Commentary — You’re Prepared, I Promise (or ‘My First Marathon’)

running-advice-bugI was talking to a group of runners the other night before their first marathon at the Rock N Roll San Diego Marathon. I was repeating my mantra to them — “Don’t freak out” — and telling them not to worry. “You’re prepared, I promise” I told them. One of them came to me afterward and asked me, “how can you promise that we are prepared Coach?” I answered her by telling her the story of my first marathon many years ago. In the age of the Internet, great web-resources, astonishingly detailed race web-sites and fleets of personal coaches, think about this next time you wonder whether you are prepared for your next race.

Let me take you back to 1989. I was the tender age of 18. I found myself at the time running with the University of Puget Sound, where I was spending my Freshmen year in college. I was a lean (read: scrawny) teenage (read: stupid) runner (read: fast) with tons and tons of racing experience (read: almost none in reality). I could talk a good talk with runners though. One day, precisely seven days before the Portland Marathon, someone asked me if I wanted to run the marathon the next weekend. “Sure!” I exclaimed. “That sounds great.”

I had no idea at that moment what a marathon would entail. In fact, I didn’t know how long a marathon was. In those days, there was no such thing as a half-marathon. I had raced plenty of 5K and 10K races. I was well prepared for those distances, which is to say I had a no idea about anything longer than that. I didn’t even want to ask anyone how long the marathon was, because, well, I didn’t want to look stupid.

In those days, we didn’t have the Internet, so I went to the library. I looked up the word “marathon” in the dictionary. Here was the definition: “an endurance contest. . . Something (as an event, activity, or session) characterized by great length or concentrated effort.” Thanks for nothing Noah Webster. I went to an encyclopedia and in it I found out that someone in ancient Greece had once run from a place called Marathon to Athens and had dropped dead at the end. Great.

I proceeded to make my preparations for the event. I filled out the entry form, which didn’t ask for my e-mail or cell phone number, because we didn’t have those things at the time. The only information I had to give was my mailing address, which I presumed was so the race organizer could mail home the bodies of those that dropped dead at the finish.
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Commentary — Coach Joe’s Naughty List 2012

running-advice-bugI suppose I should have known I was in trouble last night when my five year-old son asked me “Dad, what exactly are the consequences of getting on Santa’s Naughty list?” In my head, I thought ‘not much because we’ve already bought your presents,’ but I decided instead to tell him that tried and true tale that “he might get coal in his stocking.” To this, my brilliant son responded, “coal is helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil Dad.” A perfect response from a five year-old with an iPad 2. But it got me thinking about who is on my Naughty List this year and today I have some thoughts.

First, I’d nominate the people that live on my running route who are fostering the independence and freedom of their pet. I don’t know his name, nor his breed, but I would call him part wolf, part Alaskan Malamute, and part ferocious dragon. He is let to roam free of fences or the chains that bind most pets to their residences. Instead he is allowed to run freely. And boy is he fast. So thank you Mr. and Mrs. Great Big Dog Owners for providing me some variety on my runs for your pets freedom allows me to hone my speed and agility. He hasn’t, thankfully, caught me yet.

Second, I nominate the guy in the BMW SUV that made such precise eye contact with me a few weeks ago… right before he turned in front of me on my bike. My apologies to him for almost scratching his car. I’m sure that this probably caused him some great worry for he even pulled over to check to make sure that I hadn’t actually scratched it. He communicated something with me as he was doing this, but I will not describe the gesture in this family-friendly publication. I thank you, Mr. BMW Guy, for honing my bike handling skills and making me a quicker, more agile rider.

Third, I will put on my naughty list the guy just yesterday that used his horn to alert me to the exact moment that the light we were waiting at together turned green. Had he not laid down on his horn, I might not have started across the cross-walk in that very first second of the light, causing him even greater delay in making his right turn. I thank you Mr. Horn Guy, for being so alert and helping me make sure that my hearing is good so that I sense cars around me when I run.
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Commentary — Tips From an Aging Running Coach

running-advice-bugIt was my birthday today and I was overwhelmed with the many people who checked in on me. From a message that read “Hey Coach, are you still alive? Just checking since you are so old now?” to another that asked, “Changing age-groups again Coach?” I must say ‘Thanks’ and now I will provide some revelations that have come to me over the course of running career that has extended back into the last century.

I present today, some of my racing tips learned over the course of my many, many years of running.

15 Tips from An Aging Running Coach on his Birthday
15) Poop before you run. You don’t want to risk pooping in your shorts during a race. THIS BEARS REPEATING.

14) Poop before you run. If you poop in your shorts, you risk being called “Shit Pants” and getting Depends for your birthday for the rest of your life.

13) You can always be the best dressed person at a gathering of runners if you just wear dress shoes and pants.

12) The only things you can’t do without are your running shoes and your children. Everything else is just window dressing.

11) Ask for an autograph. It makes just about anyone feel good.
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Humor — Top Ten Reasons You Didn’t Run On Easter Sunday (Ancient Times Edition)

running-advice-bugHappy Easter runners. Today we present our latest top ten list. Enjoy.

Top Ten Reasons You Didn’t Run on Easter Sunday (Ancient Times Edition)

10. The run last weekend up to the hill overlooking town pretty much took it out of you.

9. Loin cloth continues to chaff your inner-thighs. Goat butter just isn’t working as well as BodyGlide.

8. Not quite clear what Roman Soldiers mean about a post-race party up on the hill, but you’ve only heard bad things about the way those guys party.

7. Although you’re typically up for a good urban challenge, the whole cross dragging, crown of thorns wearing, piercing thing seems a little too extreme for you.

6. Tax collectors raised the entry fee again. Who can afford the Jerusalem Marathon these days? They’ve been raising the entry fee since way back in 0005.
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Humor — Ten Signs Your Running Partner Wants to be Your Valentine

running-advice-bugHappy Valentine’s Day to all of your runners out there. Let’s face it, many of us live running. We run in our spare time. We hang out with runners. The single people among us may even want to date other runners. But as always, the approach in making this known varies from person to person. In that spirit today I present my list:

Top Ten Signs that Your Running Partner Wants to Be Your Valentine

[Two new bonus items make it twelve now.]

12. Running partner shows up to the run in a red thong with a heart on the front and that’s all.

11. Creepy grin when suggesting that “downward facing dog” would be good for your flexibility.

10. Offer by your partner to put Body Glide on was a nice gesture, but took on new significance when he indicted where he was going to put it.

9. New tattoo across his calf says, “if you can read this, you’re following too close (and I like it.)”

8. Suggests meeting in the hot tub instead of the trail-head where you normally meet.

7. Replaces energy chomps with heart shaped candies that say “Be mine.”
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Commentary — It Doesn’t Always Work Out & That’s Just Fine

running-advice-bugIt’s been awhile since I’ve told a good yarn of a racing tale. Well, I’ve got one for you today and it’s a ditty. But before I get into this story that requires embarrassing myself beyond belief — almost as badly as the time I mistakenly used the women’s bathroom to change my clothes — I will back up and share with you one key learning that I want you to gain from my misfortune.

Someone Much Faster Than Me

I often tell people here in this forum that the should mix it up, try new things, and take detours here and there. If you keep doing the same things over and over, how would you know if you were really good at something else, I might ask. And, mixing it up keeps things fresh and fun. I routinely pick out a sport and spend a whole season doing nothing but that — be it ultra-running, duathlon, trail-racing, or whatever — because by focusing on a new discipline it allows me to learn things that I can apply to my other endeavors. If I hadn’t, for example, decided to focus on short-course duathlon last year, I wouldn’t have know that I was so good at it. And that’s the kind of thinking that I used to get myself into the event that I was competing in this weekend.

It started a couple of weeks ago when I was doing my schedule planning for the year. I have sorted through dozens of races trying to find a race schedule that sounds fun and interesting. My one big problem is that the USAT Duathlon Nationals falls within a heinous period of travel for me. In five weeks, I will be in five different countries with Nationals right smack in the middle of that. So if I wanted to try to go to World’s again, the only way to do it would be to try to get to Nationals somehow. In looking at this, I thought of some other options. I thought, for instance, that I might try Sprint Triathlon Nationals instead. And this is what found me pondering what off-road triathlon might be like.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I’m find myself signed up for an off-road duathlon. I didn’t really even realize that it was an off-road duathlon when I signed up for it. I actually thought that it was just a winter season on-road race. But about a week before the event I was looking on-line at pictures from last year and sure enough people are riding through the mud and snow. Hmmmmm I thought to myself. Well, I guess I could get myself a mountain bike and give it a try. As I just wrote a minute ago, I do encourage people to try new things and all.
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Video — Marathon Thoughts (Humor)

A reader shared with us her comedy group’s homage to the Boston Marathon. The video is called “Marathon Thoughts” and, well, you’ll have to watch it see if you think it gets the many stages of marathon running right. I think the section in which the male runner laments not being able to nurse his future children because of nipple chaff, is just about priceless.

Thanks to ImprovAsylum for sharing this video with us.

Running Advice and News


Video — “Coach, I didn’t run because… Excuses not to run.”

running-advice-bugIt’s Episode 29 of our first season — the first of our “lost episodes”. Yes, it’s true. We skipped over a few episodes, so if you notice that Coach Joe isn’t nearly as tan as last week — well, now you know why.

On this episode we introduce you to Coach Dean Hebert’s new book, “Coach, I didn’t run because…: Excuses not to Run“. It’s a collection of excuses that people have given Dean for not running. Part humor and part serious material, this is a great book to read. I know I probably contributed a few of the excuses in this book, but not the really awesome ones.

You can buy Coach Dean’s book by visiting this link: Coach, I didn’t run because…: Excuses not to Run

To watch the video, just click the play button in the video window below.

There’s much more coming. We’ve filmed over 30 episodes in this series and we’ll be rolling them out each week. To visit our video page with links to all of the episodes in the series, click here.

Running Advice and News