This coming weekend, Eliud Kipchoge will attempt to break two hours for the marathon. He’s put together a list of five reasons he thinks he will succeed. I’m certainly not Kipchoge, but I am also running a marathon this weekend, and I’ve also got five reasons I believe I can meet my goal.
By now everyone knows about that raccoon who scaled a 25-story skyscraper in St. Paul this week. Epic! Look at that cute, furry, lean mean climbing machine! Are you not inspired?
What’s that you say? Rabies-ridden trash panda?
Total badass, more like. Move over honey badger. This raccoon is now officially my role model for training. No, not because it’s my life goal to trend on Twitter, but that wasn’t the raccoon’s fault anyway. She was just doing what daredevil raccoons do best (apart from ripping apart trash cans in large groups and scaring you when their eyes glow from your headlamp on those early a.m. runs): inspiring greatness.
Still not convinced? Here’s why stuntcoon is going to help you take your running to new heights:
As a Matt Fitzgerald fangirl, I snapped up How Bad Do You Want It? as soon as it hit the shelves in 2015. It’s been on my nightstand ever since. And when Lindsey Hein’s book club picked it up recently, I realized a lot of people haven’t read it yet. And you should.
Subtitled “mastering the psychology of mind over muscle,” How Bad is a collection of sports stories combined with “psychobiological” research. Matt uses the format to share habits and tactics the rest of us can use to cultivate our own mental strength. Read more >>
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
— Bruce Lee
Much earlier this year, before I ever decided to sign up for the Baystate Marathon, I threw out my marathon time goals. Let’s face it: While a sub-5, sub-4, BQ, or some other arbitrary round number is nice, it’s not what the pros shoot for. Even they don’t PR every time. They think about their performance and their racing. (When told he nearly broke the masters record at New York, Abdi Abdirahman said, “To be honest, I didn’t know anything about those masters records…I was just trying to be competitive. My goal was a podium finish.”)
And also, to be honest, I was just fed up with obsessing over time.
Back in 2014, I ran my 6th marathon at Gold Coast in Australia. While it was a gorgeous day out, marathon #6 was a crushing disappointment for me, due to debilitating cramps and likely under-training and under-fueling. Yes, it was a PR; but a PR by a single, hard-fought second, and way closer to the 5-hour mark than I wanted to be, or that all the race equivalency calculators said I should to be.
In the three years since, I’d convinced myself that my inner “turtle girl” was right — that I have no real business running marathons… but the itch to do so was still there. So in June, I signed up for the Baystate Marathon: Massachusetts’ other, smaller, lesser-known marathon.
When you have absolutely nothing to lose, you let go and become a master of total non-attachment. I let go completely of any marathon time goals. My process goal for Baystate was to train properly, stick to my race strategy, and see how it went. I even outsourced my training plan — I asked one of the coaches from my running club to write me a plan for a small extra fee, and we’d check in with a phone call every so often.
Somewhere along the line I said to her, “I know exactly how I want to feel during the race. You know the middle miles of a half marathon? With the sun shining and the wind in your hair, and you’re flying along, feeling the earth return to you all the energy you put into it with every step? THAT is how I want to feel.” I believed this with every fiber of my being, and I knew that it was true.
I’d trained using a theoretical goal pace of 9:05, which roughly dictated my tempo and speed efforts, but I honestly couldn’t care less if that was race day pace or not. By the time race day rolled around I was so burned out from work and other life stresses that I knew I wouldn’t hold that pace anyway. (See: no time goals.) Plus, I tend to be on the slower side of race calculator predictions the longer the distance gets, even if conditions are perfect. Perhaps I’m just too chicken to race a hard half or full marathon. That’s fine. I’ll get there.
But not October 22.
I drove up to Chelmsford the day before and shared a hotel room with my club-mate, T. At 5 a.m., her alarm went off — bzzzzzzzt! Morning routine, totally practiced and utilitarian after weeks of 5:30 a.m. long runs. Instant oatmeal, coffee, nuun, wash face, visit bathroom, get dressed. Bodyglide, bra, tank top, shorts, socks, shoes, Garmin. Decided to run without visor, gloves, arm sleeves, or water bottle. 6:15 shuttle bus to the start. Drop off bags. Run into friends, take selfie, head in to UMass’s Tsongas Center to wait, pee, eat a Luna bar. I felt … loose. Preternaturally calm. Totally zen.
By 7:45, it was already warm enough that I wasn’t shivering in the start corral — so, a little warmer than ideal. So what? That’s not something I can control. I’d trained through the entire summer’s worth of heat; I knew my hydration needs; this was nothing. Plus I had no sleeves, gloves or bottle to weigh me down. I planned to start with 9:30s and hold that pace throughout. Anthem. Pushrim start. And then we began.
Miles 1-5. 10:20, 9:21, 9:16, 9:32, 9:40. Gel at mile 5. My plan was to take a gel every 5 miles and water at every water stop (about every 2 miles).
I started somewhere around the 10min/mile section of corral, and took the start very easy (10:20, mile 1). I chatted with people, including a woman doing her first marathon, and then had to pick my jaw up off the floor when we ran by her family and FIVE kids — the youngest were 4-year-old twins. (Spoiler: she finished with me.)
I saw my fan club (Mr. Mango and D-money) who had driven up from Boston that morning and strategically situated themselves up the road from a giant playground. After I saw them the first time … well, what do you do with a toddler while mom runs a fall marathon? You go pumpkin picking, apparently. Now we have two enormous pumpkins and a toddler who has learned the word ‘wheelbarrow’ and uses it enthusiastically.
Miles 6-10. 9:29, 9:16, 9:37, 9:28, 9:28. Gel at mile 10.
This, not April, is the best of Massachusetts. Fall colors were on full display. The course wound through mostly residential neighborhoods until we got to the part along the river, heading northeast towards the Tyngsboro Bridge. At mile 8 I saw another club-mate — hooray! — who shot the single happiest photo I’ve ever seen of myself during a marathon. It’s pretty easy to be happy at mile 8.
Miles 11-15. 9:38, 9:25, 9:53, 9:28, 9:38. Gel at mile 15. Surprise! I got the single salted watermelon gel I’d packed in my SPIbelt amid all the sea salt chocolate GUs I’d bought in bulk. It was a very tasty game of roulette.
I sang “Top of the World” to myself over and over in the exposed middle miles, and meant it.
Somethin’ in the wind has learned my name
And it’s tellin’ me that things are not the same
In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze
There’s a pleasin’ sense of happiness for me
I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around
Your love’s put me at the top of the world
Other things I thought to myself at this point:
- Why is nobody else running the tangents? People are weird. (For the record, I finished with 26.2 on my Garmin, and I think this is actually just really good tangent-running rather than a short course.)
- Roadkill: Only two dead animals this year! The “highlight” of last year’s half was a flattened raccoon.
- Slow and steady. If I’m Turtle Girl, I’m going to own it.
Miles 16-20. 9:48, 9:30, 10:04, 9:59, 9:53. Gel at mile 20.
I still felt good, like I was merely on an extended long run, but the lengthy exposed stretch around mile 18 was starting to get hot. I knew that I could certainly make it to mile 20, as I’d done on my long runs, and then I could re-evaluate how I felt beyond that.
To distract myself, I chatted with a senior gentleman. At my pace, there are always Senior Gentlemen (and Senior Ladies, too!), the sort of crusty gent who’s been running for decades and is now basically enjoying life. This one told me war stories of marathons past and talked about running Baystate in its early days. When we got to mile 20, I said, this is the fun part now, isn’t it? Clearly it was, for him — when I looked him up in the results later, I found he had BQ’ed by finishing a few minutes ahead of me.
Miles 21-23. 10:21, 10:16, 10:41.
I could feel my quads starting to protest, and gritted my teeth at mile 23 as the protest crescendoed into a full-blown revolt. It was warm now, and I knew from last year that the final miles were in direct sunshine. At each of the last few water stops I downed a full cup of Gatorade, which helped stave off the cramps for a minute or two each time.
Be like water, I thought, channelling Bruce. Where normally I’d start to freak out at the first twang of cramps, checking and rechecking my watch to calculate whether I’d make some arbitrary round-number time goal I’d set for myself, this time…nothing. So I’m cramping. So I’ve cramped in 6 marathons now. This one’s already gone better than any of the previous ones. Cramps? Not a roadblock. Around. Over. Through. I can finish. I can do this. Mentally and emotionally, albeit not physically, I was totally relaxed.
Miles 24-26.2. 10:56, 10:39, 11:21, 9:37 pace for final 0.2.
With my quads cramping hard as usual, I was in no mood to walk and take a gel at mile 25 — I just wanted to keep shuffling on into the finish. Shuffle, shuffle. One foot in front of the other. All I had to do was not stop and I could be proud of my effort.
I didn’t stop. 4:19:38.
You guys. YOU GUYS. That is nearly 35 minutes off my last marathon time. The cramps didn’t kick in till mile 23, much later than usual, which I think is testament to being (mostly) properly trained and being pretty conservative.
What did I learn and what would I do differently next go-round? A 22-miler next time, perhaps? Step-mill for cross-training, to focus on what clearly is a physical weakness? And some real lifting instead of just my MYRTL routine. Mentally, I still have trouble with the idea of pushing medium-hard for that long. I’d like to get more practice racing some hard half-marathons for effort rather than time.
I think what I’m happiest about here is that I finally feel like I’m beginning to run the marathon to my potential, my fitness and my training. I managed to stick with the race plan until the cramps really started in earnest. That decision to try and hold 9:30s, or rather a comfortable sort of just-a-little-faster-than-long-run pace, instead of pushing any harder, was the right one. I enjoyed the whole darn thing. Even the crampy bits.
Maybe one day I’ll race a marathon — go out at a harder effort, endure discomfort for more of the marathon, and see where it gets me. Right now? I’m satisfied with this.
In my buildup to the Richmond Marathon, I planned two early-autumn 10-milers as my big intermediate races to gauge my fitness. Here’s how they went.
Virginia 10 Miler, Lynchburg, Sept. 23
I grew up an hour away in Charlottesville, VA, and ran many high school track and cross country meets in Lynchburg. I moved away as an adult, and this was my first time running the Virginia 10 Miler. It’s a pretty historic race: 44 years running, hosting famous runners such as Bill Rogers, Frank Shorter, Rod Dixon, and Joan Benoit Samuelson, and serving as the RRCA 10 Mile National Championships in past years.
I put it on my schedule when the elite coordinator reached out to my running team, GRC, to see if there was any interest. They offer a very generous prize purse, including American-only prize money and time bonuses. With around 4,000 runners, they typically have a competitive field, including plenty of foreign-born athletes who seek out this kind of race.
I ran 82 miles the week of the race, but did cut back the two days preceding it, hoping to be rested. I wanted to run well here; halfway through my marathon training, this would be a good test to see where my fitness was. As a seeded runner, I also wanted to live up to expectations. This was my first 10 miler in quite a long time, and my first race as an invited athlete since I ran the 2016 Jacksonville half marathon leading up to the 2016 Marathon Trials.
Fast forward to race morning. As I stood at the start line with the other invited athletes, I felt completely out of place. Maybe because I had been out of it for so long, or maybe because they all looked so much younger than me. All I could think was, “I’m a 38 year old mother of 3. This is so not my scene anymore.”
It’s an extremely hilly out-and-back course. The first 1.5 miles are steep downhill, next few miles rolling, then turn around to end with the last 1.5 up. Not a flat part the entire way. I went out controlled, and unfortunately stayed that way the entire race. I never really let loose to take advantage of the long downhills. My plan was to pick it up at the turnaround point, but I never did. I stayed consistent throughout the race, and wasn’t bothered by the long uphill to the finish because I usually run hilly routes pushing a single, double, or triple running stroller.
I ended up finishing in a lackluster 62:38, 6:16 pace, for 15th overall female and first in my age group. Winning my age group just made me feel old. I was disappointed in myself because I didn’t race. Even my husband said at the finish I looked like I was just out running. On my 45-minute post-race run I headed over to the track and did 12 x 100 m hard just because I felt like I had too much left. I know it was the reoccurring negative thought “I’m a 38 year old mother of 3. This is so not my scene anymore,” that plagued me throughout the race. It didn’t help, either, that after being away from racing for so long and training completely by myself, I forgot how to really get out of my comfort zone to race.
Army 10 Miler, Washington, D.C., Oct. 8
After the Virginia 10 Miler, I took a last-minute trip to England with my husband, bringing baby and leaving my two oldest with my parents. I barely ran during the eight days, apart from 30 minutes here and there. This was partly because it rained almost the entire time we were there, and partly because I didn’t want to turn our vacation into my training trip. It’s just hard for me to train when I’m out of my routine. To help alleviate the effects of reduced training, I sandwiched the trip with a 20 miler/workout the day before I left and a 22 miler the day after I returned.
Physically, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel given the disruption of travel and lack of actual training the preceding week and a half before the race. I had logistical stress with finding last minute childcare since my husband was recalled to work and I was stranded in D.C. with my kids before the race. But that didn’t matter. My goal for this race was to race. I went into it with the expectation that to race meant I was going to feel bad. So no matter what the circumstances leading into the race, even if they were perfect, I should feel bad if I were racing hard.
This is a HUGE race (35,000 people) that I’ve run many times over the years. It’s always a fast field bringing many of the local elites out. Once you get through the masses to the starting line, it’s a fun race. Nice course, plenty of crowd support. It was fun to see many old Army friends before and after the race.
I ended up finishing in another lackluster 61:55, 6:12 pace, for 10th female, 5th in my age group. Finishing 5th in my age group instead of 1st in the VA 10 miler actually made me feel much better — there was hope that maybe I wasn’t too old and slow, getting beaten by plenty of women my age! But I was much happier about my effort than the VA 10 Miler. I’d give myself a 6.5/10 as far as competitive race focus. I went out somewhat hard but in control, ran the first few miles well, then lost focus a bit between 4-7 when I was passed by five women. Between miles 7-8 I stopped feeling sorry for myself, got my head back into the game, and reeled a few in. Played back and forth with two of them for the remaining 2 miles, and finished feeling like I actually raced.
Afterwards everyone was talking about how horrible the conditions were. I didn’t think it was that bad, maybe because it always seems hot and humid in North Carolina, but I’ll take that as an excuse for the slow time (the top times were significantly slower than they have been in years). They actually stopped official timing for the race two hours after the start, rerouted runners a shorter distance to the finish, and downgraded it to a recreational run.
The Army 10 miler was five weeks before Richmond (Nov. 11), which is really just 3 weeks of training followed by a taper. I feel like my training is going well, but I don’t have the confidence I need from my races. Granted, the first 10 miler was a slow, hilly course, and the second 10 miler was in slow conditions, but I don’t like to justify my results. I need fast times to validate my training. And running two 10 milers around marathon pace doesn’t make me feel well prepared.
Update: A few weeks after the Army 10 Miler I ran several 5Ks, and another 10 miler. My goal for each was to really race, regardless of the conditions and competition, and get back into a mindset of really pushing myself. The 10 miler I entered at the end of my last high mileage week ended up being exactly what I needed. I ran faster than my two earlier key race 10 miler efforts, but most importantly, pushed myself to the end even when running solo for the final 7 miles. None of these races were lightning fast, but they did boost my confidence by getting back into a racing mindset.
Any suggestions for building confidence if your race results aren’t what you’re hoping for?
Yesterday, Bergamot wrote about the benefits of training like an elite for every runner. She was spot on, and not just for the reasons that she mentioned, which included making the logical choice to do what has been proven to work for others and having a pro-like attitude that we use to approach workouts and recovery seriously. In addition, identifying a runner (or group of runners) that we want to be like and altering our training to be like them is indicative of a growth mindset.
And in the world of motivation research, a growth mindset is a very good thing. Discussed at length in Dweck’s Mindset, a growth mindset is a mental state where we believe that our abilities are not fixed — that with effort we can improve our performance. This contrasts with a fixed mindset, which is a mental state where we feel like our abilities are set, rooted in biology or our nature, and no amount of effort will improve our performance. Our mindset applies to every aspect of our life, from our beliefs about our ability to be successful in, say, math, and our beliefs about our own ability to continue to improve as a runner.
In a fixed mindset, we feel like our ability as a runner is set, and we won’t be as motivated to continue to improve and work harder, because we think that no matter how hard we work, we will not be able to achieve beyond our innate ability. In contrast, with a growth mindset, we believe that if we continue to work harder, our running performance will continue to improve. Identifying a group of elite runners that we want to be like indicates that we believe we can, if we take similar steps and put in the hard work, begin to move towards (and meet and exceed!) what they have accomplished.
A growth mindset is also important because it helps us to respond positively to failure. A runner with a fixed mindset views failure as evidence that he or she cannot succeed, where a growth mindset sees failure as a learning opportunity to apply to future races.
Identifying a runner or group of runners – in my case, elite ultramarathoners – that we want to be like is the first step in training with a growth mindset. Travis Macy in the Ultra Mindset (the most important book in my motivation repertoire, I own the audiobook, e-book, and have a physical copy in my bedside table), refers to this as being a “wannabe.” Very different than the high school wannabe insult, being a wannabe as an athlete means that we have thoughtfully identified who we want to be like and then — this is the important part — we have deliberately identified why we want to be like that individual.
Being a wannabe and having a growth mindset means not just that we believe that we can be like our role models, but that we have identified what it is about those individuals that we want to emulate. There is a key metacognitive aspect to the growth mindset that requires us to be intentional about how we choose to implement our growth mindset. For example, not only have I identified that I want to be like, say, Devon Yanko, I have identified why I want to be like her:
- She is a successful ultra-endurance athlete.
- She has persevered through traumatic personal events.
- She is a positive role model for women.
From here, I have three areas where I can investigate how Devon accomplishes everything she does: becoming the 2010 50 mile road National Champion, for example. There are many books written about how to be successful at every distance and for every type of runner, not to mention YouTube interviews and blogs. These resources become important in the implementation of a growth mindset. It is not enough to “wannabe,” we have to believe that we can be, and do the work to get there.
Implementing the “how” is the final step. Once we have identified who we want to be like and why and how they have accomplished what it is we aspire to, we have to start doing the work to get there. As Bergamot discussed yesterday, that includes how we approach our training plans and our runs, with the intention that this is just as important as our other work. That can also include how we train (perhaps we need a coach?) or where we train (time to find some hills?). And it means that when we fail, and we will, that we reflect and identify how we failed so we can adapt and adjust to do better next time.
Running better by playing pretend? It’s not just a fantasy that motivates us to take our training seriously, it’s a fantastic way, with intentionality, to adjust our training mindset to believe in ourselves and better respond to bad runs, races, and life setbacks.
The race was…
a strong effort.
a mental victory.
a brave racing strategy.
These are the merits that we ideally want to judge our races by as those are the things we can control. However, in the end, we judge ourselves against one thing: the clock.
With each tick, that judgmental, unforgiving, heartless mechanical bastard decides if we fail or if we succeed. Maybe it’s not a bad thing to judge against something that can’t ostensibly be swayed by emotion or circumstances. If not for the clock, whose judgment can’t help but remain impartial, would we define success with excuses and inspirational quotes? Perhaps the solution is to judge ourselves against the clock, tempered by our emotional, physical and mental growth.
We certainly can’t excuse away every bad performance with complaints about course conditions, weather or illness. Yet sometimes we need to look at the bigger picture and realize that succeeding is nothing more than doing the very best with the circumstances handed to you on any given day. Just as we can’t play the blame game every time a goal is missed, we can’t deem ourselves a failure when circumstances beyond our control stack the odds against us.
My current goal is to break 3:30 in the marathon and it seems that each time I run and don’t break that goal, I have failed. Why 3:30? Does it earn me entrance into an elite race or earn me an award or allow me to quit my job and pursue running as a career or get me into a secret society? Nope. My current PR is 3:33:17, so I think it would be cool to break 3:30. Yes, I’m serious, I am judging my ability and my success as a runner based on the fact that I can’t yet seem to break a goal that I arbitrarily selected because it seemed “cool.”
During the last year and a half, I’ve been struggling with more grief, sadness and stress than normal. Running has been my outlet, yet not my priority. I continue to run race after race, yet I feel that I have failed at most of them. I have good reasons why I haven’t cracked 3:30 at each of those races: It was too hot, I couldn’t breathe at the high elevation, the wind was insane, I was pacing a friend, I was worn out from back-to-back marathons, I was sick, I was sad, and I was simply tired of racing. A few of those races came awfully close to that 3:30 goal. Some races were in really nasty conditions where the time on the clock did not do justice to the strength and effort I left on the course.
The problem is, after so many races not resulting in the outcome I am looking for, I’ve started to believe that I am a failure and that my fastest days are behind me.
In the recent months leading up the Mount Desert Island Marathon in Maine, the pieces seemed to be finally falling into place for a good marathon. I had 12 weeks between races, which was much more than I’ve had in a long time. I chose to follow a plan from Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning, and I was able to execute almost every run. I was looking forward to my favorite type of race here, a small marathon in cool weather.
I was certain this was going to be my comeback race, that this was finally going to be my day. All of that confidence faded into the New England fog as my husband and I drove the course the day before the race. We went uphill, we went downhill, then up and down again and again. And then, near the end, we just seemed to keep going up and up. We finally reached the rusty old scaffolding that marked the end of the course, and my stomach turned to knots as we quietly drove back to the hotel. I tend to run well on hilly courses, but I was worried this course was simply going to be too much to handle.
Race morning came, and I listened nervously as one of the locals tried to ease our fears by telling us that the first 5 miles and the last 5 miles were really the toughest parts of the race, as long you got through the rest of the hills.
Knowing the early hills would mess with my pace, I decided to ignore my watch and run by feel. That decision was cemented when the road rose up in front of me a half mile into the course. Mile after mile I ran up and then down, never really finding my stride, trying to use the downhills to recover and make up some time all while trying to avoid the side stitches that kept lingering on my right side. By the time I got to the halfway mark, where the only clock on the course was located, my legs were toast from the hills. I could see that unless the back half of the course was as flat as North Dakota, the best I could hope for was a 3:50-something.
A funny thing happened on the back half of the course. I was tired, but I didn’t lose my mind. I simply stayed in the moment, and I ran. I walked through a few water stops to refill my handheld, but otherwise, I simply ran, tired legs and all. I even began picking people off on the uphill stretch from mile 19-25. I sprinted the downhill stretch from 25 to 25.5, and I finished strong in 3:53. I only lost 2 minutes on the back half of the course.
According to the clock, I failed miserably. But did I really? I ran a strong, consistent race on a tough course. I kept my head in the game and finished strong. But was I just making excuses to pretend I had succeeded and to pad my ego? Perhaps. Maybe I’ve learned to look for the small victories and successes that come with running. Perhaps I know that if I was able to run strong on this course without falling to pieces, that maybe, just maybe, with the right set of circumstances, that 3:30 PR is within my reach. It seems I ran up and down all those hills to fetch something bigger than a PR.
Instead, I fetched a big old bucket of self-confidence and a glimpse of the runner I still have the capability to be. I’ll continue to chase that unrelenting clock, but I’ll stop and acknowledge the small successes along the way.
Do you define your success as a runner solely by the clock?
Here at Salty Running, whether trying to break five hours or qualify for the Olympic Trials, we’re always looking for an extra edge in our training and racing. Many of us already use mantras. I have been using them in my training and racing since I was in college.
Mantras are definitely not just for yoga or self help cassette tapes anymore. Originally grounded in Hinduism and Buddhism, mantras are either a word or phrase that is repeated to aid in concentration or meditation.
And more and more professional athletes are embracing mantras to help them perform at their highest level. Desiree Linden, who was 6th at the 2016 Olympic Marathon, uses the mantra “calm, calm, calm, relax, relax, relax” to keep herself in check and focused while in the later stages of the marathon.
We thought it would be great to discuss the importance of mantras and help you discover the perfect mantra for you! Read more >>
Everyone knows there are no shortcuts to running success, or at least they should by now. If we want to race our best, we have to work hard training our bodies and our minds. When it comes to mental training, most of us think of things like visualization exercises and mantras. These are great, but they get boring. I want a way to train my running brain that’s fun and effective!
I was inspired to write this post after listening to the Final Surge podcast with Steve Magness. He mentioned a study that compared the pain levels and emotional responses of athletes to that of Buddhist monks. The study found that when both an athlete and a monk were exposed to the same pain variable, the monks’ MRI scans showed a less emotional response to the pain than the athletes’ did. Magness then talked about how he started incorporating little things, like ice baths, into his athletes’ programs to help train their minds. As the Official Salty Running Mindfulness Expert™, I beamed as I pictured all the fun and different challenges we could take to train our brains. Here are five! Read more >>
I was in the locker room the other day talking with one of my friends about our weekend running plans. A co-worker overheard us and chimed in, “Wow, I wish I enjoyed running.” We chatted for a while about how she had tried it on and off, but hasn’t been able to stick with it. She insisted she was going to start up again when the weather got better or when it didn’t hurt her knees or when the planets aligned just so. I offered some encouragement as I packed up my gym bag and left.
I find myself in this situation a lot, nonrunners telling me they wished they were runners only to reveal seven different excuses for why they aren’t. For some reason, it seems that people think that because I run I think everyone else should run too. This is not true. However, I also don’t like it when people dismiss running with, I’m just not a runner or my knees can’t handle it or I tried running, but I suck at it or something like that. I think most people could run if they really wanted to. The problem for most people is that it’s not easy. Read more >>
Here at Salty many of our writers publish our training logs for everyone to see. We may not put every detail in them, but it allows other Salties and you to get a better idea of how we train. One of the beneficial aspects of keeping training logs is being able to look back at a training cycle to compare workout paces, long run progressions, mileage consistency, and how you felt throughout the weeks of training compared to previous seasons. The lessons we learn from this analysis can help us make adjustments and gain the self-awareness we need to make big progress from training cycle to training cycle.
Yesterday, I finished marathon number 14 and, like so many runners out there, I fell considerably short of my goal. However, I know better than to judge the entire training cycle based solely on how a marathon went. Much of yesterday’s performance was due to the weather and wasn’t helped by a last-minute case of the stomach flu. But even if I simply had an off-day or overestimated my abilities, no matter the result in the goal race, there is still much to be learned by analyzing a training cycle.
Now that we’re in the thick of spring marathon season, it is the perfect time to learn how to effectively analyze a training cycle. Read more >>
Speed-work: we do it to train for every race distance. It’s our chance to practice running at our target race pace, taking on the challenge in small pieces before stringing it together into a race on our big day. I thought I had plenty of experience with hard speed workouts training for the 5K and the10K, but I was completely unprepared for mile race speed-work. For mile training, speed work means running REALLY hard.
I started out chronicling my journey to a brave mile by telling you my reasons for tackling this distance. Then, I told you about the stamina training I do to build the strength to hold a fast pace for a whole mile. This week, I’ll talk about my mile-specific speed-work.
Improving your speed for the mile involves setting a baseline, priming your nervous system and building strength with sprints, and tackling mile-specific hard interval workouts. Read more >>
Like most little kids, I was afraid of monsters. The Wicked Witch of the West would give me nightmares for days. And don’t get me started on those flying monkeys! I made the mistake of believing my brother when he told me Chuckie was just an ugly looking doll and what bad things could a doll do? I’ll let you cringe at that one for a second….
But, I’ve learned, despite my Gremlin filled childhood, that monsters can be helpful and powerful when used for good and don’t get fed after midnight. And we all have one inside of us, just hanging out, waiting for you to text.
Did you know that each of us runners has one and that if we feed it and nurture it, this little inner beast can help us make our happiest running dreams come true?
Read more >>
This past weekend was the LA Marathon, and since the Clif Bar Pace Team handles the pacing chores, DB and I were out west. What better opportunity, we thought, to add in a visit to Death Valley, and re-visit the course we’ve now played on six different times.
I’ve written before about what it’s like to run in Death Valley, specifically about the time that DB and I created our own challenge, the Badwater 17. I’ve crewed the race three times, and run on my other visits as well. I like to think that I know that 135 mile stretch of road reasonably well.
I do not. Read more >>
A few weeks ago, I ran the Canton Fall Classic 10K and ran as well as I’ve ever run in my life. Though my time was a significant PR, and I am proud of that, the biggest breakthrough was a mental one. You see, for the first time ever in a race I “went there.” You know that place, the impossible, painful, air-sucking, muscle-burning place of exhaustion.
I went there, and I DID NOT LET UP.
I realize how limited I was by my mental state during races. This is a huge breakthrough for me and I want to share with you what I realized it takes to have the mind of a champion. Read more >>
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