Hi, Saltines! Coach Hops here. It’s March, the snow is melting, the days are getting longer, and we’re all gearing up for some Spring and Summer racing. Maybe you’ve been racing for years and have your tried-and-true training routines down to a science. Or maybe you have a coach and do whatever she says. But maybe you’re newer to running and racing: you’ve read all of our training plan posts but you’re still not quite sure what to expect. Today I want to talk about the basic phases of race training, and about what else you should be doing to get ready to race.
I'm a mom and business owner from upstate NY. I love running, coffee, and adult beverages. Also chocolate. I'm currently training for shorter distances (mile-5k) but my big goal is to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Trials in the marathon.
As we start to ramp up our training for spring races, it’s the perfect time to make sure that our mental game is on point. Coach Hops is here with some tips to help us approach our races with the right frame of mind.
Can you really do it all? Can you have a family, a career, go after your running goals, and be healthy and happy?
I think the answer is no. Hear me out.
When you scroll through Facebook or Instagram, you see these perfect photos of people who seem to have it all. And you might think the same about people you know in real life too. But the truth is that many of these people are beyond stressed and probably have some bad days just like you.
So, my question is, why do we think that this is normal? Why do we aspire to be perfect in all things? Is it in our DNA?
Recently I had to take a set back from training as well as writing for Salty Running and prioritize my overall health and well-being. I was doing too much, not taking enough downtime, and putting too much pressure on myself to be a perfect mom, perfect wife, and fast runner. I started becoming stressed about things and overreacting to minor daily problems. My body was telling me to slow down, and I had to listen.
Usually, in times of stress, I cut out running. Then after a few weeks, I end up missing it and just feeling kind of off balance. And of course, I remember that I’ve been through this before, and duh, running is helping me hold things together. I always find more focus and joy in my day when I start off with a run or some type of workout.
Maybe you’ve heard this story before. Maybe you think this is one of those first world problems. But I think there are a few of you out there that can identify with the concept of burning the candle at both ends. I want to tell you that it’s okay to chill out and do fewer things. It’ll be fine. Just give your body a chance to recover, and take some time to meditate and figure out what’s most important to you.
How do you handle the stress of “doing all the things”?
Dear Race Directors,
You want to bring in fast runners to get some exposure for your race. You decide to offer prize money. Great. Believe me, I love prize money. For sub-elite runners, those smaller prize purses can really help offset race entries and travel costs. And by being able to afford to race reputable races, runners can build their resumes, which helps with sponsorships and getting into even bigger races.
But if you’re going to offer prize money, you gotta do it right.
First, write the checks the day of the event. You don’t have to do this, but it is preferred. If you want to gain a good reputation, this is the best practice, especially for a smaller race.
Not all races do this, for various reasons. I get that. But like with any business transaction — because in reality, that’s what this is — you should pay your invoices on time. I think two weeks is an acceptable amount of time for a local road race.
Notification in advance (like the Mill Race Marathon does) or at the awards ceremony is appreciated if the check is, as they say, in the mail.
For a larger race, 90 days is perfectly acceptable. There are drug testing protocols, and those things take time. For example, I ran the BAA 5k in early April and received a gift card in the mail for winning my age group. The gift card arrived in early July. Usually larger races mail out medals and other prizes to age group winners, and I’ve always received those awards within 90 days.
And, even smaller races (see Mill Race, above) are stepping up their anti-doping game. That’s great news!
But, it is never okay to take 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, or more to mail out a check to your winners. If a runner has to write multiple emails or take to social media to get their money, you’re doing it wrong. And if you really mess up, you could go viral for the wrong reasons.
One race director asked runners to give their prize money back when he made a mistake, and the LetsRun trolls got ahold of the story. Eventually, he changed his mind and made up the difference with $9,500 of his own money. This is an extreme case, of course.
The road goes both ways, of course. There’s an etiquette for the runners, too. If you receive a complimentary entry to a race, it’s a good idea to formally write a thank you note or email. The same goes for if you win prize money, or if you just enjoyed the event. You don’t have to, but it’s a nice thing to do, and can’t you hear your grandmother now? You can also write a note or review on the event’s Facebook page or other social media outlets — they’ll definitely appreciate that!
If you’ve had a bad experience or good experience at a race, whether with prize money or otherwise, let’s hear it.
I’ll start. Freihofer’s Run for Women, you are a prestigious event, but as of September 20, 2017, you owe me $400.
Maria Elena Calle, now an Olympian, was only nine years old when she started running at her elementary school in Cuenca, Ecuador. Although she usually finished first or second, Maria insists that the races were just for fun and she wasn’t thinking about winning. “At that age, it was just an after school activity mainly to spend time with friends,” she says.
Maria always loved running, which came naturally to her. At 17 she was selected to represent Ecuador in both the 1,500 and 3,000 meters at the Bolivian Games, which is like a mini-Olympics for South America, held every four years. Maria was one of the youngest competitors there and surprised everyone by finishing thid in both races (behind Janet Caizilitin who finished fourth in the 1992 World Cross Country Championships junior race and Martha Tenorio, a 2:27 marathoner). She recalls standing on the podium singing the Ecuadorian national anthem and realizing that, “maybe, just maybe, I could be good at running.”
Hey there! I’m in Boston getting ready to cheer my face off. My training has been going well lately, but I’m planning to take a break for a few weeks and just do some easy running for awhile. As you’ll see from what these past three weeks have been like, I’m in desperate need of some downtime.
Week ending 4.2.17
Monday 3.27– 8 miles on the treadmill and some Jasyoga
Tuesday 3.28– 8 miles on the treadmill
Wednesday 3.29– 2 warm up, 5 x mile in 5:30 with 3-4 mins recovery, 2 cool down (I set the treadmill to 5:30 pace for this one and just did 1 mile at a time, with the goal of going 3-5 reps at that pace)
Thursday 3.30– 8 miles on the treadmill
Friday 3.31– 7 miles on the treadmill and the Jasyoga hip reset
Saturday 4.1– I traveled to Chicago with my team in the morning and then ran an easy 4 mile shakeout run and some strides
Sunday 4.2– 2 mile warm up, Shamrock Shuffle 8k 28:07, 2.8 mile cool down
Total: 53.8 miles
Week ending 4.9.17
Monday 4.3– 8.5 miles in Chicago with my teammates before flying back home
Tuesday 4.4– 8 miles on a hilly route
Wednesday 4.5– 6 mile recovery run on the treadmill, Jasyoga 5 minute hip reset
Thursday 4.6– 8 miles on the treadmill
Friday 4.7– 8.3 miles easy with some hills on the treadmill
Saturday 4.8– I ran a local 10k but got there late so I could only do 1 mile for warm up, ran the hilly 10k in 36:57, 2 mile cool down with the double stroller
Sunday 4.9– 8 miles easy on the treadmill
Total: 56.2 miles
Week ending 4.16.17
Monday 4.10– rest
Tuesday 4.11– 8.6 miles pushing my youngest in the single stroller
Wednesday 4.12– 5 miles easy on the treadmill
Thursday 4.13– 8.1 miles on a hilly route
Friday 4.14– Travel to Boston, rest
Saturday 4.15– 2 mile warm up, BAA 5k race 17:08, 2.5 miles cool down
Sunday 4.16– rest
Total: 29.4 miles
I’ve run the Boston Marathon twice, once in 2014 and then again in 2016. Both times, I ran my qualifying race a few days before finding out I was pregnant. And both times, with the amount of time between qualifiers and Marathon Monday, I went to Boston while breastfeeding an infant. (I got smart this year and opted for the BAA 5k, just in case!)
It was a blessing and a curse, I tell you! One blessing was that I learned a lot about breastfeeding and racing Boston. In addition to planning out my fueling and hydration stops, I had to consider how I’d deal with the certain engorgement caused by the hours I’d be separated from my baby while waiting in Athlete’s Village and running the race.
I experimented a little and approached how I tended to my boobs at each Boston differently. If you find yourself lactating in Boston, let me offer up some tips, fun facts, and things I learned about breastfeeding and the Boston Marathon. We’ll call it the secrets of the lactating mother runner.
Two weeks of training coming atcha…
The week before last was sort of an odd week, but it ended well. I had to make up for the long run that I skipped the previous Sunday, and I had a half marathon race coming up so I was only able to do one quality workout. The weather was a huge factor in my training, both at home in NY and in Virginia Beach where I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon.
Week ending 3.19.17
Monday 3.13- Long run on the treadmill at the YMCA. I felt pretty good, although bored. Started off slow and picked it up as I got warmed up. Total time 1:12:31 for 10 miles and average pace 7:16/mile. I had an adjustment at my chiropractor and told him I was feeling pretty good overall, no injuries or pains.
Tuesday 3.14- Recovery run at home on the treadmill, 4 miles at 8:19/mile… we got hit with a stupid blizzard, dropping 2 feet of snow so schools and most businesses were closed. I had planned to run a little longer but my back tightened up on the right side. I also did a few Jasyoga videos focusing on my hips, glutes, and quads.
Wednesday 3.15- My plan was to do one quality workout this week and make it a hard effort. The workout I wanted to do was 2 x 3 miles at HMGP with 5 minutes rest between. So I warmed up 2 miles easy on the treadmill at home (schools and YMCA still closed but my husband was home from work and I did this during the girls’ nap time). I put on some cardio pop station on my treadmill for the tempo miles, and was feeling pretty dialed in so I decided to keep going once I got to three miles. The workout changed into a 10k tempo at HMGP, which was actually a 10k PR for me (although I haven’t run many 10ks). Tempo 6.2 miles in 36:50 (5:56/mile). Cool down 1.8 miles for 10 total.
Thursday 3.16- Treadmill recovery run at the YMCA, 8 miles 7:29/mile
Friday 3.17- Rest, travel to Virginia. Unfortunately my husband was still recovering from surgery so I had to drive the whole way, 9-10 hours with a few stops. We got in around dinner time, went to packet pickup, ate, and crashed.
Saturday 3.18- Shakeout run during the 8k USATF Masters Championships. I cheered for a few of my teammates who were racing and jogged around the oceanfront and boardwalk area. Legs felt like garbage at first, but I expected that after travelling all day the previous day.
Sunday 3.19- Race day! No one really knew when the rain was going to start, so I prepared for the worst, and of course it started raining right before I had to warm up. I did 1.8 miles for a warm up, ran from my hotel to the dry bag drop off and ran into a few friends who I jogged with a little longer. The mood was pretty much meh. No one was really excited for the misery that we were about to go through, especially those of us who had experienced it the previous year. But, we lined up anyway. I went through the first mile way off pace so I just ignored my watch and raced without worrying about my pace. That ended up being a good decision, because I still ran a PR of 1:21:12 and finished 2nd. After the race I was so numb from the cold, wind, and rain that I couldn’t muster the energy for a cool down. I jogged the .25 mile back to my hotel and thawed out under the spray of the hot shower.
Race splits: Miles 1-3 into strong headwind and driving rain (6:25, 6:20, 6:22), Miles 4-6 cold rain, wind mostly blocked by trees (6:12, 6:16, 6:10), Miles 7-9 cold rain, strong headwind and crosswinds (6:22, 6:01, 6:05), Miles 10-13 drizzle, strong tailwind (6:09, 6:07, 6:07, 6:00), last 0.1 5:12 pace, total 1:21:12 (6:11 average/mile)
Total for the week of 3.13: 50.6 miles
Week ending 3.26.17
Monday 3.20- Rest. Planned rest day. Caught up on work. Ammazing how much you can get done when you don;t have to run!
Tuesday 3.21- Rest. This one wasn’t exactly planned but I needed another work day.
Wednesday 3.22- 8 miles on the treadmill at 7:23/mile. Felt pretty good, definitely not back too 100% after the race though. Back and hamstrings felt a little tight.
Thursday 3.23- Totally unplanned rest day. Was going to run during my 1 year old’s nap time but she didn’t want to take a nap, and my 3 year old had dance class in the evening. I was able to do a 45 minute yoga video though (although not all at once), the Jasyoga comprehensive hip/hamstring reset.
Friday 3.24- 6 miles on the treadmill at 7:45 pace and 15 minutes of yoga.
Saturday 3.25- 8 miles outside in cold rain/sleet. My legs felt awful in those conditions. 7:42 average per mile
Sunday 3.26- 12 miles with two of my Willow St. teammates at the Shamrock Shuffle 5 miler. We averaged 6:58 for the 12 miles, with the 5 mile race run as a tempo at 6:00/mile. This was a nice workout and fun to run with teammates (with bonus prizes afterwards for going 1-2-3)
Total for the week of 3.20: 34 miles (meh)
There are perks to being an elite runner: complimentary race entries, travel assistance, free hotel stay, performance bonuses, even VIP porta-potties. The list of luxuries goes on and on. But many of these perks are available to sub-elite runners, if you know where to look or if you know the secret handshake. The key is finding the best races that cater to runners who aren’t quite national class, but are still very good runners.
So, how do you know where to find these races? Well, I’ve asked some of my friends to share their favorites and tell us about their experience as a sub-elite. And I’ve included some of my own favorites as well!
Friends! This week I’m feeling way more upbeat. My family is healthy, everyone is sleeping, therefore life is good. Yeah, we’re getting two feet of snow today, but whatever. As long as the power stays on (fingers crossed) we’ll be fine. I’m headed to Virginia Beach this weekend to run the Shamrock half marathon. But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s talk about training last week…
This is my current situation: my husband had surgery a little over a week ago. The first day was pretty rough, but I tried my hardest to remain positive. That weekend things got progressively worse- my husband was in so much pain, and the kids were acting up. I felt like they were coming down with something. Unfortunately I was right. Commence a trip to the ER at 3 am with my three year old who was running a 106 degree fever. We made it home by 7 am just as my one year old woke up and threw up all over my husband and then me. Lovely.
On that note, here’s my training log for the week:
Monday 2/27: Long run on the treadmill, 13.2 miles at 7:49 average pace. I usually do my long runs on the weekends when I have my husband to watch the kids, but we had to rearrange things since he was recovering. I tried out a few iFit routes so I ran 4 miles in Shenandoah National Park (rolling hills), 5 miles in Honolulu (pancake flat), and 4 miles somewhere in Norway (which was super hilly).
Tuesday 2/28: Rest. This was the day I was in the ER with my oldest daughter and my youngest daughter was sick with the stomach bug. My mom offered to come over and watch the girls so I could run, but I opted for a nap instead.
Wednesday 3/1: Speed workout in the late evening, 9.4 miles at 6:32 average pace- my mom came over to watch the girls and I started with some activation exercises to warm up. Workout started with a 4 mile progression (6:57, 6:35, 5:59, 5:48) then 1 mile easy (6:37), then 1 mile at 5k race pace (5:26). I ran easy to the grocery store from there to pick up a few supplies and then ran back home (6:57, 7:15, 6:55, last 0.4 in 7:11)… I decided to call this workout the “grocery getter” from now on. The progression run was supposed to be 1 mile easy, 1 mile at MGP, 1 mile at HMGP, 1 mile faster than HMGP. I ran 2 miles out from my house and then 2 miles back so I could grab some water (it was unseasonably hot that day), but ideally the workout should be continuous at least until the cool down.
Thursday 3/2: 7.1 recovery miles on the treadmill at 8:17/mile. My dad came over to watch the girls. I was going to run 8 miles but had to stop a little early to help with bedtime.
Friday 3/3: 8 miles easy on the treadmill at 7:50 pace. I did this run at the YMCA, so we were kind of back to normal for a day. During the week I usually take the girls to the YMCA so I have two hours to run and do yoga or core work.
Saturday 3/4: 8 miles on the treadmill at 8:17/mile. I intended to do a tempo run this day but I felt pretty bad from sleep deprivation so I think I just listened to a podcast and got in some miles.
Sunday 3/5: 10.2 miles on the treadmill at 8:05/mile. It’s weird for me to have this many days running 8 minute miles, but that’s what happened. I had planned to meet up with some of my teammates but since my kids were still sick I didn’t want to pass on any germs. New plan was to run 14 on the treadmill, starting off slow and gradually picking up the pace. So I did the first 7 on the iFit course through Paris which is one of my favorites so far and then started a course in Thailand. But I got worried about my daughter who had been throwing up the previous day and I couldn’t get it out of my head. So, I stopped early and checked on her, and then ended up staying with her.
Total: 55.9 miles
Well hello there. I’m Hops, a former three time All-American at James Madison University, currently on the comeback train after having my second child.
I got my start in running as a mediocre hurdler and high jumper, who later turned into a decent distance runner. I was injured a lot in high school and, although I ended up choosing a college with a great running program, I wasn’t initially planning on running. I didn’t think I had what it takes to run in college, let alone at the D1 level.
But something gnawed at me once I set foot on campus, and I decided to talk with the coach and see if they’d let me walk on. Somehow I eked onto the team with my meager running resume. I was the slowest woman on the team. I barely talked during any of my freshman cross country season runs because I was so out of shape. I barely survived practice, just holding on for dear life at the back of the pack.
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