Support your local running stores! They bring so much to your running community!

In my last post “Join a Running Group” I briefly mentioned checking out your local running store to find group runs in your area.  Many local running store will host group runs, and if they don’t they will be able to give you information on groups in available in your area. Many runners will look for great deals at your giant chain athletic stores or shop online. You may think you are saving money or getting a great deal, but you are actually missing out.  Shopping at your local running store, there is the usual benefit of shopping local, and supporting your local economy. Your running stores, however, bring so much more.  The local running stores are a wonderful asset to your running community. Here are just a few reasons.

  • Do more than sell shoes. When you go to your local running store, they do so much more than sell you shoes.  They going to fit you in the right shoe, which will help you avoid injury.  They do this by watching and often recording you while you run. They look at the video and give you a basic gait and foot analysis.  They will ask you questions about your running history. They want to put you in a shoe that matches your running habits and biomechanics.  Most running stores also allow you to test to the shoes out along sidewalks or on a treadmill.
  • Excellent advice and recommendation on all things running related. Most local running stores are owned and hire people who are a part of the local running community. They look for those who bring knowledge about the sport to their store.  The can give you great advice on products.  Beyond products they have a wealth of knowledge on resources available to your local running community.  They can recommend names for physical therapist, coaches, massage therapist and possibly even doctors and chiropractors who work with runners.  I know, in our running community, we have many doctors who are runners who support local. We have chiropractors and physical therapist that have come to the local running store and offered free informative workshops.  Local running coach have also worked with runners at our store.
  • They support the running community. Running stores will often host group runs, and events that bring our running community together.  These events include informative clinics, local experts, and new product lines to test.  I love being able to test run shoes when product reps come to our local store.  Our local stores have brought in almost every kind of product rep, which allows the runners to try, taste, test and decide on which products they like and want to spend their money on.
  • Greater variety of running specific products. It’s all they do, and they do it well. Your running store is going to carry a larger variety and more running specific product line.  When I wanted a running belt, I was already at the mall and thought I would just check out our large athletic store.  They had two choices, and I did not like either of them.  I was able to find a much larger variety of styles and sizes carried by my local running store. If they didn’t have my size, they are always more than happy to order what I need.  They will also carry the fun, runner specific accessories, like headbands and bumper car stickers. It’s the middle of winter, be sure to check out the lights and reflective gear section!

It’s an awesome, symbiotic relationship between the running community and the local running stores.  Your local running community is stronger because of your local running store. I know our stores go above and beyond what I have mentioned above.  They are so amazing in giving back to the running community, offering a variety of charity support that they never advertise about.  They just do it, because they are truly owned and operated under the idea of making our running community better. You are not just a sale, when you walk in.  You are a part of a community that they care about, and that relationship is important.

 

I run with KC Running Company a lot.  They go above and beyond to support runners.  They are always coming up with running adventures for us too.  They host silly runs where runners are lit up like Christmas trees and dressed in costumes, we have friendly competitions where we can’t wear our watch and try to guestimate our finishing times of our usual route (that’s really hard to do!) they have hosted unofficial eggnog miles and had a cold cooler of beer and popsicles after a 100 degree runs.  A friendly conversation at the Pizza Shop or Mexican Restaurant next door is almost a guarantee.  You couldn’t find a more welcoming and supportive group of people. Tell me about your local running store.  Do they offer clinic or group runs?  Have you participated in any fun themed or hosted group runs?

 

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Join a running group!

 

Come out, come out where ever you are.  Ha just kidding, kind of.  If you haven’t participated in a local running group, you are missing out.  I know, it can be totally scary. My first group run, didn’t quite go as planned.

I had joined a local running group, on Facebook.  I lurked for a month or two and was sure I was going to get dropped on some crazy super long run.   People were posting these seriously long runs, like 20-30 mile runs.  At the time, I was really excited I could reach 6 miles without stopping.  I had just finished my first 10k.  I was completely unaware of where I fell, speed-wise, within the running community. The only thing I had to compare was high school and collegiate athletes.  I was nowhere near that speed, as an adult who had taken 7 years off from running.

Finally, I saw a friend of mine post on the group page.  I knew I could run with her.  She coached and taught with me, at the time.  So I agreed to meet up, 5 am at our local trail.  Everyone was so nice, chit chatting, energetic, hugging and kind of crazy.  Honestly, I thought to myself, “Its 5am people, why are you so cheery?”  The group starts, right on time.  These ladies and gentlemen were on a mission, and it was to get some miles in before work.   We take off, and somehow I began shuffling to the front. I am following behind two gentleman who are carrying on an interesting conversation. One of the guys was really chatty (you know who you areJ) and began asking me questions.  We chatted for a while when our watches went off.  We were at two miles and I suddenly realized I was in the middle of the woods with two complete strangers, awkward! Somehow we had sped off and left the rest of the group.  Woops.

Fast forward two years and now I am one of the crazy cheery 5 am runners, especially when I have to coach and don’t get home from cross country and track meets until 9 pm a couple nights a week.  I go to every group run I can make, all of them.  There are so many awesome running groups in the KC running area.  The more runners I get to know, the more fun it has become.  Not convinced? Here are 10 reasons to join a running group

  1. It’s already organized and on the calendar. You don’t have to do anything but show up.  I love this part, I know many of my regular running friends will be there week after week.  It gives me something to look forward to.
  2. You will make new running friends! I love meeting new runners, or runners I don’t already know.  We get to share our goals and experiences.  Once you have hit the road a time or two with someone, you have a pretty special bond.  Races become big social events, and all those neat techy apps that you log your runs into become more fun sharing and tracking workouts with other running friends.  Strava is my personal favorite.
  3. Motivation and accountability.   It’s definitely a lot easier to get myself motivated for a group run and I know many of the other regulars will be checking in on me when I miss. This is a huge help when you feel like you are hitting a slump or getting burnt out.
  4. Safety in numbers. Unfortunately, bad things happen and there are some weirdos out there. Running in a group keeps you safer.   If something does go wrong, someone will be by your side to help you.
  5. Get recommendations-You can get all kinds of recommendations from other runners. I have found massage therapist, physical therapist, chiropractors and doctors all who are used to working with runners. I have saved money on expensive gadgets that weren’t worth the trouble based on recommendations.
  6. Learn new routes, trails– It’s easy to run out your front door every day, but that gets boring. Meeting up with a group allows you to learn new unfamiliar routes and run in areas you don’t normally run in. This really helps break up the monotony that can occur during a training cycle.
  7. Pay it forward– As you become more familiar with the group, you can share your wealth of knowledge and experience. Help support other new emerging runners.  It feels great to help others.

It can be intimidating to get out and try a new running group. In the end, you will be so glad you did.  If you are in that KC area there are so many great running options. KC running company has awesome group runs from both their Lee’s Summit and Leawood stores, (click here for details, times and days vary by store).  KC Track Club Lee’s Summit posts runs throughout the week including a weekend long run. (Click here to see their Facebook page and join in!)
If you aren’t local to KC, I recommend checking in with your local running store.  If they don’t offer group runs, I bet they can point you in the right directions.  It’s one of the many, many benefits of local running stores.

2017 Week 2 Recap-14 weeks Before Boston Marathon

2017 Week 2 Recap-14 weeks Until Boston Marathon!

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

This week was a lot better compared to week 1.  I am ending the week feeling stronger and much more confident.  I was really excited to get my marathon training cycle started and begin working with my new coach.  (You can read about my decision to use a running coach here).

The “bright side” to small set-backs, such as minor injuries and illnesses. It reminds you how much you love to run.  “I don’t have to run, I get too!” Normally, I may find myself a bit whiny about running in the cold and icy conditions.  This week, I was just super excited to be healthy enough to get out and run, the conditions didn’t bother.  I actually enjoyed them. Here is my recap for the week.

*If you missed my week 1 recap, you can read it here.  Not much to read, I was pretty ill and missed a large chunk of running.

  • Monday-Treadmill 5.17 miles @ 8:27 pace (43:41)
    • Met up with some awesome friends for a 5 am run. Thank goodness, because I am not a fan of treadmills. I wanted to be able to hop on and off if I was having any breathing issues. I had a bit of a lingering cough and needed stop and use the inhaler.  Overall I still felt very tired but I was happy to be feeling well enough to run again.

  • Tuesday- Road Run around the neighborhood.5.25 miles @ 7:38 pace (40:01)
    • Oh man, what a difference a day makes. This was really a day and a half because I ran in the evening.  I felt so much better.  I was able to run comfortable after pre-treating with my inhaler.  I was pretty sad when the run was over. Normally, I would keeping going but I knew my coach wants me to keep the runs easy so I can push on my speed work/quality runs.

 

  • Wednesday-My first workout, woohoo! 2 miles warm up, 6 x mile repeats with 1 minute rest, 4x200m sprints and cool down. (Repeats 6:02,6:11,6:05,6:06,6:02,6:11)
    • Started out feeling pretty iffy, I was pretty drained through out the work day. I was coughing a lot during and after the warm up. A cough drop from a friend helped out tremendously.  Wednesdays I like to join KC Running Company, group runs.  I asked some of the regulars to tag along, and I am so thankful they did. I was able to hit my paces, and the company made the workout a lot more enjoyable. I was a tad bit ahead of my target paces for this workout. I am thinking, it was partly because my legs felt fresh after the time off.  I like doing workouts in groups, I usually suffer less and perform better. I will need to get some of my speed workouts in also, but I enjoy the company and extra push when I can get it.

  • Thursday-6.05 miles @ 8:06 pace(49:05)
    • Working on following my own advice and slowing doing my easy runs. (read about it here) I had to slow myself down a few times, but I felt great. I didn’t need to use my inhaler at all and was feeling like myself again.  Yippee!

  • Friday – 12 miles @ 7:59 pace (1:35:45)
    • We had an ice storm moving in, and schools let out two hours early. Since I am a teacher, I got to leave early too. I decided to meet up with a friend at a park close by.  We wanted to try and squeeze some miles in before the ice storm came in.  I just wasn’t sure how this ice storm would affect my weekend running.  We ended up getting 12 miles in, felt really good, no problems with ice. I definitely enjoyed the extra time off.

 

  • Saturday-8.12 miles @ 7:56 pace (1:04:25)
    • We woke up with a thin layer of ice on the ground.  Most of the roads were okay to travel on, the sidewalks were a solid sheet of ice.  We had a group of runners that met at one of our local trails (non-technical). My friend added screws to my shoes (you can read about screwing your shoes here), which made a huge difference.  I am surprised we were able to run so comfortably. My favorite part was breakfast after!

  • Sunday- Treadmill 6 miles 7:50 pace (47:00)
    • I wasn’t sure if the ice conditions would get worse. So I met up with a couple friends at the gym and we were able to enjoy coffee after.  I may enjoy eating breakfast and coffee after my weekend runs just a tad more than the runs themselves. I hate the treadmill, so while my pace looks like I kept it in the “easy” range I didn’t do so well the last two miles.  I kept cranking the pace lower and lower to help get it over with. I have some sort of mental block with treadmills. I just don’t like them.

 

I am a very anxious person, and that transfers into my running a lot.  Normally, an illness or set back sends me spiraling because I am too much of a control freak.  Having a coach, really helped me keep my cool this week.  It’s week 2 of training and I am feeling pretty confident that I made the right decision. I can’t wait to see what next week brings!

Today is 91 days until Boston Marathon, 13 Weeks.  I’d say overall my training is on the right track.  I haven’t set any goals yet, I want to see how my training cycle goes.  How about you? How was your week? Do you have any big goals or races coming up?

Please like, comment and subscribe.  Feel free to share, I love connecting, sharing and following other runners along the journey.

 

Previous posts.

Screw your running shoes!

Why you should become a runner, and how

Planning my 2017 Race Calendar

Why I have decided to work with a running coach

Running in 2017- I love New Years

Slow Down! Running Your Easy Run, Easier.

RUNspiration: Motivating your run

A single step….

 

Screw your running shoes!

I am not talking about getting rid of your shoes, or barefoot running. I’m not angry at them, ha!  I am talking about adding screws to your running shoes to help you run on icy and snowy surfaces. This week we had an ice storm predicted, and I was afraid I was going to be stuck on a treadmill for days.  Yuck!  It’s just not for me.  One of my runner friends helped me add screws to my shoes, and it made a huge difference.  This morning we completed a run on a thin layer of ice. While running behind the pack of runners I could see a very noticeable difference in the strides of runners with screws and the runners without the screws. It appeared as any type of poor running mechanics were exaggerated on the icy surface and the push off/kick back became less effective, since running shoes don’t grip well on ice.  I also felt a noticeable difference in my own running stride.  I still slowed down a tad, just to be safe.

So, here are some basic guidelines for screwing your shoes

What you’ll need

  • Screws-You’ll want sheet metal screws with a hex head. I used #8 3/8” screws. #6, #8 and #10 would all work just fine.  For length, you’ll want to stay between ¼” and ½”.  The longer screws will stay in better, but anything longer than ½” would be dangerous.  If you have really thin, minimalist style shoes 1/4’” is probably a better option, although you may lose them more often.
  • Running shoes- Pretty much any running shoes will work. I chose some shoes that were about half way through the amount of mileage I am used to getting out of my shoes, and I don’t really like their color/design.  You can use your daily trainers, if you want.The screws won’t hurt or damage your shoes.  I plan to keep the screws in my shoes and just have them available for crummy weather days.  If you only have one pair of shoes, you can remove the screws and continue to train in them as usual.
  • Drill- You could insert these by hand, but it would be pretty miserable. I wouldn’t recommend it.  This is really easy if you have someone who is handy with a drill.  My friend was able to do this standing in a cold parking lot in about 5 minutes or less. I would feel comfortable completing the task, but it may have taken me a few extra minutes.

How to

  • Start by looking at the wear pattern on your shoes. Areas that are more worn down a good starting point.  Don’t add any screws near air or gel pockets. That will damage that portion of the shoes.  If you have thinner shoes, stick near the perimeter.
  • Using your power drill, insert the screws directly into the raised tread of your shoes. Adding a few in the front and back side of your shoes. Insert the screws until the head is barely touching the rubber.  Don’t over tighten, you should not see any indention or compression from the screws.  If you do, using your power drill, back the screw out a tad. Your particular shoes and running mechanics will determine how you should place the screws. It isn’t super complicated though.  For me, I land mostly on the mid and front of my shoes and roll inward. So that’s where we placed the majority of the screws. I land very lightly on the heels of my feet, but added a few to help with hills and to help keep me from falling on my bum.  My friend is more of a heal striker and added more to the back side of his shoes.  As, far as how many. I have seen as few as three and as many as 20.  I think the “correct” answer is somewhere in between.
  • Test out your shoes. You shouldn’t feel the screws while running. If you do, remove that screw and re-position it, or leave it off altogether.

 His shoes

My shoes

Other options

While I was looking for ways to add stability to my run I have come across other options.  Ultimately I preferred just screwing my shoes.

IceSpikes  IceSpikes are the same basic idea as adding screws to your shoes.  These were just designed and marketed specifically for the purpose of adding them to the bottom of your shoes.  Even the design is very similar to Hex head screws.  They cost a tad bit more, and I would have to order them and wait for them to come in.  As opposed to, just going to the nearest hardware store. It would seem in the multiple reviews that I read, that they didn’t really add much more stability compared to screws.

Yaktrax- Yaktraxs are a traction device that you add over your running shoes. There are models that are marketed specifically for running shoes.  Yaktrax are lot easier to put on and off compared to ice spikes or screws. They just slip on over your shoes.  They cost significantly more, and I haven’t seen them in any local stores.  You would most likely need to order them online.  I also felt like they didn’t move aa naturally as my screwed running shoes.  Other runners have reported that snow can get stuck in the middle, cause them to have to stop and scoop them out.  This may be dependent on the model you choose, the problem was mostly with the coiled style.  The style while coils don’t “bite” the ice well, especially if you are a lighter weight runners.  You just don’t have enough force to break into the ice.
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If you have mixed conditions, I think the screws are your best option.  When we hit dry patches there was no adjusting, just a tad bit more noise.  Even with the screws, be smart and slow your pace down a tad. Be more vigilant about watching cars in questionable weather.  Have fun!

What do you prefer, staying inside or braving the elements?  Have you found other methods of adding stability to your runs?  Comment with your snowy/icy running stories.

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Product Review-Wyldewood Cellar Elderberry Concentrate

Wyldewood Cellars Elderberry Concentrate

12.5 FL oz. bottle=$21.99 @ Natural Grocers (cost and availability at the time of writing review)

About this Product

  • Rich in Antioxidants
  • Natural Source of Ruthin and Vitamin C
  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • No added sugar
  • No Alcohol
  • Non-GMO
  • Pesticide Free

Know somebody dealing with a cough, cold or flu?  Of course you do, it’s going around like crazy right now.  Unfortunately, I was wiped out last week with a nasty respiratory infection and left unable to run.  My sister picked up a bottle of Wyldewood Cellars Elderberry Concentrate from our local Natural Grocers, so I could be on my way to a quick recovery.

Why Elderberry?

Elderberry is a dark blueish-purple berry that has many health benefits. Studies have shown elderberry to have a significant impact on respiratory health. Studies have shown that elderberry can shorten the duration and severity of cold, flu and sinus infections.  Elderberry contains more vitamin C than an orange and has the highest ORAC score of any fruit, three times more than blueberries.  Elderberry is rich in antioxidants that help protect the mucus membranes, and reduce inflammation. Elderberry contains magnesium, which also supports the immune system, increases energy and improves muscle and nerve function.  Elderberry contains anthocyanins, which protect blood vessels from oxidative stress/damage.  This is great for aiding runners and other athletes in recovery and improving circulation.

Product Review

This product is 100 % pure elderberry.  The recommended serving is 1 teaspoon a day.   While I was sick I upped my intake to 1 teaspoon twice a day.  The only ingredients for this product is elderberry concentrate and filtered water.  Because of this, the taste is very tart, not a hint of sweetness.  I wasn’t particularly fond of the flavor, so I decided to try a variety of things to mix it in.  These were some of my favorites

  • 8 oz. water, 1 teaspoon Elderberry concentrate + sweetener – I tried this diluted version with both Stevia and honey. Both tasted good, I preferred the Stevia a tad bit more over the honey
  • 1 can of lemon lime soda+1 teaspoon Elderberry Concentrate- This was my favorite of the different recipes that I tried. You can use any lemon-lime soda, my sister recommended Blue Sky Organic Soda as a healthier alternative to other name brand sodas and I enjoyed it very much.  As a runner, however, I do limit my soda consumption so I only tried this recipe once.
  • 8 oz. grape juice+ 1 teaspoon Elderberry Concentrate- This was the recipe I drank the most of. I used Knudsen Organic White Grape Juice, but I am confident this would mix well with any grape juice.
  • Added to smoothies- I added 1 teaspoon to my green smoothie that had mixed berries for added sweetness and I really enjoyed it. The flavor of the elderberry blended perfect with the frozen berries that I blended in. I will play around with more varieties.

Conclusion-

The taste of this product, by itself was tolerable. Considering the health benefits, I would have no problem taking it daily.  When added with the simple recipes I included above, I really enjoyed it.  All of them were extremely simple.  I would recommend.

I hope you liked this review! Check out my other posts!  I appreciate all feedback, likes, comments and shares! Have a great day!

 

2017 Training- Week 1 Review

Well, this sure didn’t go as planned.  I was super pumped to start this week as my “official start of Boston Marathon Training.”  However, the world had other plans.  I ended my Sunday run buckled over gasping for air, dizzy as I had been battling a deep chest cough that had very quickly progressed.  After a relaxing soak in Epsom salt and essential oils, I was sure I could battle the cold with a good nights rest.  Nope! Woke up feeling like I had been hit by a bus and didn’t have energy to walk around the house, let alone run.  My body was talking to me, or rather yelling at me, that I needed a rest.

I gave myself a couple days rest, and saw no progress.  So I made a trip to urgent care.  I was diagnosed with bronchitis and pneumonia.  No running for 5 days.  I spent those 5 days recovering and working on strength and flexibility.  So here is my, super short, week 1 review.

Monday- Sick

Tuesday- Sick

Wednesday- Stretching/foam Rolling

Thursday- 30 minutes, Yoga for runners video

Friday- Core+stretching/foam rolling

Saturday-  4 miles on the treadmill @ 9 min/mile pace

Sunday- 4.01 miles on treadmill @ 7:47 min/mile pace

Total- 8 miles

I am, luckily, feeling much better.  This was a small step backwards and I am ready to start week 2 off strong!  I am planning on getting my next post completed by tomorrow.  This week was a bit of a step backwards.

How was our start?

 

Why you should become a runner, and how

Running is awesome! I am sure it is no surprise, to anyone that I meet, that I think running is pretty great.  I am not the only one, however. Running is growing in popularity, it is definitely having a moment.  There is a reason why, running really is for everyone

Why everyone should become a runner?

  • Running is not one size fits all. Training and goals are all specific to the individual.  Unlike many other sports, your biggest competitor is yourself and the clock.  It’s an amazing feeling to run your first race, and complete it.  It’s an even better feeling when you set a goal and watch yourself break new PRs (personal records), after putting in the work. You EARNED that.  There are so many new types of races and distances available.  Really, there is a race out there for every type of person; casual, competitive, destination, fun, obstacle, dog races, trail, road, holiday and so much more.
    • You can check out my post on picking goal races here
  • Running is a great way to meet new people! The running community is full of awesome, uplifting and motivated individuals. As a collective whole, I haven’t met a more supportive and goal oriented group of people. My running friends go out of their way to meet up for runs, push you through difficult workouts and cheer you on to new PRs. You know you have made a great new friend, when they agree to get up a zero-dark-thirty, put on a headlamp and run with you.  It’s always worth it! Bonus, are you single?  Running is full of other goal oriented, active singles.
  • Health– I am sure I don’t have to tell you, that running is good for you. There are so many health benefits to beginning a consistent running routine.  This doesn’t include diving head first into a high-mileage marathon program.  Running at least 30 minutes a week, 3 times a week has great health benefits.  Regular running raises your HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and boosts your immune system. Running can lower your risk of many diseases; including some types of cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis.  Running may help by reducing high blood pressure and lowering your risk of heart attacks.  Running tops the charts as one of the best way to burn calories.  The best part is, it can be done almost anywhere at any time!
  • Mental Health-running is a great stress reliever. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins (a natural hormone that acts similar to a drug that improves mood and increases energy). These hormones are also great in decreasing your risk for depression. Ask a runner, friend. They usually are in a better mood on days they get to run.

Steps to successfully becoming a runner

               Many people want to start out the new year with awesome New Year’s Resolutions.  The problem is many of them don’t make it to spring break.  Let’s not become another failed resolution, and instead, become a success. Making 2017 the year you became a runner.

  1. Running doesn’t have to be expensive, to get started. One thing I do recommend before diving into a running program, is investing in some good running shoes.  Go to a local running store, one that will watch you run and help you select the correct pair of running shoes for your stride.  This is very important to a new runner.  You are going to work new muscles and may have some soreness. Prevent injuries and get the right kind of running shoes, to give you the best chance for success.
  2. Set a goal, or a few goals. Set goals that are realistic and measurable.  Don’t try to go all in, the first day. All or nothing plans, almost always fail.  Start with smaller goals that lead to a larger goal.  Try signing up for a 5k next month.  Promise to build up to 30 minutes of running 3 times per week until you reach that 5k.  Reaching this goal will help motivate you to move onto bigger goals. Once you have run a race, set a new goal, rinse and repeat. Be careful, there is a natural high that comes from completing these goals, and it can become quite addicting.
  3. Train with friends. Find some friends to train with. This will make the miles more fun, and help keep you accountable. If you aren’t sure who to run with, join a local running group. Running groups have become a big part of my social life. I am super bummed when I miss out on our Wednesday night group runs at the KC running Company store, or Saturday mornings with KC track club-Lee’s Summit group.  There are runners and groups for every speed and distance.
  4. Make back up plans. Sometimes things are going to happen, so you need to be proactive and have back up plans. It’s easy to find reasons NOT to run.  When things don’t go as planned, what is your back up plan?
  5. It’s okay to slow down. Many new runners, try to run too fast.  This causes a lot of strain on the body.  You need to work up to those fast speeds, only once you have built an endurance base. Try the talk test, if you can’t hold the pace and carry on a conversation, you need to slow down.  I wrote a previous post here, about slowing down your easy run.
  6. Consider a running coach or a plan. There are a lot of couch to 5k, 10k or half marathon plans. Consider your fitness level before choosing. Some may start out easy and increase in difficulty too quickly, some may start out too conservative for your current ability leaving your bored, while some may start out too difficult putting you at a high injury risk.  Getting a running coach can be a lot of help in ensuring you are successful in your running goals. I have decided to work with a running coach, this year. You can read about my decision, to hire a coach here.

The first step is to get out there and run.  Take it one day or one mile at a time.  You will have tough days.  You will have days that you are feeling unmotivated, but I promise it will be worth it.  Taking on a more active lifestyle will have a rippling effect on many other life choices.  You will feel great!   

 

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RUNspiration: Motivating your run

A single step….

Planning my 2017 Race Calendar

 

Not all races are created equally, and choosing the right race could have a huge impact on your racing experience and goals.  There are as many different types of races as there are types of runners. Each one unique. 

               Before you can begin planning your next race, or filling out your 2017 calendar you need to start with goals.  What are your short and long term goals?  What are you looking for in a race experience? The answer to these questions, will be the driving force behind picking the right race for you.  This year when I set up my calendar I have two big goals that my race calendar will be centered around; running the Boston Marathon and running a big half marathon PR. 

Timing-

               Timing is the first factor I look at when setting up my race calendar.   I want to run all the races, but I can’t.  I need to give myself adequate training time, and recovery time between goal races.  I suggest picking your goal races first.  The longer your goal races are, the more time you need between them.  Once you have those set, you can sprinkle in shorter races that are great for gauging your progress. I like to mix in shorter, non-goal races in about 4-6 weeks.

Another important timing factor is the time that your training will take place.  For me, as a teacher and a track coach, the Boston Marathon is great timing for training. A majority of my training will take place before my kiddoes track season starts.  Our track meets start in April and that will be when my taper will begin.  When I return from Boston I can focus on the kiddos track season and state testing, while running goes into easy mode for a few weeks.  I also like to increase my mileage and focus on strength in the summer when school is out.  It also helps that I enjoy hot weather running.

Type of course 

There are many course factors that you should consider.  Type of race, elevation and design are all important.

The type of race includes road, trail and “experience” type races. Road races are typically faster, larger more competitive fields, more volunteers and spectators along the route.  Trail races usually have a more relaxed atmosphere, more inviting and will have a larger variety of distances.  Experience races would include the obstacle course style races like “Tough Mudder” and “Warrior Dash,” Color runs, Glow runs and other odd races that may have you doing other stuff outside of just running.  These can be very fun races, but I am guessing most people don’t include these as goal races.

Course Elevation can be very important if you are trying to take down a PR.  Don’t be fooled though, sometimes overly flat or extreme downhill races can become problem.  You’ve heard the phrase, “too much of a good thing” and that definitely applies to race courses.

How the course designer set up the course is important too.  There are single loop courses, multi-loop courses, point to point and out and back courses. I think these are more about personal preference.  I know I considered a multi-loop marathon course and people constantly said how horrible it sounded. To me, it sounded like a benefit.  I liked the idea of knowing the course and being able to see my cheer section every couple miles.  However multi-loop course with different distances are my nightmare.  One of my first 10k races include a two loop course with a 5k race. I spend so much time weaving and I tripped over a stroller busting up my knee. I ended up missing a PR by 4 seconds.

Size of the field

               Do you prefer large races or smaller races?  Both choices have their pros and cons.  I like large races because I am less likely to catch myself running alone. This is especially important if I am needing that extra push to reach a new PR or keeping me motivated in longer races.  Bigger races also tend to be well organized machines.  There is also an amazing energy at those large races. I can’t wait to experience that energy, I have heard so much about, for the first time at Boston.  Smaller Races seem to be less hectic on race day.  The bathroom lines are more manageable and you can usually park close to the start/finish line.

Location

               Up until now, I have only run local races.  This year, I will begin to look for more destination races.  Boston will be my first out of town race. As I look for other races, location will be a big factor because I want my family to be a part of my journey.  Places that can double as a vacation and offer experiences outside of race day will be important to me.  Finding races within driving distance of out of town family members is a nice perk, also.

I like to race about once a month, it keeps me motivated and helps me target my training paces. Some of my best races have been these lead up races, including many of my PRs. I like to run shorter races in my training for longer races.

Some of my favorite websites that I use when comparing courses;

Find my marathon

HalfMarathons.net

Running in the usa

KC/Local races-KC Running Company

What do you look for when picking a race? What are the most important factors to you?

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Why I have decided to work with a running coach

I’m shaking things up a bit. Trying some new things out. My last blog post, I posted Why I love New Years Eve and shared a bit about my goals.  I have big goals in mind.  I want to be proactive in working toward these goals.  Starting my blog was one way to shake things up, and work toward my goals.  The other? I have decided to work with a running coach.

Why?

For me, I want some clarity and outside perspective.  I want to work hard and have someone in my corner.  I respect the experience and knowledge of the coach I have chosen.  Working with my coach will, hopefully, add some structure. I have a habit of running totally by feel and emotion.  This has led to over training, fatigue and burn out.  It also allows me to let go of control and enjoy running.  We all have enough stress.  I struggle with a lot of anxiety, in training, and on race day. I second guess everything and worry about all the minor details.  I am going to do the work, and trust in someone else to help lead me in the right direction.

Have you thought about hiring a coach?  When making my decision I created a pros and cons list.

Pros

  • Goal Setting- A good coach will help you develop strong attainable goals. Something that will be difficult but realistic. Your goals will be the driving force to your workouts.
  • Knowledge- A good coach brings in a wealth of knowledge to help support your running goals. More importantly, a coach becomes more than a plan designer. Your coach will become a teacher of the sport. You learn the whys behind every run.  Every workout has a purpose, otherwise it becomes junk mileage, and you lose focus of your goals.
  • Keep you on track- A good coach will kick you in the pants when you need it. For me, I need a coach to reign in the crazy, at times. I run on emotions, getting home from a difficult day.  I turn a short 6 mile easy run into a 10 miler at half marathon pace.  It feels great and therapeutic at the time.  In the end, however, I have just trashed my legs for a whole week and I can’t really complete my other workouts as I should.  Just knowing that someone will be checking up on you can help keep you accountable.

Cons-

  • Cost-Coaches cost money, some of them are down-right expensive. Running cost can really add up.  Race entries, clothes, shoes, gadgets it can feel like you’re going down the rabbit hole.
  • You are giving up control- This can be hard, and scary. If you are going to use a running coach, you need to pick someone that you trust and you need to let them lead.  If the program they set for you is going to work, you need to do your best to follow it.  If you can’t, you need to be able to communicate the issue with your coach so they can develop a plan that does work for you.
  • Coaching styles/running styles don’t match up- If you hate the track, and find yourself getting injured on the track, and your coach insists on pounding out weekly high intensity intervals that leave you hobbling.  That is a problem.   Some coaches, just like runners, get stuck in the mentality that there is one right way to do things.  This can lead to disaster for the runner. This is why it’s important to find the right coach, and not just any coach.  Doing a little homework ahead of time can save you a lot of frustration, and possibly injury, in the long run.

I am really excited about my new partnership.  I took a long time thinking it over, almost a year.  I went back and forth many times.  I also went back and forth on picking the right coach, for me.  What was the biggest factor for me deciding to work with a coach?  I feel like I am on the verge of a plateau. I don’t know why. It’s just constantly bothering me.

The next question, then, becomes who. Ironically, it’s like the world was hinting at in the last couple weeks.  I had multiple conversations with runners whose opinions I value, very much.  The same recommendation kept coming up.  I had thought about what qualities and coaching style I was looking for. I looked up the many, many coaches available in my area.  I kept coming back to the same name.  Well guess who joined in our group long run that Saturday morning? I had a 22 mile run that morning, and the group joined in about 8 miles in. I asked lots of questions and got a really good feel on what type of coach I could be working with.  A few days later, I sent him a message and I am really excited to begin working with Coach Jeremy, owner of KC Endurance.

Who would benefit from a running coach?

A running coach can help runners at all levels. They are wonderful tool for new runners who want to be more consistent and build mileage safely. A running coach will help a new runner complete new distances and train smarter.  A coach will bring a vast amount of knowledge and work within the runners limits to help them be successful.  For a more experienced or competitive runner, a coach can help improve efficiency and give them needed outside perspective.  They can help you narrow your focus and build on your goals.  When looking for a coach, look for running coaches that have completed a certification and can share numerous recommendations from clients that have similar goals and backgrounds as yourself.

Join in the conversations below! Please share and subscribe.

 

 

 

Running in 2017- I love New Years

I am a total nerd when it comes to New Years.  Not because of the fancy parties and large amounts of alcohol.  Those are great, but realistically staying up until midnight is becoming increasingly difficult.  I love the excitement and the idea of starting fresh. New Years is a great time for reflection and introspection which leads to personal growth and guides my running goals for the following year.

Reflection of 2016

Sometimes we forget how much we have improved. I have been a tad frustrated because I haven’t had much growth or a fancy new PR this fall season.  It’s hard to imagine that this time last year, my 5k PR was over a minute slower, 10k PR over 2.5 minutes slower and my half marathon time was over 5 minutes slower.  From my first 5k in 2015 to my first 5k in 2016 I dropped 2 minutes.  It was the exact same course.  These are all reasons for me to celebrate 2016.

I like looking over training logs, and the comments I wrote for each of the workouts.  It’s easy to forget all of the ups and downs throughout a training cycle.  With a bit of time and space between the training cycles, I can take a more objective look at my training logs to get an idea of what went right and what went wrong.

In 2016, I was very careful to watch my growth each week.  I would look at each week to make sure I balanced out the speed and the distance. I did a much better job keeping my weeks balanced. I overlooked the bigger picture.  I kept growing and maintaining, refusing to back off and allow time for recovery, until my body forced me to take a break.

Personal Records (best) in 2016

5k- 17:56 February 2016 @ Kickoff 5k

10k-37:33 March 2016 @ Great Plains Kansas City

Half Marathon-1:22:50  April 2016@ Rock the Parkway

Didn’t complete a full Marathon in 2016

Looking ahead to 2017…

So now I am looking ahead to 2017 and setting some BIG goals.  I recognize that things don’t always go as planned, so I give myself short term and long term goals. I like to start with my biggest goal and work backwards. Sprinkling in smaller, more attainable goals along the way.

The teacher in me comes out when I am thinking about my goals.  Come on teachers, you know you just love writing SMART goals (sarcasm).  If you not lucky enough to write SMART goals at you employment. SMART stands for; specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and time-based.  These are great for setting up your running goals, also.  Just imagine all the fun teachers, “In 2017, the runner will…” (Sarcasm, again)

I have two big goals for myself this year; set a PR at the Boston Marathon, and set a new PR in the half marathon.  I use those two goals, as a foundation, when planing my short term goals. Getting a PR in a 5k and 10k are usually good indicators towards improving my half marathon time.  My short term goals are more about an action plan to support my big goals.

Setting goals is fun, but many New Year’s resolutions stop there.  They don’t have a plan to make sure they succeed.  The goals set are big changes and they try to tackle them all at once.  Instead, I encourage runners to make and think of smaller steps that would help you reach your goals. If you want to start working out, be realistic.  You’re not going to stick with a plan going zero to sixty overnight.  Start with small goals, I will work out 30 minutes a day 3 times a week for the first month.  When you get to the end of the month you will be able to check off one goal.  Making your goals more manageable.

For me, I have set up an action plan to reach my goals.  Here are some of my action plan steps.  This spring, I plan on working with a running coach.  This will help me with one of my weaknesses from 2016, looking at the bigger picture.  Marathon training is hard on the body, so I plan on staying on top of my aches and pains that pop up.  I want to do a better job of foam rolling every day before I begin my run.  I was very good about doing this before hard days but neglected this element on my easy days in 2016.  Toward the end of 2016 I was doing a lot better with getting in an actual warm up and stopping about a mile into most runs for 3-5 minutes and getting in some ballistic stretching.  This helped me so much with those constant overuse injuries that keep popping up. I also have a physical therapist that I love working with, and a massage therapist that magically makes the pain melt away.  I plan to work with them at least once a month.  Another part of my action plan, is setting up my 2017 race calendar to support my two main goals.  Running Boston marathon is a pretty easy schedule, so I will need to find a half marathon that will give me plenty of time to recover and train. I also will consider traveling for a fast, competitive half marathon to give me that extra push.

Those are just a few of my goals, and what I plan to do to reach my goals.  How was your 2016?  Have you started making goals for 2017, if so, what do you plan to do to reach them?

If you like what you have read; please comment, share and subscribe!  Thank you so much!

Check out some of my other blog posts too!

A single step….

RUNspiration: Motivating your run

Slow Down! Running Your Easy Run, Easier.

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