Is the beer mile on your short-distance bucket list? If you’re intrigued but not sure quite how to approach this combination of four fast laps around a track with chugging four beers as fast as you can, we’ve got some tips for you from one of the fastest female beer milers in the world.
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.
“Caffeine is a perfectly legal performance enhancer. If you are serious about improving your race time, you are crazy not to use it.”
That’s pretty close to a direct quote from a conversation I had with my nutritionist. I originally started working with him to help with weight loss, but in the process, I’ve also learned an enormous amount about how to fuel while running. With marathon day approaching, my long runs are taking on more of a dress rehearsal aspect, hence our conversation about caffeine.
Here at Salty Running, we’ve talked about a myriad of ways to train in our training logs and recently in our popular marathon training plan reviews. So far we’ve taken a look at Hansons, Pete Pfitzinger and Lydiard training plans. Now, we’re going to talk about Greg McMillan.
I know quite a bit about Greg McMillan’s theories about optimal run training because I’ve been training with McMillan Running since 2013, under one of Greg’s protégées, coach Emily Harrison. Under coach Emily’s care, I’ve PR’d in every distance I raced, from 5K to 100 miles. McMillan Running is for runners of all levels and distances, but his expertise seems to be the marathon.
McMillan training plans have most definitely worked for me, but how do you know if they’re right for you?
It’s that time of year: we’re signing up for goal races and looking for our next training plan. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be running and re-running posts about some of the most popular plans out there. This review of Hansons Marathon Method was originally posted by Pumpkin in May 2016.
A few weeks ago during a conversation with a running pal we got on the topic of marathon training. We talked about our plans, and I shared that I was following a new plan that was pretty intense, but seems to agree with me. Intrigued, my friend asked for more details. When I got to the topic of long runs, I told him that the longest run in the plan I’m following is 16 miles.
What happened next was a pretty common reaction. “Huh? Really? So you don’t run 20 miles for your longest run?”
If you are an avid reader of Salty Running or just someone who has run a marathon or ten, you know as well as I do that there are myriad marathon training plans out there. Yesterday, Cilantro discussed her recent foray into the CrossFit Endurance plan. I ran my first two marathons using a Hal Higdon plan that I found on the internet. The plan got me to the finish line, as promised, but my past marathon performances were slow, painful, and full of injury. In fact, the last two times I’ve attempted to train for a marathon, I got injured and had to stop training by the time I got up to 14 miles for my long run. I was ready to write off marathons completely because I didn’t trust my body anymore. I didn’t have faith that it could withstand the stress of marathon training without major injury.
Then all that changed. Read more >>
As I sit here the day after the Richmond Marathon, writing my race report, I don’t feel like I just ran a marathon yesterday.
That about sums up my race.
Let me backtrack a bit. On a run 10 days before the marathon my knee started to hurt. It hurt enough to call it a day at 3 miles, then take the next several days off. After switching my shoes and consulting a chiropractor, I tried running again. While it didn’t hurt now, it still had a little pull and wasn’t 100% normal.
My coach advised me to take the following week completely off and then do very short runs the Thursday and Friday before the race. During that week, I set up my bike trainer in the basement and biked the equivalent times I would have run. My knee felt fine and didn’t bother me at all running the two days before the marathon. I focused on the mental aspect of dealing with this extreme taper; I knew the work was done, and I hoped that an 8-mile pre-race week wouldn’t affect my performance.
The elite coordinator Thom had invited me to be the guest speaker at their Sports Backers club dinner Thursday evening and talk at a school Friday morning. Last year they had Desi Linden – quite an act to follow! – but since the race fell on Veteran’s Day this year, Thom (an Air Force Vietnam Veteran himself), thought it would be neat to have a veteran as the speaker. I was very honored and looking forward to talking with and meeting other fellow runners. I thought it would be fun since I used to speak with school groups while in WCAP.
I debated whether to travel to Richmond solo or with the kids. My husband was in the field all week and training nights, and he couldn’t leave until Friday. My Mom was willing to drive over (she lives an hour away) and watch the kids at the hotel while I was at my speaking engagements, but ultimately we decided the easiest thing to do logistically would be to leave them at home with a babysitter while he was working. That meant I wouldn’t have my race support/cheering squad there, but I would hopefully get two nights of solid sleep and time to myself.
The speaking engagements went well. The dinner Thursday evening was coincidentally at the high school my Dad graduated from, and it made me feel like a pro to field questions from a range of people running their first to 20th marathon. Friday I talked with the run club at a military middle school in the city, which was fun. As I relayed some of my Army experiences, I realized that the kids weren’t even born when September 11th happened, an event that had completely shaped my young adult life as a 2001 West Point graduate. That evening I met up with one of my best friends and teammates from college and her boyfriend for an early bird dinner, th
en headed back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep in a crisp, neatly made, all-to-myself bed before race day!
I woke up two hours before the start to eat breakfast, which I had no appetite for and had to force down. I managed to eat a plain bagel, part of a banana, and bottle of water. I took a quick shower to help wake up, then rolled my legs and stretched a bit. I was only a few blocks to the start and wanted to leave the hotel as late as possible since it was below freezing outside and I didn’t want to shiver for too long!
Mentally, I felt good. I had accepted the fact that running a marathon was going to be unpleasant, that I was going to be out there for a long haul, and that it was going to hurt. After dreading it for the last several weeks, I was looking forward to getting it done.
I ran up to the start and got to the line about 20 minutes before go time. It was cold: 25 degrees at the start. My ponytail froze into one solid ice chunk. I kept my sweats on for as long as possible, then stripped down to my shorts, singlet and throwaway gloves. Mistake #1: I should have worn compression socks or sleeves and possibly arm sleeves. I never warmed up the entire race.
I started up front and settled into a comfortable pace. The first mile was 6:23, but I didn’t use my watch too much after the first few miles as I tried to dial into a pace. It was freezing, and it felt like there was a cold wind no matter who I tucked in behind. My next few miles stayed consistent around 6:20-6:22.
I entered this race thinking I was fit enough to qualify for the Olympic Trials (2:45). I felt like I had gotten in a solid training block and that in good conditions I could do it. A OTQ requires a 6:17-8 pace, and I was just slightly off. I didn’t freak out or become discouraged and throw in the towel. I felt good where I was. 6:20-6:22 just happened to be my rhythm that day. I also thought that maybe when I warmed up a bit, I could get into a faster groove.
Around mile 8 I finally began to feel my face and hands again. My throwaway gloves were perfect for gel storage. I always debate pinning my gels to the inside of my shorts or tucking them into my sports bra, both of which result in awful chafing in weird places. I ended up keeping my gloves on the entire race because of the cold and just tucked my gels into them so I didn’t have to hold anything.
I went through the half at 83:16. Still on 6:21 pace, so I’d definitely found my rhythm. I felt good, working but in control. Surprisingly, I was enjoying myself. The marathon was a beautiful course with nice crowd support spread throughout. It seemed to be going by very fast. Normally, even if I don’t look at my watch every mile it still seems like a long drag between the markers, but in this race it felt like the miles just kept clicking away.
If I could keep that consistent pace, I thought I would end up running 2:47-2:48, which I would be happy with. It would make a good starting point for another consistent training cycle. On an easier course in better conditions, I’d be confident to run several minutes faster. While I knew I wasn’t going to negative split it today and qualify for the trials, I was perfectly happy with where I was at and confident I’d maintain it.
And then came mile 18. My quads completely locked up. Sure, at some point in every marathon my legs start to really, really hurt. That’s the nature of pounding the pavement for 26 miles. But this was different. It was serious cramping, enough that I wanted to stop and stretch but didn’t because I knew it would be hard to start again. I felt like I was half stepping, my stride length reduced to nothing. The only thing I could do was try to maintain the same rhythm, although my steps felt incredibly short.
What happened? Maybe the hills finally caught up to me? Richmond is a very hilly course. Some are obvious, others are long stretches that you don’t even notice until you’re running them. The whole thing feels rolling. But I generally run on hilly routes while pushing the stroller, so didn’t think the Richmond hills would bother me that much. Could it have been the cold from wearing shorts? My butt was still numb from cold at the end of the race.
Later that day it dawned on me that my quad cramps were probably the result of my biking for the last 10 days; I hadn’t ridden my bike trainer in years, so starting a new activity to substitute running the week before my race (ie: stressing different muscles) probably wasn’t a genius idea. Mistake #2.
Needless to say, I lost 4-5 minutes the final 8 miles. I got passed by 2 women, handfuls of men, and finally finished as 6th female in 2:52:39.
I was immediately disappointed in myself, because I felt like I had just run, not raced, 26 miles. Which unfortunately characterizes how I’ve felt after many of my races this season.
On the long drive home (only about 3.5 hours driving, but I stopped frequently to walk around and stretch my legs), I did nothing but analyze my race. Did I run slower than hoped for because of environmental factors (the cold and fact that I never warmed up, the hills, my quads) or because I mentally gave up at mile 18 when my quads seized up? I think it was my quads. Mentally I tried; when people passed me, I used that as motivation to go with them. I’d latch on for several paces, then my quads would seize up again and I’d be reduced to half stepping. It was frustrating that my body wouldn’t cooperate with my mind.
Overall, despite the cramping, I enjoyed the marathon. Which I don’t think I’ve ever said before. I wasn’t engulfed in doubts or negative thoughts about quitting. I actually was thinking about what I wanted to run next, which NEVER happens: it’s normally “run fast so you don’t have to do this again.” It went by very quickly for a marathon.
Based on how I feel, I think I’m going to recover quickly. My quads and a very chafed belly button (thanks diastasis recti) are the only battle wounds I have. While taking some recovery time I plan on analyzing my training cycle to see what I can change and revamp for the next one. My buildup for this marathon was good, not great, and just like this race, my intermediary races were mostly lackluster and left me feeling like I hadn’t left it all on the course. And that means it’s time to refocus on what is next.
Ever heard of a Beer 5K? No, it’s not when you run a 5K followed by a beer festival, but that’s cute. It’s the invention of someone who probably makes terrible life choices, a bad twist on a beer mile, where you run a 5K with a beer station at the start, at each mile marker, and at the finish.
I recently had the opportunity to participate in a beer 5K and was crowned the elusive title of Beer Queen! Ok, so maybe it wasn’t actually an officially sanctioned event since it was the creation of an enterprising member of my running club. And, it might have been free and BYOB. And I might have been only one of two female participants. But it did come with crafty homemade medals, a belt buckle and an awesome swag bag that could rival those of some of the top marathons: Axe deodorant samples, expired jalapeno-flavored Kind bars, Biofreeze and Salonpas samples, and Honey Stinger beer koozies (all ransacked and scavenged from various freebie collections).
After spending the morning attending a professional workshop, I decided I needed to balance out my Saturday with a little irresponsibility. Honestly, I was nervous and felt sick to my stomach just thinking about it in the days and hours leading up to the run.
Luckily, the event started in the evening and ended with a potluck, so our drinking didn’t hamper our weekend duties. The rules of a beer 5K are as follows:
- Beer must be chugged at the start line, at mile 1 and at mile 2. You have the option of chugging a beer at the finish to earn 30 seconds off your time.
- Beer must be at least 5% alcohol (per Beer Mile rules!).
- You may not leave the checkpoint until you can prove to the volunteers you have sucked down every last drop.
Oh, did I mention this was a trail event with over 1,000 feet of elevation? Either roads are for wimps, or it just happened to be the only location where alcohol could be consumed on the premises without drawing too much attention to ourselves.
The race began with a chug-off of beer number 1. My beer of choice was good old PBR, and naturally, I was the last one out of the gate, but I dashed up the trail to catch up with my competition. At mile 1 I was greeted by an enthusiastic volunteer who had schlepped up my second beer for rapid consumption. From there I bounced down the trail with a foam belly to the next mile where a second volunteer awaited with my last beer to suck down. After I cleared the last can, it was a mad dash down the fire road to the finish. My lone female competitor and I finished hand in hand, so when someone handed me my bonus victory beer for a 30-second time bonus to solidify my win, I took it.
Surprisingly, aside from a few belches, the alcohol consumption didn’t seem to hinder my running capabilities too much. True, I have been on the bench for the past few months because of mental exhaustion/training fatigue, so I wouldn’t have noticed the difference in my ability anyway. And maybe this was just the event to help me find the joy in running again!
Once I stopped moving, I realized just how completely intoxicated I was as my words came out in strange, self-conscious slurs as I celebrated my victory. Luckily, we celebrated our awesome feats of glory with an epic sobering potluck to follow the event, and I sopped up the beer in my belly with chili, enchiladas and an assortment of cheesy bread dishes.
Despite my fears, I did not end up a sad soul ejecting hoppy foam into the scrub oaks. So, if you ever find yourself presented with an irresponsible opportunity like this one, go forth and chug, I say! It promises to be a good time.
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind this is a binge drinking event that might not be appropriate for young impressionable souls or for the faint of heart with strict morals.
Throughout the 16-mile race, running up and down a mountain in the heat of the day, I found that I was not mentally as strong as I had trained to be.
Not because of the heat and humidity that characterizes my new life in the Deep South, although that was making everything about running harder than it had been in the west and Midwest. I wasn’t struggling because this was my first race back in almost a year, a year that was mentally and emotionally so tough that running was largely out of the question except for a few miles in the morning to prepare my mind for the day ahead.
Yes, I was out of shape and unused to running in sauna-like conditions, but I was mostly struggling because I knew that even after I finished the race today, I had another race tomorrow. And, in contrast to the “gentle” inclines and descents from Saturday’s race, tomorrow’s race would be 20 delightfully difficult trail miles.
I hadn’t signed up for two difficult races coincidentally held on consecutive days, I’d signed up for one stage race. Intentionally. The race was the Birmingham Stage Race, a three- or two-day event that was the result of a race organizer’s dream to run up and around the major trail systems in the Birmingham, Ala., area. While I was only able to do the two-day stage race option because of a Friday meeting (fortuitously, as it turned out, because stage racing is for real hard), the three-day option had started with another tough and technical trail Friday morning.
It’s called stage racing, and it’s amazing.
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.
Beardy guys. You know who I’m talking about: those wiry dudes wearing split shorts they bought before you were born. The guys who have been doubling with 8 miles in the morning and 8 miles in the evening since before the invention of modern running shoes, who will double by doing laps around their basement, but only if it happens to be the storm of the century that day, because you’d better believe it takes a storm of the century to keep them from their training schedule. All other weather leaves them unimpressed. That’s partly what the beard is for: weather protection.
Ok, ok, so these guys are not always bearded. But “beardy guys” is a great catch-all term for wiry old-school dudes with a 19,793-day streak going and shorts as old as your mom. They are hardcore. Don’t you want to be hardcore?
Sometimes I wonder if a race report template exists that all runners use. I started, I ran, it was hard, I finished and a lot of stuff happened in between. I wondered if I could hack the system. If I analyzed hundreds, dozens, or three, race reports, could I crack the code? And if I did, could I leverage my knowledge into the best selling product yet in our SaltyValu™ line: the Race Report Generator? Imagine how many zeros of dollars we could make with this incredible invention!
So, I did just that. Now no need to bother trying to come up with another way to say “toe the line” or “waited in line for a porta-potty”, when with our simple to use questionnaire, we’ll write the report only your mother will read for you!
Use the SaltyValu™ Generator today!
This race was a pretty last-minute addition to the race calendar. Mr. Chicory and I signed up the Monday before the race. My coach wanted one more all-out effort from me before my goal marathon in November, and the mister doesn’t race very much and needed to get a better sense of his goal for the same marathon.
Indianapolis is about 2 hours from our house in Louisville. I looked for a race closer but the only ones I could find 10k to half-marathon were all 2 hours away in various directions. Indy gets preferential treatment because we go often enough that we sort-of know our way around, and because my coach is based there. This means extra perks, usually, like a tent where we can leave our stuff plus last-minute motivation and an on-course cheerleader/photo-taker.
It was a little disheartening that the taxi driver had no clue what was going on when I said, “Staten Island Ferry, please!” I figured he’d just finished a shift of hauling around drunk adults in Halloween costumes, so I wasn’t very surprised.
I WAS surprised when my $50 visa gift card got declined and I had a mini-panic while I tried to figure out how to get to an ATM. Luckily, I happened to be in New York City, where banks outnumber bathrooms, and paid the man with no real trouble. I should have just taken the train like I planned. I’d gotten to the station with plenty of time, but had suddenly freaked out: What if the train got stuck? What if what if what if??
It was 5:55am and I had 4 hours and 20 minutes until the start of the New York City Marathon. You may think I was silly to worry I’d be late, but I am not a lucky person. Especially when it comes to getting places on time. Or when it comes to things going smoothly. Read more >>
Every marathon training season has its own ups and downs and every race day is different. Sometimes it is a grand success, sometimes it is a heartbreaking fail. Usually there is no in-between.
But no matter the end result, each season takes on a life of its own and each holds a special place in my heart. No doubt this is because we must devote months of hard work, commitment, sacrifice, self-doubt, and dogged determination all for (hopefully) success on one day.
Thankfully, this season was one of the best ones yet for me and it reaffirmed why I do this: no matter who we are or where we are in life, we can always push ourselves to achieve more (take that Father Time!).
It’s been a summer of firsts for me, including my first ever 5k in July and my first overnight relay. The Cascade Lakes Relay starts in southern Oregon at Diamond Lake and meanders through the Cascade mountains, past several more lakes and volcanic peaks, then up and over Mt. Bachelor to finish up in Bend.
This 216-mile journey is accomplished by a team of 12 runners in two vans (though we managed with 11), running through the night and two days of high desert heat and cold mountain temperatures. Our hottest leg was 103° and the coldest was 37° with elevations well over 5,000 feet; quite a swing for the body to adjust to.
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