Setting Goals

First off, congratulations to everyone who completed a race this weekend, especially my friends who rocked the Hartford & Chicago Marathons. Shout out to my training buddy and school wife, Birdie, who now resides in PR City with a shiny time of 3:06:14.

That’s right. She’s MY friend.

Jealous?

I am a full minute slower than her but she puts up with me :)

I am a full minute slower than her but she puts up with me :)

Hey Birdie, way to go.

I am asked by my runners and lots of other newbies how they can figure out a realistic goal time for their next race. It’s something of a random equation that has mostly to do with training, a lot to do with how gutsy you are, and a little to do with race day conditions.

(Image courtesy of Runner's World)

(Image courtesy of Runner’s World)

  1. Never assume you’ll run as fast as your best long run.┬áThat was practice and it was likely several miles shorter than your race. If it happens, great! But it’s not the best way gauge your race day speed.
  2. Do several time trials of several different distances throughout training. You’ll be able to see if you’re making progress and figure out what race pace is for you.
  3. Adjust your race day goal time for race day conditions. Running in 56 degree, slightly overcast with no wind conditions is a WORLD of difference from 76 degrees, sunny with a head wind.
  4. Have an A, B, and C goal. My A goal is to finish feeling good and upright. B is the best time I can hope for, given my training. C is a realistic time based on past races.
  5. Know your body and look to your training for strategy. If you didn’t practice negative splits during training, don’t expect to see it during a race. Your race day strategy will likely mimic your training strategy, so keep good track of your runs!

That said, anything can happen on race day. You could have the perfect day, the greatest feeling in your legs, and have the race of your life that kicks every single one of your long training run’s butts. Or, the conditions could still be perfect and you bonk.

It happens.

(See #4)

The smiliest I have EVER been at a finish line. You'd never know my body was trying to kill me (literally).

The smiliest I have EVER been at a finish line. You’d never know my body was trying to kill me (literally).

The best thing to gauge your race time is your cumulative training performance. You’re 800s, mile repeats, tempo runs, and long runs are the best indicators of how what kind of condition you are in for race day.

Trust your training and get gutsy. Leave it all out on the road and see what you can do.

And have fun!

Anyone racing this upcoming week? What race did you finish last weekend? Go ahead and brag about it!!

Now go out and run.

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Not Racing

Happy Tuesday and welcome to Taper Town, NYC Marathoners! Now that you’ve made it through the vast majority of your long training runs, that 26.2 behemoth is looking much more do-able, isn’t it?

(Image courtesy of RunnersConnect.com)

(Image courtesy of RunnersConnect.com)

You beast.

Congratulations to all of you.

But there are the other runners out there now, aren’t there? The ones who trained, ran far, worked hard, set their sites for the start line and now have to DNS for some reason or another.

That sucks.

Surgery instead of Marine Corps Marathon last Fall. Womp, womp.

Surgery instead of Marine Corps Marathon last Fall. Womp, womp.

There’s no way around it, not racing when you’ve trained your heart out sucks. I’m sorry.

But, as someone who has both trained for the full and only run the half AND had to DNS another marathon in the past, I wonder if I can’t encourage you to look at it in a different way.

Yes, it’s hard to accept that you won’t toe the line at your race. Yes, it’s frustrating to send in your deferral paperwork. Yes, it’s depressing to tell your friends (the ones you bragged to all through training) that you’re not running.

But then there’s the other side.

Just because you’re not racing doesn’t mean you’re not in awesome shape.

Just because you’re not racing NOW doesn’t mean you won’t race EVER.

Just because you’re not racing doesn’t mean you can’t go and cheer your friends who are still racing.

Cheering at marathons is SUPER FUN!

Cheering at marathons is SUPER FUN!

Just because you’re not racing this race doesn’t mean you can’t look for another one in a few weeks or months.

Just because you’re not racing doesn’t mean it was all worth nothing. It was a goal you set out to achieve. You pushed your mind and your body to the edges of physical sanity–and found out it’s kinda fun.

Running a mile uphill was fun...sort of.

Running a mile uphill was fun…sort of.

Allow yourself the time to grieve over your loss. It’s ok. But then look forward. What do you need to do to achieve your goal next time? Get a coach? Get a better coach? Start training earlier? Strength train in the off season? Not get pregnant mid-season (can’t tell you how many lady runner friends I have in this position :))?

Onward, friends. Onward.

If you are a life-long runner, not racing here and there is going to be something that happens again. It’s life. But it also teaches you that there’s another opportunity in the future for you to tackle.

And isn’t that way Better Than the Alternative?

Yup.

Now go out and run!

 

I’m A Newbie: Runger

There’s this thing that happens to your body when you train to run a marathon. It’s called Runger. Runner + Hunger = Runger. And it’s a very real thing.

Just a girl and an empty pasta dish (and crazy eyes).

Just a girl and an empty pasta dish (and crazy eyes).

During peak training, you’re running more than ever. You’re burning more calories than you normally do. And, unless you’re an elite athlete, you’re not used to doing this much exercise.

Translation: you need to fuel accordingly.

Refueling with carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes of workout replenishes depleted stores of energy and helps to repair muscles tissue faster. Additional fruits and veggies help to maintain a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals in your body while you’re pushing yourself to your physical limits.

Oh yeah, this happens regularly in my home.

Oh yeah, this happens regularly in my home.

A few ways to make sure you’re keeping up with your body’s needs:

  1. Keep a food journal along with your running log.
  2. Eat when you’re hungry.
  3. Eat calorically dense foods like whole grains, meat, and legumes.
  4. Eat the rainbow at every meal.
  5. Eat a small snack between each meal.

Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night and eat a bowl of cereal during peak training weeks. It happens. Just don’t make it a habit, rather, for emergencies only.

Whatever you do, feed the beast. If you starve it, you’ll never get out of your runs (or race!) what you’re working so hard to achieve.

Dieting has no place in marathon season.

Just say no.

Just say no.

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Listening

“The fool speaks, the wise man listens.” ~African Proverb

Happy Tuesday, friends, and welcome to October! In case you were wondering, it really is the most beautiful time of year to be in New York City. What are you waiting for? Come visit!

Central Park is the place to be.

Central Park is the place to be.

I’m a chatty person by nature. I put effort into improving my listening skills, especially because of what I do for a living. I pride myself in being able to gain my patients’ and clients’ trust and listen carefully to what they’re saying so that I can best treat them as an individual.

Just hangin' around the CTICU. No patients were harmed while taking this selfie w/my buddy.

Just hangin’ around the CTICU. No patients were harmed while taking this selfie w/my buddy.

You never regret having listened more to someone. Your silence or active listening or further inquiring about another person will never serve you wrong. Especially at cocktail parties.

You know where else you’ll never regret listening? When you listen to your body.

As runners, we are taught to push aside the aches and pains and keep going. The ability to quiet that part of your brain is a skill that the elites master in or to become, well, elite. But we non-elites have to do it, too, in order to progress in our running.

How many times have you heard this?

How many times have you heard this?

I hate this phrase.

To experience and listen to pain is not to be weak. Listening to your body is what keeps you from doing stupid things that land you on the Injured Reserve list for an entire season.

You’ll never regret listening to your body.

Be it to go faster, push harder, or run that extra mile or to cut a run short, take a breather from training, or drop to a half instead of the full marathon.

You’ll never regret listening to what your body is really telling you.

From Rumi.

From Rumi.

You can seek advice from your friends, your doctors, your partner, and experienced runners, but in the end, you know how you feel and you are the only expert on YOU.

You’ll never regret listening to someone, especially yourself. And when you follow how you feel, follow your own advice, you can never go wrong.

There will be other marathons. There will be other chances to PR. There will be other workouts. But if you don’t listen, and listen closely, you may just push too hard, too far, do too much damage to get to another start line ever again.

And getting to those start lines feeling good is surely way Better Than the Alternative, right? Right.

Now go out and run.

Body Bank

Taper weeks make everyone crazy. You, your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/parents/dog–everyone gets a little nuts during taper time.

I get it. It’s tough. You’ve just put ALL this effort into 12, 14, 16, 52 weeks of training and run ALL these long runs and logged ALL those hours aaaaaaaaand now it’s done.

And you wait.

Slide1But it’s good to start thinking about your body during taper time as a bank. You can make a bunch of deposits to use during your marathon or only a few. What you do NOW will determine how you do on race day.

Deposits

Your race day piggy bank.

Your race day piggy bank.

  1. Getting a solid night’s sleep EVERY night.
  2. Eating real food.
  3. Staying hydrated.
  4. Avoiding “active rest” activities.
  5. Keeping stress (physical and otherwise) to a minimum.

You could run yourself into the ground with all your newfound spare time. You could finally take your friends up on those happy hour drinks you’ve avoided since training started. You could continue to eat as though you’re running 60+ miles a week.

OR…

You could bank that time, stay in on a Friday night for 2 more weeks, and push back away from the table and put those deposits in your body bank for the Big Day.

Yeah! Thumbs up for race day!

Yeah! Thumbs up for race day!

Your choice. And life is full of choices, right Obi-wans?

Now go out and run!

PS. Best drawing of me running ever, right?

photo (16)