Competitor.com http://running.competitor.com Your Online Source for Running Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:06:57 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Run, Eat, Run: How To Be A Good Ragnar Teammate http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/staff-blog/run-eat-run-good-ragnar-teammate_99909 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/staff-blog/run-eat-run-good-ragnar-teammate_99909#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:01:11 +0000 Nicki Miller http://running.competitor.com/?p=99909

Being a good teammate during a relay race is key, writes Nicki Miller. Photo: Courtesy of ASICS

Nicki Miller shares some lessons learned during an overnight relay race in California.

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Being a good teammate during a relay race is key, writes Nicki Miller. Photo: Courtesy of ASICS

Nicki Miller shares some lessons learned during an overnight relay race in California.

Running can often feel like a solo endeavor, but not for some 24 to 36 hours when you do a Ragnar Relay. This massive undertaking of organizing 12 people to run about 200 miles and coordinating two vans with food, gas, and safety vests is really all about the camaraderie.

At my first Ragnar—SoCal’s from Huntington Beach to San Diego earlier this month—I learned about this with a team of mostly strangers. Whether you know your teammates or not, here are some tips for being a teammate who’s tops!

1. Stock Up With Key Foods

Make sure everyone has food they like but also enough to share. Our must-haves: bananas (duh!), bagels and peanut butter (surprise, surprise!), kettle chips (yum, salt and grease!) and small bottles of Gatorade (the tiny bottles were a revelation). For the record, dried mango is excellent, but freeze-dried doesn’t have mass appeal.

2. Show Up On Time

The first shocker of the Ragnar was arriving at exchange No. 1 and runners having no teammates to pass off to. That’s like a slap in the face, especially since they were the fastest runners.

3. Be A Cheerleader

Especially at the beginning of the race and on longer legs, there’s energy to spare with stops along the route to cheer on your runner as well as others. This raises everyone’s spirits! (But don’t let this delay your arrival at the exchange—see No. 2 above)

4. Swing By A Party Store

It may be the antithesis of everything you stand for, but this will bring an injection of fun and the unexpected as you cheer on your teammates. Clackers and hand clappers and candy, oh my! (Add Swedish fish to the shopping list.)

5. Have Water And Sports Drinks At The Ready

Especially on long legs, offer to meet your runner in the middle with water (ask in advance if room temp. is preferable). Bring a cold bevvy from the van (you definitely need a cooler) to the exchange to offer pronto to your finishing runner. Refreshing!

RELATED: Scenes From The SoCal Ragnar Relay

6. Stay Dry

After a sweaty run, the last thing you want is to do is sit around soaked—and get a chill. Bring towels for every seat and encourage teammates to layer up. As the mercury falls overnight, you can also use your towels as blankets.

7. Test Gear Beforehand

Whether it’s your own or a teammate’s, make sure everything is fitting and working properly so you aren’t slowed down by a reflective vest that feels weird or some other mechanical.

8. Help With Mental Preparations

Sometimes a run may be labeled as “hard” but you’re not sure why—I had a flat seven-mile run through a commercial area with lots of stoplights, which definitely made the run “hard.” A teammate had a long run that started just after daybreak and, frankly, she was cranky and tired. Sometimes you need to bolster each other’s spirits and talk through routes in advance to psyche each other up.

9. Be Visible

Organizers are strict about everyone wearing a reflective vest during nighttime hours and there are flags that must be used when non-runners are crossing the street. As everyone gets tired, they will tire of these rules, so those with more energy need to step it up.

10. Revel In The Run

When a teammate finishes a run, ask how it was and let them reminisce. It was surprising how many runners there were and it wasn’t often when I couldn’t see another runner on the road with me. “Kills”—how many people you pass on the run—are big with Ragnar. Some vans are all decked out with hash marks. One of our runners had 184 in 11 miles! Everyone is there to run, but more of your time is spent with teammates, so be a good one. I had some of the best!

RELATED: Ragnar Hits The Trails In California

Tips For Weirdos Like You And Me

I end each blog with a few ideas to satiate the adventuresome …

Celebrating Passover? Macaroons have always been a favorite, especially when the balls of coconut are dipped in chocolate. Larabar has a new flavor that is sure to delight all year: Coconut Chocolate Chip. Yum! larabar.com

Not a fan of coconut water? But you’d love to benefit from it. Golazo is a new sports hydration drink that uses coconut water as a high-potassium base, but it’s flavored so you can’t taste the usual funky coconut water flavor. It’s not sickeningly sweet and there’s no artificial crap in it. The Mango Lime is a great thirst quencher and the Lemon is a nice light lemonade. vivagolazo.com

Oatmeal lover? Sometimes you just don’t have time for a big bowl of the good stuff. Enter Corazonas Oatmeal Squares. My testers liked the soft, healthy, not-super-sweet nature of these snacks. The Chocolate Coconut Macaroon pleased with a subtle chocolate taste and the Orange Cranberry was praised for its chunks of fruit. corazonas.com

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The Master of Boston: Interview With Reno Stirrat http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/the-master-of-boston-interview-with-reno-stirrat_99845 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/the-master-of-boston-interview-with-reno-stirrat_99845#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:59:50 +0000 Duncan Larkin http://running.competitor.com/?p=99845

Reno Stirrat is part of an elite group of 31 runners with sub-3:00 marathon times. Photo: Melissa Sylvester

This 60-year-old has quite a streak going—and he plans to continue it at this year's Boston Marathon.

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Reno Stirrat is part of an elite group of 31 runners with sub-3:00 marathon times. Photo: Melissa Sylvester

This 60-year-old has quite a streak going—and he plans to continue it at this year’s Boston Marathon.

To some, the age of 60 may seem like a time to slow down, but that’s the furthest thing from the truth for Reno Stirrat.

On April 21, the Quincy, Mass. resident will be in the second corral at the start of the 118th edition of the Boston Marathon. Simply put, Stirrat is a running machine. According to the Association of Road Racing Statisticians, Stirrat is a member of a small and distinct group: He’s one of 31 people who have logged a sub-3:00 marathon for five decades in a row. At last year’s Boston Marathon, he placed second for his age group, coming across the line in 2:47:17.

You’re turning 60 right before the start of the Boston Marathon, right?

Yes. April 19.

That’s two days before Boston. How are you feeling going into the race?

It does feel a little strange. To me, 50 wasn’t that big of a deal. Physically, I didn’t feel much different. But 60, it does feel a little bit different.

How so?

I would say that the biggest difference is that for the first time, physically, I don’t feel as strong as I used to. I feel like I’m starting to lose a little bit of my muscle mass. It’s very strange, because I’ve never felt that way before. I can almost physically see it, too. With me, because of my competitive nature, I’m not that worried about it. I’m still going to go out there and be as competitive as I can. My goal for Boston is to try and be on the podium.

What does that mean for what you think you can run, time-wise?

I’m thinking around 2:55. The biggest reason is that I lost four months from June through October, because of a piriformis injury, and so I started back in November, and then I had some issues with my hamstrings and so I wasn’t able to train with the quality that I am usually able to do. Then with the winter on top of it, it made it even tougher.

RELATED: Meet Competitor’s 2014 Faces Of Boston

Yeah, this winter was brutal—especially for a marathoner.

Yes. You can get the miles in, but a lot of time, this winter for everybody, it was tough getting the quality miles in.

You’re a Marine or were a Marine. I guess once a Marine, always a Marine, right?

Yes.

That Marine attitude—don’t quit, be strong mentally and physically—has that helped you as a competitive marathoner?

It’s strange that you said that. As a kid, I grew up in the late 1950s and early 1960s watching John Wayne and Gary Cooper [in The Sands of Iwo Jima]—a  lot of those Marine movies. It kind of motivated me. And then my high school coach was also a Marine. So I’ve got a very strong tie before I went into the Marine Corps. It’s something that’s either there or not there. I believe, of course, that the Marine Corps brings it out even more. It’s that attitude that you can. It’s also a confidence boost, too.

You live in Quincy. How long have you been in the Boston area?

On and off, probably 20 years.

So this is a big year for the Boston Marathon given all the tragic events that happened at the finish line last year. What does it mean to you to run Boston this year?

There’s no question. It’s a whole different feeling and attitude. You get caught up in it. For me, it’s just about giving back for what happened. It’s all those people who got hurt and that died. It’s a give back to them. You talk about the Marine Corps motivation, but then you have the bombing motivation and that’s a whole different world. It will be very emotional. The marathon is emotional for us for different reason, but this one for everyone, it’s going to be that way. One of the things that might happen from it is that it could end up being a very fast race.

RELATED: The Boston Marathon Will Never Be The Same

Why is that?

Because of that motivation. Because you’re out there at 23 miles and you’re feeling like crap. There’s nothing left in your legs. Physically, you’re just wasted. You start thinking about those people and the bombing. You start to see people holding up signs. For me, personally, I’m going to see that and will say, “This one’s for them; look at what they went through.” It can never compare.

So you think the race will be fast across the board?

I think so. I’m a firm believer that if the front goes out fast—I’m not even talking about the elites, they’ve got their own way. Everyone else that’s behind them will go out fast. Plus you have this field. I haven’t seen a field this fast at Boston in I don’t know how many years. Normally, corral one, which is right behind the elite people—usually if you run about 2:50 you are in corral one. This year, I had a 2:47 and I’m 100 places in corral two.

That sounds like the old Boston days.

It’s closer. It’s not quite the same. There’s no question, it’s the fastest it’s ever been. When you’re talking about 1,000 people under 2:50 in the marathon, that’s pretty incredible in this day and age for being deep. People that are at the end of that corral are going to feel like they have to go faster, because they are going to be in the way of other people. Between the emotions and all that, I think it’s going to draw it out super fast—especially if it’s good weather.

What are some secrets or tips that you can share for Masters-level runners?

I would say one of the big key things is to never give up and to never become discouraged, because as you get older, there can be times where your training can be great, but it’s not translating into races. Then you find that other times your training is awful, but you’re racing faster. That gives a lot of people problems, especially as a younger runner, that’s hugely not so much the case. When you are younger, they are very similar. You can kind of get away with stuff. As you get older, especially when you are moving up from 40 to that 60 to 70 range, the body is going through changes. It gets tougher. That’s the key—to not let that get to you. You adjust and you keep moving on. If you’ve been running for longer, you are used to certain times. You kind of get into a routine and that is what you accept. All of a sudden that doesn’t happen. And you feel like you are a failure. That’s a difference, I believe, for longevity. A lot of these [Masters] runners out there don’t let it get to them; they are just always readjusting. You’ve got to keep plugging along. I like looking at every ten years as almost like a different life. It’s tough when you are in your late 50s and all of a sudden you see 60 and then you start a new life. For your PRs as a 60-year-old, you’ve never been there, so there you go.

You’ve got five decades of sub-3:00s, right?

Yes. Starting in the 1970s, then the 80s, 90s, 2000s, and 2010s. But it’s actually all sub-2:45s.

So you need to hold out to 2020 then.

Yes, somehow I don’t think I’ll be under 2:45 then, but I just have to run sub-3:00 to keep the streak going. There wouldn’t even been a group for that if it was under 2:45.

RELATED: Boston, A City Of Runners

What’s your favorite stretch of the Boston Marathon course? You can’t say the whole thing.

[Laughs.]  Believe it or not, that’s a very easy question. When I’m running very well, when I come off of the firehouse hill by the carriage road, at that section, I just love it. I feel like I’m reborn there, because it’s pretty flat and downhill, even though you got one of the Newton hills, but it’s the smallest of all of them. That whole stretch, you’re going down a little here and there. All of my very good Bostons, I’ve just flown through that section.

That’s all I have for you, Reno.

One more thing: You can put it in or not is that I’ve noticed something this year when I’m out running in Quincy or some of the other areas around here, people are so aware. I’ve had people look at me and smile. The words that almost come out of 90 percent of their mouths are, “Boston Strong.” In the past years, people would see me wearing a shirt and maybe say something, but this year they see me with my Boston Marathon shirt on and they nearly all say, “Boston Strong.”

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How To Treat And Beat Sciatica http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/injury-prevention/how-to-treat-and-beat-sciatica_99802 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/injury-prevention/how-to-treat-and-beat-sciatica_99802#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:48:37 +0000 Kelly O'Mara http://running.competitor.com/?p=99802

Sciatica pain can be caused by a number of ailments, including a herniated or ruptured disc. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

This intense pain down the leg or in the back affects many runners every year.

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Sciatica pain can be caused by a number of ailments, including a herniated or ruptured disc. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

This intense pain down the leg or in the back affects many runners every year.

Every October, as hopeful runners around New York hit their peak training for the New York City Marathon, Dr. Loren Fishman’s office becomes flooded with people complaining of sciatica.

“Sciatica” is commonly used to refer to pain along the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back through the buttocks and down the leg. But sciatica itself is just a symptom, said Fishman, with a number of possible causes.

For most people in the general population who complain of sciatica pain the issue tends to be a herniated or ruptured disc. While that can also be a problem for runners, it’s much more common for pain in the lower back, buttocks, and back of the legs in a runner to be a result of piriformis syndrome, said Fishman.

A study of over two million people complaining of sciatica found that there were “as many, if not more, with piriformis syndrome as with herniated discs,” said Fishman.

The piriformis muscle is a small muscle deep in your hip that runs from the back of the pelvis to the top of the femur. It helps with hip rotation and it typically runs over or above the sciatic nerve. (In some people the nerve actually runs directly through the piriformis muscle.) The sciatic nerve is a very large, thick nerve that comes out of a bundle of nerves in the lower back and goes all the way down the leg.  If the piriformis muscle becomes tightened or inflamed, it can catch or pinch the sciatic nerve—meaning your real problem is piriformis syndrome.

There are actually some very simple tests to find out if your pain is a result of piriformis syndrome or something else. Lay on your back and pull your knee toward your opposite shoulder. Hold it for about 30 seconds and if you have piriformis syndrome then you will likely experience tingling along the outside of your leg. Lying on your unaffected side and rotating the painful leg across your body with the knee bent or attempting to push your knees out against resistance while sitting, may both also cause pain if you have piriformis syndrome.

RELATED: Foam Rolling Techniques For Runners

However, none of these self-diagnostic tests are conclusive. A simple test, invented by Fishman, uses EMG findings in similar poses to diagnose piriformis syndrome.

Once the problem is properly diagnosed, the treatment can be relatively straightforward.

But Dr. Steve Gangemi, known as “The Sock Doc,” said sciatica is actually “one of the most misdiagnosed” problems. The sciatic nerve does extend down the back of the leg, but it doesn’t have any sensory endings above the knee, said Gangemi. “You can’t feel your sciatic nerve in your hamstring or butt,” he said. What people are actually feeling in their lower back or hamstrings is typically sclerotogenous referred pain.

For runners complaining of what Gangemi calls “sciatica-like pain,” i.e. pain in the lower back and back of the leg, he argues that it most commonly is an imbalance of the piriformis or glute max and medius muscles. That can cause inflammation, pain, or even pinching of that sciatic nerve.

Gangemi recommends that his patients with piriformis syndrome or glute imbalances use manual therapies to hit key trigger points in those muscles. Visiting a chiropractor or massage therapist can help with some of that body work, he said. Stretching, on the other hand, feels good, but it can actually continue the imbalance problem in the long run, according to Gangemi.

Sometimes people get better after just basic body work. Sometimes they have to pull back on running or figure out if they need to strengthen some muscles over others.

If you keep having pain, “then you’re not really addressing the problem,” said Gangemi. That problem may really be poor running mechanics, improper footwear, or overuse.

RELATED: How To Beat Piriformis Syndrome

Over the years, Fishman said, he’s seen probably 17,000 people who thought they had piriformis syndrome. About half of them really did. For that half, he recommends a protocol that he developed over 35 years and that he believes cures about 80 percent of the sufferers.

It starts with a small injection of steroids and lidocain in the lower muscle to decrease the pain and bring down inflammation. Over a number of sessions, the injured then get treatment that includes ultrasound and manual release from a therapist, who presses horizontally on the muscle and then down.

“The therapist gets arthritis and the patient gets better,” said Fishman.

After the pain is gone and the runners are better, Fishman prescribes them a course of yoga exercises, including the twisted triangle, seated twist, and twisted half moon.

What about the other half of people who think they have piriformis syndrome but don’t? Or those who simply complain of sciatica? For them, the pain can be a result of any number of things: from arthritis to a pulled hamstring to spinal stenosis. That’s why sciatica continues to send hundreds of runners running to the doctor’s office.

RELATED: Recovery: Is Professional Guidance Needed?

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About The Author:

Kelly Dunleavy O’Mara is a journalist/reporter and former professional triathlete. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and writes for a number of magazines, newspapers, and websites. You can read more about her at www.sunnyrunning.com.

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Flagstaff, Ariz.: A High-Altitude Getaway For Runners http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/inside-the-magazine/flagstaff-az-runners-vacation-spot_99467 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/inside-the-magazine/flagstaff-az-runners-vacation-spot_99467#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:24:49 +0000 Emily Polachek http://running.competitor.com/?p=99467

The Sunset Trail is a popular location for runners and mountain bikers to tackle an out-and-back 8-mile climb. Photo: Courtesy of the Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association

Experience a runner's "high" on the trails of this Northern Arizona town.

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The Sunset Trail is a popular location for runners and mountain bikers to tackle an out-and-back 8-mile climb. Photo: Courtesy of the Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association

Experience a runner’s “high” on the trails of this Northern Arizona town.

Elevation isn’t the only attraction of this tree-covered sanctuary in Northern Arizona. Endless trails, eclectic restaurants and an enthusiastic running community are a handful of reasons Olympic-level endurance athletes as well as recreational outdoor revelers call Flagstaff home.

With an extensive network of trails, surrounded by one of the world’s largest Ponderosa pine forests and highlighted by mountain backdrops, running in Flagstaff is like being part of a moving postcard. The off-road options go on for miles, and the scenery never disappoints. Regardless of when you visit, the trails (and some of the roads heading out of town) are frequented by runners, hikers and cyclists taking advantage of the clean, thin air and serene surroundings that make “Flag” an increasingly popular vacation spot for endurance athletes.

Run Flagstaff, a running specialty store located on East Route 66, hosts weekly group runs on Wednesday mornings. Runners of all speeds also meet on Thursdays for the popular “bagel run” that leaves from Biff’s Bagels on Beaver Street at 8 a.m. for a casual jaunt on the local trails adjacent to the campus of Northern Arizona University. On Saturdays, the Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association meets at a different spot, rain, snow or shine. Regardless of your distance desires or pace goals, there is no shortage of camaraderie in the city—if you’re in the market for new elevations and running encouragement.

“The community support in Flagstaff is incredible,” says Stephanie Rothstein Bruce, a professional runner with Northern Arizona Elite and a longtime Flagstaff resident. “There’s always someone you can run with on any given day, any time of year.”

RELATED: Santa Barbara, Calif.: A ‘Perfect’ Place

Where To Run

For trail runners, Buffalo Park is a mostly flat, 2-mile loop featuring a smooth dirt surface that’s marked every quarter-mile. From the park, you can access the 5.5-mile Oldham Trail, which will take you up the south side of Mount Elden, offering outstanding views of Flagstaff and its surrounding areas. For city dwellers, the Urban Trail runs through Flagstaff and is easily accessible across the street from the softball fields at Thorpe Park; runners can create an out-and-back 11-miler. Another popular option is the Schultz Creek Trail off Schultz Pass Road, which offers up to 8 miles if you head out and back. (Look for dirt parking above the trailhead past the last private home on the left.) For road warriors, covering ground on Lake Mary Road southeast of town is a popular option. On any given day you may find one of Flagstaff’s many elites knocking out a fast tempo run on the rolling terrain of this 25-mile stretch of open road.

Where To Race

Racing isn’t easy at 7,000 feet, but that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of great events. The Run Flagstaff Summer Running Series welcomes athletes of all ability levels to tackle six races of varying distances (May–August; runflagstaff.com). For the swift of foot, the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce sponsors the Team Run Flagstaff Downtown Mile (July 4; runflagstaff.com), which promises to be a definite lung buster! The Snowbowl Hill Climb (July 20; runflagstaff.com) is a 7-mile ascent from Snowbowl Road to Agassiz Lodge. For those seeking a long-distance challenge, the Flagstaff Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K (Sept. 20; runflagstaff.com) is the perfect option, but sign up early—the field is limited to 300 runners. Flagstaff will also host the U.S. Skyrunner Championship Final (Oct. 3–5; runsteep.com/flagstaff) on the rugged terrain of Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort. Sign up for the 56K ultra, the 37K SkyRace or the Vertical Kilometer (an uphill 5K with 1,000 meters of vertical gain) and run in the same races as some of the top trail runners in the country.

Where To Eat & Drink

Flagstaff does not disappoint in the culinary department: With options ranging from burger bars and pizza joints to more ethnic options, such as Thai and Mexican, Flagstaff has a little something for everyone. Start your day downtown with an impeccable cup of coffee and fresh-made pastry at Late for the Train (22 E. Birch Ave.; lateforthetrain.com). Down the street sits Diablo Burger (120 N. Leroux St.; diabloburger.com), a popular lunch and dinner spot that serves—you guessed it—burgers that pack a devilish punch. They come served on a branded English muffin with arguably the best fresh-cut frites. The Beaver Street Brewery (11 Beaver St.; beaverstreetbrewery.com) is a great location for an early evening happy hour (especially on the outdoor patio during warmer months), with a solid lineup of local and homemade brews and made-to-order food. Salsa Brava (2220 E. Route 66; salsabravaflagstaff.com) serves up some amazing Mexican dishes and has a nice bar to boot. The street-style tacos taste extra amazing after a long and/or tough run.

RELATED: Bend, Ore., Home Of The Trails

Where To Shop

Run Flagstaff (204A East Route 66; runflagstaff.com) is the only running specialty store in town, and it’s worth the trip all by itself. Stop in and tap their staff for expert advice on shoes and gear, browse their selection of top brands and hit them up for information about where to run and race. Babbitt’s Backcountry Outfitters (12 East Aspen Ave.; babbittsbackcountry.com) has supplies for trail running, such as shoes, socks, hydration packs and nutrition, but it’s also got the goods you need for camping, hiking, climbing and almost any other outdoor sport that strikes your fancy. Aspen Sports (15 N. San Francisco St.; aspensportsflagstaff.com) offers running shoes and gear and is also fully stocked for skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and hiking, rafting, camping and climbing during the summer months.

Weather

Due to its high elevation, Flagstaff doesn’t battle much humidity, regardless of when you choose to visit. The seasons can experience the elements, however, with winter temps ranging from highs in the 20s to the 40s; large dumps of snow are not uncommon. Summer temps range from the mid-70s into the low 80s—typically cool mornings make for a pleasant experience out on the trails.

RELATED: Boulder, Colo., A Running Mecca Out West

Did You Know?

The Attractions: Astronomy geeks and casual star gazers will get a kick out of Lowell Observatory, a privately owned observatory best known for the discovery of Pluto.

The History: Now a modern entertainment venue that plays host to some well-known musical acts, the Orpheum Theater (constructed in 1911) was once an old movie house. It was completely renovated in 1999.

The Route: The historic Route 66 that originally ran between Chicago and Los Angeles passes right through Flagstaff.

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Photos: The Hapalua Half Marathon In Oahu http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/photos/photos-runners-tackle-blustery-winds-rain-hapalua-half-marathon_99854 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/photos/photos-runners-tackle-blustery-winds-rain-hapalua-half-marathon_99854#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:24:00 +0000 Emily Polachek http://running.competitor.com/?p=99854

The Hapalua Half Marathon in Honolulu has a unique format known as The Chase, a race of local runners against some of the best in the

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The Hapalua Half Marathon in Honolulu has a unique format known as “The Chase,” a race of local runners against some of the best in the world. The race begins near The Duke Kahanamoku statue in Waikiki and finishes in Kapiolani Park. The Chase consists of multiple staggered starting waves beginning with three waves of women chosen to be on Team Hawaii, followed by three waves of the men selected for Team Hawaii. The final start includes the general public, military and, in this year’s race, three professional athletes. The first to the line wins. See how this year’s race, held on April 13, played out in the pictures below.

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Racers Vs. Pacers: What Type Of Runner Are You? http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/training/racers-vs-pacers-what-type-of-runner-are-you_99471 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/training/racers-vs-pacers-what-type-of-runner-are-you_99471#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:08:18 +0000 Tim Bradley http://running.competitor.com/?p=99471

Track workouts can build speed and consistency for all runners. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Tim Bradley breaks down the differences between these two types of runners and provides workouts for each one.

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Track workouts can build speed and consistency for all runners. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Tim Bradley breaks down the differences between these two types of runners and provides workouts for each one.

When it comes to running style and racing, two distinct types of runners exist. As a coach, it typically takes just a few workouts for me to identify if someone is a racer or a pacer. Each style brings specific strengths and weaknesses to training and racing, and it is important to identify if you are a racer or a pacer. Both styles can bring you success, but to maximize your ability you must learn both how to pace and how to race. Read the list below to identify what type or runner you are:

Racers

A classic racer can be identified by the following characteristics and tendencies:

— Enjoys racing, typically likes to race more than train
— Does not necessarily set goal times for races, just wants to “win”
— Focuses more on place than time
— Commonly goes out hard and runs positive splits
— Tends to do well, as long as there is competition
— Struggles to run even races, especially the longer the distance
— Can struggle alone in training
— Tends to have a good kick

Racers can achieve great success when they are running well and winning. For some, this may actually mean winning races, for others it might mean placing high in their age group or winning medals. The downside is when racers have a few bad races it can really hurt them. A racer must learn that you can’t win every race, and sometimes it is better to run a faster time and lose than to run a very slow time and win. A racer must work to run with more control and pace more effectively.

RELATED: Essential Drills For Speed And Efficiency

Pacers

Pacers can be identified by the following characteristics and tendencies:

— Typically is over-anxious and experiences a high level of race anxiety
— Very focused on time and splits, less focused on overall place
— Tends to over-think racing
— Commonly runs even splits or negative splits
— Tends to struggle in bad conditions when the environment is less controlled
— Struggles to run fast in shorter races, due to a lack of aggressiveness
— Less of a kicker than a racer, has a pretty good kick, due to a proper pacing strategy

Pacers tend to run with their heads and not their hearts. This allows them to pace effectively and run very consistent races. However, pacers often lack ambition and run too conservatively. This can lead to a lack of major breakthroughs when it comes to race times. A pacer is more afraid to fail than a racer. The pacer may run consistent times but might have PRs slower than someone with the same ability, but with a more ambitious racing strategy.

Now that we have identified the characteristics of racers vs. pacers, it’s time to look at some workouts that can help you maximize what you do well and work on your weaknesses.

RELATED: The Art Of Peaking For A Goal Race

Workouts For Pacers

Workout 1: Fartlek
This workout is designed to help pacers forget the pace and just run on feel. The point is to focus on running hard and on effort rather than specific time goals.

2 sets of 1min, 2min, 3min, 5min, 3min, 2min, 1min with equal rest

All efforts should be “hard” with the last 1min being close to an all-out effort. You should feel like you don’t have much left at the end of this one.

Workout 2: Time Trials leading up to a 5K or 10K
One of the best ways to learn how to push yourself and feel more comfortable at race pace is by running time trials. This allows you to run all-out without the fear of having that “bad time” by your name at the end of a traditional race.

Week 1: 1.5-mile time trial

Week 4: 1.5- or 2-mile time trial

Week 8: 2-mile time trial

Week 12: 1200-meter or 1-mile time trial

2 weeks out from peak race: 800m time trial

RELATED: If You Run Slow, Who Cares?

Workouts For Racers

Tempo Running
These 3 to 5-mile or 20 to 30-minute workouts are a staple of any solid training plan. However, sometimes racers really struggle to hit consistent tempo runs. This is mostly due to boredom and a lack of focus when it comes to this type of training. To truly develop pace you must do these workouts either on a track or a really flat road loop. Make sure to have a watch and specific time goals for each lap.

Acceleration Run
This workout is meant to teach you how to run negative splits. You must be on a track or very flat road course. Here an example, a 2-mile continuous acceleration run:

First 800m (2 laps) — Marathon pace

Second 800m — Tempo pace

Third 800m — 5K pace

Fourth 800m — 1-mile race pace or faster

These workouts can help you become a better runner, maximizing your strengths and improve your weaknesses. Try the aforementioned workouts this spring and you will make yourself a faster, more balanced runner!

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Faces Of Boston: Christine Thompson http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/faces-boston-christine-thompson_98301 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/faces-boston-christine-thompson_98301#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:17:28 +0000 Caitlyn Pilkington http://running.competitor.com/?p=98301

Christine Thompson and best friend Lisa Persicke at the finish line of the 2012 Boston Marathon. Persicke was struck and killed by a car during a training run later that year.

Stay-at-home mom Christine Thompson is running Boston in memory of her best friend who passed away in 2012.

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Christine Thompson and best friend Lisa Persicke at the finish line of the 2012 Boston Marathon. Persicke was struck and killed by a car during a training run later that year.

Christine L. Thompson, 37

Stay-at-home mom
Buckeye, Ariz.

I started running at the age of 12 and didn’t like it at first. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I realized I was given a gift to run. I competed in both varsity cross country and track in high school, and I’ve had a love for running ever since. My current marathon PR is 3:21 at the Chicago Marathon, and my BQ race for this year was at the 2013 PF Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon (3:29:53). The last time I ran Boston was in 2012, and cheering for me on the side was my best friend, Lisa Persicke.

Little did I know, I had less than a year left with her — she was struck by a car and killed during a training run for the Chicago Marathon on August 19, 2012. The car never stopped. I too was running that morning. Even though we lived in different states at the time, Lisa and I stayed on the same training schedule and kept each other motivated. When I found out the news that my best friend had passed away, I had just finished a 20-miler — and Lisa hadn’t even made it one mile. When given the horrible news that morning, my knees buckled from underneath me, and I had no idea how I was going to keep moving forward, but I did.

Why are you running the 2014 Boston Marathon?

Running the Boston Marathon three times has always been my goal. This was the year that Lisa and I were going to run it together. Lisa and I have both ran the Boston Marathon, although we never ran during the same year. This was the year that Lisa and I were supposed to cross the finish line together. My heart breaks every time I realize I will not see her smiling face at the end. But despite my grief, I persevere. Despite my sadness, I keep living. Despite my fears, I keep running.

What part of the course/event are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to the endless support of spectators on the course, the camaraderie from other runners and of course, the challenge of Heartbreak Hill.

RELATED: Meet Competitor’s Faces Of Boston

What does “Boston Strong” mean to you?

Boston Strong is about the struggle we overcome as runners, the journey it takes to get to the starting line, and the journey it takes to get to the finish. Boston Strong is about not giving up when things get challenging. With one step at a time, we will get to our destination no matter the distance or amount of time it takes to get us there. Within 48 hours of Lisa’s death I ran along the same trail she and I had ran together just months before. This is Boston Strong. Boston Strong means pushing through even though you are scared. It means continuing to do the thing you love, even though something so detrimental has come from it. It means never giving up.

Who is coming out to support you this year?

This year I will be running with Theresa Gill, Jill Klei, and Lisa Welsch. The daughter of Lisa Persicke will there cheering us on.

What is your race-day goal?

This year’s race-day goal is to lose myself in the moment, to be inspired by all who surround me and, most of all, to have fun. The Boston Marathon this year will be a celebration of strength!

Check out Boston Strong, an enriched media project presented by Competitor.com

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Four Boston Marathon Tips From Dick Beardsley http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/four-boston-marathon-tips-from-dick-beardsley_67457 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/four-boston-marathon-tips-from-dick-beardsley_67457#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:25:31 +0000 Caitlin Chock http://running.competitor.com/?p=67457

Among Dick Beardsley's tips for running the Boston Marathon are to have a hydration and nutrition plan that will get you through the race. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Every marathon presents challenges. Boston has a very unique set of them.

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Among Dick Beardsley's tips for running the Boston Marathon are to have a hydration and nutrition plan that will get you through the race. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Every marathon presents challenges. Boston has a very unique set of them.

The Boston Marathon, where miles still hold whispers of legendary duels. “The Boston Marathon is, in my opinion, the King of Kings when it comes to running,” exclaims Dick Beardsley, who finished second to Alberto Salazar in the 1982 edition of the race, famously known as The Duel In The Sun. “I don’t think there is a runner out there that wouldn’t love to say that they ran in the Boston Marathon. Even for people that have never run a step in their life know about the Boston Marathon.”

There are legends of Boston and then there are Gods; the 1982 race between Beardsley and Alberto Salazar put them on Mount Olympus. In a word, that race represents guts. The inward battle to push beyond what you’re body says it’s capable of is something runners seem instinctually drawn to because the mental piece of our sport is the intangible; unlike miles or workouts it can’t quite be explained, it is mysterious.

Boston presents the test of personal wills as any marathon would; however, one can’t escape that Boston’s 26.2 is just different.

“I remember when I graduated from high school in 1975 I’d been running for about a year and a half. My mom and dad, for my graduation, gave me an envelope with a note inside that said, ‘This is good for round trip airfare to the Boston Marathon, maybe someday you will want to run it. Love, Mom and Dad,’” recalls Beardsley. “I didn’t even know my folks had ever heard of Boston and at that point in my short running career I’d never thought once about running a marathon, let alone Boston! To have that race against Alberto on any course would have been memorable, but to have it happen in Boston makes it even more so.”

Over the following pages, Beardsley shares his top tips for racing the world’s oldest annual marathon.

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Workout Of The Week: Alberto’s 300’s http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/training/workout-of-the-week-alberto%e2%80%99s-300%e2%80%99s_13752 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/training/workout-of-the-week-alberto%e2%80%99s-300%e2%80%99s_13752#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:09:35 +0000 Matt Fitzgerald http://running.competitor.com/?p=13752

A set of 300m repeats every other week is a great way to work on developing and maintaining speed. Photo: Sam Wells

Break free from the monotony of the one-lap interval.

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A set of 300m repeats every other week is a great way to work on developing and maintaining speed. Photo: Sam Wells

Break free from the monotony of the one-lap interval.

Four-hundred-meter intervals, or “quarters” as they are known colloquially, are a staple of training for many high school and college runners, and for many adult road racers, too. It’s easy to understand why. Four hundred meters is exactly one lap around a standard outdoor track. Nice and tidy.

Of course, the neatness of the 400m distance is not the only reason it has become a training staple. Running intervals of this distance is also a great way to get in race shape. A fit runner can complete a dozen such intervals in a session at roughly his or her one-mile race pace, with equal-distance jogging recoveries between intervals. This type of workout does a nice job of increasing fatigue resistance and comfort at relatively high speeds.

If the simplicity of the one-lap interval has a downside it’s that it leads runners away from less neat-and-tidy interval lengths that may also be beneficial to them. For example, 300m intervals, or three quarters of one lap of the track.

The legendary runner-turned-coach Alberto Salazar is a big fan of 300’s—so much so that all of his runners do them, while 400m intervals appear sparingly in his training programs. Obviously, 300m intervals can be run a little faster than 400m intervals, yet they do not administer quite the same endurance challenge. Salazar prefers them for long-distance runners especially for precisely this reason: they provide a little more of what’s missing in the other types of workouts that fill these athletes’ training logs: long intervals, tempo runs, long runs, and easy runs.

RELATED: 5 Lessons Learned From Alberto Salazar

For example, many of Salazar’s star runners do a set of 300’s about once every other week, whether they’re training for track races or a marathon. Because this type of workout is not super-specific to either type of racing (meaning Salazar’s runners run the 300’s at a pace faster than they do in a 5K, 10K or marathon events), it is not approached progressively in the context of the training cycle. In other words, the workout does not become increasingly challenging with the addition of intervals each time an athlete does it. Rather, they do the same session almost every time to first develop–and then maintain–speed. Salazar saves the progressive approach for more race-specific types of workouts.

Specifically, many of Alberto’s athletes typically run 7 x 300m fast with 300m jogging recoveries between intervals. This is a good, solid workout but hardly a killer. Any runner can do it, although not every runner can complete his or her 300’s as fast as the runners in the Oregon Project!

If you’ve never done 300’s before, it will take a session or two to get used to them. You’re likely to run them too fast the first time, resulting in inflating interval times as the workout progresses, and you’re almost certain to become more comfortable running 300’s as time passes (initially, that last 100 meters of each interval seems excruciating). A perfectly executed set of 300s is one in which the interval times are consistent from start to finish and the last interval is more or less an all-out effort, meaning you’d be unable to match that time if you ran another 300.

I’ve seen coaches prescribe as many as ten 300’s in a session. There’s nothing to be gained by doing more, whereas you can start with as few as five and get something out of them. Seven 300’s appears to be the magic number for many of Alberto’s athletes, and if it’s good enough for them it ought to be enough for the rest of us!

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About The Author:

Matt Fitzgerald is the author of RUN: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel (VeloPress, 2010) and an expert training content developer for PEAR Sports. Learn more at mattfitzgerald.org.

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2014 Boston Marathon’s Economic Impact Is High http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/2014-boston-marathons-economic-impact-high_99916 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/2014-boston-marathons-economic-impact-high_99916#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 20:09:37 +0000 Competitor.com http://running.competitor.com/?p=99916

Photo: Kurt Hoy

An estimated $175.8 million will be spent by marathon participants, spectators, media and other visitors.

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Photo: Kurt Hoy

An estimated $175.8 million will be spent by marathon participants, spectators, media and other visitors.

Monday’s Boston Marathon and its related events, including the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo and the B.A.A. 5K on Saturday, will bring an estimated $175.8 million dollars in spending impact to the Greater Boston region—the highest-ever—according to Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO, Patrick Moscaritolo.

This year, there will be more than 35,660 official participants in the race, including more than 5,330 participants from more than 70 countries outside the United States. More spectators than ever before will line the 26.2-mile course on Patriots’ Day and more than 1,800 members of the media from more than 300 outlets will cover the race, providing unparalleled international exposure.

RELATED—Sneak Peek: 2014 Boston Gear

“The spending impact of the 118th Boston Marathon provides a huge economic benefit for our visitor industry and it kick starts our spring tourism season,” said Moscaritolo.

“The 2014 Boston Marathon will be a special event for all of the people of Greater Boston and our sport as a whole,” said B.A.A. Executive Director Tom Grilk. “The B.A.A. welcomes participants and spectators from around the world who will patronize Greater Boston’s shops, restaurants, hotels, and local businesses. This year, we will all come together to stand as one in celebration of the resilience of Greater Boston.”

The Centennial Boston Marathon in 1996, which generated $172 million dollars spent, previously held the highest spending impact in Boston Marathon history. The 1996 Boston Marathon had a starting field of 38,708, which stood for more than seven years as the largest in the history of the sport.

The estimated $175.8 million (USD) in spending impact will be generated from the following categories:

—Total spending by 35,660 participants and their guests: $103.7 million (USD)
— Charity fundraising by Marathon participants: $27.5 million (USD)
— Total spending by spectators: $20.0 million (USD)
— Total sponsor and media-related spending: $14.0 million (USD)
— Total spending by the Boston Athletic Association: $10.6 million (USD)

TOTAL: $175.8 million (USD)

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Video: Bill Rodgers On The Boston Marathon Course http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/video-bill-rodgers-boston-marathon-course_99894 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/video-bill-rodgers-boston-marathon-course_99894#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 18:17:22 +0000 Competitor.com http://running.competitor.com/?p=99894

Bill Rodgers discusses his favorite parts of the historic 26.2-mile marathon route that runs from Hopkinton to downtown Boston.

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In this video, four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers discusses his favorite parts of the historic 26.2-mile marathon route that runs from the town center of Hopkinton, Mass., to the finish line on Boylston Street in downtown Boston.

“I love the whole damn course,” Rodgers says. “This is a duke-it-out, go-for-it type of race.”

RELATED VIDEO: Boston, A City of Runners

MORE:
— Boston StrongAn enriched media project presented by Competitor.com

— Complete Coverage: 2014 Boston Marathon

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5 Olympic-Lifting Variations For Runners http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/training/5-olympic-lifting-variations-for-runners_99468 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/training/5-olympic-lifting-variations-for-runners_99468#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 18:15:15 +0000 Jon-Erik Kawamoto, CSCS, CEP http://running.competitor.com/?p=99468

Runners can greatly benefit from Olympic-style weightlifting. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Looking at five explosive weightlifting exercises that can help runners’ strength.

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Runners can greatly benefit from Olympic-style weightlifting. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Looking at five explosive weightlifting exercises that can help runners’ strength.

Traditionally, explosive weightlifting has been reserved for sprinters, but distance runners can also benefit from including these power-producing exercises in their strength and conditioning program. In addition to traditional strength training and plyometric exercises, the Olympic lifts and their variations can help runners improve their potential for performance.

The Science

Power is the amount of force you can produce in a given moment in time. Therefore, the more powerful you are, the more force you can develop in less time. Powerful runners have a higher level of relative strength and can tap into their fast twitch muscle fibers better than weaker runners. According to recent research, you may want to get better at being powerful if you want to improve your racing potential.

Findings from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that runners of different distances had better race performances if they also possessed the ability to develop force quickly. The researchers took NCAA Division I track athletes from several disciplines (sprints, middle and long distance race distances) and tested their power producing ability using a multiple jump test. After measuring power performance, they found a significant correlation between power producing ability and race performance in all subjects. In other words, the more explosive runners were able to run faster race times. To target your fast twitch muscle fibers, runners must incorporate explosive-type exercises into their weekly routine.

Your Olympic-Lifting Variations

The Olympic lifts such as the clean and jerk and snatch are excellent exercises for developing explosive power and athleticism. The full versions of the clean and snatch are very technical exercises that can take up valuable time and energy to learn. Instead, you can perform less technical versions but still reap all the benefits.

Referred to as pulls, these Olympic lifting variations involve the important ankle, knee and hip extension—known as triple extension—involved in the full versions, but do not include the difficult catch phase. Additionally the Olympic lifts can be performed with dumbbells or a sandbag with handles, which are much easier to learn.

Below are exercises that focus on power development. Choose which exercise works best for you and perform 1-2 times per week.

Clean High Pull

How To Do It: Stand with your feet hip width apart with the barbell inline with the top of your laces. Squat down and grab the bar with a double overhand grip shoulder width apart. Stick out your butt and chest and arch your lower back. Pull your shoulders back and keep most of the weight in the middle of your feet. Brace your abs and push the floor away. Lift the bar upward keeping it close to your body. Once the bar passes your knees explosively extend your hips and pull the bar upward toward chest level. Carefully catch the bar and return it to the floor in preparation for the next rep.

Prescription: Perform 3-5 sets of 3 repetitions. Take 2-minutes rest between sets.

Snatch High Pull

How To Do It: Stand with your feet hip width apart with the barbell inline with the top of your laces. Squat down and grab the bar with a double overhand grip two times shoulder width apart. Stick out your butt and chest and arch your lower back. Pull your shoulders back and keep most of the weight in the middle of your feet. Brace your abs and push the floor away. Lift the bar upward keeping it close to your body. Once the bar passes your knees explosively extend your hips and pull the bar upward toward chest level. Carefully catch the bar and return it to the floor in preparation for the next rep.

Prescription: Perform 3-5 sets of 3 repetitions. Take 2-minutes rest between sets.

Single Arm Dumbbell Snatch

How To Do It: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart while straddling a dumbbell. Squat down and grab the dumbbell with your right hand. Stick your butt and chest out and arch your lower back. Brace your abs and swing your left arm back. Explode upward as if jumping off the ground. Pull the weight upward and catch the weight overhead with a straight arm while slightly squatting. Stand fully. Return the dumbbell to the ground in preparation for the next repetition.

Prescription: Perform 3-5 sets of 3 repetitions per side. Take 2-minutes rest between sets.

Ultimate Sandbag Power Clean

How To Do It: Stand behind your sandbag and grip the parallel handles. Tuck your toes slightly under the sandbag and pull it closer to your shins; your knees should be slightly bent with your hips flexed, back and arms straight and chest out. Take the slack out of the bag. Explosively extend your knees and hips to accelerate the sandbag upward. Pull upward and sweep your arms under the sandbag as to receive the bag in the crooks of your arms. Your knees and hips should be slightly flexed to help absorb the shock upon receiving the bag. Stand fully. Roll the bag off your arms and return the bag to the ground in preparation for the next repetition.

Prescription: Perform 3-5 sets of 3-5 repetitions. Take 2-minutes rest between sets.

Ultimate Sandbag High Pull

How To Do It: Stand behind your sandbag and grip the parallel handles. Tuck your toes slightly under the sandbag and pull it closer to your shins; your knees should be slightly bent with your hips flexed, back and arms straight and chest out. Take the slack out of the bag. Explosively extend your knees and hips to accelerate the sandbag upward. Pull upward until the bag reaches approximately chest height. Let the bag return to the ground and prepare for the next repetition.

Prescription: Perform 3-5 sets of 3-5 repetitions. Take 2-minutes rest between sets.

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About The Author: 

Jon-Erik Kawamoto, CSCS, CEP is a runner, strength coach and owner of JKConditioning in St. John’s, NL, Canada. Jon specializes in strength training distance runners and is currently in the middle of preparing a strength training resource for runners. Stay in touch by checking out www.JKConditioning.com.

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I’m A Competitor: Jamie Young http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/im-competitor-jamie-young_99856 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/im-competitor-jamie-young_99856#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:46:26 +0000 Scott Draper http://running.competitor.com/?p=99856

Jamie Young is running for the Shamrock Foundation, which benefits children in need through New England-based non-profit organizations. Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor

The Boston Celtics assistant coach will run the Boston Marathon on April 21.

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Jamie Young is running for the Shamrock Foundation, which benefits children in need through New England-based non-profit organizations. Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor

The Boston Celtics assistant coach will run the Boston Marathon on April 21. 

An assistant coach with the Boston Celtics for the past 13 years, Jamie Young is frequently on the road with the team during the fall, winter and spring. The convenience of being able to run in different NBA host cities is just one reason he considers running to be his primary workout. Young is toeing the line at the Boston Marathon on April 21—his first time tackling 26.2 miles—to raise money for the team’s charity, the Shamrock Foundation, which benefits children in need through New England-based non-profit organizations.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: 2014 Boston Marathon

Why did you start running?

I started getting more into running when my father passed away in 2007, mostly because I wanted to be more health-conscious. I was working out already, but once he passed, I got serious about taking care of my body, taking care of my heart and trying to eat properly.

What do you like about running?

I like to be outside, and it gives me time to myself, so I have a chance to think about things. Sometimes I think about my job or my family or the songs I’m listening to. Sometimes I reflect in prayer when I run. Sometimes when you run for a long time, you forget about your run completely, and that’s great.

How do you fit it into your schedule?

I prefer to run in the mornings. If you work out for one hour of the day, that’s only 4 percent of the day. I think there is always enough time to balance work and everything else and get a workout in, even if you have to get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later.

Where do you run in Boston?

I really like running along the Charles River. I also like running through the city and crossing the finish line on Boylston Street. I imagine what it will be like to finish the marathon on the day of the race.

What does Boston Strong mean to you?

To me, Boston Strong is about the tightness of the city of Boston and the surrounding communities and the togetherness they share. It’s about how everyone got together and supported the victims and the communities after everything happened.

More about Jamie:

Favorite shoes: I’ve been running in the New Balance 860 for my marathon training. I like those a lot.

Rave runs: I run in almost every city when we’re on the road. I really enjoy running along Lake Michigan in Chicago.

Post-run food: I’ll usually eat pasta—mostly spaghetti and lasagna.

Cross-training: In any given week, I’ll play basketball, or I’ll get on an exercise bike, lift some weights or spend some time on an elliptical machine.

This piece first appears in the April issue of Competitor magazine. 

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The Boston Marathon Will Never Be The Same http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/boston-marathon-will-never_99804 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/boston-marathon-will-never_99804#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:04:59 +0000 Brian Metzler http://running.competitor.com/?p=99804

The homestretch of the Boston Marathon along Boylston Street will forever carry the memories of those injured and killed on April 15, 2013. Photo: www.photorun.net

Join us today, April 15, in honoring the victims of last year's Boston Marathon bombing.

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The homestretch of the Boston Marathon along Boylston Street will forever carry the memories of those injured and killed on April 15, 2013. Photo: www.photorun.net

Join us this week in honoring the victims of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing.

This year, the Boston Marathon will be different. And it should be. It’s no longer just a historic race from Hopkinton to Bston, and it will likely never be again.

Although it boasts 117 years of history of racing 26.2 miles on the roads leading into Boston, this year won’t really be about that.

Yes, there will be a race come Marathon Monday and more than 36,000 determined runners will run from Hopkinton back to Boston. But this year, their times and places will be largely irrelevant. It is the simple act of running that is most important this year.

This year has everything to do with remembering last year, getting past last year, and moving on.

This year is about honoring Krystle Marie Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Martin Richard, the three spectators killed by the bomb blasts on Boylston Street, as well as the 250 or so others injured from the blasts. It will be about honoring Sean Collier, the M.I.T. police officer killed three days later in a firefight with the bombing suspects. It’s honoring the first responders who worked immediately and tirelessly to help those hurt on the streets of Boston.

RELATED: Special Feature: Boston Strong

It’s still unthinkable that people were killed and maimed for life while watching or running a marathon. Yet, the victims and their immediate families will carry their scars for the rest of their lives. As runners, we need to carry their memories on Monday during this year’s Boston Marathon but forever more too.

There’s no doubt, the Boston Marathon is changed forever. As far as sporting events go, last year’s race will be remembered in history in the same light as the 1972 Olympics in Munich, during which 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were killed by Palestinian terrorists. As far as history goes, the 2013 Boston Marathon will remembered in the same view as 9/11, a terrorist attack on America.

For runners, it will remain the most respected race in the world, but it will never again be just a race. It will be impossible to ever again run down the homestretch on Boylston Street—arguably the most hallowed ground in the sport of running—without remembering what happened last year.

It remains to be seen whether the Boston Marathon will return to being a race open primarily to qualifiers—those who earn vaunted “BQ” times in their age group—with a small percentage of charity runners, or whether it will continue to offer an expanded field for victims, victims’ families and a larger percentage of charity runners.

Chasing a BQ time to try and qualify will remain a highly noble endeavor, but doing so now might carry more meaning, even if subtly, given the lingering anguish that will always be connected to the race. But it’s through the chasing of those qualifying times and the strength we all possess as runners that the spirit of the race will prevail.

“Without a doubt, the stakes have changed in this one,” race director Dave McGillivray told Competitor over the winter.

McGillivray recalled an article he wrote 10 or so years ago for a regional running publication in which he put the Boston Marathon into perspective.

“I wasn’t being facetious, but I said ‘it’s only a road race,’ ” McGillivray recalled. “What I said then was that ‘people should understand there are other things going on in the world that are important, but this is only a road race. Let’s make sure we understand that.’”

Now McGillivray wants to re-write that article.

“It really is more than a road race,” he said. “There are so many different connections and dimensions to this, especially now. So many people want to be a part of it, so many people want to use it to heal.”

RELATED: Faces of Boston 2014

Running 26.2 miles has always carried a special celebration of personal achievement, both for Boston qualifiers and for charity runners. This year and forever more, the feeling of personal achievement finishing the Boston Marathon will include a certain amount of remembrance and respect for the victims.

The conclusion of the 2014 Boston Marathon on April 21 will start to offer closure, officially sealing last year’s events into history. But the blood-stained memories of last year’s event are now weaved into the fabric of the race.

Next year, the Boston Marathon might start to seem like just a race again. but it will never be just a race. The memory and honor of the victims need to be carried in the footsteps of every runner who runs from Hopkinton to Boston. As runners, we have to move on, but it’s our duty to never forget.

Please consider donating to The One Fund Boston or the Collier Fund.

Remember M.I.T. officer Sean A Collier

Donate to The One Fund Boston

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Pilk’s Points: An Editor Looks Ahead To The Boston Marathon http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/pilks-points-an-editor-looks-ahead-to-the-boston-marathon_98003 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/pilks-points-an-editor-looks-ahead-to-the-boston-marathon_98003#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:21:37 +0000 Caitlyn Pilkington http://running.competitor.com/?p=98003

The finish line area at the Boston Marathon next week will be filled with thousands of runners, spectators, and workers. Photo: www.photorun.net

The bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon affected everyone, from the runners and spectators to the staff and journalists at the race.

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The finish line area at the Boston Marathon next week will be filled with thousands of runners, spectators, and workers. Photo: www.photorun.net

The bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon affected everyone, from the runners and spectators to the marathon staff and journalists covering the race.

I had the privilege of getting a first-hand edit on our Boston Strong feature, which you can find in our March print issue as well as online in an enriched digital version. At first glance, the layout looked solid—pools of blue and yellow were strategically placed throughout the pages, pull-quotes filled available space and added some extra oomph and flair, and original photos graced every page, giving the 9-pager plenty of context. The piece looked solid from a first-glance editorial and design standpoint.

Then I read it in its entirety.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve also read dozens of April 15 recounts, reasons for running the 2014 Boston Marathon and stories from your everyday runner across the nation, in an effort to deliver heartfelt, real accounts of the Faces of Boston. Some have included letters from loved ones, others have included desires to conquer unfinished business when their hard-earned goals were cut short after the bombs went off.

It’s really just supposed to be another edit project to cover another year at the greatest road race in the country—and the world.

My job as an editor is to catch the big and small errors, analyze sentence and paragraph structure, give feedback to the writer, and make sure the thing gets out the door in its cleanest form. Most of the time, my emotional connection to my projects, if any at all, isn’t powerful enough to cloud my squinting red-pen eyes as I edit just another feature or story. But as my eyes fell on the third account from a 2013 Boston Marathon participant, the tears welled, and my gut tightened. I paused and re-read the paragraph. Is this real life? No, that didn’t really happen, did it? I ended up reading the entire thing twice: once for the feelings and a second time to actually get something done.

RELATED: The Boston Marathon Will Never Be The Same

It’s been one year since that day on Boylston Street, a location that has now left a permanent mark in the heart of runners worldwide. I still remember all the emotional jolts I felt for the weeks and months following. I knew it was real when I watched senior editor Mario Fraioli’s eyes well up as he told us he skipped out on covering the event for the first time in years for his honeymoon. I knew it hurt when I stumbled through editor-in-chief Brian Metzler’s intense blog on how the day’s horrific events left all staff on lockdown for hours. I knew it changed the face of my sport when I sat and stared at a blank screen for two hours—the only time running left me feeling too jostled for words, when normally running brings clarity. I watched Shalane Flanagan cross the line earlier that morning—and I stared at CNN as the finish line blew up later that afternoon.

However, as I re-read the feature after reaching for the tissues, I was reminded of a few other moments that are sure to stand out and speak louder than the negative aftermath of April 15, 2013. I watched my little sister run her way to the BQ performance in January; she will be toeing the line at the 2015 event. I remember reading clusters of blogs and the personal accounts regarding April 15—with the common theme of “You will not take our sport.” The influx of Boston Marathon interest spread to all corners of the country, including San Diego—even friends who initially cocked their heads at why I was so hurt by the terrorist attacks were boasting blue and yellow spirit, ready to earn a BQ, knowing it meant something more now. I remember those people, the ones who have never even ran a step in their life, but they embrace the healing process and acknowledge that running is a special way toward healing, closure, and moving on. Sometimes, it is the only way. And I watch and re-watch the first episode of the Kenya Project—not only for the epic African countryside and spectacular coverage of Desi Linden’s Boston training in Iten, but also for the spirit behind her words and the pure happiness behind the smiles of our video producer Steve Godwin and photo editor Scott Draper. They truly captured the spirit of Boston on the other side of the world.

RELATED: Boston, A City Of Runners

Perhaps this is merely a shout-out to my team at Competitor for an ongoing job well done of capturing so much raw emotion and also presenting a flawless picture of Boston’s resilient attitude and community. Or maybe it’s to remind myself that a runner’s spirit is stronger than a victim’s fear. We were all victims on April 15—some drastically more than others—and the tragic events reached everyone and challenged our faith in humanity. But they didn’t kill our spirit. Or maybe it’s just another blog screaming, “You will not take our sport.” All of the above? Perhaps. April 21 will undoubtedly be one of the biggest days in running history, for Boston, for Competitor, and for hundreds of other media outlets, as we cover the Patriot’s Day race on the ground in Beantown and at home in San Diego. We will all go about our jobs, keeping our emotions close and duties closer in order to deliver the greatest coverage of an even greater event. But behind every press pass, Tweet, Instagram photo, and hot-off-the-press web article stands 36,000 runners, and even more without bibs, prepared to lead the Boston Strong running boom straight into the history books.

And there’s certainly no edit needed for that.

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Boston-Bound: Lanni Marchant’s Border Wars http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/boston-bound-lanni-marchants-border-wars_99775 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/boston-bound-lanni-marchants-border-wars_99775#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:40:41 +0000 Jon Gugala http://running.competitor.com/?p=99775

Lanni Marchant spent 6 weeks in Kenya preparing for next Monday's Boston Marathon with American marathoner Desiree Linden. Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor

Canada’s best marathoner remains in conflict with her country and the U.S.

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Lanni Marchant spent 6 weeks in Kenya preparing for next Monday's Boston Marathon with American marathoner Desiree Linden. Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor

Canada’s best marathoner remains in conflict with her country and the U.S.

Lanni Marchant enters a Nashville coffee shop dressed like a rock star: black motorcycle jacket, blue hair, and silver ballet flats. It’s her 30th birthday, and before she reached it, she became the best Canadian distance runner in history. Next Monday, she’ll line up with the elite field at the 118th running of The Boston Marathon.

In October, Marchant broke the 28-year-old Canadian marathon record at Toronto, running 2 hours, 28 minutes even. After spending six weeks in Kenya training with Desiree Linden this winter, Marchant then set the national record in the half marathon, 1:10:47, in March in Nashville. Canada, where she’s a citizen, should have put her face on a stamp, and the U.S., where she lives, should have thrown her a parade. Instead, Marchant enters her 30s a woman without a country and trapped between two.

“I think [Canada] loves me now,” Marchant says. “But it was an acquired taste for both of us.”

There are a number of reasons why Canada has difficulty embracing its best distance runner. Part of it is because the nation can’t embrace her: Marchant has mostly lived in the U.S. since college. Another is that she’s been openly critical of Athletics Canada, her country’s governing body of sport. But the biggest reason Canadian running fans have no need for Marchant is because Marchant has no need for them or for running in the first place: she has a job, and it’s being a lawyer, not a runner.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: 2014 Boston Marathon

Though it’s happened for years to their best athletes, Canadians still turn sour on preps who are wooed from the motherland by the temptations of the NCAA.

“There’s a certain level of pride, rooting for an athlete that’s come up through the Canadian system more than someone who goes out to the States,” says Simon Bairu, the Canadian 10,000-meter record-holder. Bairu left his home of Regina for the University of Wisconsin, winning NCAA titles and following coach Jerry Schumacher to Portland after graduation.

Michael Doyle, Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Running Magazine, agrees: “It hurts their marketability. If they go to school in the U.S., we can lose track of them for a few years.”

Marchant expatriated to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and then disappeared further into the NCAA system, spending much of her five-year career on crutches. She finished college as a 34-minute 10K girl—good but not great—and went to law school, debuting in the marathon in 2011 to pay rent.

“I always thought if I could get on a level playing field with the other girls, I could be good,” she says about her 2:49 debut. “Good” was defined as dipping under 2:40.

RELATED: Marchant Breaks Canadian Marathon Record

Running for Marchant has always been about balance. “I’d been a student-athlete my entire life, so I didn’t know how to be a student without being an athlete,” she says. “I tried just to be the student and to go to the pub with my friends—be a ‘normal person.’ [But] I didn’t know how to handle my school workload without having the timeline of get up and run in the morning and run after class.”

But it was in 2012, after running a massive PR of 2:31:51 in the Rotterdam Marathon, that she really grabbed national attention after crying foul on Athletics Canada, the country’s governing body of sport. AC refused to let her and compatriot Krista DuChene compete in the 2012 Olympics despite the fact that both held times well under the Olympic “A” standard of 2:37:00. Marchant and DuChene weren’t under the AC standard of 2:29:55, which was designed to produce athletes that wouldn’t be merely decorative in international competition.

Marchant called them biased and unfair in legalese, but it did no good: AC refused, sending no female marathoners to the 2012 Olympics, and it further strained a distant relationship. “It didn’t make sense to me to have nobody line up to compete,” she says. “From the athletes’ standpoint, having that experience, lining up in 2012, who knows what that could have done for me in terms of my confidence later on. I wasn’t a fan of AC after that appeal.”

RELATED: Marchant Out To Prove A Point

But the most vulnerable Marchant has ever been was in the fall of 2013, just before her record-breaking run at the Toronto Marathon. She was coming off a poor performance months earlier, limping through the finish line of the 2013 IAAF World Championships Marathon. “If I crapped out at Toronto, OK, well then Rotterdam was a fluke, I have my law degree, I have my debt to pay off, my family expects me to be this lawyer, I guess I’m going to be a lawyer now,” she says. “But then I didn’t.”

Rotterdam wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t there in Toronto, where she broke the national record, and it isn’t now as Marchant approaches the 2014 Boston Marathon. After six weeks of training with Linden in Kenya—Marchant’s third trip in as many years—she’s fitter than she’s ever been. But though she remains a product of Canada and a resident of the U.S., she still occupies the No Man’s Land in between.

“If I do really well [in Boston], nobody in the U.S. is going to care—I’m just some random white girl who displaced the Americans,” she says. “I live very much like a professional athlete. The difference is, some days I have to get up and put on a pencil skirt and high heels and go to court.”

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Faces Of Boston: Dustin Hinkle http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/faces-boston-david-hinkle_98294 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/faces-boston-david-hinkle_98294#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:10:32 +0000 Caitlyn Pilkington http://running.competitor.com/?p=98294

Dustin Hinkle qualified for this year's Boston Marathon at the 2013 Napa Valley Marathon (2:57:02).

Dustin Hinkle draws a comparison to the Columbine school shooting when talking about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

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Dustin Hinkle qualified for this year's Boston Marathon at the 2013 Napa Valley Marathon (2:57:02).

Dustin Hinkle, 28

Accountant
Denver, Colo.

When I failed to walk onto my college soccer team in 2004, I started running as another way to stay fit. My father is a runner, so I followed the family tradition. I ran my first half marathon in 2006, followed by my first marathon a year later in a disappointing time. At the 2012 Santa Rosa Marathon I finished in 3:05:03, falling an excruciating three seconds short of qualifying for the 2013 Boston Marathon. I set my PR in March 2013 in my fifth marathon, running a 2:57:02 at the Napa Valley Marathon and qualifying for this year’s race.

Why are you running the 2014 Boston Marathon?

My father, a sergeant at the Lakewood, Colo., Police Department, was one of the first responders to the Columbine High School shootings in April 1999. I still remember the cuts from broken glass on my father’s forearms and what it felt like to watch him answering questions on the news. Even though I failed to qualify for the 2013 Boston Marathon, my dad ended up being thankful that I was not in Boston for the race. I will be running my first Boston Marathon in part to honor my father and all the first responders who have acted with heroism in tragic circumstances.

What part of the course/event are you most looking forward to?

I am most excited to see my nephew cheering along the course and to celebrate with my family after the race. I am also looking forward to experiencing the legendary cheering college students and the free kisses being doled out by the Wellesley College girls.

RELATED: Meet Competitor’s Faces Of Boston

What does “Boston Strong” mean to you?

After Columbine, our community rallied around the phrase “We Are All Columbine.” I feel Boston Strong captures a similar spirit that can be found throughout our nation’s history. At times of our worst vulnerability, we are driven to rally together in a display of unwavering strength through unity.

Who is coming out to support you this year?

My father, sister, handsome nephew, beautiful girlfriend and her father will all be coming out to Boston to support me this year. I am fortunate to have such an amazing support crew joining me in Boston.

What is your race-day goal?

I want to set a new marathon PR and run a sub-2:55. If the weather is not conducive to a PR, then I want to place better than my bib number: 3214.  Lastly, I want to make an effort to remember my five favorite hand-made signs from the course.

Check out Boston Strong, an enriched media project presented by Competitor.com

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Meet Competitor’s 2014 Faces Of Boston http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/meet-competitors-2014-faces-of-boston_98598 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/meet-competitors-2014-faces-of-boston_98598#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:00:31 +0000 Caitlyn Pilkington http://running.competitor.com/?p=98598

Boston came together in the wake of the bombing at last year's race. Photo: Competitor.com

Join us as we share 14 stories of inspiration ahead of this year's Boston Marathon.

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Boston came together in the wake of the bombing at last year's race. Photo: Competitor.com

Join us as we share 14 stories of inspiration ahead of this year’s Boston Marathon over the next 14 days.

On April 15, 2013, the core of the Boston Marathon and its beloved host city was shaken by the unthinkable, sending a nationwide ripple of horror, disbelief and a chaotic scramble for answers. Over the last year, thousands of runners across the United States have searched for their own answers—and closure—by lacing up their shoes, restarting their watches, taking a deep breath and running toward a renewed sense of security within the sport we hold so dear. And if you’ve followed the stories out of Boston over the past year, it’s clear that the healing process and moves toward closure are in full effect.

MORE: Check out Boston Strong, an enriched media project presented by Competitor.com

Those stories—the Faces of Boston—reached all corners of the nation, inspiring thousands to define their own Boston Strong. For Stephanie Abraham of Chapmanville, W.V., Boston Strong is a way of stating that runners are the most resilient people on earth. For Dustin Hinkle of Denver, Colo., Boston Strong mimics the same unwavering community strength that followed the Columbine tragedy, where his father was a first responder. “After Columbine, our community rallied around the phrase, ‘We Are All Columbine.’  I feel ‘Boston Strong’ captures a similar spirit that can be found throughout our nation’s history.”

For every runner, those words rally different emotions—but on April 21, all 36,000 runners who toe the line, as well as the thousands tuning in around the world, will take back Boston in one swift stride over 26.2 miles, reminding the world that April 21 is our day, and the Boston Marathon is our race.

Hinkle and Abraham are just two of the 14 running stories representing the 2014 Faces of Boston at Competitor.com, which will be rolled out daily between now and Sunday, April 20. From charity runners, recovering alcoholics and first-time marathoners to working parents, weight-loss champions and grieving victims of loss, every story has a story and a reason for running the 118th Boston Marathon.

2014 Faces Of Boston

Check back daily from April 7-20.

April 7: Mark Herzog

April 8: Dawn Cobak

April 9: Brad McCorry

April 10: Kathy Green

April 11: Almario Gonzales

April 12: Nadia Ruiz Gonzales

April 13: Michael Wardian

April 14: Stephanie Abraham

April 15: Dustin Hinkle

April 16: Christine Thompson

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Is Peaking Psychological? http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/training/is-peaking-psychological_55641 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/training/is-peaking-psychological_55641#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:35:26 +0000 Matt Fitzgerald http://running.competitor.com/?p=55641

To have your best day on race day you might want to focus more on mental strength than on fitness.

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To have your best day on race day you might want to focus more on mental strength than on fitness. 

In the sport of running, the term “peaking” refers to the art of maximizing one’s performance capacity for an important race through a process of incremental fitness building. Traditionally, peaking has been thought of as a completely physiological phenomenon. You run faster on race day than you could have run weeks earlier because your training has increased your VO2max, running economy, and so forth. But there is evidence that, in many cases, runners perform better in a big race than they can weeks earlier despite not being measurably fitter.

How is this possible? The mind is a powerful thing.

In college cross country, runners aim to peak for the championship races that come at the end of the season. Most runners start the season already fit from summer base training and race frequently throughout the season, so building fitness toward a peak level is tricky. In fact, a 2010 study involving members of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point men’s cross country team found that fitness did not increase at all over the course of a full season, a phenomenon that is probably not uncommon.

Corey Baumann and Thomas Wetter measured the anaerobic power, VO2max, running economy, ventilatory threshold, and lactate threshold of team runners at the start of a cross country season and again at the end. Anaerobic power actually decreased significantly while all of the other variables were unchanged. Yet most of the runners produced faster race times at the end of the season than they did at the beginning and reported feeling fitter as well. It is possible that the tests that were employed failed to capture an important physiological improvement that did occur, but the authors of the study also suggested another possibility.

RELATED: The Art Of Peaking

“I believe the better performances at the end of the season were likely due, in part, to some psychological improvement,” Corey Baumann stated in an e-mail message. “Maybe at the start of the season they could only handle 30 seconds of pain and by the end of the season they could handle 60 seconds of pain. This could be compared to getting a shot from the doctor’s office. If you only do it once every year, the pain of the needle seems pretty intense, but let’s say you went to the doctor’s office once every week or month. The pain is still the same, but you are able to handle it better. Maybe not the best analogy, but I hope you can see the connection I am trying to make; the season of workouts and races improved their pain tolerance. Just because you don’t see any change in a physiological variable(s), doesn’t necessary mean you won’t see a change in performance.”

Baumann’s speculation is supported by evidence from other research. In a classic 1981 study, for example, Scottish researchers demonstrated the importance of pain tolerance in swimming. Karel Gijsbers and Vivian Scott induced ischemic pain—a kind of oxygen-deprivation pain—in 30 elite swimmers by having them make a fist once every second while wearing a highly pressurized blood pressure cuff around their upper arms. Pain tolerance was quantified as the number of fist contractions—each more painful than the last—a subject was willing to endure before quitting. The test was repeated a few times over the course of a season. Pain tolerance increased as the swimmers’ training became more intensive and their biggest meets drew closer. This finding suggests that increased pain tolerance was probably responsible for at least a portion of any improvement in race times that the swimmers experienced across the season.

RELATED — Race-Week Workouts: The Final Countdown

It is important to note that the contribution of increasing pain tolerance to peaking is greatest for experienced runners who are already fit when they start a new cycle of training. For less experienced runners and anyone starting a training cycle at a relatively low fitness level, physiological changes such as increased VO2max will be critical to performance improvement.

If it’s true that peaking is more psychological than physiological for experienced and fit runners, how should this reality be accounted for in your training? First, you should avoid pushing too hard in your training, particulcarly as the race nears closer. After all, you’re already fit. You don’t need to push the envelope with your training and risk burnout to transform your body since your body is already prepared. The mind and brain adapt to challenges much faster than the body. You don’t have to turn yourself inside out with brutal workouts day after day to strengthen your mind for racing. Instead, pick your spots. Very hard workouts are necessary, but you don’t need to do a lot of them. A handful of painful workouts sprinkled across the training cycle—and somewhat bunched toward the end—will do the job.

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About The Author:

Matt Fitzgerald is the author of RUN: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel (VeloPress, 2010) and an expert training content developer for PEAR Sports. Learn more at mattfitzgerald.org.


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Training Doesn’t Occur In A Vacuum http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/training/training-doesnt-occur-in-a-vacuum_73170 http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/training/training-doesnt-occur-in-a-vacuum_73170#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:25:03 +0000 Jeff Gaudette http://running.competitor.com/?p=73170

When it's hot out, slow down your pace — and drink some water. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Everything from work stressors to the air temperature can affect your workouts.

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When it's hot out, slow down your pace — and drink some water. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Everything from work stressors to the air temperature can affect your workouts.

As a runner, one of the most difficult concepts to understand is the idea that individual workouts do not occur in isolation of one another. The reality is that every workout is influenced by a myriad of factors and, more importantly, a singular workout can impact your upcoming runs for as many as 10 days after it’s finished.

Understanding the concept that training or an individual workout doesn’t occur in a vacuum is essential to staying healthy long-term, avoiding overtraining, and performing optimally. In this article, we’ll explore three common situations where runners typically forget this principle and how it can impact your training progress.

Running Too Hard

Perhaps it’s easiest to start with a situation you’ve no doubt experienced.

You have a VO2 max or speed session scheduled for today and you’re feeling great. You hit the track and crush the workout — running each repeat much faster than your prescribed pace and you still felt strong. Great news, right?

Not so fast (pun intended).

While you no doubt accomplished the objective of the workout and running fast didn’t change the primary energy system you wanted to target, like running too fast on a tempo run would, it’s possible you’re placing more strain and fatigue on your body than anticipated, which could result in injury.

Training would be much simpler if injuries and overtraining appeared as a direct result or immediately after a specific workout. Unfortunately, injuries and overtraining typically occur as the result of many seemingly minor factors. It’s the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” idiom applied to training.

In this specific case, metabolically, running faster was within your ability. However, we know that the structural system (muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones) often lags behind your fitness. As a result, running faster might have stressed muscles in your hips or feet that weren’t strong enough yet to support such intense paces.

Consequently, you’re going to need more recovery. That might mean shortening your next easy run, scheduling an extra day off, or pushing back your next workout. However, if you’re like most runners I know, this won’t happen. While you might get away with ignoring the long-term stress of one workout occasionally, it’s only a matter of time before it catches up with you.

RELATED: If You Run Slow, Who Cares?

Shuffling Workouts

Similarly, you need to be cautious when moving scheduled workouts around to accommodate work, travel or family. While these situations are often unavoidable, it’s important to consider how moving a workout impacts recovery and how you’ll feel during subsequent runs or workouts.

The body operates in a purely physiological environment and it doesn’t recover faster simply because we need to run our long run a day earlier. Likewise, as much as we wish it did, the body doesn’t adhere to our concept of a week. Just because your training week ends on a Sunday, it doesn’t mean you start fresh on Monday. The miles and workouts are still in your legs.

While it’s difficult to provide general advice about the best way to shuffle workouts, there is one piece of advice that will always apply regardless of your situation. It’s better to be cautious and skip a hard workout in favor of rest or an easy day than to cram intense sessions too close together. Training is like making popcorn; it’s better to be slightly undercooked than a little overcooked.

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Weather And Other Outside Factors

Finally, it’s important to remember that your training is affected by your entire environment, not just the workouts on your schedule.

Performing yard work after your weekend long run is going to delay your recovery compared to spending the day with your feet kicked up watching track on television. It’s important to keep these outside stressors in mind when planning your recovery or trying to deduce why you feel more tired than expected.

Stressors like yard work or an insane day at the office are easy to identify. However, one factor most runners ignore is the impact of the heat on recovery. As summer approaches, it’s crucial to understand how your recovery is affected by hot weather.

As anyone who has trained in warm weather knows, a hard workout on a hot day means you’re going to have to slow down. Most runners can begrudgingly accept that. Yet, the negative impact of the heat doesn’t exist in the vacuum of that one workout. It affects your recovery for all subsequent runs.

The body recovers by delivering oxygen and nutrients to the muscles through the circulatory system — via blood. In the heat, the body cools itself by sending blood to the skin to be cooled by the air. As a result, there is less blood available to repair the muscles. This process also uses energy that would otherwise be available for recovery. So, even when you’re not running, the body is spending energy to keep you cool as opposed to promoting recovery.

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Therefore, running a workout in hot weather doesn’t just impact that one run. The delayed recovery impacts your subsequent workouts. This is one of the primary reasons you always feel terrible when training in the summer.

Remember that training doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Your performance during a specific workout is affected by your schedule, the weather, and your previous workouts and runs that week. Furthermore, the fatigue you generate carries over into your subsequent runs. By keeping this bit of training advice in mind, you’ll be more consistent with your workouts and avoid injury and overtraining.

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