4 Steps to Getting Through the Grind

Long runs and long workouts tend to scare people. It can feel intimidating looking down the barrel of a double digit run or mulit-mile repeats. We’re distance runners, we love this stuff, but large quantities of miles (especially faster miles) still intimidate us.

Running and that mental component, can’t escape the mind games. Our bodies are apt to surprise us and prove our limit-setting minds wrong…BUT it’s a matter of pushing past the mind crap (doubts/fears/discomfort) before we can be ‘pleasantly’ surprised.
skulls on a track
The best thing about running into new territory, be it your longest run, the most number of long intervals, or the most volume of hard running, they’re all scariest before you do them. Once you’ve conquered the best you’ve proven you’re capable of it and you get a new frame of reference.

Example: You’re afraid of running 10 miles because you’ve never run that far. You then run 10 miles and flash forward a few weeks and 10 miles doesn’t scare you at all. But 14 miles does…sooo, you run 14 miles and the cycle continues.

See how DOING something takes the fear out of it. Let’s up the ante.

You can run 10 miles but now you’re supposed to run them hard. EEK!!! New challenge. Time to fight through it:

4 Steps to Get Through the Grind

1) Relax: the first part is you gotta stop building the run or workout up into epic proportions. Say with me, “it’s just a workout (or race), all I can is my best, so that’s the goal.” Deflate some of that pressure and take the power away from the workout…give yourself the power by realizing that you’re going to give it your all and THAT is all that can be expected. Times are there for guidance and motivation to push…but you can’t let them put so much pressure on you that you implode.
running in circles
2) Start: easy peasy, right? Funny how fear sort of get muted the second the gun sounds and you just START freaking running. It has a way of shutting your brain down for a bit or at least taking it down a few notches.

3) Segments: your runner-brain gets overloaded thinking about the WHOLE run (26.2 miles…holy crap!!!) so you break everything down into smaller segments. Think of it like a meal with a zillion courses if you have to. Get through the plate, the miles, the quarter mile, the repeat.

4) Fight and Lie: running isn’t easy and training is painful. You break it down into itty bitty ‘plates’ but even each bite is still hard. (can I push this metaphor any further?) You need to just cycle through the above three steps on repeat…relax, roll, be confident, be smooth…start, click the watch on that next interval and go, make it until you hear the magic Garmin beep of another mile and keep going…segment, make it 100 meters more, run until you pass that guy, stick like GLUE behind the person in front of you and don’t think how far the finish line is in front of you.

Doing all of the above is really a series of lies. The good lies that you use to ‘trick’ your limit-setting brain into proving itself wrong. Your body CAN keep going, you just have to fight like h*ll long enough to show yourself you can do it.

The cool thing is once you get through the grind you’ve just re-calibrated what’s ‘suuuper scary’. Whatever you just did won’t scare you so much next time…

…but don’t rest too easily, Runners, because that just means later the ante will be upped. That’s okay, because you know the drill. ;)
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“The Big Three: Talent vs. Work Ethic vs. Mental Toughness- Which matters the most?”

“Effective Mental Strategy: Race better by out-thinking your brain”

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1) What’s the longest you’ve run?
2) What’s your favorite long repeats workout?
3) How do you get through the grind?

Running ‘No Fluff’ Zone: What the masses don’t want to read about

I had a fun dialogue with a friend and editor the other day:

“‘How to Train for a Marathon in 5 Minutes a Week’ and ‘Eat 20 Apples a Day to PR’ (clear exaggeration but you get the point). I know a lot of people like those types of articles but over the years I’ve have my fill.”

“Thank goodness you hate the ‘fluff crap’ kinda articles too. I die a little inside every time I’m asked to do one, writing that stuff makes my brain numb.”

unicorn runner PR

There were more little barbs in there and witticisms but you get the picture. The ‘fluff’ crap; it’s all over the web and even in the magazines and websites ‘we’ us ‘real runners’ read and subscribe to. We can’t escape it and let’s be honest the masses are looking for a kind of ‘quick fix’. So, the headlines screaming BIG rewards LITTLE work draws people in. It sells. Websites and magazines are businesses after all, so even though I’m sure it kills a few editors and writers every.single.time they must do a ‘fluff crap’ article, they do it. Gotta put food on that table.

The thing is though, which ‘we’ ‘real runners’ know is:

* there’s no magic bullet
* no super secret way to getting better and stay fit
* eating an apple at 3:19pm to drop 30 seconds off your 5k PR aint gonna do it

Most people don’t want to hear that it takes:

* a h*ll of a lot of hard work
* motivation
* motivation even when you aren’t motivated
* pushing yourself
* hurting in workouts and races

The sufferfest that is training and racing…that probably wouldn’t be a magazine the general public would just LOVE reading about. Better to think that a protein smoothie with chia seeds is all that’s required and will do the trick. Training and all that stuff, well…that’s second tier, right? ;)
running bright and shining
The ‘training fluff crap’ I think actually parallels what writer, coach, sports nutritionist, and athlete Matt Fitzgerald, writes about in his latest book DIET CULTS. I literally devoured that read in two days so do check it out, I think most fitness minded folks will relate to a lot of what he’s saying and laugh because as athletes we’re able to ‘sniff out’ lots of the ‘diet fluff crap’ mainstream media and individuals try to get us to buy into. I will revisit this book later because I’ve got both an article on RunBlogRun coming out and after that is published do a review on this blog. So hold tight, but in the mean time check out DIET CULTS.

Getting back to the fitness and running ‘fluff’, I find that it really is only doing a disservice to the individuals who really are motivated or the ones just starting out in the sport. Coming to the realization that it’s hard work over really anything else is a learning curve all runners go through. Experience teaches us that.

Every single runner has their own journey, the progression of getting crazier and crazier more experienced and for lack of a better term ‘hardcore into’ our sport. That journey makes each runner who they are and it’s important to learn lots of those lessons yourself. At the same time, it’s a shame that falling into the misconception that certain foods or cramming 4 months of training into 2 weeks doing a run only every other Tuesday WILL make you a better runner. Because by hiding the truth you’re only stunting the progress of the runner who really does want to be their best.

Certainly the ‘fluff’ sells and the driven, self-motivated folks who are ‘real’ runners [I only define 'real' runners not based on speed at all, but in spirit and how motivated they are...if you're a runner you know it in your bones.] are the minority. But the numbers of runners are growing and it proves there are eager, motivated people looking to embark on their running journey.

Welcome to crazy town.

So here’s some straight shooting for you:
* It’s going to hurt.
* There’s no ‘secret’ to getting faster and staying fit.
* Motivation is your weapon, consistency reigns supreme.
* Patience sucks but it’s required.
* Learn that unnecessary suffering isn’t going to make you better. Oh running, filled with all those fine lines we must tread.

But here’s the BEST part:
* There’s a sick sort of high and remarkable afterglow to that hurt when you’ve pushed through it.
* Nothing is more rewarding than watching yourself get faster and more fit.
* Realizing your body can DO things you never dreamed possible is far more satisfying than any pack of abs or what your vehicle of performance looks like.
* Running will effect, and improve you in all areas of life.
* Runners are tough as s*t.

It’s important to realize that clearly certain foods and a healthy diet will help your training, lifestyle adjustments (hello more sleep!) will too. But even a healthy diet with 10 hours a sleep at night is useless sans training. Take your ‘fluff’ and shove it. #run

More Reads:
5 Ways Runners Can Use Trail Running to Get Faster

What’s Fueling YOUR Run?

Runger: How runners can tame the beast and eat to perform

WEAR your motivation with Ezzere

5 Ways Runners Can Use Trail Running to Get Faster

Trail running makes you strong. It can also make you faster. “But wait,” you think, “I look down at my watch Garmin afterwards and the times are slower!” Ahhh…it all comes back to effort, My Dears, effort.

Hills take a LOAD more effort running up than running on the flats. #lessonfromcommonsense Haha. Force those legs of yours to put in the extra effort needed to get up those inclines thought and you’ll build power. Now a lesson in running mathematics:

Power = Strength = Speed

running mental fence
Blast up those hills and the second you take it to the track or flats, you’ll be thinking how much ‘easier’ it feels. This summer, take it to the trails (the right way) and you’ll come out stronger, faster, and ready to kick butt. It’s not just about ‘base building’ it’s about ‘power building’.

5 Ways to Do Your Power Building Trail Running RIGHT

1) Get Efficient: You’re not doing hills right if you’re hunched over like Quasimodo. Hills make it even more important you hold proper form. Check out my post on form HERE and when taking it to the hills remember:
* Stand Up TALL: Keep that torso straight!
* Don’t Lean: Don’t lean too far into the hill, keep your center of gravity above your hips; your hips will naturally be SLIGHTLY leaning into the hill, but you should think in your mind about standing up straight because quite honestly you’ll probably ‘feel’ like you’re leaning WAY back behind you but in reality are where you need to be. Focus on staying upright.
* Shorten Stride: Keep the same effort running up the hill but shorten your stride. Focus on the faster turn-over and power up that hill!

2) Eyes Ahead: Keep your eyes focused on the top of the hill, you want to power all the way UP and THROUGH the crest. Too many runners make the mistake of powering up and stopping juuuuust short of the crest which means they lose all that momentum they worked SO hard for getting up. Run THROUGH the hill so you can use that momentum to power down it.

3) Blasts vs. Endurance: Just like track and flat speedwork, hill running workouts should be tailored to match the goal for the day’s workout. Short 10-30 second hill blasts can be thought of like plyometric work. It will REALLY build that base speed, it’s all fast twitch; so remember to take FULL recovery for short blasts, as is the law of the sprinters and taxing the anaerobic energy system. Longer hill repeats and doing tempo workouts on a hilly course will further build that endurance and strength so when you take it to the flats the same EFFORT will yield much faster times. It’s always cool to step from the hills to the track, look at the watch and surprise yourself, no? :)

4) Rolling and Exploring: Even doing your easy days on the trails will build power. Over time the ups and downs make you stronger; it’s important to keep your easy day EFFORT easy though so you’re still actually recovering. So again, ignore what the watch says and run for effort.

5) Downhill Running: It’s important to remember that everything that goes up, goes down. #duh Running downhill puts a lot of stress on the body and as any Boston Marathon runner can tell you downhills can REALLY do a number on those quads. Downhill running isn’t ‘easy peasy’ on the body. So if you’re training for a race with lots of downhills it’s smart to practice running downhill. If you’re prone to injury beware, because the extra pounding can cause knees and ankles to get cranky. Final tip on running downhill: don’t FIGHT it. Relax, let gravity help you, and don’t try to fight it…roll with it, Runner Babes.
find adventure after the sidewalk ends
So if you’re not sold on hills and exploring trails, and that they will make you faster, yet…just go to Instagram and check out some of those nature pix those avid trail runners are posting! The miles will fly by. Go out…explore, adventure, LOVE the run!

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CHECK IT OUT!! Ezzere made Competitor’s list for TOP fitness tees!! Wahooo…the Peacock Runner Tee, sitting at number 3 on the slideshow. :)
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1) Best, most amazing trail run you’ve even been on?
Nisene Marks Park in Aptos, CA. Go there.

2) Favorite hill workout?

Heat Kills

I live in California so even though June 21st is ‘officially’ the first day of summer, I’ve been running in a hot box for weeks already. Never fail, during some of my summer runs I always get that Bush song, “Speed kills…” stuck in my head but I swap out the word to “heat kills”. #truth

Running when the brutal sun is scorching you isn’t my favorite thing. But until we find that perfect seasonless runner utopia we must deal. For those runners in humid states, good lordy I’ve spent some time running in those conditions and had to come back and wrench out my running shorts and sports bra, easily a couple cups of sweat there! haha.
melting runners

So here’s my running summer warning and tip round-up:

* Beat the Heat: If you can, it seems like a no-brainer to try and get up and go run before the sun and temps are up, or wait until the later evening.
* Acclimate: Here is where you SHOULD actually force your runner butt to run in the heat. If you’re going to be racing under sweltering conditions you NEED to start getting your body used to running in the same conditions. The first runs, and especially hard workouts, are going to not feel all too pleasant. But eventually your body will start to adjust…you do NOT want the first time you go out and run in hot/humid/both conditions to be on race day when you’ve been doing all of your training at 5am to beat the heat. It’ll be like a body slam sucker-punch on race day.
* Hydrate…they hydrate some more: I’ve done some posts HERE and HERE all about hydration. But this needs to be BEATEN into your HEAD here. Hydrate religiously throughout the entire day!! You should be peeing darn near clear, by the time you feel thirsty you’re mildly dehydrated. Also make sure to get those electrolytes replenished as well.
* GI Issues: It’s no coincidence that your tummy may become more upset when the temps rise. I did a post HERE explaining just how much dehydration can be the root cause of lots of running GI disasters. So another reason to stay hydrated…ooor, just go poop your pants…your choice.
ice cream personality test
Now let’s talk about doing hard workouts and races in the summer scorchers:

* Easy Does It: We already know that going out too fast can be the kiss of death. Doing that in the heat is like putting yourself through Dante’s extra levels of h*ll. You might feel okay at the start but it’ll come slap you hard in the body/face/legs later. This is where you should be running for EFFORT and not times…the heat and humidity are two big factors that slow down times. So adjust your paces accordingly and the power of negative splitting is much friendlier than the brutal kick your butt punishment of going out too fast.
* H2O Cool: If you’re at the track, bring extra water to douse your head and body between reps. Obviously keep some to take sips on, but getting that body temp down the hose-to-head method works well too.
* Seek Shade: Ahhh-duh. If you can find shadier trails to do tempo or fartlek runs on then it’s a no-brainer (vs. an uncovered track). But I also wanted to add this one in here meaning that if you’re doing a track meet and are doubling/tripling/etc. get you butt in the shade as much as possible. No need to have extra energy zapped out of you lingering in the sun unnecessarily.

Whew…and after that, just dream of ice cream and guzzling the entire river once you’ve finished the run. ;)

1) What’s one of your summer running tips?
2) How bad are you tan lines?
I could blind you from 10 miles away. ;)

A Gold Medal Mind: My interview with Dr. Jim Afremow

dr. jim afremowTo run and race your best it’s critical you’ve got the right mindset. Dr. Jim Afremow has made it his mission to help runners and athletes of all sports hone their mental training. Just as important and the physical workouts, an athlete’s mind can create a champion or turn into one’s own worst enemy. I wanted interview Dr. Afremow both because I respect his body of work and level of expertise and also because, let’s be honest, the psychology of our sport in straight-up fascinating! Often time elite athletes have trouble putting into words exactly how they get into gamer mode…so read on to hear a mental game’s coach put words to the ability:

JIM AFREMOW, Ph.D.

 

 

1)    What got you started in athletics, and what were your favorite sports growing up?

 

I grew up on sports and physical activity primarily through my father who appreciated the importance of having an active lifestyle. He especially enjoyed hiking, mountain climbing, and participating in Masters track and field. As a youth, my favorite sports included track and field, soccer, and golf.

 

2)    How did you foray into becoming a mental games coach and working on the sports psychology end of the spectrum?

 

Sports psychology provides the perfect opportunity to bridge two of my passions: sports and psychology. I have always been fascinated by human behavior and how all of us can learn to reach our greatest potential. I earned a doctorate in sports psychology and a Master’s in counseling, both at Michigan State University.

 

3)    You work with a variety of athletes in different sports, but in working with runners what are some of the most common mental hurdles they struggle with?

 

Mental toughness is equally import to physical strength when it comes to shining in sports. Adversity strikes all athletes in different ways at different times. Runners must learn how to stay focused and confidently move through any kind of setback, such as a mental block, performance plateau, prolonged slump, or injury. They must also develop ways to reduce off-field issues or concerns that interfere with their training and races.

 

4)    Confidence is a big one with runners and racing, and confidence tends to ebb and flow, be it after bad workouts or ongoing injuries. What are some of the techniques you use to help runners rebuild and remain confident in themselves and their abilities?

 

Confidence is a beautiful thing! Confidence in yourself and your athletic ability is critical to performing your best when it matters most. One strategy for boosting your confidence is to remember a particular occasion when you triumphed over a difficult challenge and write about how you made it happen—memory is the prelude to memorable performances.

 

5)    Race day nerves tends to be another big one, what are some of your suggestions for keeping your racing nerves in check?

 

First and foremost, understand that pre-performance anxiety is how our body readies itself to perform at its peak. So, recognize anxiety for what it is―that’s how humans are made. If you know that, it helps to normalize race day nerves. My new book The Champion’s Mind presents scores of practical tips to help you harness anxiety and use it to your advantage.

6)    In running and in athletics in general what is something you feel is an especially crucial mental component in being your best, if not THE best?

 

Have a big-picture goal and chip away at each and every day. “When you’re good at something, make that everything,” said tennis legend Roger Federer. All it takes is all you’ve got!

 

7)    What’s your favorite mental tip for runners to race and run their best?

 

During competition, the key word is “performance” because if you focus on performing (rather than on any results or other extraneous factors), then you’re totally in the present. Being in the present and staying purposeful lets you “own the moment” and maximize your abilities.

 

8)    What was the greatest lesson or piece of advice you’ve been given either from a mentor, teacher, or athlete that you’ve applied to your work?

 

One important lesson is that we either win or we learn. Forget about losing and focus on continual improvement. Give yourself credit where credit is due and celebrate what you did well. But then if you didn’t do as well as you wanted, say, “What did I learn from this that’s going to help me perform better next time?”

 

9)    Tell us about your book, your services, and your website?

 

The title of my new book is, “The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive” (Rodale, 2014). The Champion’s Mind explains “what” athletes can do to champion themselves and “how” they can do it. That is, how athletes can fine-tune their game mentally and emotionally to consistently perform at their best. If you want to discover how great you can be and how much fun you can have in your sport, don’t leave the mental game to chance or circumstance.

 

So, I provide individual and team sports psychology services for personal excellence, peak performance, and team success. Although my private practice is located in Phoenix, I work with athletes from all over the world. Important topics include confidence, concentration, composure, communication, and commitment. All athletes can and should learn how to think like a champion. For more information, please visit my website: www.goldmedalmind.net.

 

10)Ultimately, what is your goal in being a sports performance specialist? What gives you the most sense of pleasure and fulfillment?

 

To help people reach their true and full potential in sports and all other demanding endeavors. To help people grow as athletes and as people. Champions think gold and never settle for silver or bronze. They understand that personal best is their ultimate victory. Why settle for anything less?

Neuromuscular Training For Runners: Quick feet box taps

Everyone wants to run faster, right? Part of getting faster is of course doing the shorter repeats; one must build that explosive power of course. BUT, there’s another part to getting faster and it’s training your BRAIN and nervous system to respond at a quicker rate.

A runner can’t utilize that explosive power to run faster without the nerve and synapse networks first being created to ‘tell’ your foot to move faster off the ground. Isn’t science and the brain cool?

The neuromuscular part of training isn’t something every runner is aware of, but if you’re not addressing it you can run all the 200′s in the world and not really be tapping into your full potential. I’ve written a few articles about the neuromuscular training and how it relates to runners:

* The Multi-Level Approach to Getting Faster
* Work on Getting Faster in Tri-Fecta Form

One of the exercises I mention are ‘Quick Feet Box Taps’. I got an email from someone who wasn’t quite sure if they were doing them right so I decided to make a little video.

You can also find it on my Instagram page. Start with a set of 15-30 seconds and see how many taps you can get. REMEMBER it’s QUALITY over quantity. If you’re getting slopping you’re going to start reinforcing bad habits and that will defeat the purpose. Work up to two sets and do the 3 times a week…preferably as part of your dynamic warm-up routine before workouts or immediately following the workout. It can be fun to watch yourself improve with more taps every week…you know us runners and that competitive spirit. ;) But again, quality over quantity…so if you have to start slow that’s what you need to do!

What, you love my shirt too?! Well, thanks…it’s my Ezzere Runner Face Tee! :)

Happy Saturday my runner friends. Get those feet firing off the ground, coupling neuromuscular training and speedwork, and watch your PR’s get faster! :)

Taper Troubles: Peaking right to run your best race

For runners, finding that perfect taper and method to peak right sure can be difficult! Which sounds kinda crazy because taking the taper at face value, one could think, “Well, I just need to cut back. I’ve done all the work, so let’s just coast on until race day and wind up with fresh as daisy legs!”

WRONG. Any runner can tell you tapering is a bit of a beast. Sometimes your legs do feel an extra bounce, other times they start feeling like dead weights and you start to freak out, “What the heck, why am I trucking bricks?!”
find your own trail
Some runners even build a little superstition around it, “The worse my legs feel on the warm-up the better they feel in the race.’ Not going to lie, I’ve experienced that one and can back the logic.

So let’s talk taper. We’ll even start from the most basic of basics up.

What is a taper? Training is done in phases, working backwards from the date of your big race. The closer you draw to your race, the more the goal of workouts shift from ‘building fitness’ to ‘sharpening’ and ‘honing’. A week before your race you’re not going to be able to increase fitness anymore, that work’s been done, so it’s a matter of maintaining fitness and then reducing the volume so your legs feel fresh come race day. [Tapering can be done anywhere from 1-3 weeks before your race, depending on distance and all that good stuff.]

Logistics: Runners who are tapering will cut their overall miles back, the volume of workouts decrease, and you’ll see workouts like 200′s, 400′s, or for marathoners, maybe a few longer repeats (ie: miles) at race pace. Just getting the wheels turning.
running in circles
Common Mistakes:

1) Not decreasing enough: If you’ve been training at 110 miles per week and your ‘taper’ is cutting down to 100 miles per week that’s really not going to leave you feeling all that fresh, right? Same goes with pushing your ‘taper’ workouts too much; grinding out your best 6xmile four days before your race day isn’t doing you any favors.

2) Decreasing too much: So the runners who think, oh I’ll just go from 110 miles down to 20 and I’ll feel GOLDEN! Wrong-zo. The body has a crazy way of adapting to us crazy runners and doing what we do. Dramatic shifts, the body doesn’t like that at all. Go too far from one extreme to the other and your body will be like, “wtf is going on?!” In the case of the runner above, they’ll actually be feeling sluggish because their body is used to much more stress. It actually NEEDS more miles to feel better. Crazy, huh? But kinda cool too.

Bottom line: There’s no perfect amount for everyone, it comes back to what works for you and your race distance. But a nice rule is that when tapering your mileage should be reduced by 20-25% of your average training volume.

3) Pre-Race Day Off: Many runners like to take the day before their race completely off. I would like to argue that, they should instead take the day TWO days prior to their race off. Why? Sometimes your legs will feel stale after a complete rest day, it’s better to do a short shake-out run and strides the day before to ‘bust out the rust and creaks.’ You still get a day off, but going into the race you’re not ‘creaky’. This is also why if you’re running a night race, lots of runners like to do a short (10-15min) shake-out run that morning.

4) No Speed-work: Taper logic might seem like you shouldn’t do anything hard…go into the whole week totally fresh and rested. Refer back to number 2 and realize that once your body has become accustomed to a certain degree of work (ie: stress) it needs the stimulus. Going 4-plus days without any faster turn-over will leave your legs feeling sluggish and slow. For races 10k and below, a good workout to do three days before your race is 8x200m with 200meter recovery. Any way you slice it, you still want some ‘sharp’ quality sessions leading up to your race.

Tapering is a tricky science, that’s why I firmly believe runners should have a coach they trust to do the sciencey planning stuff. Then the runner isn’t left ‘thinking’ all this out. Planning and wondering “is this workout right? Is this what I should do?” can get in the way of your workouts, and it can be liberating to give that ‘stress’ to someone else who KNOWS their stuff.

That way, runners can just turn their brain off and stick to what they love to do…run. Hey, running the workouts are hard enough, no reason to add more thinking than necessary to the mix. ;)

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More posts on RACE TIPS

More posts on PRE-RACE CONFIDENCE

Make sure you’re looking GOOD doing all that training…Ezzere’s got your back there! :)
ezzere peacock runner tee

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Runners Three Tip Tuesday: Work on getting faster in tri-fecta form

Good things can come in threes, but then again plenty of awesome things come in twos and fours. Runners have two legs, four laps make that perfect mile…though do those four laps REALLY feel all that perfect when doing mile repeats?? ;) Brain: “FOUR laps, let’s call a mile one lap!” Juuust kidding.

running track

The cool place all runners get to hang out.


Well good things can come in any number but today you runners are getting a three-pack. Here are some Training Tips in Triple for your Tuesday:

1) Runners Who Skip: Runners can become a little too linear for their own good. Example is looking only at their running workouts to improve and taking that little metaphor to the literal: running is a repetitive, linear, single-plane action. If you don’t work your body in a variety of ways it gets tight. Tight will equal restrictive, bring you injuries and impede your speed.

Offset that by doing things OTHER than running: core work, flexibility, and agility drills. Move in the horizontal, even do some skipping to ‘dilly around’ with your neuromuscular thought patterns. Your brain actually has to be ‘played with’…it gets stuck in a pace/pattern run with just running. So as crazy as it sounds doing things like skipping, backwards skips, crazy feet drills give it a little ‘reset’ and make it more ‘sharp’ when you come back to running steps. Oh, and those fast feet, like chili pepper jump rope things, those will help your neuromuscular training too…get those feet conditioned to FIRE off the ground faster = faster speed and sprinting.

2) Be Quiet I’m Sleeping: Sleeping should really be an Olympic sports…or at least one of everyone’s favorite past times. Want to have a sleep-off? Just kidding. But seriously, for the runner in training you should guard your zzzz’s with just as much ferocity as you do lane one during repeats.
runner on track
Sleep is where you body does the vast majority of its repair, sleep is a restorative process. But it’s really the deep, REM sleep that you need. That’s why people who are light sleepers or wake up multiple times in the night can still feel so flipping tired later even if they’ve been in bed 8-12 hours…they’re not sleeping continuously or getting a deep enough sleep. Sleep issues are really tricky, I’ve got them, so if you do have trouble sleeping already do the basics: make it as dark as possible, don’t even have the light from your phone on, try a fan for white noise, relax and power-down before bedtime to put your brain in sleep-mode, and from there you may need to seek out some other options and work with a doctor.

For those of you are are lucky enough to NOT have a problem sleeping but just skimp on the hours because you’re busy, I’ll say this: 1) you’re only hurting yourself and your training 2) you’re taking sleeping for granted…trust me, lots of us insomniacs would die to get some extra hours!! haha…take advantage of them and aim for 8-9 hours a night for optimal performance.

3) Laugh: Wow…you think I’m a nutzo for just saying that. I’ll go on record and rattle off just why laughing is a training necessity:

* Running is hard: yea, it’s painful. But misery loves company and laughter. Those slow jogs between intervals is when you and your training buddies should be making fart jokes.
* De-serious: It’s easy to be too serious in life and apply that to training. Ironically getting ‘too’ focused on your workouts and training has a funny way of making you eventually start slowing down. It’s because of pressure and it’ll also rob you of the passion…both recipe for disasters. Make sure you’re excited and focused on your goals…but still ENJOY it. So laugh.
* Running gets awkward: Need I say more? Runners will have to fart, burp, poo, chafe, adjust a wedgie etc. mid-run. It’s just funny, get over embarrassment and do it. Make a joke about it.

There ya go. Take this Tuesday and make it a point to improve your running in three ways. Heck, please apply the laughter part to your overall life too!

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Related Read: My latest article on RunBlogRun: Running the ‘Extras’: Think outside the miles and improve your performance

Another of my new articles on RunBlogRun: Young Runners and the Issues of Volume and Intensity

Need a laugh? My CARTOONS are here for you! :)
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The Low Mileage Runner: How to maximize your performance off of low volume

A headline caught my eye recently: “Be a better runner without running.” *About face* Now I respect the news outlet that ran the article but the snark in me can’t resist thinking, “This kind of thing belongs in Runner’s World next to the column ‘How to get faster in your sleep!’”

track dreams

Track dreams…but you still need to actually run on the track too. ;)


In seriousness though, yes there are ways to improve your running and get faster that aren’t running. HOWEVER, these are thought of like ‘extras’…you still have to run.

Everybody and every BODY handles a different amount of volume and quality. Not everyone can log 110 miles per week, with a hard speed session, endurance session, and long run in a 7 day cycle. Some people can run 170 miles per week just fine, others get hurt going over 50…waaah-waahh it’s not fair but that’s how it is.

Know your body. Know your limits and maximize them. Just because you can’t RUN more than 50 miles per week does not necessarily mean you can’t beat the runner doing twice your volume. Enter QUALITY.

Here are a few quick tips on maximizing your training if you’re a runner who is a little more ‘fragile’: (ie: improving your running with running less and doing other stuff)

* Extend Your ‘Week’: By this I’m talking about viewing your training cycle as 9-10 days rather than the standard 7. Meb Keflezighi has talked about doing this as he’s aged, and many masters runners work off of a longer training week. This allows for more recovery between hard workouts.

* Rule of 10 and Baby Steps: If you’re injury-prone already you know you need to BABY your body a bit. Only increase your miles by 10% each week. Then be honest with what your mileage ‘max’ is. If you start getting extra creaking when you kiss 50, stick there and supplement with extra cross training instead of miles.
stress fractures suck
* Swap Your Easy Runs: Plan your miles for the week and ‘save’ them for your hard workouts and long runs. Those are the days that will give you the most bang for your mileage buck. Cross train on the easy days; to be honest the benefit of easy days are mostly just getting the steady cardio in…you can do that running or cross training. The former is just a lot easier on your body.

* Seek Soft Surfaces: The pavement is harder on your body than the trails, track, and treadmill. Seek these softer surfaces. Also know that lots of downhill running exponentially increases the impact on your joints, so steer clear of huge, sharp downhills.

* Get More Efficient: Most injuries are a result of a weakness and muscle imbalance. Fix those and you’ll be running more efficient and most likely be able to handle running more. All the more reason to fix your form, get a stronger core, and solve why you might be stuck in a vicious cycle of injuries.

* Fitter With Cross Training: Ideally you want to be doing your hard workouts as running because this will translate the best for racing but you’d be amazed by how fit you can stay with cross training workouts. So if you have to do some of your ‘running’ workouts on the cross trainer don’t freak out and remember it all comes back to effort. Go hard, get your heart rate up, feel the burn in your legs and lungs, and you’re getting work done.

Not EVERYTHING that will get you faster comes from running more miles. Think outside the box, learn your body, and maximize your potential.

Though the snark in me still has to end with this: “but, duh, you still have to do some running.” ;)

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More articles on cross training and workout ideas!

More articles on injuries, recovering, and how to prevent them!

Lessons From the Track: Running your best takes more than left turns

Now my younger brother’s first love is rugby, second is football, but for the three weeks between seasons he decided to do track! Wahoo…I was stoked!! I’m also in awe of the fact that he doesn’t do any speed-work and then just blitzes those 400′s and 200′s like they’re nothing.
wesley track sprinting
The mystery is solved as to where all of the fast twitch muscle fiber genes in the family went. Clearly all were saved and concentrated into the youngest Chock sibling. Oh and I guess he stole my coordination genes too. ;)

Granted he’s got the competitiveness of a Chock, so he’ll gut out a race and pay the price after to hit those marks. But the truth is that last 100 of a 400 isn’t fun for anybody, no matter if you’ve trained or not…BLECH…talk about booty lock.

Checking out those high school meets has been fun, observing just as much so, and here are a few tips I’d pass on if teenagers actually cared to listen to us old folks:

* Warm-up and Recovery: set yourself up to run your best, not warming up before a race is setting yourself up for both injury and running below your maximum potential. Cold muscles no likey sprinting. The same for after your race, do all you can to recover so you can come back stronger. That includes a cool-down and refueling within 30 minutes of finishing.

* Drafting and Tangents: it was windy at the track meet and those are days where you really want to draft. Leading expends more mental energy and on windy days it expends a heck of a lot more physical energy to lead. If you can, tuck in behind somebody until you’re really to surge past them. When you DO make your move, try to make it on a straight away…running the tangents on a race course is the same idea, don’t run more than your race distance or your competitors are.
run to beat you
* When You Pass, You PASS: racing is mental like that, when you make a move and pass someone you want to be passing them for good. Conserve energy and then blow by that sucker! Don’t ‘weakly’ pass them because then they can just tuck in behind you and let you do the work. You want to BLOW by them and try to mentally break them. Make them think, “Dang, they’re feeling much stronger than me, I can’t keep up.” Even if you feel like crap, it’s a race, you should feel tired, but your competitors don’t have to know you’re tired as heck and clinging on until the finish line. Break them and leave them in your dust.

* Cling-on: sorry, no sci-fi reference, but this speaks to those getting passed. Read above. You can’t get in the mind of your competitors and chances are they’re working, tired, and hurting too. If they pass you, rally the troops and try to stay with them. Don’t let THEM mentally break you. See, it works two ways like that. ;)

The last thing I’ll add, while I like to joke that I have not a single fast twitch muscle in my body (I’ve never been biopsied, but I’ll say I probably only do have one!) DON’T use that as an excuse to avoid speed-work. It’s incredible how much you can manipulate and overcome your natural predisposition in terms of speedster versus endurance maven. You’d be surprised that, yes, even ye of one speed can get some wheels on themselves and wind up with really strong kicks.

The thing is you just have to train those muscles! For speed you need to build power (hills, sprints, plyo’s) and all that good stuff is plenty of fodder for another post!

Get out there and kick some butt…embrace the booty lock too! ;)
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Have you checked out my Ezzere Running Tees yet?? Mosey over, folks!!

Send MAJOR cheers to one awesome Kim @ Day with KT this rockstar runnerchick and mom is out to kill it at her 50 mile race this Saturday!! WAHOOOO!!!