A Look at Post-Collegiate Training Options


grad1Graduation season has me thinking about some of the options for recent running grads who want to keep the dream alive. I was once in the same boat, and I want to share what choices are out there and what to consider when navigating your post-collegiate training options. Through my post-collegiate years I’ve trained in each of the three main options: a highly structured elite development team; a less structured competitive club team; and training on my own.

Of course, this information isn’t limited to new grads! Any competitive runner of any ability can benefit from determining her best training environment.

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Introducing Lemon!

My 3:28 PR from May 2015 at the Providence Marathon.

My 3:28 PR from May 2015 at the Providence Marathon.

Hey, Salty friends! I am psyched to be a part of this crazy-motivated community of runners. I’ll go by Lemon here, in the hopes that I’ll bring a fresh, bright, and tangy presence to the site.

My running journey started way back in the 4th grade mile, when I finally found a PE activity that didn’t make me want to die of embarrassment. After being one of the few kids to run the whole time during that first attempt as a nine-year-old, I always looked forward to Mile Day. When I found out that I could run as a sport in middle school, it was like the heavens opened up!

Middle school running taught me I absolutely loved the sport. Nothing about it was super competitive for me. In fact, whenever I started to feel sick, I figured I should slow down. Seems logical, and most of my non-running friends would argue that would be the sane thing to do, but that’s not how you win races. I finally figured that out at the end of 8th grade, just in time to break seven minutes in the mile and get ready for my freshman year of high school.

I ran competitively through high school, where I met my very best friends and found a safe space snuggled between the red lockers in our locker room. I put up with track too, but my first and truest love has always been cross-country, but I put up with track, too. The longer the better for me; throw me in a two-mile as a high schooler and I was a happy camper.

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The Case for Moderate Mileage Marathon Training

50, 60, 70...where does it stop?The term “High Mileage” means different things to different runners. For a long time I thought I was doing oh-so-much training, until social media made me realize I really was doing far less than others I knew. I’ve talked about it before, but a majority of my success has been achieved by running and training at a level many people would consider low/moderate.

That made me wonder what high mileage actually is. Each runner is very different in how she approaches her training and goals. I threw this question out on social media and got such a wide range of answers. Some said 40-50 miles per week was high mileage for marathon training while others claimed 90 miles per week was still under the high-mileage threshold. And of course there were plenty of answers in between. While it’s tempting to compare your mileage to others, it’s important to remember one key truth: we are all different.

Eighty miles a week works great for some folks, but for others 40, 60 or some other number will be the sweet spot. The factors that affect your perfect weekly mileage are a good place to start, but how do you know what really works until you try? Read more

Introducing Maple!

FullSizeRender-1Hi Salty Runners! Greetings from the True North! I’m Maple and I’m thrilled to bring you the Canadian Eh-dition of Salty Running! Yes, that’s right. You’ve got yourself a running friend north of the 49th parallel.

Like Pesto, who you met yesterday, I wasn’t always a runner. I grew up in a professional ballet school and never participated in sports. Ultimately though, I fell out of love with ballet and knew it was not the path for me. I am grateful for my years in ballet as it instilled in me a very strong work ethic and appreciation for the hours that go into a successful performance.

Throughout university I dabbled in activities to stay in shape, but never really found my groove. I battled to keep weight off, and like many, I struggled to feel comfortable and confident in my own skin.

Enter running.

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You’re Invited to Salty Camp!

Join us for Salty Camp 2016!

Join us for Salty Camp 2016!

Want to meet the badass women behind Salty Running while you run, eat, relax, celebrate and learn? Here’s your chance!

Deep in Cuyahoga Valley National State Park, nestled amongst the trails, is a historic mansion. On July 29, 30, and 31, that mansion will be transformed into a runner’s paradise as it hosts Salty Camp 2016. Salty Camp is your opportunity to join the Salty Running spice rack, lead by Salty and Cinnamon, run together on the amazing Cuyahoga trails, learn about how to run better and write better, and to simply relax. With marshmallows.

You’re invited for the entire weekend, but we understand that travel, time, and budgetary constraints could keep you from that, so you can also choose to attend for one night or to just come for the day! Your registration fee will cover lodging, food, session supplies, and Salty swag for the duration of your choice.

Group runs are scheduled Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the entire spice rack (choose your mileage and pace). We’ve also packed the schedule with workshops to help you be the best runner and writer you can be. Improve how you write about running and create race reports with The Salty One herself. Up your InstaGame by learning to take amazing running photos, even of yourself, with our photography expert Cinnamon. Run drills with Dr. Garlic, learn about running mindfully with Ginger, do body-weight exercises with Barley, or get into some F’ing yoga with Cilantro.

And of course, relaxation time and chilling with the Saltines: dance party, healthy meals, games, campfire time, and more. We’ll provide the food (no ancestral clean eating recipes here) and if you choose to stay for the weekend or overnight, you’ll stay at Stanford House. In addition, expect some awesome Salty Swag for everyone that attends and a guaranteed good time. After all, we’re pretty fun.

 

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With only 15 spots remaining, you won’t want to miss your chance to join us this summer! Read more

Introducing Pesto!

backinmyhappyplaceHello fellow Salties! I’m Pesto, one of the newest additions to the Salty Spice Rack. I am sure I speak for all of us new Saltines when I say that I could not be more thrilled to be here! But unlike others you will meet soon, I must confess, I am not a life-long runner.

In 2008, my final year at my small-town boarding school in New Zealand, it was final exam time and I was looking for reasons to procrastinate. Given that I was living in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, naturally, I took up running. It quickly became part of my daily routine; it helped to clear my mind, it felt so good, and most importantly it was better than studying!

Within a couple of months I placed at a regional road race, displacing many “fast” girls who had been running competitively for years. After that I figured I would try my hand at the National Championships. Off I went and no one, myself included, really knew what the heck I was doing. Somehow I managed to place 2nd in the Senior Girls 4km Road Race, and that same day was offered a full ride for college in the United States. Of course, running collegiately had never been on my radar; I was already enrolled in university in NZ and was due to start in less than two months. We had no idea what the NCAA was or what the general education classes were, but at the end of the day this was an opportunity that I could not turn down and my mum encouraged me to take with both hands. Worst case I could always come home, right? Read more

Pimento’s 2016 Newport Marathon Race Report: Slaying the Mental Beast

IMG_2996It’s been a long time coming, but I finally slayed the marathon mental beast. Before we get to that, let’s back up a little bit.

After my NYC Marathon debacle in the fall, I decided I needed to reevaluate and come up with a plan for actually making progress toward my 3:10 goal. First, I enlisted the help of my running dad, Lonn, and asked him to coach me. Second, I decided to avoid long-distance travel for races to avoid the motion sickness that plagued me in New York. And third, I vowed to battle my own mind and improve my shaky mental toughness.

I chose a race in Newport, Oregon for its beautiful course and proximity to home. I also chose it because it is the marathon where my mental demon was born back in 2011, when I dropped out at mile 13.

That 2011 DNF released a landslide of self-doubt and race anxiety and I entered several years where my training went superbly, but then I fell apart on race day … four times. Newport 2011 was the little voice in my head telling me that I could not do it despite injury-free training cycles with higher and higher mileage at increasingly faster and faster paces. Could I finally overcome this defeatist feeling five years later? Read more

Readers Roundtable: Are Women-Only Races Good for Women Runners?

©2016 saltyrunning.com

©2016 saltyrunning.com

Central Park was a sea of powerful, strong women on Saturday at the New York Mini 10k, led by winner Jemima Sumgong (Kenya) and a host of other Olympic-bound elites. Salty Favorites Brianne Nelson and Des Linden took fifth and sixth, and were followed by just shy of 9,000 other women, including Salty contributor Honey.

But why do we need a women-only race? I have to admit that were men to exclude me from a 10k I would be pretty damn annoyed, so what’s the point of excluding men? Is it some kind of consolation prize for not being as fast as a man of equal fitness? Do women-only races serve any purpose other than pointing out that we’re different than what is ‘normal’ for an athlete just by being women?

As for the New York Mini, the race “got its name when race founder Fred Lebow convinced the sponsor to support a six-mile ‘mini’ marathon–named for the miniskirt–rather than a full marathon,” reads the NYRR press release. “It was the world’s first road race exclusively for women, with the inaugural race [1972] having 72 finishers.”

Does that sit wrong with any of you? I mean, the name does hearken back to a time when women in sports weren’t “normal” and were assumed to be less athletic than men. Does the name “Mini” insult us with this reminder? What about when I tell you that the first NYC Marathon, held in 1970, only had one female entrant who DNF’ed, and the second in 1971 (a few months prior to the inaugural NY Mini) only saw four ladies cross the finish line? Did the founding of this women-only race encourage more women to hit the road and race? Just a few years later, women’s participation in the marathon finally reached double digits and exploded from a mere nine female finishers in 1974 to 36 in 1975, 18 of whom were from New York. I wonder how many of them ran the New York Mini and thought, “Maybe I can run a marathon?”

What do you think? Are women-only races good for women, or do they simply perpetuate a culture of dividing femininity from athleticism?

5 Ways to Fail at a Group Run

fri5While on the hunt for running friends, you see a group run posted at your local running store. The sign says something compelling like, “Moderately paced 5-7 mile run. Come and make connections with fellow runners in your community! Free beer and 10% off socks!”

You show up after work, ready to make friends and enjoy a casual evening jog. The running store is bustling with people of all shapes and sizes and colors of spandex and you think, I’m sure that among this crowd I will find true running friend love!

You are absolutely correct. There is a running buddy out there made just for you and he or she is almost definitely at your group run. Now don’t screw it up!

How might you screw it up?

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SOS: Even Elites Bomb Workouts

Emma dead after workoutTough days are a fact of life. And in training, tough workouts are too; you push hard, then recover, then push harder, trying to get just a little closer to the sun every time without getting burned. But some days you try and fail, your body refusing to cooperate.

Sometimes you just don’t have it in you.

And believe me, it’s not just you! It’s all of us. You might think that elite runners are athletic machines, capable of swallowing up any workout thrown at them, but you’d be wrong. I’m an elite runner… and the other day I absolutely BOMBED my workout.

The first two-mile interval was going along swimmingly and my legs didn’t quite have that burning sensation *yet*.  But somewhere on the first 600 meters of the second interval I started to go from:

200  200-1

 

 

 

to

 

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Running With Your Dog

FullSizeRender (69)I have never been a dog-lover; I’m not automatically drawn in by their slobbery, furry faces, and big, unleashed dogs scare me. So in March last year my friends were shocked when we got a Yorkie puppy. Scout joined our family of not-dog-people, with my attitude made more negative by my breedist belief that he was destined to be a purse dog who couldn’t even run with me. What was the point?

Flash-forward to now, and somehow this seven-pound scruffy little creature has become one of my best running companions. He is always available, always excited, and never complains. At first he rode in the stroller with my daughter, and when he wanted out so badly that I finally let him, he shocked me by keeping up for miles at a time, his tiny legs moving so fast he seemed to fly. He has gone up to 10 miles so far and can hang at any pace from 6:30 per mile and up.

I built up his endurance over a matter of months and now the second my running dresser drawer opens, he sits underneath it, wagging his entire body in utter anticipation as I get dressed. When the winter weather kept me on the ‘mill for weeks on end, his doggy depression was obvious and I found him curled up on my sweaty running clothes more than once. This little dog is a runner with the heart of a champion.

Being a first-time dog owner and converted dog-lover I decided to talk to a vet to get more information about bringing your dog along on runs, picking a breed if you’re in the market for a running dog, how to know if you’re pushing your pup too hard, and whether or not Bowzer needs a Gu mid-run.

Tips and more, Salty Dogs, after the jump!

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What’s Worse for Running, Injury or Illness?

Injuries or illness?When you’re sidelined with a running injury things are pretty cut and dry: you can’t run for a prescribed amount of time until your injury is healed. And while it’s difficult to miss out on running, especially if you’re in full training-mode for an event, it’s almost a badge of honor. You got injured because you were working your body hard.

In most cases, you can cross-train through injury. While you may not love these different exercises as much as running, at least you have the ability to exert yourself physically and you can still get the endorphin boost from working out. And you might find that when you do return to running, the cross training has actually helped improve your overall fitness and given your body renewed energy from switching things up.

Illnesses, I will argue, are almost more difficult. There’s a lot of grey area. Should you or shouldn’t you run? Is exercise going to make you feel better, or exacerbate your issues? While not directly related to your running, they certainly affect it, as it’s hard to do any type of exercise when you’re feeling bad. Read more

Factors That Affect Your Marathon Training Mileage

mileageYou did it! You registered for a marathon! Whether it’s your first or your 50th, the next step is usually formulating a plan of how you are going to get to the start and finish lines. Enter the training plan creation stage or, if you have a coach, the conversation about how things are going to look for the next few months.

Even if you are a veteran marathoner, each training cycle represents a different time in your life that presents you with fresh obstacles around which you need to tweak your training. For instance, some teachers may choose to train for fall rather than spring marathons, as they have more time in the summer to dedicate to training. Other times, life gets busy and you realize that you just cannot fit in the time that you were able to last training cycle and you have to adjust accordingly.

There are many schools of thought out there when it comes to marathon training, and as you become more experienced and read about what others are doing, you may start feeling the pressure to add more weekly mileage to your schedule. But how do you know what’s right for you? Of if you have a coach, what can you discuss with her that will help her decide? What factors should you take into consideration?

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Is A Coach Worth It?

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For a relatively inexpensive report, we all know how quickly we can blow our budget purchasing everything people tell us we “need” or “must have” if we are truly going to be a runner. There is a constant barrage of footwear, apparel, nutrition and gear commercials. That guy in the running group swears by foam rollers, yoga, magical shakes and his Fabletics subscription. That fast chick you see attributes her success to her chiropractor, her vegan dietician and her coach.

Most of us have limited resources, so how do we decide what’s really worth it? Where is your money best spent to make you the best runner you can be? One of those choices I debated for a long time was  the hiring of a coach.

The first time I heard of a “recreational” runner referring to their coach, I think I laughed to myself in disbelief. Seriously a coach?  Who did these people think they were? It’s not like they were going to the Olympics. Coaches are for high school and college athletes… and elites.  After school, if you weren’t good enough to be a professional runner, you just figured it out on your own, right? As the years went by, I found myself wanting better and more specific results from my running. It wasn’t enough just to finish, or to stumble into a small PR, I started working really hard and I captured my first Boston Qualifier. After that milestone, I began to think that maybe I needed to work smarter to achieve my next big goal. Perhaps it was time I got some help.  Maybe I needed a coach.  But was a coach “worth it?”  I had no idea where to start looking and wasn’t sure if I could justify the cost.

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Heat Adaptation: Training for a Hot Race

ruth-ice

Pouring ice over your head isn’t the only way to deal with a hot race.

Summer is here and sunny days and warm temperatures make most of us smile as we dig out sunscreen and tank tops and stow away our tights and gloves. The bad news? If you have a race planned soon you might be dreading the potential of a scorcher on your big day. As Pumpkin reported in her Fargo Marathon Race Recap, hot conditions took a serious toll on her both physically and mentally. Racing in the heat, especially unanticipated heat, can have a huge impact on our performance.

The negative effect of heat on running performance can be significant: “There is a great deal of empirical data showing a link between ambient temperature and performance … performance impairments of 1.6 to 3 percent in marathon times for every 10 degrees above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The effect seems to be less dramatic for faster runners” (Henderson, “Heat Performance and Acclimation”). Aside from discomfort, heat causes problems during training and on race day because it sends blood to the skin to cool us down, diverting it away from our muscles, and by causing dehydration, which also inhibits performance.

The good news? We can actually train our bodies to acclimate or adapt to the heat to decrease the negative effects it has on our training and racing.

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