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Archive for race stradegy

Setting Goals: Twenty Fifteen

Well, the year has come to an end, and it’s time to start thinking about what you want to actualize in 2015. Here a little acronym to think of when setting a goal: S.M.A.R.T.

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Relavent

T – Time-bound

They are helpful for two reasons. First, they are effective in quantifying success. Second, they address unrealistic expectations. For example, you may want to finish a marathon in less than 3.5 hours. If this is your first marathon, you can see why this might be an unrealistic expectation. The key to SMART goals is to use both outcome goals, which focus on bottom-line results, and process goals, which address how you will train to achieve those results. For example, “To finish in the top five at the local Triathlon in my age group” is an outcome goal. The problem is that we have less control over outcome goals than they have over process goals. If you fail to accomplish an outcome goal, you may question the efficacy of your training, and get too self-critical. We have greater influence over process goals, such as “To run 2,000 miles during the calendar year.” Plus, in the end, this stuff is suppose to be fun! Enjoy life and have hope for what you can accomplish. It’s a new year and a new time to actualize your dream.

And remember, a goal without a plan, is just a wish.


Tips on running a marathon

102679-019-014fRunning a marathon or half marathon is a whole different beast than the 5K or 10K running race. It really comes down to one very important skill: Endurance. Mentally it is very difficult to grasp this concept in our training, when we’re used to just going out running at a certain comfortable pace and then completing a certain comfortable distance. It’s often quite challenging to get out of our comfort zone, but as you may know this is what brings the most rewards in life!


1. Pacing

Often in a workout we start out blazing fast in the first interval and by the last interval our energy is zapped. Often this happens in races too, we start out energized and focused only on being competitive in the moment. It’s an extremely common mistake to warm-up and then go for broke. Often the first push of a workout should actually feel easy, efficient and nearly effortless. Keep in mind you need the energized surge of adrenaline to last you through the whole workout. Many people start out revved up and then by the end of class they pitter out. If you don’t exert such a huge effort at the start of the workout, by the end you might just surprise yourself with the level to which you can accomplish it. Once I did a 4th of July Firecracker 4-mile run. I really thought I was going to win. I started out the run doing a 1-mile race pace! I was in the lead! I kept up a good strong pace for 3 of the miles but by the last mile I had nothing in the tank and got passed by five girls, the fifth one as I was coming across the finish line I heard my friend Richard yelling “Go Maggie! Finish STRONG!” I didn’t know that meant there was someone inches behind me as I approached the finish line! She passed me one second ahead of me. What a bittersweet lesson on pacing.


2.  Long Distance Run (LDR)

The single most important run you can possibly do for training for a marathon or half marathon, is the LDR. It should truly be done in a slow to moderate pace, maybe slower than you’re used to running. And it should really push your limits for length. I recommend going by time rather than distance. For example start with a 1 hour run, if you’re ready for that. Then build on that, each week by increasing the time by 10 or 15 minutes. If you add on too much time too soon, you may get injuries, or illness, and staying injury-free is crucial!


3. Recovery

Lastly, but probably most important, be sure to take time off every 10 -14 days or if you’re feeling really run down. If you are following a proper training plan, you’ll definitely need to build in recovery days to refresh and rebuild and take it really easy, including foam rolling, stretching and eating helathy. Recovery can be the most challenging for some runners!

Running shoes: back to the basics

I am a runner. I have been a runner all my life. It’s funny that although we are all able to run and do so all throughout our childhood, some of us do not consider ourselves “runners.” If you are a slow runner, you are still a runner. Maybe you do not have the genetic predisposition to be the next Usain Bolt. However, you are able to run. “Run for your life!” is a saying essential to survival. But, instead of running everyday, we sit everyday. We sit as we drive, we sit as we eat, we sit as we use our computers, we sit until our bodies are chronically aching and obesity is rampant. Then we try to go for a run wearing these big bouncy rubber-soled shoes that prohibit all our sensory abilities of our feet. Yes, we have more cushion wearing the modern running shoes, and more protection from dangerous terrain. But, how was it that the human race coped with “running for their lives” without these extra thick-heeled running shoes up until the 1970’s? You’d think that since then the amount of injury to knees, feet ankles would have dramatically dropped, or at least we’d be fitter and less overweight. However, it’s not the case. In fact, there are more running injuries than ever before. The large over-built stability shoes have actually robbed the body’s ability to stabilize! 

If you want to improve your stability in your feet, ankles and knees, then try this: Find your local track and go to the nice soft grassy in-field. Take off your shoes and socks and do a few laps on the grass in-field. It may feel weird, but this is natural and how our bodies can naturally perceive your own best running gait. Another option if you live near a beach, try a mile or less at a time, running barefoot on the hard packed sand – you may be on sensory overload! I tried it last week and it felt awesome!

Once you get more comfortable with running barefoot, I urge you to begin diminishing your running shoe. Start little, by little, inch by inch, reducing the thickness of your sole of the shoe. Really pay attention to what your body is doing and how it is changing. It may take you a year or more to adjust gradually to this new type of shoe. Also, begin with shorter runs and progress at most 10% longer distances at a time to get more comfortable. Be conservative in your process of learning to run back to the basics.

Lastly, just try taking off your shoes more, whether at home around the yard, at a park. It feels very liberating, to say the least. Imagine if we went through life with thick rubber gloves on our hands, not being able to use the sense of touch. Maybe some glove company would even make loads of money, and we’d be left senseless.

If you’re more interested in this topic, check out a great book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. I highly recommend it.

Happy trails!

Work with your Strengths

We each are born with specific genetic body-types and we have only so much we can do to transform them and shape them into our dream body. Yes, plastic surgery is one option, but in regards of fitness we are genetically inclined to do certain activities. One factor that determines our strengths and weaknesses are the amount of slow-twitch versus fast-twitch muscle fibers we are born with. Slow-twitch muscles are the muscles fibers that are best for long endurance sports, or aerobic exercise. Whereas, fast-twitch fibers are recruited when a muscle contracts for a shorter burst of energy, called anaerobic exercise. The muscles fibers are on a spectrum that ranges from Type I, slow-twitch to Type II b, very fast-twitch. Therefore, we are naturally built to accel more at one type of exercise over others. Of course, it’s important to have a well-rounded workout regime of both aerobic and anaerobic work. You may find it works much better for your specific body-type to do one type of activity over the other.

Runners going for it at the San Diego ITU Triathlon

My suggestion, as the title implies, is that go for what your body is built. If running marathons doesn’t seem to work well for you, yet you can run extremely fast 200 meter sprints, you could be more of a fast-twitch guy/girl. However, if all you’ve ever done is quick short exercises and you’ve never dabbled in the realm of endurance sports, you may not know what you’re missing! Try both and work at it to see what you’re made of. You never know unless you give it a try. Hey, you may be the next best Ironman Triathlete.

Running Right

With OH so many people giving advice on how to run faster, longer and stronger, it can be hard to know what to believe. In fact, sometimes the advice is too overwhelming so we just use our own ideas on how to get faster. People try weighted vests, ankle weights, running too far too fast, the forward lean, running stairs, doing drills. Some of these are useful, some not so much.

The most common error I find runners do is every time they run at the same exact pace. Do you just go out for a run without a plan, except maybe to run a specific distance? What is the point of the workout without a plan!? Plan the work, work the plan. Every run should not be the same. Getting a good workout is important, but you’ll never make progress if you’re going at the same heart rate, the same speed and the same intensity every single time. If you think on race-day some magic will happen and you’ll suddenly run faster than you have in your same-pace training, you’re wrong.

Every runner is different and has different needs. For example, if you’re doing four runs each week you could be doing a LDR (long distance run), an interval run, an easy run, and a tempo run. Each run has different relevancies and should be completed with thoughtful planning. It’s OK to run easy sometimes, especially if you’re particularly fatigued. And if you’re doing an interval workout, you really need to get an easy recovery between sets. People under-value easy or fun runs. Conversely, people forget to run fast. . . or think they cannot run fast. One of the single best ways to get better form, to have a quicker stride, and a longer stride is running faster. Period. Our bodies subconsciously become more efficient and good form is the result. This means: go to a track. Start out with fast 200’s and rest in between. Then, build to fast 400’s and rest in between. All the drills in the world won’t make you as good of a runner as you could be by simply running like a race horse. Work hard and train smart.


Mondays at 3:45 PM and 5 PM

In Pacific Beach, San Diego at Kate O. Sessions Park

5 Class punch-card for $75

Change it up this year

Inspirational video: How great are you?

Humans are creatures of habit. We like to get into a routine that is comfortable and familiar. The beginning of a new year is the time to think about positive changes we can make to our lives. Generally, there are two types of New Years Resolutions:

  1. Bad habits we want to break.
  2. Goals we want to achieve.

Then, we set about accomplishing those resolutions (sometimes half-heartedly). But do you have a plan to get what you want? Are you just randomly trying to get in shape and randomly resisting the temptations of fattening foods? While these are great attempts at getting your healthy body back, chances are not very high that you’ll actualize your goal.

If you shake it up, and try a really different approach to your lifestyle, this can be a way to break bad habits. If you have compulsive eating habits, a drinking problem, drug addiction or another unwanted bad habit, consistency is key to really quitting! For example, you can’t just do a “crash diet” and expect to have a nice slim body for the rest of your life. The older stubborn fat cells can sometimes take many months, and even years, to finally be evicted from your body.

To start up a new fitness routine, start small, then build slowly. One of my clients started with just walking four miles a few days per week and he built on that by adding more days, and longer distances. He is still improving and getting stronger all the time . . . but it is a slow process.

If you want live the greatest life possible and achieve greatness physically, one must practice discipline, concentration, and patience in order to be successful. These three qualities are the keys to practicing your art. Life is over in the blink of an eye. Make the most of your life today and every day. It’s never too late to begin really making the most of your life. Have a great 2012!

Inspirational video

How Bad Do You Want It?

Video of How bad do you want it?

Half-heartedly pursuing sports is a fun “hobby” to have as an adult. We don’t REALLY think that we can passionately play sports, like we did when we were kids, unless someone is a professional athlete. We have fun dabbling in sports, and frequently grown-ups get injured. Often injuries occur more because those sports dabblers are de-conditioned, or out of shape. If we adults played hard and trained hard, like we did as kids, we’d be transported to a level of fitness many think is not possible.

2012 is officially here. 2011 flew by and many of last year’s resolutions were never actualized. So how will this year be different? It all comes down to what’s in your heart. How badly do you want to be the best player on the field, on the court or on the road crossing that finish line? How serious are you about sacrificing a little social life or facebook-time, to really up your game in 2012? You are capable of SO much more than you think is possible! People rise up from adversity all the time. So contemplate: what excuses are you making up today why you can’t go lace up those shoes and run out the door? How badly do you want to accomplish something new in 2012? Your body has the most amazing adaptable abilities to climb great mountains, swim oceans, and jump to the highest heights. Don’t let it simply slump into a lazy piece of flesh that types at a computer. I know you have it in you to blow away your mediocre expectations! Go do it.

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