Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Did You Know...

The current marathon distance (26 mi., 385 yds.) was set for the 1908 London Olympics so that the course could start at Windsor Castle and end in front of the Royal Box. Not until 1921, however, was that distance adopted as the "official" Marathon distance by the IAAF.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Shin Splints

Sooner or later almost all runners experience pain in the calf or shin. There are several types of overuse injuries that may develop in this region as a result of the repeated pounding from running. Shin splints, stress fractures, and chronic compartment syndrome have a common mechanism of development. Understanding the circumstances that lead to these injuries is the key to preventing them.

The overall recurring theme that leads to overuse running injuries is excess training with inadequate recovery. Excess and inadequate are relative terms and must be judged against one’s usual training routine. The more that excess and inadequate deviate from the usual training routine the less time it takes for an overuse injury to develop. Keeping this theme in mind one can now examine the specifics for how shin splints develop.

A simplified view of the mechanics of running shows a foot-strike, then a loading/energy transfer phase, and finally a push off (“toe-off”) with the forefoot. Each foot-strike delivers a shockwave that travels up the leg. This energy must be absorbed by the musculoskeletal system. The harder the running surface the greater the shockwave. Soft grass, smooth dirt, asphalt, and concrete represent, in order of increasing “hardness”, the usual spectrum of commonly encountered running surfaces. Concrete is very hard on the body and training on this surface should be avoided.

Distance running shoes are specifically designed to provide padding and support for the biomechanics of endurance running. They help absorb shock and facilitate efficient energy (motion) transfer. Matching the type of running shoe to the athlete’s specific biomechanics, and proper shoe fit are important. Similarly, worn out shoes should be replaced early because of reduced shock absorbing capacity. Runners with high rigid arches tend to experience greater pounding shock, whereas those with flat feet tend to experience greater fatigue of the muscles that support the foot -- and push-off. Both tend to develop shin splints

The term shin splints refers to a painful condition that develops along the inside (medial edge) of the shin (tibia). The usual location is along the lower half of the tibia, anywhere from a few inches above the ankle to about half-way up the shin. The repeated running cycle of pounding and push off results in muscle fatigue, which may then lead to higher forces being applied to the fascia, the attachment of fascia to bone, and finally the bone itself. Respectively, this represents a spectrum from mild to severe. On the relatively more severe end of the scale the injury may progress from stress reaction within the bone to an actual stress fracture.

In the early stage of shin splints a runner will describe a pain that is present when the training run first begins, but then disappears as running continues. The pain will often return after exercise or the following morning. As the injury progresses the athlete will experience more time with the pain, and less time without it. There is frequently a tender zone along the medial edge of the tibia that one can map out by pressing with the fingertips as they “march up” along the bone. Eventually, if ignored and training continued, the pain may become quite sharp and may focus on a very small area of the bone. If this happens a stress fracture should be considered.

The treatment for shin splints is rest. Depending upon severity it is often necessary to completely stop running for a period of time. Generally this is done until day-to-day activities are pain free. When running is resumed – and this is where many injured runners make a mistake – it must be significantly different from the routine that lead to the injury. The concept of relative rest employs lengthening the interval between training as well as decreasing the volume and intensity of training. One can often substitute cross-training activities (e.g., bicycling) for running to help increase the interval between running days. There should be a graded and gradual increase in run training, keeping an eye out for the return of any shin splint symptoms.

Stretching and strengthening the calf muscles can help prevent the injury from returning. However the most important preventive strategy is not to repeat the mistakes that lead to the injury. Examine all the training variables – surface, shoes, training volume, intensity, workout type, hills, weather conditions, etc. Seek help from a qualified trainer or coach. This all takes time and effort, but it is well worth it. copyright 2003 © Mark Jenkins, MD

Monday, August 28, 2006


I think alot of you out there are getting avaoidable injuries. The fix could be a simple as making a few adjustments to your running form. Remember, you can rest and recover temporarily from what is bothering you, but if it is being caused by a flaw in your running form...the injury or aches will return shortly. Here is a great article by Jane Unger Hahn from Runners World talking about improving your running form from head to toe. Take note:

Head Tilt How you hold your head is key to overall posture, which determines how efficiently you run. Let your gaze guide you. Look ahead naturally, not down at your feet, and scan the horizon. This will straighten your neck and back, and bring them into alignment. Don't allow your chin to jut out.

Shoulders Shoulders play an important role in keeping your upper body relaxed while you run, which is critical to maintaining efficient running posture. For optimum performance, your shoulders should be low and loose, not high and tight. As you tire on a run, don't let them creep up toward your ears. If they do, shake them out to release the tension. Your shoulders also need to remain level and shouldn't dip from side to side with each stride.

Arms Even though running is primarily a lower-body activity, your arms aren't just along for the ride. Your hands control the tension in your upper body, while your arm swing works in conjunction with your leg stride to drive you forward. Keep your hands in an unclenched fist, with your fingers lightly touching your palms. Imagine yourself trying to carry a potato chip in each hand without crushing it. Your arms should swing mostly forward and back, not across your body,between waist and lower-chest level. Your elbows should be bent at about a 90-degree angle. When you feel your fists clenching or your forearms tensing, drop your arms to your sides and shake them out for a few seconds to release the tension.

Torso The position of your torso while running is affected by the position of your head and shoulders. With your head up and looking ahead and your shoulders low and loose, your torso and back naturally straighten to allow you to run in an efficient, upright position that promotes optimal lung capacity and stride length. Many track coaches describe this ideal torso position as "running tall" and it means you need to stretch yourself up to your full height with your back comfortably straight. If you start to slouch during a run take a deep breath and feel yourself naturally straighten. As you exhale simply maintain that upright position.

Hips Your hips are your center of gravity, so they're key to good running posture. The proper position of your torso while running helps to ensure your hips will also be in the ideal position. With your torso and back comfortably upright and straight, your hips naturally fall into proper alignment--pointing you straight ahead. If you allow your torso to hunch over or lean too far forward during a run, your pelvis will tilt forward as well, which can put pressure on your lower back and throw the rest of your lower body out of alignment. When trying to gauge the position of your hips, think of your pelvis as a bowl filled with marbles, then try not to spill the marbles by tilting the bowl.

Legs/Stride While sprinters need to lift their knees high to achieve maximum leg power, distance runners don't need such an exaggerated knee lift--it's simply too hard to sustain for any length of time. Instead, efficient endurance running requires just a slight knee lift, a quick leg turnover, and a short stride. Together, these will facilitate fluid forward movement instead of diverting (and wasting) energy. When running with the proper stride length, your feet should land directly underneath your body. As your foot strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly flexed so that it can bend naturally on impact. If your lower leg (below the knee) extends out in front of your body, your stride is too long.

Ankles/Feet To run well, you need to push off the ground with maximum force. With each step, your foot should hit the ground lightly--landing between your heel and midfoot--then quickly roll forward. Keep your ankle flexed as your foot rolls forward to create more force for push-off. As you roll onto your toes, try to spring off the ground. You should feel your calf muscles propelling you forward on each step. Your feet should not slap loudly as they hit the ground. Good running is springy and quiet.

I hope these tips help you identify any problems you might have with your running form. Remember good running form = staying injury free. Tomorrow I will be posting information about shin splints. So if you are having a problem with those. Check back tomorrow for more detailed information. Happy Running!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Packing Tips

For out of town races in particular, don't wait until the night before you travel to collect and pack needed items. Rather, make a list of things you wish to take and begin getting them together in the days prior to your departure.

Whether you're running in your hometown marathon or traveling out of town, collect everything you need to take to the race site for your workout bag and have it ready the night before the race. Also, pin your race number to the front of your singlet or t-shirt. It's a good idea to take along an extra roll of toilet paper in case there's none remaining when you visit the bathroom or port-o-potty. You'll have enough on your mind race morning, let alone worrying about items you need to wear or take to the starting line.

Plan for all types of weather as conditions can change rapidly. It's better to pack everything you might need rather than having to scurry around a new city looking for clothing and/or accessories at the last minute.

For races held in cold conditions, consider bringing some clothing that you can discard during the race after you warm up.

If you are traveling out town, be sure to pack healthy snack foods you may wish to eat the weekend of the marathon. Eliminate the need to search for a grocery store that stocks your favorite foods.

Carry bottled water with you if you will be flying to your marathon destination. Flying at high altitudes can contribute to dehydration.

If you're traveling to an out of town race by air, it is extremely important that the running shoes and apparel you plan to wear for the marathon are packed in carry-on luggage so that in the event your baggage is lost or delayed by the airline, you will at least have these "essential" items with you.

Packing List

Keep in mind that the list below of possible items to pack is not all-inclusive. Factors such as weather conditions, food preferences, etc. are quite variable. Nevertheless, refer to the list, as an aid in helping you organize and pack needed items for the marathon.

Essential Gear - "Carry On" Luggage Items

-Running Shoes

Other Possible Clothing Items

-Warm-Ups (Jacket and Long Pants)
-Sports Bra
-T-Shirt (Long and Short Sleeve)
-Sweat Shirt

Other Handy Items

-Body Glide, Skin Lube, or Vaseline
-Foot Powder
-Shoe Laces
-Workout Bag
-Lock for locker
-Race Confirmation (to receive race number, if applicable)
-Safety Pins
-Sweat Bands
-Analgesic Cremes (e.g., Ben Gay, Myoflex, etc.)

Possible* Food Items

-Power Bars
-Gel Energy Supplements
-Snack/Pre-Race Items (e.g., Bagels, Muffins, Fruit, etc.)
-Sports Drinks
-Bottled Water (especially for the airplane)

***Be sure that you have experimented with these or any other food items (during your training) prior to the marathon. list from

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


No matter which schedule you have followed so far, in the final two weeks or so before the goal marathon race, you should start tapering. That means gradually cutting back both the mileage and the intensity of the workouts. Your last long run should be no closer than two weeks before the marathon.

In the final week before the marathon, especially a few days before it, your daily mileage should be almost nothing, say two to five miles. You may even want to take a day or two off for better recovery. This is all assuming that your training has gone well and you are in better shape than when you first started. If your health has been good and you did not over train or have any major injuries or problems, then you should feel quite comfortable taking it easy for at least a week before. Even if your training did not go as you may have planned, there is nothing you can accomplish except the risk of injury and exhaustion by cramming in miles in the final weeks. by Arpan DeAngelo

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

26.2 tips

1. The body has great recuperative powers. When you start feeling bad in a race remember that in another mile or so you will feel better again.

2. Break the race down into segments. 1/2 way, 20miles, last 10km, etc. Think in positive terms. ONLY 3 miles to go.

3. Coaches can help motivate you and point you in the right direction. You are still the one that must do the work.

4. Challenge yourself by competing against your peers. After the race is over you will remember how well YOU did, more than who won.

5. Confidence comes from doing your homework. Shorter races can build confidence by using them to gain experience and try out new things.

6. Developing a routine is critical. Putting in the mileage is more important than any individual workout

7. Marathon Course - Become familiar with the course, it increases your comfort zone especially when you are tired late in the race.

8. Try two runs in one day rather than one long run. You'll get more out of the effort and avoid greater chance for injury too.

9. Endurance and Strength - Are built on consistent mileage and long runs. Don't worry about the time on your watch.

10. Use specialty running stores to find equipment that will work for you. Use different equipment for different weather conditions. 5 weeks prior to race day: Will these shoes hold up? If not, this is the time for a new pair.

11. Don't create unrealistic expectations. Give yourself a range time to shoot for. Use workouts and shorter races as a gage.

12. Mistakes are often the best teachers. They help you improve. Every marathon is different. You'll gain knowledge from each one.

13. Use your family to declare you intentions to run a marathon. They can help with your commitment. Use them to help you on the race course as well. HAVE FUN during the RUN!

14. Depending on your level of fitness some first timers may be able to complete the marathon on fewer miles. Don't compromise on the long runs. GO GREENIES!

15. The best runners know how to work and relax their bodies at the same time.

16. There are many benefits to staying near home to compete. It can be an ideal place, especially for first timers.

17. If you get injured, be patient while coming back to your earlier fitness level. Don't rush into another injury or try to make up for the time you lost.

18. Think about what motivates you. Post your intentions on the refrigerator for everyone to see. Use positive self-talk.

19. We all have some measure of nervousness before a race. It all goes away once that gun goes off.

20. Patience is a big key to success. Don't hurry the experience along. Wait, wait, wait! Passing runners late in the race helps you mentally.

21. Personal best is not what shows up on the clock. You know when you've run a great race. For first timers, completing the race may be the crowning achievement.

22. Set up as many things as you can before race day so you have less to worry about and more time to enjoy the experience. (Create a list on your computer)

23. Races - Help to understand pace and know the pre-race routine. Races are opportunities to meet people with common interests.

24. One trick to keeping shoe laces from coming untied is tucking the tied ends underneath the laces. It prevents them from flopping around.

25. Use ten days to cut back the miles before marathon day. Spend it relaxing to prepare you mentally and physically.

26. Use practice races as training runs. It's easier than running by yourself. It takes the pressure away and teaches you to relax.

26.1. Volunteering has been a requirement of the runners I've coached. You'll find it rewarding.

26.2. Weather - Training in all kinds of conditions provides for better race day preparation. Worry about what you can control. Doug Curtis

Sunday, August 20, 2006


DATE: Monday, April 16, 2007

I'm sure you've heard about it. The Boston Marathon is one of the most famous marathons in the world...if not the most famous. The legendary Boston Marathon course follows a point-to-point route from rural Hopkinton to Boston and is certified per the guidelines set forth by the IAAF and USA Track and Field.

If you want to run in the Boston Marathon though you have to plan ahead. To qualify for the 111th Boston Marathon, athletes must meet the designated time standard which corresponds to their age group. Qualifying times must be run on or after September 24, 2005. Seeding is based on qualifying times, which are subject to review and verification. All participants must adhere to the guidelines set forth by the B.A.A., USA Track and Field or foreign equivalent, International Paralympic Committee, Wheelchair Sports, USA, Disabled Sports, USA, and the United States Association for Blind Athletes. Qualifying times must be met in competitions observing these same rules. Proof of qualification must accompany the application. Participants must be 18 years or older on race day. The qualifying window for the 2008 Boston Marathon will begin on September 23, 2006.

Qualifying times are based upon your age on the date of the Boston Marathon in which you will be participating.


Age Group Men Women
8-34 3hrs 10min 3hrs 40min
35-39 3hrs 15min 3hrs 45min
40-44 3hrs 20min 3hrs 50min
45-49 3hrs 30min 4hrs 00min
50-54 3hrs 35min 4hrs 05min
55-59 3hrs 45min 4hrs 15min
60-64 4hrs 00min 4hrs 30min
65-69 4hrs 15min 4hrs 45min
70-74 4hrs 30min 5hrs 00min
75-79 4hrs 45min 5hrs 15min
>80 5hrs 00min 5hrs 30min

Proof of qualification, such as a copy of your finish certificate or results listing (non-returnable), must accompany your entry. Qualifying times attained at marathons using the ChampionChip timing and scoring device do not require submission of proof.

For more information check out the BAA website:

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Why I Love Trail Running

by Nancy Hobbs
Ten runners tell how they got hooked on trails, and what keeps them coming back for more.

Because of my long involvement in trail running and racing on the national level, people often tell me about their trail adventures. So when Runner's World asked me to do this story, I was ready. You want testimonials from happy trail runners? You got 'em.

Following are 10 of my favorites, gleaned from recent correspondence. Clearly these people love trails as much as I do.

If you haven't tried trail running, you owe it to yourself to get out there. And you don't have to live near a mountain trail at 10,000 feet in the Rockies. A quiet city park with an unpaved path or a nearby rail-trail will do just fine.

Tom Borschel, 43
Idaho falls, Idaho

How I got hooked: "I fell in love with trail running when I took a land-surveying course my freshman year of college. Four of us had to survey and map an entire 1,500-foot-high mountain above the University of Utah. To speed up the project, I ran up and down the mountain carrying survey equipment. My group finished in record time. I've forgotten everything about surveying, but I still love trail running."

Peak trail moment: "When I was doing my best running in the late '80s, I ran the Squaw Peak Challenge in Squaw Valley, Calif. It's a 3.6-mile ascent, including an elevation gain of 2,300 feet. What I'll always remember from that race is the helpless look on one guy's face -- he was actually a 2:12 marathoner -- as I pulled away from him on the uphill."

Why I love it: "It's all great -- the sounds and sights, the goose bumps I get in a chilly breeze, my rasping breath at altitude, the whiteness that surrounds me when I'm running in a cloud."

Jordan Woods, 20
Davis, Calif.

How I got hooked: "During high school I lived in the Bay Area of California, and did my best running in the San Mateo Hills. I ran there every day of the summer before my sophomore year of cross-country."

Peak trail moment: "One of my training buddies and I would always run a trail that had a 1-mile downhill section at the end. It was narrow, and had lots of curves, cliffs, and wooded sections. We'd race it like two Indy cars, complete with race commentary. One slip in a number of spots would've been the end of our running, but is was so exhilarating we couldn't stop ourselves."

Why I love it: "I still do it for the excitement and adventure. And I always feel re-energized afterward."

Erin Renken, 23
Boise, Idaho

How I got hooked: "I'd run track and cross-country for years, but discovered trail running on my own when I was at the University of Wyoming. I'd head out from Laramie, always looking for new trails to run."

Peak trail moment: "It happened on the Cactus Canyon Trail near Laramie. There were 3 inches of new snow, and I was the first one on the trail. The snow crunched under my feet, and everything looked perfect and still. At the top of a big hill, I saw the sun come up. I had to stop and watch."

Why I love it: "It's as simple as this: Trail running is my passion, stress relief, and exercise all in one. Every trail run brings something new."

Meghan Arbogast, 39
Corvallis, Oreg.

How I got hooked: "I grew up on a farm surrounded by woods, so it was natural for me to hike and run everywhere. Years later, I was introduced to trail running by my coach here in Corvallis. I loved it immediately, because it reminded me of my childhood romps on our farm."

Peak trail moment: "I experience lots of peak moments in the McDonald Forest near Corvallis. My favorite trail includes a 3,000-foot climb followed immediately by a 1,000-foot descent. Near the end I'm running on a soft bed of pine needles in a quiet stand of tall Douglas firs."

Why I love it: "Trail running is my fountain of youth. When I'm on the trail, I feel like a child again, completely relaxed and at peace. No matter how tired or stressed I am going into the run, I'm always refreshed at the end of it."

Christine Baldoni, 38
Poitiers, France

How I got hooked: "I live in the countryside of France now, but I fell in love with trail running in Boulder, Colo., 2 years ago when I visited for 3 months. I'd meet up with a group in town on Sunday mornings, and we'd drive to a trail about 3,000 feet above Boulder for long runs."

Peak trail moment: "I was on an escarpment trail overlooking Hamilton, Ontario. I saw a man walking toward me with what looked like a very large dog beside him. As I drew closer, I slowed down and realized it was a fawn. The man had been walking in the woods, and the deer had just started following him. Since I was heading back where he'd come from, I figured I'd try to persuade the deer to follow me. I started running, looked over, and saw the deer running beside me."

Why I love it: "I enjoy the trails in France, and run them often. But what I really love is the wildlife and maple trees on the wilderness trails in North America. I can't wait to return."

Brian Manley, 36
Aurora, Colo.

How I got hooked: "After my first 10-K many years ago, I committed myself to get faster and run farther, and trails seemed like the best place to do that."

Peak trail moment: "I was at mile 68 of the Leadville Trail 100-Mile race a few years ago. I'd just shuffled away from an aid station into complete darkness. I looked up, and I'd never seen a sky so filled with stars. The Milky Way literally went from one end of the horizon to the other; the entire sky seemed alive with pulsing lights."

Why I love it: "I've run countless road 10-Ks, half-marathons, and marathons -- including Boston twice -- but those occasions have never given me the high I feel cruising along a soft dirt trail through a grove of aspen trees, or around a high mountain lake surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks."

Kevin Rassier, 41
Maple Grove, Minn.

How I got hooked: "I live next to a large nature preserve near Minneapolis and began running on the grass trails to reduce the pounding on my legs. Soon it became much more than that."

Peak trail moment: "One morning I almost ran into a huge buck. All of a sudden I was eye-to-eye with this awesome animal. I was scared he might charge. He gave a big snort, then turned and ran down the hill ahead of me."

Why I love it: "I see so many animals from the trail, including trumpeter swans, beavers, woodchucks, foxes, deer, skunks, raccoons, and other smaller mammals and birds. At the same time, trail running is an incredible workout. I believe I could replace my speedwork with more trail running, and I'd be more fit."

Edward Dowling, Jr., 37
Allenhurst, N.J.

How I got hooked: "I started running trails by accident. One day I decided to run in New Jersey's Hartshorn Woods Park, from where you can view the Raritan River and Bay, the mouth of the Hudson, the Atlantic Ocean, and the New York City skyline all during one run. I immediately fell in love with the challenge, the hills, and the scenery."

Peak trail moment: "The best time was when I got lost in Hartshorn, even though I was carrying a map. I circled around aimlessly for probably 15 miles and loved every minute. The views were spectacular."

Why I love it: "Trails give me the time and space to think -- simple as that."

Christa Lloyd, 18
Green Mountain Galls, Colo.

How I got hooked: "I ran cross-country all through high school, but I didn't really like trails until my dad started training with the Incline Club in Manitou Springs, Colo. He kept inviting me out with him on Thursdays and Sundays, and finally I went. It ended up being a lot of fun."

Peak trail moment: "I love when I find a hilly trail with lots of rocks to jump over and mud to run through."

Why I love it: "It's more interesting than running on roads, and I feel so engaged and aware on the trails. You have to stay alert at all times."

Bernie Boettcher, 38
Silt, Colo.

How I got hooked: "As a kid I always loved to explore, to go trekking through the woods. When I started running again 2 years ago (I hadn't run since high school), I realized that trail running allowed me to do this again."

Peak trail moment: "At the 2000 World Sky Games Half-Marathon, I climbed for 7 gray, foggy miles up the Matterhorn from Zermatt, Switzerland, to Cervinia, Italy. After struggling up the final glacial ridge, I popped out of the fog. A line of photographers all shouted, "Americano! Americano!" A helicopter was whirring directly overhead in the intense sunshine. It was visual ecstasy."

Why I love it: "I love to explore wilderness areas on foot. Trail running in remote locales is how I keep in touch with primitive nature."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Nutritional Supplements

Vitamin supplements have come under fire in the press, with their safety and efficacy being questioned. Although the multitude of vitamin pills are used safely every day, every now again people can become ill by taking too much of a particular pill, or consuming one whilst on other medication. It is because of this that I would take caution if you decide to use supplements as part of your training. If in doubt, consult your doctor.

The extra processes your body goes through during your training creates the need for extra nutrients and vitamins but these can generally be consumed by eating a healthy balanced diet. If you feel you would like to take any supplements, there is little risk in taking a good multivitamin tablet and extra vitamin C.

Vitamin C plays a number of roles in the body such as regenerating tissue and helping iron absorbency, but the main reason to take it is to keep your immune system in check. After a training run, your immune system is depressed slightly for a few hours. It is during this time that you are likely to pick up a cold. By supplementing with vitamin C, you can give your immune system a boost and protect against bugs.

It is advisable to check with your doctor before you take supplements. Graeme Hilditch

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Feel a cold coming on?

A survey of participants of the Los Angeles Marathon found that 40% caught colds within two months of the marathon. Marathon training is brutal on the body's defenses. Do your best to avoid sick people. Wash your hands whenever you get the chance. Hand to body is how the majority of colds are spread rather then by airborne germs. Taper big time the two weeks going into the race to reduce the chance of a last minute cold. There is no cramming for this exam in the final two weeks. Cram now!

If you do get sick back down. You can run, but don't work hard. Run short and run slow. Get into a warm shower quickly after the run. Drink fluids and rest. Take vitamin C. Say a prayer. When you feel well enough to get in a decent run, wait one more day. Patience is a virtue, although I respect those of us who don't have it.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Preparing for the Long Run

Hey Everyone. I hope the training is going good. If you haven't might want to start thinking about, and planning for your long runs. This is a great article to help you prepare! from

Definition and Purposes of the Long Run

For the purposes of this discussion, the distance of a long run is considered to be 10 miles or longer as well as runs that last over 90 minutes. It should be run approximately one minute slower than the pace you plan to run during the marathon or stated another way, one to 1-1/2 minutes per mile slower than your present 10K race pace. If your training schedule calls for a long run of 16 miles, the distance must be run at one time rather than splitting the distance into an 8-mile morning session and an 8-mile evening run.

The long run is the most important component of marathon training because it teaches the body to both mentally and physically tackle the challenges presented in completing the 26.2-mile event. Physiologically, the body must learn to tap into and utilize energy reserves from fat storage sites after the glycogen (fuel stores in the muscles, converted over from carbohydrate food sources) have been depleted. Through long run training, the capacity to store more glycogen within the muscles increases. An increase in glycogen stores translates into the ability to maintain one's pace during the marathon and delay the onset of fatigue. Conversely, trouble is on the horizon when you run out of glycogen, as your pace will significantly decrease.

One must also be accustomed to running for very long periods of time, and the mental toughness that develops from completing long training runs pays off handsome dividends during the actual marathon.

Above all, marathon training schedules must be designed so that runners are adequately rested prior to undertaking their long runs. One who completes at least two long runs of 20 miles or longer prior to his or her marathon will no doubt reduce the possibility of visiting the dreaded "wall" (the point in time when glycogen stores within the muscles have been depleted and as a result, the runner's pace slows considerably, oftentimes to a walk).

In short, the majority of runners who experience difficulty in completing their long training runs fail to prepare adequately for these critical workouts. In short, remember that both long runs and the marathon don't have to be painful experiences. The key is to plan ahead.

Benefits of the Long Run

*Provides the necessary endurance to complete the marathon

*Strengthens the heart (increases stoke volume) and opens the capillaries, both sending energy to working muscles and flushing waste products from fatigued muscles.

*Other physiological benefits include the increased number and size of mitochondria and increased myoglobin concentration in muscle fibers.

*Strengthens the leg muscles and ligaments, thus improving your endurance.

*Recruits fast-twitch muscle fibers to help with slow-twitch tasks (like running a marathon).

*Teaches the body to burn fat as fuel.

*Develops your mental toughness and coping skills, thus increasing/enhancing your confidence level that you can go the full marathon distance on race day.

*Increases your overall speed, even for shorter races.

Preparing for the Long Run

While completing long runs can be sometimes difficult, preparing properly for these training sessions will make this important workout much easier to accomplish. Listed below are areas of concern that require your careful preparation prior to, and during your long run. Let's assume that your long run is scheduled for Sunday morning.


Get lots of rest Saturday night, aiming for 8 hours sleep. Make either Friday or Saturday a complete rest day for the legs. If you do train on Saturday, make it a very light workout on the legs.


Begin hydrating on Saturday. Eat meals high in carbohydrates for lunch and dinner Saturday. Selecting the "right" foods is an important area of experimentation. Avoid foods with excessive protein/fat content all day Saturday. Drink about eight ounces of water Sunday morning prior to your long run. Eat a light snack Sunday morning prior to your long run. This is also an important experimentation area in regard to food selection. Drink lots of fluids while running. Be sure to stop for water frequently throughout the run. For runs longer than 60 minutes, you MUST drink sports beverages (such as Gatorade, PowerAde, etc.) at every two to three mile interval. Drinking on the run requires careful planning of the route (making sure there is water frequently available along with places to stash sports drinks). Consider trying gel carbohydrate replacement products. Be sure to chase these supplements down with water to avoid stomach cramps and insure absorption. A final thought: Please dispose of gel and energy product wrappers properly by throwing them away in trash receptacles or placing them in your fanny pack. Let's all work together to keep the environment clean! After the run is over, continue to drink fluids (water, sports drinks, and/or juice products are all great choices). As soon as possible (ideally within 15 minutes), grab something nutritious to eat to replace your depleted glycogen stores. Research indicates that to avoid muscle fatigue the next day, carbohydrates should be eaten as soon as possible following long duration exercise.

Shoes, Apparel, and Accessories

Make sure that you are training in shoes with low mileage wear to maximize absorption of shock. Wear Cool-max or synthetic blend socks, singlet, and shorts that wick away moisture/perspiration and won't cause chafing to enhance your comfort level. Use Body Glide, Skin Lube, Vaseline, or similar products (on feet, under arms, between thighs, nipples, etc.) to eliminate or reduce chafing and/or blisters. Do not over-dress. Assess the need to wear tights, long-sleeves, etc. as excess clothing can lead to overheating of the body. Doing so makes the "real feel" 10 degrees warmer once you begin running. In cooler weather and/or in windy conditions, consider wearing an old t-shirt that you can discard once your long run or marathon begins, but be sure that you won't be running into the wind later on your return route. Also remember that if you choose to wear a hat, it will trap body heat (great in cold weather) but a bad idea for a long run or marathon with hot/humid conditions).

Things to Consider While Running Long

Run at a conversational pace by starting out slowly to conserve glycogen. Running at an easy pace reduces the possibility of incurring an injury. Stay loose by shaking out your arms and shoulders regularly. Carry your arms close to your waist or hips to conserve energy. Also avoid unnecessary arm swing, particularly laterally across the body. Realize that long runs will sometimes be difficult to complete and that you may experience some "bad patches" in the later miles. Persevering through these stretches will develop mental toughness, an essential skill that will be needed during the marathon. Use imagery, mental rehearsal/visualization, and self-talk to develop mental toughness. Mentally break the course into sections. Cool down by running the last half-mile at a very easy pace.

After the Long Run is Over

Drink and eat. Stretch thoroughly. Do some light cycling, walking, etc. later in the day to loosen up your legs. Consider utilizing some therapeutic techniques such as dipping your legs in cool water soon after the run, getting a leg massage over the next couple of days to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue.

Guidelines and Other Helpful Tips to Make the Long Run Easier and Safer

Don't schedule long runs too early in your training, even if you are physically prepared to cover the distance. This may lead to staleness or premature burnout. Additionally, you may "peak" too early in your training. Schedule some long runs at the same time of day the actual marathon will be held to familiarize yourself with running during that time-frame and to also develop a pre-race routine for which you feel comfortable. Include weight training into your marathon training program. Consider running for time, approximating the distance. Doing so will enable you to have more flexibility and spontaneity in regards to the route you choose to run.
Do not increase the distance of your long run by more than 10 percent per week. This equates to adding approximately 15 minutes to each subsequent long run. Every fourth week of your training schedule, drop the distance of your long run, providing for an easy week to facilitate rest and recovery. Use your long runs as a means of experimentation regarding future choices of food, clothing, shoes, etc. Schedule you're longest run no closer than four weeks before the marathon. The distance of this run should be 23 miles maximum. Above all, DO NOT run 26.2 miles in practice to see if you can run a marathon. Save your efforts for the actual race!
It's perfectly acceptable to stop or walk to get the fluids down during your long run. Doing so will not have a negative effect on your preparedness for the marathon. Water and sports drinks are your "lifeline" to completing these long workouts. Running with a group will make the long run more pleasurable and easier to accomplish as opposed to running alone. While running with a group is a great idea, be sure you don't turn long runs into races. This will almost surely lead to injury. Find training partners who run at, or close to your training pace.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

123 Foot Rock Wall

Sorry there hasn't been a post in a few days.

Saturday was my wife's birthday...and the way we do things is our family is we take the whole weekend to celebrate! But the best part is, I took her to the highest rock climbing wall in the United States. It is at Snowbird Ski Resort in Salt Lake City, Utah. This thing is huge! The climbing wall has been the site of numerous world class climbing competitions and extends from ground level to the roof of the Cliff Lodge, 12 floors up! Both of us made it to the top. And let me tell wasn't easy.

I know this doesn't have much to do with marathon training, but I just wanted to let you all know how much fun it is...if you can ever do it: you should!

Make life an adventure!

Keep up the training. More tips to come soon.

The Marathon Professor

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Key To Success

I received an email a few days ago from a fellow runner that brought to light a dilemma I think a lot you have out there. The concern goes something like this “…I don't feel like running is coming any easier to me. It seems as if I am stuck…”

What I’m about to say is not only good advice for running and training for a marathon, but for life in general. In fact I’m going to go as far as to say if you listen to and apply this advice you will not only be successful in your marathon training, but successful in everything you do in life. So I guess you could say this is the key to a successful life. You might want to take note!

In addition to running cross country in high school, I was on the wrestling team. Now let me be perfectly honest, wrestling didn’t come naturally to me. I started in 8th grade, and by the time I was a sophomore in high school I think I had won a few matches…if that! I pretty much spent those three years pinned on my back. That’s three years of hard work, with basically no “visual” results. But here is the key: I didn’t give up. I continued to work hard, practice, and train. Then when my junior year came something happened… something clicked. I was as surprised as everyone else. Those kids that used to beat up on me in practice were suddenly no match for me. I wasn’t sure at the time what was going on, but I did know one thing, I was actually good! My first match of the year came and guess what…I won! The second match came…another victory. Then the third…you guessed it: I won. It was a long time ago so the details are a little fuzzy, but I went more than 20 matches undefeated! I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had applied a time tested key to success that led to my achievements in wrestling.

Fast forward to today. You are training for your first marathon and you seem to hit a plateau. Maybe you just can’t get past that ten mile run. You have tried over and over, but you just can’t do it. I know how you feel, and I’m here to tell you I have the answer.

You are going to want to take out a pencil and write this down. No, scratch that. You should open up a word document and copy and paste what I’m about to say, print it out and tape it on your mirror so you see it every morning.

That which you persist in doing becomes easier to do.
Not that the nature of the thing itself has changed, but that your ability to do it has increased!
Ralph Waldo Emerson

There you have it from one of the greatest poets/philosophers/writers in American history. Don’t give up! If you keep training it will click. Whether it is tomorrow, or three years from now, you will see success…you will accomplish your goal. You just have to stick to it. So when you hit those plateaus in your marathon training push through it. Realize that it’s not failure; it’s not that you can’t do it; you just need to give it more time…more persistence.

There you go. I just gave you the key to a successful life. I unknowingly discovered it as a young high school student, but ever since have applied it to everything I do. Now it’s up to you to apply this time tested secret to your marathon training, and everything else in your life as well. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Marathon Motivation

by Laura DiMarino

You have to put in a great effort to get to the start
You don't need luck, just your feet and your heart.
Take it slow at the start and run with ease
If you don't, your legs might buckle and seize.
Remember to drink every mile or two,
And at mile 18, eat your Gu!
Think as you race. Be consistent and maintain pace.
When things get tough near the end,
Find strength in your training and support from your friends.

Sunday, August 06, 2006



A high carbohydrate diet permits the body to accumulate enough glycogen for optimal training and performance. If carbohydrate stores are adequate, the protein you eat can be utilized for muscle building and tissue repair. Otherwise your proteins are used for energy and this is not an efficient form of energy. Marathon training will deplete your glycogen stores, causing fatigue and exhaustion. The optimal pre-exercise/pre-race diet should fill your muscles with glycogen. It should be high in carbohydrate, moderate in protein, and low in fat and fiber. To achieve maximal glycogen loading, begin 1 week before competition.

First 3 days: Low-carbohydrate diet to deplete muscle glycogen.

Next 3 days: High-carbohydrate diet with little or no activity. This yields muscle glycogen loading with glycogen and water to prepare for the 7th day event.

Goals of a pre-exercise/pre-race meal:

1. Promote additional glycogen synthesis.
2. Supply the body with glucose for use during exercise.
3. Minimize fatigue during exercise.

Most endurance activities and competition occurs early in the morning after an overnight fast. Liver glycogen levels are lowered as liver furnishes glucose to the body during the sleeping hours. The pre-exercise meal assists in replenishing liver glycogen and stocks the body with additional carbohydrate. This helps prevent or delay fatigue during exercise.


1. Should be eaten 1-2 hours before.
2. Small, easily digestible.
3. Familiar.
4. High in carbohydrate.
5. Does not produce gastrointestinal distress.
6. Moderate in protein, low in fat.
7. If nerves prevent intake of solids, fruit juices, sports drinks, or glycogen replacement products.
8. Should be determined while training, not the day of the event.

Examples: bagels, whole wheat bread, crackers, jelly, all juices, brown/white rice, English muffins, cereal, pasta, sports drinks, apples, bananas, oranges, raisins. Make sure to try your planned pre-race meal before a long training run to see how your body handles it.


Begin early in an event to guarantee available carbohydrate later in the race. Take your first GU 15 minutes before the event with 8 oz. of water.

Drink 4-8 oz. of a carbohydrate drink every 15-20 minutes.

GU packs or a similar product should be used at least every 6 miles, perhaps more often if needed. Some runners prefer GU every 4 miles. Make sure to try the product several times during long runs to make sure the product is right for you.

These packs may be pinned to the elastic band in the front of your running shorts, or kept in a pocket in your shorts/pants. GU pack holders are also sold in running specialty shops. From On The Right Track by Gary and Ellen Bloome

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Stretch Regularly

Lack of stretching or improper stretching can lead to running injuries. Stretching is an important complementary aspect of any running program. We know that running creates stress on certain muscle groups. Soon after you stop running, muscles that have been stressed begin to tighten. The best way to avoid stiffness and eventual soreness from stressed, tightening muscles is to stretch or find another activity like yoga or pilates that will achieve the same result. Holding each stretch for more than 30 seconds at a comfortable tension is key to good stretching. You should not feel pain while stretching. Do this at least twice a week and you will be on your way to running injury free!!!

The 10-Percent Rule

The 10-Percent Rule states that you should never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent over the previous week. By following this rule, you will ensure that the increase in your mileage is consistent and gradual. For example, jumping straight from 7 miles to 11 miles is a mistake. Do 8 or 9 miles instead.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hydration and Electrolytes

Seeing that the human body is made up of around 60% water, it is essential that you keep your body well hydrated during your training and the marathon itself.

As you exercise, your body heats up just as the engine in a car heats up during a journey. To stop overheating, water is drawn for blood plasma and secreted from pores in the skin, as sweat, to cool the body down. However, as the water content of blood decreases, it changes from a free flowing watery substance into a thicker more “treacle” like substance. This makes it harder for blood to flow through the arteries and veins quickly enough to supply the muscles with the right nutrients to sustain the same level of exercise.

To meet the demands, the heart is forced to pump faster, resulting in an increase in heart rate. This ultimately leads to feelings of fatigue and premature exhaustion. Just a 1% decrease in hydration, will cause around a 5% decrease in performance. A water loss of just 12% of a person’s body weight can lead to death.

To hydrate the body effectively during exercise, it is important that you take on more than just water. An “isotonic” sports drink will not only contain 7-10% glucose, but minerals such as sodium and potassium, known as electrolytes.

When we sweat, as you can tell by the taste, we lose salts from the body. This loss over a short run is not generally a problem as the body has hormonal regulators to balance the salts in our cells to keep them normal. However, during longer runs salt loss from the body can lead to a potentially life threatening condition known as “hyponatremia.”

Hyponatremia occurs when sodium levels drop too low leading to symptoms of confusion,
weakness, disorientation, even seizures. Luckily, cases of hyponatremia are rare, but they do happen in marathons. There is no need to go overboard on salt consumption in the lead up to the race, as we all consume too much salt in our diets anyway, but it is certainly not a good idea to completely avoid salty foods.

During training runs, make sure your fluid replacement drink contains both sodium and glucose. If possible, try to plant drinks on your planned route, such as by a tree, so that you don’t have to carry heavy bottles with you.

During the marathon, Gatorade sport drinks are provided at 5 different points. To keep your glucose and salt levels up, make sure you take a drink at these designated points.

Once again, it is important that you practice drinking the sports drinks during your training. This is not only to get used to drinking on the run, but also to make sure your system is not intolerant to the drinks. Avoid drinking them all in one go: sip regularly and, if possible, wash the drink down with water too. By Graeme Hilditch

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I want to run my next marathon to beat a certain time. Why do you want to run a marathon? Everyone has different reasons, and trust me, if you are going to finish the marathon, particularly if it is your first marathon, then you will need a reason. You will need some sort of motivation to keep you going through all those hard days of training. Particularly the cold rainy days. So just in case you don’t have a reason yet…here are a few that might “fit”.

1. I think my first motivation for running a marathon was to prove to myself I could accomplish something. A marathon is something a lot of people can’t or won’t do. The main reason people don’t do it: IT’S NOT EASY! You have to dedicate literally months of your life to this goal. You have to change the way you eat, change your daily schedule, and even change the way you think. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, it is going to take some money to successfully cross the finish line.

But remember this, when you cross the finish line it will all be worth it. All those long days of training, all of the ice you went through to take care of those shin splints, all of those days of running in the sweltering heat, all of those blisters, all of those early morning runs before work/school, and all of the blood, sweat, and tears will all be worth it. I promise. The reason why it will be worth it is because you can now join the ranks of people who have run for 26.2 miles straight. Did you hear that? ...26.2 miles STRAIGHT! And just so you know, when you are standing in a crowd…you will be one of the few that can say that you have done this! (Unless of course you are standing at the starting line of the Boston Marathon.) You will be able to tell your friends and family that you ran a marathon…It wasn’t easy…but you DID IT!

2. Another reason kind of takes after the “Happiness is a journey, not a destination” approach; which is to get in shape or lose some weight. You will accomplish this goal while you train for the marathon. Think about it…it’s basically impossible to run every day for 3, 6, 9, or even 12 months and not lose some weight. It doesn’t matter how skinny you are right now.

So if you want to lose that freshman 15, or that spare tire you just got since you started that new job where you sit in a cubicle all day and stare at a computer, then training for and running a marathon is a great thing to do.

When we do something for 30 days it becomes a habit. What if you want to get in shape and stay that way? Training for a marathon will develop that habit of working out, and even after the marathon is over, you will feel weird if you don’t go out and run for a day because you will be so used to running. So if losing weight and getting is shape is your reason…. it’s a good one.

Those are a couple of reasons to run a marathon. If you don’t have one right now, just pick one of mine…it will help you stay motivated throughout your training.

I am curious to know why other people are running marathons. Leave a post and let me know “YOUR REASON” for running a marathon.

Happy Running.

The Marathon Professor

Breathing and Running...Do YOU know what to do?

Here are my lessons on breathing:

***Just breathing through nose can cause hyperventilation, so breathing through both nose and mouth is better.
***Mouth should be open slightly and jaw completely rested. This is also called as "dead fish" position because that's what it looks like.
***Belly breathing is better than chest breathing since you are breathing in more Oxygen and exhaling more Carbon dioxide. I need to practice this.
***Don't try to achieve 2/2 or 2/1 or 3/1. Do what feels right, is comfortable to you, and go with the rhythm of your body.

To read the full article just click on the link above...