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What To Do When Your Goal Race Gets Delayed?
Don’t Give Up.

amanda_2As the global pandemic nears year one, the mass participation road racing scene is still far from normal. The optimist in you hoped 2021 would finally be the year in which live road race returned to its full glory. Still, races are getting postponed (with valid reason) to the second half of the year. How long should you hold out hope?  What to do with extra time?


First and foremost, absolutely hold on to that optimism! Your favorite road race, standing among strangers, butterflies in your stomach, and the minty muscle cream scent in the air will return. But I empathize with you, as my own race opportunities dwindle away each month. You’re allowed to feel disappointed. Allow yourself the time to go through the stages of coping using the techniques below.


1) Work On Weaknesses

Life is all about perspective. In any circumstance, the way you frame it allows you to move forward. I encourage you to see the delay as extra time to prepare (different from extra time to wait to start).

We all have areas of opportunities to develop and refine. Whether it’s physical (shin splints, weak glutes, runner’s knee, tendonitis), a target weight-loss goal, or mental (anxiety, mental strength to dig deep when it feels hard) the additional months can be invaluable to prepare your body and mind to have an exceptional race when it’s “go time”.


2) Scale Back

A common topic I discuss with my athletes is over-training. It’s the quickest way to kill your joy for running. If your goal race is a half marathon or longer, and the race is postponed, there is no additional benefit to keep loading up on miles. Instead, shift your focus to maintain fitness and find smaller goals to excite you.


3) Setup Time Trials

If this is a new word for you, think of a “Time Trial” as a practice race. Having a goal that you can chase on your own terms can be a big win (especially given the uncertainty  in today’s world). Time trials can help to gauge your fitness, practice pace, try out race tactics, go through race day logistics like type of breakfast, and hone in on the mental side of racing.

Jeff_brune_boston_2Runcoach athlete Jeff is in a similar situation to many BQ athletes. He was hopeful Boston 2021 would go on in April. Most of his preparation in 2020 was done with hope of running a memorable 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. With the recent news of Boston getting pushed back to the Fall, he’s once again reassessing his training.

Jeff wrote, “I want to chase a half marathon PR, even at altitude I think my old PR is vulnerable”.  That’s all a coach needs to hear, a spark of motivation. We decided on a half marathon time trial about a month out from the initial discussion, with training specifically focused on crushing his current personal best.


4) Explore Off-Road

Without a tight timeline to get ready for “race day” you have a free pass to run on trails, grass, packed snow (stay upright though!). Simply do something different to shake up your usual routes.

Doing so will not only help you see some different scenery, but it will challenge your body to activate muscle groups you don’t normally use while running on a flat road.



In short, when things change... don’t quit. Instead adapt and move forward with your running shoes ON!



Single Leg Squat Video

Written by Coach Hiruni W January 26, 2021
Use this powerful and effective exercise to activate your glutes. 

When you lower  the body on one leg it requires serious control and stability. This act allows you to build lower body strength.
The movement also fires up smaller muscles challenging the core and hip.

Coach Tom demonstrates two variations to include in your injury prevention or pre-run routine. 

Variation 1 = For Beginners
Variant_1


Variation 2 = For Advanced Runners
variant_2



Audrey successfully completed the Marine Corps Marathon a couple times, but kids and life kept her busy and away from marathons for almost 21 years. This year, she virtually completed MCM using Runcoach training! 

“ I am a respiratory therapist and this pandemic has been very stressful on all of us healthcare providers. Spending time improving my physical health has helped my mental and spiritual health too.”aud_3

Major milestone:

This was my first Marathon in 20 yrs! The last Marine Corps Marathon was about 21 yrs ago when I was pregnant with my youngest who is now 20. I ran with a running club and all we did was run. I remember in the training we ran up to 24 miles and being so sore after each long run! After kids, I ran 3-5 times a week, but rarely more than 3 miles.

 

What is the secret to your success?

This time I followed Runcoach almost to the letter including the cross training and core. I only ran 17 or 18 miles before the race went virtual. I was worried and emailed coach Tom because I was concerned it wasn't enough running. He said it was, and I ran the virtual MCM with a local run group.

 

What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it?

Since the man who plotted the course was an ultramarathoner, his course had all kinds of hills -- It was harder than the actual MCM course would have been. I was a little scared. Once I hit 18 and could still run, I relaxed a little.. then 20, then 24. It was in the 50s in Maryland, windy and pouring rain all day. I finished in a little over 6 hrs. I didn't think I would have taken that long but those hills were tough. I was prepared to be sore the next couple days. To my surprise, I was not! The training really helped and now my next goal is to run an ultramarathon in March 2021.

 

What’s the most rewarding part of training?

The accomplishments! Doing things, like push ups or planks, that I could never do before. I am a respiratory therapist and this pandemic has been very stressful on all of us healthcare providers. Spending time improving my physical health has helped my mental and spiritual health too.

 

What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community?

For those training, follow the program. It helps! And if you have questions the coaches do actually answer in a timely manner and have great advice. I have always had knee pain after running. I learned it was the way I run. I watched a video, changed how I run, and voila... why didn't someone tell me that years ago?

Anything else you would like to share?

I'm using Runcoach to train for the ultra!



Glute Activation is Key

Written by Rosie Edwards January 12, 2021

As a runner, chances are at some point or another you’ve experienced pain in your hamstrings, knees, or lower back that just won’t seem to let up no matter how much you stretch.
Interestingly enough, this pain may actually be stemming from inactive glute muscles (also known as the ol’ butt).

Luckily, performing a few simple activation exercises pre-run can stop this pain in its tracks, allowing you to run powerful, strong, and injury free.

“So why aren’t my glutes firing?” you may ask.
The most commong reason is that most people sit for long periods of time. The glute muscles tend to stop firing due to a lack of oxygen and tightened hip flexors. This, in return, puts more strain on the lower back, hamstrings, and knees, that imbalanced and stiff feeling when you head out for a run.

Add these simple exercises to your warm up routine and get those glutes firing.
Turn up the intensity of these exercises by adding a resistance band. Aim for 2 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

>> Glute activation video via Single Leg Squat <<

Exercises:

1. Clam shells
 clamshell Lay on your side, with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Keep your feet and ankles together and raise your top knee. Make sure not to raise the knee too high-you should feel a slight tug in the glute area





2. Single Leg Bridgebridge

Keep your one knee bent, and straighten the other legs. Slowly move your leg up and down. Make sure you aren’t feeling this in your hamstring, you want the glutes to be doing all the work.







3. Prone Leg Liftsprone

Lying flat on your stomach, focus on raising first one leg at a time. If the knee bends you are using too much hamstring.










4. Fire Hydrantsfirehydrant
Place your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Flex your feet and keep both your feet flexed even as you raise one leg.

Then raise one leg out to the side, keeping the knee bent to 90 degrees. Lift it as high as you can while keeping your arms straight. Try to not let the foot get higher than the knee or the knee get higher than the foot. Really squeeze the butt cheek as you lift.

Hold for a second or two at the top. Lower down and then repeat. Complete all reps on one side before switching.



Part 3:  Running Through the Pandemic – Alternatives to Running

 

For the third installation of Running Through the Pandemic, I want to share what I’ve done through the pandemic as alternatives to running.

 

As we move into our 4th quarter of battling Covid-19, many of us find ourselves in need of alternatives to running.

 

In my last two posts, I shared How I Dealt with Bar Air Quality during the fires in the Northwestern part of the U.S. and my Recovery from Injury #2 after my knee surgery in July.

 

For this next edition, I want to discuss some other hobbies I’ve picked up through these uncertain times.  I realize that many of us our back in social restrictions as the virus conditions to disrupt our normal lives and adversely affect so many people.  Additionally, many will now enter the most restrictive winter season without access to gyms and normal workout locations. So here’s what I’ve done (potentially not all positive) in lieu of physical activity.

 

In April, I started fishing more at Coyote Pt. a City Park in San Mateo.  The serenity of the water and the surroundings have always been good for my soul.  Still it is the randomness of the potential and unexpected timing of the reward that drives me the most.  This past spring the San Francisco Bay had one of the best California Halibut runs ever.  My fishing partner/daughter, Riley and I were able to catch this 24” beauty which rendered some wonderful ceviche’ (email me for the recipe’;-).

 halibut

 

I also went back to my youth and taught my older daughter, Olivia how to play my favorite childhood game = Battleship.  As is often the case my 3-0 perfect record soon evaporated an the pupil has now overtaken the teacher.  She leads the series 8-4.

 

 

I also started an online game of Hearts with my mother in western Pennsylvania and my in-laws here in the area.  That has given us time to connect and of course compete during the restrictions.  An online Zoom Christmas Scavenger Hunt with my niece, Elise in Philadelphia was a success (at least in my mind) and Zoom connections have been meaningful throughout.

 

Additionally, I started to play in an online poker game with friends and friends of friends from the East Coast.  This was quite the lesson as I’ve always considered myself a good poker player until I met these guys.  Now I feel like I’ve taken a Master Class in Texas Hold ‘Em and gained what I believe are meaningful insights into playing the hand you’ve been dealt and using the information at your disposal to make good decisions.  Not sure I can entirely recommend this but I wanted to share nonetheless.

 

While I’ve tried meditation throughout the pandemic, the most impactful solace this year was my work with a life coach.  She provides insightful perspective and is an invaluable sounding board as I continue to navigate these choppy waters.

 

Lastly, I’ve enjoyed nights with my wife.  We set use Netflix & Amazon as our before bed hobby and have enjoyed The Boys (not my wife’s favorite), The Social Dillemma (a must see for all of us that look at our phones too often), and especially Schitt’s Creek based on a family that found themselves in crisis long before the pandemic.

 

That’s pretty rosy picture I’ve painted, but the truth of this journey is somewhere in between.  I’ve been moody, anxious and nearly unbearable when not exercising.  I’m sure if you asked my family and those closest to me they would tell a different story of how I’ve been throughout the year, but I keep trying and encourage you all to do the same.  I have also stopped taking calls on my way home from work – it is a terrible habit and I’m happy to be rid of it.

 

If you’ve gotten this far – thank for reading.  I’d love to hear about your alternatives to running and physical activity through the pandemic.

 

Coach Tom’s Top-3 List for Alternatives to Running Through the Pandemic

  1. Double down on all the non-physical activities that bring you joy such as reading, playing cards, watching a TV series, writing, painting, meditation, etc.
  2. Try something new that you wouldn’t normally do.  See my recommendations above.
  3. Stay the course and use this time for resilient self-care and a path forward when things do return to “normal”


ideaWith the holidays around the corner, spending an extra few dollars on your next goal race or the gear to get you there can challenge the budget.  With so much giving to do, here are a few ways to stay on track by taking advantage of some great bargains.

 

Register early and save big!

In many cities, and for lots of walkers and runners, a big local race is often a yearly goal, regardless of what else is on the calendar.  Oftentimes, these races offer deep discounts for next year’s event when you are at the expo for this year’s race, or via email at what may seem like a far too early time to make the commitment.   Registering early can save a large percentage of the last minute or race weekend fee, and can help you commit well in advance and stay on track. Consider it, especially if you have maintained a pattern of registration for some of the same events year in and year out.

 

Want a fitness test without paying big bucks?  Try cross country or an all-comers track meet.

Many recreational runners and walkers don’t consider themselves cross country or track and field athletes, but these races are often low cost ways to mix things up and compete between big goal efforts.  Many all-comers track meets only charge $5-10 to compete, and provide the most fail-safe, flattest course on which you can measure your 5K or even 10K fitness – a track.  Although the change of scenery found on the roads may be more your style, an indoor meet during a snowy winter or a lit track on a dark night may prove a better alternative for a hard effort every once in a while.  Since cross country races for adults tend to cater towards club athletes and not the general public, they tend to have modest fundraising expectations and lower entry fees.  Cross country may also provide a solid shorter alternative to longer trail runs, with much of the same types of course challenges and fun.

 

Run a Relay!

You may want to take part in a local event, but may not be quite prepped to run the entire distance or able to justify the entire entry fee unless you are well prepared.  Some longer races offer relay options, which are a way you can both share the experience with friends as well as take part at a lower price point.  Again, the earlier you register, the better the price!

 

Crack the code!

Before you sign up for your next race, consider if there may be any discounts to that race for groups to which you already belong.  Check your email for discount codes you may have been sent through a running or walking club, a local retailer, a gym or fitness center, or another running connection you may have.  If you know you have a group of individuals or part of a club that may want to run a race, go ahead and ask if you can get a discount for bringing a group.  The worst the race management can say is no, and for a couple of seconds of checking your email, the worst you can find is nothing – this time.  $5 or 10% off might not make a big dent in your budget once, but over the course of a year or two, taking advantage of any code available to you can make a difference, particularly if you end up saving others a few more dollars.

 

Many races exist to help others, and there is a time when a full donation is the appropriate thing to do and is done gladly.  However, taking advantage of opportunities to save here and there can help allow each of us to race a bit more, which helps everyone involved.

 



nervousAt runcoach, we work with thousands of new runners taking aim at their very first half marathon or marathon.  Our goal is to provide you a training path toward success in all of your running endeavors, but as you get started, there are things to avoid, including the following …

 

Don’t change everything at once – make sustainable transitions

Many runners choose to start on the road to an ambitious goal because of a milestone, a health concern, or similar “wake-up call.”  These motivations are strong, but making wholesale amounts of huge changes to your life all at once can result in commitments that don’t stand the test of time.  Embrace the challenges and positive energy provided by the added training – we’ll make sure to give you a progressive plan. Piece by piece, examine the additional areas you want to take on with an incremental approach.

 

Take running advice with a grain of salt

Yes, this sounds strange to warn against taking a lot of advice by giving advice, but the truth is, the internet and magazine stand are chock full of tips on how to build speed, burn fat, eat well, shape your abs, shape your butt, stretch your pinky toe (or don’t stretch your pinky toe at all!) and everything else.  With so much advice out there, it is easy to be overwhelmed about what you should trust.  Many of these advice sources are good, but again, it is not a great idea to take one of absolutely every dish from the buffet.  Keep a file of interesting articles and advice, and over time begin to get a more detailed picture of the types of dietary, ancillary, and other changes might be most helpful to you, leaving aside the more tangential advice for future goal race campaigns.

 

Your five year-old fitness shoes may not be up for the task

Shoes degrade both by use and over time.  While the many different styles of shoes can require some shopping, it is worth making sure that your feet are comfortable and prepared to handle the growing length of your runs.  A pair of shoes that has served as your “running shoes” for many years of sporadic casual use is probably not going to be the best springboard for a healthy and successful goal race campaign.  Invest in some well-fitting running shoes and hopefully in doing so, gird yourself against many potential injury problems.

 

Running can help regulate sleep, but it also requires sleep!

Many new runners or others embarking on their first sustained exercise regimen report the regulative effect running can have on sleep habits.  However, the maintenance of a progressive training plan will require adequate rest.  Your body will need to be stressed in order to be prepared to handle a long race. It will need to recover in order to adapt and be prepared to be stressed again.  Prioritize sleep to get the most out of the work you are putting in.

 

Don’t pick a goal race more than a year or less than a couple months ahead

Picking a race to far into the future can decrease the level of your immediate commitment to the task, where as a goal too close can encourage going over the top and getting injured as you press on toward a goal you wish was a few weeks or months later.  3-6 months is a great sweet spot for a half marathon, with half a year to a year allowing a relaxed and thorough buildup for a goal marathon.  Successful campaigns can most definitely be had with varying timelines, but choosing a horizon that matches your need for a particularly paced buildup can greatly increase your chances for finishing successfully!

 



Part 2:  Running Through the Pandemic – Recovery from Injury

 

For the second installation of Running Through the Pandemic, I want to share my personal injury recovery from this year.

 

Tom_pelotonFirst off, injuries are no fun.  As I’ve discussed training, time trials, and social distanced running with you over the past 2 months, I realize that some of you are in the same boat as me = unable to run.

 

In normal times injuries leave us without our beloved “Runners’ High”, often time a lack of focus, sometimes weight gain, and a general ambivalence about our path forward. It feels like this is magnified 10x via our current disruptive work environment, home schooling and overall lack of socialization.

 

I began to experience chronic knee pain in January.  Unfortunately, this we not the typical tight quads and non-firing glutes.  On July 16th, I had a scope of the knee to remove some loose pieces and examination of the trochlea head.

 

Not surprisingly, my surgeon discovered evidence of all the 60,000 miles of running my knees have endured over the last 30 years.

 

My recovery has been slow.  I am near pain free walking but can’t do single leg squats which is one of the markers, my physical therapis Ky set as a prerequisite to running.

 

Frankly, this has left me unfocused in everyday tasks, less productive, generally ambivalent and somewhat rutter-less.

 

Sound familiar?

 

When I walked on at Penn State, my coach - the late, great Harry Groves, made this guarantee to me:  if you train hard – you will improve and eventually get injured.

 

Coach Groves passed in February with a tremendous legacy of instilling strong work ethic in young men and I’m often reminded of the lessons he taught.  He had a way of challenging us with lots of explicit-ridden acronyms such as “GOYFA”, where G = Get, O = Off, Y = Your and I’ll leave the F & A to your imagination.

 

With no running in the past 6 months and probably none until at least next year, I was forced to think of how I would move forward and get off my proverbial seat.  The real impetus for the start of Runcoach was that running has always been more than a sport or exercise for me.  When I’ve been stuck, running is the milieu for a path forward.

 

Almost always injuries are mitigated with physical therapy.  Often times it is not the therapy itself, but the psychosomatic benefits of doing something as opposed to nothing.  So, I continue to be religious with my PT.

 

After years of despising the bike and spin workouts, I’ve found a new, non-inflammatory love of the Peloton.  There’s just something about that leaderboard and those spunky instructors urging me along.  I’d love to follow you on Peloton and join you for a class and my user name is RuncoachTom.

Meanwhile, my former running partner, Lester (yellow lab) continues to need his exercise and at 8 years-old my knee injury is a Blessing for him.  We routinely log 15K steps/day and sometimes stretch to 20K+.

 

The combination of my PT, the Peloton, and walking Lester keeps me moving forward.  In these times, we need to find whatever we can to resiliently keep on.

 

I also am grateful for all the miles I was able to run and those still ahead.  It is funny how much one appreciates something routine after it is gone.

 

For all of you who have been on the sidelines like me either currently or historically, I encourage you to focus on what you can do today, and the potential of what tomorrow may bring.

 

As always, any movement leads to activity which becomes a path forward.

 

Coach Tom’s Top-5 List for Moving Through Injury in the Pandemic

1. Focus on your physical therapy, flexibility and strength work as there are multiple benefits
2. Draw strength from all the great coaches and motivators you’ve had along the way
3. Find a new activity that does not aggravate your injury
4. Be grateful for all the miles you’ve logged to date
5. Remain hopeful for what the future may bring



Jerric_blogJerric restarted his relationship with running after a 15-year hiatus. His return has been nothing short of remarkable. While juggling the demands of family, a career, and training, he recently set a 27 minute personal best while completing the NYRR NYC Virtual Marathon. Read about his "not so secret" tips for success!

Major milestone:

I started running around Christmas 2018 after 15 years! Then I completed by 1st marathon in Chicago in October 2019 (finish time 4:18). Just completedmy 2nd marathon the NYC (virtual) in October 2020, big personal best of 3:51

What is the secret to your success?

There really is no secret here - you must put in the time and work for training. But I also view my running time as my "me" time." I reflect on my day ahead, I catch-up on podcasts, I listen to audiobooks, I let my mind wander...

What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it?

The biggest challenge is balancing running with family and career. There are days when I have an early meeting so I will wake up really early (4:30am) to get my run in. If it's important enough, you'll get it done.

What is the most rewarding part of training?

Nothing beats crossing the finish line. While overall health and wellness is the over-arching goal (and Runcoach shows how you are improving which is very encouraging), crossing a finish line is a tangible milestone on this journey. And thinking of all your family and friends who support you through the good times and bad as you cross that finish line is humbling.

What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community?

Follow the schedule Runcoach gives you. If you stick with the schedule, you will hit your goals. Also, be honest with yourself. If you can only run three times a week, put that in your profile so your schedule reflects this and it's not a stressor.

Anything else you would like to share?

Runcoach has really been good at predicting race performance for me. I keep doubting I'll hit those times for a race but I've managed to. The app is great and has helped me reach my goals. My coach, Hiruni, is always there to keep me focused. And no big deal but she's an 11 time Sri Lanken national record holder :)

What feedback would you offer on the Runcoach experience?

Runcoach has been key in my running journey. The free version gives you a training program that is flexible and will adjust automatically for missed runs and multiple races. The paid version gives you 1:1 coaching (mine is super-friendly and helpful!) and allows for even more customized training schedules. I'm very happy with Runcoach!



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