Picture Santa running perfect pace for a slightly hilly Half Marathon. Yes. Picture it. That’s what I did before I ran the Santa Hustle last year because I try to visualize every detail of the race before I run it.
Running the Santa Hustle in Sevierville TN
Part of your regular training should be mentally preparing for your race. This takes on several forms while training and does not necessarily require spending any more time on your running than you already do. Just use your brain during your existing training to amplify your results.
1. Running Intervals
Your interval sessions, whether on the track or on the road, should mimic your race goals. My goal time for the next 800 Meter repeat should not merely be 2:40. It should be “5K race Pace.” So in your head as you approach the line to start your half mile of zippiness, your…
This is a great article about running injury free that I saw because Patrick Gallagher posted it on facebook. As with any great running article, I have to add a little bit to it! So read the article, read my comments and then add your own best ideas for preventing injury! Your legs will thank you.
I am about 95% in agreement with the author’s reccomendations.
While I agree with the weight training comments in general, I also think that many runners can do body weight exercise and accomplish the same goals. The squats and dead lifts might work for some but many of us could do lunges, body weight squats, single leg squats and some drills. I will do some weight machines and weighted squats for about 6 weeks during a low mileage phase of rest during the summer.
Respecting the recovery process and searching for variety…
Gainesville inspires runners and writers. If you’re looking for some good training material, poetry, or a fun bit of fiction, all can be found from authors with local connections to Gainesville.
Pain, by Dan Middleman
Dan was my teammate at the University of Florida and made the Olympic team in the 10K. While this book is somewhat dark it has some classic stories about runners, motivation, victory and defeat. Not for young audiences. Probably college or older. Dan also wrote “The Burden” which I have not read but I will be reading soon.
Mike was also a teammate of mine at the University of Florida and a heck of a runner. He was USATF National Champion in 1997 over 10,000 meters and has many other trophies on his shelf. The Coin is one of his more recent novels. All of them have running themes, shady…
I have witnessed an interesting trend in fitness marketing that is a bit surprising and disturbing to me. There is a common message out there on blogs, marketing brochures and promotional material for gyms that uses a Marathoner vs Sprinter analogy to promote High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Let me share some examples and my comments. First, this one appeared at the gym where I work out:
The picture includes Usain Bolt and Constantino Leon.
It juxtaposes a picture of Usain Bolt, Jamaican sprinter, with a picture of Constantino Leon, a Peruvian distance runner. The implied message is that if you want the body of Usain Bolt, which is very attractive, you should do their HIIT training, not run. Here’s the real irony. Mr. Leon has a Half Marathon PR of 1:03:53 and I will personally guarantee you 100% that he utilizes Interval training in his plan!!! Nobody runs a…
There are many variations on the theme but the point is to throw in 5-8 surges during a regular training run to work on your anaerobic threshold. I like to do 6 surges of 5:00 each with about 3:00 to 4:00 of regular training run pace in between. The keys are:
Run the surges at a target effort for 10K or 15K race pace.
Keep the running in between the surges at a solid training run pace.
Don’t take more than 5:00 “rest” between surges.
The surges should be at least 3:00.
This kind of run can be done on a regular training run and adjusted easily to your fitness level and goals. Love it because it will increase your endurance and give you confidence that you can shift gears to go faster when you want to. Love it because it is fun to say, “FARTLEK!”
This article is a balanced, fair assessment of how to determine how much mileage you should run and how many days a week you should run. Of course I can’t just let the expert say it all. Here’s my take on the discussion as well.
I’ve been asked this question several times and anyone who knows me realizes I swing to the high mileage side of the discussion. A fellow runner on Daily Mile asked, “Don’t you need a rest day between 10 milers?” and I responded, “10 miles IS a rest day.” I love counting the donuts I’ve burned, as reported by Daily Mile.
That’s 500 Dozen. If you stacked all those donut boxes on top of each other, the stack would be over 83 ft high. That’s how many calories I’ve burned in the last 3 1/2 years since I started logging miles on…
Everyone loves a countdown or top rating list. So to provide that for you as we head into a new racing season here is a list of the best races in town! A few weeks ago, I did a survey of 115 local runners and asked a number of questions about local races. What surface do you like to run on? What type of awards do you like? Do you want a tech fabric shirt or cotton? Or a no-shirt option for $5 less? We also asked runners to rate 19 local races on a scale of 1-5 stars. The runners were asked to rate the race only if they had run it in the last two years. So here’s the top 8 ranked by a blended %. That just means 5 stars =100%, 4 stars = 80% and so on. Therefore, if everyone who ran the race, gave it 5 stars, the score would be 100%.
Tom Walker Memorial Half Marathon (Hawthorne Trail)
Flatwoods 5K (Austin Carey Memorial Forest)
Five Points of Life Half Marathon
Newnan’s Lake 15K (Earl Powers Park)
Trail of Payne 10K (Payne’s Prairie trail run)
Race the Tortoise 5K (O’Leno State Park)
LGAA 5K (Ironwood Golf Course)
Turkey Trot 10K (Tacachale)
So what makes a highly rated race better? Looking at other survey factors, it is easy to see why the Tom Walker Half Marathon scores so well.
Most popular distance? Half Marathon.
Most popular surface to race on? Paved bike path.
Price? It is in line with what people expect to pay for a Half Marathon.
Is it a scenic course? Yes. (According to the survey, a scenic course is one of the top 5 most important factors when chosing a race!)
So on many of the most important factors that runners value, the Tom Walker Half Marathon hits the mark. No wonder it is #1!
Also worth noting, there are many races in town that scored really well (over 70%) that I would certainly recommend. This list is just the ones that scored over 85%. So find a race, train hard and run fast! See you at the races.
What shoes are the best to run in? Has anyone ever asked you that? My answer is usually, “Lloyd Clarke shoes.”
Lloyd Clarke Sports has their own BRAND of shoes now? No, but as my very small bit of research shows, there is a reason Lloyd Clarke Sports carries so many brands and styles of shoes. I took a quick survey of the runners at our Sunday Run Day training run yesterday. I asked them what shoes they were wearing for the run, why they like them and how many pairs of running shoes they wear during the week.
Runners at the Sunday Run Day Group run= 14 [6 women and 8 men]
Most popular Brands:
Most popular style:
Saucony Kinvara 3
Brooks Ghost 2
Most common reasons they like their shoes
Good Fit 2
Color 2 (notably the 2 who said color was an important factor were both men)
Total pairs of running shoes owned by the group: 39
Average pairs per person: 2.78
Most pairs used by one runner: 5
So what does this tell you as a runner hunting for the best running shoe for your foot? We had 14 runners, 8 different brands and 10 different styles. I think that means your best bet for finding your perfect shoe is a place where they offer a large variety of brands and styles. Try them on. Get professional help in fitting them. Run on a treadmill for a while in them.
I am one of two people with 5 pairs of shoes in my weekly rotation. Partly because I want different shoes for different surfaces or types of training and partly because my shoes are always wet and it is hard to have a dry pair unless I cycle through a few.
Saucony Kinvara Used for daily mileage, tempo runs or a Marathon race
Inov8 Terrafly Trail shoe for long runs in San Felasco
NewBalance 1400 Daily mileage or tempo runs. Very light shoe.
Saucony A5 Racing flat used for track work or racing
Newton Momentum Trail shoe for shorter trail runs
Other shoes I’ve owned recently but that are not in my current rotation:
Marathons are not enough. Now we need ULTRA Marathons. It isn’t enough to have sports. TV viewers now demand EXTREME Sports. And for the first time, the Tour de Pain isn’t adequate. First Place Sports had to take it up to the EXTREME with the Tour de Pain Extreme. Three starting lines in 24 hours; 10K, 5K and Half Marathon. 22.4 miles of racing. I fully acknowledge that from a training perspective for a goal oriented runner, this is not an event to do. You don’t want to PR in any of the races. Either you’ll blow your shot at the last race or save too much and leave precious time on the table in the early races. That’s exactly the intrigue. How hard should you run in the first two races? If you sit back, how much time can you really make up in the half marathon? The intrigue sucked me in and that’s how I ended up driving to Jacksonville at 4:30 AM on Saturday morning. I had a long drive to think about my plan. Even my committee of trusted advisors came to a split decision. Two said, run hard (but not too hard) the first two, maybe just :05 – :10 slower per mile than 100% effort. Then count on guts, strength and marathon training to pull through the half marathon. Then there were the conservative minds telling me to take it really easy for the first two races and blast the half marathon. One wanted to split the difference and said to go easy on the 10K, then “Who cares about a 5K? Just hammer it! And finish up with a blood and guts effort in the half marathon.” My decision was to run mostly by effort and just try to stay with the other runners. “You gotta be in it to win it!” was a slogan popular with my college coach. So I’d run as easy as I could, while still staying in the hunt. No hanging back like the conservative advisors recommended, unless the other runners dictated that. Starting Line #1 A half mile into the 10K, the lines were pretty clear. Sammy Palmer, who beat me at the Tom Walker Half Marathon and Trail of Payne 10K, shot out to a lead. The chase pack was Orinthal Striggles, Paul McRae, a few other runners and me. Orinthal and Paul took control of the group and I slid in behind them. By the 5K point, I was the only one in the group with Paul and Orinthal. Paul worked the late hills to put a small gap on us and Orinthal sat on my shoulder. With the finish line in sight, Paul surged to a sprint and Orinthal blasted a 200 meter kick like he was in an 800M race. I cruised in to 36:15 with a smile. 4th place.
I crossed the line, and gave a high five to the guys in front of me, then ran straight to my truck and chugged down some chocolate milk with a hardboiled egg. Recovery food was going to be important. I jogged a mile and then ate some more. No beer after this one, although it was available. I loaded into my truck and drove to Hanna Park on the beach, checked into my camp site and went straight to the beach. Wading into the 70 degree water was a little uncomfortable but the cool healing of the ocean was needed to set the legs back to full strength and settle the mind to focus on the next race. Starting Line #2 Heavy Rain left Jacksonville humid and warm. More storms were on the way and Doug Alred advised the runners, “If it starts to lightning a lot, we advise you to seek shelter and stop running. We will however keep the finish line open…” There were new faces on the line for the 5K so they were not part of the series but they served the purpose that inexperienced, young runners serve at every 5K in America: They took the pace out fast. A line formed single file behind the strongest rabbit down the street in front of The Landing: Orinthal, Paul, Sam, and me. After the mile mark, Orinthal made a strong move and Sam went with him. I hung back with Paul and a fading rabbit. By the end, Orinthal was a minute ahead of me, the rabbit blew by me in the last 100M and Paul again finished strong, looking comfortable just :06 in front of me. 17:44, 5th place (4th of the runners doing the series)
Gatorade, bananas, a hardboiled egg and a beer seemed like good recovery food. I scarfed it down, not really eating or drinking, just consuming. A short cool down to holler at some fellow Gainesvillian runners and I was ready to get back to my cozy tent at Hanna Park. Steak sandwich, more eggs, apples, a pear and lots of water for dinner. Starting Line #3 Everyone in the front pack had reviewed the standings going into the last race. We all knew where we were and what it would take to catch or be caught. I knew I had a guy named Gerry :55 behind me but I wasn’t worried about him. Paul had :18 on me and Orinthal had 1:06 on me. I thought I could catch Paul, although he looked strong. 1. Sammy Palmer 52:15 2. Orinthal Striggles 52:53 3. Paul McRae 53:41 4. Dan Clark 53:59 5. Gerry Glynn 54:53 Orinthal and Paul took control of the pace and pulled away to a 10 and then 20m lead. In the pack Sam and I discussed the fact that Paul and Orinthal were reactive in their racing so we didn’t want to catch them and send the pace even faster. Sit back and wait. We discussed the standings as we ran and a voice piped in from behind us. Gerry asked when I entered the Master’s Division. I said, “January! It’s good to race with the Masters and not worry about the young guys like Sam!” “Ha! Good for YOU.” Gerry joked. Then he added, “I’ll turn 50 soon, so I’ll be in a new age group too.” By Mile 4, Paul had dropped back to our pack and Orinthal chugged on. “Do ya think he’s coming back to us the second half?” asked Sam. “Sam,” I said, “I’ve seen what you can do the second half of a half marathon. You can get him.” Back in November, Sam torched the second half of the Tom Walker Half Marathon in Gainesville to beat me by a large margin. My bet was still on Sammy blasting off and catching him. Gerry surprised us by being the one to push the pace. He surged a little and was up by 10m and then quickly by 15. Exiting the Evergreen Cemetery, I decided I couldn’t let him gap me. I knew he just had to beat me by a minute to beat me in the series, so I wanted to keep close. I picked up the pace and surprisingly, I wasn’t reeling him in very fast. I got within 5m at the 7 mile mark and looked at my split: 5:42. Ouch. Enough of that. I set my legs back on cruise control for a more reasonable pace. Gerry’s move and my subsequent chase stretched out the pack. Sam soon passed me but the rest of the pack, including Paul, fell back. The rest of the run became a test of mental toughness and trying to maintain pace. I held onto just over 6:00 miles until the last 2 miles where we encountered the only real hills on the course. Just after the overpass hill at mile 11, I caught and passed Sam. On the Riverwalk ramp, less than a mile from the finish, the run felt much more like a marathon than a half. Gerry had found some wings and soared into a 1:18:02. He clearly had the race of the day! Orinthal cruised in at 1:17:37 for the win. I was 3rd in the Half Marathon in 1:21:05 and glad to be done with it! Final Standings- full results click here 1. Orinthal Striggles 2:10:29 2. Gerry Glynn 2:12:53 3. Sammy Palmer 2:14:33 4. Dan Clark 2:15:02 5. Kim Pawelek 2:17:03 6. Paul McRae 2:17:07
Final Thoughts The races tested body and mind. The runners I talked to after the event were already considering what their new strategy for next year should be. My strategy? This year was pretty good. My total time for the 10K + 5K was about equal to my 15K time at River Run. Looking at the % scores used for age grading my 3 races were 80%, 78% and 79%. Consistent effort level and I was tapped out at the end of the Half Marathon. The only question is: Could I make up more time in the half marathon if I had gone easier for the first two races? Maybe…. Gerry certainly ran his best race last and made up a lot of time (85%, 82%, 88%). Kim, the women’s winner did the same. She was well behind me in the first two races but closing fast on me in the half marathon. But the mental aspect of being “in the race” headed into the last event has value too, right? The overall winner went 78%, 80%, 80%. The intrigue remains so I guess I’ll have to go back next year.
Picture this: Shrimp swimming in butter, red pepper and Bar-B-Que sauce. Corn with mixed veggies and dusted with some Cajun seasoning. Abita Amber beer to wash it all down. The best part is you earned it! That’s a great feeling that is only found in New Orleans for the Crescent City Classic 10K.
Arriving late afternoon on Friday, my wife and I were fortunate to find a parking spot right next to the host hotel. We hurried in to check into our room and then find race number pick-up. With bags in the room and race number in hand, I asked Andrew Lilly, the CCC Elite Athlete coordinator where we should go for dinner. We had recommendations but we were unsure of how close those options were to the hotel. We discussed the restaurant locations while looking over the map of the point to point race going from the Superdome to City Park. Discussing the race, dinner and his arrangements for getting runners and agents back and forth from the finish line in City Park and talking about if I should drive or walk to dinner, Andrew had an idea. He looked at my wife and asked if she could drive a van from the starting area to the finish line carrying the bags of the elite runners. Wanting an easy ride to the finish line, Angela quickly agreed.
The starting area had a large section blocked off with police motorcycles, Shriner’s buggies that would lead the race, a truck for members of the press and other official vehicles including the van Angela would be driving. Dozens of the best runners in the world jogged, ran strides and stretched all around us as Angela got directions for where to go with the van. A field loaded with Kenyan runners prepared for the race and with about 5 minutes to go they all hurriedly pulled off their long sweat pants, and jackets, stuffed them in the van and nervously bounced around the starting line. The temperature was about 60 degrees and I didn’t feel the need for long pants or a jacket but for these runners, warmth was a key ingredient. An announcer interrupted the music playing on the loudspeakers to explain there would be a 10 – 15 minute delay until the start. Some of the busses carrying runners from where they parked at the finish line to the start had mechanical problems. So we would wait a few minutes to allow those runners to arrive. The Kenyans swarmed the van retrieving their sweat suits. They all got fully dressed again and continued their pre-race rituals. During the warm-up I noticed a familiar face. Vladimir Tontchinski, an elite Masters runner from Belarus was at the race. He spent some time training in Gainesville last year and I ran a cool down with him after he smoked me in a 5K in High Springs. Greeting him with a smile, I said I remembered him from Gainesville, Florida. “Ahh! Yes! Tortoise Race!” he responded. We wished each other good luck and continued stretching.
Finally the runners were gathered on the line, the National Anthem had been played and it was race time. I stood just behind two rows of mostly Kenyan and Eastern European runners who looked ready to fly. Fly, they did! Shooting down Poydras Street, I focused on my own running and not bumping into other runners. When runners were spread out enough to look up, the flashing lights on the lead vehicle were far ahead and turning left. Wow. Those guys were moving. They went through the mile mark in 4:15, over a minute ahead of me! I got my mile split on Decatur Street, felt good and was pleased with the time. I noted the restaurant I ate at the night before and smiled, remembering the smell of the food. Easy running at this point.
Turning left on Esplanade Avenue, I surged to move ahead of a runner who was breathing way too hard for this early in the race. I focused on the pack in front of me which included two women and four men. I wanted to reel them in so I’d have people to run with as the miles got harder. Esplanade is a beautiful street if you look up at the historic houses and other buildings. Unfortunately, my eyes were glued to the pavement because the footing was so terrible; I had to focus on not doing a face plant. It was like running on a cross country course made of asphalt! Despite footing frustrations, miles 2,3 and 4 went pretty smoothly. Passing a few runners and staying focused, the race was going well. Not long after the four mile mark, the discomfort of a hard race really began. I struggled to stay focused and had to use mental tricks of short term goals. Thinking, “Make it to that next turn on pace!” and then shifting the goal 200 Meters further down the road. The sight of the five mile marker seemed to never arrive. The last mile never hurts as much because it will be over soon! Surging into the final mile, I vowed to catch the runner just ahead of me. Finally, in front of the Art Museum at about 5 ¾ miles, I caught him and zeroed in on the next runner ahead. Reeling him in slowly wasn’t going to work since the race was almost over. The last straightaway headed to the finish line, I poured it on, closing in fast. However, the line came too soon and he escaped my final surge by two seconds. My first thought crossing the line was “Should have kicked a bit sooner!” It had been a solid race and I was fortunate to have runners around me the whole way that pulled me on to a strong effort. Official time- 34:15.
The post-race festivities included beer, red beans and rice, music and commemorative posters for the top 500 runners. Angela had arrived in plenty of time at the finish area and actually got to drive the race course there ahead of the runners, with all the streets blocked. We enjoyed the food and company of the elite runners and agents. I had the chance to discuss training with Ian Forsyth who was 3rd place Masters in 31:02. He ran at Michigan the same time I ran at Florida and we laughed about Florida runners racing Cross Country at the Michigan Invitational in snow flurries. Kevin Castille, the Masters Champion in 29:39 (just 2 seconds shy of an American Masters Record) was kind enough to talk training, racing and pose for a picture with me.
Now, back to the shrimp swimming in butter and Bar-B-Que….
After returning to the hotel, showering and feeling somewhat refreshed, Angela and I walked around New Orleans in search of food and fun. Those are easy commodities to find in the French Quarter! Royal Street had some top notch performers just sitting out in the street on folding chairs. A woman with a golden voice and the fastest fingers I’ve seen on a clarinet was collecting some well-deserved tips. A quartet of men in matching lime green suits sang to the gathering crowd and cracked jokes about how to determine the correct amount to tip. Near Jackson Square a 14 year old boy played trumpet and got plenty of applause. A wedding party paraded down the street with the bride and groom leading the way, waving umbrellas and dancing to the music from the jazz band following them. We discovered fantastic shrimp creole and the redfish special at Coop’s Place. Strolling along, watching the sites we noticed a man in silver clothes with his face and skin painted silver. He looked like a statue frozen on the sidewalk. Suddenly as a group of three teenaged girls walked by he came to life and jumped at them. The girls screamed, everyone on the street laughed at the scene and the tin man held out his hat for tips. These are just a few of the unique experiences we had that afternoon. New Orleans is an entertaining and tasty city.
If you go I recommend:
Get a hotel close to the Superdome and walk to the Starting Line in the morning. The Superdome is walking distance to the French Quarter, dozens of restaurants, and other entertainment.
Run hard and go for a fast time. It is a flat course and a good opportunity to PR.
Frenchman’s Market Restaurant- Bar-B-Que Shrimp
Coop’s Place on Decatur St- Shrimp Creole
Walk Royal Street and enjoy the musicians, magicians and other entertainers.
Walk around Jackson Square to see lots of great local art.
Visit the Pepper Palace. They sell a huge variety of hot sauces including one you have to sign a waiver for if you want to sample it. Yes, it is really that hot.
Stop by the Glassworks. You can go into their art studio and watch them make blown glass art.