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 ...
The Boston Marathon is special to many people – runners and non-runners alike. Marathon runners from all over the world aspire to earn their ticket to Boston, and running Boston is often the highlight of their running careers. But if someone asks why Boston is such a big deal, not everyone has the answer on the tip of their tongues. I’m an exception. Here are five reasons why I think Boston has earned its status at the top of the marathon running heap:
1. You have to qualify to run Boston.
The first reason Boston is so unique is that it’s a qualified race. In other words, in order to register for the race, you must have already run a marathon at a particular (relatively fast) pace. The Boston qualifying standard drives many people throughout their careers as a mark of achievement. But while the Boston Athletic Association wants the race to be challenging to get in, it doesn’t want to exclude non-elite runners.
While race organizers tightened the standards to qualify in 2012, they still aim to allow approximately the top 5 to 10 percent of runners into the race. Think about that in contrast to the marathon at the Olympics, where only the top two runners from the United States participate. That’s a much stricter standard, and it’s also an example of how high the bar can be for elite competitors.
2. Even you can run the Boston Marathon.
Despite Boston being a race that requires a qualifying time, it’s achievable for non-elite runners. That makes Boston unlike almost any other “elite” event because many of us have a shot of competing alongside the absolute best runners in the world. When you spot someone wearing a Boston T-shirt or jacket, you know they met a high standard to get there.
If you’re looking for my article on tips about the New York City Marathon that ran in US News Health, here it is:Runners from around the world are about to converge on New York City for the TCS New York City Marathon, and they will all have something in common: They want to have the best experience possible. The marathon is huge, loud, packed with deep crowds and lined by some of the city’s most iconic sights. For the uninitiated, it is an inspiring – if a little bit overwhelming – experience. If you’re one of them, take heed of these tips and get the inside track:
1. Bundle up.
While the forecast looks good for this year’s race, the weather in New York City can be unpredictable. Some of my most intense memories of the New York City Marathon are of nearly freezing before the start in the staging area at Fort Wadsworth. Plan to spend hours out in the weather prior to the start with little to no shelter. There are a few tents, but for the most part, runners are out in the open and exposed to the wind and potentially cold temperatures. You may want to wear some old clothing, such as heavy cotton sweat pants and a sweatshirt, and then discard them at the start. In the past, race organizers have collected abandoned clothing and donated it to shelters. That way, you’re keeping yourself warm doing something good for the community at the same time.
2. Don’t be late.
Race organizers have devised an effective plan to get the thousands of runners out to the start, but it’s up to you to make sure that you’re on the correct ferry or bus. If you miss your ride, you may have a really difficult time getting to the start. I have heard stories of people thinking that they could “grab a later ferry,” only to find themselves out of luck. Every seat will be full, so stick to your assigned slot.
3. Bring only what you need.
Security will be tight this year at the New York City Marathon, as it has been at most major marathons over the past few years. If you’re thinking about bringing anything other than your running gear and energy supplies, you should check the prohibited items list on the marathon’s website. Keep in mind that sleeping bags and tents – which seem like appealing ways to stay warm at the start – aren’t allowed.
4. Understand the first few miles.
The start of the New York City Marathon is a massive undertaking that uses multiple waves and multiple corrals in each start. The course is actually split into three separate routes for the first few miles, with all of the courses eventually converging. What this means is that if you are trying to see or meet someone on the course, you need to understand that you might not be talking about the same “mile 5.” Also, keep in mind that there are separate color-coded mile markers on the course until mile 8, after which they all finally converge.
If you’re looking for my article on tips about the Chicago Marathon tha ran in US News Health, here it is:Runners know the Chicago Marathon as one of the greatest marathons in the world. With about 40,000 participants, it’s one of the largest races and its flat course can make for fast times.
As someone who has run the Chicago Marathon a number of times and prepared more than 500 runners for the race – including a group of 150 that I will be coaching this Sunday – I know there are a few things that set seasoned Chicago Marathon veterans apart from those who haven’t run the race. Here are some tips to give you the inside track:
1. Arrive early.
Getting into the starting area in Grant Park has always taken some time. You’ll be navigating throngs of people, covering a lot of ground and dealing with many closed streets that can wreak havoc on your travel plans. Since the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, race officials have significantly heightened security at the start area. You’ll now need to undergo a security screening in order to get into Grant Park, so give yourself an extra half hour on top of the time it takes you to get to the park.
2. Follow gear check instructions carefully.
Listen to race organizers about the types of bags you can use for gear check, and make sure you only bring what will fit in your bag. Most races, including the Chicago Marathon, provide clear plastic bags for gear check to make security screening quicker. This means that they may not allow you to bring your own backpack or another opaque bag.
3. Ensure you’re in the correct start corral.
Start corrals are assigned according to your estimated finishing time, with the fastest runners starting first. The Chicago Marathon is strict on ensuring that people only go into their assigned corrals. If you feel you need to change your corral assignment, contact the race organizers ahead of time or ask an official at the Race Expo. No changes will be allowed on race morning in Grant Park.
4. Keep your pace steady during turns.
The first few miles of the Chicago Marathon course include many right and left turns. The crowd will tend to slow down as it approaches these corners and then speed back up after them. This changing speed can be quite fatiguing, making the first few miles feel like an interval workout. Focus on keeping an even pace, and move to the outside if that’s not possible.
With the summer quickly coming to an end, runners will start to see the sun is coming up a little later and setting earlier. Outdoor workouts are suddenly feeling a little cooler, darker and maybe a bit damp. Is it time to start thinking about moving workouts indoors?
Not so fast. Fall still offers some great opportunities to get outside. So before you trade the running path for the treadmill, take advantage of the beauty fall has to offer with these five tips:
1. Stay outdoors as long as you can. Although the light is dimming and the weather is cooler, fall is a just a preview of what’s to come. Soon it will likely be much darker and colder. Fall is a transitional season, so look at it that way. Remind yourself that cool, damp and dark might seem dreamy in a few short months, when the alternative is snow, wind or driving rain.
2. Layer up. Wearing a light outer jacket that’s easy to take off will keep you warm at the beginning of your workout and is easy to take off a mile or two down the road. The rule of thumb is to dress for weather 20 degrees warmer than the temperature outside. This is because as you warm up, your body will feel that much warmer. So if it’s 50 degrees outside, wear base layers as if you were running in 70-degree weather. Wear your outer layer while warming up and take it off as soon as you’re warmed up. You don’t want to overheat, which will just soak your clothes and can lead to chaffing, chills – and general stinkiness – later on.
3. Wear reflective gear. Once the light dims, it’s a good idea to wear reflective clothing and carry a light with you when you run. Reflective clothing and lights help cars see you when you’re on the road. Most running gear, including many brands of shoes, hats, gloves and jackets include reflective strips that will make you easier to see. You can also buy a reflective vest that will slip over the top of your clothes to really increase your visibility for cars. Carrying a light or wearing a headlamp will help you see the ground so you don’t stumble and turn an ankle when running in low light.
Let’s get real for a moment about marathon pacing. If you’re running a marathon parts of it are going to feel somewhat unpleasant. This is true for just about everyone. However, a marathon is a long journey and the pace feels different at different points along the way. By understanding how the pace should feel at the various stages of the race, you can avoid either going out too hard or too slowly and hopefully make the tough parts go more smoothly.Before we jump into the play-by-play of the marathon, let’s reemphasize that knowing your pace is an important skill for marathon runners. Understanding what pace you can run for a specific distance is where the growth comes for most runners as they progress over time. At the beginning of a marathon runner’s experience the focus just tends to be on “getting through it” but after doing a couple of big runs, runners are more likely to start setting specific goals and it takes paying precise attention to pace to meet those goals. It’s also important to understand that the pace that we can run and sustain is scientifically related across a spectrum of distances. To say that another way, if you push yourself as hard as you can at 5K, we can calculate pretty specifically how fast you can go at various other distances. This knowledge can take the guess-work out of your pacing, but it requires a little work to get there in terms of testing yourself and then paying attention to your pace as you train and race.
So let’s say you’ve arrived at a target finish-time for your next race in a race. There are a couple of race strategies that you can use to get there — put here in the simplest of terms:
1) “I’m going to ‘wing’ it” — you can just go out and see what happens. This is the strategy for more runners than you might think. Unfortunately, it puts you at the highest risk of blowing up late in the race, because you really don’t know what pace you should be running at the beginning.
2) “I’ll go out hard and pray” — you go out hard to “bank” time for the slow-down that will likely come at the end of the race. This is also a tremendously common misconception of the way pacing works. Colloquially speaking we would say that for every minute you get ahead of your pacing capability in the first half the race, you’re going to pay for it with four minutes in the second half.
3) “I want to run a negative split” — Some people try to warm-up slowly over a number of miles and then crank up the pace in the second half. This is actually quite difficult to do in practice unless you’re talking about a very narrow negative split (or leaving a lot of time on the table). The reason as outlined below is that you become more fatigued as you go along so it feels harder to run THE SAME pace as the miles advance. This means that trying to increase the pace late in the race is pretty darn tough (but not impossible).
4) “I want to run an even pace” — The smart money is on trying to run your goal pace for the entire race. The best runners in the world execute their pacing plans down to extremely narrow margins — such as 5K splits within 1 second of each other across the whole race. We don’t all have to aspire to that sort of precision, but it certainly is a benchmark to envision what’s possible.
So how is that pace going to feel? I like to break down the race into quarters for simplicity and here’s what I say about each part of the race.
First Quarter (miles 0-6) — The first quarter of the marathon should feel fantastically easy. You should be running on a combination of sheer adrenaline and being well rested from a light week (or weeks) coming into the race. The focus of the first few miles of the marathon should be warming up and holding back to avoid going faster than goal pace. If the pace in the first quarter of the race feels too fast, you’ve most certainly gone out too hard. Happily if you are paying attention and are running the correct pace early enough you may not have done yourself in. Ignore it and you will pay for it later.
Temperatures are up out there runners and they seem to be staying that way this summer. Running in the heat can be challenging, even dangerous. If you take the proper precautions and the right expectations, you can run smart and keep the heat from hurting you. Today, six quick tips for runners to deal with running in hot weather.1. Slow down — running in hot weather is very much like running up hill. Just as running up a hill requires more effort, running in hot weather also should slow you down. And the hotter the weather, the steeper the hill. The problem is that we runners want to hit our pace goals. Comparing a hot weather run to a cool weather run is not an apples to apples comparison. Slow down as the heat goes up. Trying to run at a similar effort level that you would in cooler weather.
2. Dress in loose, light clothes — wear light-weight, breathable clothing, rather than tight form-fitting fabrics. The body cools itself when air moves across the skin and comes in contact with your sweat. Loose, flowing, fabrics aid in cooling much more than tighter fighting clothes. Tight fitting clothes are fine for the gym or running in cooler weather, but when you’re braving heat that feels like the Sahara, dress like you live there.
3. Cover your head — keeping the sun off your head both cools you and keeps the sun out of your eyes. The later relaxes your shoulders and upper body. Hats are also handy because you can dunk them in cold water or even put ice in them as you run. The cool water will drip down your neck, providing even more cooling power.
4. Increase your fluid intake — You need to be consuming as much fluid as your sweating. If you sweat a ton, then you need to drink a ton. We’ve written plenty on this topic. Here’s one of our videos where I talk about hydration with a sports scientist from Gatorade.
5. Drink your electrolytes — plain water only does half the job. You need sodium, potassium and magnessium as well. If you are a salty sweater (someone typically with a white ring on your forehead or white lines on your clothes after you dry out), that is a visible sign of the sodium that you are losing. Use a drink like Nuun that contains electrolytes, but doesn’t contain sugar that may upset your stomach. Click here to view or buy Nuun on Amazon from our Amazon store.
6. Run early — run when you are fresh, the sun is less intense and temperatures are relatively cool. Afternoon workouts in the heat are tough both physically and mentally.
Stay safe and healthy out there runners.
Coach Joe English, Portland, Oregon USA
Running-Advice.com and RUN Time
Why should you run speed work? Today I tell you runners the importance of speed workouts in just two quick minutes. Watch to find out why speed workouts are so important to your development as a runner.
This week on RUN Time from Running-Advice.com.
Run Time is the talk show for runners, featuring interviews, discussions, quick tips and more. Run Time is hosted by Coach Joe English. You can follow Joe on Twitter as @coachjoeenglish
Running Advice and News