Category Archives: Running

Training for a Flat Marathon

When preparing for a flat marathon (like the NJ marathon), you may need to modify your training plan a little to better prepare for the unique demands of racing on a long, flat course. When most runners hear the word “flat” used to describe a marathon, we think “oh, that’ll be easy”. However, that may not be the case. Flat does not mean easy, especially if you’re not accustomed to training on flat terrain. Running on terrain you aren’t used to, can lead to muscle fatigue and cramping due to your body’s lack of muscle memory for the repetitive impact load on your muscles. Plus, it can be hard for the mind because of the monotony of the course. So one of the best ways to prepare for a flat marathon course is to shift more of your training to flat surfaces.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a flat race:

Hit the Track- There is no better place to run your speed and tempo workouts for a flat course than on a flat track. You can include shorter, 400m or 800m repeats or longer, 1-2 mile repeats to your training.

Hit the Treadmill- This certainly is not the most fun option, but it can be a good resource, especially if you can’t get to the track (i.e. it’s raining, snowing, too hot, etc…)  Treadmills are especially convenient for runners who travel and need to get their runs in.

Vary Your Long Runs- Try to find routes that offer flat stretches of road or path. The best way to prepare your body for a long, flat course is to simulate it with a long, flat training run. Once you have a flat course you like, you can begin to alternate it with your usual rolling hill routes.

Happy Running!

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Be Ready on Race Day!

The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon/ Half Marathon is only 4 weeks away!!! With race day on the horizon, here are a few training tips and things you need to know in order to ensure you’re ready on race day!!

Four weeks out:

  • This is when we start to second guess ourselves. We ask ourselves “Have I trained enough?” “Should I squeeze in one more long run?” -These are some common worries we all have, but from what I learned, less is more. It’s not the time to do anything crazy. It’s the time to let the body start to recover and build its strength up for race day.
  • The training you do today takes 2-3 weeks to have a real long-term effect on your fitness. So keep everything the same for the next two weeks. Then once you’re two weeks out, you reach a point of diminishing returns if you are not careful. Run smart, follow and trust your training.
  • Focus on maintaining your fitness and not injuring yourself so that you can feel good  on race day.
  • Your longest run should take place either 3 or 4 weeks out from the race. After that, start to taper.
  • Two weeks before, begin to reduce your weekly miles.
  • One week before, make your runs EASY.

One week away:

  • The final week is a crucial time. All those tough weeks of training need to count, so look after yourself and your body.
  • Tapering is all about balance. You don’t want to run too hard where you’ve exhausted yourself, but you don’t want to completely rest either or or may feel sluggish on race day. Your body loves routine so stick with yours. However, instead of going hard, try for more easy and relaxed runs with friends.
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who are going to make you feel good and excited about the race!
  • Be sure to get lots of sleep. Protect the immune system and take care of yourself.
  • Avoid heavy strength and conditioning or gym workouts this week. More time does not mean starting a new lifting routine. Wait until after the race.
  • Stay hydrated!

Nutrition:

  • Don’t ruin your hard work. Remember, you can’t out run poor nutrition. So just eat normally and gradually reduce the volume and intensity of your training,  this is a natural carb load.
  • Your body needs the quality calories to keep your glycogen (carbohydrate stores) topped off so you feel great in training and on race day.
  • Be sure you’re choosing to eat healthy snacks and well balanced meals.
  • Eat your normal pre-race or pre- long run breakfast. Don’t suddenly change your diet. This is not the time to experiment with something new. You don’t want to feel sluggish or sick.

The final 24 hours

  • Go for that 2-3 mile jog to loosen the legs and calm the nerves. Try to release any anxiety you may have.
  • Look at the weather and be sure to wear clothing that will keep you cool and comfortable. Do not wear new clothes that you have not run/trained in. Go for comfy pre-washed clothes you know will help you feel good.
  • Pack your bag with all that you will need on race day – safety pins for your race number, warm clothes for before and after, toilet paper, chapstick, glide, snacks, fluids, you’re running watch, and iPod.
  • Avoid spending lots of time on your feet walking with family or friends and sightseeing the day before. Put your feet up and rest. (I’ve made this mistake before and paid for it dearly during the race.)
  • Snack on small meals throughout the day and stay well hydrated. I can’t say that enough… hydration is critical!
  • Eat your last main meal between 6-7pm. Look for easily digested carbs.  Don’t go to bed stuffed.
  • Get to bed early. Try your best to rest and relax!

Race day

  • YAY!! It’s finally here. Now is the time to be excited. Trust your training and know that everything will be ok!!
  • Try to stay relaxed and calm.
  • Eat the race day breakfast you have practiced in training approximately 1.5 – 2 hours before the race start.
  • Make sure you have your bib, GU/gels/blocks, your bag for after, etc… all the essentials you need before you leave the house.
  • Know your pace and split times, don’t rely solely on your GPS. The arm bands they hand out at the expo are really helpful.
  • Some people like to jog or warm up before the race, while others use the first 1-2 miles as their warmup. Do what feels right for you.
  • Hand in your post race bag and head to the corral about 20-30 minutes before the start. Keep your warm clothes on before you go. When you get the go, enjoy the your 26.2 journey. You’ve trained, you’re ready, now is the reward for all your hard work. Enjoy it!!

Race strategy

  • Don’t start too fast, ease into your pace.
  • Run at the pace you have practiced. After building into your target marathon pace, pay attention to your splits to help ensure you’re on track.
  • Try not to bank too much time in the beginning. This can hurt you at the end and make you unable to maintain pace. If you’re feeling good after the first half of the race, then pick it up.
  • Slow down at water stops and sip your sports drinks and/or water.
  • Remember to smile, take time to relax and draw in the atmosphere! These memories are sure to last a lifetime. Enjoy every step!

Wishing everyone an awesome race! Enjoy your time and the shore. Take in the sights, breathe in the ocean air, and smile at all the spectators there to cheer you on along the way! Have fun, run happy & strong!

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The Need for Speed

I have never incorporated speed work into my marathon training before this year. I was always intimidated by track workouts and was too afraid to push myself beyond my comfort zone, where I had difficulty breathing. I am more of a slow and steady kind of gal.  I could go on forever, but hate short bursts of speed. However, I have set a goal for myself to qualify for the Boston Marathon and in order to do that, I need to get faster.  So for this training cycle, I’ve decided to give speed work a try.   Continue reading The Need for Speed

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Hill Yeah!

Uhhhh hills … if you’re like me, you avoid them whenever possible (at least I use to), you hate when your running group suggests a route with the monster hill you hate (I know we all have at least 1); you dread them when you look at the elevation charts of races, they are the bane of your existence.  While we tend to spend so much time hating them, it’s important to remember that hills will make us a faster, stronger, and healthier runner. So rather than hate the hills, let’s embrace the hills. Continue reading Hill Yeah!

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20 Things to Know When Dating a Runner

Are you dating or married to a runner? Maybe thinking about getting involved with someone who runs? Well dating a runner, tends to add a new dimension to romance and your relationship. Here are some things you need to know when getting involved with a runner!

  1. They have more exercise clothes than street clothes.
  2. They have a large collection of running shoes.
  3. They love their high knee compression socks.
  4. It’s a special event when they put on “real” clothes and when the ladies put on a “real” bra.
  5. You start to accept their really worked feet and are happy to treat them to a pedicure in order to help hide their missing or black toenails.
  6. Sleeping in on the weekends is an obsolete notion. They will always want to get up and run, don’t expect them to lay in bed and cuddle.
  7. You wake up to their alarm and think… “another run, when’s rest day?”
  8. Rest day is the worst day of the week… approach them carefully and beware!
  9. They have a special drawer or cabinet (or both) for their fuel, headphones, arm bands, running belts, sunglasses, headbands, hats, etc….
  10. Get used to sweaty, salty hugs. There will be a lot of them.
  11. Laundry day means separate loads for their running clothes.
  12. Your vacations are often in conjunctions with a destination race.
  13. And just because you’re on vacation, does not mean they’ll stop running.
  14. When traveling, they need a separate suitcase for all their running gear.
  15. It’s easy to shop for their birthday or holidays, because they always want new running gear.
  16. Their idea of nice jewelry is a medal, or an inspirational pendant or bracelet.
  17. You don’t mess with pre-race rituals.
  18. You love joining them for their post race feast.
  19. They love to talk about running, races, PR… they use jargon you aren’t aware of, but quickly learn to understand.
  20. You love their crazy, quirky side and are happy to celebrate their victories with them!

It’s fun to be in a relationship with a runner. Just remember, they’re always on the move, think you can keep up?

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Yoga for Runners

For me, yoga and running have always gone hand in hand. Yoga has many benefits on both a runner’s body (improved flexibility, range of motion, muscular strength, prevent injuries) and mind (more focus, less stress). Yoga is a great way to help runners improve performance and prevent injury. Yoga also helps to relieve soreness and tension in your muscles and restores range of motion so you can run better the next time you’re out on the road.

Many people often ask how I can run so much, while minimizing injuries. For me, the number one reason why, has been yoga. Yoga has helped me in countless ways over the years, both physically and mentally.  No one wants to get hurt; injuries are not only painful, but can sideline you for months. I couldn’t even imagine what I would do with myself if I couldn’t run. Therefore, it’s important we remember to be smart and train smart.  Smart training can help make sure that injuries don’t stand in the way of your training. Therefore, spending some time on your yoga mat might be your best bet and just what the doctor ordered, it certainly has been for me. Practicing yoga asanas (poses) can help keep muscles limber, and yoga’s emphasis on mindfulness can bring about increased focus and awareness. So why not practice? Today is a great time to start- no time like the present as I like to say!

So why strike a pose? Studies have shown that yoga decreases stress, helps with weight loss, eases pain, helps people stick to an exercise routine, and even improves running times.

Here are some other reason runners should try yoga….

Yoga is a great partner. Training for the NJ marathon? Yoga can help you stay injury free by cultivating a balance between strength and flexibility in the body.

Yoga helps you become more present and aware of what your body needs. One key way yoga can help prevent running injuries is by cultivating mindfulness. The more aware you are of how your body feels from day to day or from pose to pose, the more likely you are to notice tight or injury prone areas that need attention.

Competitive and endurance sports like running encourage us to override the internal voice that wants us to stop, especially when we hit the wall in a marathon. However, sometimes when we ignore this voice, we can get injured. However, when we start to listen, as we do in a yoga class we can align and support ourselves in a more kind and mindful way.

Build mind-body awareness. Runners can use yoga practice to balance strength, increase range of motion, and train the body and mind. Asanas move your body through poses while teaching you how to coordinate your breath with each movement. Eventually your body, mind, and breath will be integrated in all actions.

Yoga helps you stretch smarter. Yoga’s combination of active and passive stretching is one way to help keep injuries at bay.

  • Active stretching—moving and stretching the body dynamically creates warmth and mobility to the tissues.
  • Passive stretching—holding a posture for a minute or more in a way that’s relaxed, allows muscles to lengthen even more.

Yoga allows you to stretch your feet. Flex, point, or fl-ointing your feet, allow them to feel good! Hitting the pavement again and again can take its toll on your feet, so it’s essential for runners to make time to care for them. A typical yoga practice stretches, strengthens and brings increased awareness to the feet.

Yoga helps build strength in the body and allows you to conquer chronic injuries. Yoga helps you find a state of equilibrium in your body that helps prevent chronic injuries and illnesses.  In yoga, you’ll work your core, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, & IT band (amongst other things, but these areas are extra important to runners). Working, stretching, and strengthening these areas will help you to run more efficiently and stay injury free.

Your hips will be happy. If your hips are tight, your mobility becomes limited, which can cause IT band pain, knee pain, as well as extra and unwanted stress to the back of your legs and feet.  Yoga will open your hips, keep your muscle in peak condition, and allow you to run pain free.

Yoga can help bring your body into balance. The pain most runners feel is not from running alone, but from imbalances that running causes and aggravates. Yoga can help you balance them out, so you can keep running long and hard for many years to come.

Yoga can be the ultimate cross-training for runners. Poses that mimic the running stride, for example, lunges, can help you stay flexible through the range of motion you use to run.

Yoga helps you to be humble. It can take years to learn and truly master yoga poses, so don’t go to your first several classes and expect to learn everything immediately. And certainly don’t go and worry about what the person next to you is doing. So what if you can’t do what they can, just focus on you. Yes, you may be a great runner, have had tons of PRs, have won races, whatever… but on your mat, none of that matters. Yoga is not about winning or being better than someone else, it’s about being the best YOU in that moment. Accept and appreciate your body and mind for where it’s at and don’t’ be so hard on yourself. Allow the movement and stretching to feel good.

When you’re ready and the time is right for you to start, be sure to shop around and find a class that is right for you. There’s no single style of yoga that’s best for every runner, but it’s important to find one you enjoy.  Find a studio (i.e. Empower Yoga) or class that makes you feel good, has a good vibe, good instructor, etc.. and just keep going and doing it.  Practicing yoga consistently is more important than what type of yoga you practice.

Namaste

 

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Feeling Fabulous at 35!

35As most of you know, especially if you read my blog last week, I am 35. I am happy to say that at 35, I am in the best shape of my life.  Growing up I played sports, but after high school I pretty much stopped working out. In college, I only used the gym as a way to meet people, particularly guys.  It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I started working out again and once I hit 31, I became an avid workout and health enthusiast. Because of my hard work and dedication to fitness and health these last several years, I have to say that I believe that I look and feel my best and am in the best shape I have ever been in. While I still have goals for myself and I continue to push my limits in order to see what I am truly capable of, I know that I am in good shape and it feels great! Continue reading Feeling Fabulous at 35!

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Thoughts You Have During & After a Marathon

A friend of mine recently posted a funny article they found in Runner’s World about the crazy things runners think about after running a marathon. This made me think of some things that have gone through my head both during and after a race; so I decided to create my own list 😉

Running a marathon is an incredible feeling and an awesome sense of accomplishment, but while you’re running it, you don’t always recognize in that moment how truly amazing it is and how strong you are because you’re battling some crazy thoughts that are going on in your head.

According to Running USA, the average male’s finishing time is 4:19:27 (9:54/mile pace), and the women’s was 4:44:19 (10:51/mile pace). That is a long time to be in your own head. As you run, you’ll notice many thoughts that pop up, some good and some not so good.  For this week’s blog, I’ve decided to share some of my own. This is by no means meant to discourage you from running a marathon (because I think everyone should run at least one in their lifetime), it’s more of an insight into what runners, myself in particular, think about during a race. The most recent marathon I ran was the NYC marathon in November. Here are a few of the things that I thought about. I started by breaking it down according to my miles of the race and then how I felt after. Enjoy!

Here’s what goes down during and after a marathon: 

  • At the beginning of the race you’re so excited. You’ve been training for several months  and now the day is finally here. You’re overjoyed and ready to run.
  • Miles 1-3: What’s my pace? Am I going too fast? Should I slow down? Remember the warnings… don’t go out fast, stay back, you’ll pay for it at the end.
  • Mile 3-6: Ok, I am getting into a groove. Love this Eminem song, I am crushing this. I feel like I am on top of the world, only 20 miles to go.
  • Miles 6-9: Make sure you’re fueling, look a water station, drink up, are we at the ½ yet?
  • Miles 9-12: Still not halfway, ok I am on pace, trying to be under the 4:00 mark. Only one more mile to the half, keep your chest up, shoulders down, and remember to breathe.
  • Miles 12-15: Finally, the first half is done, you’ve got this, try to speed up for the second half, skip to the next song, yay Beyonce, smile- there’s a photographer, pretend this is fun.
  • Miles 15-18: I think my foot hurts, I’m thirsty, is that a banana?  Where’s my husband? Wait I think I see him. Can I lift my hand high enough to give him a high-five?
  • Miles 18-21: Why did I sign up for this? Why do I think running is fun? Shit, I slowed down, can I still hit my goal? Why aren’t my legs moving? MOVE legs- whats wrong with you? Shit a hill!  What’s that smell? Is that me or the person next to me? I’ve run 20 miles, only 6 more… stop doing math.
  • Mile 21-23: Ok, not too much longer. Is this what hitting the wall feels like? When will this be over? I can’t believe I paid for this. When is the next water stop? Hold your pace, that person’s walking and it looks so good, should I walk? If I get through this alive, I am never running another marathon.
  • Mile 23-26.2: You are almost there, pull yourself together, you can do this-you can do anything, one foot in front of the other, is that the finish line ahead, pass the women in the orange shorts, let’s go, last little push, let’s get to that line, smile when you cross.
  • Yes, I did it!! Glad that’s done! That was great, I think! Where’s my damn medal?
  • Should I sit, nah keep walking to the family meeting area. Wow my feet hurt, I am not sure they ever hurt so bad, oh no a curb how am I going to step down, find your family, find food, find a drink, find a shower.
  • Find a shower, stand there for 20 minutes then ask your husband to help dry you off and get you dressed.
  • Eat everything in site.
  • Allow your head to hit the pillow, Good night!

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