» Mario Fraioli Your Online Source for Running Sun, 19 Apr 2015 02:01:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Fernando Cabada Aiming For A Boston Breakthrough Sat, 18 Apr 2015 00:00:47 +0000

Cabada on his way to victory at the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon San Francisco last month. Photo:

The 32-year-old is feeling relaxed and confident heading into his second Boston Marathon.

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Cabada on his way to victory at the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon San Francisco last month. Photo:

The 32-year-old is feeling relaxed and confident heading into his second Boston Marathon.

Anxiety is beginning to take its toll on a barbate Fernando Cabada ahead of Monday’s Boston Marathon.

“I think the thing I’m going to be stressing about the whole weekend is if I should keep the beard or not,” quipped Cabada at Friday’s elite athlete press conference. “I might need to keep it because I’m going to have to be like an animal out there on the course.”

Cabada started growing the beard about two months ago and, fearing that shaving it might lead to a Samson-like demise before his biggest race of the year, he’s left it alone since—and with good reason.

The 32-year-old Newton-sponsored athlete from Fresno, Calif., has quietly posted a string of solid results so far in 2015. In February, he placed fourth at the Gasparilla Half Marathon in 1:03:59 and on March 15, he finished 14th amongst a highly competitive field at NYC Half, running 1:03:23 in windy conditions. Two weeks after racing in the Big Apple, Cabada used the hilly Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon San Francisco as his final long tuneup race for Boston and won easily in a course-record 1:06:25. A week later he raced 10,000m on the track at Stanford, clocking a swift 28:32, only 7 seconds off his personal best. Logging seven 100-plus mile weeks in the 12 weeks leading up to Monday’s race, Cabada feels he’s fitter than he’s ever been coming into his ninth year as a professional athlete.

“I’ve kind of wanted to do it Rocky style,” Cabada said of his approach to training and racing this spring. “I’ve got this big race coming up and I’ve been very disciplined, very focused.”

PHOTOS: American Elites Talk At 2015 Boston Marathon Press Conferences

Over the past 16 months, Cabada has gotten his career—and his life—back on track, kicking off 2014 with a 1:02:00 personal best in the half marathon and finishing the year with a marathon PB of 2:11:36 at Berlin. After bouncing between Boulder, Colo., and Big Bear, Calif., Cabada moved back to his hometown of Fresno last year and reunited with his former coach, Brad Hudson, at the start of 2015. He says he feels more grounded, focused and motivated than ever before.

“It’s been great to go back to where it all started,” Cabada says of the move back to the Central Valley, “and it’s reminded me why I even got started in the first place. It feels really great to do my best to serve as a role model and help inspire the next generation to do positive things and not set so many limits.”

RELATED: Fernando Cabada Is On The Rise Again

One of those people Cabada has inspired is his cousin, Chris Velez, an organic farmer who lives in nearby in Auberry, Calif. Velez took up running a couple years ago after watching his cousin compete and, with Cabada’s help, went from barely being able to run for 10 minutes to clocking a 1:37:44 half marathon last month in San Francisco. Cabada says it’s been inspiring to witness the 39-year-old Velez transform himself into a totally different person, and athlete.

“[Running] has helped him become a better husband and a better father,” says Cabada, who also credits running for helping him turn his own life around. “He’s so inspired and eager to learn and improve. He’s like a freshman trying to make varsity. It’s a big motivation for me.”

Cabada will take that motivation—along with the momentum of his recent success—to the starting line of his second Boston Marathon on Monday, where he’ll be part of a strong American lineup along with Meb Keflezighi, Dathan Ritzenhein, Nick Arciniaga, Matt Tegenkamp, Jeffrey Eggleston and others. He finished a disappointing 16th in his first go at Boston in 2013, running 2:18:23, but feels relaxed, confident and ready for a beard-powered breakthrough heading into this year’s race.

“I’m more prepared, more experienced and know what to expect,” Cabada says. “I’m really excited to be here and I’m feeling good.”

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Amy Cragg Hoping For A Memorable Boston Debut Fri, 17 Apr 2015 18:57:14 +0000

Amy Cragg will make her Boston debut on Monday. Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor

The 31-year-old comes into this year's Boston Marathon riding a wave of momentum after scratching from last year's race.

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Amy Cragg will make her Boston debut on Monday. Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor

The 31-year-old comes into this year’s Boston Marathon riding a wave of momentum after scratching from last year’s race.

After experiencing an extended patch of turbulence following her 11th place finish in the 10,000m at 2012 Olympic Games, Amy Cragg is happy to be riding smooth air again.

Cragg, formerly Amy Hastings, will make her Boston Marathon debut on Monday. The Brooks-sponsored athlete, who married Irish Olympian Alistair Cragg last fall, scratched a couple weeks before the 2014 race, saying that her training wasn’t where it needed to be in order to be competitive. That disappointing decision followed a rough go at the 2013 New York City Marathon just five months before, where she gutted out a 2:42:50 finish—well off the 2:27:03 personal best she set in her debut at the 2011 L.A. Marathon.

But Cragg, who lives in nearby Providence and is coached by Ray Treacy, the Providence College cross country and track coach who also mentors New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith and American 5,000m record holder Molly Huddle, has bounced back in a big way over the past 12 months. She got started at the Peachtree Road Race in July, running 32:16 to capture the national 10K title, and followed that up by matching her marathon personal best with a fifth-place finish at the Chicago Marathon in October.

“This is my second race in a four-part plan,” Cragg says of Monday’s Boston Marathon. “Chicago was to get back on track. The next three races—Boston, the Olympic Trials and hopefully the Olympic Games—the goal is to improve a little bit in each race. If I can do that, I think I can make an Olympic team and be really competitive on the international level at the Olympics. If I improve, even if it’s not necessarily a faster time or better place, but I know it’s my best race so far, I’ll be really happy.”

RELATED: Competitor’s 2015 Boston Marathon Coverage

Coming into Boston, Cragg’s 2014 momentum continues to pick up steam. The 31-year-old Arizona State graduate kicked off her year with a 1:12:04 win at the P.F. Changs Rock ’n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon in January, and then added another national title to her impressive resume last month at the Gate River 15K in Jacksonville, topping U.S. cross-country champion Laura Thweatt by 32 seconds.

“Her Boston buildup has gone smoothly because she’s been able to preempt any hiccups,” her husband says. “She’s a totally different athlete than she was a year ago.”

Since returning to Providence in March from a spring training stint in Arizona, Cragg has made six or seven trips to the Boston area to preview various sections of the course, familiarizing herself with every undulation, turn and landmark along the iconic point-to-point layout.

“The first time you race a course it’s kind of nerve-racking,” Cragg admits. “But I’ve been able to come train on it and hopefully know the course well enough where I’ll be more worried about my competitors than the course itself. I feel like I know it really well.”

On recent weekends, she shared the roads with area running clubs and charity teams who were out doing their own recon work, exchanging high fives and fist bumps while feeding off the energy of a marathon-crazed community.

“The Boston Marathon is huge wherever you are in the United States,” Cragg says. “But in New England, it’s just a different feel. Months out people start getting excited for Boston. It is the race here.”

On Monday, Cragg will line up against a loaded elite field consisting of 12 women with personal bests faster than her own, including Marblehead, Mass., native Shalane Flanagan, who finished fourth and seventh at Boston the past two years, and Desiree Linden, Cragg’s college teammate who nearly pulled off the win on Boylston Street in 2011 and finished 10th here last year. Former champions Sharon Cherop and Caroline Kilel are also in the field, along with last year’s top returning finisher Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia. It’s the type of place-over-pace situation Cragg relishes being in as an aggressive competitor who has a penchant for being at her best in championship-style races.

“If I can be there at the end I think it’s anyone’s race, but I definitely wouldn’t discount myself in that situation,” Cragg says. “I would absolutely just go for it.”

PHOTOS: 2015 Boston Marathon Press Conferences

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Desiree Linden Looking To Add To Her Boston Résumé Thu, 16 Apr 2015 05:45:57 +0000

Desiree Linden (née Davila) was oh-so-close at the 2011 Boston Marathon. (Photo:

The gritty 31-year-old is back to see if she can improve upon her 2011 runner-up finish.

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Desiree Linden (née Davila) was oh-so-close at the 2011 Boston Marathon. (Photo:

The gritty 31-year-old is back to see if she can improve upon her 2011 runner-up finish. 

At the 2011 Boston Marathon, Desiree Linden had everyone out of their seats as she charged the final 600 meters to the finish line on Boylston Street, including rival coach and former Boston marathon champion Alberto Salazar, who was watching the race on a big screen TV in the media room at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.

Salazar, who was coaching Kara Goucher—the fifth-place finisher in the 2011 race—at the time, hollered with enthusiasm at the television set along with dozens of other onlookers as the Hansons-Brooks athlete ran stride for stride toward the finish line with Kenyan Caroline Kilel. Although Linden came up just short of the win, losing to Kilel by a mere 2 seconds, that exciting moment fostered a sense of optimism that the next American female victory isn’t far away.

“If you can win in Boston, that pretty much makes you a legend as an American, so it’d be nice to have that one on my résumé,” Linden says. “It really is the marathon.”

Linden is returning to Boston this year after placing ninth last year in 2:23:54, a time that would have put her on the podium most years. She makes up a strong American trio that also includes last year’s top American and seventh-place overall finisher Shalane Flanagan, along with a resurgent Amy Hastings—Linden’s college teammate at Arizona State—who was the fourth-place finisher at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon and has been tearing up the U.S. road circuit since last summer.

For Linden, Monday’s race will be her fourth crack at the iconic Patriots’ Day race, an event which undoubtedly holds a special place in her heart. She made her marathon debut at Boston in 2007, running 2:44:56 to finish 19th. She’s improved in leaps and bounds since that day 8 years ago, but it’s the pursuit of the top spot on the podium, along with an unmatched history and energy along the course, that continues to pull at her like a magnet.

“The history of the race, the competition, the course, the fans—all of that is really appealing, especially for someone who considers herself a marathoner,” the 31-year-old says. “If you can have success there, it definitely keeps you coming back.”

Heading into the 2015 race, Linden says she’s close to the form she displayed in 2011, no doubt a result of her longest injury-free stretch of training and racing since being forced to the sidelines for several months with a stress fracture before the 2012 Olympic Games. This spring, she spent five weeks training in Kenya, where she stayed at Lornah Kiplgat’s High Altitude Training Camp for the second straight year and logged miles with other top athletes training in the area.

“It was motivating to get back out there and re-fall in love with running,” recalls Linden. “This year I was really familiar with everything. It was good to have a few different training partners and I think I just had a better grasp on what I needed to do day-to-day to make sure I was really recovering from my workouts. It all kind of fit together really well.”

After returning from Kenya, Linden spent some time training with her Hansons-Brooks teammates in Florida before racing the NYC Half on March 15—her only tuneup race before Boston—where she finished 12th in 1:12:36. “I felt strong but never quite got my legs under me,” Linden says of her race in The Big Apple. “And that wasn’t necessarily the worst thing because we were tired and we still had a handful of big workouts left.”

Linden went to Boston for a few days after the New York race and did runs of 13, 20 and 15 miles over the final parts of the Boston Marathon course, visualizing what it would be like to be in contention again over the last few miles of the race.

“It was good to just refresh,” Linden explains. “I feel like I’ve been out there so much now that I’m familiar with what’s going on no matter where I am on the course.”

Following her solid showing at last year’s race, Linden returns to Boston in 2015 feeling like the Desi of old: healthy, confident and ready for whatever her competition—and the course—throw her way on Monday. Lining up against a strong American and international field, Linden hopes she can once again be the reason people are back on the edge of their seats when the lead women make the turn onto Boylston Street—this time with a slightly different result.

“Going into last year I wasn’t super confident but this year I feel like I’m moving like myself and my stride and turnover feel great,” Linden says. “I’ve been really consistent on workouts and I’m excited. Getting so close to winning in 2011 and having that taste of what it might be like to break the tape there keeps me coming back to see if I can improve on that finish.”

RELATED: Photos: The Boston Marathon Through the Years

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Athletics Kenya Suspends Top Athletes’ Agents Mon, 13 Apr 2015 17:16:08 +0000

Several large training camps have been organized by European agents and coaches throughout the Rift Valley. Photo:

Foreign agents cannot work in the country for at least six months while investigations are taking place.

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Several large training camps have been organized by European agents and coaches throughout the Rift Valley. Photo:

Athletics Kenya, the governing body that presides over Kenya’s top track and road racing stars, has suspended some of their star distance runners’ European agents from working in the country for six months so investigations into recent doping convictions and allegations can be carried out, according to an AP report on Monday.

The two agencies suspended are Volare Sports, a Gerard van Der Veen-led agency based in the Netherlands, and Rosa & Associati, an Italian firm. Volare’s clients include marathon world-record holder Dennis Kimetto and former world-record holder and reigning New York City Marathon champion Wilson Kipsang, as well as Geoffrey Mutai, the 2011 Boston and New York City Marathon champion and course-record holder at both of those events. Caroline Kilel, the 2011 Boston Marathon champion who is expected to be on the starting line next Monday in Hopkinton, is also a Volare client.

Federico Rosa, who has been representing Kenyan athletes since 1996 and has several training camps set up in the country, was the agent for the recently suspended Rita Jeptoo, who is serving a two-year doping ban after failing an out-of-competition drug test prior to winning last fall’s Chicago Marathon. He also represents Jemima Sumgong, Jeptoo’s training partner, who in 2012 failed a drug test for prednisolone (that was later reversed) and formerly served as the agent for Mathew Kisorio, a sub-59 minute half marathoner who tested positive for steroids in 2012.

RELATED: Exclusive Interview with Federico Rosa

Rosa told in an exclusive interview last fall that there is “absolutely” a doping problem in Kenya. He went on to say, “When I used to work back in the late 90s, early 2000s, it was really difficult to convince an athlete to take even a tablet for fever or bring [them] to a hospital. It was a completely different mentality. Right now it’s completely changed because a situation like races in China where there is no doping (control), $40,000 for winning, athletes will go.”

Earlier this year Rosa reportedly followed through on his promise to institute regular blood testing for all his Kenyan athletes, bringing a blood testing machine to Kenya in January. That month, it was announced that the World Marathon Majors organization pledged support for a new anti-doping agency in East Africa, where on-site testing has been virtually non-existent in the past two decades.

MORE: Press

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Ryan Bak Crashing the Lake Sonoma 50 Party on Saturday Thu, 09 Apr 2015 18:58:23 +0000

Bak finished second at last month's Way Too Cool 50K. Photo: Mario Fraioli | Competitor

The 33-year-old from Bend will be making his 50-mile debut.

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Bak finished second at last month's Way Too Cool 50K. Photo: Mario Fraioli | Competitor

Saturday’s Lake Sonoma 50 is one of the most competitive early season 50-milers in the U.S., annually attracting a deep field of top athletes to the rugged off-road course 10 miles northwest of Healdsburg, Calif.

This year’s men’s race will be no different. While two of the top three finishers from 2014—reigning champion Zach Miller and third-place finisher Sage Canaday—won’t be running, last year’s runner-up, Rob Krar, will be. The 37-year-old trail ace from Flagstaff leads a talented field that also includes Alex Varner, who finished fourth at Lake Sonoma in 2014, as well as jack-of-all-trades Max King, the 2014 IAU 100K world champion who ran an Olympic Trials qualifying time of 2:17:30 at the L.A. Marathon last month. Tim Tollefson, the 2014 U.S. 50K champion who finished eighth in his 50-mile debut last December at The North Face Endurance Challenge, will also be on the starting line, as will Michael Aish, who finished right behind Tollefson at North Face and took second to Krar at the Leadville 100.

A late addition to this year’s men’s field is Ryan Bak of Bend, Ore. Bak, who along with Varner and Tollefson is a member of the Nike Trail Elite team, finished second to Patrick Smyth at last month’s Way Too Cool 50K, clocking a fast 3:10:20 finish against a talented field. The 33-year-old, who works full-time as a real estate broker, is one of the best pure runners in the field. After a brief retirement from competition in 2009 and 2010, Bak returned to racing in 2011, clocking an impressive 2:14:17 marathon debut at Cal International. His robust racing resume includes shorter distance PBs of 13:35 for 5,000m (2008) and 48:44 for 10 miles (2012). He also represented the U.S. at the world cross-country championships in 2008.

RELATED: 3 Key Workouts for Ultramarathoners

Bak, who says he would still like to try and qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, has shifted his focus to mountain, trail and ultra running in recent years, posting some solid results at the 50K distance and below. He finished second to Tollefson at last fall’s national 50K championships in Bend, and is “excited and confident…but also scared out of my mind” heading into his first 50-mile race on Saturday. caught up with Bak in Bend earlier this week to discuss Lake Sonoma, his transition to trail and ultrarunning and where he sees the competitive side of the sport heading in the coming years.

Lake Sonoma is on Saturday and you’ve managed to fly under the radar as far as top entrants go. Where does this race fit into your 2015 season?

It’s really my early-season focus race. I’m still shaping up the whole schedule with a desire to get a marathon Trials time and I’m still trying to figure out when I’m going to do that and at what distance, whether I’ll just go for the half or do a full marathon. Lake Sonoma is just one of those races where a lot of the good guys in the U.S. show up there every year and it’s a great early season race. And I don’t like to hide from competition. I race because I love to compete. Lake Sonoma is a race that I flew under the radar for because I got into it late. Part of that had to do with a sponsorship switch and there were some different focus races a previous sponsor wanted me to do. When I made the switch I got to pick my own schedule and that was great.

You kicked off your season last month at Way Too Cool, finishing a solid second to your Nike trail teammate Patrick Smyth. Way Too Cool is known as a fast course and is very runnable, which certainly suits your strengths as someone who’s run fast on the track and the roads. How did you feel about that effort and what did it tell you with Lake Sonoma on the horizon?

I feel good about how Way Too Cool went. To be completely honest it was early for me. I missed a lot of time this winter with a nagging cartilage thing in my ankle and I was only five weeks into running on a consistent basis, 5 to 8 runs a week, and had done a couple workouts. So I went into it knowing it was a longer early season race. And yes, it’s a fast, runnable course that suits my strengths, but I wasn’t expecting to run really fast. I was just hoping to go there and compete and kind of test my fitness and see where it was—and it went a lot better than I thought it would. Obviously in every race you want to win, but I’ll take a beating from Pat Smyth on a course like that when he’s fit because it suits someone like him as well. He’s a great marathoner and obviously Patrick was fit because he did darn well at the U.S. cross country championships and put a solid run in at world cross too. Conditions were good at Way Too Cool, and it’s a trail race so it’s hard to compare times, but I definitely ran faster than I thought I would going in, so I came out of it with a nice confidence boost. My fitness was better than I thought it was and I got right back to training and put in a really good week afterward. I put in a nice 4-hour run the next weekend and I’ve been trying to alternate doing a slower long run one weekend with longer runs that will have a workout mixed into them. Knock on wood, those have been going well and week after week my fitness has been boosted a little bit. I feel excited and confident heading into Lake Sonoma but also scared out of my mind at the same time.

You’re not too far removed from your 2:14 marathon PR, you’ve had some success at longer distances on the trails and you just mentioned trying to get a Trials qualifier for 2016. What kind of runner is Ryan Bak in 2015?

I’m a fast hobby jogger [he laughs]. From a running standpoint, I see myself as a trail athlete that is intrigued by shorter ultras. I mean, I won’t rule out doing something longer than a 50 miler in the future but I haven’t wrapped my mind around it yet. There’s something that’s very intriguing to me about trail races and different terrain. I’ve had enough mind-numbing days running around the track and I love just getting out and being on a trail and seeing something new. And you know, there’s such a community behind it that once you get involved in trail running it’s hard to not love it. And yes, I still have aspirations to do a few road races and try to run faster in the marathon because I think I’m capable of it, but I see myself as a trail runner first and foremost.

You’ve been in Bend going on five years now, during which time a lot of athletes have also chosen to make it their home. What’s so special about the athletic community here?

It’s an amazing athletic community and it’s the kind of place where your next door neighbor who you don’t even know is probably an Olympian of some sort. And there’s a lot of high-level athletes here but it’s very welcoming and not pretentious at all. People here are humble and they just kind of go about their business and enjoy their sports and enjoy the outdoors and it creates a really cool vibe in the community.

Looking back at your career, how has your training evolved as your racing focus and various things in your life have changed?

A lot of things have changed. Even just the role running and racing has played at different periods of my life has changed quite a bit. [Running and racing] is very much something I’m passionate about but it’s fallen down the ladder of importance in my life. But, you know, it’s still something I love to do and something I want to be competitive at and obviously the different places I’ve been and different things I’ve been doing in my life have changed quite a bit. What I do now for training feels like I’m not running or not even training compared to when I was doing really hard stuff on the track or even just a few years ago trying to do some marathons. My volume is a lot lower but I still put in some key workouts and key long runs and I think there is something to a lifetime volume of training that you’ve done. I know my body better now. I know what I need to do to get fit, to be at a certain level. And it’s always easier to get back to a point than it was to get there in the first place. Knowing that and actually realizing that it’s important to listen to your body is key, too. I think most of us who have trained in competitive environments know it’s easy to do a little bit too much. It’s easy to get a little bit over the top, get run down or push through a nagging injury that maybe just needed two days off and might have salvaged your season. But those are the things you learn when you get old and you’ve been through it many times. I mean, I’m still not the healthiest person in the world as far as how my body holds up but I do listen to it now, which is good, and that enables me to still get out there and be competitive. If I hadn’t learned that I’d be broken and not running.

Trail and ultrarunning has gotten significantly more competitive in recent years and you’re someone who is representative of that shift. As a guy who has come into the sport and had an immediate impact, where do you see trail and ultrarunning going in the next few years as more fast track and road guys get into the sport?

As the years go by I only see it getting more and more competitive—and that’s exciting. I think it’s one of those sports that once someone realizes that these races are out there, they go compete in an event, experience the atmosphere, see that it’s a really welcoming community and it’s really exciting. There are more challenges out there than just how fast you can run around the track or on the roads. Trail running isn’t necessarily about times, it’s about competing. It’s about enjoying the environment and the people around you. It’s exciting to see the sport growing and the top end of the sport getting faster. I know there’s some mixed feelings about that amongst the purists and I’ve gotten the sense from some folks in the trail community that if you ran fast on the track or ran fast on the roads that you won’t be good at longer distances on the trails. And maybe that’s the case with some people, but I think if you’re an athlete that has a propensity to train hard but can also learn things from your training and adapt your training to what your goal is, then I don’t see why fast shorter distance runners can’t be successful on the trails and in ultras.

RELATED: Ultrarunning 101: How to Get Started

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5 Places To Run In…Boston Mon, 06 Apr 2015 05:17:44 +0000

Running along the Charles River provides stunning views of Boston's skyline. Photo:

If you're visiting Beantown, here are five must-run routes in and around the city:

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Running along the Charles River provides stunning views of Boston's skyline. Photo:

Despite its harsh winters, Boston is a year-round running city, anchored by the strength of a deep racing history, a diverse variety of running routes and a strong club scene. From the famed Newton Hills on the historic Boston Marathon course to the flat, but densely populated bike path along the Charles River, runners have a myriad of incredible options at their disposal in Massachusetts’ largest city.

If you’re visiting Beantown, here are five must-run routes in and around the city:

The Charles River Bike Path

Known affectionately as “The Rivah” by locals, the Charles River Bike Path is perhaps the most popular—and easily accessible—running route in the city. The paved path runs along both sides of the river, and passes through parts of Boston, Watertown, Waltham and Cambridge with plenty of access points. You can run out and back for as long as you desire, and numerous bridges allow you to cross from one side to the other to create loops of varying lengths. A full loop from the Museum of Science in Boston to Watertown Square will get you 17-18 miles. The path tends to get busy in the warmer months with runners, walkers and cyclists all taking advantage of its skyline views of the city, so heading out early is your best bet to beat the crowds.

The Emerald Necklace

The popular B.A.A. Half Marathon runs along this route every fall, but you can explore it on your own at any time of the year. The Emerald Necklace is a series of winding, paved paths that begins near Downtown Crossing in Boston, runs along the Boston/Brookline border and heads into Jamaica Plain. It ends at the southern part of the Arnold Arboretum in Roslindale. You’ll get about 7 miles by running point-to-point, but you can turn around anytime (or jump on the T to get back to your hotel) to meet your mileage needs.

Jamaica Pond

Boston Marathon legend Bill Rodgers logged many laps around this tiny body of water in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, which is also part of the aforementioned Emerald Necklace. Only 1-1/2 miles around, Jamaica Pond is a paved loop popular with runners and walkers. You can incorporate a lap of the pond as part of a run along the Emerald Necklace, or you could follow in Rodgers’ footsteps and run from Cleveland Circle (where he used to own a running store) to the pond, run a lap, and head back for a nice 6-mile run.

Newton Hills Carriage Road

The carriage road is the narrower, less trafficked road that parallels Commonwealth Avenue along the infamous Newton Hills of the Boston Marathon course. Throughout the year you’ll see runners running up and down the carriage roads toward Boston College, which sits near the 21-mile mark of the historic point-to-point marathon route. From downtown Boston, run west on Beacon Street toward Cleveland Circle (or take a cab to Boston College if you don’t want to run too far). At Cleveland Circle, head up Chestnut Hill Avenue toward Boston College. From BC, you can run 3-5 miles on the carriage road along Commonwealth Avenue toward Wellesley before turning around and finishing with some challenging ups and downs back to your starting point.

Brookline and Chestnut Hill Reservoirs

Looping one of these bodies of waters once doesn’t get you much mileage, but running a few laps of each makes for a fun run that will technically take you through Brookline, Newton and Boston. Starting at the Brookline Reservoir, which is at the intersection of Lee St. and Route 9 in Brookline, run a lap (or 2, or 3) of the crushed gravel path around reservoir, which measures  just shy of a mile. From the “Brookline Res” as it’s known by locals, take the sidewalks down Chestnut Hill Ave., toward Cleveland Circle and Boston College, where you will encounter the “Chestnut Hill Res,” a 1-1/2 mile dirt loop that is popular with walkers and runners, including many of Boston’s competitive club teams who use the path for speed workouts on weeknights and weekend mornings.

RELATED: 5 Places to Run In…San Francisco

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Ultra Sports Live. TV Launches Real-Time Tracking Technology Thu, 02 Apr 2015 18:27:05 +0000

The company's aim is to broaden the scope of endurance sports event coverage while providing race directors a new level of safety.

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The company’s aim is to broaden the scope of endurance sports event coverage while providing race directors a new level of safety. 

Keeping track of a runner during a long-distance race is no easy task, even with the widespread used of chip timing at events and the prevalence of GPS-based wearable technology. UltraSportsLive. TV, a media and technology platform whose goal is to revolutionize the way endurance sports are viewed, is taking runner tracking to the next level with the launch of a proprietary tracking technology to complement their live video streaming of races—which, to this point, have been focused on ultra-distance trail events.

“In short, the tracking in conjunction with the video were the crucial components to interactive viewing,” says Mike Cloward, co-founder and CEO of Ultra Sports Live. TV, who noted that his company will expand their coverage to include road races beginning at the San Luis Obispo Marathon and Half Marathon on April 26, 2015. “We immediately saw the need for a viewer to have the ability to see participants nearing a camera location and then being able to click on that camera location and watch the participants pass through.”

The technology made its soft debut at the Way Too Cool 50K in March, where 35 runners wore the tracking chip embedded in a bracelet on their wrists. The chip, which weighs 33 grams (half the weight of most GPS watches) and can be worn anywhere on the body, has a 30-hour battery life and currently displays the number of miles run as well as the runner’s current moving pace. Plans to add more trackable bio analytics such as heart rate, body temperature and cadence are in the works, Cloward says. The tracking technology sits on a worldwide satellite network and is claimed to work in any environment, anywhere on the planet.

Aside from being able to track race leaders or your favorite runner and knowing when they’re approaching an USL.TV camera on course, the live-tracking technology delivers a heightened level of safety for race directors, providing accurate location updates every 60 seconds, which will show if a runner has stopped or gone off course. “The race director will now know exactly where everyone is on the course—not just when they arrive at aid stations,” explains Cloward, who says that all runners participating in The Canyons 100K in Foresthill Calif., in May will be required to wear the tracking chip. “RDs will be able to make sure everyone is on course and they’ll also be able to identify runners who have stopped moving, which may or may not signal an injury or other issues.”

Cloward believes the adoption of the live tracking technology, in conjunction with live streaming coverage, will change the way endurance events are covered, bringing fans, family and friends closer to the action than ever before and allowing them to experience races on an elevated, interactive level.

“Ultimately, our goal is to capture the majestic nature of the courses and the names and faces of the athletes as they interact in that environment,” says Cloward. “Live video in unison with the live tracking will bring the competition between the athletes to a new level as you watch them jockey and strategize for position.”

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4 Tips for Buying Trail Running Shoes Tue, 31 Mar 2015 16:25:12 +0000

Keep these pointers in mind when you make your next purchase.

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Picking the right shoe for running off-road is a little different than picking a high-mileage trainer or a racing flat. In addition to a proper fit, you should also consider trail terrain, weather conditions and the type of running you’ll be doing. For some expert insight, we checked in with Jorge Maravilla, a two-time national champion trail runner and the general manager of San Francisco Running Company in Mill Valley, Calif.

Trail Shoes Fit Differently

A trail shoe should fit snugly around the midfoot/arch area and provide a locked-down feeling in the heel to eliminate any lifting or shifting over uneven terrain. In the forefoot, make sure there is at least a thumb’s-width of space between the tip of your toes and the end of the shoe.

Cushion Depends on Preference

The amount of cushioning is a balance between how much you want to feel the trail and how much protection and softness you want under your foot. Effective cushioning reduces the impact on the body, but it’s always a great idea to have trail shoes with a variety of cushioning levels, just as we do in training on the road or track.

RELATED: 2015 Running Gear Guide: Trail Shoes

Trail Shoes Really are Different

You should always consider running with a trail shoe when you’re not running on pavement. They offer trail-specific protection, traction and accommodation to the varied terrain and conditions. Because road running shoes aren’t built for trails, they’ll tend to break down quicker and leave the foot exposed to sharp rocks and roots.

Traction Depends on Terrain and Sole Design

A shoe with knobby lugs on the outsole will greatly aid traction on loose dirt, gravel and sloppy, wet terrain, whereas lower-profile outsole lugs are ideal for less technical terrain and smooth dirt paths. For running on trails over boulders and rocks, look for a sticky rubber outsole.

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Fernando Cabada Tops Field (And Hills) At Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco Sun, 29 Mar 2015 21:14:35 +0000

Fernando Cabada runs all alone at the 9-mile mark with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Photo: Mario Fraioli | Competitor

Two-time defending champions Chris Mocko and Elle Pishny finish third and second, respectively.

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Fernando Cabada runs all alone at the 9-mile mark with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Photo: Mario Fraioli | Competitor

Two-time defending champions Chris Mocko and Elle Pishny finish third and second, respectively. 

SAN FRANCISCO — The road to Boston fittingly passed through hill-laden San Francisco on Sunday morning.

Fernando Cabada, one of the top American entrants in next month’s Boston Marathon, took home the overall title at the Transamerica Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon San Francisco, breaking the tape in a course-record 1 hour, 6 minutes and 25 seconds. In the women’s race, Tania Morimoto, also prepping for this year’s edition of the world’s oldest annual marathon, pulled away from her closest pursuers with five miles to go, taking home the win in 1:20:54.

The 32-year-old Cabada grabbed control of the race from the start, opening up a 10-second gap by the 1-mile mark (5:30) en route to his wire-to-wire win. Cabada rolled through 5K in 16:03, 38 seconds up on his closest pursuers, two-time defending champion Chris Mocko (3rd, 1:10:02) and Xavier Rodriguez (2nd, 1:09:44). At 10K (32:42), Cabada’s advantage had grown to 1:16 over Rodriguez and by 10 miles (50:38), he had added another minute to his already comfortable cushion. Heading up Polk Street just past 11 miles—the course’s final uphill section—Cabada focused on keeping his effort level in check so he could enjoy the screaming downhill finish into Civic Center Plaza.

“Today I just had fun out there,” said Cabada, who got a charge out of seeing his cousin, Chris Velez, running in the opposite direction on the Golden Gate Bridge just after Mile 7. “I really didn’t even worry about pace. I just wanted to break 1:07. Those hills were tough but I liked the way my body was feeling.”

Cabada, a Newton-sponsored athlete who lives and trains in his hometown of Fresno, Calif., has been quietly putting together a string of impressive race results over the past 15 months. In 2014, he clocked personal bests in the half marathon (1:02:00 at Houston in January) and marathon (2:11:36 at Berlin in September), and last month he finished 14th overall at the stacked and wind-stricken NYC Half in 1:03:23, giving him the confidence that he’s hitting his stride at the right time.

“I love racing here in California,” Cabada said. “It gives me a lot of pride to represent the Central Valley and represent California. This is where it all started for me. I’ve been away a long time but last year I came back for good and it’s been a lot of fun. In the past couple years I’ve been going in the right direction. I’m heading into the prime of my career and I just want to take advantage of it.”

In three weeks Cabada will line up for his second Boston Marathon (he finished 16th in 2:18:23 in 2013), where he’ll be part of a strong American lineup along with Meb Keflezighi, Dathan Ritzenhein, Nick Arciniaga, Matt Tegenkamp, Jeffrey Eggleston and others. Sunday’s race served as his final long tuneup before the April 20 race, where he hopes to reap the benefits of a solid training block laid out by his coach, Brad Hudson of Boulder, Colo., while continuing to steadily build momentum toward the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles just under 11 months from now.

“I’m tired of hearing myself talk about how good everything is going,” Cabada said. “I just want to go and race now and run how I know I’m capable of running [at Boston]. There’s 22 days until Boston and I feel confident. I’m excited to mix it up with everybody.”

Morimoto Wins Women’s Race

Women’s winner Tania Morimoto didn’t have time much time to talk following her 1:20:54 win at the Transamerica Rock ’n’ Roll San Francisco Half Marathon—she had another hour to go run after the race.

The Redwood City, Calif., resident and Stanford grad student, who says she just wants to “get out there and see what I can do” at Boston next month, put in a little surge coming off the Golden Gate Bridge right around Mile 8 to distance herself from two-time defending champion Elle Pishny of San Francisco. She hit the finish line at Civic Center Plaza 49 seconds ahead of Pishy, and was only 30 seconds off her personal best, set in 2013 at the much flatter Rock ’n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon.

“It was fun,” Morimoto, a member of the Strava Track Club, said of Sunday’s race. “The bridge was beautiful this morning. It was good to get a little tuneup and get on the start line and get that adrenaline going again. I felt pretty good.”

A field of 9,000 runners scaled the notorious hills of San Francisco for the third straight year. The scenic course starts on the Great Highway and makes its way through the Presidio before traversing the Golden Gate Bridge just over 4 miles into the race. Coming off the bridge at 8 miles, runners head toward Crissy Field and the Marina district before climbing Polk Avenue toward the finish line at Civic Center Plaza.

Transamerica Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon San Francisco Results

Top-5 Men

1. Fernando Cabada, 1:06:25.
2. Xavier Rodriguez, 1:09:44
3. Chris Mocko, 1:10:02
4. Matt Lenehan, 1:10:25
5. Benjamin Mears, 1:11:24

Top-5 Women

1. Tania Morimoto, 1:20:54
2. Elle Pishny, 1:21:43
3. Michelle Meyer, 1:25:26
4. Gemme Kenessy, 1:28:58
5. Shambra Clifford, 1:29:21

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The Inside Lane: Weight Off My Shoulders Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:11:49 +0000


Men don't like to talk about eating disorders, but that doesn't mean it's an issue that shouldn't be discussed.

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In December of 2004, I was messing around online when I stumbled upon “The Thin Men,” a lengthy piece Kevin Beck wrote a few years before for Running Times that went in-depth on the taboo topic of eating disorders among male distance runners. I was fresh out of college and, unbeknownst to me at the time, in some of the toughest stages of my own struggle with eating and body image. Beck’s piece really hit home. I was reluctant to admit to anyone—most importantly, myself—that I had a problem. Luckily, that article, along with a well-timed injury (sometimes they really are a blessing in disguise) and a lot of support from family and friends helped me to not only recognize the damage I was doing to myself, but also to take the steps toward turning around a bad situation.

Men don’t like to talk about eating disorders, but that doesn’t mean it’s an issue that shouldn’t be discussed. I know there are many other men (and women) in a similar situation to the one I found myself in as a Type-A 22-year-old, which is why I’m resurrecting (and updating) a 10-year-old blog entry and sharing my story here on Read it. Talk about it. Share it. You never know who it might help out. 

This story starts in May of 2004, shortly after I graduated from tiny Stonehill College in my native Massachusetts. The running joke amongst my family and friends was that I majored in cross country and minored in track. I was an NCAA Division II All-American in cross country and a national qualifier in track with personal bests of 4:09.77 for the mile and 14:39 for 5000m, both school records at the time. Those accomplishments weren’t going to land me a shoe contract, but I didn’t care. I decided to pull out all the stops and commit the next four years toward qualifying for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. Achieving that goal become the sole focus of my life, my raison d’etre.

In my first few months as a post-collegiate runner, I ran twice a day almost every day, tried to get at least eight hours of sleep every night, traversed soft trails at every opportunity, got regular massages and did pushups and situps after every run. You name it, I did it. If there was a box to check, I checked it—sometimes twice for good measure.

I also came to the conclusion that if I wanted to be an elite-level distance runner, I also needed to look the part. At 5 feet, 8 inches and 145 pounds, I hardly classified as being overweight, but dropping a little weight in order to more closely resemble the ectomorphic whippets I aspired to be like would surely keep me going in the right direction, right?

Wrong. The only direction I was heading spiraled downward, even if I didn’t know it.

So, in addition to training harder than I’d ever trained before, I worked on “improving” my diet. I cut calories, ate smaller (and fewer) meals, swore off snacking, refused dessert and made sure that I didn’t eat or drink after 8 p.m. For someone who was raised in an Italian household with an award-winning sweet tooth, this was a drastic behavioral shift. During this time, I also developed a mysterious lactose intolerance (self-diagnosed, of course), convinced myself I couldn’t digest meat anymore and drank more water than a Saudi Arabian camel. I counted every morsel that went in my body and capped my daily caloric intake at less than 2,000, usually far less, no matter how many miles I ran that day. All this just to drop a few pounds. Scary thing is, it worked.

That summer, after working part-time and running a slew of 100-mile weeks, I joined an upstart post-collegiate training group in Eugene, Ore., a small college town 3,000 miles away from home where I knew exactly no one. In the three months between graduating from college and moving out to Eugene, I successfully lost 15 pounds. Jenny Craig would’ve been proud. The only problem? I didn’t have 15 pounds to lose. And it didn’t stop there. In Eugene, where I had next to no money and very few friends, my downward spiral picked up steam. Instead of focusing on how fast I could go, or how many miles I could run, my main mission every day was to see how many calories I could burn. It became a game. I got more excited by seeing low numbers on the scale than I did by seeing faster splits on my watch.

Fast forward six weeks after my arrival in Eugene. Lonely, bored and broke, I packed my bags and returned home to Massachusetts weighing a famished 124 pounds. My family and friends barely recognized me. While people noticed changes in my eating habits and behaviors, the most common comment I received was usually along the lines of, “Wow! You look like you’ve been doing a lot of running.” Yes, I was doing a lot of running, but 10 miles wasn’t 10 miles, or even a good workout. No. Ten miles was roughly 1,000 calories burned, which is not how you want to be thinking if your real objective is to compete at a high level.

My downward spiral continued through the fall 2004 racing season. I joined a local club, kept up my 100-mile-per week regime, did regular speed workouts, jumped in a few races and performed poorly in most of them. I couldn’t figure out why I was racing so bad, but surmised it had to do with a training error of some sort. I also weighed myself three or more times a day, couldn’t fall asleep at night (and woke up starving when I did), continued to count every calorie, skipped some meals altogether and read every piece of nutritional literature—and food label—I could get my hands on. It all caught up with me at the end of November, however, when I started feeling some tightness in my left Achilles tendon. Naturally, I tried to run through it. A week later, I couldn’t run a step. In fact, my Achilles hurt so bad I couldn’t even wear shoes.

So, with all this newfound free time on my hands, I needed to find a way to fill the voids not running left in my day. I bought a gym membership. I cross-trained like a madman. I read massively. And I barely ate anything.

One day, while gathering all the information I could about caloric needs for the running wounded, I came across Beck’s aforementioned article for the first time and a light bulb went off in the black hole that housed my brain. Steve, the subject of The Thin Men, sounded a lot like me. His thinking and behaviors were eerily similar to my own. Could eating really be my problem? I quickly dismissed the question, but it stuck around long enough to get the wheels turning in my mind.

A few weeks later I was catching up with a friend on the phone. I told her about the nutrition guidebook I had recently bought with a Christmas gift certificate. She blasted me for my purchase and called a spade a spade. “Why did you buy that?” she asked, asserting her lingering suspicions that something wasn’t right with me. “Give me an honest answer.” I couldn’t, so I hung up the phone.

The next night I called her back and apologized for my rude behavior. I also vocalized all the thoughts that had been passing through my head since I hung up the phone on her the night before and admitted for the first time that I had a problem with an eating disorder. Thoughts of my body image, weight, food and calories consumed my life, I told her—not dreams of qualifying for the Olympic Trials. We talked for almost two hours (an eternity for me on the phone) and I immediately felt much better, but I also knew that I had a long road ahead of me.

I was able to start running again in February 2005 after my Achilles injury had fully healed. Aware of what my bad behaviors did to my body and mind—and how that affected my relationships with other people—I committed to taking better care of myself and talking more openly about my issues. I started eating more, and more often. I stopped counting calories. I quit reading nutrition books. I stopped weighing myself. I allowed myself to enjoy dessert again. Slowly, things began to turn around for me. Within a few months, I noticed I wasn’t tired all the time. My mood improved. I started sleeping better at night. I also started running fast again and a whole slew of nagging injuries that had been plaguing me for some time were finally starting to subside.

Those demons are pesky little buggers, however, and they’re always trying to find a way back into your life. In my case, they returned again in the fall of 2005, and at first I wasn’t very successful in fending them off and reverted to some of my past behaviors. But this time around, with the help of my parents, my old college coach and a few close friends, I was able to put the brakes on that downward spiral before I totally lost control.

Despite turning the corner and adopting a much healthier, more balanced way of living, I later paid the price for my nearly two years of unhealthy habits in the form of lower bone density, which led to multiple stress fractures in my pelvis and hips. The integrity of my fingernails and toenails suffered, I experienced regular bloating and also saw increased instances of tooth decay, among a smattering of other related issues.

Over the last 10 years, however, I’ve been able to resume (and maintain) a healthy relationship with eating and my own body image. I enjoy food and don’t feel ashamed of how I look. I eat a healthy, balanced diet and don’t obsess about how much food I’m putting into my body. The only time I weigh myself is at the doctor’s office, where two weeks ago I checked in at 147 pounds. And while I never realized my goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials, I still race and love to compete. Running has never been more enjoyable than it is today and I have a deeper appreciation for all the great people and opportunities this sport has brought into my life. I’m a very lucky guy.

There are other guys (and girls), however, who aren’t so lucky and find themselves stuck in the downward spiral I just described. Disordered eating isn’t an easy thing to talk about—especially for men—but it’s an important topic of discussion, especially among runners and other performance-minded athletes. It’s my hope that sharing my own tribulations—and triumphs—can bring more attention to an often overlooked issue and inspire others who may find themselves in a similar situation.

Thank you for reading.

For more information about eating disorders and how to get help, check out the National Institute of Mental Health website, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website or call the NEDA hotline at (800) 931-2237.

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Workout Of The Week: Know Your Tempo Wed, 25 Mar 2015 19:30:17 +0000

Short distance specialists, ultramarathon maniacs and everyone in between can benefit from incorporating tempo runs into their training schedule. Photo:

The tempo run is the most misunderstood type of workout. Let's get it straight.

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Short distance specialists, ultramarathon maniacs and everyone in between can benefit from incorporating tempo runs into their training schedule. Photo:

The tempo run is the most misunderstood type of workout. Let’s get it straight.

A lot of runners like to throw around the term “tempo run,” but very few actually know what they are and how (and when) to do this type of workout. While Joe Jogger will call any run done faster than his usual training pace a tempo run, some weekend warriors will pack it in during the last few miles of a bad race and call it the same thing—evidence that the tempo run is one of the most widely misunderstood workouts among the moving masses.

Workout Of The Week: Tempo Run With A Twist

Of course, neither of the above examples really represents a tempo run, and while the true meaning of the term depends on who you’re talking to, the workout can quite simply be described as comfortably hard running for a prolonged period of time, usually at a set pace over a predetermined distance or at a perceived effort for a predetermined amount of time.

Short distance specialists, ultramarathon maniacs and everyone in between can benefit from incorporating tempo runs into their training schedule. The duration, intensity and frequency of the workout itself will depend on the event an athlete is training for, but extended efforts of 20 to 90 minutes in proper proportion to goal race pace will improve aerobic capacity, enhance efficiency and help develop the confidence to hold a challenging pace for a prolonged period of time.

Let’s take a look at different types of tempo runs and where each fits into a training program.

Something For Everyone

For nearly every athlete I coach, from the frequent 5Ker to the twice-a-year marathoner and even ultramarathoners, there’s one type of tempo run I turn to throughout the course of a training cycle. In the eight to 12 weeks before a target event I’ll assign a tempo run in the range of four to six miles at 10K race pace plus 15-20 seconds per mile, which for many athletes equates to roughly half marathon race pace, or a touch quicker. For those athletes who don’t have access to a GPS unit or measured mile markers, running for 20 to 60 minutes at half-marathon race effort will do the trick.

Even if an athlete is training specifically for 5K or 10K and will never race a half marathon, spending some time running at this not-too-intense (yet still aerobically demanding) pace does wonders to improve endurance and efficiency, develop a sense of race rhythm and ease the transition into more intense race-pace and below-race-pace running that will occur later in the training cycle. Half marathoners and marathoners will reap all these same benefits, in addition to developing the confidence that comes from running close to their race pace for an extended amount of time. I typically have athletes follow this type of tempo run with a session of short hill sprints—6 x 15-20 seconds at 90 percent effort with full recovery—to recruit fast-twitch fibers and promote good mechanics. This is an optional addition to the workout, but a good way to kill two birds with one stone.

Shifting Speeds For 5K-10K

Inside eight weeks of a goal race, a shift in the speed (and distance) of the weekly tempo run occurs, the specific nature of which depends on the athlete’s goal race distance. For 5K and 10K runners, the classic 4-6 mile tempo run at roughly half-marathon pace will get shortened to 3 miles at 10K race pace plus 10 seconds per mile. I’ll often have athletes finish up these types of workouts with 4-8 x 200 meters at mile to 5K race pace (or 30 to 60-second pickups at a similar effort) with equal recovery to work on turnover and simulate changing gears and finishing hard at the end of a race.

During the final four weeks before a race, we’ll keep some variation of the aforementioned sustained tempo efforts in the rotation every 10 days or so (as aerobic maintenance-type workouts), while also getting more specific with 5K-10K interval work. For example, in addition to the occasional faster 3-mile tempo run, we’ll run longer intervals such as 2-3 x 2 miles at 10K race pace with 3 to 4 minutes rest in between. Or, we might do two 1.5-mile intervals at 5K race pace (or 7-12 minutes at the same effort) with 5 minutes of recovery in between. These longer, fast intervals help an athlete get race ready at just the right time, and are most effective when preceded by months of regular, strength-building tempo runs.

Practicing Pacing For Half Marathon and Marathon

For those preparing for half marathons and marathons, tempo runs take on a slightly different twist in the final eight weeks before a peak race. Instead of shortening the length of the tempo run and increasing the intensity, I’ll actually have my athletes do just the opposite and extend most of their efforts to a higher percentage of the race distance. These workouts are run in very close proximity to goal race pace (and never much faster) to provide practice in proper pacing and fuel consumption as well as to avoid overdoing it by going too far, too fast.

Half marathoners will gradually extend their weekly tempo run to eight miles (or up to 75 minutes at the same effort) at race pace 2-3 weeks out from their goal event, while marathoners will work their way up to running the middle 13-16 miles (or up to 2-2.5 hours for slower runners) of their last long run at goal pace about three weeks before their peak race.

Practicing proper pacing is of the utmost importance when preparing for races longer than 10K, but in order to stimulate the different systems and improve overall efficiency, I’ll have my half marathoners and marathoners perform each others’ workouts every so often. Half marathoners will substitute some of their race-pace tempo runs with longer marathon-pace efforts of 10-12 miles, while marathoners will sometimes drop down in distance and do shorter tempo runs of up to 8 miles at half marathon pace.

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Workout Of The Week: Non-Stop Stride Session Wed, 18 Mar 2015 22:00:03 +0000


Lasse Viren loved this track workout. You should learn to like it too.

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Olympic champion Lasse Viren loved this track workout. You should learn to like it too.

When many runners think of a track workout, thoughts of gut-wrenching repeats ranging from 400 meters to 2 miles followed by a brief break come to mind. Let’s break that line of thinking for the time being and shorten things up a bit.

Next time you head to the track, give the one-size-fits-all workout described below a try. The Non-Stop Stride Session will benefit runners training for 5K, the marathon and everything in between. It can be a great early season workout, is effective at increasing your anaerobic threshold (or the point where lactate begins to accumulate in the bloodstream) and also helps you to work on changing gears at the end of a race. This workout was a staple in the training program of Finnish great Lasse Viren, who won four Olympic gold medals and set three world records over the course of his incredible career.

MORE: Deek’s Quarters

Here’s how to do it:


2-3 miles easy jogging, followed by dynamic stretching, form drills and 6 x 20-second strides (accelerations).


8-16 laps of striding the straightaways at a solid clip (10-15 sec/mile faster than 5K effort) and jogging the turns for recovery. Essentially this is 2 to 4 miles of fartlek with 100 meters run at a fast, but sustainable speed (not an all-out sprint!) followed by 100 meters of slow jogging for recovery.


2-3 miles easy jogging.

This is a great benchmark session, or one you should aim to repeat every 3 to 4 weeks as a measure of checking your progress. If it takes you 24 minutes to complete 12 laps the first time you perform this workout, the goal should be to do it faster at the same effort level the next time around. Or, if you can only complete 6 laps the first time out before calling it quits, aim for 8-10 after you’ve gotten a few more weeks of training under your belt. The ability to do the same session faster, or run more laps than you did the last time you attempted the workout, are both signs of an improving level of fitness.

Not sure if you’re doing the workout correctly? This is a session that gets harder as it goes on, but it should never get to the point where you’re rigging up and unable to finish. If your form starts falling apart after a few laps, you’re going too fast. Remember: no stopping!

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Ward, Russell Capture U.S. Titles At The LA Marathon Sun, 15 Mar 2015 20:59:39 +0000

Blake Russell, left, and Jared Ward, right, took home U.S. titles at the LA Marathon on Sunday. Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor

Kenyans Daniel Limo and Ogla Kimaiyo take the overall victories on a warm day.

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Blake Russell, left, and Jared Ward, right, took home U.S. titles at the LA Marathon on Sunday. Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor

Kenyans Daniel Limo and Ogla Kimaiyo take the overall victories on a warm day.

LOS ANGELES — Premature aggressiveness rarely pays off in a long-distance race, as both Ryan Hall and Edwin Koech learned separately at the ASICS LA Marathon on Sunday morning.

Koech, who ripped off a 4:39 split to distance himself from men’s lead pack in the 17th mile, led convincingly for the next 4 miles until a slow 5:21 split for the 21st mile allowed his Kenyan countryman, Daniel Limo, to take over the lead. Limo ran steady the rest of the way, breaking the tape in 2 hours, 10 minutes and 36 seconds to record his first career marathon victory. A hard-charging Lanni Rutto passed Koech to take second, clocking 2:12:43, while American Jared Ward of Provo, Utah closed hard to round out the podium in 2:12:56 and capture his first national title (the race served as the 2015 U.S. marathon championship, as well as a bit of a preview to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials). Koech struggled home in fourth, finishing in 2:13:35, losing three minutes over the final 4 miles.

RELATED: Photos: 2015 LA Marathon

“The course was tough and the weather was not too difficult because it is almost like at home,” Limo said after the race. “I was still feeling strong the second half of the race. After 35K I could see the guys were struggling and I thought that I could maybe win it.”

Hall, who was running his first marathon since finishing 20th in 2:17:50 at Boston last April, separated himself early from the 33 other Americans competing for the national title. He joined a pack of nine Kenyans through opening splits of 4:42, 9:32 and 14:13 for the first 3 miles. At Mile 5, Hall lost contact with the leaders and ended up in no man’s land until he was swallowed up by Ward, Matt Llano of Flagstaff, Ariz., and Daniel Tapia of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., at the 13-mile mark in West Hollywood. Shortly after being passed, Hall, a two-time Olympic marathoner, stepped off the course and removed his bib, officially dropping out of the race.

Tapia, who trains under coach Andrew Kastor as a member of the ASICS Mammoth Track Club, led the next 2 miles, splitting 5:09s, before Ward took over the lead—one he held onto all the way to the finish line in Santa Monica. Running in only his third marathon, Ward knocked just over a minute off of his previous personal best of 2:14:00. He took home $25,000 for winning the national title, and an additional $10,000 for securing the third spot on the overall podium.

“I just looked at the race I was in and tried to position myself well there and things just worked out well for me,” said the 26-year-old Ward, who was runner-up at the U.S. half marathon championships in January. “I wasn’t planning to move as early as I did but I just felt good and a natural break happened and it ended up working out. I really credit coming through at the end to all the love from the people on the street.”

Llano, 26, who trains under coach Ben Rosario as a member of HOKA Northern Arizona Elite, finished second amongst Americans and sixth overall in 2:16:13, a personal best. Tapia, 28, faded over the final 5 kilometers to finish as fourth American in 2:17:14. He was passed by Mike Morgan of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, who rounded out the U.S. podium in 2:16:56.

Russell Rises To The Occasion

At 39 years old, Blake Russell of Pacific Grove, Calif., is almost seven years removed from her last marathon finish, which took place at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where she finished 27th. Following a disappointing DNF at New York last fall, she decided to switch some things up in 2015, electing to coach herself and try different things in training to reestablish some marathon momentum heading toward the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

The result? A third-place, 2:34:57 finish at the ASICS LA Marathon on Sunday and her first national title in almost 10 years.

“The marathon has been a little bit of love/hate for me since Beijing,” Russell said after the race. “But I haven’t been willing to give up. I’ve been so stubborn. I just always knew that it was in there. I pride myself on being the type of athlete who can rise to the occasion. That’s always my goal.”

Russell, who was one of a number of American woman that made up the lead pack for much of the race, was in the hunt for the overall win until Kenyan Ogla Kimaiyo and Russian Natalya Puchkova began to pull away at Mile 19. Kimaiyo would go on to take the win in 2:34:10 while Puchkova held on for second in 2:34:33.

“The weather was not very bad,” said Kimaiyo, who took home $25,000 for the overall win. “The course was complicated. It was hilly then flat. I didn’t know I was going to win until Mile 25. I had a lot of pain in my leg and I was very tired but I am very happy to be the champion.”

Unlike the lead men, who took off from the starting line at a hot pace, the women’s field took a much more conservative approach, covering the first 5 miles in 29:14. Through halfway (1:16:32), no one wanted to take the lead as Russell sat comfortably in the group with fellow Americans Brianne Nelson, Sara Hall, Heather Lieberg, Becky Wade and Lauren Jimison. Hall, Wade and Jamison began to fall off the pace after 15 miles, while little known Jodie Robertson of Albany New, N.Y., who finished 57th at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon and won the 2011 U.S. 50K title, worked her way into the lead group by the 30K mark. By 35K, Russell had pulled 11 seconds clear of Nelson, her closest American pursuer, and was giving chase to Kimaiyo and Puchkova. Even though was unable to close the gap over the final 4 miles, the mother of two was thrilled to finally get a strong result under her belt ahead of next year’s Olympic Trials race here 11 months from now.

“Obviously it was a slow day today, but it was more about tactics and trying to gut it out to the finish line,” Russell said. “It was great to finally put it together and to know that my body can still hold together for 26.2 miles. I knew I was fit and if it had been ideal conditions I know I could have gone under 2:30. This was definitely a confidence builder for me.”

Lieberg was the second American finisher and fifth overall in 2:35:32 while Nelson was the third U.S. runner across the line and sixth overall in 2:36:08. Hall, who was running her first marathon, finished in 2:48:02 after fading badly over the final 10 miles. Neither she nor her husband Ryan were available for comment after the race.

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For First Time, Ryan and Sara Hall to Tackle Marathon Together Sat, 14 Mar 2015 01:33:32 +0000


The husband-wife team head into the LA Marathon on different trajectories.

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The husband-wife team head into the LA Marathon on different trajectories.

Despite the fact that she’s a marathon novice, Sara Hall’s competitive nature seems to be rubbing off on Ryan Hall, her more road-hardened husband, ahead of this Sunday’s ASICS LA Marathon.

Sara Hall, who will be having her first go at 26.2 miles on Sunday, is riding a wave of momentum over the past three years, winning a national title at the 2012 U.S. Cross Country Championships and posting runner-up finishes at the U.S. 10-mile championships last April, the U.S. 10K Championships last July and also at the U.S. 7-Mile Championships later in the summer. She’s raced three half marathons in that time period, winning her debut at the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon in October 2013, running 1:13:38 to finish 11th at the 2014 U.S. Half Marathon Championships, and, most recently, ripping a 1:10:50 personal-best effort to finish fourth at this year’s U.S. Half Marathon Championships in January. In February, she finished a solid fifth at the U.S. Cross Country Championships in Boulder.

“Time doesn’t matter to me as much as competition,” Sara Hall said on Friday. “I’ve never been someone that’s been really been motivated by time. I’ve always done better when I’m just out there competing.”

Ryan Hall, on the other hand, has struggled since running 2:04:58—the fastest marathon ever run by an American—at the Boston Marathon in 2011. After making his second Olympic team in 2012 and dropping out of the London Games that summer due to injury, the 32-year-old has struggled to find the form that catapulted him to a still-standing U.S. half-marathon record of 59:43 in 2007, a 2:06:17 marathon at London later that spring and a dominating win at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.

For much of his professional career, Hall has been focused on running fast rather than placing high, even going so far to say that he’d rather be the first person to break two hours in the marathon than to win an Olympic gold medal. But a string of untimely injuries and sub-par race results in the past three years have motivated him to modify his approach with less than 11 months to go until next February’s U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon—which will also be held in Los Angeles, the same weekend as the city’s annual marathon.

“I really just have to practice competing again,” Ryan Hall said at Friday’s pre-race press conference. “For me it’s a shift in mindset—you’ve got to find other things to get excited about out there and that has to be competing alongside other people.”

The Halls, who have been training in the Ethiopian Highlands outside Addis Ababa since early February, returned to the United States recently after logging 100-plus-mile weeks for the second straight spring in the high-altitude environs of the small east African nation. Living a simple lifestyle while training alongside some of the world’s best long-distance runners has become something of a welcome annual getaway for the couple, while also serving as an extremely uncomfortable—but necessary—component of marathon preparation.

“I feel like I’ve been getting good at feeling bad,” Ryan Hall jokingly said of training in Ethiopia. “The training is just so unimpressive because you’re at 9,000 feet. I’m doing these tempo runs on a grass field so it’s just ridiculously slow. You don’t feel very good and then you come down [from altitude] and you feel very good. I felt terrible this last trip, so I think I’ve improved.”

Both California natives—Ryan grew up in Big Bear and Sara in Santa Rosa—the Halls are excited to mix it up in Los Angeles on Sunday, where they hope to feed off the energy of family, friends and fans along the 26.2-mile layout from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica Pier.

“This is basically my backyard,” Ryan Hall said. “It’s an opportunity for me to build my crowd base. I thrive so much on the energy of the crowd. [The crowd] is important for me to run well.”

Sara Hall, who will start with the elite women 10 minutes ahead of her husband and the rest of the main field, has been logging upwards of 115 miles a week in preparation for her marathon debut. A track runner by trade, the 31-year-old has taken well to marathon training under her coach, Steve Magness, and has been surprised by how smoothly she’s adapted to the increased workload and longer, more marathon-specific training sessions. She’s excited for the opportunity to compete for another national title on Sunday (the L.A. Marathon doubles as the 2015 U.S. Marathon Championship), while also taking advantage of the opportunity to race in an area that has meant so much to her over the course of her competitive running career.

“It’s a really meaningful place for me,” Hall said of Southern California. “I’ve raced here throughout high school and college and have so many memories at Mt. SAC and Arcadia. To get to run my first marathon here, and with the momentum of the Trials a year from now, it just kind of all came together to create an exciting atmosphere.”

RELATED: 5 Race-Day Tips for the LA Marathon

For Ryan Hall, whose last—and only—race of 2015 was a second place, 1:04:16 finish to Kenyan Benson Cheruiyot at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon in January, Sunday’s race will likely be his last marathon before the Trials next February. On Sunday, he hopes to simply let his competitive juices flow following a year of relatively injury-free, uninterrupted training under the tutelage of renowned coach Jack Daniels.

“I wasn’t fast but I felt strong and I felt like I could have kept running that pace,” Hall said of his lone tuneup race in Arizona. “So we’ll see what happens on Sunday. This course in these conditions is not going to run fast, so you’ve got to get excited about something else aside from running fast. I don’t think anyone’s going out there trying to hit a flyer on Sunday, but you have to be ready for guys to do anything.”

Despite Sara’s ups and Ryan’s downs in recent years, the Halls continue to find ways to support one another as their careers have taken opposite trajectories. In the buildup for her first marathon, Sara has leaned on Ryan for advice on everything from training and racing to nutrition and gear, while being inspired by the seemingly boundless energy her blonde-haired husband brings with him to the race course.

Ryan says he’s more balanced as a person and an athlete than at any other time of his career and has learned firsthand how to better handle setbacks in the continued pursuit of achievement. He also feel he’s benefited from the residual excitement of his wife’s first marathon attempt and the energy of her recent racing success—something he hopes to replicate on Sunday, and then again as he attempts to make his third Olympic team next February.

“It’s like when you’re on a team and your teammates start racing well, you expect to race well too,” Hall said of competing in the same race as his wife on Sunday. “I’ve definitely piggybacked off her confidence.”

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Ask Mario: How Do I Prioritize My Training Week? Fri, 13 Mar 2015 00:18:18 +0000

Plan ahead to ensure you’re able to get your key workouts done, and, if necessary, don't be afraid to get creative and combine the elements of two different workouts into one session. Photo:

Prioritizing key workouts can help mitigate some of the scheduling stress, especially when the busyness of life gets in the way of a run.

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Plan ahead to ensure you’re able to get your key workouts done, and, if necessary, don't be afraid to get creative and combine the elements of two different workouts into one session. Photo:

Hi Mario,

Between a busy job (I travel weekly for work) and two kids at home, I usually end up missing a couple planned runs during the week, which really messes with my head when I’m training for a race. How can I make sure I’m getting the most of the runs I am able to do?


Steve D.


Great question, and not an uncommon one for many runners. Fitting all of your workouts into a 7-day training week isn’t always easy—or advisable—but prioritizing them in order of importance can help mitigate some of the scheduling stress, especially when the busyness of life gets in the way of a run.

At the start of each week, identify the 2-3 key workouts in your schedule based on your current training focus. If you’re prepping for a longer race such as a half or full marathon, it might be long run, a tempo run and a long interval session; if you have a 5K or a 10K coming up, it could be a speed workout and a hill session. Those key workouts will be the sessions that make up the foundation of your training week. Prioritize them with a label—P1, P2 and P3—and schedule them for the days when you know you have the most time. Be sure to spread them out, however, to ensure that you’re recovering properly between key sessions. Fill in your easy runs and rest/recovery days around these higher priority workouts.

Taking this idea one step further, distributing your key workouts out over a 10- to 14-day period, rather than trying to force everything into a 7-day stretch (or less), allows you to place more emphasis on getting adequate recovery between your toughest sessions. This will put you in a better position to get more out of those key workouts, which will ultimately help improve race performances.

RELATED: Don’t Be A Slave To The 7-Day Training Week

Plan ahead to ensure you’re able to get your key workouts done, and, if necessary, don’t be afraid to get creative and combine the elements of two different workouts into one session, such as a short tempo run followed by a set of intervals, or running a few miles at half-marathon or marathon race pace toward the end of a long run.

Lastly, prioritizing your key workouts isn’t an excuse for cutting out easy mileage or skipping recovery runs—but if you have to miss a secondary workout or cut an easy run short for some unforeseen reason, you can at least look back at the end of the week and take solace in the fact that you had your training priorities straight.


Ask Mario appears monthly in Competitor magazine and more regularly on Have a question for Mario? Submit it here.

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Workout of the Week: Larry’s Short Surges Wed, 11 Mar 2015 18:51:23 +0000

Flying effortlessly down a trail is an exhilarating feeling and releases endorphins that will up your enjoyment level. Photo:

Get more out of your easy runs with this simple speed-laced strategy.

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Flying effortlessly down a trail is an exhilarating feeling and releases endorphins that will up your enjoyment level. Photo:

Get more out of your easy runs with this simple speed-laced strategy. 

This week’s Workout of the Week isn’t really a “workout” in the traditional sense. Let me explain by starting with a short story.

One of the most influential and amazing people running has brought into my life is a man named Larry Olsen. Olsen, a former 2:19 marathoner, Masters running legend and successful coach, tragically died in late 2009 while on a training run with friends. In the 10 years I had known him before his sudden passing, he taught me more about running—and how to enjoy it—than anyone else I’ve ever met.

Olsen, equal parts enthusiastic and eccentric, was one of those high energy types who got you excited to lace up your shoes and hit the trails. Running with him was never boring—even on an easy run—because he always like to mix a little fun into the experience.

On an easy run through the woods, for example, Olsen liked to throw in short surges—usually somewhere between 15 to 60 seconds in duration, although they were never timed because Larry didn’t run with a watch—at random points of the run, usually to a landmark such as a park bench or a tall tree off in the distance. It was true fartlek (Swedish for unstructured speed play) and it was a lot of fun. The pickups were quick, sometimes even fast, but never hard or exhausting.

“The pickups are short enough to activate the fast-twitch muscle fibers, but not long enough that it affects the run and doesn’t allow you to finish the workout,” Olsen explained to me in a profile for Running Times in 2009. “And it breaks up the monotony of just running a bunch of slow miles.”

Larry’s tendency to throw short surges into an easy run is a tactic I still use to this day, both as an athlete and a coach. The reason I like mixing this “workout” into easy runs is two-fold: 1. Running fast is fun. Flying effortlessly down the road or trail, even for a short stint of time, is an exhilarating feeling and releases endorphins that will up your enjoyment level. 2. A series of short surges during an easy run prevents you from just slogging along aimlessly for miles on end, helps reinforce good running mechanics and also allows you to practice shifting speeds.

Try Larry’s Short Surges “workout” and get more out of your next easy run. The key is that the surges are not long in duration—30 to 60 seconds max if you’re going to time them—and not challenging in terms of effort. You should be running fast but relaxed, while allowing for plenty of easier running between the surges. A good rule of thumb is not to surge more than once a mile—otherwise you’re running too fast, too frequently and essentially running an interval workout, which means you’re not really doing yourself any favors in terms of recovery.

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Tegenkamp, Nelson Added To Boston Fields Tue, 10 Mar 2015 14:45:32 +0000

Ethiopian Ejegayehu Dibaba has pulled out due to injury.

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Ethiopian Ejegayehu Dibaba has pulled out due to injury.

The American presence at this year’s Boston Marathon got a little stronger on Tuesday morning.

Two-time Olympian Matthew Tegenkamp, a teammate of Shalane Flanagan as a member of coach Jerry Schumacher’s Bowerman Track Club, will run his second marathon on April 20. The Portland, Oregon-based athlete made his marathon debut at the 2013 Chicago Marathon, finishing tenth in 2:12:28. At the 2014 New York City Half Marathon, he was the top American finisher in seventh place, running a personal best 1:02:04. He will be joined on the starting line by defending champion Meb Keflezighi, fellow Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, as well as Fernando Cabada, Jeffrey Eggleston and Nick Arciniaga.

“It’s an honor and privilege to have an opportunity to compete in America’s greatest race,” Tegenkamp said in a release. “This being my first time on the Boston course, I don’t know what to expect, but I will bring my competitive fire and fitness.”

RELATED: Boston Marathon Announces Loaded International Field

On the women’s side, Adriana Nelson of Boulder, Colo., joins Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Linden and Amy Hastings amongst the top American entrants in the race. Nelson, who won the 2013 U.S. half-marathon title and was the top American finisher at the New York City Marathon later that year, has a marathon personal best of 2:28:52, set at London in 2008.

“Having raced marathons all over the world, I can say with 100 percent confidence there isn’t another race like the Boston Marathon,” Nelson said in a release. “I asked myself what makes it different and I think it comes down to the people. It’s not only the runners competing in the race, but all the passionate spectators and volunteers that make Boston such an iconic event. I am so honored and excited to be back this year and toe the line with the world’s best.”

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What Will The New Apple Watch Mean For Runners? Mon, 09 Mar 2015 19:07:57 +0000

The new Apple Watch will work with third party GPS-based tracking apps such as Strava (pictured above), RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Nike+ and others.

The highly anticipated watch will be available for pre-order on April 10.

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The new Apple Watch will work with third party GPS-based tracking apps such as Strava (pictured above), RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Nike+ and others.

The highly anticipated device will be available for pre-order on April 10. 

At the company’s “Spring Forward” event in San Francisco on Monday, Apple announced that its highly anticipated Apple Watch will be available for pre-order on April 10 and in-store purchases on April 24.

The Apple Watch Sport comes in two sizes—38 and and 42 millimeters—and features a sport-style wristband with white, blue, green, pink and black color options. The 38-millimeter version will retail for $349 while the 42-millimeter version is $399.

What does this mean for runners? And does it solve an unmet need? The impact remains to be seen given the prevalence of already available GPS-enabled running watches and tracking devices that don’t require you to use an iPhone. Runners and cyclists planning to use the water-resistant Apple Watch Sport—which is equipped with WiFi, Bluetooth, a heart-rate sensor, accelerometer and gyroscope—must carry their iPhones (version 5 and above) with them to enable the GPS technology on their wrists and provide real-time data about pace, distance, heart rate and calories burned for various types of activities. The watch will work with Apple’s own Activity and Workout apps, as well as with third party fitness and tracking apps such as Strava, Nike+ and others.

“We want people to be healthier by being more active,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in the presentation. “[Apple Watch] tracks daily movement, how long you’re exercising and even reminds you if you’ve been sitting too long. Apple Watch will also send you reminders to be more active. In fact, on a Monday, it will send you a report on previous week and help you set goals for the next week. It’s like having a coach on your wrist.”

A custom-designed anodized aluminum case comes in silver or space gray and is 60 percent stronger than standard alloy—but still light enough to be comfortable for athletic activities, Apple senior vice president of design, Johnny Ive, said during the presentation. The display is protected by strengthened ion-X glass to protect against dings and scratches.

One of the most impressive features of the new Apple Watch is its purported battery life. “It has all-day battery life across a range of activities,” Cook said. “Eighteen hours for most people.” It is unknown as of this writing how hours-long runs and frequent app usage will affect that number, but Competitor editors are hoping to put it to the test in the coming months.

Many GPS-based activity tracking companies have been working closely with Apple since the initial announcement of the watch last September to create custom apps that will work with the device. Strava has redesigned its mobile app to seamlessly integrate with Apple Watch’s technology, delivering effortless connectivity and a more personal, engaging, and real-time training experience for cyclists and runners.

“The redesigned app will extend the breadth of Strava’s product portfolio from web and mobile to the most anticipated wearable device of our time, Apple Watch,” Erik Joule, Strava’s chief marketing and commerce officer said in a press release.

Apple featured model Christy Turlington Burns, founder of Every Mother Counts and a dedicated marathoner, as the first person in the world to finish a half marathon using an Apple Watch. Turlington ran the Kilimanjaro Half Marathon on March 1 using the Apple Watch. She will also use the device—while blogging about her experiences on—in preparation for next month’s London Marathon, where she hopes to break four hours.

“It’s motivation—not just for training but for everyday things,” Turlington said during the press event. “During the race I relied on workout app to track time, measure distance and push my pace. In my short time using it, I can already see how it will be an important part of my life. I relied on it pretty heavily [during the half marathon]. There was a lot of altitude and elevation, so I checked it quite frequently.”

RELATED: 2015 Running Gear Guide: Wearable Tech

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Workout Of The Week: Tempo Run—With A Twist! Wed, 04 Mar 2015 23:05:15 +0000

Prepare yourself for the rigors of racing while keeping your mind and legs sharp when focus starts to fade.

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C’mon baby, let’s do the twist!

The tempo run, in its most basic state, is defined as a sustained, steady effort over a set distance or predetermined length of time. It’s long been a staple workout in many a runner’s training program. Whether you’re training for a fast 5K or getting ready to race a marathon, sprinkling a tempo run or two into your training schedule will give you a lot of bang for your buck. And while the definition of a tempo run depends on who you’re talking to, for our purposes here, we’ll use half-marathon race pace as our target effort level.

Yielding many benefits, including increased stamina and enhanced efficiency, the tempo run also helps you develop the confidence to run your goal race pace for a prolonged period of time. Races, however, aren’t always run at an even effort from start to finish, so it’s important to practice changing gears during some of your toughest training runs. Tempo runs with a “twist” are an effective way to do just that.

RELATED: How To Fit Tempo Runs Into Your Training Schedule

So, what’s the twist? It’s as simple as sprinkling a short “burst” of 30 to 60 seconds into your tempo runs every fifth or tenth minute. Such a practice will better prepare you for the rigors of racing, which often involves changing gears, and will also help keep your mind and legs sharp when your focus starts to fade.

The Workout

— Warmup: Run easily for 10 to 20 minutes, follow with 6 x 20-second strides.

— Workout: Run for 20-60 minutes (or 3-8 miles depending on your ability/experience level) at your half-marathon race pace (If you don’t have a half marathon time to base this off, add 15-20-seconds per mile to your current 10K race pace). Here’s the twist: Every fifth minute throw in a 30-second “burst” at 5K-10K effort followed by an immediate return to half-marathon pace. Or, for more experienced runners, throw in a 1-minute “burst” at 5K-10K effort every tenth minute followed by an immediate return to half marathon pace.

— Cooldown: Run easily for 10-20 minutes, stretch.

Fitting Tempo Runs Into Your Training Schedule

Not training for a half marathon or marathon? Not a problem. The benefits of training at this pace have been shown to benefit distance runners training for any event from the 5K to the marathon. If you don’t have a half marathon time to use as a baseline, add 15-20-seconds per mile to your current 10K race pace to figure out your “tempo” pace. This comfortably challenging effort will develop your aerobic system more effectively than any other type of workout, and has a shorter recovery time than a hard interval session or a set of killer hill repeats.

If you’re training for shorter races such as 5K or 10K, perform this workout (aim for 4-6 miles of running at tempo pace) every other week during the early part of the training cycle. Sustaining this steady effort will do wonders for revving your aerobic engine, while the bursts will help you practice surging off a slow pace.

For half marathoners and marathoners, tempo runs should be a staple session in your weekly training schedule. Alternate the “classic” version of this workout with the “twist”, gradually increasing the length of the tempo run every second or third week as your training progresses. Since the volume of this type of workout can creep up on you quickly, be careful not to perform this workout too close to race day. Ten days out from a key race is plenty of time to recover well and reap the benefits on race day.

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2015 Running Gear Guide: Men’s Shorts Mon, 02 Mar 2015 19:16:45 +0000

Running shorts from several different brands are put to the test.

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Highlight: Storage and support taken to a new level.
The full-length inner compression liner keeps your upper legs warm and supported while eliminating friction. The inner liner also features two well-placed pockets right above the knee, and with three rear-waistband pockets—including a centralized one with a zipper—there’s plenty of room for storage.

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