There seems to be tremendous interest right now in the health effects of sugar in our diets. Many people say that it is sugar, rather than fat, that is leading people to be overweight. Documentaries like "Fed Up" talk about both the addictive nature of sugar and how the idea of "eating better and exercising more" makes little sense when the environment makes it practically impossible to eliminate sugar additives from your diet in the first place. No matter how hard you try, the deck is simply stacked against you, so the thinking goes. So 21 days ago I set ...
Over the past few years, the number of marathons around the world has exploded. Whether you’re interested in running on the Las Vegas Strip at night or meandering quietly through a forest, there’s a marathon for you. But picking out just the perfect race these days can take a little thought. Here are five things to consider when choosing your next great adventure:
Marathons can range from just a few runners to tens of thousands, and the size of the race has a direct impact on your race experience. Conventional wisdom might lead you to think that small races don’t have the same amenities as the largest races, but some small race organizers take surprisingly good care of their limited numbers of entrants. In fact, in some cases, small races might offer more food, drinks and personal attention than their big-city counterparts, simply because feeding 100 people is a lot easier than feeding 40,000. On the flip side, small races might offer nothing at all other than an organized route and a timing system. Aside from services, the size of the race also dictates the number of spectators who’ll be cheering you on (or not) and whether you’ll be sharing the road with cars. Think carefully about what you want the race environment to feel like, whether that be small and quiet or crazy and loud. And make sure to ask some questions, such as what services will be offered on the course or what the environment will be like on race day.
Coach Joe’s Pick: The Fargo Marathon has a reputation of being one of the best in the country, with amazing spectators, as many as 50 bands on the course and an indoor start and finish at the Fargodome.
I once saw a small group of bib-wearing runners doing laps around my local park. After talking to some of them, I realized they were doing a 50-mile race by running 50 laps around the park’s 1-mile loop. This sounded terrible to me. Race courses can take on all dimensions and sizes, so it’s best to check out what you’re getting into before signing up. Marathons can be held on a variety of surfaces, from trails to highways to running tracks, and can traverse anything from industrial parks to the wildest of mountains. Before signing up for any race, read through a description of the course to get a feel for what it’s all about and make sure to check out the “elevation profile” to see how much climbing and descending you’ll have in store.
Coach Joe’s pick: To get out of the city, check out the Big Sur International Marathon near Monterey, California, for spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, crashing surfs and coastal cliffs.
With a surge in popularity, a number of marathons have adopted somewhat unique and unusual registration schemes to prioritize entrants. Even many small races now use lotteries or have short registration windows because they quickly sell out. The Boston Marathon is perhaps the most famous race to require a qualification time to enter, but you might be surprised to find that other races ask for qualifying times in order to prioritize registration or to determine your start order at the race. The bottom line? Plan early and check out the registration process and deadlines so you have the best shot at getting into your dream race.
Watching America’s best long-distance racers can teach the rest of us a lot.
Last weekend in Los Angeles, 370 of the best American marathon runners competed for a few key slots on the U.S. Olympic team. (Only 256 finished the race.) As a runner who watched the event, I could have simply taken in the spectacle and enjoyed the excitement. But, I learned from the experience as well. Here’s what these phenomenal runners taught me – and what you can learn from them too:
1. Fatigue happens.
Most marathon runners worry that they’ll run out of gas somewhere in the late miles. This fear is warranted, as it happens to most of us at some point. After all, the marathon is a long race in many ways: physically, mentally and geographically. But many runners don’t realize that even the sport’s best participants face this challenge.
Sure, top runners make it look easy in some respects, but they also put in a massive amount of training to prepare. On top of that, many of them are supported by trainers, coaches, nutritionists and therapists. And they’re built – physically speaking – with bodies made for running. Still, as I saw last weekend, even top runners fade dramatically late in the race.
What can you learn from this? Don’t beat yourself up when the pressure and fatigue piles on late in the race. That’s just the way it feels – even for the very best.
2. Have a plan – and run with it.
One of the fundamental elements of marathon training is having a plan and executing it. For most of us, that means setting a realistic goal pace, practicing that pace over and over, and running that pace on race day.
At the trials, Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg did just that. The two women competitors ran together at the front of the race, step for step, leaving behind their rivals early on. They had practiced their pace and committed to running it, even if the rest of the field didn’t go with them. That can be an uncomfortable feeling, but Flanagan and Cragg had faith in their race plan and stuck to it. With Cragg finishing in first place and Flanagan taking third, both women made the Olympic team.
I was speaking to a group of runners a couple of weeks ago and one of them jokingly quipped: “If I asked Siri, will she tell me whether I will finish the marathon tomorrow?” I thought about it for a minute and then thought, ‘I should really try that!’ Well the results weren’t great. Google likewise didn’t come up with much in the way of conclusive answers. So I decided to answer this all important question: “WILL YOU FINISH THE MARATHON TOMORROW?”
I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way that Joe can predict whether any particular person is going to finish a marathon or not. There are just so many factors that come into play. But honestly, I can break this down into a five question test and for the most part say whether you’re going to finish a marathon or not.
First let’s set the playing field for you. The finish rate in most large marathons is about 80-90%. That means that among those that start the race about 8 out of 10 people finish the race. This may seem high to you, but in reality most people that attempt a marathon have done some level of training and get themselves to the finish-line. Finishing here is not measured in speed — we’re talking finishing “at all” and it may not be pretty. But that means that most people finish the race. The question we now jump into is what happens to those last two people and what throws those rates way out of whack.
Question 1: Did you train for the marathon? Most people read that question and say, “duh, of course I trained for the marathon. It would be insane not to train for a marathon, right?” Yeah, that’s true, but it happens. I have walked many a marathon with the last person in the race and they tell me that “I just didn’t train.” For whatever reason — whether they were too busy, too sick, too unmotivated — it just didn’t happen. My favorite all time story was a women in here late-60s that had been on a cruise that stopped in Anchorage on the day of the Mayor’s Marathon and she “just did it” because it was happening that day. SHE FINISHED! ANSWER: if you haven’t training, the odds that you won’t finished skyrocket, but even then it is possible to finish.
Question 2: What is the weather going to be on race day? The number 1 reason beyond all reasons that drop the finish rate in a marathon is if the weather is unseasonably hot. When the temperature is above 75 degrees, the finish rate starts sinking. This is especially true in places where people haven’t been exposed to warm weather — like in Chicago in the Fall. Hot weather can drop the finish rate by 10-20%. ANSWER: if the temperature goes way up, your odds of finishing drop, but so long as you hydrate and slow down, you can still finish.
The marathon is a long race and requires a level of precision to hit a specific goal time. If you’re running for a specific time, there are to me four key moments that will determine how well you do, whether you meet your goals, and whether you’ll hit the wall or sail on through it. Today, let’s take a look at those four moments and think about why each of these is critical to your race day performance.All running races require a level of pre-planning that goes way back to the beginning of the season when your training schedule was constructed. Having laid out a plan and done the work, race day is the execution of the strategy that was embodied by that plan. Where many marathon runners mess it all up is by changing up their goals or strategy on race day — or to put it another way, by forgetting what they did in training or not following their own plan. That’s why these four moments become so critical: they keep you glued to the plan that you’ve trained to execute.
Moment #1 — Twenty minutes before the race — My first and perhaps most critical moment comes just before the race. Before taking a single step of the race, and before the gun goes off, I like to spend five minutes of quiet reflection thinking through my training and what I have set out to do in this particular race. Twenty minutes is usually just before I hit the start corral, after my warm-up, and before all the singing and fireworks start. It’s also when I take a first energy gel to get the energy pump primed. I spent a few minutes asking myself some key questions and reminding myself of what I set out to do. “How did this training go in comparison to how I thought it might go?”; “How are the conditions today as compared to the way that I envisioned them?”; “I am ready to run XX time and that’s what I plan to do.” This is my final review of how things went and a reminder that grounds me to my actual capability on the day.
In my last national Duathlon competition this Summer I recall giving myself a reminder that I had not come to that race to win, but only to qualify for a spot on the next year’s team. The course wasn’t what I expected and my training had been weak due more than expected travel. Pulling myself out of the pre-race hype right before the race, helped me calm down and have more reasonable expectations. I did this while lying on the grass and talking about my expectation with my partner. She helped me remember what I was trying to do on the day and this stayed with me all through the race.
For months the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) has been saying that registration would open for the 2014 Boston Marathon in “early September.” As promised, the BAA announced on this past Thursday August 29th the final dates, procedures and field size for the 2014 edition of the marathon.
Registration will officially open on Monday September 9th, 2013 for the 2014 edition of the Boston Marathon. The same procedures will be use this year as the last two years, providing a “rolling entry” process. This means that in addition to meeting qualifying standards based on age, registration is opened for runners who beat their qualifying standard by more than 20 minutes first, then to those by 10 minutes, and so on until the race is filled.
Here is some of the specific language from the BAA:
“Registration will occur on a “rolling admission” schedule, beginning with the fastest qualifiers. On Monday, September 9, eligible runners who have met the qualifying standard for their age and gender by 20 minutes or more may register. On Wednesday, September 11 at 10:00 a.m. ET, if space remains, registration will open for those who have met their qualifying standard by 10 minutes or more. If space remains, registration will open on Friday, September 13 at 10:00 a.m. ET for those who have met their qualifying standard by five minutes or more. Registration will close on Saturday, September 14 at 10:00 p.m. ET.
If space remains after the first week of registration (Monday, September 9 through Saturday, September 14), then registration will re-open for all qualifiers from Monday, September 16 at 10:00 a.m. ET through Friday, September 20 at 5:00 p.m. ET. If space remains after this initial period, then on Monday, September 23 registration will re-open to anyone who meets the qualifying standards. Registration will remain open until the maximum field size is reached.”
I feel so strongly about the events of this past week at the Boston Marathon 2013 and our need to keep moving “Forever Forward” that I’ve decided to personally run the 2014 Boston Marathon. It has been five years since my last trip to Boston and I think next year is going to be the most important year in the history of the race for us experienced marathon runners to show the world that we will not be deterred.
In that spirit, I am announcing a very special group training program for those that qualify and would like to train as part of a group for the 2014 Boston Marathon: I will coach you for free. Yep, you heard it right, but there are some restrictions and important details, so please keep reading if you’d like to join my team.
What you have to do:
– You have to qualify for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
– You have to register and be accepted for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
– You will have to pay all of your own travel expenses to the race, including the race registration fee.
– You will need to join the group before the start of the season (to avoid having to adjust training schedules for late starting participants).
What I will do for you:
– I will provide a group training schedule appropriate to Boston Marathon caliber runners.
– The training schedule will be provided by my on-line coaching tool and administered over e-mail as is typical for our on-line coaching programs.
– I will provide a weekly status and inspiration e-mail to help keep you on-track during the training season.
– The training season will last five months (20 weeks), commencing approximately mid-December 2013.
– I will meet with the group on-site and we will go to the starting line together.
– We’ll have a party after the race together.
– There will be no coaching fees charged to join the group.
If you want to join our movement to go back to Boston in 2014, you can join me and I will help you with your training. Further details on how to sign up for the program will be posted in October 2014 on our web-site.
So get your qualifying time and sign-up for the race. Then let’s go to Boston together in 2014.
Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News
People say “knowledge is power.” Never is that more true than out on a marathon race course. I can think of a few ways that this comes up and today I’d like to consider how a little knowledge can bring you a lot of power when you’re pushing yourself through your next running race.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I was writing about the fact that in two recent races I had either seen or been misdirected on race courses. One of my bottom line points in that article was this: it’s your job as a runner to know your race course. When the leaders missed their turn in one of my races recently, the next guy in line turned back to me and quizzically gestured, “shouldn’t we be going that way?” I knew the course and I knew to make that turn. This apparently happened again this week at the very competitive front end of The Flat Half-marathon here in Oregon, where the train of leaders didn’t turn around where they were supposed to and ended up running an extra mile or so before being brought back on course.But if these are abstract to some of you that aren’t up there at the front, let me give you a couple of more examples where knowledge will go a long way for you. First, is knowing your pace. Second is knowing your fitness. Third is knowing the conditions and how they will impact those first two items. Let’s start with pace.
I ask running all the time what they think they will run at any given workout or race. The answers are so varied it defies imagination sometimes. Perhaps the most important piece of knowledge that you can have about yourself is how fast you run at a particular distance. This shouldn’t be a vague notion at all. Your pace should be established and monitored in your workouts and you should simply know what you can do on any given day. I understand that you may have multiple goals for a particular race (e.g. on a good day vs. a great day or a lousy day), but these goals should be gradations of what’s possible for you. You might have a reasonable target pace for example and have a goal to improve on that by say 5 or 10 seconds per mile if things are going really well. But that’s it. If your coach, friend, running partner or whoever says “what are you planning to run today” you should be able to answer that within 15 seconds per mile.
Twice in the last year I’ve been on different sides of a the same issue and it has to do with knowing and following the rules in racing. I think it may be helpful to think this through, because whether you’re a leader or a follower, the bottom line is that you need to follow the rules of the race — whether the race officials follow their own rules in application is a question for them, not you.
Yesterday I was running in a mid-sized 10K race. I say mid-sized (about 1,000 runners in the 10K distance and 5,000 in all distances) because it was a well organized race and you’d expect the course to be well marked. I was sitting in a comfortable fourth place, well out of contention and enjoying myself. I was there to get in a good workout and I was happy to sit back and watch the top three guys up there fighting it out. But then we came to a fork in the road, literally. I knew that we were supposed to take a right turn, but I saw the two leaders keep going straight. There was no volunteer at the intersection and it was otherwise unmarked. The third place runner slowed as he came to the intersection and then he looked back at me — I pointed to the right and he went right, but slowed down to let me catch up.
I was certain that the course turned right at that intersection, because I run this route probably twice a week in training. This is my hood. Unfortunately, I also knew that the road the leaders were following was going to shorten their course pretty significantly. Either road would have lead to a turn-around at the half-way point of the course and then we would have headed straight back to the finish, so it wasn’t a matter of getting lost. It was just a matter of running the right course and the right distance.
So did we make the right choice? Well, first a review of the rules. In both running and triathlon it is the responsibility of the athlete to know the course. Going off course, whether on purpose or not, is against the rules because it could result in shortening (or lengthening the course). There has been high-profile cases of leaders taking wrong turns in marathons and getting disqualified, but race organizers hate doing this because it almost always means that something wasn’t marked correctly.
The rules then say that you as a runner need to know and follow the course. My thought process yesterday was, first, that there could have been a timing mat at the turn-around and second that if someone did file a compliant (like the guy ahead of me in third place) that we would move up into first and second place, putting us both in the prize money. I wasn’t going to make a stink about this, because I wasn’t in contention anyway, but I was concerned that the leaders might set a course record by shorting the course.
SAN DIEGO – (June 3, 2012) – The 15th Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego event on Sunday morning was a star-studded affair. Meb Keflezighi, winner of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, appears ready for the upcoming London Olympic Games. The 37-year-old ran smoothly and effortlessly on Sunday, winning the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego ½ Marathon in 1 hour, 3 minutes, 11 seconds, his second consecutive victory in his hometown. Ryan Hall, 29, the U.S. record-holder for the half-marathon at 59:43, struggled because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot, and finished a distant second in 1:05:39.The women’s half-marathon was won by New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith in 1:08:37, a time that would have placed her seventh among the men.
Nixon Machichim of Kenya broke away with a little over two miles remaining and won the men’s Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon in 2:10:03. Russia’s Alevtina Ivanova also made a late burst and won the women’s marathon in 2:27:44. The men’s and women’s marathon champions each earned $25,000.
More than 30,000 entrants from all 50 states and 40 countries were greeted with ideal running weather on Sunday morning. The men’s half-marathon was the keynote event, expected to be a tense duel between the two Olympians. But after about a mile, it was no contest. Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic Marathon silver medalist, pulled away and the suffering Hall could not keep up.
“I wanted to go out early because I know how the race will be in London,” Keflezighi said. “I tried to duplicate what it will be like there.” The San Diego course is similar to London in that it has several turns and downhills. “This was not a do-or-die race, but I’m a competitor,” Keflezighi said. “I’m not a guy who likes to sit back and waits to kick in the last mile.”
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — June 1, 2012 – Don’t confuse the Robert Cheruiyot who won the 2010 Boston Marathon with the Robert Cheruiyot, who won the Boston Marathon in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008. The first and last names are the same, but that’s one of the few resemblances. The more recent Boston winner is 23, the other is 32. The 2010 winner’s middle name is Kiprono, the other’s is Kipkoech. The younger Cheruiyot will be heading a strong professional field for Sunday’s 15th annual Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon. The other Cheruiyot will not be competing.On top of one of the strongest marathon fields in memory at Rock N Roll San Diego, the Half Marathon will feature two of America’s top runners in their final preparations for the upcoming 2012 Olympics. Both Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi will be gunning for a win Sunday as they test their fitness for the games.
Back to the Cheruiyots. “We are not related,” Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot said on Friday for the other Boston winning Cheruiyot.. “I’m not the one who won Boston four times. But now I have done it and I’m very happy to have done it.” Both Cheruiyots live in Kenya, but a great distance apart. The older one lives in Nairobi, the younger in the village of Sarucha.
When Kiprono returned to his little township two years ago after his Boston triumph, he was greeted like a conquering hero. He estimstes that about 20,000 people from villages all around his home base turned out to greet him and threw him a celebatory party. They also presented him with five cows, which he gave to his mother. Should he win in San Diego on Sunday, the celebration won’t be as large, but it will be significant, he said.