Five Ways to Make Your Run More Interesting (Without Music) #running #fitness #marathon

running advice bug Five Ways to Make Your Run More Interesting (Without Music) #running #fitness #marathonWhether you’ve been running a long time or are relatively new to it, there can be a sense of fatigue that sets in when running the same routes, the same miles and at the same time of day. Even those runner friends of yours might start sounding a little boring after awhile. It’s not like you want to hear another story about the difficulty of their job, is it? Some people use music to distract them from these feelings and I often hear people say they “can’t run without music.” I think they can. I think you can. It’s just a matter of spicing things up a bit. Today, I’m going to give you five ways to make your run more interesting and I’m not including changing up your playlist.

Five Ways to Make Your Run More Interesting
Joe and Cal at Crater Lake 300x128 Five Ways to Make Your Run More Interesting (Without Music) #running #fitness #marathon1. Go somewhere new and get out of your “route rut” — I have an interesting perspective on this one. I travel a lot. I mean a lot a lot. When I’m on the road, every run is more fun. I’m exploring a new city, trying not to get lost, and perhaps keeping out of danger in certain places. But it helps me see that there is a freshness that comes with running in new or different places. Now, I understand that not everyone can be on the go as much as I am, but there’s more than one place to run in your own city. I’m constantly amazed when I find myself running down some new road that’s within a mile of my home. I’ve lived in the same place now for almost 10 years and I’m still finding new neighborhoods and places to run. So if you’re feeling stuck in a “route rut” then make it a goal to run a different direction, explore a new neighborhood or just go someplace else to run. Ask your friends where they run. I’m constantly surprised by the answers I get and I’ve found some fun new roads just by asking around.

2. Run your route backwards (not literally!) — If you really do have the same route that you run all of the time, run it backwards from time to time. You will be surprised how different the hills and turns feel when you’re going in the opposite direction. And no, you silly heads, I do not mean physically running backwards. Although running backwards would also be fun, albeit slower and more dangerous!

3. Play a game — As a parent I have become somewhat of an expert in occupying a busy little mind. Yesterday I was on a plane next to a four year-old girl named Ryan who was pretty bored. I kept her busy by giving her mind something to think about. We played “I Spy” out the window of the plane for quite some time. You may need to distract your own brain at times by giving it something else to think about other than putting one foot ahead of another. Think about how much more difficult it is to run for a long time on a treadmill than outside and you’ll know what I’m talking about. 30 minutes on the treadmill can be torture. This is because there’s nothing to look and the senses just get bored. A couple of my favorite games when running — reading every road sign (you will be amazed how many there are), jumping every puddle, and seeing how many coins you can collect on a single run (the key here is to look at the place where cars make right turns at an intersection by a cross-walk and there is a little grit and gravel built up. Go figure.). There are more elaborate games you can play with people, but think about things you do with kids and it will be a good start.

4. Run somewhere. I love to make a workout into a journey. Rather than just going out and back, sometimes I like to run somewhere specific — a one way trip that is. I will often ride from Portland to the Pacific Ocean for example as a long ride. The fact that a run or ride is a one-way journey somehow feels different. Of course if you do this, you need a way to get back home. But then you can always pick somewhere that has transportation or ask for a ride. Three of my friends and I wanted to run a very long trail once. We ran all the way out and then called a cab to get us home. We smelled awful, but it was a fun run and I still remember it today.

5. Change up the routine This may be a bit of a catch-all, but runners get in such a groove sometimes that it can become a grind. Let’s just think here about changing the time of day, wearing different shoes or (my favorite) leaving the watch at home from time to time (no pun intended). Minor changes in the routine can make a big difference in how things feel and that can definitely make things more interesting.

I hate that shirt that says “Running Sucks”. Running doesn’t suck. It’s great. We just need to get out of the rut and start having fun again. That is, after all, what running is all about.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
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Four Ways to Beat the Mid-season Blues #running #marathon #triathlon

running advice bug Four Ways to Beat the Mid season Blues #running #marathon #triathlonYou’re making your way through a long season. You’ve been training for months. You’re about half-way through and all of the sudden. . . it feels so hard to work out everyday. Your race suddenly feels so far off. I call this the “Mid-season Blues” and when it hits, it can be really hard to kick.

lone runner 300x224 Four Ways to Beat the Mid season Blues #running #marathon #triathlonToday I’ll give you four ways that you can beat the Mid-season Blues to get that training on-track and re-focus yourself for your big upcoming race:

First Keep an eye on your goal. Everything you do is preparing you for your ultimate goal of completing your marathon or other event. If you’ve lost sight of the goal, take a moment to reflect on it. Go on-line and look at pictures or read about your race. Visit the event’s web-site. Do some fundraising. Talk to people about the race, as opposed to your training. Tell people how excited you are about it (even if you are not!). These things will help you re-ground yourself with the goal. I often find that when I find myself feeling stressed about half-way through a season, I repeat to myself (usually when I am on the track) “this is the workout that made the difference at (my race).” I make a mental stake-in the ground that each day is important and I can picture finishing a race strong, feeling that whatever workout I did that particular day is the one that my competitors didn’t do.

Second, know that everything you do is cumulative. You may have heard me use an analogy that the marathon is kind of like doing a lot of push-ups. If you were to set out to do a whole bunch of push-ups, the first ones would be easy and then you would get progressively more tired. This is fatigue setting in from the repetition of the movement you are doing. You don’t actually weigh more as you do more push-ups, it just feels like it. The way that we get stronger is to keep doing push-ups and eventually you can do more of them before you get tired. It’s the same with running or walking a marathon, you’re just taking steps instead of doing push-ups. The middle of the season is the time when you are doing repetitions that will allow you to go further without getting so tired. It may feel a long a like road, but it is the road you need to be on to get where you are going.
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Five Reasons to Run the Crater Lake Marathon #marathon #running

running advice bug Five Reasons to Run the Crater Lake Marathon #marathon #runningIf ever there were a bucket-list race that is overlooked it might be the Crater Lake Rim Runs Marathon. This past weekend I ran the event and today I provide you my list of the Top Five Reasons you should run this amazing and different marathon.

Five Reasons to Run the Crater Lake Marathon

Crater Lake Sunrise 300x95 Five Reasons to Run the Crater Lake Marathon #marathon #running

Sunrise at Crater Lake before the 2014 Marathon

1. You get to run a marathon around the rim of a volcano. Talk about unique settings. In the first half of the race, you can just turn your head to the right and see views of one of the most beautiful natural wonders you will ever see. Crater Lake sits inside a collapsed volcano and you are literally running around the rim of the volcano’s crater. This pretty much beats the typical run through city streets of most marathons.

2. You want to really, really, challenge yourself. This sucker is hard. I would say that Crater Lake is one of the toughest marathons you’ll find anywhere. Included on the list of what makes this one so tough is the fact that the race course is entirely above 6,000 feet elevation and peaks out at over 7,750 feet. Also, you’ll have some nasty climbs to deal with and almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain. If that weren’t enough, one of the toughest hills on the entire course is set between miles 22 and 24 — just when you’re feeling freshest.

2014 08 10 12 34 55 182x300 Five Reasons to Run the Crater Lake Marathon #marathon #running

Elevation profile of the Crater Lake Marathon

3. You want to run some serious descents. The up hill climbs may get all of the press, but running down hill can be equally tricky. It may not require as much effort, but it can tear through your quads and leave you trembling. Get ready for some big descents. The course tips downward from it’s peak about mile 14 and is almost all down until mile 22. Ouch.
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Should You Use Gels and Energy Products in Marathon Training? #running #marathon

running advice bug Should You Use Gels and Energy Products in Marathon Training? #running #marathonOne of my athletes asked me a question this week that circles around runners frequently: should runners by using energy gels or other energy products during training runs or save them just for races? The companion question is whether there is any sense or utility to the “glycogen depletion run”. I’ll tackle both of these today. First, here’s the question:

Energy Gels 300x200 Should You Use Gels and Energy Products in Marathon Training? #running #marathon

“I’ve been talking to some people who have run marathons, and some say to not train with gels/gus because then your body gets used to them, and others say to train with gels/gus exactly how you’re going to eat them during the race. . . . Is there an easy to way to figure out who’s right? So far, I’ve incorporated chomps into my long runs, and haven’t had any issues with them, but wasn’t sure if I should continue to use them during my long runs leading up to the marathon, and then in the marathon itself.”

My short answer is yes! You do want to use your energy products in training for two big reasons. First, you want to do everything in training that you do on race day. You do this so that race day is just a longer version of what you do in training. This is very true of our nutrition routine. We need to practice with the products that we’re going to use on race day so that we know they will work. In particular, energy products can be tricky with some people’s stomachs, so trying them out and making sure a particular brand works for you is essential. You don’t want any surprises on race day, especially if those surprises wouldn’t entail diarrhea, stomach upset or even vomiting. (Yikes!)

Second, using energy products or eating food makes you feel better during your training runs and races. Wouldn’t we rather feel better, have more energy and perform better? I think most people want to feel the best that they can, so I advocate eating during our runs, because it will make you feel better.

If people worry they are going to “get used” to having gels I think what they are actually saying is “you don’t want to get used to them and not then have them available.” But this kind of misses the point. You carry your own gels and energy foods, so this is under your control. There’s no reason in a typical road race that you wouldn’t be able to carry your own products with you so this isn’t really a concern. Remember you want to “get used” to these products so they don’t surprise you with stomach upset on race day. “Getting used to them” is why we practice with them.
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Five Ways to Rekindle Your Marathon Running Motivation #running #marathon

running advice bug Five Ways to Rekindle Your Marathon Running Motivation #running #marathonSometimes all of us runners, even the most dedicated ones, go through periods where our motivation slips away. It’s kind of like having a case of “The Mondays”, where we just lose that fire for running — just a little bit or maybe a lot — and we need a little help to rekindle that lovin’ feeling that we have for our favorite sport. Whether you’ve been sick, put on a couple of pounds, or just gotten busy at work, today I provide you five ways that to rekindle your desire to go running in a snap!

Motivated Runner 300x225 Five Ways to Rekindle Your Marathon Running Motivation #running #marathonStep 1 — Get back out there today! — If you’ve been slacking, even with a marathon or race coming up on the horizon, the first thing you should do is put those shoes on and head out the door; and you need to do it today. I know that seems obvious, but it’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll start back up tomorrow, at next Saturday’s group run, or when you “feel better.” There’s nothing that gives you a better reminder of why you run — or perhaps how far you’ve fallen behind (see the next step) — than just going for a run. You feel better after a run, even a short one, because your body changes after running. Things are going on, both mentally and physically, that will jump start your desire to run again. So step one: go today!

Step 2 — Start with a short run — Perhaps one of the worst things you can do when you’ve lost your motivation is to bite off more than you can chew on the first run out the door. You may have a picture in your mind of what you need to do to get back on track, but I pretty much promise you that a if you start out with a 10 or 12 miler after taking even a week or two off, your body is going to be in full revolt. Again, the body changes when we run, but the opposite side of that is also true. On that first run, the pump is not primed to go. Whether you metabolism has slowed a little or your just dehydrated, take it easy on the first one as you get back out there. Step two: keep the first one short!

Step 3 — Sign up for a race — You may be training for a marathon that’s months away, but a race this weekend or next brings things into the near term. Races help our minds focus. Sign up for a 5K or 10K race and then go through the motions to get out there and do it. It’s a great reminder of the fun of organized runs and the competition might just spur you on to a good high-energy workout too. Step 3: race!
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Three Steps to Setting Measurable and Objective Race Goals #running #triathlon

running advice bug Three Steps to Setting Measurable and Objective Race Goals #running #triathlonJerry Seinfeld once joked about Silver Medalists in the Olympics that after having perhaps the best race of their lives they were asked, “what happened? Did you trip? Did you fall?” It’s just hard for people to believe that someone could be that close to winning and not have had their best day anyway. I’m in the midst of such a journey right now, having finished fourth in the US National Duathlon Championships, people have already asked me such questions as “did you have a flat? Was it a bad day? We’re you not feeling your best?” And to all of those questions, I have to say no. In fact, I did exactly what I set out to do in that race and I’m very happy about it.

USAT Duathlon Nationals Sprint Start 300x200 Three Steps to Setting Measurable and Objective Race Goals #running #triathlon

At the start of the USAT Duathlon Nationals 2014

How can you be happy when you don’t end up the winner? The answer is by setting and achieving goals that are measured by your own performance, rather than by the performance of others. Let me explain as my good friend Coach Dean Hebert explained it to me years ago and give you a three step process for setting objective goals.

First, we start by setting performance goals for ourselves that are both measurable and objective. Goals that are measurable and objective are ones that we can test to determine whether we have actually met them. Some good examples of measurable goals would be be to “run the race in X time”, to come through a race without injury or “to run 5% faster than last year.” All of these are things that we can look at after the race and answer whether we met them with a yes or no question. Contrast this with goals that are subjective such as “I want to do better than last year” or to “go as hard as I can.” Objective and measurable goals are ones that you could ask someone else whether you met or not and with the right data they would be able to answer them correctly.

Second, goals need to be based on your own performance or conditions that are under your own control. This is where the real pitfalls come into play. If you set goals based on someone else’s performance they would include things like this: “I want to win,” “I want to beat my rival,” or “I just don’t want to finish last.” Any of these statements have dependencies on other people in order to measure them and this is where we get in trouble. You can’t control who else shows up for the race and what they do. An Olympic champion might show up some morning at your local race and reasonably blow you and the whole field out of the water, even if you run a the PR performance of your dreams.

So how does one set a goal that reaches to beat the competition but can still be measured and falls under our own control? You take your performance goal and map it to what it is that you would need to do to succeed. For example, rather than saying “I want to win” you would set a goal to “run the race in X time” where that time would be good enough to win based on what you know about the race. You then can measure whether you performed against that goal (“Did I run my goal time?” Yes or no.) If that Olympian shows up and blows you away, well, you’ve still done what you set out to do.
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USAT Duathlon Nationals 2014 Held in St Paul #USATDU14 #triathlon

running advice bug USAT Duathlon Nationals 2014 Held in St Paul #USATDU14 #triathlonST. PAUL, Minn. — Matthew Payne and Kirsten Sass captured overall standard-distance titles while Nathan Hoffman and Patty Peoples-Resh raced their way to overall sprint titles at the 2014 Life Time USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships, held Saturday at Harriet Island Regional Park.

USAT Duathlon Nationals 2014 Nathan Hoffman 198x300 USAT Duathlon Nationals 2014 Held in St Paul #USATDU14 #triathlon

Nathan Hoffman wins 2014 overall Sprint Duathlon title

Nathan Hoffman (South Haven, Minn.) posted the fastest time of the day in the sprint race at Duathlon Nationals. (Photo: Mario Cantu/CIMAGES)

Payne (Columbia Heights, Minn.) clocked in at 1 hour, 16 minutes, 25 seconds on the 4.6-kilometer run, 31.2-kilometer bike, 4.4-kilometer run to claim the overall victory as well as the male 35-39 age group title. Dave Slavinski (Point Pleasant, N.J.) posted a time of 1:16:46 for second overall and first in the male 40-44 age group and masters division. Thomas Woods (Lincoln, Neb.), also in the 40-44 age group, was third overall in 1:17:35.

“Really, I would say we have the most competitive duathlon scene anywhere right here,” Payne said. “I knew if I had a good race, I had a shot. Any time you get something like this in your backyard, you have to do it.”

Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.) was the top finisher for the women, picking up the women’s overall title along with the win in the female 35-39 age group, finishing in 1:25:10. Dani Fischer (Wausau, Wis.) was second overall after a penalty set her finish time back to 1:26:06, which was still solid enough for the female 25-29 age group championship, and Brenda Williams (Cornville, Ariz.) sealed her female masters and 40-44 wins in 1:27:46, finishing third overall.

“I was hoping for a good day out there and just gave it what I had,” Sass said. “It’s a very supportive environment and that’s what drew me to triathlon in the first place, and that goes for duathlon as well. Everybody is out there encouraging everybody else, and I just think that’s incredible.”
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XTERRA Mountain Champs 2014 Crowned in Colorado #triathlon #Xterra

running advice bug XTERRA Mountain Champs 2014 Crowned in Colorado #triathlon #XterraJuly 19, 2014 (Avon, CO) – Josiah Middaugh, 35, of Eagle-Vail, Colorado and Chantell Widney, 34, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, captured the 2014 XTERRA Mountain Championship at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, CO today.

XTERRA Josiah Middaugh 2014 XTERRA Mountain Champs 2014 Crowned in Colorado #triathlon #Xterra

Josiah Middaugh wins Xterra Mtn Champs 2014

It’s the third time in four years Middaugh has won the race, while it’s the first major XTERRA victory for Widney.

Middaugh was more than a minute behind the leaders out of the one-mile swim in Nottingham Lake but quickly biked his way to the front of the pack. He posted the fastest bike and run times of the day and won going away in 2:07:22, more than five minutes ahead of runner-up Ben Hoffman from Boulder.

“It was a special day for me, everything kind of clicked,” said Middaugh. “You’d think that would happen more often on my home course but I’ve had a lot of dismal races here so it was good to put it all together and have one of those days where everything felt really good. It’s a really hard course but I was happy to suffer through it.”

His bike split, 1:09:32, was almost three minutes faster than the next best of Ryan Petry, and his run was 30-seconds better than the lightning quick 18-year-old Mauricio Mendez. Making that all the more impressive, Middaugh suffered three broken ribs in a bike crash just three weeks ago.
“Just one of those things,” said Middaugh. “It hurts a lot, and it’s not very easy to breath. I actually thought it was going to be a so-so day but it turned out to be a great day. Mauricio was the last one I passed on the bike (before mile three) and I really thought there would be more guys out front longer.”
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US Duathlon National Championships Head to St. Paul #USATDU14 #triathlon

running advice bug US Duathlon National Championships Head to St. Paul #USATDU14 #triathlonNearly 650 athletes from 44 states and Washington, D.C., are on the start list for this Saturday’s 2014 Life Time USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships, held in St. Paul, Minnesota, at Harriett Island Regional Park. The race will be held on July 19, 2014.

DSC 3008 300x130 US Duathlon National Championships Head to St. Paul #USATDU14 #triathlon

Joe English will attempt to repeat in the Sprint Distance Championship in 2014

After a three-year stint in Tucson/Oro Valley, Arizona, St. Paul will host the best duathletes in the country this weekend and again in 2015. Age-group duathletes and paraduathletes will race their way to national titles in both standard-distance (4.6-kilometer run, 31.2-kilometer bike, 4.4-kilometer run) and sprint-distance (2.9k run, 20.8k bike, 2.7k run) events. Races will begin at 7:30 a.m. CT on July 19 with the standard-distance race, followed by the sprint race at 11:45 a.m. CT. Visit for complete event details, and follow the race live at

Twenty-three returning national champions highlight the field in Saturday’s races:

Sprint Defending Champions
Michael Ashworth (M30-34, Jersey City, N.J.)
Margaret Bomberg (F75-79, Chico, Calif.)
Celia Dubey (F40-44, Tarpon Springs, Fla.)
Joe English (M40-44, Hillsboro, Ore.)
Terry Habecker (M65-69, Ithaca, N.Y.)**
Janet Jarvits (F45-59, Pasadena, Calif.)
Heysoon Lee (F70-74, Morristown, N.J.)**
David Morrow (M60-64, Tarpon Springs, Fla.)
Patty Peoples-Resh (F55-59, Redlands, Calif.)
Kristin Villopoto (F50-54, Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Timothy Winslow (M19U, Elk Grove, Calif.)**
Standard-Distance Defending Champions
Andy Ames (M50-54, Boulder, Colo.)
Donald Ardell (M75-79, St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Jason Atkinson (M30-34, Alamogordo, N.M.)
David Burkhart (M60-64, Brighton, Mich.)
Kirsten Chapman (F50-54, Edmond, Okla.)
Kerry Mayer (M65-69, Brookfield, Wis.)
Robert Powers (M90+, White Bear Lake, Minn.)
Erica Ruge (F40-44, Rhinebeck, N.Y.)
Jennifer Scudiero (F30-34 and female overall winner, Eagan, Minn.)
Dave Slavinski (M40-44, Point Pleasant, N.J.)
Chelsea VanCott (F20-24, Oceanside, Calif.)*
Keith Woodward (M60-64, Stowe, Vt.)

*Indicates athlete is racing in the sprint event
**Indicates athlete is racing in the standard-distance event

Duathlon Nationals is the sole qualifying event for the age-group 2015 Standard- and Sprint-Distance ITU Duathlon World Championships in Adelaide, South Australia, on Oct. 14-18, 2015. The top 18 finishers in each age group, rolling down to 25th place, will qualify for Team USA.

Team USA is comprised of the nation’s top multisport athletes who represent the U.S. at each ITU World Championships event. Visit for more on Team USA.

In addition to the weekend’s races, USA Triathlon and local St. Paul shop TrüBerry Frozen Yogurt have partnered to collect unwanted sneakers this week through July 19. Donated shoes will be given to Listening House of St. Paul, a day/evening shelter and community resource center that provides hospitality, practical assistance and counsel to people who are homeless, disadvantaged or lonely. Shoes may be dropped at 949 Grand Avenue in St. Paul, and those donating shoes will receive a buy one, get one free item from TrüBerry.

Source: USA Triathlon
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Five Signs You Need to Stretch More #running #marathon

running advice bug Five Signs You Need to Stretch More #running #marathonI know that runners hate to stretch. You might think it’s kind of like flossing your teeth: you know it’s good for you, but you’re most likely only to do it when you have a dentist appointment next week or you’ve got a popcorn kernel stuck in your gums. Stretching is the same for many of us; stretching is one of those things that we do when something hurts or is slowing us down. But stretching your muscles has some great benefits, including preventing injuries, reducing soreness and potentially making you run faster.

woman doing yoga sea getty  medium 4x3 300x225 Five Signs You Need to Stretch More #running #marathonLook no further than elite runners at many races. Watch the Kenyans and Ethiopians do their warm-ups. They tend to stretch a lot as a group. The reason is that running actually tightens and shortens your muscles. In order to loosen (or lengthen) muscles, you need to stretch them out again. Think about how hard it is to run when you are feeling “tight”. Now think of trying to run really fast on tight muscles. That’s hard to do. These elite folks know that keeping loose and long muscles is what allows them to extend and keep their strides long.

Here are five signs that your body may be telling you that you need to stretch!

1. Your heels hurt before you get out of bed in the morning — if you’re lying in bed and you can feel your heels being tender then you need to work on stretching out your feet and calf muscles. This feeling may be the pre-cursor of the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the fascia in the feet — and it hurts a lot. The key is to make those feet and calves loose and limber. Start by stretching your feet even before you get out of bed in the morning.
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