Showing posts with label TRAINING TIPS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TRAINING TIPS. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2013

Deeper into Training; Lake Sonoma 50 and Western States 100

This weekend I linked up with a running group from the Auburn, CA area and ran 36 miles on the Western States course (an Out and Back from Drivers Flat/River Crossing up to Foresthill and back). Last weekend I ran the Lake Sonoma 25 mile training run and the weekend before that I ran Way Too Cool 50K. I'm feeling really strong and loving all of the miles on the trails I've been able to get in. Feeling a little bit tired but not too bad. For the past 4 weeks I've been getting about 60-70 miles per week in.

This weekend's 36 miler concluded Phase I of my Western States training and also marked the peak for my Lake Sonoma 50 training. I'm beginning a mild taper which pretty much means I'll be running quite a bit but cutting the long weekend runs down a bit. The week before Lake Sonoma will be filled with a lot of rest. Phase I's focus was to build a really solid running foundation that would handle high mileage as well as speed work/hill repeats, a bit of cross training and allow me to be prep'd for Lake Sonoma.

I had incredible luck with Ultra lotteries this year and got into Way Too Cool 50k, Miwok 100k and Western States (I know, I should buy a real lottery ticket!). I decided to run a fast Way Too Cool but not really taper, race Lake Sonoma, use Miwok 100k as a training run and ultimately focus 100% on Western States. I'm looking forward to Lake Sonoma. It's a TOUGH course but I am eager to give it my best shot and hopefully break 10hrs. I'm looking to run a smart race and run the last 15/20 miles hard. This race will be mostly some mental training for Western States.

Overall I'm feeling solid and looking forward to going to deeper into the belly of the Western States training beast. Oh yeah, let's talk a little about gear... I've been running mostly in Hoka One One Stinson trail shoes (i have 2 pairs that I rotate) and Altra Superior shoes. The combo has been excellent so far. I've been trying to figure out my hydration technique for WS so I've been running w 2 20oz Amphipod handheld bottles and occasionally using my Salomon S-Lab Hydration Pack. I've also been using a hydration waist pack w my 2 handhelds which seems to be an ok combo as well.

Also, if you live in the Bay Area or are visiting the SF/Marin area be sure to stop by the San Francisco Running Company. It's an awesome new running store w great/knowledgable guys running the shop and excellent gear, shoes, fuel, etc. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back on the Trail where? I don't think anyone knows but it's not about the destination... it is about the journey. Any true runner worth their salt (and we know how valuable salt is in running) will tell you the same. Signing up for races or having a running schedule that you can stick to is a beautiful part of running. Even on your way to a finish line you know it is not the end. It allows you to tune-in and subsequently tune-out (or maybe i should call it, "hit the zone") whether it is on a single run or extends through a stretch of time and multiple runs/races or training.

In November, I started thinking about races for 2013. I put my name in the lotteries for the Western States 100, Miwok 100k and Way to Cool 50k.  I also set my alarm and signed up for the Lake Sonoma 50 Miler when registration opened. The stars must have aligned for me for 2013 because I got picked in all 3 lotteries! Having all of these races on my race calendar for 2013 is electrifying. I have set long and short term goals and it provides fuel for every run.

One of my favorite long term goals for 2013 is to try to enjoy all of the training runs and workouts. Running is something that I love to do and in training for races in the past I have sometimes felt that "getting in workouts" has stressed me out. I believe that enjoying the process, the journey, and not getting stressed out over having to do certain workouts will allow me to be better prepared and actually train smarter and run harder than before.

Being back on the trail is more of a mental thing than anything else. I feel free, clear headed, strong and ready to tackle challenges.    

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Speed work, it's a grey area in running... but it sure as shit shouldn't be :) The track is more packed than ever these days but its mostly packed with training groups that are either just logging miles and cross training or skimming the surface of speed work. Don't get me wrong there are definitely some serious track clubs out there that some of the best non-professional runners belong to but at least at my track (Kezar Stadium in San Francisco) they are not the majority. So if you're a runner who is logging some serious miles, training for a race or just run for the seek of running, go hit the track and feel the immediate benefits of running as fast as you can.

When was the last time you flat out ran as fast as you could? I'm sure some of you are saying a couple of hours ago but most of you probably can't remember. The number one reason to go out and run as fast as you can is because it feels so good... you don't even need a track! The nice thing about the track is that it makes it easy for you to break your workout into different distances. This is useful if you're training for a particular race... half marathon: run mostly 400s and 800s, full marathon: run 400s, mostly 800s and some mile repeats, ultramarathon: try to stick to the mile repeats while incorporating 100s, 400s and 800s. Whatever you're training for always do the shorter "as fast as you can" distances which would be a 50, 100 or 200. Check this video of Bart Yasso explaining his legendary marathon timing training technique/theory called the Yasso 800s:

Running as fast as you can builds strength, improves running form, increases your VO2 Max and improves anaerobic capabilities (think fast twitch muscles). To learn more about that stuff go HERE.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Running Exercises and Conditioning

I don't often write posts about running advice but after coming back from an injury I have been focused on what makes my running engine run smooth. I think one of the most important things about being a successful runner (successful = healthy and running as much as possible) is to keep as versatile a training schedule as possible. Mixing up the terrain that you run on, the shoes that you wear, the time of day you run (that's a tough one!), doing cross training exercises and STRETCHING with a focus on alignment will help you grow as a runner.

The foundation consists of building up mileage slowly while simultaneously building up strength (this can translate to whatever level of running you're at). You need your whole body to be strong but strong in the right way. Building your mileage slowly while strength training a few times per week will build up your endurance muscles quickly and effectively. I find that lunges (make sure you keep your knee directly above your ankle through the whole movement and I find that reverse lunges, the ones where you step back are best to maintain focus on your quads, balance and butt muscles) are great foundation builders. I am also a firm believer in calf raises, lighter squats, pull ups (or muscle ups if you can do them), flys, slow push ups and a lot of core work... not ab work but core work: Planks (see video below) are crucial to running long distances, Toe Taps (see video below).

After you've built your foundation (never stop doing those exercises, I dedicate 2 solid days per week to strength training and throw in bits and pieces of strength training throughout the week), you can start ramping up the mileage and switching up the terrain that you run on. A serious runner, or a runner who wants to become stronger, faster and run farther should run all types of terrain: trails, track and hills. If you can stay off of concrete and/or pavement completely you'll be better off. Hills are exceptional running tools. Short workouts on hills (up and down) are great for building running strength and stamina. Same with speed work at the track.

Stretching: It is crucial to stretch everyday, even on your off/rest days. The most important stretches to do are: calf stretches, quad stretches and hamstrings. Ok, hamstrings are probably the most important of all and you should do them with a rope laying on your back. See video below. If you're having running related injuries from Plantar Fasciitis to lower back pain to calf pain to knee pain the few minutes you spend on your hamstrings per day might just fix you!

Good luck out there! Run like water flows.


Toe Taps:

Hamstring Stretches (sorry about the music and cheesy yoga style):

Friday, May 27, 2011


...and recovering from an ultramarathon. Sometimes the best way to improve is by taking a break, for a bit. Taking a step away, letting something heal, letting something get stronger or gaining perspective can give you the advantage you've been in need of.  In running, this might mean sleeping more, walking more, working on core strength, upper body or doing some lower body rehab and maintenance exercises. During my recovery from the American River 50 Miler I have experienced a side of running that I normally have not focused on too much which is resting and healing without becoming or feeling out of shape. Being my first 50 Miler, my body was particularly shocked by the distance covered in one day and it has been taking longer than I anticipated to heal. Shortly after the race, I was running again but not feeling as if I was making any gains.  The running during the first two weeks after the 50 miler solidified my running endurance and fitness gained from the 50.  However, I still felt sluggish because I was experiencing aches and pains around my knees. These were tendon, ligament and maybe cartilage related issues. Things that required rest to rejuvenate.
I forced myself to take a week off from running and all exercise.  I still took some nice walks though. The first thing I noticed after a couple days of rest was that I felt strong. After that week, I started small and began running again. I also incorporated more strength/weight training into my routine. The combination of rest, strengthening muscles that I hadn't used much and easing back into running with shorter and mid-range runs has been effective in my recovery process from the ultramarathon (the American River 50 Mile).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Marathon Race Week Advice

Are you tapering? Prepping for the Boston Marathon? Big Sur Marathon? How about the St. Louis Marathon? Paris Marathon? London? Are you still working out the kinks on your pre-race regimen? I found a great article on the McMillan Running Website written by Coach Jonas Holdeman. It gets definitive on sleep, hydration, fueling, and stretching starting from the week before the marathon and leading right up to the starting gun. Here's the article: MARATHON RACE WEEK: WHAT TO DO AND WHEN TO DO IT Good luck runners!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Running and Breathing; Getting Started in Running

Over the weekend a friend of mine who just started running asked me why he has so much trouble getting past the two mile mark. He explained that more than anything else it was his breathing that was holding him back. Naturally, I began to offer some advice and also, naturally, I started going off on running related tangents left and right! So I quickly ended the discussion by telling him that I would send him an email with tips, links, etc ...He readily accepted because he realized that I could have gone on and on and on! This post is a sketch of an introduction to running...

I was a beginner runner about 8 years ago. Before I started running, I was 30 lbs heavier, smoked quite a bit, drank my fair share of alcohol and did not care to much about eating healthy. I should disclose that I was in college at that point so all that "partying" was in some sort of context. I never ran track or ran with a running group or club so I have had no formal running training or any source of motivation besides myself. I played baseball and soccer through high school and my Dad has been a runner since before I was born. My Mom used to own and operate a Diet Center and she has always been into maintaining a relatively healthy diet. My parents instilled a health conscious mindset in me which I did not know was there until my early twenties... I thank them dearly for it!  In 2002 my grandfather was suffering from strokes which eventually ended his life in 2003. I started to become more health conscious. I watched what I ate, drank and smoked. I started running... Probably not in the healthiest way (I would sometimes smoke weed and then go for a run!), but I started out by logging about 2-3 miles along the Potomac River trail in Washington DC (just below Georgetown). I would throw on my headphones and just cruise along the path with no concern of my pace or really how far I was going. After a couple of months, my curiosity started to kick in and I wanted to see how much farther down (or is it up?) the Potomac River I could make it.

My Dad provided me with the only two pieces of running advice I had prior to beginning to run and they turned out to be the two most crucial pieces of running advice I can offer. The first is pace yourself and the second is breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. To me these two rules are the foundation of becoming a successful runner. As you run more and more you will learn how to build on those two elements.

As you are working through your first month of running I would focus on things other than the running itself. After all, running is a natural thing! It is part of human evolution! You have all of the equipment you need... your body! There has been quite a bit of discussion about barefoot and/or minimalist-shoe running lately in the running community (check out this ARTICLE from RUNNING TIMES). If you're just starting out, it would serve you well to read up on some of the research and discussions that have been going on. So now that, you're ready to step out for your first run, focus on the fact that just by moving your body you are covering some significant distance. The human body is an amazing machine and the resilience of your own body will amaze you. Focus on the nature around you, focus on moving with whatever music you're listening to or listen to your body move. This focus will help you find your natural desire to run.

To me, the most rewarding thing about running is overcoming a challenge. This doesn't mean that running is always a struggle... far from it! Challenges are the beauty of running and this will translate to all areas of your life. I always remind myself to "love the struggle". When you embrace your challenges you will overcome them. "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."

As you work your way through your first month, SLOWLY build on your runs. Try a hilly-er route or try to doing a short sprint. The key to improving your running is to vary your runs. Check out this exceptional BEGINNERS RUNNING GUIDE from the training plan master, Hal Higdon.

Friday, February 5, 2010

TEAM W.I.L.D ...Women with Diabetes Triathlon Team


TEAM WILD is now accepting NEW MEMBERS of from beginner to veteran!! Here is their philosophy... "Team WILD is a concept built on the idea that exercise is medicine and movement is life. Women who have the daily challenge of diabetes deserve to have the opportunity for a long, healthy life and to achieve that, regular exercise is a key component. Team WILD exists to weave together a series of beliefs into a system that makes sense for women with diabetes who choose the opportunity to pursue their athletic and fitness dreams."

Monday, February 1, 2010

McMillan Running: Online Distance Running Resource and Coach!

Greg McMillan is an accomplished runner and an even more accomplished running coach. He has coached athletes in every Olympic Marathon Trial since 1996! Amby Burfoot, the editor of Runner's World magazine said, "Greg McMillan is one of the best and smartest distance-running coaches in America." Greg McMillan is a nice guy too, he shares his running knowledge and coaching skills with the world through his site, McMILLAN RUNNING.  His RUNNING CALCULATOR is more fun than video game! Also, be sure to check out his Non-Profit Post-Collegiate Elite Running Team at McMILLAN ELITE. They are based in Flagstaff, AZ and they run fast!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Turning an experienced runner into a marathoner!

I found a great ARTICLE today from our friends at COMPETITOR about an experienced runner, Brett Gotcher who just ran his first marathon, the HOUSTON MARATHON in 2hr 10min! The article is an interviews with Brett's running coach Greg McMillan. Greg is kind enough to spill the beans on some of his training secrets as well as give some great advice for experienced marathoners improving their times. Happy Trails! 

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Hangover Training Method.

Tested by many. Feared by all... Running with a hangover. Although, if you're passed out the morning after on picnic table in your underwear or praying to the porcelain gods the night before you're probably not gonna make it out for a run... maybe a walk.

At the... "ripe" age of 29 my social life and training life often are often at war. Battles are won and lost and the war will probably never have a true victor. On Friday night the social-life-side prevailed although a valiant effort was put forth from the training-life. They rallied to ensure that I consumed H2O (occasionally) through out the evening and A LOT of H2O just before going to sleep.

I woke up in the morning feeling like I was on mile 22 and didn't stop at enough aid stations. I made myself some "cheesy toast" (soy cheese + butter on Omega 3 bread), coffee, ate a banana and drank about a liter of water. An hour later I was in my running gear and heading out for my 6-mile pace run.

I'll sum up the run for you:
Mile 1: Hurting
Mile 2: Hurting
Mile 3: Hurting (the turn around point made me feel good for about 30 seconds tho!)
Mile 4: Hurting
Mile 5: Hurting
Mile 6: Hurting

My pace was not stellar and as I was running I started to think if there were ANY benefits of this run. Not only did I clear up some of the blurry moments in my head from the night before, I also realized that running with a hangover is similar to HITTING THE WALL! The causes of most hangovers as well as major factors in hitting the wall are HYPOGLYCEMIA and DEHYDRATION. Here's the actual definition of a HANGOVER.

So obviously, running with a hangover can be dangerous (For the sake of legal things... I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT) but if you're careful it might make your body better at handling the tougher moments of a race... The key is to not over do it because alcohol inhibits your muscle recovery and you will become a weaker runner. Also, if you fuel properly you won't "hit the wall"... unless you're hungover. Happy trails! 

Friday, January 8, 2010

On the Treadmill a lot during the winter months? Make it interesting and improve your running...

Make it interesting! Switch up your pace and incline. With just a few clicks you can significantly improve your running. Check out this PACE/INCLINE CONVERSION CHART from our friends at  I love the look on that lady's face while she's on the most insane incline I've ever seen on a treadmill!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Marathon Training Schedule a la Hal Higdon...

If you haven't check out the link to your right that says "Hal Higdon Training Site", you should. I am following one of his many marathon training schedule's for the Big Sur Marathon in April. I am on the 3rd week of the Advanced I Training Schedule and loving it. I'm going on this run in a couple hours:

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!! Is Running your New Year's Resolution?

Welcome to the future! It's 2010! Time to run. If running is somehow involved in your new year's resolution here are some tips to help stay on track (no pun intended):
1) Listen to Music! 
2) If you find yourself struggling during a run pick a visible goal in the distance, once you get there, pick another one!
3) Switch it up. Change your running route. Change your pace. Go to the track. Run hills sprints.
4) Sign up for races.
5) If you run on a treadmill ALWAYS keep at least a 1% grade on it.
6) If you think your run is hard think about something that would be harder... like climbing Mt. Everest!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Tune Up

When it finally gets cold enough in SF for me to break out the puffy north face jacket I know it's officially winter time! Starting around November and going through Mid-February I generally focus on strength exercises and those random parts of my body that get neglected but are crucial to maintaining running health. Here are videos that focus on each area:

BACK (I do these and get great results with LIGHT arm weights and leg weights):


INNER THIGHS (guys, think this is one is just for girls? You're missing out. Do some sit ups first and then go straight into these or throw some leg weights on to make it a little more challenging):

HAMSTRINGS (I think the best hamstring exercise is on the machine but do each leg separately):

If you've had issues making it to the starting line, if you have sore knees, back, IT band issues, etc it's probably due to weak muscles that are connected to or surrounding those parts. If you aren't "hip" to the benefits of strength training (sorry that was lame), it will burn fat better than running and keep those extra cookies and chocolate off your body during the holidays. This happens because while you are at rest your beat up muscles will be eating up everything they can find to rebuild. Remember though, you don't have to be huge to be strong. Think about Bruce Lee!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Deadlifts are one of the best exercises you can do because they work a lot of different muscles at once that do not ordinarily get a lot of attention. Deadlifts target your lower back, butt and hamstrings which are essential for running, especially long distance running. Many runners do not make it to the starting line of races because they hurt themselves during training. Most of these injuries are caused by too much running and not enough cross training and strength training. Here's how to do a deadlift:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yasso 800's

Bart Yasso is a dude with a great and SIMPLE marathon training plan. Although, it sounds like it might be best suited for someone who has run at least one marathon already. His plan is called the Yasso 800's and supposedly if you can run 10, 800's in a row hitting or beating your desired marathon finish time converted to minutes you will achieve that time. So if you want a 3hr finish you need to run each 800 in 3 min with 3 min of jogging recovery in between. I am going to the track today to start working the Yasso 800's into my training. My next marathon is Big Sur in April so we'll see how it works! Oh yea, Bart Yasso also wrote a book that I heard was pretty good, My Life on the Run.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Here is one of the best articles I have found on training like a kenyan.

Scott Douglas actually went to Iten, Kenya to train and scored some of their SECRETS. I felt running style changing to an effortless motion as I was reading this.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Killer Gym Workout

It's mostly circuit training but it adds some additional strength and endurance/running training. No two of these workouts are ever the same for me but the general series of workout types remains the same.  Very minimal or no breaks between exercises. If you really want to build up those running legs do this in reverse. Attempt at your own risk!!

1) Run 30-60 minutes starting with 2 miles of hills at 4-6% incline. Then I usually decrease the incline but never below 1% for the next mile. Fluctuate the incline and speed for the remainder of your run spiking it at times for a half or full mile up above the incline that you started with.
2) Off the treadmill and straight into dips/or pull ups/or both and single leg calf raises. 1 set = 1st leg calf raises + 2nd leg calf raises + dips (3 sets total, you should build up to about 20 calf raises/set)
3) Hamstring machine; one leg at a time.
4) Squats + Sit ups + Push ups. Do real squats, with the bar and weights. If you're injured use a machine. 
5) If there is an arm bike available get on it for 4-6 minutes. Medium resistance. If not, do 30 big slow circles with your arms forward and then 30 backwards.
6) Pectoral exercise of your choice + Upper back exercise
7) Ab workout; leg raises, crunches, bike crunches, get creative with these.
8) Back on the treadmill for at least one more mile. This mile should be really tough. If not, work harder next time.
9) Get protein and the appropriate carbs immediately after.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Want to Run Faster?

Here's a great article on hill sprints. It breaks down why they are so effective for your training and suggests timing, inclines and repetitions.
Related Posts with Thumbnails