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Coach Tom McGlynn

Coach Tom McGlynn

Tom started runcoach in 2002. His main objective was to equip more runners with the successful training philosophies he was exposed to. In 2007 Tom and the team found a way to make our proven training more widely available through the new online resource

Tom has qualified for the Olympic Trials Marathon three times (2000 ’04 and ’08). He trained under legendary coach Harry Groves at Penn State and graduated in 1996. Tom ran with the Nike Farm Team and Coaches Jeff Johnson, Vin Lananna, Jack Daniels and Ray Appenheimer from 1996-2004. From 2004-2006 Tom served as Assistant Distance Coach to Frank Gagliano for the Nike Farm Team.

Through runcoach Tom has helped thousands of runners set new PR’s. He has trained Marathoners ranging from 2:15 to 8:15 and remains convinced that anyone can improve their running with the right approach.

February 01, 2020

The Art of Hydration


screen shot 2012-08-21 at 4.27.42 pm

You already know how to hydrate and how to run.  But do you know how to put the two together?

It has been proven that proper hydration can drastically improve race results but many runners have trouble drinking water and sports drink while on the move.  The constant motion jostles your stomach which is already void of necessary blood resources which are attentive to your leg muscles. This is one of the many reasons that the art of hydration is essential.

We use the word ‘art’ as opposed to ‘science’ because there is a limited amount of calories and fluids that can be utilized intra-run (unlike cycling, walking and other activities).  Because of this we recommend experimentation to determine the most effective personal hydration routine (ie. Much like runcoach training the below is not a one-size-fits-all assignment. Experiment and find the routine that works best for you).

Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Your hydration routine starts before the run
  2. Drink 8-16 ounces of water or sports drink with your pre-run breakfast (slightly more on race day when you are up early and have more time to digest)
  3. Coffee shouldn’t count into this equation as it is ultimately a diuretic (makes you pee)
  4. Caffeine is fine to consume as is normal for you
  5. Clear urine is a great sign
  6. Stay hydrated leading up to the run
  7. Take one final bathroom break right before the run
  8. Then take one final drink before your start (less than 2 minutes prior is best)

For runs longer than 75 minutes or runs in the heat, you will need more than just water.  We recommend sports drinks containing sugar and salt in appropriate quantities.  Here are some tips to pick the right drink for you:

  1. Check the race website you are training and find out which sports drink they will serve on the course
  2. If the race drink sits well with your stomach then stick with it; if not go for an alternative
  3. Look for ingredients that include sodium (salt/electrolyte) and sucrose (sugar)
  4. Become well acquainted with the drink and find a way to have it on race day (carry a bottle)
  5. Drink 4-8 ounces of fluid every 20-30 minutes within the run
  6. Sports gels can be effective as they include key nutrients – take these in lieu of a sports drink.  They must be taken with water.
  7. Because of caloric density you may only need to consume gels at every other fluid stop – keep up with water at every stop

Start refining your personal art of hydration at least 10 weeks prior to race day and practice before, during and after most runs.  Here are some tips for refueling on the run without carrying a water bottle:

  1. Hide your water bottle somewhere along your running route
  2. Plan to pass this spot every 20-30 minutes or place more bottles along your route
  3. Invest in a fuel belt.
  4. Enlist a friend to ride a bike with you or meet you intra-run to provide fuel
  5. If gels are your fuel of choice simply carry some with you and then target public water fountains along your course

The exact amount you need to drink can be tricky and will vary from person to person.  Here’s a science project to help you learn about your hydration needs:

  1. Weigh yourself prior to a run without any clothes on
  2. Go for a run
  3. Re-weigh yourself after without any clothes on
  4. Calculate the difference and hydrate accordingly within your next run

Example: if you weighed 160 before a 90 minute workout and then weigh 157, you have lost 3 pounds and require 48 ounces of liquid. Your schedule for a similar event would be 8 ounces every 15 minutes to maintain your weight.

Note: This is just an example.  Please try this yourself and keep in mind that the amount you need will vary depending on the temperature, humidity and other personal physiological factors.

Proper hydration can improve your race results from 5K to the Marathon.  Invest some time into the development of your art of hydration.

 

This is the general race weekend final instructions note. 

Remember to lay low and stay off your feet the days before the race (no Expo attendance for longer than 1 hour). Your reward is race day itself and the challenge of running. . . .

Arrival

Make sure you get outside and feel the air.  Go for at least a 20 minute walk or jog on either the day before, or two days before (or whatever is on your schedule).

Think about what you did, not what you didn’t do in your training.  When you go to pick up your  race number or run into old friends, family etc. everyone will want to ask about your training so they can tell you about theirs.  Forget about theirs and don’t compare yourself to anyone.  The training plan that you completed has been highly successful for many runners.  So when “joe cool” tells you he did ten 25 mile runs just remember all the good workouts you have completed.

Night Before, Morning Of

Have a full meal the night before.  Try and consume some complex carbohydrates (pasta).  Do not over eat, but make sure you fill up.

On race day eat some calories early in the 400-500 range of carbohydrates including the sports fluid you drink.  For mid-morning race, you may want to have a few extra calories because of the late start or have a snack in the 100-200 calorie range wants you arrive at the race site.  Drink gatorade (or any sports drink that doesn’t include protein) and/or water frequently to assure you are hydrated (clear urine is a good sign).  You should stay well-hydrated throughout the morning before the race.  At some point prior to the race stop drinking so you can empty your bladder before the start.  It is important to refrain from over-consumption of water alone, as that will drain your body of needed electrolytes.

I suggest you take some throw away warmups to the start especially if it rains.  This could be an old t-shirt or old sweat pants.  Also old socks will keep your hands warm. Some runners will even wear the t-shirt for the first couple miles of the race until they warm up and then pull it off and throw it away.  This is a good strategy to prepare for all temperatures.

Take a bottle with gatorade/sports drink to the start with you and right before the gun goes off drink 4-8 ounces.  This is your first water stop.  If you drink close enough to the start you shouldn’t have to pee – the fluid should only drip through your kidneys because most of your resources (blood) will be in your legs and out of your gut.

Early Miles

I suggest that you start 30-60 seconds per mile slower than your Marathon Goal Pace (MGP).  You should run the 2nd mile at 15-30 seconds/mile slower than MGP.  Try to get on pace by the 3rd mile and stay on pace until 18 or 20 miles when the race starts.  I recommend this approach as it may activate (and utilize) a higher percentage of fat fuel over the first couple miles.  Remember we are trying to conserve glycogen and muscle for as long as possible.

Glycogen conservation is key as you can’t rehydrate during a marathon.  So drink early and often (4-8 ounces every 20 minutes).  It is better to consume enough fluid early and sacrifice the later stops if necessary.

Remember the 3 ‘C’s’

Confidence:  Have confidence in your ability and your training.   Remember all those hard workouts you did.  Remember those early mornings, late nights, sore calves, tight hamstrings etc. - they weren’t in jest.

Control:  You must relax yourself early in the race.  You absolutely must go out under control and run easy for the first 18-20 miles.  The marathon is evenly divided into thirds (in regards to effort):  1st 10 miles, 2nd 10 miles and 3rd 10K.  Save yourself for that last 10K by running easy in the beginning.

Collection:  Keep your thoughts collected and on your objective.  In the typical big city marathon there will be about 250,000 distractions along the way.  The further you get in this race the more you need to focus on yourself, goals and race strategy.  Don’t let the fans and competitors into your zone.

The Ebb and Flow

I said before that I can’t guarantee anything about the training or the Marathon race itself.  Well, I can guarantee this:  you will feel good at some point and you will feel bad at some point within the race.

Marathons always ebb and flow, runners never feel terrific the entire way.  We always hit little walls.  If you hit one just focus on the next mile, don’t think about the end of the race.  If you take each difficult moment one mile at a time you will usually feel better at some point.  It always comes back because. . .

You Always Have One Cup Left

That’s right – you always have one cup of energy left.  The difference is that some people find it and some don’t.  Remember what normal, untrained people do when they feel discomfort – they slow down and feel better.  You are not a normal un-trained person.

You are a marathon machine!

As a machine you will have to dig down at the end to determine if you will have a good effort that you can be satisfied with or not.

Go get that last cup!

 

Day Before

Whenever possible, pick up your bib number, timing chip, and goody bag the day before the race.  This way, you won't have to worry about rushing to get it on the morning of the race.  (Added bonus - you will be more likely to get your desired race T-shirt size if you pick it up early!)

Once you have your bib number, pin it to the front of the shirt you will wear on race day.  (Don't pin it to the back).  Most races will have boxes of safety pins for your use.  Take four so that you can fasten all 4 corners. 

Dressing The Part

For race attire, consider some "throw away" warmups for the start.  These will protect you from the elements if it is cold or rainy.  Old socks can come in handy for keeping your hands warm.  Some runners will even wear the t-shirt for the first couple miles of the race until they warm up and then pull it off and throw it away.  This is a good strategy to prepare for all temperatures.

Once the race starts, you WILL warm up.  Be prepared by wearing lighter clothes underneath your "thow away" sweats.  A good rule of thumb: Dress as if the weather is 15 degrees warmer than it is. That's how much you'll warm up once you start running.

Hydration

Drink Gatorade (or any sports drink that doesn’t include protein) and/or water frequently to assure you are hydrated before the race.  Clear urine is a good sign.  At some point (usually 10-20 minutes) prior to the race stop drinking so you can empty your bladder before the start.

Breakfast

We always recommend eating breakfast and an essential, light breakfast is important on race day.  2-3 hours before the race, try to consume 200-400 calories of food you are accustomed to and can easily digest.  Your body will need that fuel in the latter stages of the race. 

Don't try a new food the morning of the race.  Instead, experiment with different foods beforehand or stick to things that have worked for you in the past.  The best breakfast foods contain both complex and simple carbohydrates and high-quality protein (in small amounts).  Your breakfast should include some healthy fats, but also in small amounts.

Heading to the Start Line

There will often be race day traffic so allow plenty of time to get to the starting area.  You will need time to stretch out, do a warm up jog, and use the bathroom.  (Warning:  The lines for the bathrooms at road races are always long.  Don't wait until the last minute to go!)

Pace

Remember this is an endurance race and the key to success is pace.  As soon as the gun goes off remind yourself that you have a long race ahead of you.  Check your breathing, body tension and other physical markers to gauge your pace.  If you are running faster than a pace you can maintain throughout the whole distance, slow down immediately.  The goal of any successful race is to run every mile within 10% of your average pace.

Remember the 3 ‘C’s’

Confidence:  Have confidence in your ability and your training.   Remember all those hard workouts you did.  Remember those early mornings, late nights, sore calves, tight hamstrings etc. - they weren’t in jest.

Control:  Feel comfortable with the pace for the first 1-2 miles.  Stay relaxed and controlled.

Collection:  Keep your thoughts collected and on your objective.  In the typical big city race there will be thousands of distractions along the way.  The further you get in this race the more you need to focus on yourself, goals and race strategy.  Don’t let the fans and competitors into your zone.

You Always Have One Cup Left

That’s right – you always have one cup of energy left.  The difference is that some people find it and some don’t.  Remember what normal, untrained people do when they feel discomfort – they slow down and feel better.  You are not a normal un-trained person.

You are a running machine!

As a machine you will have to dig down at the end to determine if you will have a good effort that you can be satisfied with or not.

Go get that last cup!
March 07, 2020

IT Band Syndrome

it_bandHow to treat the IT band - 

What is IT Band Syndrome?
The Iliotibial Band, or IT Band, is a dense band of connective tissue that originates in the hip (iliacus), runs down the outside of the leg and inserts just below the knee.  Every time you bend your knee the IT Band crosses over a bony protrusion at the outside of your knee.  If the band becomes tight it starts to snap more aggressively over this bone and it can then get irritated and inflamed.  When this happens you have IT Band Syndrome.

Common signals or symptoms:
- The most common symptom is pain at the outside of the knee.  
- Tightness at the outside of the hip.
- Soreness in the lateral (outside) quad muscle.
- Swelling around the knee

Prevention Tips:
There are a number of things a runner can do to prevent IT Band Syndrome.  
The easiest thing to do is use a foam roller, "the stick" or some other form of self massage.  This is probably the most effective thing you can do to keep the IT Band loose.  There are also various IT Band stretches but many people have a hard time getting into a position where they actually feel an effective IT Band stretch.
Other causes:
  • -Lazy stretching routine 
  • -Pushing too hard -- run too far or for too long
  • -Lack of rest between workouts
  • -Worn-out sneakers
  • -Steep downhill runs
  • -Running only on one side of the road (Roads slope toward the curb, which tilt your hips and IT band)
Treatment:

The most effective treatment is rest.
If your knee is swollen, ice, compress and elevate.
If you can find a pool, you can swim to maintain aerobic conditioning.
Get a massage on your quads, hips, and hamstrings 
Foam roll 2-3 times per day
Perform IT band, glute stretngth exercises


Video demonstrating Hamstring Bridge (also works glutes)
Video demonstrating Single Leg Squat
Video demonstrating Glute Stretch

Day Before

Whenever possible, pick up your bib number, timing chip, and goody bag the day before the race.  This way, you won't have to worry about rushing to get it on the morning of the race.  (Added bonus - you will be more likely to get your desired race T-shirt size if you pick it up early!)

Once you have your bib number, pin it to the front of the shirt you will wear on race day.  (Don't pin it to the back).  Most races will have boxes of safety pins for your use.  Take four so that you can fasten all 4 corners. 

Dressing The Part

For race attire, consider some "throw away" warmups for the start.  These will protect you from the elements if it is cold or rainy.  Old socks can come in handy for keeping your hands warm.  Some runners will even wear the t-shirt for the first couple miles of the race until they warm up and then pull it off and throw it away.  This is a good strategy to prepare for all temperatures.

This is the general race weekend final instructions note.  Remember to lay low and stay off your feet the days before the race (no Expo attendance for longer than 1 hour). Your reward is race day itself and the challenge of running. . . .

To the Fleet of Feet,
I realize that we have many new runners and that even some of our veterans can always use a concise explanation of our training philosophy.

So in an effort to keep everyone on the same page, here's 1-pager on how the Focus-N-Fly training philosophy functions (say it fast 10x).

The stress from our training leads to the adaptation in recovery and subsequent peak performance.
We like to consider successful training a a repetition of completing the STAR.

 

You might think that running 100 meter strides won't prepare you for running a 5k, 10k,

half marathon, or marathon, but we promise that it will.  Take each stride as an

opportunity to focus on your running form.  Over time, those form improvements will

carry over into your training runs, your pace runs, and (most importantly!) your races. 

This is Coach Tom’s favorite routine which will target many of the running muscles and also areas of weakness. It takes just 20 minutes and it will develop your flexibility, strength, and core muscles. (Core muscles include the muscles in your abdomen, back, pelvic floor, and glutes.) We recommend that you do 8-10 reps, 2 times per week. If any of the exercises are too challenging at first, please shorten the duration. Over time, you will get stronger and be able to increase the duration.

Left and Right Side Planks - Targets the lateral abs

Hamstring Bridge - Targets the hamstrings (back of the thighs) and gluteus maximus (buttocks)

Cobra - Abdominal Stretch

Close Hand Push Ups - Also known as Narrow Grip Push Ups

Glute Stretch - Stretches the buttocks muscles

Single Leg Squat - Challenges balance, quadriceps (front of thighs), hamstrings (back of thighs), and glutes (buttocks muscles)

Quad Stretch - Stretches the front of the thighs

Partner Punishment - Targets abdominal muscles

Pointers - Core Body Stabilization

Hamstring Stretch - 3 different stretches that target the back of the thighs

Pretzel Stretch - Stretches the muscles of the back

Calf Stretch - Stretches the calves (back of lower leg) and achilles (back of feet)

Leg Swings - 3 different exercises that target the core muslces and stretch the pelvis, hips, and hamstrings

Foam Roller - "Self Massaging" routine

 

 

 

After an easy jog (according to your schedule) and light stretch, these drills will help prevent injuries, improve your running form, and increase speed.  Please review the 7 videos below for descriptions of each.

Toe Walking

Heel Walking

Rhythm Skip

Bounding

High Knees

Butt Kicks

Quick Skip

After each drill you should run the remaining distance to cover 100 meters so that when the 7 drills are complete you will have run 7×100 meters (exercises included).  Then finish up your warmup with 3×100 meter strides.  The 100 meters should be at your 1500 meter pace.  Give yourself at least 30 seconds recovery (feel free to take up to 1 minute if desirable).  Please review the video below for a description of a stride.

Strides

We suggest you perform these drills and strides prior to all track workouts or tempo runs.

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