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26.2 miles or 42 kilometers may seem like a completely arbitrary distance, considering how the marathon has captured the imagination of the running public over the past several decades.  In reality, the marathon has its roots in a few twists and turns of history, some of which are factual, some of which are in dispute or considered to be not necessarily history in the hard and fast sense.  How did we get to the universal understanding of the 26.2 mile distance as an object of fascination and motivation for hundreds of thousands of runners each year?

 

The conventional wisdom about the genesis of the marathon consists of the brief story of a professional courier named Pheidippides, who lived around 500BC.  Running approximately 25 miles to bring news of victory by the Greeks over the Persians at Marathon, Greece, he collapsed upon arrival and announcement of his news.

 

There are several variations of this story, both in prose and poetry in the centuries since, some of which include the aspect that Pheidippides initially ran from Athens to Sparta to ask for their help, covering about 240 km in two days. The account of Herodotus, writing about half a century after the events, is often considered to be an important source, but really doesn’t describe the events as we have come to accept them, instead mentioning the efforts of Pheidippides, (as he called him, Philippides) to get to Sparta and back, and indicating that Athenian fighters won the battle and marched back to Athens the same day.

 

Either way, there is a route from Marathon to Athens that spans about 25 miles.  This route travels to the south, around Mount Penteli, which stands between the two cities.  There is also a steeper route to the north which would require a more technical trip, but only spans 35 kilometers.  In the late 1800s, the founders of the modern Olympic movement became inspired by the 1879 poem of Robert Browning, Pheidippides and decided to include a marathon in the 1896 Olympic Games.  At the time, the southern route was a well established road and became the setting for the first organized attempts at the distance:  the Greek qualifier for the Olympic marathon, and the 1896 Olympic marathon, won by Spyridon Louis of Greece in a come-from-behind 2:58.

 

Inspired by the 1896 Athens Olympic Marathon, US team manager John Graham returned to New England and helped establish the Boston Athletic Association-hosted marathon of 24.5 miles on April 17, 1897, now well into its second century of annual running.  The winner, John McDermott, had already won the first ever marathon on US soil (approximately 25 miles) from Connecticut to the Bronx on September 19, 1896.

 

The 1900 Olympic race in Paris featured 13 competitors, seven finishers, and Michel Théato of France as the winner in 2:59, while 1904’s effort in St. Louis was a bit of a disaster. Trimming 32 starters to 14 finishers, many received aid such as physical assistance, injection of stimulants on the road to keep them going, and more.  One competitor was found prone along the road, suffering from dust inhalation from the lead vehicles, while a competitor who had earlier dropped out, was initially and mistakenly considered the winner while crossing the finish line after being dropped off by his ride a few miles short of the finish line.  After everything, Thomas Hicks of the US was declared the winner in 3:28.  The Paris distance was about 25 miles, and the St. Louis distance was planned to be 24.85 or 40K.

 

In 1908, while the distance was anticipated to be between 25-26 miles, long planned efforts to incorporate a protected start from the crowds within the grounds of Windsor Castle as well as to provide a more spectator friendly finish on the track at White City Stadium in Shepherd’s Bush resulted in what became officially “about 26 miles plus 385 yards on the track” when then best start was finally decided upon.  Often reported as a special royal request, this starting spot appears more likely to be a pragmatic consideration.   Although later measured to be actually a bit shorter than this listed distance, the 26 miles and 385 yards number has stood the test of time as the accepted distance of the marathon ever since.

 

For additional information on the historical establishment of the marathon distance, check out these sources:

 

Longman, Jeré The Marathon’s Random Route to Its Length. ” New York Times April 20, 2012.  Web.  Accessed January 8, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/21/sports/the-marathons-accidental-route-to-26-miles-385-yards.html

 

Marathon History.”  Association of International Marathons and Distance Races. Accessed January 8, 2014. http://www.aimsworldrunning.org/marathon_history.htm

 

The History of the Marathon.” Marathon Guide. Accessed January 8, 2014.  http://www.marathonguide.com/history/

 



colds-fluThe good news is that regular exercise can be a strong ally against the common cold, as moderate exercise can stimulate the immune system.  However, this is tempered by the body’s reaction to the stress placed on that same immune system when the runs get long.  According to researcher David Nieman at Appalachian State University (a marathoning and ultra marathoning veteran), there is a 3-72 hour window after our long, hard efforts (90 minutes +) where the body suffers a temporary impairment of the immune system, making marathoners and half marathoners sitting ducks for the post-long run or post-race cold.   What’s a runner with goals to do?  While it is impossible to control for everything, with a few precautions, hopefully the odds will skew a bit more favorably.

 

Stay hydrated

Although we normally associate the need for hydration with the other three seasons, dry winter weather, altitude if visiting a mountainous region, or the unfamiliar humidity of a warm vacation spot can catch us off guard.  Even if just staying inside, the dry air in our well-heated homes can make a difference.  Particularly if traveling by air or consuming more alcohol than usual (ahem), staying hydrated can be a key component to keeping your body working well and running well.  An oft-quoted rule of thumb is to consume 64 ounces of water per day, or 8 regular sized glasses.  Some even suggest dividing your weight in pounds by two and using that number for how many ounces you need, or even taking 2/3 of your weight in pounds if you exercise.  If these numbers seem daunting, the point is – you probably could use some improvement in these areas, even if only incrementally!

 

Get a flu shot

True, you could get some variant of the flu that the shot didn’t cover or get sick in other ways, but a flu shot is usually free or very low cost through most insurance or direct providers and it takes about 10 seconds.  As recreational adult runners, we can’t always treat ourselves like professional athletes.  In this case, however, we can.  If you have a winter or spring goal race planned, and your brain fast forwards to a hypothetical, very inopportune flu the week of the race, then this becomes a slam dunk.  Don’t let random flu sabotage your training or racing!

 

Wash your hands like a doctor

No, this has nothing to do with running, except that recreational runners with big plans don’t like them going awry.  Wash them well, for 30 seconds with warm water and soap, and avoid touching your face to spread what germs make it through the gauntlet!  Carry some hand santitizer, and use it when washing hands isn't possible.

 

Sleep

Although sleep is always important for performance, it takes on an even greater role during cold and flu season as several studies have shown the body’s immune system can be significantly impaired with repeated sleep deprivation.  Six hours instead of eight may not seem like a big deal, but during the winter and while training hard, too many of those nights can end up having the reverse effect from what efficiency you hoped to accomplish during those extra hours of wakefulness – laying you out for a couple days or preventing training during a crucial period.  Be a jealous guardian of your sleep time, and you’ll likely be more efficient and effective during your waking hours anyway!

 

 

Eat well

It is always a good idea to eat nutritiously, but during cold and flu season, good choices of immune system boosting foods with important nutrients can be particularly important.  For example, try a bean chili – lots of veggies and beans with key vitamins and minerals, and some spiciness to clear the nasal passages for good measure makes this dish more than just a warm comfort food, according to researchers at Wake Forest.   If you unfortunately do fall prey to the flu, try these foods as a part of your "return to health" arsenal.

 

No immune system is truly immune. This winter, let your running habit be the catalyst for healthy habits that will hopefully give you (and your family) a better chance of staying active and on your feet throughout the cold and flu season.

 



UntitledRunning as a recreationally competitive sport has grown leaps and bounds over the past several years.  According to Running USA, the year 1990 featured just about 1.2 million women and 3.5 million male running event finishers in the United States.  At the conclusion of 2012, they estimate that women’s participation has grown to 8.7 million, with men’s numbers jumping to 6.8 million.  Perhaps you are one of those who has jumped on the running bandwagon relatively recently.

 

Those numbers indicate that more of your friends and neighbors have laced up their running shoes and gotten out there on the sidewalk or trail, but they also indicate some interesting smaller trends within the overall growth.

 

Did you realize…. that in 2012, 60% of half marathon finishers were female, with 40% male, while for the full marathon, 42% were female and 58% male, almost a mirrored result.

 

Did you realize…the median times for a half marathon and marathon were 2:01/4:17 and 2:19/ 4:42 for men and women respectively?

 

Did you realize…the largest road race in America is the Peachtree Road Race 10K in Atlanta, GA, beating out the Lilac Bloomsday 12K 58,043 to 48, 229 (the ING New York City Marathon likely would have finished at least within striking distance of these if it were not canceled due to Hurricane Sandy).

 

Did you realize,,, the average age of a road race finisher in the US is 35.8 years old.

 

Did you realize…the 5K is the most popular race distance, capturing 40% of the race finishers in 2012.  The half marathon is the second most popular distance at 12%.

 

Did you realize…that Thanksgiving is the most popular day to enter a running event, featuring 858,000 runners in 2012 and expected to reach 1,000,000 or close to it when 2013 numbers are tallied.

 

Did you realize…that there were nearly 500 Turkey Trots to choose from?

 

Did you realize…that after Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July had 248, 000 finishers in 2011, with New Year’s Day taking third at 81,000 finishers.  Will you be one of them in 2014?

 

The holidays and the New Year are a perfect time to make resolutions for the 365 days to come.  In recent years, it appears many thousands of people are not only making resolutions, but getting to the start and finish lines of goal races.  If this is your first season of training, or if you have been training for years, take heart, many others have successfully taken on the challenge and succeeded.  You can, and you will too!

 

 



Names Every Runner Should Know

Written by Dena Evans December 12, 2013

imagesAre you a new runner and hope to join in the conversation with the more experienced athletes on the next group run?  Have you been running long enough to have heard these names, but are a bit too sheepish to ask who they are or what they have done? Wait no longer and raise your running knowledge quotient in a few quick minutes right now!

 

Mo Farah

Farah is a British athlete who has won both the 5000m and 10,000m gold medals at the most recent IAAF World Championships in 2013 as well as the 2012 London Olympics.  As you might imagine, this is extremely tough to do, and he is widely considered to currently be the best distance athlete on the planet.  Originally born in Somalia, Farah has a twin brother from whom he was separated when only part of his family was able to move to the UK in the early 90’s.  He is married with three daughters and trains with American coach Alberto Salazar in Portland, Oregon.

 

Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich

The current world record holder in the marathon, Kipsang is a Kenyan athlete, who covered 26.2 miles at the 2013 Berlin Marathon in 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 23 seconds.  He has run faster than 2:05 four times, was the bronze medalist in the marathon at the 2012 Olympics, and is the reigning champion of the NYC Half Marathon.  2:23:23 equates to 4:42 per mile average, or 26.2 miles of 70 second quarter miles.  Continuously.

 

Paula Radcliffe

Although Radcliffe has competed sparsely over the past few years due to injury and maternity, she remains the women’s world record holder over the marathon distance.  Her mark of 2:15:25 at the London Marathon in 2003 stands nearly three minutes ahead of the next best performance, by Liliya Shobukhova at 2:18:20.  While famously unable to achieve the Olympic gold medal to match the magnitude of her performances outside of the Games, her long and storied international career and front running tactics have made her a household name and a women’s distance running standard bearer for the current generation.

 

Meb Keflezighi

Keflezighi, was the first American male to win a medal in the Olympic Marathon since the 1970’s when he took home silver in the 2004 Athens Games.  Following the disappointment of not qualifying for the US team in 2008, he returned to form from injury in 2009, winning the ING New York City Marathon, again the first American to do so in a generation.  Keflezighi finished 4th in the Olympic marathon at the 2012 Games at the age of 37.  His accessible nature and interest in the community have made him a fan favorite.  Keflezighi is a current member of the runcoach board of directors.

Tirunesh Dibaba

Nicknamed “The Baby-Faced Destroyer,” this twenty eight year-old Ethiopian athlete has won three Olympic Gold medals, five World Championships in track & field, and five more world championships in cross country.  She can close her 5000 and 10,000 events with 400m finishing sprints in faster than 60 seconds, sometimes battling compatriot, rival, and fellow world champion Meseret Defar.  Dibaba has two siblings who have also won medals at the world championship level, and her cousin Derartu Tulu, won gold at the 1992 and 2000 Olympics.

 

Legends (not nearly an exhaustive list, but just to get you started):

 

Steve Prefontaine

Former University of Oregon and US international athletes initially famous for outspoken criticism of restrictive amateurism rules and a brazen front running style, but remembered greatly due to a tragic passing in a car accident in May of 1975.  Eugene, Oregon plays host to an annual Diamond League event in his honor which is traditionally one of the highest quality international meets across the globe each year.

 

Roger Bannister

A well respected British neurologist, Bannister is just a teeny tiny bit more famous for being the first person to record a mile in less than four minutes.  He did so at Iffley Road Track at Oxford in May of 1954.  The time was 3:59.4, but the world record status only lasted for a little over a month and a half before the time was bettered again.

 

Joan Benoit Samuelson

Winner of the first Olympic marathon for women in 1984, this diminutive American athlete still blazes trails while racing regularly.  She nearly finished among the top 10 American women at the 2013 ING New York City Marathon.

 

Sebastian Coe

A former Member of Parliament and head of the organizing committee for the London Olympic Games, Coe earned gold in the 1500m at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics and captivated the track and field world for the years surrounding these events with his rivalries with fellow countrymen Steve Ovett and Steve Cram.  Coe was world record holder in the 800 meters for 26 years, running 1:41.73 in 1981.

 

Frank Shorter

The Olympic Gold medalist in the marathon in 1972, his performances and influence are widely regarded as a crucial factor in the growth of recreational running during this time.

 

Grete Waitz

Norwegian athlete Grete Waitz won nine New York City Marathons in the 70s and 80s, more than any athlete in history.  She took silver to Benoit Samuelson in the 1984 Olympic marathon, but won gold at the 1983 Helsinki World Championships.  In all, Waitz lowered the women’s world record in the marathon nine minutes over several races, down to 2:25 in 1983.  She passed away due to complications from cancer in 2011 at age 57.

 

Kip Keino

One of the very first Kenyan athletes to take the world stage in distance running, Keino’s victory over Jim Ryun in the 1500m at the 1968 Olympics made a huge impact.  This was followed by future championships in the years to come, and further magnified by humanitarian efforts in his home country.

 

Jim Ryun

About that silver medalist….Jim Ryun was famously the first high school athlete to break four minutes for the mile, attended University of Kansas, competed in two Olympics for the United States, and set the world record in the mile (the last American to hold that distinction).  Ryun also served for many years in the United States House of Representatives.

 

Billy Mills

The last US male to earn gold in the 10,000 meters, this 1964 Olympian came out of nowhere to take the victory in what still stands as one of the biggest upsets of all time.  A well-traveled motivational speaker, Mills is a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe and was the second Native American athlete to ever win Olympic Gold.

 

Kathrine Switzer

Subject of a famous photo showing Boston Marathon race director Jock Semple trying to pull her off the course in 1967 while entered under her gender neutral initials, Switzer became the first official female winner of the Boston Marathon in 1972, running 3:07.

 

This list leaves out a great many giants of our sport – including many contemporary world-beaters. However, perhaps the list above can be a conversation starter for your next run, and hopefully an invitation to learn more about the heroes and heroines of our sport!

 



presentDon’t let the passing of Black Friday and Cyber Monday get you down – there is still plenty of time to make the runner in your life light up when opening your gift.  If you are stumped for ideas, here are a few safe paths to tread.  Likewise, runners, feel free to forward this on to non-running friends and family if they need a bit of prodding or direction!

 

Stocking stuffers

There are many small and low-key items which may seem trivial and perhaps even downright weird to anyone who doesn’t run on a regular basis.  These small tokens, however, may provide a path straight to your recipient’s heart.   An assortment of gel packets, chews, bars (GU, Power Gel, Clif Bar, etc) in a favorite flavor or range of flavors, breathable  or cushioned socks, Body Glide, gloves, warm headband, earphones, and hand warmer packets are examples of the type of item that doesn’t take up too much space, but are regularly used by many runners.  Bottle belts, handheld bottles, Camelback systems and other fluid delivery systems are often plentiful at your local running store.  Various balls or rolling devices can help your runner treat the odd ache and pain or avoid it altogether.  Sunscreen, deodorant, and other items may not scream “gift,” but with a cheeky delivery and some good humor, you can own your creativity as serving a utilitarian goal.  Several companies have seasonal flavors or special deals in December, making this time of year a perfect opportunity to increase the impact of your generosity on the same budget.

 

Reflective gear for nighttime running

A head lamp, Velcro reflectors, a sporty jacket with reflective piping or detailing, and other items can combine the desire to freshen up your favorite runner’s wardrobe with a gift that shows you care for their safety as well.  Particularly if your runner must run before work or after on a regular basis, winter is the time these are most needed, both potentially as an extra layer against the elements, and as help to remain visible in traffic.

 

Go Green! Make a gift toward their cause of choice.

If the runner in your life “has everything they need,” but has a goal race with a charitable drive planned for the spring, use the holiday season as a time to make a contribution toward their total.  They will appreciate your interest in what is likely a cause close to their heart, and your gift will be remembered months later as they achieve their goal with your encouragement.  Plus, most of these donations are tax deductible, which helps redefine the “going green” theme yet another way!

 

Fresh flowers?  How about a fresh pair of shoes?

Does your runner frequent a local specialty shoe store or buys the same shoe over and over?  Do a bit of research and/ or talk to the store to determine if you can purchase a pair of their favorite shoes in the correct size and have them waiting for a fresh start January 1.  Is this gift the most beautiful and poetic of presents?  No, but the one thing runners use the most is footwear.   If you are looking for a gift that will definitely be used, this one is it!

 

Want to give a game changer?  Here are some ideas….

If the holiday spirit has you ready to make a significant purchase for your favorite runner, there are many things runners often dream about, but may not feel are needed enough to invest the capital.  A GPS watch is a very popular item on many runners’ letters to Santa, and a treadmill can often be the difference maker for a busy runner as they try to fit everything in.  For those looking to cross train, items like an ElliptiGO or an indoor elliptical machine can also be well received.  That said, some of these purchases are highly individual in nature.  Be very confident in your plan’s positive reception and do your research if you go in this direction, particularly if the gift might be received as an admonition to “get in shape!”  Read the warranties, keep the receipts, and be prepared for some assembly in a few cases.

 

Read all about it!

There are a wide variety of autobiographies and biographies on famous runners, as well as advice books about how to train, and popular volumes like Born to Run and Unbroken.  Your bookstore or online resource could be the source for hours of enjoyment for your runner, and you could be the conduit for them learning more about their sport.  Read up!

 

Help them recover from the holidays, or just recover from the long run

A massage gift certificate, a pedicure for the toes ravaged by marathon training, a promise of dinner after the race, a yoga studio gift card, or a surprise spa treatment certificate at the hotel where they will stay following their next goal race could be ideas for a supportive family member or friend who wants to treat the runner in their life.

 

Give the gift that keeps on giving – runcoach!

If you know a beginner who could use some sound training guidance or have a runcoach customer in the family who you hope keeps up the good work, contact us to extend a subscription or provide a gift!  You’ll help them achieve their goals, and if you are already a runcoach user, perhaps you will find an ally as you hook another onto the joys of running.

 



runnerSQRunning is easy to take for granted, especially if the last few months or years have been relatively free from injury.  Even if that has not been the case, Thanksgiving is a great time to take stock of the ways in which running can make a significant difference in our lives.  Which of these makes you thankful for running this holiday?

 

Reason #1 to be thankful for running – health benefits

No exercise is perfect, but running has been found in studies to provide a tremendous number of health benefits, ranging from an efficient way to burn calories and lose weight, increased “healthy” cholesterol readings, decreased risk of breast cancer, improved protection from osteoporosis, help resisting heart disease and many other ailments.  For many runners, an occasional ache and pain will send them to the sports medicine doctor, but as a habit that positively differentiates your health from a sedentary person, running is pretty darn effective.

 

Reason #2 to be thankful for running – stress relief

This could also be captured under health benefits, but for many runners, the chance to “clear the head,” regroup from a stressful day behind or ahead, to do some background thinking about intractable problems or issues can be one of the chief reasons they get out of the house and go each day.  While many time providing an actual physical separation from the whirlwind of a busy and stressful life, running can be a crucial lifeline to quiet time for many and as such an irreplaceable part of the daily or weekly schedule.

 

Reason #3 to be thankful for running – new experiences

Whether on a lonely bike path or trail with only the company of a curious deer or exploring the busy streets of a new city just visited for the first time, running allows us to get out and experience the world around us in a way that is much different than the seat of a bus, car, or in front of the computer screen.  Even in the average and ordinary day, we can observe people and nature in new ways, informing the way we go forward afterward.  Traveling to races near and far also allows runners to explore interesting parts of their city, county, state, and even far away regions of the country and world on the ground level.  The entry fee might be pricey, but the experiences at these local races as well as those farther afield are often priceless.

 

Reason #4 to be thankful for running  - the people

Some runners do go it alone, but for many runners, the social aspect is an essential component of their running experience.  Whether a formal group, a bunch of friends, a particular running buddy with whom you always have great talks, having a running or training partner (even if only on an occasional basis), can provide a great basis for a friendship that often extends beyond the run after a while. Because running is a pursuit with particular challenges and joys, these running friends can often be among those who begin to know you best because of your shared goals and perspectives on health and healthy living.  In addition, many times running can bring together family members who are working toward a shared training goal for fitness, charity or both.  These experiences often provide memories for a lifetime.

 

Reason #5 to be thankful for running – the accessibility

Running has something for almost everyone.  Fast and competitive athletes have outlets to challenge themselves at the highest level, while beginners and recreational runners have countless (and growing ways) to participate in short and long events of every distance and for every interest area.  Put on a pair of shoes (or not), and put one foot in front of the other – that’s it.  As coaches, we are well versed in the nuances of running form, training plans, race strategies, and other minutia, but at the core, running is an activity able to be enjoyed by 1 year olds and 100 year olds alike.  It doesn’t have to look the same, go as fast (or slow), travel the same routes, or manage the same distance for any two individuals.  Your goals are yours alone, and your running, even amongst friends or teammates, is as unique as a snowflake.  At runcoach, our approach in providing individualized plans is an obvious expression of our understanding that each runner is distinctive, and this holiday season, we share our gratitude that running allows for all the distinct personalities we meet to enjoy running equally as much in their own way.

 

 



nervousAt runcoach, we work with thousands of new runners taking aim at their very first half marathon or marathon.  Our goal is to provide you a training path toward success in all of your running endeavors, but as you get started, there are things to avoid, including the following …

 

Don’t change everything at once – make sustainable transitions

Many runners choose to start on the road to an ambitious goal because of a milestone, a health concern, or similar “wake-up call.”  These motivations are strong, but making wholesale amounts of huge changes to your life all at once can result in commitments that don’t stand the test of time.  Embrace the challenges and positive energy provided by the added training – we’ll make sure to give you a progressive plan. Piece by piece, examine the additional areas you want to take on with an incremental approach.

 

Take running advice with a grain of salt

Yes, this sounds strange to warn against taking a lot of advice by giving advice, but the truth is, the internet and magazine stand are chock full of tips on how to build speed, burn fat, eat well, shape your abs, shape your butt, stretch your pinky toe (or don’t stretch your pinky toe at all!) and everything else.  With so much advice out there, it is easy to be overwhelmed about what you should trust.  Many of these advice sources are good, but again, it is not a great idea to take one of absolutely every dish from the buffet.  Keep a file of interesting articles and advice, and over time begin to get a more detailed picture of the types of dietary, ancillary, and other changes might be most helpful to you, leaving aside the more tangential advice for future goal race campaigns.

 

Your five year-old fitness shoes may not be up for the task

Shoes degrade both by use and over time.  While the many different styles of shoes can require some shopping, it is worth making sure that your feet are comfortable and prepared to handle the growing length of your runs.  A pair of shoes that has served as your “running shoes” for many years of sporadic casual use is probably not going to be the best springboard for a healthy and successful goal race campaign.  Invest in some well-fitting running shoes and hopefully in doing so, gird yourself against many potential injury problems.

 

Running can help regulate sleep, but it also requires sleep!

Many new runners or others embarking on their first sustained exercise regimen report the regulative effect running can have on sleep habits.  However, the maintenance of a progressive training plan will require adequate rest.  Your body will need to be stressed in order to be prepared to handle a long race. It will need to recover in order to adapt and be prepared to be stressed again.  Prioritize sleep to get the most out of the work you are putting in.

 

Don’t pick a goal race more than a year or less than a couple months ahead

Picking a race to far into the future can decrease the level of your immediate commitment to the task, where as a goal too close can encourage going over the top and getting injured as you press on toward a goal you wish was a few weeks or months later.  3-6 months is a great sweet spot for a half marathon, with half a year to a year allowing a relaxed and thorough buildup for a goal marathon.  Successful campaigns can most definitely be had with varying timelines, but choosing a horizon that matches your need for a particularly paced buildup can greatly increase your chances for finishing successfully!

 



Santa_Hustle_5k_14The red coffee cups are out at Starbucks and the Christmas carols are playing in stores.  The holidays are certainly almost upon us, which for many runners means some disruption in the daily running routine.

 

For many of our runcoach athletes, this may mean some time off, either due to vacation or unexpectedly busy weeks.  Many athletes want to plan ahead by blocking off time in their schedules, but we encourage runners to log what actually occurred as it happens or upon return, and let the system then adjust for the appropriate course moving forward.  Prioritizing long runs and pace runs can often allow a sparse period for daily running to elapse without too much loss in fitness progress.  Our hope is to encourage you to do anything you can do, and not be discouraged if you can’t complete the entire schedule on a given week or two.

 

Over the last few years, we have given some advice on coming through the holiday season like a champ.  If you are viewing the upcoming months with trepidation about all the changes the season may bring, read some of our tips and reflections and take heart – you are not alone!

 

The holidays require some flexibility and a positive attitudeRead about some basic strategies for surviving the holidays with your goals intact.

 

Big storm on the way?  Holed up in a much colder environment?  Read on about how to weather the weather and still be productive in your running.

 

If you are going to need to run in the dark, don’t leave the house without our tips!

 

Need to cross train in the gym or pool? Which cross training discipline is the best for you?

 

Want to chuckle at some of Coach Dena’s personal reflections on running in bad weather and when on family vacations? Read on here and here!

 

If you are hoping to start the new year with some resolutions, here are some tips for actually sticking to them!

 

Most importantly, take a deep breath, keep a sense of humor, and fix your eyes on the horizon.  You can do it!

 

 

 



holiday-mealA little more than a month from now, you’ll have the chance to consider some potential New Year’s resolutions.  Where you will start from on January 1 will have a lot to do with how the next few weeks go.

While the holiday season can provide some of the happiest moments of the year, it can also wreak havoc on your running goals.  Here are some ideas for how you can make the most of the season and keep your motor running before hitting the ground full speed on January 1.

Even if your schedule doesn’t normally include morning running, consider scheduling your runs for the early hours.

The first few weeks of December often include more events outside of your control than potentially any other time of the year.  Office functions or extra hours / shifts at work, recitals, school events, and holiday obligations for school aged kids, other civic, religious, or social events and obligations –the calendar can get pretty crowded.

That run you already scheduled after work can quickly get pushed to the wayside when you find out from your spouse at 4 that you need to be somewhere you had forgotten about at 6:30, dressed neatly and with a bottle of wine for the hosts.  Maybe your mom needs you to drive her across town for that special ingredient she wants to put in the pie she is making tomorrow and aren’t you just the one to take her this evening after work but before they close at eight?  There goes the run.

Late in the month, family meals (in addition to food shopping and preparation), odd schedules, the irresistible pull of a bowl game or the warm couch (and the inevitable snooze), can successfully thwart the most stalwart runner in their efforts to stay on track.    If you are able to run in the morning, even if it is not the best series of workouts you have had all year, you at least ensure that you don’t put yourself in a gapingly large training hole.  At this point, it is dark in the morning AND in the evening, so you probably won’t miss much there.  You will however, be able to give yourself a silent high five every day, even when the rest of your schedule may leave you scrambling.  So, block it in now!

Stay hydrated

Yes, you should drink water because you are training and you want to stay hydrated.  But, the holiday time is also a key hydration zone in many ways that will also help you feel more like yourself when you do get a chance to hit the road or the treadmill.  Maybe travel is in your plans. As we have mentioned before in Personal Best, you should aim to drink a cup of water for every time zone you cross while flying in the dry air-conditioned atmosphere of an airplane.  If mountains or other dry, snowy climates are in your future, this is also important as high altitudes and dry air can leave you under-hydrated before you realize it.  You may already be out of your element or preferred weather conditions for a time during the holidays, so everything you can do to at least keep your body working well will be key to move from just salvaging a situation to a place where you get some quality running accomplished despite the challenges.

Even if your holiday plans do not include travel, proper hydration remains crucial to staying on track.  It can assist with digestion when faced with a gauntlet of rich foods and a never-ending stream of chocolates in the break room.  It can also help combat the dehydrating effects of holiday related alcohol consumption and give your family feast some welcome company in your stomach so you are not as likely to go overboard for the fifth time this week.

Include the family in some running

Find a Turkey Trot, or Jingle Bell Jog 5K /10K the family can walk or jog together while you get in a tempo run.  Pick an outing or two where others can walk or hike while you and whomever is up for it can run.  Plan a run during someone else’s shopping or errands, so they can go crazy in the stores while you take off for a few miles down a nearby bike path before meeting them back at the car.  Think in advance of ways you can meld your run seamlessly into another’s schedule so that you can avoid missing a quality hour with family when everybody is finally home and you’ve just decided to head out on the trail.

Enjoy what you do get done, and don’t worry about what you can’t fit in

If you are unable to perfectly complete every single day’s training from now until the end of the year, you are probably not alone.  The holidays are special because you do often have the time to travel or to visit with friends and family in ways your schedule wouldn’t normally permit.  It is important to enjoy these times and maintain a balance that keeps running in perspective.  If you have a choice in days of the week to get certain things accomplished or can recalculate your schedule in advance to account for certain problem dates coming up, try to prioritize the hard workouts and long runs, so if you don’t get everything in, you will at least have tackled the most challenging days.  However, even if you are stymied in this effort, the important thing is that you don’t fall completely out of touch with your goals, that you don’t let guilt over two or three days missed keep you from getting back to the schedule next time out, and that you stay healthy.

Everyone, from world class athletes to beginners, will find the holidays to be a time requiring flexibility and variation in their typical routine.  You are not alone.  Look ahead as best you can, stay relaxed, and see if you can arrive on January 1st with only minor adjustments needed instead of a complete overhaul.  Perhaps you will have even learned some tips that will make the next holiday season even better.



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