Running Through to the End: The Mental Benefits of Getting Through a ‘Bad’ Workout

Run to your happy place. But honestly the route to that happy place may not always exactly FEEL like you’re running on clouds, does it? Pretty sure my answer to that question between intervals 3 and 9.99 would have been a resounding, “Heck no!” Though finish the cool-down, or the run, and I’m a firm believer that I’ve reached a happier place.
keep running
Workouts and runs are interesting because to a certain degree there’s always the ‘surprise’ variable; you can plan your hard and easy schedule but sometimes the legs have the final word in what kind of run it is. For hard workouts the goal is to push yourself, get better, see improvement, and you want to have some extra oomph in those legs.

There are times where your legs feel anything but oomphy and during certain training periods that’s just par for the course: you’re running more volume, more weekly miles can suck some of that spring, but sometimes you know the end result will get you where you want to be and you must gut out those workouts regardless and remember that by the time you’re sharper it’ll be worth it.

There are instances where the smart thing is to adjust the workout if it’s going awry BUT there are times where you need to plow forward not just for the physiological benefit of the workout but for the mental aspect. Someone once told me that the workouts they have been most proud of were not the ones that were their fastest but rather the ones that were going anything but stellar time-wise but they finished them anyways.

Today I got my booty worked over by the workout; I expected it and saw it coming, I’ve done a sparse number of actual harder workouts since my foot injury, I’ve been able to run more and I knew today was hardly going to feel like running on clouds. I knew that it was going to be important that I got through it though, and not just because that’s the only way to get over the ‘hump’ so that eventually the workouts will feel easier as one gets in better shape. Just a much of a factor is callousing the mind.
your brain on running
If the splits aren’t insanely off, you’re not in any injury danger, sometimes you just have to gut through it. Sometimes your mind will seek ‘outs’ and excuses to call it quits; there are instances where that is the smart thing to do but there is no avoiding that running hard hurts and if you cut out early too many times when there really isn’t a reason to then your mind starts to get better and better at talking yourself into ‘quitter mode.’ That’s not a habit you want to get into.

Sometimes you just have those workouts that turn into survival mode and the prime objective is to get through them. If you’re not in any danger of an injury and know in your gut the best thing is the plow onward then use all the positive mental thoughts and tricks and remember that come the end you’ll be proud of yourself for getting the work done. Run off of effort and even if the times aren’t exactly what you would have hoped your body will still get the benefits of a hard effort. Your muscles and cardiovascular systems were still stressed and that effort will pay off.

The main thing I can take away from today is that my foot is still feeling better and there is another run in me tomorrow. I finished that cool-down and you know what…was the journey exactly one where I was smiling the whole time? Hardly, BUT it sure got me to a happy place when I was done…I knew that it would and so I just kept running.

1) How do you handle workouts that aren’t going your way but you know you’re not in any danger of an injury and there isn’t a blaring reason you should stop? How do you talk yourself through gutting through the workout?

2) How do you asses times when you should adjust the workout, stop, or keep going?
Having a third party, like a coach, is often one of the best ways to get this answer. But if you don’t have one, do a body check for signs of injury, and then from there see how ‘off’ the splits are. If they aren’t insanely bad I’m usually one to say muddle through.

3) Running to your happy place…do you tend to have mood swings akin to a pregnant woman regarding how ‘happy’ you are with running: at the onset, mid-intervals, and then upon finishing too? ;) Hehe. But has there ever been a time where upon finishing you were not in a happier place?

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Running a Mile a Minute: Multi-tasking and sneaking into your day ‘little’ things to improve your running

We live in some pretty manic times, and for most mortal runners that means fitting in training when it’s possible. Realistically this looks like runs at 5am, parents pushing jogging strollers or doing intervals around the track while their kids use the long jump pit as a sandbox. (I have vivid memories of making sandcastles back when I was a kid!)
woman running
Multi-tasking isn’t so much a nice way to stay ahead of the game anymore, it’s evolved into a necessity, a way to survive. The law even has had to step in banning cell phones or eating while driving. For runners we KNOW there are other things we ‘should’ be doing outside of just putting in the miles; the stretching, the core work, the icing, the weights. Though for many, life seems to get in the way of the ‘little’ things.

BUT, I’ve been floored by how much can actually be crammed into those 24 hours by some people; it can be tricky finding the windows of time but for the highly productive individual some of the keys seems to getting creative, organizing a system, and then making a routine. Here’s just a few tips I can share:

* Roll your foot on a tennis ball to keep your plantar fascia happy – do it double time if you’ve got a really long tube and work two feet at once. (I’ve used an old shipping tube that you’d send posters in) Super easy to do as most of us are sitting at some point during the day.
* Sit on a tennis ball or golf ball and similarly work out knots or kinks in your glutes and upper hamstrings.
* Foam roll your IT Band and other areas while watching TV
* Memorize on the run - I passed all of my Spanish classes because during lots of my easy runs I’d get my vocab or conjugations stuck in my head and work on memorizing. The same thing worked for my physiology classes where I’d have to memorize all the muscles, their origins, insertions, and function.
* Plan the day en-route - like above a lot of people use the brain time during a run to figure out what they need to do for the day, work out carpools, mentally ‘write’ emails (I do that!) so that when they get home they can physically write that down and then get to work on the rest of the day.
* Cooking stretch – I can’t cook but I can microwave and use that timer to bust out some stretches. We know that we need to hole a particular stretch for at least 20 seconds for it to count so just follow the clock, do some hamstring, quad, calf, etc. stretches and then get your grub on.
* Planks, core and crunches anywhere – Many watch TV at some point…get sweating during commercial breaks. Also, hear me out, this one may not be so much for the shy runner, but I’ve been able to squeeze in some core work in some random places while I’ve been traveling or I just am stuck waiting somewhere. (Airport terminal, park, etc.) Seek out a more secluded spot if you’re embarrassed, but especially if you’ll never see these people again, who really cares? :P kids running
* Babysitting duties - Parents are master multi-taskers and summer is out so the kids are home. Michael Wardian does the vast majority of his runs on the treadmill while babysitting; getting up early is an often used run time, doing loops around a track or playground allows you to do your workout while still making sure your kids are okay. This is also a chance to get your family involved in fitness…just say, “Do like Mommy and Daddy are doing.” :)
* Get it together - Be efficient by laying out all your running gear, clothes, and shoes the night before so you can literally jump into them and get going. Same works if you pack your gym bag and go run at a work break; set an alarm and jet out, don’t dally.
* The Social Network - I’m a runner and I have lots of friends that are runners, not that you have to follow suit, but if you’re on a team or meet a running group you will find that connecting on a run is actually fun. You don’t have to turn your entire social life into running, but at the same time even if most of your ‘free time’ is spent running or with running people that doesn’t always leave you socially deprived.
running rainbow
Other fun facts that should relieve any guilt you feel about going for a run when there is ‘other things’ you could do. Just because you’re running over something else it doesn’t ALWAYS make you selfish and here’s why:

* More productive: Either starting your day with a run or taking a break during the day to exercise makes you more productive on the whole. Companies have begun hosting workout classes for their employees and encouraging them to go for just this reason. I know I’ve gotten some of my best creative inspiration or solved other problems while running.

* Happier: Runners are happier in general, partly because of endorphins, partly because of seeing their hard work pay off and being motivated. That’s why it’s not selfish if you need that run time because it probably makes you better to the people around you.

* Save on therapy: Tied into the happier thing, there are some therapists now who do their sessions while working out or moving. It’s been said that the brain is able to work through emotional problems on another level, better, while actively DOING something. Hmmm, go for a run and save on paying for a shrink, sounds cool.

Whew, okay I hope some of these have helped debase the idea that you can’t sneak in a few of the ‘little’ things into your day…or if nothing else made you think I’m crazier for doing planks in the airport. Oh well, either way the joke is on you because I already knew I was crazy. :)

1) What are some of the tips or tricks you have to make the most of your time or work some of those ‘little’ things into your day?

2) If you’re a parent how do you manage your training with parenting duties?

3) If you run with a team or have a running group, do you feel that the time with them also helps leaving you feeling fulfilled socially?

4) What’s something interesting you’ve recently heard about how running makes the rest of your life either more productive, happier, or just better?

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Run Like No One is Watching: Understand your pressure and use those race day nerves to your benefit

I love 80′s music, certain songs come on and instantly I feel compelled to yell horribly off key and bust into what I’d try to call moves. I’m the dork in the car who sings along to the music, jiggling in her seat, and fooling herself into believing the windows are as tinted as a rock-star’s limo. Surely it’s fun and easy to dance like no one is watching, but do you run like no one is watching?

woman runner

You make running look good, and running makes you look good too! ;)

Running is one of those incredibly unique sports that is for the most part solely up to you. You’re in control, the opportunity to succeed and improve is in your hands, the workouts are yours to do or skip, when you step to the line in the end it’s a race between you and yourself. There can be the team aspect of course, running is also one tight community; your teammates and coaches are there for support and guidance but again it comes down to you and those legs. Are you tough enough to run like no one is watching? Are you brave enough to dream like no one is watching?

Pressure. Stress. Nerves. These are all completely normal for races, hard workouts, stepping into a new training group, and plenty of other situations. You want to do well, you have goals you’d like to achieve…you don’t want to make a fool of yourself. You won’t want to look like you don’t belong. You don’t want to publicly fail. You don’t want to fall short of your goals in front of everyone else. That last one is the blaring reason so many can be afraid of setting, or stating, their goals in the first place.

Pressure, stress, and nerves are a few of the biggest hurdles in life and in running. Taken to the extreme they are what cause athletes to have to down bottles of Pepto at the starting line and they are the things that cause runners to just ‘choke.’ BUT they are also a good thing, they indicate you care enough to want to do well and that NOT accomplishing what you set out to do matters to you. In order to use this pressure, stress, and nerves to your benefit you have to ask yourself: Where are they coming from?

* Internal: These stressors are coming from you; you are the driving source behind these feelings. You are the one who feels compelled to put yourself out there, do the work, hit certain times, places, and goals.

* External: Outside sources of stress fall into this category; these are your coaches, parents, friends, teammates, random people in the stands, anonymous commenters on some message board.

* Both: Here is the tricky part, it’s easy to get these two interconnected and so woven together even you have a hard time differentiating where this stress and pressure is coming from. You could be placing extra pressure on yourself because you want to do well for your coach; even though they haven’t said a thing you’re assuming it’s there and then it manifests itself. Conversely maybe your coach really did point blank say things to you and place that pressure there. It’s up to you to figure that out.
fast runner
Stop and think of your running, your personal goals; then find out WHERE any expectations of yourself are coming from. In the end the driving force needs to be from YOU. Running is too grueling a sport to last if you’re doing it for anyone other than yourself.

Even if there is stress and pressure coming in externally it is again up to YOU to manage it or block it out. Managing it means that most likely at some point you’ll have team goals or a healthy amount of expectations placed on you from a coach or someone who matters; that can be a good thing and propel you to push yourself so long as you channel it in the right manner.

Having a coach or teammate tell you that you can run faster than you think allows you to dream big enough that you aim higher. Having an anonymous commenter say that you suck and will burn out is something to ignore, don’t allow those words to trickle into your thoughts and add unnecessary stress for your next race.

It’s hard to battle nerves and anxieties…but running should be a passion and opportunity for you to watch your own hard work pay off. Ultimately, who really cares if someone in the stands does watch you crash and burn if you have a bad race? Running like no one is watching means that you had the courage to set a goal for yourself, work for it, and line up with the intention to go for it. In every race, run, or workout there is the possibility that you’ll achieve your goal for the day, but there is the chance you’ll fall short. There is always another race, workout, run…YOU can be upset if you missed that goal and use it for motivation to do better next time (learn from the experience) but YOU would be the one relishing if you achieved it.

Are you tough enough to run like no one is watching? Are you brave enough to dream like no one is watching?

1) How do you manage any pressure, stress or nerves associated with running, hard workouts or races?

2) How do you balance having just enough of these coming internally and channel them to propel you to do better and achieve certain goals?
I’ve always loved running myself and if anything always my own toughest critic; but was able to turn my ‘stress’ into excitement to run well and step it up when I got to the line. Tough to explain, but I guess I remained confident in myself and remembered previous workouts to indicate that I was capable of achieving such-and-such goal.

3) When it comes to external pressures; what are some instances where you’ve used that to improve your running and performance? What are some cases where it stood in your way?
I’ve had a couple awesome coaches who believed in me and when they told me I could do so-and-so I trusted them enough to then force myself into believing. :)

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One of the Biggest Culprits of Lost Time in a Race or Workout? A wandering mind…here’s how to catch it.

If I weren’t attached to my runner legs I’m pretty sure I’d lose them. I take the saying, “I’m the worst with directions” to an entirely new level…I make blondes look like GPS tracking whizzes I’m sure. Today I passed the right turn I should have taken, the one that is less thank 2 miles away from my home and that I’ve taken dozens of times and wound up a tad lost or turned around.

fast runner

Step to the line a gamer and STAY that way during the actual race too. ;)

It got me thinking though, do you know what one of the biggest culprits for lost time in races or when running workouts is? The case of the lost mind. It happens to all of us no matter how awesome you are with directions and it happens on the track all the time even though I’ll guarantee all of those runners know to turn left and keep running straight ahead.

What does a case of lost head look and feel like?

* Wandering Mind: You’re in the middle of your workout or race, say miles 2-5 of a 10k…the adrenaline and excitement of the first mile has worn off, you’re not quite close enough to the finish to ‘taste it’ and you’re stuck in the middle. Here is where your mind can JUMP on the opportunity to shut down, meander away from you and get lost. Your thoughts drift to random things, maybe even blank nothingness, but wherever it is it certainly isn’t at the task at hand. If you’re noticing that someone is wearing your favorite shirt on the sidelines and ignoring the fact that your form has turned to the Hunchback of Notre Dame, you’ve lost your mind.

* This hurts, I want an ‘out’: Naturally we all think of this but we have to ‘tame’ our mind to forget this and distract it; usually we focus on what we can control (breathing, form, stride, etc.) or look at the person ahead of us to distract ourselves from the hurt. If you get stuck in the endless loop of: 1) Why am I doing this? 2) I’m not even half-way there yet, how will I ever make it? 3) Today’s just not my day, I’ll just give up, who cares? You’re focusing TOO much on the pain and trying to come up with an ‘out’ for yourself. Be honest here, are you looking for an excuse or do you actually have a legitimate reason to stop?
man running
Catch it! The sooner you catch your brain and wrestle it back from La-la-la Land the less time you’ve lost from your race and your workout. But if you wait to long, by the time you check-back in you could have only 100 meters left in the race, and really who can’t run fast for the last 100 meters? By that point you could have needlessly lost a PR or the place you hoped to run.

What SHOULD you be thinking during a race or workout?

* How is my form? Do a form-check.
* How is my breathing? Breathe from your deep belly, not shallowly from your chests, and keep it controlled and smooth.
* Where am I going? Look straight ahead, if it’s on the roads look for the tangents to run, actively be seeking and looking to the horizon. It may sound ‘dumb’ but never loose sight of where you want to go. This go tri-fold if you’re climbing a hill…look high to the crest and lock your eyes on that point.
* Who is ahead of me? Key in on who is in front of you, work on ‘picking people off’ or not letting a gap open up between you and the competition.

Zoning out and letting your mind wander are two different things. Zoning out is when you’re focused on one of the ‘good distractions’ just mentioned, you’re still present in the moment and ‘working’ the race.

Getting lost in life is annoying and a wast of time…getting lost during a race or workout is also a waste of time but you’re also jyping yourself. You’re there, the course is marked, don’t visit La-la-la Land. ;)

1) A wandering mind on an easy run isn’t necessarily a bad thing, here is where randomness helps break up the repetition and can work as a great way to stay consistent and GET the run in. Does your mind tend to wander a lot on easy runs?

2) How do you keep yourself from checking-out during a race or hard workout? Do you have a trick to catch yourself and pull your mind back to present?
I usually do a form check.

3) To battle the ‘cop-out’ and actively look for an excuse to toss in the towel for the day, how do you handle that?
I assess if I actually have an injury that would warrant a stop; if not then I remind myself how I’d feel in a few hours if I quit…probably not too happy with myself.

4) Anyone racing tomorrow? I know it’s been a big weekend for races, some have happened other are tomorrow! Good luck to those yet to race and if you already have, brag on yourself. ;)

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Track Your Rest – What’s the ‘Right’ Way to Recover Between Intervals

In training, when you’re running hard intervals the emphasis is naturally on the hard sessions. You want to hit the splits and push yourself all the way through to the end. True, these hard sessions are what are going to tear down the muscles the most so that they can repair themselves and come back stronger…get you fitter and in the end faster.

track runner

How do you 'rest'?

But what does your recovery look like between these intervals? Do you cross the line and immediately come to a stand-still, a statue frozen in place relishing every second before you have to start the next one? Do you pace around a bit to collect yourself? Do you keep running, or jogging?

While the focus should still be heavily placed on the hard parts of your interval sessions taking a look at your recovery time can influence the gains you reap from the workout overall. Furthermore, shifting and adjusting the ‘rest’ phases of your workout can change both the kind of benefits you’ll be able to get and actually to the degree of which you are able to boost your fitness.

Let’s talk rest:

* A general rule of thumb is that the FASTER you’re trying to hit those intervals the MORE rest you should allow yourself. Fast-twitch muscle fibers can only fire for a short period of time, but they fire all-out and thus need more recovery before being fired again than your endurance-based, slow-twitch muscle fibers. If your aim for the day is to improve your base speed, say you’re doing 200 repeats, give yourself enough recovery so that you can really hit those 200′s and make them fast, that was the aim after all, right? Take a really slow 200 jog between each hard 200, don’t rush the recovery here.

* Active rest vs. standing. Here is where people may have slightly different opinions, but mine is that it’s better to keep moving, even if it’s only slow jogging, between each interval. Stopping dead and standing before jumping into another interval of hard running seems akin to pulling the emergency break and then peeling out; that next hard session is a shock to those ‘cold’ muscles. I’m of the school of thought that active rest, actually jogging recovery, is better for you.

tired runner

I wouldn't suggest you take your rest this way. ;)

* Define your workout. What is your goal for the workout? If it’s speed then refer above for how to attack your recovery. The LESS recovery you give yourself between intervals the MORE heavily your workout is going to stress, and hopefully improve, your cardiovasular system and endurance. Your endurance system actually needs less time to recover, (Trust me, even though you may not want to go into the next hard one, your body may be…hehe.) and the more you whittle your recovery down the closer you’re mimicking an actual race. We don’t get any rest there, do we? An example here would be that for 800 repeats, say 6-10 rep’s, I usually would suggest a 400 jog. A 400 recovery lap would also be suggested if you’re doing 4-6 x 1600 meters.

* Adjust your active recovery. How fast or slow are you taking that recovery? Distance runners can be tempted to actually run our recovery even a hair too fast thinking it makes them tougher. That can be true to a degree, but not so much so that you’re never allowing your body to recover between intervals and sacrificing those hard rep’s. Honestly, in the grand scheme of things ratchet it back and don’t feel ‘guilty’ about truly jogging slow, a red flag to go slower on your recovery is if your hard interval times start to drop and fall off pace.

* Playing around with the recovery time. As explained above, cutting down the time of your rest turns it more into an endurance workout and entering the realm of distance runners. The more experienced runners have been known to take incredibly short rests, even run the rest rather quickly, and still hammer the workout. Remember though, that you should build up to that level and make sure you can handle it. An obvious way to gauge that is if you’re still hitting the splits your want; if you are, then go ahead and test yourself to see if you can handle less rest. As you are able to progress doing that you’ll be making the workout harder and should be seeing the the results with more gains in fitness. There’s actually a really great article on Running Times with more on this topic HERE.

Are you sick of me talking about all this rest? Well good, it’s time for your next interval…GO! ;)

1) What does your rest between hard intervals look like? Active recovery jog, stand-still, pace around, etc.

2) How do you adjust or ‘prescribe’ your recovery for a given workout?

3) If you coach, how do you adjust the rest for your athletes or what do your recommend?

4) Have you even thought that much about your rest between intervals? If not, you should…hehe.

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Runners Out Breaking All the Rules? Which crimes are you guilty of in the name of the run?

Runners, we may look like a pretty straight-laced bunch but don’t be fooled by the outward appearances. Sure, we generally off up quick smiles, have a few odd quirks and harbor an affection miles and miles that can appear rather harmless. We travel in packs and groups, duos and trios, but even flying solo we are up to some mischief. Our offenses may seem rather benign to some but we can be rule breakers after all…you’ve been warned!

fast runner

We may make it a goal to try and break a speed limit if we see one within our reach. ;)

* School Dress Codes: Don’t even bother breaking out the ruler I KNOW my shorts are short but there is no sane runner donning shorts that are down past mid-thigh. Compared to the hazing by chafing that would case I’ll take all the detention in the world.

* Abusing Cardio Equipment Limits: I’m tempted to make the second shirt after my ‘Get Chicking’ one to read: “I am knowingly going to step on this treadmill and use it longer than the ‘Cardio Time Limit.’ It’s not that we are being selfish to not share our toys, but our long runs just trump your 15 minute walk, I’m sorry. Just not sorry enough to get off of the treadmill until I’ve filled my mileage quota for the day.
spray paint runner
* No Loitering: You finish a run and if you’re being a good little runner you know you should move into some stretches, strength and core work, or even some plyometrics. If you spy an open stretch of lawn, a parking lot, or a playground who is it really going to be hurting if we loiter around doing our funny jumps, squats, lunges, and hip circles?

* No Eating Past 4pm: PAH-LEEZZZ! Without going off on a wild carb-loving rant here, to anyone who ‘closes their kitchen’ past a certain hour because they think somehow eating past a certain hour on the clock instantly makes you fat…consider this: What also stops you from putting on weight is running. I will bust out the hash-tags in an effort to sum it up succinctly: #runhardeathard #runmore

* Arrested for Track Work: This one has actually happened and it almost happened to me…apparently some people feel that using the track should only be done at certain hours, who know? I can certainly see how a group of drug pushers huddled by the pole vault pit could be a threat to the school, but a band of sweaty runners turning left?

* Don’t Fertilize the Grass: For lack of a better term here, I think you catch my drift. Anyone who’s experienced the booty clench shuffle can attest to needing to use the wide abundance of nature at some point. The truth is GI issues are a common runner malady and sometimes we can’t always plan for those pit-stops.

* Speed Limits: I think all runners can agree that deep down in our hearts if we were to pass a speed limit sign that we were actually breaking, rather than slow down we’d break out in a smile and throw in a surge for good measure! Because of this I’d like to introduce the ’5 mph’, ’7.5 mph’, and ’10 mph’ speed limit signs and get them more widely circulated. Think of any tickets you rack up not as punishments but rather badges of honor for a great run. Should we start a contest to see who can get the most?
angry runner
* Injured Beasts May Attack: Oh, the plight of the injured runners. I think we should wear warnings around our neck and tell people that we are not fully in control of some of our actions. When provoked we may bite or worse…it’s also happened in some cases that we just fly off the handle for no reason at all. Keep a 5 foot perimeter just to be safe.

Like I said, us runners can be a shifty crowd. We play by our own rules at times, and may be guilty of a random ‘normal people’ crime here or there. But really, who wants to be a normal person when you can be a runner? ;)

1) What are some other ‘runner crimes’ that you may be guilty of?

2) Cardio limits at the gym, do they seem to be pretty strictly enforced at the one you use if you go to one? Have you been kicked off mid-run?

3) Post-run do you usually try to get in some stretching, core, weight, strength, plyo, etc. work?

4) Have you ever passed one of those speed clockers on the street and been able to get a reading? I’ve been told that if you’ve got enough metal on you that you can get a reading…what’s the fastest reading anyone’s ever been able to get?

5) What is your opinion on local tracks and their availability to the public?

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No-Man’s Land – 5 Tips to Surviving the Runner’s Island of Desolation

Runners in lane one! I really wish there could just be a little track gnome with a megaphone who could shout this to clear out lane one from walkers and joggers so that any runners attempting to do speed-work wouldn’t have to try to dodge them, weaving in and out looking like some fellows who belong in the drunk tank. ;)

pack running

Sharing the pacing duties takes off a big mental burden.

Alas, alas, not everyone is as schooled at track etiquette as us, right? Today I’m riding a nice endorphin high thanks to getting out to the track myself. The track was loaded with people, which is how all tracks should be, running IS the best past-time after all. My friends head a local track group and it looked like there was a soccer camp going on in the middle of the field and the kiddies then bopped on over to the lanes as well.

I was just doing my own thing today and it did make me ache for a workout budding to help share pacing duties, not going to lie. I think that ache turned into more of a burning desire come those last ones! As any runner can attest having someone or a team for hard workouts make them infinitely *easier*. Well, that is unless you happen to be the one doing all the work.

Having the liberty of sitting behind your training partner, letting them worry about the splits and just keying in on their back takes off a big mental burden and for the most part you all end up clicking off times that are faster than if you were going solo but the effort felt the same, if not less. This goes triple time if there is some wind, tuck in and draft, baby, draft! ;)

Same thing applies in races, the best spot to be is right behind someone so you can ‘use’ them, save your mental energy and then when you feel strong enough blow on by them and then ‘use’ someone else. But you know the worst spot to be in a race, or workout for that matter? Trapped in No-Man’s Land, that empty space between groups or people is like the chasm that opens up on the track and swallows runners up whole. If you’re lucky the black hole island spits you back out, but sometimes you’re stuck there until the finish line.

lone runner

Feeling tired and alone? Don't give up yet! :)

Sometimes you can’t avoid falling into No-Man’s Land, sometimes it’s a small field and no one is around your pace. But even so, there are a few ways to improve your chances of surviving No-Man’s Land, even getting out of it, but it takes some work and a portion of that is mental.

* Admit you have a problem. The first step is always being honest with yourself, right? ;) That said, the moment you realize that you’ve fallen off the group ahead of you, looking back you don’t see anyone approaching, try to catch the No-Man’s Land trap as soon as possible. If you sense this early enough do all you can to cling on to that group ahead of you and hold on for dear life.

* Don’t beat yourself up. It aint gonna happen? So you’ve been dropped by the group despite your best efforts, that’s okay you can still key off of them. Do your best to keep the gap minimized, but DON’T start the negative self-talk or beating yourself up…if you throw the pity party too early chances are you’ll give up, slow down more, and then the race is basically over. Shake out your arms, relax, do a form check and just keep your eyes locked straight ahead, search for a body up ahead and don’t let the body leave your sight.

* Surge. This may sound crazy because chances are you feel tired, but doing a quick surge and gear-shift can work as a little ‘reset’ button. Going into a different speed will tap into your faster twitch muscles, thus using a different muscle group that isn’t as tired; when you settle back into your pace it may feel easier and you’ll feel a bit recharged.

* Use the catching pack. Sometimes the group from behind catches up to you: USE THEM. Stay positive and use their presence as a positive (not a negative by telling yourself how slow you’re going that they caught you) by letting them do the work. Let any ego go, tuck in, and allow them to do the work and pull you along. If you do this you may come to the point where you feel better and are able to blast past this group.
fortune cookie
* Mindset. Worst case is you are left along in your No-Man’s Land island for the rest of the race or workout, it happens. Here is where your mindset and outlook is key. Assess the situation; if you know your legs just haven’t shown up for the day then remind yourself that goal times/paces could be out the window and if this is the case stop looking at the splits and times because they will only stress you out more and depress you. Instead, turn the race into a chance to work on other things: stay relaxed, keep your breathing controlled, focus on your form, and try to get the most out of the given day. If it’s not the legs and you physically feel good then again, focus on the tangibles: form, breathing, stride, running smooth. Use mental tactics, like mantras, to keep going and remind yourself that regardless of if you are alone or not, running is usually a race against yourself and the clock. Stay positive.

Hopefully these suggestions can help you slug through a race or workout if you’re solo or stuck in No-Man’s Land…even better I hope that some tips can actually help pry you out of that nasty solo island! :)

1) On your last race or workout were you alone for all, most, or some of it? How did you handle that?

2) Have you been stuck in No-Man’s Land recently, if so what did you do to still get the most from the race/workout, and were you able to get out of it?

3) What’s one of your biggest pet-peeves when it comes to people ignoring track etiquette?
Not to sound runner elitist, but I’m sorry, please stay out of lane one and don’t walk in a chain extending to lane three or four if you’re walking or jogging. :P

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Runner Legs Are Always in Style, They Just Look Best Running

I may be partial but I DO believe runner legs look great with everything…they just look their best doing, well, what they do best. ;)
runner legs
Though it may be a stretch to believe I actually have that many ‘regular people clothes.’ Is it wrong if I’ve tried to brainwash myself into believing that Nike shoes and apparel are acceptable to wear anywhere? Actually, once I have my Get Chicking shirt I’ll probably just wear that everywhere and I hope you do too. If not then I’ll just have to cycle through the boxes of shirts in various sizes until the end of my days. ;)

Today’s post is going to be short, sweet and focused on the art. Mostly because it is in fact my little sister’s birthday and there are, in fact, things that trump running and running talk, she is one of them. So today I’m taking a VBS: Vacation By Sis. Happy birthday to the daughter in the family who got all the fashion genes! ;)

1) Finish this sentence: Runner legs look best when being put to use, but they also aren’t too shabby…

2) Are you one of the a fashion savvy runners or a runner who will use any excuse to rock the running clothes in real life too?

3) What are you favorite running shoes and which are you currently rocking? Are you remembering to use the 500 mile rule??

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Booty-Lock: The Runner’s Struggle Against Fire on the Butt

Run like your butt is on fire…
running with fire
Surely it FEELS like your butt is on fire at times, no? Nothing like the booty-lock shuffle induced from going out at a pace you probably shouldn’t have. Payback for making that pacing mishap can turn downright ugly come the later stages of the race or workout.

But fire on the bum isn’t solely reserved for the pacing blunderers, no, I doubt you could find any 400 meter runner who is able to escape it on the final sprint for home. Sprinters aren’t the only ones, and us distance runners aren’t immune…the tough this is that when our booty-lock sets in we usually have to stick it out for longer than a few hundred meters. ;)

So today’s post is a little mix-up mash-up of sorts in tribute to fire on the butt and booty-lock. The first picture set the stage…and then we move to the next one:
runners booty-lock
See, booty-lock IS worth it when it means a PR. Remind yourself that as you’re battling the booty-lock shuffle en-route to the finish line…just get there in one piece and you’ll get your reward.

Fire on the butt for training: Plyometrics are awesome for that and doing them, intentionally setting those fast-twitch muscle fibers alight will see you reaping rewards in the speed and power department. Even distance runners shouldn’t shirk away for ‘sprinter’ stuff…if you want to get faster you have to train to get faster, no?
run for cake
The booty debate? I think across the board runners take the cake both literally and figuratively when it comes to having the best legs. Maybe I’m partial, but I know I’m proud of my legs not just because they are muscular but also for what the DO for me. I know sprinters tend to be blessed with a little more caboose, but distance runners aren’t too shabby of a backside view either, what say you?

In the end it’s worth dealing with the fire in the quads, butt, and even arms alike in the quest for getting the best from ourselves. But envisioning actual flames off our tush, well that’s just for some haha’s and hopefully a fun distraction and motivation for you the next time you’re waging the war on booty-lock. ;)

1) Let’s have some awesome booty-lock stories…what’s been a time where you were doing the shuffle for home? Was it because of bad pacing or it was just par for the course and racing hard? Was there a happy ending?
A time that stands out in my mind was a tempo I was running on the track, I felt good early on and stupidly dropped the pace too drastically for the second and third miles…enter fire on the bum and all over those last two miles. :P

2) Favorite booty or bum exercises that you do? Which are you a fan of and how often do you do leg/butt strength type work?

3) Weight in on the booty debate, what is your favorite body part thanks to running, is it your legs, butt, or something else?

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Warning: You’re talking to a runner and I might be secretly laughing at you on the inside

A runner goes through different phases the longer they are involved in the sport.They gradually start to slip away from the ‘norm’ in degrees, sometimes so slight it’s not even noticeable, until of course they reach the point of no return and have fallen all the way down the runner rabbit hole.

evan jager

Us crazy runners actually running towards pain! ;)

Upon entering that ‘hole’ the way you view certain things and your opinion of what is ‘normal’ when it comes to exercise and activity seem to be a bit skewed from the rest of the populous. This happens for a few reasons and in part because we recognize that, to a degree, suffering IS a part of our sport no matter what level we pursue it. Suffering isn’t something the body is naturally hard-wired to run towards, actually the opposite, so in conditioning ourselves as runners we do tend to distance ourselves from the logic or inklings of others.

All that said, obviously being a smart runner is well, the smart thing, and being able to differentiate different kinds of pain is crucial. No need to be martyrs or gluttons for purposeless pain and suffering! However, there are instances when I know I can’t be alone in at least smirking or laughing on the inside at what some people say, do, or think in regards to running and working out. Let me be a little more specific…

“I really miss working out, but I can’t because I’ve got some really bad blisters.” Umm, yea blisters suck, I don’t think those Hanes socks are doing you any favors. But to be honest blisters and gnarly feet still happen no matter how much you try and prevent them…pretty sure when I peeled of my sock this morning the entire top half was red. At least my blister popped en-route to offer some relief.

“What pasta dishes do they have here? I’ve got a 5k tomorrow and I need to carbo-load,”said preemtively to ordering the never-ending pasta bowl and going back for three refills. Can anyone say pasta-logged? And more to the point I’m sure they’ll be retaining some water there too! Actually it’s okay and normal to eat like that on a nightly basis, but that’s only if you’re running more than 20 miles a week.

audrey hepburn

I love her, but a laughing fit does not a workout make. ;)

“Is it safe for me to run today, my calf is sore?” That’s it, wow, I’d take just a single niggling pain as a GOOD day. The runners body is an ongoing squeaky wheel with ongoing maintenance. I may end up in a Rascal by 40 but I’ll be happy until then!

Twitter update: “Just finished a 2 mile run!!” To be fair I swiped this from Karen’s comment on this post, but I see/hear this all the time. Just smile, congratulate them and maybe not mention that is usually your warm-up. ;)

I know, I’m being a bit snarky (shall we revisit this post: Runner’s World vs. Running Times?) and I jest as I DO know not everyone out there rattles off the term ‘short 4-miler’…I get that and I’m happy for anyone who gets sweaty in some way! But I think we runners deserve to be able to poke a little fun here and there, am I right?

Even if I’m wrong, so be it. But I can make fun of myself and other runners just as much. We are the BodyGlide loving, the shoe whore addicts, the people who are at times guilty of a quick clothes change and deodorant rubs in lieu of a shower when really pinched for time, and we tend to have our own neurosis tied to numbers, miles, and times. So there, everyone has been laughed at in good humor. :)

In case you haven’t noticed I now have an Etsy Store: CaitChock so if you like any of my work and thus would like prints that’s an easy option! :) Also feel free to let me know if there is something you’ve seen that isn’t listed up there and I can get that squared away for you.

1) What’s something that’s been said or done by a ‘normal’ person or a runner who isn’t necessarily as serious as you that’s made you smile and chuckle on the inside?

2) Now is your opportunity to share one of your own little running neurosis or idiosyncrasies? If we can’t laugh at ourselves we can’t make fun of others! ;)
Where to start? If I’m running on a treadmill I always have to go at least a bit smidgen further than the distance I had planned, to take into account for the treadmill’s ramp-up time. As in I’d have to go at least 6.1 or so to count it as a 6 miler.

3) Things have been a bit serious in blogs as of late, so share something that’s happened to you lately that’s funny or that other runners would appreciate. Let’s help lighten the mood. :)

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