Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rule 9 - Rest before the Race

This rule is one of the fun rules and reminds me to take it easy, the hard work is over. Unlike cramming for the final exam...there is no such thing in bring what you have in you and nothing more to the test. So the key is to relax and rest.

I always tapper the last week before a marathon even if it is a training run. A marathon I use for a training run the taper will be the last four days prior to the event. During those four days, I may at most run 9 miles total. For my major race effort, that tapper will actually be the last 10 to 14 days.

I only started tapering for races back in 1994, but I noticed a big difference in my races. I discovered that I could postpone the wall for an additional 2 or 3 miles. In 1994, I ran the Mardi Gras Marathon in January and then the Marine Corp in October. My times at both events were identical 3:45. But in New Orleans, I actually ran the first 17 miles almost 5 minutes faster then the Marine Corp. My training was almost identical for both race but the only difference was I ran a few seconds slower per mile in the Marine Corp and I had tapered for the 10 days coming into the run. At the Marine Corp, the only wall, I found was the one I sat on when I changed out my shoes at the end. So now I'm a fan of tapering before the race. If it’s not doing something physical for you, I know it is doing something mental for you.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I'm about to head out for a quick easy Thanksgiving I can really feel good about stuffing myself later at Dinner. But before I head out I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Its been a great year and I'm looking for the Holiday Season to be as wonderful as that past 11 months. So get out and run...go eat some turkey and have a great day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How about those Knees

I ran a race this morning at the base. One of the other runners asked how my running was going and of course I told him, I was running the Pasadena Marathon on Sunday. With a look that kind of threw me, he said..."What about your knees...don't you know if you run to many marathons you will miss your knees up?"

I wanted to tell him take a look...I already missed the left knee up...but that was in a skiing accident. The truth is that running doesn't hurt your knees anymore then walking...and you do that everyday.

I haven't seen the reports, but I have heard that there are some medical studies out there that are saying that runners actually have fewer knee problems then non-runners. And from my own view point...I was skiing when I blew my ACL out...not running. In fact I honestly believe had I been running more during the time prior to the skiing legs might not have gone out like they did...but that is only speculation on my part.

Most injuries I have come from other sports and activities other then my running. So until they can actually show that running is going to hurt me...I'm's the other stuff that has hurt me in the past.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rule #8 - Train the mind

"The longest and most strenuous mental and physical exertions all come at the start; get on with it at once and you will soon be through the worst." Tim Noakes writes. He continues: "Stamina seems to me to be just as much a mental attribute as a physical one."

When I started running, I found myself daydreaming that I was running against the world's greatest runners...okay...America's greatest runners. I would race in my mind Steve Prefontaine, Marti Liquori, Frank Shorter, Jeff Galloway, Bill Rodgers and a host of others. As I ran down the long road near my home, and turned the corner on to my street, that last quarter of a mile was me running full speed with them nipping at my heels. True... in 1977, I did get the chance to run against Bill Rodgers at the Waynesburg Marathon, and got blown away. And true again I did run with Jeff Galloway for a part of the Big Sur Marathon this past April. But as a kid, I always won, in my sprint towards the finish line at my mailbox.

Later in my life as I studied counseling, I discovered this was called disassociation. Disassociation is the process the mind uses to tolerate something that is painful. There is good disassociation and there is bad...but here we are talking about the good kind. I didn't know it at the time but I was training my mind. Even today as I run, I play games to keep myself motivated. I also believe that 90% of running a marathon is mental...but like training the have to train the mind.

Jeff Galloway in his book, Marathon, you can do it! has three chapters on the subject. The first is chapter 11 on visualization of the marathon, the second, chapter 12 is on word games to play in your mind...and my favorite is chapter 13 on dirty tricks to play on your mind. They really work.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rule #7 - Don't Overtrain

This to me is the hardest rule to follow, mostly because I've never had a "real" running coach beside Coach D back in high school. When you coach yourself, you might look at number and think you're doing it right, but... We always think we can do more or work harder, and we overlook any soreness as just something we can push through.

Even with my experience of running for over 30 year, I want to ignore the little soreness and press on to improve. But the truth is rest is part of training. Taking one or two days off a week will not stop your improving, but it is almost a sure bet that you will injury yourself if you don't take some time off now and then.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Are Marathons Dangerous?

I got my copy of December's edition of Runner's World today in the mail. It has a great article on the question of people dying while running, and running marathons. Amby Burfoot does a great job and it is an article worth reading. The truth is yes, people die while running marathons. Three different studies place it at 1 per 75,000, 1 per 89,000 and 1 per 126,000 runners. Those numbers are scary...but...think about this...1 in 6,535 die in car accident every year. So the way I look at it...driving to the marathon is more of a risk then running the marathon.