The Mind Game

We often have the idea that with ideal training and the perfect race that it’ll all come together and be easy during a race.  It can all come together but race pace is always a challenge. Dealing with and managing your brain is a much bigger part of race management than any newbie ever expects. Practicing positive mental cues and mantras during training is a great way to prime yourself to deal with the inevitable mental difficulties that arise during a race.

Here is one athlete’s take on a recent half marathon race. Thanks Lora B!

Wow, 8 am. An hour in, really? Too fast. Hit the half way mark. Six miles. Ugh. Only half way?? I’m tired. Run your race. A few pass me. She’s older than I am. Doesn’t matter. Who cares. Run your race…

I want a shirt that says, “Yes I’m 55, and I’m in front of you.” No I don’t, it’s not about that. Run your race. Everyone is tired, it’s all about being here not who I beat.

Why am I so tired? Because you have run 9 miles already!?

Okay, inventory – what hurts? Feet. Duh, run lighter, tempo, pick up your knees, better.

What else hurts? Knee? I’ll stop and stretch when I get to that sign. Much better, get back up to pace.

What else? My calf – tight but not too bad, I can stretch at next water station.

Good sign- “What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you.” I can’t believe I am doing this again. Change – see myself as an athlete again, find joy in hard work. Yes this is hard but I am doing this!

Down hill stretch – I want to break 2 hours, I see that pace bunny (2:00 hour) ahead, I can get up there. No you don’t, that’s insane. Just finish. Stop looking at the time. I swear I will take off this damn watch. I am looking at my distance, not time, no I’m not. Yes I am.

OMG. This hill is too long…. Have to walk, that’s OKAY, you’re doing it. Keep moving. Shade now, thank Gawd… still incline but let’s hit it, use your butt muscles, push your tempo, and power up those arms!

Stop checking time – watch the mile marker signs instead –count down the clicks. 8k (clicks) to go. Inventory – what hurts? Nothing else, nothing new, very tired, water coming up. Downhill now, find the recovery, hold tempo, this is better… in the shade now.

5 clicks to go, okay, that’s 3 miles, that’s once around Green Lake. Another frigging hill? Seriously. Okay, watch the crowd, hi-five the kids, good signs people. Thank you people for smiling and cowbells, not just standing there watching us idiots run by.

Okay, just 2 clicks, Gawd it’s hot… 2K, that’s just over a mile. Okay, now I’m heading back from an easy run to Sunset park, I do this all the time. Shade please, shade please, don’t stop. 2 clicks. Seriously just 2 clicks left! Why are these people stopping to walk?! Not my problem. Just run my race. I can do this, just run your race, don’t care about time. We are going to run across that damn finish line, no matter how slowly!

Okay, shade on the left, all the way to the finish line – see it, a football field away, no problem. Pick up your feet, tempo, you did it… Clock says 2:14 but is that from first start or our wave? Geez, did I run 2:10? Holy smokes, I think so.  F##k. Done. Give me water. Thank you Lord…

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Client Profile: Robert

Robert has been with the CL family for over 18 months. Robert decided to work with a coach as he had been training on his own and was not making any progress. “I needed a coach and a group to help motivate me and show me the way. I have a support network through my coach along with the guidance of someone who has done this before.” Being part of a team, Robert has found a support system that helps keep him motivated and provides accountability to show up at the group workouts.

When asked to describe his first race experience, Robert stated, “My first Triathlon was a weekend of anxiety and anticipation.  I had no idea if I could finish all the events and I had only swam the distance once before.  After I crossed the finish line I had a huge adrenaline high that lasted the whole day.  Being able to conquer that goal was a great feeling.  I knew I wanted to keep moving forward after that race.”

Week after week we have seen Robert’s dedication and desire to go after his goals even while managing the rest of his busy and stressful life. When asked how he balances work, life and training, he reports, “I haven’t found that balance yet!” Regardless, he has been making training priority and the progress has definitely shown, “I can casually say that I ran 7 miles on a Saturday then did a 30 mile bike ride the next day and it feels like that’s normal.” In the last year, Robert has completed Olympic triathlons and his first half marathon.

Way to go Robert! We are excited to be a part of your journey!

A Cow Encounter

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Tony ran a 10k trail run recently and writes:

I was ahead of the pack when I came across a cow that lowered its head and ran at me half way.  I stopped and thought, hmm this isn’t a dog like last time and that cow moved fast.  I wondered was it a bull?… pondering, stepping back slowly.   I waited for the pack to catch up because there is strength in numbers  I hear.  After the pack caught up I was behind in 4th.  I stopped to take a few pics of the scenery and thought whatever, just run.

Anything can happen during a race! On a trail you may encounter wildlife although usually we worry more about encountering a bear or a mountain lion. Safety first!

Congrats to Tony O for a 3rd Overall Male and 1st in Age Group Placement at a 10k Trail run even with a cow encounter!

The Boston Marathon

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Photos courtesy of Jeff D.

Congrats to Jeff D for a smart, tough run at the Boston Marathon which featured warm temperatures and a grueling headwind which was very tough on all the competitors. Jeff had some injury limitations this training cycle but he and Coach Lesley were able to manage those limitations to the best of his ability and get him to the start line ready to go. With Coach Lesley’s help he had a pacing and nutrition plan and committed to running a smart race. And we are so thrilled to report, he nailed it!

Coach Lesley reports: Jeff did an amazing job both in training and on race day. He took to heart the conversations we had and plans we made. He asked great questions and tried everything out in practice and reported back in about what was working and what was not. When I met Jeff he was already a good athlete and a hard worker but over the past months I have seen him become not only a good athlete but a smart athlete and this will take him far. Well done Jeff! I can’t wait to see what is next.

JefFullSizeRenderf writes: I honestly think it could be the best race I’ve ever run.  It was grueling.  I never suffered in this race and think it was probably the smartest race I’ve ever run.  If had a disappointment it’s my fade on miles 23-26 which I really wanted closer to 8 but I just couldn’t pull it off in the wind.  I think the heat especially early in the race sapped me a bit too. All in all I left it all on the course. Very satisfied.  My legs are crushed.

How did your training go? 
I generally follow a 14-week training regimen which Coach Lesley helped me build in late January.  We no sooner got the plan together and refined when I ended up with a tendon injury in my lower right leg after being a little too aggressive with track intervals in early January before I’d reached out to Coach Lesley.   At the time I thought it was just a small “tweak” but over time it became progressively more painful and I saw a specialist that Lesley recommended at Virginia Mason in Seattle.  It turned out to be a soft-tissue strain that I could train on — but it really changed how aggressive we could be over the next 10 weeks leading to Boston so we had to fairly significantly revise the original plan.  With Lesley’s advice, we focused on making sure I could get my long runs in weekly or every other week with a lot of focus on aerobic training on the elliptical as well as fairly intense core workouts for strength, balance, mobility/flexibility.    There was very little opportunity for any speed or tempo work although we did our best to get it in late in the cycle as my injury started to calm down.   I was also aggressive with PT and scheduled appointments for dry needling, sonic massage, and workouts on an Alter-G treadmill in Bellevue (highly recommended!).   Although my training for the marathon wasn’t the original plan, our revisions to the plan went very well as I was able to work through an alternate approach with less emphasis on weekly volume and speed — and still get to the starting line in Hopkinton and feel as though I had a shot to run a competitive race.
  
What was challenging for you this day and what did you do to overcome the challenges keeping in mind your race day plan?
 
The biggest challenge in this year’s race was absolutely the weather.  Downtown Boston was forecast for 64 with a headwind of 10-12 mph out of the east and the western towns of Hopkinton, Natick,  Wellesley, and Newton forecast for the upper 60’s to low 70’s.    Given the race doesn’t start until 10:00 AM and my wave (wave-2 at 10:25 am) it was already 67 degrees at the start of the race and got progressively warmer from there.   I really started to feel the heat around mile 13 leading to and through the Newton Hills in miles 16-20 and started to slow down and adjust my pace – trying to keep even effort while staying hydrated (I packed about 20 oz of water and nutrition in a utility belt — and took in about 2oz of water or gatorade every mile at the aid stations).   The wind was starting to also really pick up but as we got progressively closer to Boston — but thankfully as we crested heartbreak hill at mile 21 the air cooled into the low 60’s although the wind out of the east became stronger and was a dead headwind.   So really for this whole race it was either the heat, wind or both for 26 miles.
In terms of overcoming the challenge of the weather I was fortunate that my “B” goal of 3:44 aligned with what I would need to run under more challenging circumstances.   I knew by mile 10 that 3:33:00 wasn’t going to happen and shifted my focus on trying to stay below 3:40:00.  I knew if I got to the top of Heartbreak Hill at mile 21 in 2:58 that I could run 42:00 or 8:00 pace and get to the finish line.    I managed to get to mile 21 in exactly 2:58 but wasn’t able to hold an 8:00 pace running mile 22 in 8:17 but then fading in the wind — and in reality just trying to enjoy the last few miles as there really is nothing else like the final right hand turn onto Hereford Street followed by the final left hand turn and 700 yards down Boylston and the finish line.
I didn’t mention it in my blog, but we nailed the nutrition and hydration plan.   I actually took gels at mile 3, 11, 17 and 21 with the 8oz of the Vitargo with water at 7 and 15 miles.   I took in 1 – 2 oz of either gatorade or water every mile to augment too.  People were getting crushing as the race went on and it got warmer…   So I was happy to have a plan that anticipated all this!
 
What’s next?
 
REST.   My body needs a cooling-off period away from marathoning.  I’ve been in continuous training mode since Labor Day 2015 as I ran the mid-December Honolulu Marathon before launching right into Boston marathon training after only a couple of weeks of rest in December.    Once my tendon injury fully heals, I am going to focus on getting fast again and rebuilding my speed base focusing on some 5K’s, 8K’s and half-marathons.
I will run the Boston Marathon as many times as I can BQ. It’s simply that fun — and challenging — of a race.
To read more of Jeff’s fabulous race: blog link

Post Recovery – the perfect refueling

 Honestly, this is a trick! There is no perfect refueling except that we want you thinking of refueling immediately after completing a long workout or a workout with intensity. End of Story.

We hear a lot of athletes who complete their workout and before you know it, they’ve gotten caught up in their life.  They chat with friends at the car before driving home, they pull a few weeds on the way into the house, they take the dog for a walk or they run a few errands. Three hours goes by and they are famished. Nope, that’s not the way to recover and get ready for your next workout. Not properly fueling after a longer or harder workout can lead to low energy overall in your day to day activities and impact the quality of your next few workouts.

At a deeper level, when you work out, you stress your system. This controlled, good stress leads to muscle breakdown and repair and gets you ready for your next bout of work. Over time, you become stronger. Fueling properly immediately after a workout starts this process along.

Sure you can go a little crazy looking for the perfect recovery fuel but you don’t have to. There are many simple real food options that work well, are very easy and portable.

First what sort of refueling should you be aiming for? You should be aiming for a mix of carbohydrates and protein with a bit of added fat plus liquids to replace that which you’ve sweated out. The standard recommendation is for a ratio of 4:1 carbs to fat.  Ugh. Who wants to figure that? And really, the recommendations have relaxed a bit so there is a range.

Low fat chocolate milk is one of the easiest options. It is a popular recovery drink among world class endurance athletes and one we also recommend.

Why? The carbs are important to your body to start the process of repair and restoring glycogen levels. The protein provides building blocks for that repair. A flavored milk (with the added real sugar) will go down easy for most even if you are not particularly hungry after a workout.  Fat provides added calories, may help decrease inflammation and provides valuable cell restoration.

Not everyone can tolerate dairy. Flavored soy milk is also a good alternative. Other non-dairy milks often do not provide either enough protein or carbohydrates to match cow or soy milk.  If you can tolerate food, nothing is as easy or portable as a PBJ sandwich on whole wheat with jam.

Other options which can work?

  • Banana with trail mix or peanut butter and water
  • A fancy latte with sugar and milk with some nuts or a snack bar
  • Cheese and crackers
  • graham crackers and peanut butter
  • eggs and toast/egg sandwich
  • cold cereal and milk
  • fruit smoothie with protein

Eat or drink your recovery fuel ideally within 30 minutes after finishing and then eat again in about 2 hours to speed recovery.

Most important, don’t get so caught up in the what or exact fuel and concentrate simply getting something in.

 

 

 

 

 

Danger ahead!

 It’s that time. That time when the garden is calling. Or scrubbing the deck is on the agenda. Or cleaning out the basement takes top priority.

Danger!

Sure you can run for 10 miles or bike for 20 miles, but can you garden for 3 hours? Your body may tell you no and in no uncertain terms.

When spring chores are taking precedent, remember some basics. You aren’t ready for hours and hours of heavy gardening or moving a load of mulch. Just like you ease into longer distances with training, you should ease into yard work and other more intense household chores. Make sure to take breaks and, if you can, spread the work out over some days. If you know you’ll be hitting the chores hard, it’s a great time to take a cut back week with training.

You can do it all but pacing yourself well (just like in a race) pays off!

 

Your own worst enemy

Happy Spring!

Spring is here and we are feeling the excitment in the air!  It’s great to have more light, better temperatures (sometimes!) and those goal events coming up.

As hard as it is to remember, this is the time to focus on the long term goals instead of the short term satisfaction.

  • Are you pushing too hard in a workout with a possible injury when you have a goal race in the next weeks or months?
  • Are you choosing to get a workout in when your body may need some extra recovery?

Part of being the best athlete you can be is learning when to push and when to back off. This goes back to making those hard days hard and understanding when taking a few days or even a week of recovery can make a huge difference in a training cycle.

If you are getting signs that an injury niggle is developing into something serious (does it bother you more often when not working out) or when real life stress is taking a toll, plan to take some days off or keep workouts short and easier. Focus on recovery. This means you should be eating well, aiming for more sleep and doing the self care which works for you. After a few days of planned active recovery, ease back into training and you’ll be amazed at how refreshed you can feel.