Thursday, September 28, 2006

Disney Marathon

Well, it has been a while since the last post...sorry about that. I was in Florida. But don't worry, I didn't forget you. So do you have a marathon picked out yet??? I have a great idea for you. Have you considered a Disney marathon (or any kind of race: 10K, 5K, triathlon, etc)?

One idea is to make a vacation out of your race. Think about it. You put in all the time and training for this race...make if a fun and rewarding experience. And what better place to do that, than "the happiest place on earth"...Disney!!! It is where dreams come true ;)

I was just in Orlando Florida for the Disney Triathlon. (Hence the tip I am passing on, that you should go and run a Disney race yourself.) It was a great race. Disney does a fantastic job of putting races on. You actually run right through the amusement park. It's great.

O.K. so go to this link for more info on the Disney races.

I hope all is well. I'm back and ready to run again... so there will be more marathon tips to come. Run Safe.

"The Marathon Professor"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Walk Breaks?

Most runners will record significantly faster times when they take walk breaks because they don't slow down at the end of a long run. Thousands of time-goal-oriented veterans have improved by 10, 20, 30 minutes and more in marathons by taking walk breaks early and often in their goal races. You can easily spot these folks. They're the ones who are picking up speed during the last two to six miles when everyone else is slowing down.

The mental benefit: breaking 26 miles into segments, which you know you can do Even sub-three hour marathoners continue to take their walk breaks to the end. One of them explained it this way: "Instead of thinking at 20 miles I had six more gut-wretching miles to go, I was saying to myself one more mile until my break.' Even when it was tough, I always felt I could go one more mile.

Why do walk breaks work?

By using muscles in different ways from the beginning, your legs keep their bounce as they conserve resources. When a muscle group, such as your calf, is used continuously step by step, it fatigues relatively soon. The weak areas get overused and force you to slow down later or scream at you in pain afterward. By shifting back and forth between walking and running muscles, you distribute the workload among a variety of muscles, increasing your overall performance capacity. For veteran marathoners, this is often the difference between achieving a time goal or not.

Walk breaks will significantly speed up recovery because there is less damage to repair. The early walk breaks erase fatigue, and the later walk breaks will reduce or eliminate overuse muscle breakdown.

The earlier you take the walk breaks, the more they help you!

To receive maximum benefit, you must start the walk breaks before you feel any fatigue, in the first mile. If you wait until you feel the need for a walk break, you've already reduced your potential performance.

How fast should the walk break be?

When you walk fast for a minute, most runners will lose about 15 seconds over running at their regular pace. But if you walk slowly, you'll have lost only about 20 seconds.

Once we find the ideal ratio for a given distance, walk breaks allow us to feel strong to the end and recover fast, while bestowing the same stamina and conditioning we would have received if we had run continuously.

Don't get too rigidly locked into a specific ratio of walk breaks, adjust as needed.

Even if you run the same distance every day, you'll find that you'll need to vary the walk break frequency to adjust for speed, hills, heat, humidity, time off from training, etc. If you anticipate that your run will be more difficult or will produce a longer recovery, take more frequent walk breaks (or longer walks) and you may be surprised at how quickly you recover. By Jeff Galloway

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why Do Runners Need to Monitor Heart Rates

Heart Rate Monitor Training:

Maybe you've heard the sound in a race: a high-pitched beep, beep, beep. Or maybe you've wondered about those straps that you've seen wrapped around runners' chests (usually shirtless males!) Whether you've heard them, seen them or just wondered about them, it's time you tried one yourself. What are we talking about? Heart rate monitors; other than a good pair of running shoes, they're the single most valuable training tool of this centuryor the last!

What will a Heart Rate Monitor do for Me?

Simply put, using a heart rate monitor will make you a better runner. Here's how it works: The monitor accurately measures the number of times your heart beats in one minute. Knowing that figure helps you gauge how your body's responding to training. And knowing how your body responds helps you plan your workouts to reflect your increasing fitness level.

"Yeah, but I've seen runners at the track stopping to take their pulse during a workout. Isn't that good enough?" you might ask. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Once you stop your heart rate starts to slow down. For instance, let's say you run a 400m interval, then you stop to take your pulse before you run an easy 400m recovery jog. As soon as you stop, your heart rate will begin to drop. By the time you've caught your breath, felt for your pulse in your neck and started counting, it might have dropped two beats or more from what it was in the last 200m of the interval. And coming to a complete stop after a hard interval can cause dizziness and even nausea, so you shouldn't forgo the recovery lap in favor of taking your pulse. Wearing a monitor is the only way to get a true reading of how hard your heart is working.

How do I Use a Heart Rate Monitor?

A heart rate monitor consists of two pieces:1. The watch/chronograph/display, which you wear on your wrist.2. The strap you wear around your chest. Monitors vary considerably in both price and features. If you're running or jogging solely for fitness and possibly to lose weight, you'll probably want the most basic model, one that simply displays your heart rate and nothing else. If you're planning on running intervals on the track, choose a model that not only displays your heart rate, but stores lap and split times as well as your heart rate during each interval. All the models above the two most basic designs feature alarms to signal you when you're in the correct target training zone (more about target zones later.)

Tip: Initially you may have to experiment with the tension on the chest strap. Although you may think it feels too tight, you'll be more uncomfortable and insecure if it starts to slip down while you're working out. Don't be afraid to tighten it, you'll grow accustomed to the feel very soon. It's important to remember that the plastic piece must fit against your chest, if it doesn't the beats will be sporadic or you won't pick them up at all.

Women should wear a sports bra designed so the strap slips through it, particularly if they're small-breasted and have a small rib cage. (Most women around here use the Polar Heart Monitor bra ). No one, male or female, should wear the chest strap over cloth, as transmitter can't transmit through a shirt or singlet. If you have trouble picking up the beats, try a little saline solution on the back of the plastic transmitter. Never use any other substance on the transmitter (like petroleum jelly or a sports cream.) You may also need an Electrode cream to get an accurate reading.

Tip: Don't be concerned if your heart rate starts suddenly jumps up during a run, say from 125 to 170, then back down again. Check out your surroundings. Sometimes when you run under high tension wires the transmitter will go a little "haywire" for a few seconds. You might also notice that if you're running next to someone who's also wearing a monitor, your monitor might start beating in time with theirs (or vice versa)! Run a little further apart, or move to the other runner's opposite side.

What do the Numbers Mean?

To understand what the numbers displayed on the watch mean, you need to know:
1. Your resting heart rate (referred to as RHR)
2. Your maximum HR (referred to as MHR or sometimes Max HR)

How do you determine your RHR?

It's easy! Measure your pulse when you wake up in the morning. Tip: Relieve your bladder first. Once you've used the restroom, lay back down in bed and rest quietly for a minute or so. Then place your index finger and middle finger of one hand against the wrist of your opposite hand. Tip: Always use two fingers to take your pulse, never your thumb! Measure the number of beats for 10 seconds and multiply that figure by 6. Voila! You now know your RHR.

My RHR is 70. What does that mean?

An average RHR for men is between 60-80 beats per minute (BPM). Women average slightly higher RHRs. A RHR of 100 isn't unusual for someone who's sedentary. On the other hand, world-class runners can have RHRs as low as 40 and even under 30 is not uncommon. It's important to remember that the more fit you are, the lower your RHR will be.

Tip: Keep a record of your RHR every morning. If it rises by even as little as two to three beats, you're probably over-training, you may be getting sick, or you're dehydrated.. Back off on your training, monitor your body for other signs of a cold or upper respiratory infection and cut back on your intake of coffee and tea. Also make sure you're drinking enough fluid during the day.

OK, Now that I Know my RHR, How do I Find Out My MHR?

Figuring out this number isn't quite so easy. There are several ways to determine your MHR:

1. Use the formula 220-(minus) your age. Unfortunately, this method can be off by as many as 30 beats per minute, depending on your sex and your fitness level.

2. Use the formula 220-your age if you're a man and 226-your age if you're a woman. According to longtime running coach, Roy Benson, this formula makes more sense because women (usually) have slightly smaller hearts than men. Smaller hearts make up for their size by beating faster. But again, this formula can still be off by several beats, depending on how long you've been running.

3. Use this formula: subtract ½ of your age from 205. According to Benson, this formula makes more sense than the previous two because of the "old physiological chestnut that states, if you use it, you don't lose it." In other words, if you've stayed fit most of your adult life you're younger biologically than chronologically. Still, even this formula might give you a number that's way off, depending on where you are on the bell shaped curve used to predict MHR.

4. Take a treadmill test. Wired to an EKG in a medical laboratory setting, you'll get an accurate measurement of your MHR. Unfortunately, this kind of test is very expensive and unless you're willing to pay for it yourself, your insurance company will undoubtedly balk at the idea of paying several hundred dollars for you to find out how you can train most effectively!

5. Wear a heart rate monitor in a 10K. Run as hard as you can the last .2 and check your HR as soon as you cross the finish line.

6. Coach Benson suggests this sub-maximal, low stress test. Strap on your monitor and go out for a comfortable run of three to four miles. Tip: The course should be flat. Start out by jogging slowly for ten minutes, just long enough to work up a sweat. Note your HR during the warm-up. Once you're warmed-up begin to gradually increase your pace. Don't run too fast. Coach Benson suggests that you run at a pace where you can easily say out loud: "Great! I feel as if I could run at this pace forever!" Continue running for another two to three miles. Eventually you will reach the point where you'll be able to talk out loud only in short sentences. At this stage of the run you will be breathing harder. It's important that you don't run so fast that you can no longer talk. This particular test identifies 80% of your maximum HR; it's not as stressful as a treadmill test or running a hard 10K. (And it's fun to run at a comfortable pace!) Check out your HR once you reach the point where you can talk only in short sentences. Use that number in the following formula to determine your MHR:

MHR = RHR (Resting Heart Rate) + (Measured HR - RHR) divided by .8For example, let's say your RHR is 70 and your HR reached 162 at the end of the test. Using the formula, your MHR would be 185. Here's the math:

MHR = 70 + (162 - 70) divided by 0.8MHR = 70 + (92 divided by .8)MHR = 70 + 115MHR = 185

Training by the Numbers

Once you know your MHR you can base your training on that figure. It's important to understand that to benefit from HR training, you don't have to be an elite runner who races every other weekend. HR training is for anyone, from a fitness runner who runs three times a week to stay in shape to age-group aces who are looking to set PR's. Here's how you use your MHR to set up a training schedule.

If you're a new runner, or someone who runs two or three miles a few days a week, your target HR training zone is 60-75% of your MHR. In other words, if you've determined that your MHR is 185, you'll be running the majority of your runs with your heart rate between 111-139.

On the other hand, if you're hoping to get faster, or want to try a race for the first time you'll need to do some of your training runs in the 80-85% zone (148-157). Here's how the training zones breakdown:

Easy, recovery jogs (should be the majority of your training) @ 60-70% of MHR
Long, slow runs (once a week, or once every other week) @ 60-75% of MHR
Steady-state runs* (once a week, depending on your fitness) @ 75-80% of MHR
Tempo runs** (once a week, depending on your fitness) @ 80-85% of MHR
Speed-work***(once a week, depending on your fitness) @ 90-95% of MHR

*Steady-state run: Help you achieve a sense of pacing. Ideally you should run each mile at the same pace. They can be as short as 2 miles or as long as 14-15. These aren't fast workouts; if you're training for a half-marathon for instance, you might run 4 miles at your half-marathon race pace.

**Tempo runs: These are also known as lactate threshold runs. They are run at a controlled pace: if you're a new runner they should be 15-30 seconds per mile slower than your 10K race pace (which translates to 80-85% of your MHR). More advanced runners might run only 10-20 seconds slower than 10K pace. Tempo runs aren't long, they should be anywhere from 2-6 miles.

***Speed-work: Speed-work can consist of timed intervals on a track, 400 meters to a mile, or fast, short bursts of speed on the road or a trail. Many runners prefer to do their speed-work on the road since road workouts more accurately simulate racing conditions.

A Real-life Testimonial!

Training with a heart rate monitor made a significant difference in my training, in fact I wish I would have started using one earlier in my running career. I tried a heart rate monitor for the first time in 1995, 14 years after I first started running and racing. I quickly learned that I was running way too hard on my so-called "easy" days. Because I had become comfortable running at a fairly quick pace everyday, I wasn't reaping the benefits of rest days. During most of my runs my HR was 75% of maximum, sometimes even 80%. I'm sure training at such a high HR everyday caused my immune system to weaken over the years. I was lucky, I never sustained a serious injury that prevented me from running, but I often had upper respiratory infections, colds and a slight fever. Once I discovered the joys of truly running "easy" most days, I was able to train much harder on my "hard" days, my racing times improved and I stopped feeling "under the weather" most of the time. By Claudia Piepenburg

Run Today contributor information: Claudia Piepenburg has been running for over 20 years and is the current editor of Peak Running Performance. She holds or has held state age-group records in Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia. In 1990, she was ranked 18th fastest master's woman in the world and 8th fastest master's woman in the U.S. in 1990 and 1991. She competed in the 1988 Olympic Marathon trials, placed 20th woman overall in the 1987 Boston Marathon and women's winner of the 1986 Virginia Beach Marathon. Claudia is also the editor of Running for the Soul.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

To Socialize or Not?

Oftentimes during the marathon, you will encounter other runners who will be running your pace and may wish to engage you in conversation. It's a personal decision as to if you wish to stick with them and chat along the way. The positive aspect of socializing is that many great friendships have been started this way, and that talking to others is a great way to take your mind off the physical discomfort you may face later in the marathon. On occasion, runners who are experiencing great difficulty in the later stages of the event make pacts with one another as a motivational strategy as a means of finishing the race.

The other view pertaining to socializing is that talking may rob you of valuable energy you may need later. The last miles of the marathon can be quite draining mentally. For that reason itself, you may choose to run the last miles without much conversation. Also, running with someone may slow you down. You'll undoubtedly finish the marathon, but sticking with someone slower may compromise your chances of achieving a personal goal.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Short Races To Big Races

Train for your marathon by participating in shorter races. Instead of seeking speed or personal records in the shorter races, think of them as structured long runs that help you to build physical and mental strength for the upcoming marathon. Keep up the training everyone, and be sure to let me know how you do when you run your first marathon!
Talk Soon,
The Marathon Professor

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"Every Breath You Take"

While most runners take notice of their pace and distance, many people do not give any thought to breathing. However, how you breathe during your run can sometimes make the difference between a good and a bad run, and perhaps enable you to run at a faster pace with less effort.

The most effective breathing method for runners is to breathe in and out through the mouth. This is because of two main reasons. One is that you can get more air in and out of your mouth, rather than your nostrils. And secondly, you want to maintain a relaxed composure while running. This is achieved by having relaxed facial muscles. Nose breathing will result in a clenched jaw and tight facial muscles. So forget everything you've heard in yoga class, because "this ain't no yoga class." During your run, the mouth should be held open just slightly, and this position is called the "dead fish" because that is what it looks like. The breaths are short and shallow, but comfortable, not deep and long, and you shouldn't be aware of anything in particular. However, every now and then if you need to take a deep breath to re-group, it's absolutely fine.

Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is better than chest breathing. This is because you are breathing in more oxygen and expelling more carbon dioxide. You can see if you are belly breathing by lying on your back and placing your hands over your stomach. Your stomach should rise and fall as opposed to your chest rising and falling. In order to practice this, picture your stomach filling up as a balloon would. Every time you breathe in, your stomach fills up the balloon and rises, and every time you breathe out, your stomach flattens. During this time, your chest stays mostly still. And, as an added benefit, while belly breathing, you are performing an isometric contraction of your stomach muscles. This will result in a more muscular and flattened stomach.

You can count your footsteps in time with your breathing. If, for instance, you have a 2-2 breathing pattern, you would breathe in while stepping left foot, right foot, then breathe out while stepping left foot, right foot. Then, the pattern would continue. If you have a 3-3 breathing pattern, you would breathe in while stepping left foot, right foot, left foot, then breathe out while stepping right foot, left foot, right foot. Then, this pattern would continue. If you feel out of control, either because of your breathing or your pace, you can use different breathing patterns to calm yourself down. Practice different patterns such as 2-2, 3-3, 2-3, or 3-4 to see what works best for you, especially during different conditions such as steep hills or racing versus flat, easy running.

If you hear your breathing while running at what should be a comfortable pace, you are running too fast. This may result in an out-of-control feeling. Slow down until your breath is very quiet.
by Mindy Solkin
Mindy Solkin is the Owner and Head Coach of The Running CenterTM. She is certified by USA Track & Field (USATF) as a Level III Running Coach (the highest level) and by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as a personal trainer. Known as "Coach Mindy" to her runners, she has coached thousands of people over the past ten years, helping them to achieve their goals on the open roads and the winding trail, whether it is running their first mile or pursuing their personal best in the marathon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Marathon Goal Setting

Of all the distance running events, the marathon presents the greatest challenges both physically and mentally. Even after completing all the required training and making it to the race site rested and healthy, arriving at the starting line in less than the ideal state of mind can have a devastating effect on your performance. In this section, a variety of mental strategies will be discussed that will enable you to set realistic goals, complete the necessary training (in particular, the long runs), and be optimally prepared mentally for the challenges that await you in completing the marathon. Please be familiar with the following terminology (described with positive outcomes), as each will be mentioned later in this section:

Mental Rehearsal/Visualization - The process of creating pictures or images in your mind.

Imagery - Playing out/imagining in your mind the way you wish for an event to occur.

Self-Talk - The "voice" in your head that can be trained to provide positive affirmations during adversity and tough times.

Before You Begin

There are certain "prerequisites" or internal characteristic that a runner must possess in order to undertake the necessary training that the marathon requires. These include motivation, self-discipline, and effective time-management, all of which are inter-related characteristics.

A coach can be enthusiastic about the training program he or she designs/presents and show interest in the runner's development; however, motivation and self-discipline must be developed primarily from within. The best marathon training program in the world will not enable a runner to make it to the finish line of a marathon if he or she isn't internally motivated to undergo and complete the training and then finish the race.

Similarly, it requires a great deal of self-discipline to complete the long training runs while at the same time, cope with other daily distractions and manage all the personal responsibilities daily living provides. This is why it is crucial that the runner who wishes to train for the marathon be an effective manager of time. It is beyond the scope of this web site to discuss in detail strategies to enhance one's motivation, self-discipline, and time management strategies. There are a wealth of resources available featuring information relating to both these topics and sports psychology.

Short and Long Term Goal Setting

General Goal Setting Considerations

For most first time marathoners, goal setting is simple… To finish the race! Nevertheless, regardless of your experience level and race aspirations, it is best to be as specific as possible when setting goals. Be sure to write the goals down, perhaps tell others about your goals, and set a time frame for achieving the goals. These strategies will enhance the possibility of achieving both your short-term objectives as well as your big goal.

There are two basic types of goals: Process goals and outcome goals. It is important to set short-term objectives (process goals) on your way to achieving the big goal (outcome goal). The definitions and examples of process and outcome goals are listed below:

Process Goals - These types of goals involve activities that focus on mastering the task and increasing one's skill level (e.g., the knowledge and training needed to complete a marathon). Examples of process goals include: Following the training schedule as closely as possible; Improving your nutrition; Reading as much as you can about the marathon; Consulting with your coach on a regular basis; Getting more sleep to be as rested as possible, etc.

Outcome Goals - These goals relate to the finished product or stated differently, goals you hope to accomplish in the marathon. Examples include: Breaking 4 hours in the marathon; Running the second half of the marathon faster than the first 13.1 miles; Defeating a rival; Running a personal best in the marathon.

Marathon Goal Setting Considerations

In the couple of weeks prior to the marathon, think about three (outcome) goals you'd be interested in accomplishing for your marathon: (1) an easily obtainable goal, (2) a realistic yet moderately challenging goal, and (3) an ultimate goal. Determine a strategy to achieve the ultimate goal, but build into your plan flexibility to aim for less ambitious goals if things don't pan out the way you had planned. Above all, be realistic. For example, if you don't possess the genetic predisposition (natural ability) to run a sub-38 minute 10K, there's very little chance you can break three hours in the marathon, no matter how positive an attitude you possess!

Strategies for Completing the Training

Find a coach with the reputation for being both enthusiastic and positive. These traits can help inspire and motivate you.

Join a group or team whose members share your same goals. These individuals can provide you with the needed emotional support to succeed. Groups or a training partner can help make completing the long runs easier than doing these alone. It is essential to find training partners who run your approximate pace so that your workouts do not turn into races.

When doing your long runs, break the course into sections mentally. That is, mentally run from one landmark to the next instead of thinking of completing the entire 20-mile training course. When you reach the first landmark, then mentally think of running to the next and so forth.

Realize that the training will not always be easy. If running a marathon were simple, there would be no challenge as everyone would be able to do it. To enable you to cope with the physical and mental demands of completing the long training runs and the actual marathon when the going gets tough, there are several mental strategies you can utilize. These strategies and examples are listed in the next section.

Examples of Mental Strategies During Your Training

Self-Talk Thoughts

Think and say to yourself…

"If this was easy, then everybody could complete a marathon."

"Keep running . . . Maybe I'll feel better when I have some Gatorade."

"If I quit now, I'll be very disappointed in myself later this afternoon."

"I'm not really physically tired; I'm more fatigued mentally."

"Completing this important training run will give me confidence and enable me to finish the marathon comfortably."

"In just one more hour this run will be finished and I'll be in at home...showering, relaxing, eating, etc."



Imagine that you are a world-class runner and are in the lead of the Boston or Olympic Marathon.

Imagine that your running form is smooth and graceful.

Imagine that your a running effortlessly and very relaxed.

Visualization/Mental Rehearsal Strategies


Picture yourself running every mile of the marathon for which you are training.

Visualize what the finish line area will look like (e.g., with the clock displaying the time you're shooting for).

See in your "mind's-eye" the spectators who will be cheering for you.

Think of all your friends back at home who will be thinking about you and pulling for you while you'll be running.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The RICE Method

RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. When you first notice pains from your injury, do the following:

Rest: Alter your running schedule and take time off. Running hurt only results in furthering your injury. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

Ice: Applying ice to an injured area “helps decrease inflammation, allowing healthy nutrients to
reach the injured site and begin the rebuilding process.” When injured apply ice for 10-15
minutes a day, at least twice a day.

Compression: To reduce swelling in an injured area, apply compression as soon as possible after the injury occurs. An ace bandage available at CVS or the UMD convenient stores will do the trick.

Elevation: Elevating the injured body part, “encourages the flow of blood to and from the inflamed area. Damaged tissue is carried away. The nutrients and healing agents flood the area.”

Try using the RICE method for two-to-three days after injury symptoms arise. Feel free to cautiously resume training if pain subsides. If pain persists and hinders daily activity, a visit with a professional may be in order. "Treating an Injury"

Friday, September 08, 2006

Make Race Day A Great Day

Fellow Runners:

Are you getting close to the big race day? If you are, I have some tips for you to get the most out of the marathon running experience.

1. If you run one of the bigger marathons, there is going to be a lot going on. There will be bands, booths, balloons, etc. Make sure you are there early to take advantage of the fun atmosphere. Talk to all the people there. It is fun to meet others who have been training for the same goal you have, and hear their experiences. Plus you will also meet some interesting people. If you are not one of them, there will be people with funny shirts…strike up a conversation. If you participate it will be a party!

2. Wave to the spectators, they love to cheer for those who show a little bit of life. Consider wearing a T-shirt with your name on it so everyone can cheer for you by name! It will give you a big boost.

3. If it wasn’t for volunteers, there would be no marathon. Be sure to thank them. Also, thank your family and friends who come out to support you.

4. Smile when you cross the finish line, and then buy the photo. Training for and running a marathon is a lifetime achievement for most people. $15 is a small price to pay for good memories!

5. Celebrate with family and friends when you finish. I suggest you take everyone out to dinner. You should even tell the waiter/waitress you just finished running your very first marathon…they might give you a free desert.

You have been training far to long, and far to hard not to make race day a great day…have fun!

-The Marathon Professor

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Marathon Training Tips

Written by Randy Accetta

Most daily runs are meant to be done at an easy, gentle pace and a low heart rate. If you want to know if you’re running too fast, try the Brady Bunch test: if you cannot sing the Brady Bunch theme song (“Here’s the story, of a lovely lady . . .”) while running, you’re going too fast and should slow down.

Be patient when adding mileage: the time-honored rule for building a training program holds that a novice should increase mileage by no more than 10 percent each week. For instance, if you run 20 miles during one week, you could add 2 miles the next week for a total of 22. Experienced runners can get away with more, but be careful about overdoing it!

Be consistent with the long run. For example, if you’re a new runner planning on doing a marathon in December, by the end of September you should be able to do 10-12 miles comfortably; by the end of October, you should be able to run 15-16 miles, and by mid-November, you should be able to go 19-20 miles at least once. The same principle applies for novices in the half-marathon: 5-6 miles in September, 7-9 miles in October, and 10-12 miles at least once in November.

To get to the starting line, you need to be consistent with both your weekly mileage and your weekly long run. Alternate long runs each weekend rather than doing one each week. If your long run is over two and a half hours one weekend, come down to under two hours on your long run next weekend.

When you do your long run, practice your race day eating and drinking habits. The night before, make sure to get plenty of fluids and carbohydrates (rice, pasta, breads). Try a small breakfast the morning of your long runs to see what works. Also, practice drinking on the run and experiment with energy gels to help sustain your energy.

Keep a training log. Write down your workouts, how you feel, who you ran with, and your goals for the marathon. This will help you stay consistent in your training and give you a record of your incredible achievement.

As the marathon approaches, try doing something brisk. If you aren't doing so already, add a little spark to your program by turning one of your easy runs into what is called a "tempo" run. Once a week, simply pick up the pace for 20 minutes in the middle of an easy run. This will improve your fitness, make your program more challenging, and teach your body to better handle workout stress.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ditch the Stitch

Every runner has experienced the dreaded side stitch, a sudden sharp pain in the side of the upper abdomen at the base of the ribs. The pain is caused by a spasm of the diaphragm, the muscle that controls your breathing. A stitch will usually go away quickly after slowing down or stopping, but even on the run, you can often make it go away by bringing your breathing into careful control.

Concentrate on belly breathing, pushing your belly out when you breathe in and relaxing it as you breathe out. Take deep breaths on the intake, and exhale suddenly, even noisily. To get the diaphragm to contract in rhythm with your steps, try to inhale and exhale as you land on your left foot. Thanks to Cool Running for the tips

Fun with Fartlek

As fun to run as it is to say, a fartlek workout is a kind of informal interval session and a great way to incorporate speedwork into your routine when you want a change from the track. "Fartlek" is Swedish for "speed play" and consists of bursts of speed in the middle of a training run. After warming up, run at an easy training pace, throwing in bursts of speed for various distances throughout the run. Vary the speed and times of the speed sections, from as short as 15 seconds to as long as two or three minutes. Between these bursts, allow yourself enough recovery time to match roughly 2/3 of the effort time. The recovery pace, though, should be faster than the recovery jog you might do during intervals on the track; keep it moving at an easy training pace. Thanks to cool running for the tips

Keep a Running Journal

The best way to know where you're going with your training is to see where you've been. Keeping a personal journal of your runs helps you track your progress, avoid past pitfalls and even inspire you to new accomplishments. Your journal can be as simple as a few dashed notes of the distance and time you ran each day, or more detailed with lengthier entries about your route, the way you feel, and the stuff you thought about on the run Thanks to Cool Running for the tips