It’s Not a Priority

A few weeks ago, one of my friends posted the “it’s not a priority” quote to her Facebook page. You’ve probably seen it. I know it wasn’t the first time I saw it floating around on the internet. It’s made the rounds of Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, you name it.

Priorities

Every other time I saw it, I clicked on by. But this time, I stopped. I’d been feeling frantic and overwhelmed, with too many things on my to-do list and too little time. Of course, too little time is an illusion. I know that, but it doesn’t feel that way when you have 200 things on your needed-to-be-done-yesterday list and are wearing your last pair of clean undies. So I stopped. I decided that I would try it. For one week, I would keep track of all the things that I supposedly didn’t have time to do. I kept a little log in my notes app.

Three days in, I was horrified. Here are some of the things I wrote:

It isn’t a priority to eat lunch. [because I don’t need to eat?]

It isn’t a priority to turn in that report on time. [start employee here]

It isn’t a priority to shower before work. [because I’m too tired to get up on time.]

It isn’t a priority to go to the bathroom. [yikes]

Not eating came up more than once. So did not showering. And not sleeping enough. After just a few days, it was clear that I wasn’t making self care a priority. Sure, I was sticking to my workout schedule and keeping up my fitness. I was doing what I needed to do for work. But, I hadn’t really sat down in days. I wasn’t eating on schedule. In short, my day to day behaviors didn’t match my values. So I made some changes. I cut back on a few obligations, left committees I’d outgrown, and turned down several opportunities. It feels better. I am making a commitment to myself to live in line with my values and it starts with how I manage my time.

 

To Be a Running Coach

I’ve been a RRCA certified running coach for several years. I truly enjoy coaching and helping runners achieve their goals. If you’ve been thinking about hiring a running coach, do it! Coaches can help athletes of all levels achieve goals, stay accountable to a training program, and inspire you to believe in yourself. Still need convincing? Check out my post on reasons to hire a running coach.

This weekend, as part of another role in my life, I sat in on a running coaching class. Doing so as a certified, and experienced coach, has been an interesting experience. I have a few observations.

 

First, there are many types of coaches. I think many people assume that a running coach is a running coach. One of the keys to a positive coaching experience is having a strong goodness of fit between you and your coach. This refers not just to personality, but to training philosophy and beliefs about running. Most of the coaches-in-training talked about their running philosophy – everything from how much cross training to include to how long the optimal long run before a marathon should be. There was some overlap, of course, but many divergent ideas were presented about every idea. Some coaches-in-training planned to forbid cross training other than pool running. Others wanted trainees to run 18/20/22/24 as a marathon build up. Neither of these sounded like great ideas to me, but they seemed to find it workable. Some individuals had strong reactions to ideas presented and were willing to fight over the supremacy of their ideas. Others were open to learning and were flexible in their ideas. If you’re looking for a coach, find one who believes what you believe, or whose ideas sound feasible and reasonable to you. Don’t be afraid to interview coaches to find one whose ideas are compatible with yours? Not sure what the best training strategy is ok? That’s ok! Find a coach who seems interested in you, and who seems open to your ideas. They’ll lead you when it comes to running strategy, but be sure that you and your coach are compatible. Strong goodness of fit will lead to happier training and better results for you from a coach who understands YOU.

Hearing the coaches-in-training talk about developing training plans based on their strongly held beliefs about what works *for them* was a surprise. I’ve always been a bit of a science nerd. I read a great deal of literature about the science of running and have let the science dictate my own training. I usually try training plans myself before asking a client to run that plan. I study the literature and read the books – I believe the science and value the science over my own experience.

Finally, it’s clear to me that people love running. The coaches-in-training were passionate, engaged, and vocal about their belief systems. It was wonderful to be in the company of people who love running as much as I do.

Summer running

On the Run, Again

If it seems like I’ve been traveling a lot, that’s because it’s true. I have been here, there, and everywhere. Some of my travel has been personal travel or races – my favorite kind of travel. But, some of it has been work travel. Work travel is hit-or-miss when it comes to fun. Some work trips are great fun, but, generally, work trips are a parade of bad food, bad hotel gyms, and bad locations. I’m staying in a hotel this week that is quite possibly the worst hotel gym I’ve ever seen. I’m starting to become a bit of a hotel treadmill connoisseur. I’ve seen the good:

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 1.41.58 PM

The ugly:

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 1.35.54 PM

But this one can only be described as bad. The air conditioning doesn’t work, leaving the whole room a stuffy 74 degrees. It positively reeks of mildew. All the equipment, and by “all the”, I mean one treadmill, one ancient elliptical, and one recumbent bike, is rusty and more than a decade old. The treadmill is off center and wobbles precariously any time the speed goes above 5.0 miles per hour. It’s not good. Thinking there may be a solution on some facet of the problem, I talked to the hotel management about the air conditioning. Their response was to close the gym. I guess you don’t know what you got until it’s gone. Now I’m missing my mildew and my wobbly treadmill.

Travel isn’t all bad. There are great adventures, like the day I ran 7 miles round trip to get deodorant I had forgotten to pack.

SLC

There are amazing restaurants with delicious foods I can’t find at home (like cheesy cornbread!).

Jim N Nick's

 

and great scenery.

Multnomah

Overall, it’s pretty great. I love traveling and the new joys it brings to my life.

On The Run: Des Moines

I’m on the run again, this time to Des Moines for the RRCA National Convention. I got in late last night, but was sure to get up early for a run along the Des Moines River with some running friends. I love running around a new city. There is simply no better way to see a new place than on foot. My group met early and ran toward the Des Moines River, where there is a lovely trail system. The paved trail goes along the river a ways, past a ballpark, over a very cool pedestrian bridge, and to a Japanese garden.

Spring in Des Moines

The flowers were in bloom and the weather was perfect for running. It was gorgeous! Later, we will take in some of the Drake Relays and I will run in the Hy-Vee Races. I can’t wait for a weekend totally dedicated to running!

Troy Conquers 26.2: The End is Nigh

For the past several months, I’ve had the great pleasure of coaching most of my family members for the Disney Marathon Weekend races. It has been a wonderful journey, and great fun to see each of my family members growing through the training. The best part of coaching my family has been working with my brother as he trains for his first marathon – as part of the Dopey Challenge. I am so deeply proud of him that it stuns me. Every time he achieves a new goal, I am filled with pride. The best moment was this:

Troy's Garmin

The text he sent me following his *second* twenty-miler. He’s amazing. I even got a little misty-eyed reading his texts. It has been truly my pleasure to see him finish this training. Here’s his take:

I ran the Volkslauf 20K in Frankenmuth, MI on July 4, 2014 as my first long race (more than 5K) since Disney in January.  I had trained well through the summer, but missed long runs or workouts along the way.  Still, I dropped 2 min/mile off my expected half marathon time and finished without injury.  It was a success.  The next day, I ran a 5K with Dr. Rachel as a shakeout and a glimpse as to what would come in January again.  I had never done back to back races and probably very few back to back runs.  But that was the future for me – training for Dopey and running back to back to back.

Thus, I consider July 5th as my training start date for the Dopey Challenge.  I started out following the Disney supplied plan. Then, in September, I switched to the Dr. Rachel prepared plan.  Since then, I have followed it as best I can; running through Lake Fayetteville in Arkansas, West Hartford in Connecticut, treadmills, and the Pere Marquette Rail Trial here in Michigan. Since training started, I have logged 406 miles running – 113 of which came in November alone.  Even as temperatures have dipped in Michigan, I have stayed outdoors; trying to avoid the mistakes and injuries of last year.  Staying healthy and getting stronger (running) has been a huge priority.  I have missed out or skipped out on things so much that I am sure my friends and wife are sick of hearing “I would love to but I have to run tomorrow”.  But the end is nigh.

In an early post (August,) I had mentioned my weight loss goals.  When Dr. Rachel visited for the Volkslauf, besides being my running coach, she also helped me with changes to my eating habits.  I don’t say diet.  I still drink beer, eat pizza, and grab fast food (sometimes while still in running clothes).  Nothing has been cut but instead portion size monitored and better decisions made.  I am down 48 pounds, feeling better than ever, and I think it has translated to better, faster run times.  The holidays are a hard time to skip the eggnog, the cupcakes, and the thirds at family dinner.  But the end is nigh.

There are 15 days, 15 hours, and 8 minutes (as I write this) before the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  While I expect some of my new habits will carry with me into the future, the end is nigh.

Amazing Holiday Gifts!

If you’re anything like me, holiday shopping is a little bit of “one for you one for me”. I love to find great gifts and this year I’m on a tight budget. Most of the people I shop for are runners, so I’ve collected lots of great ideas for runners. I you need a Christmas gift, a stocking stuffer, a small gift for one of the less-important days of Hanukkah, or a great little Festivus present, look no further.

If you’re shopping for the runner in your life and looking to save a few dollars, head on over to Clever Training, my go-to shop for running gear and accessories. Use my handy Clever Training discount code (Email me for the code!) for an additional 10% off!

Here are my top ten small holiday gifts for runners.

1. Lock Laces – Lock Laces are a great gift, and one that I’ve profiled before. These nifty elastic laces make tying shoes a thing of the past. They are secure, comfortable, and easy to use.

Lock Laces

2. Believe I Am Training Journal – This beautiful training journal was created by professional runners and features quotes, cute drawings, and helpful notes to inspire the female runner in your life. Check out the beautiful jewelry and clothing while you’re on the site.

Believe I Am

3. Win detergent – Keep your runner smelling fresh all year round with detergent specially formulated for technical fabrics. Special detergent is the key to getting your running clothes clean.

Win detergent

4. Oofos sandals – Oofos are seriously the best recovery footwear ever. They are soft, supportive, and come in fun colors for all runners. They’re available on Clever Training – use the code above for a 10% discount!

5. Add A Day Roller – For rolling tight muscles on the go, nothing beats an Add a Day roller. I love mine!

Add a Day Roller

6. Handheld water bottle – Eventually, your runner is going to need to take in some water on the run. I love my handheld bottles and have found a couple great options. Consider the Nathan Quickshot, or the one from the Amphipod line. Both are secure, small, and useful. Get one with a pocket for more storage. Side note – here are my tips for cleaning the bottle once you get it.

7. Pace band – Does you runner have a goal race coming up? Get them a pace band. These nifty little bands list the splits required to hit a selected finish time. They come in half marathon and full marathon distances.

8. lululemon accessories – I love all things lululemon and their winter running accessories are some of the best on the market. Wicking, comfortable, and chafe-free thanks to flat seams, your runner will love a beanie, headband, or gloves from lululemon.

9. Mantra band – Mantra bands are a fun accessory for the female runner. Featuring inspirational statements on a delicate sliver band, the Mantra Band is a great small gift.

Finally, for those of you looking to spend just a bit more, consider #10. A Garmin Forerunner. With low holiday prices, you can’t beat a Garmin. Tracking runs is easy and the new web-based Connect platform makes viewing runs, and learning from their data, a breeze. Hop on over to Clever Training and use the discount code above for a 10% discount!

What are your favorite running gifts?

Recovery the Dr. Rachel Way

All runners have to be mindful of rest and recovery, being sure to allow the body time to rest and heal after hard efforts. I’m not always the best at recovery, but as a coach, I have to help my athletes find the best recovery strategy for them. I’ve tried pretty much everything. Recently, I was recounting a few of my less-than-perfect ideas …

The time I waded in the frigid ocean.

Hood to Coast oceanOr swam in the equally cold Lake Winnipesaukee.

Lake W

“Getting the legs moving” by walking around Disney’s Magic Kingdom all day.

Disney

Or Washington DC.

DC

I’ve tried yoga.

Yoga

But my favorite recovery method? Eating all the calories I’ve lost!

Guacamole

Bread

Starbucks

Coconut

There you have it. My confession – I (foam roll and) eat. And that’s the way to recover!

 

Hot to Trot (and Shop!)

I love themed races and, even more than that, any race where I can wear a costume. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to run in costume and be part of a big theme race. I’ve written about my love of the Turkey Trot before, but I think it merits revisiting. In fact, the entire Thanksgiving weekend is my favorite time of year. I love the food, the events, and, truth be told, the shopping.

This year, like many other years, I ran the Manchester Road Race, a local race that happens to be a famous event. It is run every Thanksgiving Day in Manchester, CT. I love the Manchester Road Race and the great camaraderie it inspires. First, I made the big decision of the day – which turkey hat to wear!

Turkey hats

I got bundled up for the cold and headed out to the race. I found my friends and got lined up for the race.

MRR

This year was a great example of runners united. As we were lining up for the race, the organizers experienced some problems with the public address system. The sound was cutting in and out throughout the morning announcements. When the National Anthem began, the sound system cut out. Thousands of runners united to sing the remainder of the song. It was a great moment.

The race got started and I finally made my way across the start line. As always, the race was crowded and I ran-walked the first several miles. Things finally got going and I ran the final two miles at a respectable place. I always enjoy the great crowd support at the Manchester Road Race. All along the course spectators were cheering, partying, and having a great time. The whole atmosphere was festive and I loved it.

When I got home, I got to cooking and prepared my Thanksgiving dinner. It was delicious!

Thanksgiving

After eating a massive quantity of turkey, I took my time to read the Black Friday ads. I love reading the Black Friday ads. It’s great fun to see what the hot toys will be, and what the prices are on a random assortment of electronics. I made my shopping list (gloves, Rubbermaid containers, and knives) and got organized with a shopping plan. I’m never one to engage in the crazy rush hour of early morning shopping – or late night shopping as it happened this year. I like to get up at a nice, leisurely hour and then make my way to the mall. As much as I love Black Friday shopping, I don’t love the pushing and shoving that seems to come with it. I like the respectable, calm shopping that comes a little later in the day. I got the items on my list and had a great time wandering around the stores.

Rubbermaid

All in all, it was a great weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!

Here, There, and Everywhere

Sitting in front of my computer, thinking about what I should write for this post (maybe one of the 10 ideas I have written down…), I started to look through my recent pictures. What I realized is that I’ve been running here, there, and everywhere.

I recently wrote about my trips to pace races, but that isn’t the only travel I’ve been doing lately. A few weeks ago, I headed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for work. The highlight of Milwaukee is the food. I absolutely love German food, and I made sure to get a lot.

Bratwurst

Running in Milwaukee is great. The streets have wide sidewalks with well-timed walk lights. The drivers are Midwest nice and allowed me to run across the street pretty much whenever I wanted. The best part about running in Milwaukee is the great scenery at the Lakeshore State Park. Lakeshore State Park is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and features miles of paved trails and amazing city and water views. I made sure to get there for my morning run and had a great time running along the waterfront for miles and miles. I saw fish jumping, bait fish schools moving, and lots of fishermen. It was the perfect lakefront run.

Just last weekend I was in Washington, DC for the Marine Corps Marathon. I had never run the Marine Corps Marathon before and was thrilled to finally get my chance. I ran as part of Team BEEF, a team of runners who use lean beef as part of their fueling strategy for a protein-rich training diet.

Team BEEF

I had been looking forward to Marine Corps for some time, and flew in early Saturday morning for the Sunday race. Saturday was a day for packet pick up and touring. My crew got to packet pick up bright and early and were greeted by a really, really long line outside of the Armory. After waiting about 45 minutes, we made our way into the pickup area, which was well organized and easy to navigate. I got my bib, did some shopping, and met up with friends. After the packet pick up, my crew and I headed out for sightseeing. I couldn’t be in DC and not enjoy the sights.

DC

After a delicious dinner, it was early to bed for this marathon girl. I got up Sunday morning ready to run. I donned my Team BEEF gear and made my way to the race start. There was more waiting in line for a bus, and then even more waiting in line for security checks to get into the runners’ area. I hadn’t really anticipated the amount of waiting in line, or walking. The race start is more than a mile from the bus drop off and most of that time was spent barely moving in a crowd. By the time we got to the line to get into the secure area, the lines were crazy. We stood in one spot for over 30 minutes. Suddenly, an hour into our wait, the line started moving. They had abandoned the checks to get everyone to the start (still a half mile away) and we all rushed in, dropped bags, and hustled to the start minutes before the race start.

The start of the race is really special, with paratroopers and flyovers from military members. It was really exciting.

Fly over

The race started on time and within minutes I was on the course. The course was more crowded than I expected, but everyone was running about my pace and seemed to be having a good time. It was organized chaos. There were plenty of spectators with great signs, loud cheers, and lots of high fives. I ran with a friend and we chatted easily for most of the race. I loved seeing all the spectators and the huge crowd support in every part of the course. The course itself is beautiful, winding through some of DC’s most important landmarks and best neighborhoods.

Around mile 20, I started to have some cramping in my left hamstring. The whole thing was tight and randomly hit me with charlie-horse type pain. I slowed to a walk, stretched, and hobbled along through the final miles of the course. Even thought I had a tough race, I loved the Marine Corps Marathon. The course is beautiful, the crowd support is amazing, and the scenery can’t be beat.

MCM finish

On The Move

I’m on the move. Over the past weekend I moved from my house of six years to a bigger house a few towns over. I can say with 100% commitment that moving sucks. All of my things have been in boxes for weeks now and it’s getting ridiculous. I’m covered in bruises from running into boxes…

Moving bruises

All I can see are boxes…

Boxes everywhere

And unpacking them just creates a pile of more boxes…

Pile of boxes

I swear that this will ruin cardboard for me for life. I don’t want to see another box again ever!

The worst part of moving is how it has impacted my running. I have only run a few miles all week – and the miles I did run were painful. I’m lucky to be marathon tapering right now, so at least I’m feeling a little less pressure to get in the miles, but I’m missing running. I’m starting to get the no-running taper madness. I feel stressed, sleepy, and sluggish. I need a run, but there seems to be so many other things that need my attention (boxes!). I’m sure the cross training of hauling, cleaning, moving, and unpacking is good for me, but it just isn’t running. It’s time for a real run! I’m just going to unpack one more box first…