Winter running

 

You CAN run through the winter!

We had a good taste of winter here in Wisconsin just last week when we got wind chills, if not temperatures, in the single digits. Winter is on its way. That means, for many of us in the northern hemisphere, the joys of winter running! Yes, I mean that with a minimal amount of sarcasm. Sure, there are struggles but there are a lot of good aspects to winter running. Now, though, I’d like to dispel a few myths about running in winter and discuss how we can make winter running in the great outdoors as safe and comfortable as possible. Continue reading “Winter running”

Why your training log matters

In whatever form, keep a training log!

“Why do I have to keep a training log?”

That’s a question I often hear. The runners I coach get it. It’s our key medium of communication. You let me know how you’re responding to the training, I learn about you and what works for you from that, then I adjust your training accordingly.

But what if you don’t have a coach? Does the training log still matter?

Yes! Continue reading “Why your training log matters”

Continuous improvement

In the business world, there’s the concept of continuous improvement. No matter how well things are going, you can always find ways to do even better. If you stop improving, your competitors will pass you.

I strongly believe this philosophy also applies to running. If you’re not constantly striving to improve, you’re losing ground on your competitors. Not concerned about competition? If you’re not looking for a better way, how are you going to keep improving to achieve your goals? Continue reading “Continuous improvement”

Unexpected result? Now what?

Yannick Asselin 2010 05 30

Did you recently run a race and surprise yourself? Or did you run a workout that you didn’t expect to go the way it did? What do you do when this happens?

First, don’t over react. A good result is a good sign, it doesn’t mean everything will now come easy. A bad result may signify a problem but it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to failure.

Let’s break down how we should handle an unexpected result from best case scenario to worst case scenario.
Continue reading “Unexpected result? Now what?”

What I learned from 878 days

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

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Oops, not that kind of streaking!

Recently, I was out on a planned 10 mile run when, about 3.5 miles in, the driver of a truck decided to play chicken with me. With no shoulder and no safe place to go off the pavement, I got as close to the edge of the pavement as I could and hoped the driver wouldn’t be homicidal. Fortunately, he wasn’t.

About a half mile later, while running downhill, I felt something in my ankle. Just one step, like I stepped wrong, so I kept going. Shortly after, it came back and was there for every step. I stopped at 4.13 miles. Continue reading “What I learned from 878 days”

When should I run my first marathon?

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

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Shortly before the finish of my first marathon in 2002

This is a question posed by many new runners. It seems like such a straightforward question. Unfortunately, the answer is not as straightforward and, honestly, not what most beginning runners want to hear.

First, there is the question of what your goals in running are and may be in the future. Very few people run a marathon in their first few years of running and go on to reach their ultimate racing potential.

Second, age is a factor. There are countless stories of people running marathons in their teenage years, just to not keep improving beyond their early 20s. Considering the fact that many marathoners don’t reach their peak until their mid 30s, this doesn’t seem to be ideal.

Finally, there is previous exercise levels. Someone who never got off the couch before taking up running is going to take longer to become prepared for a marathon than someone who came from an athletic background, especially if that athletic background was in endurance sports.

What are your goals?

As I stated, the first question is of your goals. If you are not interested in trying to reach your racing potential and instead “just want to finish” a marathon, that is quite different than if you want to race marathons or other distances and want to try to reach your potential.

People who reach their full potential tend to build up to the marathon. They start with shorter races, like 5k and 10k, develop a good ability in those distances, then build up to 10 mile and half marathon type races, eventually possibly even working up to 25k, 30k, or 20 mile races. Once they have reached a high level in the shorter distances, they step up to the marathon. For many runners, their first marathon may come 10 or more years after they began running. Personally, my first marathon came after I had been running for nearly 12.5 years.

On the other hand, not everyone has goals like these. I still think it is a wise idea for anyone, regardless of goals, to build up to the marathon. I would love to say that nobody should run a marathon on less than 3 years of running but I know a lot of people don’t want to accept that. What I will say, and some people don’t even like this, is that you are not ready to run a marathon unless you have been consistently running for at least a year and have been building up for a marathon for at least 6 months.

Age – a touchy subject

Age is a much debated factor. Some people will tell you that a person should never run a marathon before the age of 25. Others will give stories about themselves or people they know who ran a marathon at 16 or 17 years old.

Personally, I fall more toward the first group, although I won’t give a definite age. To put it simply, I think a teenager has more to lose than gain by running a marathon. You have your whole life ahead of you to run marathons and you will be better prepared to run marathons if you wait a few more years.

As I said above, if you want to race marathons and push for your full potential, by all means, take your time. Many elite marathoners don’t run their first until they are in their late 20s or even early 30s. Even if you don’t want to race, your body will be more ready to handle the stress a marathon puts on it if you give it more time training.

Also, you shouldn’t look past the mental aspect. As a teenager, you are still mentally and physically maturing. The longer you give that mental and physical maturity to develop, the better your first marathon experience will be.

Experience matters

Finally, the experience factor. A lot of experienced marathoners take heat on this topic, in large part because of training groups that advertise that a person can go from inactive to running a marathon in 6 months or, recently, even 12 weeks.

I’m sorry to inform you but the large majority of people who try this come out of it with a bad experience in the closing miles. Sure, maybe they say it was the accomplishment of a lifetime but ask them how the last few miles felt. I’ve heard many torture stories.

Marathoning doesn’t have to hurt that badly if you give yourself adequate time for training. My suggestion is to not even think about running a marathon on less than a year of consistent running. I would love to say more but I know most people will just ignore my suggestions if I do. You need to give your body time to adapt to the stresses of running. Going from 0 to 26.2 in even a year’s time is a tall order for anyone. Doing so in 6 months time is playing with fire. Doing so in 12 weeks is downright dangerous. Once again, if your goal is racing or trying to become the fastest you can become, consider taking much longer.

In the end, only you can decide what time is right for you to do your first marathon. I stated my feelings on it here and I hope you will consider what I have to say. Weigh all the advice you are given, who it is coming from, what they stand to gain or lose by your following their advice, and make an informed decision.

One question to ask yourself every day

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

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Just a quick post this week. I want you to ask yourself one question today. Then ask the same question every day from now on.

What am I doing today to make myself better?

Sometimes the answer should be a workout that will accomplish a specific purpose. Sometimes it will be an easy run to recover from a prior workout or prepare for a coming workout. Sometimes it will be a rest day. Whatever the case, you should be doing something every day to make yourself a better runner. I want you to think about that every day and think about how you can best accomplish that.

Then execute the plan to the best of your ability.