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How far out from my goal race should my longest run be?

 

long-run

Image Source: running.competitor.com

As a running coach, I often get asked the following questions,

“How far out from my goal race should my longest run be and how many miles should I complete for that long run?”  

According to an article that appeared in Competitor magazine by 2:22 marathoner/coach Jeff Gaudette, it takes approximately 4-6 weeks to reap the benefits of a long run.  So ideally, your longest run should be at least 4 weeks out from your goal race.  Which, if you want to have a 3-4 week taper leading into your race, you want to be tapering off your long runs about this time anyway.  What adaptations or benefits are our bodies receiving from logging those long run miles? Long runs are designed to build the body’s aerobic system.  Physiologically this means increasing the number and size of the mitochondria in your muscle fibers and increasing the number of capillaries, which both contribute to the body’s ability to more efficiently transfer and utilize oxygen and fuel within the body.

My former college coach Paul Pilkington coached me through my 3rd marathon and I remember him telling me that my longest run before the marathon should not be based on miles, but rather should put me out running for the same amount of time that I planned on finishing my marathon in.  Since I was shooting for a 2:46 marathon, my longest runs ended up being in the 2:45 to 3 hour range.  I never covered a full 26.2 miles in that amount of time, but at least my body was used to working for a similar number of running minutes as my planned race.   

Good luck logging those miles!

 

by Janae Richardson – Runner | USATF Certified Coach | Masters in Exercise Science

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Merilee Rowley Interview

40 EVENTS IN THE YEAR SHE TURNED 40!

 

Merilee Rowley recently completed her 40th event this year to chase down her goal of completing 40 events in the year she turned 40 years old. In this interview she shares all the insights and wisdom she learned along the way to accomplishing this goal.

 merilee pic 440 for 40 event totals

 

UtahRunning.com:      Let’s start out with some of the basics. Could you talk about your running background?

Merilee:           I’ve never really been super athletic. I didn’t do any sports in high school or anything. When I was 24, I had my first baby, and I was in terrible shape after the pregnancy. I wanted to start doing something that would be fun and not really super intimidating. I started walking and then I just started running.

I would run about three miles a day and I did that for a couple of years before I stopped again. That’s how I started. I’ve just run on and off since then.

UtahRunning.com:      That’s great. Tell us about your decision to participate in 40 events the year you turned 40. How did this goal come about and what inspired you to set out on this lofty adventure?

Merilee:           I actually had starting getting back into fitness again, probably three or four years ago. I started working with a trainer and doing some more long-distance running, making my way through that. Figuring out, “Oh, I do probably need to have some kind of Gatorade if I’m going to run for ten miles,” and things like that.

My friend and I decided to do a half marathon, the Salt Lake Half the year I was 38. We were so excited. As you know, runners are amazing people. And when we were on Trax going to the start line of the Salt Lake Half at 5 o’clock in the morning, we’d never done anything even remotely like that before. It just hit me that when I turned 40 I wanted to do 40 events. I had still never done one!

I told my friend while we were on the team and other runners were there listening, the feedback I got was really mostly a lot of, “You’re crazy,” “That is crazy,” “Why would you do that,” and “That’s nuts!” This was from runners, but I thought, “No, this is going to be good; I’m going to do it.”

What that did was give me a year and a half to mentally convince myself I was going to do it. That’s how it all started. I just thought of it right before my first event ever.

UtahRunning.com:      That first event got you hooked. That’s great.

Merilee:           It did. It was very exciting, and that was a fun run.

UtahRunning.com:      I do like the Salt Lake Half. It is a fun one. Let’s talk about the road that led you to accomplishing your goal. It was a lot of time you had to put into it, not just in training, but in the events that you participated in, in and of themselves. Maybe describe that road that got you there.

Merilee:           It took a lot of organizing at first. I sat down for probably 20-30 hours just trying to plan out my calendar for the year because I would have no choice but to do a wide variety of events. I wasn’t going to do 40 marathons. I tried to think of the big ones I wanted to do, then fill in with some smaller ones that I thought would be fun, so I could stretch my training out.

I also had to set some rules for myself. It’s very expensive to do 40 events in one year. I had to say, “I can’t do any events where I have to go someplace and stay overnight. They all have to be within driving distance that day.” That’s why I only did local events.

That was hard. It was hard to kind of sit down and just have the discipline to search through websites and leaf through magazines and try to find the events that would work the best for me. But after that planning part was done, then things kind of took on a life of their own.

The other hard thing was I was doing events that had been done in the past, but a lot of them hadn’t announced their 2013 dates yet. I had to do quite a bit of shuffling when their actual event dates were announced. Some were totally different, and some didn’t even do it in 2013. There was a bit of shuffling but for the most part I stuck with my schedule.

UtahRunning.com:      You didn’t just do running. If I remember right, you did some triathlons and things like that. Or, was it mostly running events?

Merilee:           It was mostly running. There was only one event that I didn’t do any running and that was the Goldilocks Bike Ride, where I did a 40-mile bike. But I did five triathlons, so while I was trying to plan out my schedule and training for the spring and summer, I had to add swimming and biking in addition to just running and weight training.

One of my events was the Spartan Beast and so I did a lot of specialized training. I don’t know if you’d call it specialized training but workouts that the Spartan Beast organizes, so I had to work that into my schedule too.

UtahRunning.com:      So a variety of things, but it probably kept it fresh and fun.

Merilee:           It did. It was very fun. For a while, in the spring and summer, what it mostly felt like was totally relentless because every weekend there was something else that was really hard.

UtahRunning.com:      What would you say contributed the most to your success in setting this goal, in being self-disciplined throughout and crossing that finish line of accomplishing that huge goal?

UtahRunning.com:      I think the factor that was the biggest was making this goal as big and splashy as I could. I told everyone that I was doing it, and I put it on Facebook, and I created a website that I didn’t end up keeping up because it was too complicated. It was much easier to post on Facebook.

After a while, I would run into someone I knew at the grocery store or the library and people would say, “What number are you on?” “How’s it going?” “What are you doing?” “What’s your training like?” It kept me very accountable but I made it as big as I could, and told as many people about it as I could.

And then I had a couple of people that joined with me who heard I was doing it and wanted to do it also, or some version of it, like 30 for 30 as someone was turning 30. Or someone that turned 20 and wanted to do 20 events. Those people really inspired me and kept me accountable because it wasn’t just if I fail I’m going to fail by myself. It was if I fail I’m going to fail all these people.

UtahRunning.com:      That’s good pressure on your shoulders, right?

Merilee:           Yeah.

UtahRunning.com:      That’s neat. Were there times when you thought it was going to be impossible to accomplish your goal? If so, how did you keep your head up during those times where you felt like giving up?

Merilee:           I never felt like the entire goal would be impossible. The only thing I worried about was an injury that I couldn’t overcome. But luckily I did not suffer from any terrible injuries. I had a couple of things I had to work through but that was the only thing I was worried about for the whole goal not being able to be accomplished.

I did worry about not being able to do individual events, just because of the weather. There was sometimes when I woke up and it was snowing and super cold outside and I just thought, “I don’t want to go and do this today. I really don’t want to go and do this.” But I’d have people that would call me and be like “Okay, I’ll meet you there.” And so I’d say, “Okay, I guess I’m going to go.”

I ended up not missing any of my events, but I don’t take the credit for that. That definitely belongs to the other people that were inspiring me to get out in the snow.

UtahRunning.com:      It does take a good support group, it sounds like.

Merilee:           Yes, absolutely.

UtahRunning.com:      What would you say were maybe your top two or three experiences along the way? You have all these events behind you now, where you’ve gotten to experience a bunch of different events. What would you say were your top two or three experiences and why?

Merilee:           In addition to the friendships that I made with people that I might not have ever gotten to know, that’s definitely the biggest thing I will come away with this year. One moment that was really a high point for me was in the middle of the year I was doing a 5K by myself. It was at the end of July. It was like a Pioneer 5K, and I tried to do as many events with other people as I could, but I did several of them by myself.

It’s always kind of boring. It’s fun but not as fun as if there was somebody else. I was just trudging along and trying to get through it and get it done so I could go on with my day. I happened to look down at my Garmin that was tracking my mileage and time, and I saw I’d run a mile and a half faster than I’d ever run before in my life. In fact, it was two minutes faster than the mile and a half I clocked during my Fit for Life class when I was in college, and young and fit.

I just thought, “Wow! I just ran faster than I’ve ever run, and I wasn’t even thinking about it or trying to do it.” It just made me really grateful to be healthy and to have a goal that pushed me that far.

The other really high point I would say is right after I did my first triathlon, which I was terrified to do. I had no context for that. I didn’t have any idea where my bike would go or how I would find it or how I would manage in the swim. I just was doing it all by myself, with no friends, and no support. I didn’t have anybody even as an onlooker there that day.

I was really scared. When I finally crossed that finish line, after the run, I wanted to cry that I had stretched so far to be able to do something so far out of my comfort zone. I read something about setting a goal and doing it, no matter how scared you are that day. And that has been really meaningful to me since that happened.

UtahRunning.com:      That’s cool. I know that from my experiences with participating in events, there’s something I learn from every single one, so you’ve got probably a big ball of knowledge now with all these events under your belt in such a short amount of time. It’s a great thing.

Is there any additional advice maybe you’d offer to other aspiring runners as they look towards 2014 and setting goals for the New Year, and maybe some final words of wisdom after you’ve accomplished this big goal in your own life?

Merilee:           I guess I would say that I’m not an athlete. You wouldn’t look at me and think, “Oh, she’s a runner. Look at her long and thin legs.” That’s not what you would think. You would think, “Wow! That woman looks well fed.” I don’t look like a runner. I’m not coordinated. I’m kind of a big goof ball, and this was something that was not even on my radar when I was growing up. It was something that I stumbled onto later in life. I guess you can make it your own, even if you’re not what people would traditionally think of as an athlete. You can still be that, even if people don’t think that that’s who you are, even if that’s not what you look like. You can do and be whatever you want, and there’s no reason to be held back.

UtahRunning.com:      That’s great. I totally agree with you on that. That’s some really great advice. Merilee. We really appreciate your time and the thoughts you’ve had and experiences you’ve shared with us. I know that it makes me want to sit down and lock down a goal that would be just as amazing and inspiring. Thanks for not just doing it for yourself but for those around you, to be motivated and to be more and do more. We appreciate you being here with us.

Merilee:           You’re so welcome. It’s been a pleasure.

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The Challenges of Maintaining Training & Eating over the Holidays: Setting Yourself up for a Successful Season

by Kristi Spence

Perhaps this is a familiar scenario: The morning and evening air is a bit chillier than it has been, evening daylight is waning, and the weather forecast hints of snow. Holiday gatherings are filling up the calendar, and with a fall marathon behind you, your race calendar has wound down for the year.  With the change of the weather and the bustle of the season, it is no surprise that it is easier to skip the occasional day or two of training and change your eating habits. For many people, these uninvited and unintended behaviors encroach slowly, followed by staunch resolutions for the New Year.  But this cycle is not inevitable and breaking this pattern does not equate with strict dieting and discipline… it is all about balance. This holiday season, challenge yourself to devise a workable, fun, plan that incorporates both the endorphin rush of training with the delicious taste of pumpkin pie.

 

To get started, you must first know what you are up against. Each of us faces unique barriers. Identify your specific challenges during the holidays?

  • If from past years, you know that shorter days make it harder to fit in an evening run, can you carve some space out earlier in the day? Can you meet a friend? What adjustments can you make to set yourself up for success?
  • If you want some down-time from running, but you still want to maintain your fitness, perhaps your 6-day per week running plan needs to be modified to a 3 or 4-day per week plan garnished with some fresh cross training ideas.
  • If holiday parties mean overeating and snacking, be sure to eat something before the party. Then you can sample only what really sounds good.
  • If you tend to overeat during the holidays, practice slowing down, enjoying the company and tasting the food.
  • If portion size is your challenge, try using smaller plates.
  • Do you have a hard time with the cold weather? Maybe you can substitute some cross-training activities or figure out how an afternoon, instead of a morning workout might fit into your schedule
  • Perhaps your challenge is that the word “holiday” is synonymous with relaxation and a day off.  Perhaps you can work this day-off into your training or consider different, fun activities with family and friends. There is no rule that you have to run, but if you would like to figure out how you can run on a holiday, perhaps you can meet a friend and celebrate the day together, or get up and out early before the bustle of the day.

Read More….

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Turning 50 and losing 40 – My journey into Running


by Kathryn Macleod
Turning fifty, is a milestone. For me it was huge. I admit to being quite vain and also to fighting getting older.
I wanted the day to pass without ceremony and attention. A few days after my July 12, 2012 Birthday, I took a trip to Vegas with my husband and another couple.
The celebration was to begin with a shopping expedition. I had this visual image of what I would look like in my special new outfit. I spent far too much money, but purchased what I thought was the perfect outfit.
That evening my husband took some pictures of me. I distinctly remember looking at the pictures and this huge lump came in my throat.
I was not “fat” but I was certainly quite chubby. I actually cried. That same weekend, my husband took a picture of me on my horse. Another weepy moment and another eye opener.
I had to do something. What could I do to change my lifestyle?

 

Las Vegas 2012
Las Vegas July 2012

 

Riding Horse 2012
Riding my horse Winston

 

I have always been an active person. I teach dressage riding professionally (think ballet on horseback), I ride many horses a day, muck stalls, lug hay, and do all sorts of manual labor.
I grew up in Prince Edward Island, Canada and studied Education at a university. I competed with my horses and my riding students at a very competitive level — coaching students to represent Canada in North American competitions.
How did this active person let the pounds just gradually slip on? I had done the diet thing many times…diet down for a vacation south…only to gain it back.
I was hitting middle age and for the first time ever…I was gaining weight on my middle. I weighed 167 pounds.
Social media intervened and so did the era of the “app”. I saw someone post on Facebook about a program called C25k [couch to 5k]. I googled it. Interesting, I thought, perhaps this is what I needed to do?
In August of 2012, I downloaded the “app” on my phone and I created a Facebook page called “Let’s Get Fit c25k”. I convinced several friends to take on the challenge with me.
I then put on whatever running shoes I had and ventured out my door.I did not know it, but my life was about to change.
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How to transfer workout performance to race performance

“Hi Im a high school runner and I have a problem. I can stick with all the top guys at my school in practices and everything, in long runs, intervals, etc. But when it comes to races I cant seem to stick with them. I also ran 470 miles over the summer with my friend and hes the fastest on the team and im about the 7th or 8th at the moment but at practice im right behind him. I find that im always putting myself down and struggle with the mental aspect of running when it comes to races. Could I get some advice please? Thanks much! You’re Great!”

Hello High School Runner. It sounds to me like you have a lot of the qualities that I like to see in my athletes. You have a desire to be your best, and you are committed to working hard, yet you haven’t quite reached the level of runner that you want to be and that you know you can be. It can be very frustrating to be putting in all of the work, but not quite seeing the results in the performances.
My first advice to you is to stay patient with yourself. Not everyone progresses at the same rate and not everyone figures out the racing side of running with the same ease. It is very important to not be too hard on yourself. Don’t get discouraged from a bad race. Take something positive from each race, and move on to your next opportunity to prove yourself. Bad races are definitely not the end of the world – don’t let any one race feel like it is the most important thing in your running. And try not to compare yourself to your teammates – ask yourself if you are giving YOUR best effort. If you are, then stay positive. If you are not, then focus first on giving your all. Never stand at the starting line afraid of having a bad day. Bad days happen (all the time) but don’t waste your energy being afraid of them. You should be standing at the starting line knowing you are going to give your best effort – knowing you are going to race with all your heart – whether it is a good day or a bad day.
I hope you are taking confidence from your workouts. If you are working out with the top runners on your team, eventually you will be racing with them as well. Realize that you are a stronger runner than you are showing in your performances and believe that you will eventually be able to show that. Keep treating your workouts like races and start approaching the races the same way you approach a really good workout. Eventually you are going to figure out the racing. Read More….
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