Brother on the Run: Disney Marathon Weekend

It has been a very long time since I did any writing on running, so I had to look back on the blog to see my last guest post. The last thing I posted on was the Detroit Marathon in October. Life has been hectic since then and I guess it slipped my mind. While my running has not been spectacular, I have done a number of races big and small. As an annual favorite, I once again ran the Walt Disney World Marathon with Dr.Rachel.

The Experience

Disney is always an experience and this year would be no exception. My wife and I like to arrive early to settle into the resort and start getting used to the warmer weather. Having done all my training in the Michigan winter, the heat and humidity of Florida can hit me like a wall at first. This year was even more of an experience when we brought our daughter for her first trip to Disney! I will say that getting through the Disney Marathon Weekend Expo with a wee tiny person was a bit more challenging than I would have thought. Thankfully we went early and were well versed with where to go from having gone in years past.

The expo and grounds were laid out well and we had no issues getting to registration. Lines were short and we were through and shopping for run gear in no time. I always end up picking up a few small things from the expo but this year I was a bit disappointed. The entire slate of official race merchandise did not seem to match the race shirts at all. When I compare the shirts, medals, and pins from 2016 and 2015, it seems like the designs got crossed. It was a little disappointing, but way too much of a first world problem to get hung up on.

Spectator – Half Marathon

I got to sleep in on the first race day this year and instead of running, I watched and cheered for my wife as she and Dr.Rachel completed the half marathon. I really enjoyed the spectator portion of my trip. It was incredibly easy to get around thanks to the wonderful Disney transportation services. I was able to make it to the finish line in plenty of time to see our two runners come down the final stretch and to the finish. Standing there, I started to get a little jealous…..

Runner – Marathon

The big morning came early and thankfully with better weather than 2015. Dr.Rachel and I went as characters from Inside Out this year. I had to dress as Anger and had a lot of fun with the costuming. As we marched our way to corrals, we met up with other Inside Out characters and saw other ingenious costumes. Thanks to another year of running, I was able to start in a higher up corral this year and get going sooner. Waiting around for an hour to start your run is no fun but waiting two hours is even worse.

As we peeled off from the start, I had grand ideas about speed and time. Those ideas were abandoned quickly. It had rained non-stop the day before and the resulting combination of heat and humidity was something I had no way to prepare for. After realizing that it would be better to enjoy the marathon and try not to shrivel up and die in the heat, things became more fun. We stopped for pictures. We talked to people. We checked out the sites. We had a good time. In years past, I have always felt under pressure to race through and get to the finish in the allotted time or to meet some internal marker for time. This year, we instead had more fun with it and ended up with some great pictures. Don’t get me wrong, we still ran hard.

During my last long run, I hurt my knee. I don’t know the technical name for the ligament or muscle that was bothering me but it was a pain and I cursed from mile 19 to 26. The ever helpful medical staff where there with much needed pain medication and when that wasn’t cutting it, some walking breaks helped. Despite the pain, Epcot was great. I really love running through Epcot in the morning and find it to be the highlight of the whole marathon. This year was no exception and turning the corner to see the choir group and know the finish was one bend around was just joyous. My knee even stopped hurting for a bit.

Crossing into the finish, I think I felt the best of all three marathons I have ever run. Sure there was discomfort from the long hot day and the lousy knee, but I have felt a lot worse after a run. We met up with our family and had a good laugh while devouring our snacks. If I had been slightly jealous to see my wife run the half marathon, I entered full ‘medal envy’ status looking at all the runners with Dopey and Goofy completion medals. Just a year ago that had been me and now, sitting with just one medal and a juice box. I wanted more. Needed more.

Brain Worms – Crazy Thoughts

I don’t know about Dopey again; the time commitment and early mornings are a challenge especially with a young family. Goofy. I could run Goofy. Sign me up for 2017!

Guest Post: Have Your Best Run Yet!

I love Clever Training (send me an email to get a code for 10% off!) and buy lots of my training gear from them. Many people know about their awesome selection of running, triathlon, and training gear, but most people don’t know that Clever Training also hosts a great blog with training tips, fun stories, and information about the latest gear. When Ron, the CT Blog guy reached out to me about doing a guest post, I was super excited. I love reading the CT Blog and thought that you would, too. Here’s his post, a set of great tips for having your best run yet. Thanks, Ron!

Have Your Best Run Yet

Any dedicated runner knows that the key to having an amazing run depends on many factors. Perhaps most importantly, it starts with your mentality. Here are a few ways that you can pump yourself up and prepare yourself for your best run yet:

Recognize Negative Thinking

Many runners know that the body can be perfectly capable, but if the mind is not thinking positively, it can have a huge impact on the quality of your run. The trick is to recognize negative thoughts and remember that you have control over them. When a negative thought wanders through your mind, call upon a cue word or song that replaces the negativity with something positive. Focus on the pumping of your arms or your breathing, and you might be surprised at how much easier your run becomes.

Wear the Right Gear

Those shoes you bought for 20 dollars may have been a steal, but you aren’t doing your feet any favors. In order to keep your feet going for long distances, you will need to spend a little more to find the right shoe that is properly insulated. In addition, consider switching from cotton shirts and shorts to moisture-wicking workout clothes. This will help keep the sweat from sticking to your body and turning cold quickly. Having the right workout gear for your runs will allow you to go further distances in comfort.

Learn Proper Breathing

Many long-distance runners make the mistake of breathing too much. This deprives your lungs of oxygen because you are not getting all of the CO2 out of your lungs. Your lungs need oxygen to power you through those distances, so slowing down your breathing will relax you and fully give your lungs the oxygen they need, making running slightly easier. If you get a stitch in your side, matching your stride to your breath will help ease the pain.

Stop Setting Rigid Goals

Setting goals can be good for running, but if your goals are too rigid, then it can fill your mind with a defeatist attitude when you know you are failing to hit that goal. If this happens, don’t focus on the failure to meet your goal. Instead, have back-up goals. For instance, if you set a goal to run nine miles and know that you won’t make it by mile four, set a mini-goal of reaching eight miles instead. Change your self-talk be more positive, and it will help keep you motivated rather than having you want to give up in frustration.

Use Others as Motivation, Not Comparison

Theodore Roosevelt once said that “comparison is the thief of joy,” and this is true in the running world. There is always going to be someone faster than you or who can go longer distances, and this is something that everyone should accept. Instead of getting down about this, use that person as a source of motivation for your next run. Acknowledge that you are only competing against yourself, and that’s all that matters for your enjoyment.

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.

 

Brother on the Run: All the Carbs!

Here’s the latest from the Brother on the Run – he’s training for a marathon and it’s getting serious. His mileage is increasing and he’s hungry. Really hungry. I know all runners can relate.

 

I was told that I looked absolutely panicked when the server tried to take the bread plate from the table.

Sitting at the wedding table with my young daughter, I had not had a chance to grab a roll before dinner.  The rest of the table thought is hilarious as I could only stare in horror as the bread left the table.  I had run 18 miles that morning; I needed some carbs.  Thankfully, the server was only taking the platter to refill it.  When it returned, I grab two rolls and more butter than any one person needed.  Did I mention the running yet?

The sad truth of my weekend was a very long run before a wedding out of state that we almost didn’t make.  As sad as it sounds, the need to get my miles in ahead of the upcoming Detroit Marathon put me into a panic on planning this trip.  The wedding was out of state, which means a long drive and an unfamiliar environment for running.  With a run of 16 to 18 miles planned (required) on Saturday, I had struggled to think of a way to fit everything in.  The easiest action would have been to miss the wedding.  Stop for a moment and consider how sad this idea is – skipping a wedding to get in a run?

Something in me had to be broken.  Miss the wedding for running.  That would be the worst excuse ever to miss a wedding.  Worst.  Ever.

Luckily for me, my wife talked some sense into me and we planned to drive to the wedding on a Friday so I could get my run in on Saturday morning.  In the week leading up to the wedding, I started looking online for running path and trails near the event.  I finally settled on the Prairie-Duneland trail out of Chesterton, IN.  As a part of the Rail-to-Trails movement, the path was paved and 10 miles from end to end with other connecting trails.   The trail was well enough maintained and wide enough for both bikers and runners to pass through.  There were numerous pavilions and frequent enough restrooms.  The biggest issue was crossing roads – many of these interchanges would have high brush that made it hard to note cars and trucks.  Thankfully, I missed the train crossing by about two minutes but that had carried a worry going into the back stretch.

The run went well enough except for losing track of the mileage and going out father than I intended.  I ended up missing meeting a friend for lunch but was able to get my run accomplished.  The wedding was wonderful and thankfully, the infant gave me a convenient excuse to skip dancing and leave early.  My legs were shot and there was no way I was staying up to shut down the event.  I had a recovery run in the morning to start planning.

How To: Race in Multiple Races

Back when I first started running, everyone I knew was training for one event. We would pick a race – a 10k, a half, a full, and train for that one race. We would build our training program around the race, run it, and then enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. Lately, more and more people are choosing to run in back-to-back races. Some run multiple events in one day, or one weekend. Others have been planning seasons that include three or more events in a series. I’ve tried running in multiple events and I love it! I have run in Tampa’s Gasparilla Distance Classic several times – with four races in two days. I’ve run in Disney’s popular Goofy and Dopey race series, with 39.3 or 48.6 miles across multiple races. This fall, for the second year in a row, I will run four marathons in four weeks. This type of multiple event racing isn’t for everyone, but, if you’d like to give it a try, here are my top tips for multiple event racing success:

  • Plan your season around the events as a whole, rather than around one event. For example, this fall I will run four marathons in four weeks. My goal is to run four marathons in four weeks, not to run one marathon well, with a few extra after that. Planning to run only one marathon, then running four sets me up for disappointment, fatigue, and injury. Plan a training season around your goal – which is multiple events in the season.
  • When running in multiple events, you simply can’t train the way you do for a single event. your base fitness has to reflect the nature of your challenge. When building your base, build a base fitness that will prepare you well for the challenge at hand. This means I need to run high mileage multiple weeks in a row to prepare for my four marathons in four weeks extravaganza. Doing Dopey? Plan to run long runs back to back most weeks, with three to four consecutive days of running. Match the training to the specific challenges of your goal.
  • Let your body be your guide. When you’re striving for a new goal, it can be temping to push through aches and pains. Treat the body well, and listen to its cues. Achieving a multiple event goal requires a healthy, fit body.
  • Find a cross training activity that you enjoy. Engage in it often to prevent burn out and to recovery from bouts of hard running.
  • When you have multiple events in one day, practice running twice in one day. Learn how your body responds to multiple events and work on a rest/fueling/hydrating plan that mimics the specifics of your goal events.
  • When you have multiple events across multiple weeks, every event before the last is part of the training for the last event. Plan paces and race strategy accordingly. Remember that every event you run is preparation for the next, so a tough day or a poor performance is just part of the training process.
  • Learn to recover well and practice recovery throughout the training. Develop recovery strategies that suit you and will work within your goal time frame. Develop a long and short term view on recovery. Think of recovery not just as something done in the days or weeks after and event, but something done in minutes and hours after each event. What you do in the first few minutes after racing, and in the next several hours, can make a big difference. Develop a daily routine for recovery and wellness.  Practice season-long recovery strategies, too, including such as massage, foam rolling, and other body work. The quality of your next race depends on your ability to recover as well as you can in the time that you have before the event.
  • The goal after your first event is to be recovered enough to race again. When races are very close (hours to days), accept that some fatigue will be part of every event after the first. When you have a week between events, use that week to recover, rest, and prepare the body to race again. As the time between events becomes longer, expand the rest/recovery time and start to add in easy-paced running. Use the time between events to maintain the fitness you have, not to train.

Dopey

Racing multiple events can be exhilarating and can add a new challenge to the racing season for even the most accomplished runners. When planning carefully, runners can have great success (and a lot of fun!) running multiple events. Need help planning your multiple event calendar? Consider hiring a running coach. More information on training with Dr. Rachel Runs can be found above, in the Coaching tab.

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

Running Safety

Lately, the news has been filled with cases of runners in bad situations –interactions with motorists that went poorly and stories of serious harm seem more common. In the majority of situations, runners have done everything they could to avoid harm, but we can never be too careful. Here are some of my favorite safety tips.

First, stay alert to your surroundings. I know many runners enjoy running with music piped directly to their ears through a variety of noise-cancelling headphones. It is safest to run without music, fully able to hear the world around you. If you must run with music, consider leaving one headphone out of your ear and keep the volume to the lowest possible level. This will enable you to hear things going on around you, and help you stay alert for dangers that may be difficult to see. You’ll also be a good running citizen when you can hear the instructions and prompts of those around you.

Run against traffic when on the roads, or on sidewalks when available. By facing oncoming traffic, you can observe the driving habits of cars near you. You can also react more quickly to danger you see coming.

Look both ways before crossing streets (and train tracks) and make sure the driver of the oncoming car acknowledges your right of way before entering the roadway. You may have the right of way, but you still need to obey traffic signals that apply to pedestrians. Cross only in designated crosswalks and be courteous of drivers. Consider using hand signals or pointing in the direction you wish to go. This lets motorists know where you’re headed next.

Wear bright clothing and clothing with reflective details for dusk and dawn runs. If you must run in very low light, wear a headlamp, or a vest with flashing front and rear lights. Vests with built-in LED lighting are inexpensive and easy to find on the internet. Wearing one if you must run in low light will make you significantly more visible to others.

Carry or wear identification. I use a RoadID, a small wrist band (also available as a shoe tag, ankle band, and comfort wristband on RoadID.com) that includes my basic information. At minimum, include your name, date of birth, and the contact number of someone who can help in the event you are medically incapacitated. I have a medical condition, so I’ve paid extra to obtain a RoadID with a special code that enables first responders to access my medical information online in the event I’m unable to speak for myself. In a pinch, you can write this information on the inside of your shoe.

Carry your cell phone, and a small amount of cash. You never know when you might need a ride, a tasty beverage, or a donut mid-run.

Vary your running routes. Run in familiar areas if possible, but try to avoid taking the same route over and over again. Make sure someone knows where you are going and what time you will be home. I share this information with a loved one or fellow runner (who knows this is important). There are also several run tracking apps available that provide real time tracking for runners to be shared with individuals you identify. Among the most popular are the RoadID app and RunSafe. Both have alerts that can be customized for use in the event of an emergency. Run with someone when you can, or in populated areas.

RoadID app

Be cautious about where and how you post your routes on social media, including run tracking apps. If you run often enough, you’ll be tempted to start tracking your runs with GPS and posting them to Gamin Connect, Strava, Nike Plus, or some similar social sharing site. Be sure that your security settings are at least somewhat private, or don’t post runs that start or end at your house. Protect your personal information. Be wary about posting routes on other social media sites if your privacy settings are loose.

Be nice to other people. Avoid verbal altercations. Mind your manners and be a good citizen.

Carry something that makes noise, or practice whistling. You may need to get someone’s attention, or alert wildlife to your presence. Being able to make a loud noise is good.

While we can’t fully protect ourselves from the unknown, we can all take basic steps to reduce risks while still enjoying the sport we love. I hope that you stay safe out there.

Troy Conquered 26.2!

My brother has been an amazing client, one of the best I’ve ever had as a running coach. Maybe I’m biased because he’s my brother, but he did an amazing job of training for, and finishing his first marathon. Following along as he chronicled it for this blog as been a joy. Here’s his summary of the whole thing:

 

5 hours 34 minutes 55 seconds.

My official marathon time (even though Dr.Rachel’s Garmin put us at 26.85 miles).

I didn’t care it was raining and getting cold. After standing and walking for 45 minutes, all I wanted was to sit down and eat. The discomfort was manageable, but my mental focus just kept drifting. Exhaustion had caught up and still, I was proud of my accomplishment.

It was amazing to cross the finish line and be handed a medal with Dr.Rachel standing beside me. I couldn’t have done this without her and the rest of my family. Dr.Rachel helped with the training, nutrition, and pacing to keep me going through the race. Wifey put up with me being gone every Saturday and Sunday for months and my neurotic behavior about my mileage every night. The rest of the family was there to support, cheer, and encourage us on. It was a great experience.

It has also been a great learning tool. Through the training, I have learned a lot as a runner and improved as a runner because of it. Dr.Rachel originally asked me to chronicle the training. Much of what has been written are the lessons I have learned along the way.

So to finish off, here is a synopsis of some of the things I learned:

  • Each new distance hurts (i.e. discomfort). Some old distances hurt every time. You just have to keep going.
  • Benjamin Franklin is quoted as “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Yes, there is an element of physical health but it turns out running a marathon is just being more determined and more persistent than the road.
  • Kits may not make the runner but they go a long way in making it comfortable to run. Invest in a set of high quality clothing for long runs (if nothing else).
  • Chaffing happens; nip guards exist for a reason. Vanity doesn’t exist at mile 26.
  • Food and water. Water and food. More food. Maybe a nap. Can you nap while eating?
  • Bring extra gear – long pants, shorts, long sleeves, t-shirts, arm warmers, blankets, ponchos, etc. Weather changes and better to be prepared than miserable.
  • Use training runs to make mistakes – try out different paces and fueling strategies until you find one that works.
  • A finisher medal may seem trite but damn does it feel good; good enough to make all the other discomfort silent. If just for a moment.
  • The best way to finish is to sign up for another race – I am already signed up for Detroit 2015.
  • Brain Worms will consume you.

Texts from Marathon Training

One of the best experiences of my running life has been completing the Dopey Challenge with my brother and a close friend. Running through the parks side by side with my brother is one of the most amazing things I have ever done. Part of what’s made it so fun for me has been being with him on his journey as he trained for the marathon. It’s been funny, challenging, and a true joy. Since we live in different parts of the country, the training process has been chronicled in a series of text messages to each other. Here are some highlights – a representation of what training for a marathon is really like.

October – getting the running bug

I made a decision. 2015 I want to run the Detroit Marathon. Yup. Gonna happen.

I had popcorn. And someone brought in homemade chocolate chip cookies. Totes for realz. I want that cookie…

Oh. I has a sad. Ate back all the calories from running today. Food is too delicious.

Gah. Something in me is broken. Going to an Arkansas wedding this weekend. On the internet looking for running trails.

November – mileage gets higher…text revolve around food.

I hunger. I must feast. That is how I have felt all day.

I have snacks hidden and hoarded. I will not be denied.

I feel like a squirrel prepping for winter. Eating and hiding food to eat later all at the same time.

I spend too much time running of thinking of running right now. Literally I have spent lunch planning and writing in excel my fuel strategy.

December  – things start to get serious and race planning begins.

13 is no worry anymore. Which is nice. And 16 was easier today. That last mile is killer though.

Working recovery now.

My goal is to enjoy the 5, 10, and half. My biggest goal for the marathon is to ride the ride and cross the finish line.

40 and pouring rain. Not running today outside. Rest day! Christmas miracle!

Post-race.

357 days and 15 hours. January 6 2016. Who is in for runDisney?

Gear Review: Link Laces

Recently, I was approached by the people at Link Laces to review their product. Always willing to try new things, my mom and I reviewed the laces. I found them easy to use and install, but, being a regular shoelace person, didn’t have a strong opinion. So, I asked mom to review them. Mom regularly uses LockLaces and likes the elastic shoelaces. Here is what she had to say:

Link Laces are a elastic laces for shoes replacing standard laces.  The package comes with simple instructions to lace, cut, lock, and clip.    The laces were shorter than I was accustomed to, but I do not use the last hole on my shoes.  The tight spring loaded lock keeps the laces in place.

Link Laces

The shorter length meant a tighter fit when I slipped on my shoes, I tend to pull the tongue out a bit more than these would allow.  The clip cinched up nicely and I was ready for the first of several trial uses.  On the short walk, they were perfect, keeping the shoes firmly secure but not putting undo pressure on the top of my feet.  The next longer and admittedly warmer walk I had problems with the tight elastic laces. As my feet swelled, the laces remained firmly unstretchable.  I had to stop several times to adjust the tension for a more comfortable fit.  The main reason I want a product such as this is to keep from frequently stopping to readjust my laces as my feet change during my walks.   Finally I used the laces on shoes I planned to wear all day.  I encountered a similar problem, as my feet changed, the laces did not. It was not a comfortable fit.  I continued to try the Link Laces under various conditions and length of time worn, thinking it was just me or the shoes.

Link Laces in shoesI gave the Link Laces a fair chance to work, but for me, not so much.  The ease of slipping on shoes and cinching up got me out the door quick, but the trade off was stopping to adjust the laces on longer walks or warmer conditions.  It made my shoes just too tight for the long haul.  I will pass on adding these to my footwear.

Note: We were provided with complimentary product to complete this review, but were not compensated for the review.