Fitness News Fridays: Oh boy

Oh boy, Philly is TWO DAYS AWAY. I am doing marathon “prep” all day today, in every way I know how and some I’m not going to share. I’m really looking forward to the big day. I feel rested, relaxed (sort of…) and the new drugs have kicked in so I am ready to rock! Even Mother Nature wants me to PR on Sunday!


Mostly Cloudy
High
64°FPrecip
20%
Wind: From SW at 13 mph
Humidity: 72%
UV Index: 2 Low

Thank you in advance, Mother Nature, for the very mild weather. I plan on wearing my crops, a blue tank top, a white pullover and a ponytail-braid. Look for me! I am also the girl who puts her name on her shirt, so I shouldn’t be too hard to find.

I am lucky enough to have my husband and two very awesome lululemon friends coming to cheer me on. The local lululemon store has cheer stations at miles 16 and 22.5, exactly where I need them. I just hope I don’t shame the family.

Anyway, there’s a bunch of cool science stuff happening in the world of fitness this week so let’s get right to what you might’ve missed!

That’s it for me today, everybody. The next time you read from me, I will have complete my 9th marathon. I might cry. Don’t judge. If you’re out running on Sunday and you have a moment, send a happy thought my way. I’ll be thinking of all of you and running my little heart out!
Now go out and run!
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When To Get a Run Coach

Ahhhhh, marathon season. In the age of social media, blogs and internet articles, advice is in abundance. What should you eat? How many days should you run per week? What should your mileage be? How do you deal with a pesky IT band problem? What are the best shoes for you? The “answers” are everywhere and everyone swears they’ve got the silver bullet to get you across that finish line.

But sometimes you need a coach.

Ryan Hall has famously dropped his coach after a bummer finish in Chicago. Kara Goucher split from Alberto Salazar this fall and I haven’t found out whether or not she has a new coach/team yet. There are plenty of other examples of famous, extremely successful professional athletes who don’t have coaches. Gina Colata from the New York Times wrote about the conundrum between getting a coach and going it alone this week (she’s keeping hers, by the way).

So, how do you know when you should bother trying to find a coach?

1. You’re changing your distance. There is a HUGE difference between running a half marathon and a marathon. They are completely different beasts and should be treated as such. A coach can help guide you through the trials and travails of adding on mileage without beating your body up.

2. You want to get faster. Sometimes it’s a simple difference in workouts that will make you faster. Sometimes it’s having someone tell you what your goal pace for a weekly speed run should be. Sometimes it’s being held accountable for your workouts and effort. Coaches can help with all of this and have lots of tricks to help you PR.

3. You keep getting injured. Good coaches are excellent at being bossy. They tell you when to back off the speed or mileage and when to see a physical therapist/acupuncturist/massage therapist/orthopedist about a nagging injury. They’re also the ones who can help with strength-training routines to combat common injuries (or, at least they should be).

4. You need motivation. Coaches are excellent motivators. I remember Coach Mustache my freshman year of high school. He never said an unkind word to me or berated any of us the way you might imagine a coach would and we all ran our BUTTS off for him. He just knew how to motivate us (Conference! Regionals! Sectionals! State!).

5. You’re new. Get. A. Coach. Pleeeeeeeease. There are some tricks and tips they can offer you that will make running so much more enjoyable, thus increasing the odds that you will keep on doing it. Remember, “most people don’t run long enough on their first wind to realize they have a second.” Don’t be that guy. It can be discouraging. Get an expert’s advice.

There are certainly bad coaches out there and, as noted in the NYT article above, there isn’t any national overseeing body that certifies running coaches. However, making sure your coach has some sort of education where anatomy and physiology are concerned is key. Also, your coach should be a runner. That might go without saying, but I’m going to go ahead and say it since a certain trainer seems to be spouting advice all over TV about how to run a marathon and he/she HAS NEVER RUN ONE. I mean, seriously.

If they haven’t been through the hell at mile 23, I’m tuning out. Just being honest.

Anyway, there are great coaches out there and it’s even better to join a team where you can commiserate with others about how much hill workouts suck and that marathon course is super-fast and what’s your goal time at this weekend’s race? Teams are great and they usually have multiple coaches with different training styles, so find one you like. Find one you gel with. Find one you trust. And then GO FOR IT!

Now go out and run!

 

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: The Do-Over

Happy BTAT, everyone!

I don’t golf. I have tried. I hate it (sorry golf-lovers, it’s just not for me). My people are not a golfing people. Anyway, there is only one thing I love about golfing: the Mulligan. There are conflicting reports of where this time-honored tradition came from, but the long of the short of it is that a Mulligan is a Do-Over.

I’m a big fan of the Do-Over.

I love the idea that I can change my mind. And I do. Often. I mean, hellooooo? I am back in school in my thirties so that I can earn a degree in physical therapy and I am a good ten years plus older than everyone else in the room. Little late to the game? Sure. Better late than never, though. Big-time Do-Over.

I love having the freedom to try, screw up and try again. There was a great article in the New York Times recently that highlighted one principle’s theory that children need to learn that failure is ok and that it teaches them strength of character, a trait often missing in children and adults who have never ever failed. I can’t say that I love the feeling of failing, but when I try again and succeed, that success is so much more celebrated.

I love that forgiveness is in abundance in my life. I forget things, especially now that I have school brain, and the amazing people in my world are so incredibly forgiving when I completely flake out. Thanks for the endless amounts of Do-Overs, everyone!

I love that if I suck at something, I can always try again. I have the Philly Marathon in 5 weeks and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous. Running during my first serious colitis flare-up in New Jersey last May was such a terrible experience for me that I’m nervous Philly will be more of the same. I thought Jersey would be my PR and it was anything but. I guess the only way to wipe the slate clean is to attempt a Do-Over. Thankfully, Dr. Boz and I have a plan in place and new drugs doing there thing well in advance so that this attempt to PR Do-Over will be a successful one. If not, there’s always next spring. But isn’t it great that one crappy (haha! great pun) race doesn’t define my entire running career? Love it!

Whenever I think of Do-Overs, I think of City Slickers when Mitch (Billy Crystal) and Ed (Bruno Kirby, oh RIP) console Phil (Daniel Stern) by telling him that, although he married a monster and slept with the check-out girl at his father-in-law’s store, he can still have a Do-Over, just like when they were kids. Awwww. He just has to do it for himself. I love that. I couldn’t find that scene, but here’s another gem (PS. Did you know that’s the very hot Jake Gyllenhaal playing Billy Crystal’s son?!):

Anyway, life kind of is just one big Do-Over, if you think about it. We are constantly changing, or wanting to change, who we are, what we look like, how people see us. If you want to redefine yourself, your life DO IT. Don’t wait. Don’t care what people will say. Go with your gut.

And that’s why life is so much better than the alternative, because of the Do-Over. Hooray for a fresh start.

Now go out and run!

Have you had a life Do-Over? Where did it take you?