit. Rather than including daily workout posts, she is going to do weekly training summaries. Putting things into a broader context will hopefully be an improvement and, what the hell can I say, I’m a bit lazy!

Does anyone know of a good chiropractor in the Princeton area? (I’m serious.)

Is anyone just starting a training cycle for a race? New? Old? Marathon? Otherwise?

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I’m so sorry Boston…

…that your beautiful day and your beautiful race was senselessly vandalized. My heart goes out to everyone who worked so hard, with the support of their families and friends, to have what should have been a celebration turn into a horrific nightmare. My thoughts have been with with all of you today.

On a related note-

1. I stayed at a friend’s last night so this was the closest I could get to a race t-shirt for today –20130416-163632.jpg

Not too bad. Thanks Mile-Posts. Dream big, run long indeed.

2. Blue and yellow or race t-shirts are the thing to do this week if your dress code allows.

3. For anyone who has seen this video, the little old man who was knocked down by the compression wave is ok (and finished the race!)

4. Thank you to all of the Carlos who responded that way that you did.

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Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon Review

Date and time: March 3, 2013, 6:30 am

marathon morning

Sunrise at the start

Location: Moshi, Tanzania (beginning and ending at the stadium on the north side of town)

Weather: Hot and still. 80-95 F. No shade.

Threads and treads:  Champion tank and running skirt, bright pink Pro Compression marathon socksSuunto Vector super watch, pink Tifosi Slip Wrap Sunglasses, LOADS of sun screen and my wonderful Mizuno Wave Creation 11s.

SAMSUNG

Field: Mostly southeast African (surprise surprise) and a number of non-African transplants to the area. There were <300 for the full marathon, but many more running the half and the 5k fun run. Although there was often a language barrier, everyone was very friendly and encouraging. 

Support: There were 7 water stations, one with straight sugar to refuel with, but that was it. I packed my bra full of jelly beans and Clif Shot Blocks though, thank god. There were also daladalas around to cart anyone back to the stadium who was in need of medical attention (I have no idea what this actually would have entailed) or could not continue the run.

Pre-race Expo: hehehe…this was the most quaint and low-key expo that I’ve ever been too. Now this isn’t a slam (I feel like it kind of sounds like one) it’s just the way it was. There were two or three folding tables outside of the Key’s Hotel and another few tables inside. There were maps showing the 2013 5k, 21k and 42k courses with seven…that’s right, SEVEN water and aid stations labeled. This is the first time that it was actually confirmed – at least for me – that the course was the same as last year, and really did only include SEVEN water stations throughout the 42 km! Yikes!

Race start: The “race” started at 6:30 am from the stadium on the north side of town.

Ignorance is bliss.

Ignorance is bliss.

We luckily were staying just about 1 km away and were able to walk there (in the dark) in about 15 min. All of the runners piled on to the track behind the starting line and waited for the “ready…set….go!” 

Lining up...kind of...

Lining up…kind of…

It was a very mellow start to a marathon but with ~300 participants that’s about what you can expect. It was already about 80F as the sun was just starting to come up so there was no need for pre-run warm up clothes or anything like this. There was no bag drop off, but at least I didn’t need one. As noted above, there was no need for pre-run warm-ups or clothes for later.

The Run: The run began by leaving the stadium and going on a 10mi/16km out and back loop. We headed east out of Moshi towards Arusha along the main Moshi-Arusha highway. There were rolling hills and many well wishers along the way. The surface was either the road’s black top or gravel on the ditch, not bad. Personally though, I began struggling with the altitude right away. My big (ignorant) plan was to hold a “conservative” (hahahahaha) 10 min mile for these first “flat” ~10mi/16km. It was everything I could do not to dip into the mid 11s – thank you Suunto Vector 😦 My lungs were on fire – I couldn’t get the oxygen that I needed to save my damn life.

And then it got hot. 

By the time we got back into Moshi it was about 85 F and the sun was up. There were two water stations on the out and back (one we hit twice) and the another one in town. One of these stations also had straight sugar to fuel up with but this was it. The water stations were just that, water stations. I was carrying one of the bottles from my water belt and filling it up at each stop – along with chugging 1-2 cups of water as I walked through and dumping another 1 or 2 over my head. We spent about 4 miles weaving through town – and town was getting busy! Roads were totally not blocked off and we just froggered it through the normal Sunday morning bustle. I made it through town and back to the stadium which is at the base of the ascent up Kilimanjaro in just over 2:30 according to the Suunto Vector. OUCH!

And the it was up the f#@%ing mountain!

The final ~12 miles were an out and back UP and then DOWN Mt. Kilimanjaro at ~5% grade. This is where the wheels really came off for me. My bat shit crazy goal was to 3 min on, 1 min off run/walk up the mountain and then crank it up and run back down. How hard could it be? 3 min running? That’s nothing, I can always slow down, and then I can even walk for a min! And then coming down, it’s 5% grade! All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other and gravity will practically do the rest…at a 9 min mile or better I bet! I’m not sure if I’ve ever been SO WRONG in my life! It was HOT now. There was NO shade, no breeze, 90-95F and only a 4 precious water stations remaining. The 3 on 1 off crap lasted about 15 min and then I walked (aside from a few flat areas and slight down hills). I held ~10 min/km on the ascent (thank you Suunto Vector).

So that’s it, right? The hard part is over! It’s literally all down hill from here! Or this is what my dumb ass thought from the top of the climb. I cranked up my tunes and proceeded to trot off down the mountain like it was my job. How quickly I was reminded that no, in fact this was NOT my job. However, what I actually am is a nerdy graduate student in chemical engineering who quite frankly had NOT A DAMN CLUE what she was getting herself into! If I thought breathing was rough at 3000 ft, breathing at 4000 ft was impossible! So, I slowed down and proceeded to shuffle/walk theh 6 mi back down the mountain. Damn.

All wasn’t lost though – the scenery was beautiful, the little kids that came and tagged along with me were adorable and according to my (very frequent) calculations – thanks again Suunto Vector – I was still going to make it in under the 6 hr cut off. By the time I made it back through the last water, they had run out of cups and were fishing dirty cups back out of the ditch and filling them with water. I was sooooo close to snatching one up and guzzling it down before I noticed this! Not cool. After spending 5 hrs on my feet in the direct sun (now it was ~95F), I am very glad I didn’t test my immune system and go for it anyway. I was tired, hot and dizzy enough that it may have seemed quite rational. And let’s be honest, I’ve probably done crazier shit in my (relatively) right mind. I finally finished in 5:45ish (in the same vein as running water stations, Tanzanian time keeping isn’t the best) and never thought I’d be so happy with a 5:xx marathon as I was when I came back into that stadium.

slow

Post-Run:

Lucky for me I had a very patient/understanding buddy waiting for me with water and cookies to help drag my ass back to the hotel for a shower. (Thank you Al!!)

after

The rest of the day was stretching, leg rubbing, a very slow shower, some toenail surgery and a very very slow walk into town for the best pizza and milk shake for dinner. While I will never do this marathon again, I am SO SO SO glad that I did do it once.

Executive summary:

HARD. Hot (95F and no shade), at 3000-4000 feet, 12 miles at a 5% grade – up then down, 7 water stations and no fuel.

Beautiful.

Friendly.

Unique.

Very, rewarding.

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The 3rd

Today is the 3rd. So what?

1. Today is the one month anniversary of what will hopefully the worst marathon I’ll ever “run”…

@ 6:30 am. Ignorance is bliss.

March 3rd @ 6:30 am. Ignorance is bliss.

(PS. I think this is the red flag that I really need to write that race review don’t I?! One month later I best have gotten over my hard feelings of +5 hrs to write something resembling a rational post.)

(PPS…or PSS… Which one is it? I never know… Anyway, I also think this is the red flag and flashing lights and blaring sirens that I need to get my ass out for a run again. That and I think my pants are shrinking. Yes, it’s my pants that are shrinking, it certainly isn’t me that’s getting fat…)

2. Today is t-minus one month until my thesis defense!

O.M.G.

Did anyone else realize today had some sort of significance as they walked/drove/bused/biked into school/work today? What is it?

 

 

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