Sunday, May 13, 2012

Half-Marathon Challenge

Congratulations on surviving a 10K! I trust your experience was all you had hoped for and more.  Whether you're a fan of the design or not, wear that race shirt with pride--you certainly earned it.  Don't be surprised if the shirt draws comments.  You're part of a "club" now with friendly members.

Now that you've mastered a 10K, are you ready for a new challenge?  How about setting your sites on a half-marathon?  Sound crazy?  If you think running 13.1 miles is crazy talk, think back to the beginning of this journey.  When you first began running, lasting for 6 miles was a pipe dream.  Six miles was impossibly far.  Your body would never be able to handle it.  Despite your doubts, somehow you managed to wrap your mind around the possibility of running a 10K.  After a lot of hard work and determination, what once seemed impossible, became reality.  You survived a 10K.  Aren't you hungry for more?

A half-marathon is more than double what you've run so far, and in that light, seems like a daunting task.  I'll be the first to admit, that thirteen miles is a LONG way.  Running that kind of distance takes at least a couple hours of constant motion and involves serious training and commitment.  But with the running base that you've already established, completing a half-marathon is not as far off as you'd think.  In less than two months, you can be ready to face your first half by following this simple training plan.

 Half Marathon
 Training Plan
      Week 1
40 min
50 min
60 min
40 min
50 min
 7 miles
      Week 2
40 min
50 min
60 min
40 min
50 min
 8 miles
      Week 3
40 min
50 min
60 min
40 min
50 min
 9 miles
      Week 4
40 min
50 min
60 min
40 min
50 min
10 miles
      Week 5
40 min
50 min
60 min
40 min
50 min
11 miles
      Week 6
40 min
50 min
60 min
40 min
50 min
12 miles
      Week 7
40 min
50 min
60 min
40 min
50 min
Race Day

By adding one additional mile onto a long run each week, at the end of seven weeks, you'll be ready for a half.  You know you can handle the Monday through Friday load--you've done it before.  Don't let the number thirteen scare you.  Take one week at a time.  If you ran six, then you can run seven.  If you ran seven, then you can run eight.  If you ran eight, then you can run nine.  See where I'm going with this?  Before you know it, you'll be saying, "If I can run twelve, then I can run thirteen!"

It's been a privilege taking you on this journey.  I hope I have created a fellow running enthusiast in you.  Wherever your future lies, bring a pair of running shoes along for the ride.  You won't be sorry.

Stay happy and healthy--LACE UP! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Getting a Good Night's Sleep

The big day is just around the corner and you are prepared.  You've put in the necessary miles and trained hard.  Now all you need is a good night's sleep and your training puzzle is complete.  That last piece, simple as it sounds, can be elusive.  Although you feel confident, anxiety has a way of creeping in, which can make it difficult to fall asleep.

First, let me put your mind at ease by pointing out that if you stuck to the plan, you now have run roughly 3300 minutes.  At 10 minute mile pace, that translates into 330 miles!  Your body is ready.  Even though you know you're ready, you may still find it hard to get to sleep.  Here are some tips that will help you sleep like a baby:

Read a Book
Reading is great way to relax.  A good book transports you to another world, taking your mind off your worries.  Get in bed early with a book, and hopefully it won't be long before your eyelids feel heavy.

Avoid Alcohol
According to the American Sleep Association, an alcoholic drink before bedtime may make it easier for you to fall asleep, but alcohol triggers sleep that tends to be lighter than normal and makes it more likely that you will wake up during the night.

Take a Bath
A warm bath is also a great way to relax tense muscles and prepare for sleep.  Add lavender oil to the water (known for its natural sleep inducing properties) for even greater benefit.

Make a List
If you have a hard time turning your brain off at night, make a "to do" list before you get in bed and fall asleep knowing that nothing will be forgotten the next day.

Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant, so avoid caffeine in food and drinks in the afternoon and evening.

Good luck!  I wish you much success.  Remember, you've paid your dues, now go perform and reap the rewards.

LACE UP and get ready to race!

Assignment for the day:  run 25 minutes today, 20 minutes tomorrow, take a day off, then RACE!   

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pre-race Hydration

Your muscles are trained, your clothes are picked out, your meal is planned, but are you hydrated?  Proper hydration for an endurance event begins well before the starting gun is fired.  Granted, a 10K doesn't fall into the category of an endurance event, but if you want to perform well, you need to hydrate.

Half-marathon and marathon runners begin hydrating several days before their events--for a 10K, it's not necessary to start that early.  Simply make a concerted effort the day before your event to drink at least 8 glasses of water or fluid that are non-diuretic (water, sports drinks or fruit juices--no caffeine or alcohol).  Follow with one more glass an hour or two before your race, and you'll be fully hydrated and won't need more than a few sips of water at the aid stations on the course.  Drinking from paper cups while on the run is more difficult than it looks.  Unless you're planning on walking through the water stops (not recommended if you're going for time), you probably won't swallow more than a couple gulps as you run--most of it will land on your shirt.  Not to worry.  If you properly hydrate the day before, an ounce or two of fluid at each stop will get you through.

Don't over hydrate
It is possible to over hydrate.  Drinking too much water accompanied by excessive sweating can result in a condition called hyponatremia.  Hyponatremia is a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in your blood is abnormally low.  According to the Mayo clinic, symptoms of hyponatremia include:
  • nausea and vomiting
  • headache
  • confusion
  • loss of energy
  • fatigue
  • restlessness and irritability
  • muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
  • seizures
  • unconsciousness
  • coma 
Hydrated enough?
Although marathon runners and endurance athletes are more likely to suffer from hyponatremia, beware.  Don't flood your system with too much water.  How can you tell if you're correctly hydrated?  If your urine is pale yellow and clear, your hydration level is good.  If your urine is colorless, back off on water consumption a bit.  If your urine is dark yellow and odorous, hit the water cooler. 

LACE UP and grab a glass!

Assignment for the dayrun 25 minutes 


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pre-Race Meal

The night before your race, do not neglect nutrition.  You won't be eating much in the early hours before your race, so make sure you pack in enough fuel the night before.  There's no need to gorge yourself on mountains of carbs the night before a 10K, but you should have a good, satisfying meal.

Stay away from high fiber, gas producing foods like broccoli and onions, and stick with foods you digest easily.  Grilled salmon with lemon pepper and cilantro, along with white rice and a salad is my pre-race meal of choice.

Grilled Salmon with Lemon Pepper and Cilantro

4 boneless salmon filets (5-7 ounces each)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
lemon pepper
1 Tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro
lemon wedges

Sprinkle olive oil on flesh side of salmon.  Use a brush to distribute oil evenly.  Sprinkle with lemon pepper and place skin side down on greased grill rack, over direct high heat.  Grill for approximately 8 minutes or until salmon is no longer translucent.  Carefully remove from grill and transfer to serving plate.  Garnish with chopped cilantro and lemon zest.  Serve with fresh lemon wedges.

LACE UP and plan that pre-race meal!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Race Attire

It's time to start planning what you're going to wear on race day.  You know what will be on your feet--the shoes you've run countless miles in in the past several months--but what to wear on the rest of your body?  Should you go for comfort or style?

Being fashionable at the starting line is not the main objective--comfort is.  Most participants will have rolled out of bed, skipped the morning ritual of shower and makeup, and headed for the venue with eyes barely open.  Gals will have their hair in a ponytail and guys will skip the morning shave.  It's a rugged looking crowd, so don't worry about dressing to impress.  No one will be paying attention, unless you're wearing a tutu or dressed up as Elvis.

Think Minimal
Typically, races begin soon after sunrise, when daylight temperatures are at a low.  Although it can be chilly at the start, you'll want to wear as little as possible and still be comfortable (and legal).  Every extra ounce of weight and bulk you carry is going to drag you down, so forgo a sweatshirt if you can.  It's better to be cold at the start than to be carrying a heavy, sweat-soaked jacket over those last couple of miles.

Shorts with some kind of pocket or ID pouch are ideal on race day.  You can stash your driver's license, credit card, car keys, and cash without having to carry a pack.  Be sure that the signature side of your credit card is facing away from your body--sweat obliterates ink.  Skip the long leggings and opt for the shortest shorts you have.  Once you get moving, your legs won't be cold.  If your thighs tend to chafe, wear spandex underneath your shorts or apply Body Glide.

This is not the time to try out new gear.  If you're thinking of wearing a tank, take it for a test run first.  Tanks have a tendency to rub.  Nothing's worse than feeling a burn halfway through the course, knowing you're going to have raw, angry skin at the finish.  If temperatures make it such that you have to start with some kind of jacket, a lightweight, zip-up windbreaker can be easily removed and tied around your waist when temperatures rise.  A long sleeved t-shirt made out of tech fabric might be your best option.

Although, as I've already stated, fashion is not the main objective here, I will point out that bright colors photograph well.  Add a little pep to those race pics and throw in some color if you can.  Whatever you choose to wear, you'll look great at the end with a big smile on your face.

LACE UP and take that gear for a trial run!

Assignment for the dayrun 30 minutes

Monday, May 7, 2012


You've finally made it to the best part of training...taper week.  For the past seventeen weeks you have steadily built endurance.  With each new week, like it or not, you've added 5 minutes to the duration of your run, bringing the total last week to 60 minutes.  An hour of non-stop running--that's not easy in anyone's book.  Congratulations for sticking with it and going the distance.

This week, the upward training curve stops.  Running 6.2 miles shouldn't take much longer than an hour, so your mind and muscles are now fully trained and know what to expect.  You've built up enough strength, endurance, and mental fortitude to survive a 10K.  Now it's time to concentrate on surviving it well.

You're one week from race day, which means it's time to cut back.  You read that correctly--cut back!  You've brought your racing fitness up to the desired level, now it's time to reduce the fatigue of training and rest.  During this final week of training, you'll cut the duration of your runs in half, with complete rest the day before your race.  Sounds good, doesn't it?  Tapering will ensure you have enough energy reserves to perform well and reduce the risk of a last minute injury that could take you out of the event entirely.  By the end of this week of relative rest, you'll be ready and willing to push yourself to perform, so enjoy the well-deserved easy assignment.

Schedule for the week 

day 1 - run 30 minutes     day 4 - run 25 minutes
day 2 - run 30 minutes     day 5 - run 20 minutes
day 3 - run 25 minutes     day 6 - rest
                     day 7 - RACE DAY

LACE UP and enjoy the taper! 

Friday, May 4, 2012


Officially banned by the NCAA in urine concentrations above 15 mg/L, caffeine is thought by some to be a performance enhancing drug.  Available in many forms--coffee, soda, sports drinks, gels, pills, chews and even jerky--caffeine is easily accessible.  Removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of banned substances in 2004, athletes used caffeine for performance enhancement in the Beijing Olympics, and no doubt will in London this year.  Who hasn't seen professional cyclists guzzling cans of coke while competing in the Tour de France?  Heading into your first race, the question is, is caffeine right for you?

Although debated for decades, there is some evidence that supports the idea of caffeine as a performance enhancing drug.  It is thought to stimulate the nervous system, which in turn helps muscles contract faster, with more efficiency.  It also is believed to psychologically reduce your feeling of fatigue.  If a cup of coffee helps you greet the day with gusto, it makes sense that it could help you shave some time off the clock when it comes to race day.

How Much and When
If you're going to try caffeine, don't wait till race morning to experiment.  Try ingesting one cup of coffee (containing anywhere from 70-150 mg of caffeine), one hour before a training workout and see how you feel.  It takes at least 45 minutes for caffeine to reach maximum concentration in your body, so one hour ahead should be good.  If you feel unusually energetic and less fatigued on your run--are able to run longer, harder, faster, and stronger--and don't experience any unpleasant side effects, then by all means, have some coffee.  It's perfectly legal and makes sense.  Unless you're an NCAA athlete, no one will be testing your urine for caffeine levels, so drink up.  A word of warning:  only one cup is necessary for maximum benefit.  Drink two cups and you may have to hit the port-a-potties mid-race, so don't over caffeinate.

If you suffer from migraines, insomnia, heartburn, arrhythmia, or have been instructed by your doctor to stay away from caffeine, then it's best to forgo the possible benefits from a caffeine buzz.

Grab a cup and LACE UP!

Assignment for the day:  run 50 minutes today and 60 minutes tomorrow